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Pakistan Press ( 5 Jan 2021, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Forced Marriages, Al-Farabi and Halal Economy: New Age Islam's Selection, 5 January 2021

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

5 January 2021

• Child, Early and Forced Marriages

By Wajahat Ali Malik

• Al-Farabi and Education

By Dr Naazir Mahmood

• Following the Quaid

By Nasir Iqbal

• Politics of Monotony

By Arifa Noor

• Pathways towards Development of Pakistan Halal Economy

Syeda Nazish Zahra Bukhari And Dr. Salmi Mohd Isa

• Journey To Freedom And Pakistan

By Iftikhar Ahmad

• I Wish Shaheed Bhutto Were Alive Today

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

• Pardoning War Criminals

By Brian Trautman


Child, Early and Forced Marriages

By Wajahat Ali Malik

January 03, 2021

Child marriage and early marriage mostly refer to a marriage in which one or both spouses are under 18 years of age. However, early marriage is sometimes used to describe a marriage where one or both spouses are 18 or older, but are without free and full consent. For example, the marriage of a 19-year-old who is not physically or emotionally mature, or unable to make decisions, would be considered an early marriage. Whereas in forced marriages, one or both spouses are unable to give full, free and informed consent about marriage, regardless of their age. Forced marriage can also refer to a union where one or both spouses are unable to end or leave the marriage. Because in most countries children are not considered able to give legal consent, all child marriages are mostly considered forced marriages. However, sometimes two adolescents under 18 marry each other voluntarily.

Child, early and forced marriage is a human rights violation and not in line with several international agreements, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage, and Registration of Marriage; Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); etc. International laws call for a uniform age of marriage for boys and girls and emphasise on free, full and informed consent to marriage. The CRC recommends the minimum age of marriage to be 18 years, while CEDAW urges states to ensure free will in choice of a spouse and marriage only with their full consent of the parties. Similarly, UN SDG Goal 5 targets “eliminating all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage by 2030”.

Child, early and forced marriages place children at high risk of violence and abuse, and deprives them of fundamentals right to childhood, education, health and opportunity. According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2017 report, 18% of girls in Pakistan are married before their 18th birthday and 4% before the age of 15 while 5% of boys are married before the age of 18.

Child, early and forced marriages in Pakistan occur mostly in rural and low-income households, where education is least. Its highest prevalence is in Sindh (for 72% girls and 25% boys). Similarly, in K-P’s tribal areas, 99% girls are victims. Moreover, a huge proportion of young girls is forced to marry under the age of 18 due to socio-economic and cultural reasons. According to UK’s Forced Marriage Unit, in 2017, at least 439 cases of child forced marriages were reported in Pakistan, ranking it on top of four ‘focused’ countries, followed by Bangladesh, Somalia and India.

Pakistan’s current legislation sets discriminatory legal marriage ages for boys and girls. The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 was the primary law adopted in Pakistan in 1947 and is applicable in ICT, K-P, Balochistan, G-B and AJK. This law sets the legal marriage age at 16 for girls and 18 for boys, against the internationally accepted marriage age. Meanwhile, Sindh enacted an exemplary legislation and sets 18 years of age for both boys and girls and strict punishments for perpetrators, aiders and abettors of underage marriage. It also declared solemnising underage marriages a cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable offence. Whereas Punjab retained the legal marriage age at 16 years for girls and 18 for boys and introduced a clause declaring underage marriage a bailable offence. The federal government has tried to amend The Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929 five times but has only been successful once and still does not address child, early and forced marriages completely nor sets the marriageable age for girls at 18 years.

Even though legislation exists to address child, early and forced marriages in Pakistan, its enforcement and interpretation is missing because Pakistani courts often apply Islamic law for such cases, which interprets any girl who has undergone puberty, irrespective of age eligible for marriage.


Al-Farabi and Education

By Dr Naazir Mahmood

January 4, 2021

It is an unfortunate fact that education in Pakistan fluctuates between various extremes. On the one side, we have proponents of education who advocate for, and stress on, scientific and technical education. The acronym STEM – for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – has become a buzzword to throw around in any discussion on education.

A majority of state-funded conferences and seminars revolve around how important it is to promote STEM and of course nobody can dispute that. On another extreme are the business, marketing, and management focused institutions that have been churning out thousands of BBAs and MBAs looking for jobs in the private sector; again, nobody can challenge that. At yet another extreme is the emphasis on religious education from primary to tertiary and higher education. This mainly encourages rote learning in scriptures and traditions not only in seminaries but also in government and private educational institutions.

There are also left-wing and liberal critics who frown upon any reference to religion at all. However, reading Islamic history and understanding Muslim societies is significant for at least two reasons. One, it helps you comprehend how in history various schools of thoughts evolved, and are still playing negative or positive roles. Two, it also tells us that, just like in Western thought, various developments in Eastern and Muslim societies have collectively contributed to where the world stands today.

Though we frequently talk about the marvelous contributions Muslims made during their glorious period in the five centuries after the advent of Islam, our curriculum at nearly all levels is devoid of any reference to the great minds that existed in our midst. Too many chapters and texts from scriptures and traditions hardly leave any room for content about the great chemists, geographers, philosophers, musicologists, physicians, political scientists, and sociologists who graced the world with their unmatchable contribution at their time. At most, we hear about Ibne Sina and Ibne Khaldun, and that too without any careful considerations.

Even books written by Western scholars and used in our universities tend to simply ignore contributions to the world’s intellectual heritage by Eastern thinkers and writers. A two-volume compendium titled ‘The Great Political Theories’, edited by Michael Curtis, covers political philosophy from Aristotle to Montesquieu in volume one, and from Burke and Kant to modern times – without even mentioning in passing any works by eastern or Muslim thinkers and writers. Or take ‘An Introduction to the History of the Science of Politics’ by Frederick Pollock or ‘A History of Political Theory’ by George Sabine that is used in many Pakistani universities as a standard textbook.

Even a new anthology titled ‘50 Political Classics’ which compiled so-called seminal texts on politics, and included writings from Aristotle and Plato to even Gandhi and Martin Luther King, has just one piece of writing from Fareed Zakaria, bypassing the likes of Al-Farabi, Almarawdi, and even Tusi and Ibne Khaldun who wrote extensively on politics. Similarly, ‘Fifty Great Political Thinkers’ by Ian Adams and RW Dyson published in 2004 has no Muslim name in it. Of course, in our universities there are some exclusive courses covering topics such as Islamic political thought and Islamic institutions, but they fail to stress the universality of many of our thinkers.

One does not need to have only thick tomes for our students; we may also use brief accounts to enlighten our students at various levels. For example, ‘Politics in Islam’ by Khuda Bakhsh summarizes in just 180 pages the politics in Islam from the early caliphs through to Kharijites and the Sultanate. ‘Muslims: The First Sociologists’ by Dr Basharat Ali is another book of just 140 pages containing in brief the sociological thoughts of major Muslim thinkers. There are dozens of Muslim thinkers and writers whose books present a treasure trove for students of social sciences.

Of course, many of them have religious leanings but the same applies to a majority of European writers up until the 18th and 19th centuries. Still, St Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and many others – despite their explicitly Christian background – find ample space in Western books on political and social sciences. There are dozens of Muslim thinkers and writers whose contribution is worth studying just in the same manner as we diligently read about the likes of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Though most of what they said or wrote has little significance in today’s world, they help us understand the intellectual journey of humankind.

An Urdu book compiled by Siddique Qureshi titled ‘Aham Siyasi Mufakkirin’ (Major Political Thinkers) introduces us to over two dozen Muslim writers on political science. One of the best introductions to Muslim political thought is by Dr Tara Chand who worked under the instructions of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Indian minister for education. Dr Tara Chand’s at least two books have been translated into Urdu. Dr Abu Salman translated ‘Muslim Afkar-e-Siyasat’ and M Masood Ahmed translated ‘Influence of Islam on Indian Culture’ published by Majlis-e-Taraqqi-e-Adab Lahore. The latter focuses on Islam in India only.

But where does one start and how deep can one go? Well, perhaps the best starting point is Al-Farabi (870-950) one of the first Muslim polymaths and arguably the greatest thinker and writer in the world after Aristotle. It is not without reason that even in Europe those who read him called him the Second Teacher in over a thousand years after Aristotle. Haroon Khan Sherwani in his book ‘Studies in Muslim Political Thought’ first published in 1948 in Hyderabad Deccan devotes a full 30-page chapter discussing the political writings of Al-Farabi.

But, Al-Farabi’s contributions went much beyond his political thought. Hussein Nasr in his book ‘Science and civilization in Islam’ has a section ‘Al-Farabi and the classification of the sciences’. Following in the footsteps of his distant predecessor Aristotle and immediate predecessor Alkindi, Al-Farabi surpassed both. His was the most influential classification contained in his book ‘Ihsa al-ulum’ (Enumeration of the sciences). He in turn was surpassed by his successors Ibne Sina and Ibne Rushd in the following centuries. Perhaps the best aspect of that period was that all these scholars interacted with and learned from Christian and Jewish thinkers too.

There was an atmosphere of overall tolerance in Muslim societies, apart from the possibility of inviting the wrath of the rulers. Al-Farabi was one of the first writers in the world to write on such diverse subjects as alchemy and interpretation of dreams. In his classification, the first branch included the science of language including grammar, poetry, pronunciation, and syntax. The second branch included the science of logic with its sub-branches. The third was propaedeutic (introductory or preparatory) sciences which included sciences such as arithmetic, cosmology, and geometry which he divided into practical and theoretical.

Interestingly, he was also a musicologist and wrote the first major treatise on music ‘Kitab al-Musiqa Alkabir’ (Grand Book of Music). He includes music in his third branch of knowledge that all students must learn in their introductory courses. His fourth branch included the sciences of nature with physics and metaphysics. Physics had eight sub-branches and metaphysics three. The fifth and last was the science of society, including jurisprudence and rhetoric. Luckily, Prof Nomanul Haq has done us a favour by editing a series of studies in Islamic philosophy published by the Oxford University Press (OUP).

If I have been able to arouse some of your interest, go for a book titled ‘Alfarabi: the political writings’ which contains Al-Farabi’s selected aphorisms and other texts translated from the Arabic language by Charles Butterworth. If you have interest and patience, I am sure you’ll enjoy it.


Dr Naazir Mahmood holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK and works in Islamabad.


Following the Quaid

By Nasir Iqbal

January 5, 2021

Over the last seven decades, Pakistan has struggled to develop a comprehensive economic model to solve long-term structural and economic issues. Successive governments have created various vision documents, planning tools, and growth strategies to transform the country into a developed nation. The current government is working to create a new growth strategy to solve economic and social issues.

Do we need a new vision document or growth strategy to resolve massive unemployment, structural poverty, and deteriorating economic growth? No. Why? Because our founding father gave us an economic vision to create a contented people. The Quaid’s economic vision started with the goal of "creating a happy and contented people." The Quaid emphasized that the economic transformation required "education planning, economic planning, and social planning."

The Quaid’s blueprint for economic reconstruction and transformation is based on five pillars: first, economic reconstruction depends on human capital development. He emphasized developing human capital in diverse areas, including agriculture, commerce, trade, and science and technology. The state should provide the best possible training for technicians, scientists, businessmen, doctors and civil servants to develop human resources for economic growth.

Second, private sector-led labor-intensive industrialization is the hallmark of transformation: The Quaid emphasized that all industrial enterprises should be open to private enterprise. The proposed industrial and commercial policy's main points include: i) to associate individual initiative and private enterprise at every stage of industrialization; and ii) to build the banking and financial mechanism, bankers should repair and restore this vital sector.

Third, the role of the public sector should be as a facilitator and enabler. The Quaid wanted the public sector to play a more active role in providing a network of social and public utility services and relief and amenities.

Fourth, free trade and price stability are the keys to enhance welfare: The monetary policy should encourage maximum production and free trade flow. The state should stabilize prices at a level that would be fair to the producer and consumer. Lastly, linkages between academia and industry are essential for economic and social uplift.

The success of the 70-year-old economic model can be judged by looking at economic transfers in the East Asian countries (East Asian Tigers). These countries invested in human capital and allowed the private sector to develop a technologically driven industrial base. The economic growth of East Asian Tigers was built on investment in schooling and training.

These countries streamline the role of government as a facilitator and enabler. The governments in East Asia used targeted interventions to facilitate private investment and promote competitiveness for economic development. Lastly, these countries ensure well-established linkages between academia (think tanks) and industry to innovate and enhance competitiveness.

In a nutshell, the Quaid stood for structural change in the economy. A balanced and mixed economy with a pragmatic blend of the agricultural and industrial sectors, resulting in a more equitable distribution of wealth, is essential for sustainable development. The Quaid’s economic model is based on full employment opportunities for one and all, for contented labour, for a fair deal to the farmer, and human resource development at all levels. The proposed economic model ensures economic equity and social justice.

As a way forward, Pakistan needs an action-oriented growth strategy to transform these principles into actionable policy items. No need to invest time and energy to create a new vision for Pakistan. It's time to implement the Quaid’s Economic Vision.

The current strategies for poverty alleviation through social protection, economic stabilization driven by foreign aid, and consumption-oriented growth are not sustainable. Pakistan needs to implement the Quaid’s economic model to alleviate poverty, ensure full employment, and achieve sustained growth. This model will help achieve the goal of ‘creating a happy and contented people’.


Nasir Iqbal is associate professor at the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE).


Politics of Monotony

By Arifa Noor

05 Jan 2021

THE opposition has decided to keep opposing the government — just as it was in the first phase. The jalsas will not stop, here, there and everywhere, to keep politics simmering, and no more for the moment. The other decisions — which may indicate a boiling point — are yet to be specified or a date pinned, be it the resignations or the long march. And, in the meantime, the political process and parliament are not to be abandoned, be it in the shape of by-elections or the Senate. Despite assertions about the decision not having been made, no one really believes it has not been made.

Despite the hype by the PDM itself about resignations coming soon, its recent brainstorming, which ended without any major announcement, surprised few. And not just because of the PPP.

Indeed, the PPP may have the most to lose (its government in Sindh), but even without a government to squander, it is not easy for a political party to resign en masse from their assembly seats, provincial and national. No one who has put in the energy and the expense of winning a seat wants to vacate it halfway through — perhaps even before some of them have paid off the debts incurred for the campaign. What will make them more reluctant is the opposition’s complete lack of clarity on what is to follow — if the government calls a by-election, will the PDM participate or not? And then imagine the plight of those who fear returning to ask the same people for their vote within months of having resigned.

But these are all hypothetical situations. What is perhaps a more considerable factor is the ever-present fear that an election (which may follow a resignation) will allow a newcomer to fill the constituency and become a permanent presence; just ask Javed Hashmi how he feels about Amir Dogar. When Hashmi, in his moment of glory, resigned from the PTI and the National Assembly in 2014, Amir Dogar faced him with the help of PTI. A year earlier, Dogar had lost to Hashmi in the 2013 general election, but in 2014 he won, and then again in 2018. It’s a moment straight out of Luck by Chance, for those who follow Bollywood.

And the PML-N knows this, whatever it may say in public. If it forced the issue, it would have risked losing or being abandoned by some of its members, as was Imran Khan when he forced his party people to hand in their resignations back in 2014.

Hence, it’s safe to say the PML-N is fortunate it has the PPP to ‘blame’ for delaying a bad decision. The party can avoid being accused of a U-turn by saying it sacrificed its plans for the unity of the PDM and let the PPP take the flak.

The Noon needs the PPP, for this and more. The PML-N’s campaign for vote ko izzat do, or free and fair elections — call it what you will — has a slight flaw. If elections are to be rid of ‘manipulation’ as the party sees it (ie the interference of the selectors), the only tabdeeli possible will be in Punjab (and Karachi, but no one there is complaining as such). Be it Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Sindh, the governments will not change, or Balochistan for that matter. But the PPP’s inclusion (more than the JUI-F’s) gives the PDM a national character and makes it a more broad-based movement than just a battle for the control of Punjab. The PML-N needs the PPP, regardless of its level of trust for the latter.

This is not to say the PPP doesn’t need the PDM or the PML-N any less.

Staying in the PDM allows the PPP to claim a national level relevance it lacks otherwise. As well as allowing it to avoid being tarnished by the ‘establishment’s’ brush. After the role it played in the Senate elections, as well as the massive victory it secured in Sindh (bigger than what it got months after Benazir Bhutto was assassinated), it is worth asking why the PPP is not viewed as being as close to the establishment as is the PTI. If the corruption cases against the PPP are one reason, its complaints of a rigged election are the other. The PPP is able to play its ‘traditional’ role of being anti-establishment because of the PDM. And, for this, it will stick to the PDM closely; if it can use the opportunity to ease some pressure, accountability wise, all the better.

In addition, the PDM has allowed Bilawal to play a leading role, as it has Maryam Nawaz Sharif. Both of them are now addressing rallies beside the Maulana instead of their fathers — it’s adding to their political heft.

For all this and more, the PDM will continue even though it may not be able to keep making waves if countrywide jalsas are all they have to offer. Monotony is not helpful to their movement. Bhawalpur on Sunday evening is a case in point. Compared to the interest in the Lahore jalsa, the gathering in South Punjab got far less attention, and it wasn’t just because BBZ didn’t make it; some channels didn’t even bother to show Maulana Fazl’s speech. Everyone had guessed rightly that there was little chance of some newsworthy content.

However, none of this is meant to suggest the government has won the battle. Instead, this is the time for the government to seize the moment and deliver some blows of its own to the opposition, not by locking them up or ridiculing them but by reaching out and offering either the entire opposition or a part of it a ‘face-saving’ solution before a turn of events provides new momentum to the PDM. The PTI would do well to remember that, post-2008, there was a time when the restoration of judges seemed next to impossible. But then the winds changed and the PPP was left with no choice. The good times don’t last forever.


Arifa Noor is a journalist.


Pathways towards Development of Pakistan Halal Economy

Syeda Nazish Zahra Bukhari and Dr. Salmi Mohd Isa

January 5, 2021

All around the world, Muslims have emerged as a significant consumer market for global brands. Every day, we witness Islamic branding elements’ inculcation in various product offerings of top brands such as sports hijab for female athletes or shampoos for hijab covered hair. The rapid growth of Islamic brands has been mainly attributed to the growing size and purchasing power of the global Muslim consumers, increasing adherence to Islamic ethical values in consumption behavior by global Muslims, and an increasing number of national strategies dedicated to halal products and service development by both Muslim and Non-Muslim countries. The global halal economy is predicted to generate approx. US$2.3 trillion by the year 2024, at a cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1%. The global halal food industry is the fastest-growing halal industry and is predicted to generate approx. US$1.38 trillion annually by 2024 at a 5-year CAGR of 3.5%.Other sectors such as Islamic finance, Muslim friendly travel, modest fashion, halal pharmaceuticals, halal cosmetics, and Islamic themed media and recreation are also progressing rapidly.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a county withapprox. 96% Muslim population, which accounts for approx. 11% of the global Muslim population. The country was created on Islam’s ideology and principles and has been blessed with numerous resources for various industrial developments. Despite the vast potential for halal economic growth, Pakistan is still in the infancy stages of development. Within the global halal meat export potential of approx. US$ 3 billion; Pakistan has been able to secure only 0.25% share. This is negligible compared to the halal meat production potential of Pakistan due to various obstacles in developing the country’s halal industries. Compared to Pakistan, Malaysia currently leads the overall Global Islamic Economy Indicator (GIEI) rankings for the eighth consecutive year.

Malaysia is considered the world leader in terms of the development of halal standards and halal certification systems. The Malaysian government is strongly focused on the development of Islamic branding. In 1974, the Malaysian government started developing Islamic branding of industries by issuing Halal certification to halal products and services from the Islamic Affairs Division in the Prime Minister’s office. Halal Malaysia Logo was developed by the Malaysian government in 1994 and updated in 2003. It became the first country to have a formal systematic ‘Halal Assurance System’. The government has developed various halal standards for several industries such as food and beverages, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, toiletries, etc. Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world in which the government regulates the halal certification for all industries. Issuance of the halal certification is the responsibility of JAKIM in Malaysia.The United Nations has cited Malaysia as the world’s best example in benchmarking halal food standards. The evolution of Malaysia’s halal industries is attributed to the country’s government’s support in developing the halal certification process for products and services and proactive organizational strategies by other stakeholders. The banking industry in Malaysia has launched initiatives to help the country’s halal food, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) grow and expand their presence across various global halal food industries. Muslim consumers in Malaysia depict a high level of knowledge regarding various Islamic branding issues and play a significant role in generating the demand for halal product and service development.

Pakistan can learn from Malaysia’s Islamic branding journey and capture the share of the lucrative and growing Muslim consumer market. Muslim consumers’ religious sensitivities and knowledge are increasing globally, and Pakistan needs to develop a centralized, reliable, high quality and transparent halal certification system for halal industrial development. The key to tapping the global halal market is developing a standardized and mandatory halal assurance system for all industries. Halal exports can be the solution to Pakistan’s economic woes, but this cannot be attained unless stakeholder awareness and knowledge are established. Muslim consumers in Pakistan have low levels of awareness regarding halal standards and pay little or no attention to halal certification logos on the brands they consume. Learning from halal industry leaders can lead Pakistan towards the path of halal economic development.


Syeda Nazish Zahra Bukhari and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Salmi Mohd Isa are associated with GSB, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, Malaysia. Syeda Nazish Zahra Bukhari is also associated with IBIT, University of the Punjab, Lahore.


Journey To Freedom And Pakistan

By Iftikhar Ahmad

January 5, 2021

In the middle of the Night, in dimly hazy Light, I was gently pushed around, on a very fast flight, thinking loud about national plight, storm is over, seems it is going to be completely over, process of reform political, will guide a search bright, separating wrong from right, this agenda needs to be followed, with individual and groups’ insight, backed by political and societal will, of course with the states’ backing, and states’ full might.

Love begets love. It takes two to tango, positive attitude and credibility go a long way to bridge the trust gap, making a way forward possible. Hope for peace and security can mature to desired ends, if world leaders act fairly and responsibly, without prejudice and discrimination. Let there be a fresh resolve to end politics of hate. Happy New Year folks. We need your support to be certain, to make our globe a better place, with happy homes and abodes. We certainly need substance and value of the rule of law. We need to think new, and think loud. We need to think of policy determinants and make appropriate choices for equity, justice and balance in society and economy.

Freedom and independence is the greatest gift our leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah struggled for to get us and make us a nation with distinction. We need to adhere to his motto, “Unity, Faith and Discipline”

Long live Quaid-e-Azam’ Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and the creator of the “Two-Nations Theory”. Let us resolve to serve Pakistan, Love Pakistan, and understand the significance of independence and Pakistan as a separate nation. In today’s political and geographical context and anti-Muslims policies of Indian leadership we have no difficulty in understanding Jinnah’s wisdom and foresight for a separate home-land for Muslims in the sub-continent. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a supporter of Hindu-Muslims unity. When he realized that plan world not work Jinnah parted ways with all India congress, a Hindu dominated political party.

A new chapter opened; Jinnah became the champion of rights of the Muslims in the sub-continent. Struggle for Pakistan started. Lahore resolution was a stepping stone. Jinnah’s constitutional struggle made him the great leader (The Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah) Pakistan came into existence on 14th August, 1947. Some people speak of the price we had to pay in terms of mass exodus/migrations, displacements, loss of property and jobs, the riots and killing of people. Considering the hate politics and anti-Muslims policy of Indian leaders one feels grateful that we have our independence and respectable living in Pakistan. Thanks to our destiny and leaders who make it possible.

India illegally occupied Kashmir has suffered from Indian Brutality.  It has been a spell of terrorism, brutality, tyranny and 511 days of Lockdown. Kashmiris have been deprived of fundamental human rights and the right to self-determination granted under the united nations resolutions. Two nuclear armed nations, Pakistan and India are on the brink of extreme tensions which could lead to war any moment. India violates ceasefire and kills innocent civilians across the line of control everyday almost. This has been going on for years now. Extremists and terrorist groups in India are always busy punishing minorities, specially, Muslims. R.S.S and BJP planned to pull down Babri Masjid for a plan to construct “Ram Mandar” in that space and site. Inequalities and discrimination and killing Muslims continues under the very nose of Prime Minister Modi and Hindu extremists. Hindu fundamentalism is visible and in action. Authors like William Dalrymple should take note of Indian terrorism and extremism as much as he talks of “anarchy” related to relentless rise of the East India company.

If the impeachment of warren Hastings was made possible by the house of commons in the presence of the then queen of England. there should be ways and means to put an end to high crimes of fundamentalist. Hindu leaders and their gangs in India, killing people from minorities specially, Muslims. People of the stature of Edmund Burke and Charles James Fox should be available to take notice of injustice and treachery against the faith of nations.

Gifted writers have the skill to influence the pace and characteristics of political and social events. I hope and wish Shashi Tharoor, the author of bestseller “An Era of darkness-the British Empire in India” could interpret history to make it readable and persuasive more so that it has positive impact on current events and public relationships to pave the way to friendship rather than hate and fear. An environment for peace and security is needed.

Partition of the sub-continent could have been peaceful and smooth if there was a plan to do so. But it is said the horrors of partition were the direct result of the deliberate British policy of divide and rule, that fermented religious antagonisms to facilitate continued imperial rule? It makes no sense at all. Religious antagonism that exists in Modi’s India today had never ever existed. Same can be said of communal hatred blazing hotly. world leaders must think of it for the sake of peace and security of the region. Kashmir is burning, Joe Biden is expected to play his role judiciously in the name of humanity for the sake of peace and security of the region. Our Journey for peace and security of the region must continue.


I Wish Shaheed Bhutto Were Alive Today

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

January 5, 2021

Had Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto been alive today, poor people of Pakistan would not have been so pathetically treated by Imran Khan government  for want of co-vid vaccine, utter lack of proper medicare, running from pillar to post for sustainable oxygen ventilators and pep. It is indeed, an irony that the world scientists are speeding up to outrun each other in producing a viable curative vaccine.  It is a matter of pride for the breed of global scientists for having produced vaccines faster than what is known as speed of safe practices.

World has noted with great deal of satisfaction  that three world pharmaceutical manufacturers have crossed the goal of attainable success while others have been in the race competing hard. The three that have emerged ahead of others in the Free World are- the Pfizer, the Moderna and the Oxford Astra-Zeneca. They seem to be like the major political parties in the West, their mission is identical in purpose, distinguishable from each other only in the detail. As per the common man, scientists have noted major differences such as the temperature required by the vaccine to be stored safely without adversely effecting vaccines efficacy.

Manufacturers have ensured its cost to be accessible to the reach the pockets of the most poor. According to experts Oxford’s vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature, Moderna requires storage at -20o C; Pfizer at an Arctic -78o C. The comparative cost of the doses is debatable. According to a report estimated cost is $39 for two doses for the Pfizer vaccine, $50 for two doses of Moderna, and a low $3 a dose for the Oxford. The Oxford loaves-and-fishes miracle might be made possible through Covax, a global initiative that hopes to distribute about 2bn doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries at a maximum cost of $3 a dose. On the other hand, what was once an iron curtain, Putin’s Russia has developed its own Gam-COVID-Vac (Sputnik-V) vaccine. As against oft repeated promises of providing vaccine to its poor people free of cost, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a massive ‘voluntary’ free vaccination programme against COVID-19. It is another thing that the Russians are finding it hard to have volunteers for its massive vaccination programme. It faces much similar opposition from its clergy as we in Pakistan have been facing in the execution of polio immunisation programme.

As compared to others our Chinese friends have been pursuing a parallel programme. China has been concentrating on two state-sponsored vaccines – Sinovac and Sinopharm. Although they have not been tested to the nth degree, these Chinese vaccines, like Covid-19 itself, have been exported already to other countries, hopefully with less lethal consequences. In Pakistan Imran Khan’s approach is much more quixotic. On the other hand PDM being a larger mulla created platform is busy what is at best be described as bullshitting distractions. While the PTI government under IK is busy bemoaning financial bankruptcy having no money for its dilapidated medicare – with greater emphasis on Covid-19 prevention rather than its cure. Having established his own ShaukatKhanum Memorial Cancer Hospital IK seems to have accomplished his life longambition,  while leaving rest of healthcare to privatised social distancing, leaving it to the masses to self-restraint while allowing free for all in larger social gatherings such as weddings etc.

For a country with a population of over 220 million with poverty ruling from cradle to grave, whatever funds are allocated to meet the co-vid19 consequences from its empty treasury, PTI government’s measly allocations towards the procurement of a co-vid19 vaccine, ‘initially to cover the most vulnerable 5% of the population’ [i.e. frontline health workers and people above the age of 65 years].  Experts are busy debating to decide from which source the vaccine supplies will be procured – western or eastern, when or at what price. $150 million doesn’t buy much these days—most probably we will send loads of PTI teams with big beggars bowls to beg for donations.

PTI government feels that there would be no harm to seek Saudi bailouts and Chinese donations—after all Muslims in Pakistan from time immemorial when Bedous only knew camel to be the sole mode of transport in their barren country. Although our health authorities are expected to ensure what quantity of vaccine we would be needing and how much would be available with manufacturers, our ability to pay especially for the government with big holes in its pockets. According to rough guess work  two vials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will cost Rs1,000 in Pakistan. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s vials will cost Rs6,000. The Moderna vaccine will cost Rs12,000.’ Charity may begin at home. It is not elastic. It does not extend to pharmaceutical companies.

In the midst of co-vid19 pandemic one is reminded of Pakistan’s great leader martyred Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Jan 5 birthday) on his coming birthday anniversary. Besides many of his achievements including his pursuit of nuclear bomb, one cannot forget his brave attempt at introducing Generic Medicine scheme 1972 opening flood gates of reducing prices of multinational products. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the masses appreciated Generic Scheme as a major healthcare reform, it became a sordid victim of the conspiracy by the international pharmaceutical conglomerate and greedy Pakistani bureaucracy. Generic scheme’s impact was immensely great, it led to drastic reduction in prices. Much like Bhutto paid the price with his life for acquiring nuclear glow for Pakistan, the powerful western pharmaceutical lobby and their local licensees, abetted by the country’s medical profession—contributed huge funding to the Zia-backed PNA movement. We hope and pray that some socially-conscious corporate entity will obtain a licence to manufacture a Covid-19 vaccine locally learning a lesson from our next door neighbour India which has become a major manufacturer of all vaccines.


Wajid Shamsul Hasan is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.


Pardoning War Criminals

By Brian Trautman

January 5, 2021

The US-led war on Iraq, which formally began in March 2003 but essentially started more than a decade earlier with frequent aerial bombing and oppressive economic sanctions, was greenlit by the US Congress under false pretenses. It was sold to the American people by political leaders and corporate media via a mass disinformation campaign. The war was a regime change war and a war for oil, rooted in racism, revenge, imperialism and capitalism. It violated international law on multiple levels, including as a war of aggression. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed and maimed. Over 4,500 ‘coalition forces’, most of whom were Americans, lost their lives. Tens of thousands more were wounded, many permanently. Nearly two decades on, occupying soldiers and Iraqi civilians are still dying. Some refer to the ongoing violence as blowback; yet, it is anything but unintended. It is the very nature of a military occupation to win by attrition, no matter the cost in lives or money.

Imperial forces who committed some of the worst atrocities in the name of the so-called ‘War on Terror’ continue to escape accountability and justice for their crimes. Last year alone, Donald Trump granted clemency to war criminals from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They included Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, convicted of posing with the body of a teenage Islamic State captive whom he had killed with a hunting knife; Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance, convicted of ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan civilians, killing two; Army Major Mathew Golsteyn, charged with executing a suspected Taliban bombmaker; and, Army Lieutenant Michael Behenna, convicted by a military court for murdering an Iraqi prisoner.

If these outrageous acts of clemency were not revolting enough, on December 22 Trump further cemented his legacy as a malignant narcissist and amoral gangster, one who possesses a deep disdain for the Constitution and international law, by pardoning four convicted US war criminals responsible for massacring unarmed Iraqi civilians. In September 2007, under the pretext of providing security for US diplomats, four former guards (Dustin Heard, Evan Liberty, Nicholas Slatten and Paul Slough) from the private security contractor Blackwater used machine guns and grenade launchers to slaughter 17 innocent people, including two children, in Nisour Square, a Baghdad traffic circle. The unprovoked rampage also wounded at least 20. The indiscriminate attack on Iraqi men, women and children was so barbaric and cold-blooded that it was compared by some to the ‘My Lai massacre’, the murder, rape and torture of hundreds of Vietnam civilians, mostly women and children, by a platoon of US troops in March 1968.

Founded by the right-wing Christian fundamentalist Erik Prince, a former US Navy SEAL officer and the brother of Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Secretary, Blackwater USA (now Academi) is a mercenary force funded with US taxpayer dollars that operated with sheer ruthlessness and extreme impunity in Iraq and elsewhere. The 2007 book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, written by investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, provides a hard-hitting and detailed history and analysis of the notorious company.

The youngest victim of the Nisour Square massacre, a nine-year-old boy named Ali Kinani, was shot in the head while traveling through the Square with his father, Mohammed, and a few other family members. In a piece written for The Nation magazine in 2010 titled Blackwater’s Youngest Victim, Scahill tells the story of Ali, his family and the massacre. A short documentary by the same name contains an in-depth interview with Ali’s father. Paul Dickinson, an attorney who represented Ali’s family and five other families in a civil lawsuit against Blackwater and Erik Prince, recently penned an op-ed for The Intercept titled I Sued Blackwater for the Massacre of Iraqi Civilians. Trump Just Pardoned Those Convicted Killers. In the article, Dickinson states, “These men will now be free, despite their crimes, and they will not serve the time in prison they deserved. My clients assuredly feel ignored, mistreated, and used. Their belief in our legal system was misplaced. The result is not just that we see an injustice in the United States, but that the world must surely see cracks in the pillars of justice upon which our system is based. That may be the overriding damage caused by these pardons…” Dickinson was also recently interviewed on Democracy Now! to respond to the pardons.

In what became the FBI’s most intensive and expensive criminal investigations since 9/11, material, testimonial and forensic evidence was gathered and used in the prosecution and conviction of the accused Blackwater guards. In the opinion article, How I know the Blackwater defendants didn’t deserve a pardon from Trump, Thomas O’Connor, an FBI special agent who helped investigate the massacre, recounts the detailed investigation that took place and the substantial credible evidence that was collected. O’Connor writes, “I know that these men were undeserving of pardons because I was a member of The FBI Evidence Response Team that traveled to Iraq and investigated the site of these killings…The system worked and justice was brought to the deceased, the injured victims and their families. The families of those killed and wounded at Nisour Square will now watch those responsible for this tragedy go free thanks to a pardon by the President of the United States.”

International outrage over the pardons was swift and straightforward. The lip service that the US government pays to valuing and protecting human rights, domestically and internationally, is contradicted time and again by their policies. A statement released by the UN Human Rights Office shortly after the pardons read in part: “We are deeply concerned by the recent US presidential pardons… Pardoning them contributes to impunity and has the effect of emboldening others to commit such crimes in the future. …”

Excerpted: ‘Military Veterans to Legal Experts Condemn Trump’s Pardoning of Blackwater War Criminals’



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