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Pakistan Press ( 22 Dec 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan Press On Recognition of Israel by Pakistan, Religious Freedom in Pakistan, Irfan Husain and Gulf Sheikhs: New Age Islam's Selection, 22 December 2020

By New Age Islam Edit Desk

22 December 2020

• Recognition Of Israel By Pakistan: A Hoax

Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi

• Irfan Husain- Different Idioms, Similar Stories

Jawed Naqvi

• Concern For Religious Freedom

By Syed Mohammad Ali

• Patriarchy Or A Psychological Dilemma?

By Hafsa Bashir

• Why British Pakistanis Are Running Back To Pakistan?

By Shabana Syed

• Warming Up To Gulf Sheikhs

The Daioly Times Editorial

• The Last Days Of Mrs Jinnah

By Saad S. Khan

• For Some In Pakistan, There Is No End To Suffering

By Hassan Niazi


Recognition of Israel by Pakistan: A Hoax

Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi

December 19, 2020

With the recent recognition of Israel by Muslim states such as UAE, Bahrain and Sudan. it has been highly anticipated that the whole of the Muslim world will reverberate with a "butterfly effect". The Muslim states are expected and pressurized to be falling in acceptance of Israel like dominos. This bar has particularly been set up by the Kushner-influenced Trumpian policy in the Middle East. However, there are three countries in the Muslim world that are seemingly not bent on recognizing the one-state agenda of the Israeli cause and its backers. These include Pakistan, Iran and Qatar. The ruling party in Pakistan, Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) has negated all such prospects despite immense pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia. The PTI in a recent tweet blatantly falsified reports going around of Pakistan's tilt towards acceptance. Besides, Prime Minister Imran Khan declared the country's unequivocal stance on Israel in an interview stating, "…it is the same as Quaid said in 1948…Pakistan cannot accept Israel until Palestine gets a fair settlement that they think is right". The founding father of Pakistan; Jinnah, made clear the Muslim stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict by declaring, “The Muslims of India would not remain as mere spectators. They would help the Arabs in Palestine by all possible means”.

For PM Imran Khan to exhibit lack of adherence to his stance, would not only betray the cause of Pakistan but also his own role in the Muslim world that he is in efforts to acquire; leading it. Therefore, the manner of governance and the trajectory that it has taken does not reflect any prospects of establishing diplomatic ties with Israel. He has acted as the leader of the Muslim world. Rubbing shoulders with conservative Muslim leaders like Erdogan of Turkey, Mahathir of Malaysia and Rouhani of Iran, it would be dichotomous for Imran Khan to loosen his outlook. His speech in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2019 was reflective of his emergence as a leader of the Muslim world. The Muslim world too for the like, accepts him and his posture on its afflictions. The most disputed territory for Muslims is that of Palestine followed by Kashmir, Syria, Iraq and so on. To compromise on Palestine would be to compromise on the whole of the Muslim world.

Pressures from the US and friendly countries like Saudi Arabia keep mounting as Pakistan battles for the supremacy of the interests of the Muslim world. On part of the US the pressure to recognize Israel was “extraordinary during the Trump stint” as per the PM. This threat along with other pressures did not deter Pakistan. Pakistan’s cricketer turned Prime Minster Imran Kan says that he used to play well under pressure. Therefore, tackling a contentious situation is greeted with sportsmanship by the PM Imran Khan.

PTI caters to the political representation of former members of religious parties. It is in particularly inclusive of the Jamaat-e-Islami's (JI) former members having a significant say in the politics of PTI (Current President of Pakistan, Dr Arif Alvi has also been in the JI in the past). An additional factor is the party's following based on a demographic that has a greater ratio of youth. Both the members of party having religious ties and the young lot are highly compassionate and emotive when it comes to Muslim solidarity. In such circumstances, it would be slow suicide for the party to exhibit any such interest of abating its Palestinian cause. Pakistan as a nation since 1948 (the creation of Israel) has shown moral, legal, social and political obligation in championing the cause of Palestine. The Arab wars fought in the name of Palestine have been supported with zeal in Pakistan. Therefore, it is impossible for Pakistan to accept Israel without the protection of Palestinian sovereignty.

Apart from its deep-rooted religious commitments, Pakistan is compelled by its ethical obligation to not represent an apartheid regime and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. Conversely, if it were the Palestinians committing inhumane acts of violating sovereignty and mass murder of innocents, Pakistan's standpoint would have been different. Pakistan's main aim is to sue for peace and holding the perpetrator -Israel- accountable, an objective the UN has failed to achieve thus far.

Despite Pakistan's tainted past with human rights violations, it wouldn’t bring it any closer to amends for it to stand by the side of the oppressor by granting Israel and its cause legitimacy.

Pakistan has pushed a "two-state solution" forward with respect to the Israel-Palestine conflict, viz. state of Palestine and state of Israel. Israel has the slogan of "Peace for Land" whereby they warrant peace after the acquisition of the land to which they lay claim. In opposition, Pakistan draws the formula of "Land for Peace". Pakistan believes that in order to bring lasting peace to the region, giving back the Palestinians their land is imperative. Therefore, Israel shall have its peace when Palestine has its land.

Absence of war does not mean peace. Peace is uprooting of the cause of conflict in the first place. However, if the two-state solution fails to come to life, it is anticipated on the side of Israel to push a semi-autonomy status to the Palestinians with a focus on a "state-minus approach". The Kushner designed foreign policy of the Trump office, pushes forth this mandate. It is seconded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Such a scenario will evoke clear rejections from both the Palestinians and its supporters in the Muslim world, predominantly Pakistan. The recent developments in the conflict have garnered a rights-based approach towards its solution as opposed to the territorial approach adapted by Israel and its backers. The realization of a "one-state" outcome encompassing a binational population would turn the state into a center-stage for ensuing conflict and unrest. Such a front provides the necessary ingredients for disaster rather than establishing positive peace.


Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi is the chairman of the department of international relations at the University of Peshawar


Irfan Husain- Different Idioms, Similar Stories

By Jawed Naqvi

22 Dec 2020

IRFAN Husain had made it a habit to forward me the occasional email in which his Indian fans would snitch about the poor calibre of my columns from New Delhi, particularly when compared to his. Why couldn’t I write as honestly as he did, they asked Irfan, who they admired for his unsparing criticism of everything that was wrong with Pakistan.

He tried to reason that I was an Indian journalist trying to describe the events in India equally critically to a newspaper on the other side of the border. And Irfan as a peripatetic Pakistani journalist was bound to slam the mess Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders had made of their country.

Irfan soon realised that reasoning with nationalists of any hue was like banging one’s head against the wall, more so if they happened to be Indian enthusiasts who loved hearing criticism of Pakistan but not of India. It is difficult to imagine a good journalist, he would say, who is also a staunch nationalist.

And that has been the best part of writing for a Pakistani paper from New Delhi.

Pakistani journalists have a formidable lineage with a global worldview, which started with Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Mazhar Ali Khan and continues undaunted. There’s no dearth of editors and scribes and even owners of newspapers jailed for speaking up for democracy, a kind of zeal less witnessed in India during the emergency and sadly for the most part today.

Irfan Husain evolved a different skill and tactics to beat the system. He wrote under more than one pseudonym, the most familiar being Mazdak, a name he adopted while still working as civil servant. His choice of the pseudonym should tell us something about Irfan’s inspirations, Mazdak being a Persian rebel who nudged the ruler of the day to abandon his powerful nobles to set up an early communist order. The ruler was overthrown and Mazdak executed, according to one version of history.

The heroic story has been subjected to scholarly scrutiny and it is disputed by some that such a character did exist in fifth-century Persia. It does tell us something about Irfan, though, who perhaps as a bureaucrat of his times sought to usher ideologically imbued progressive changes on Pakistan’s hostile turf. Taking to writing was a handy tool in this endeavour.

In my two decades of writing for Dawn, I rarely missed reading Irfan’s insightful columns. They were acerbic, analytical, secular, liberal, humorous, entertaining, agitating, but invariably thought-provoking. That was not all. He also provoked me to look up his steady references and scholarly allusions from history. Irfan’s quarrel with the Muslim clergy in Pakistan as elsewhere was uncompromising, and this is indicated quite analytically in his book Fatal Faultlines: Pakistan, Islam and the West. He was sanguine that the damage could be limited from religious assault on democracy and even perhaps reversed had the US not persisted with making everything worse.

What well-meaning analyst would not agree totally with Irfan’s explanation for many of our troubles with Muslim extremism today?

It was eye-catching that Irfan used a metaphor from his Western cultural experience — being married to the erudite and warm-hearted Charlotte Breese being a key element — to describe a situation, which slightly varied from the one I would have used to narrate a similar story from my Indian grounding. There’s an evil character called Raktabeej, literally meaning seeds of blood, who is slain by goddess Durga. But Raktabeej had a boon. Wherever the drops of his blood fell, there would crop up another Raktabeej. Durga/Kali thus set about licking the blood clean before it fell to the ground, getting her famous red tongue in the bargain. Irfan’s story about American intervention uses the metaphor of dragon’s teeth that its military had sown in the troubled world.

“In the ancient Greek myth about Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece, the hero was given a bag of dragon’s teeth and told to plant them in a field. As soon as he did so, an armed warrior sprang up at each spot where a tooth had been planted; this fierce army then turned on Jason. In its fight against global jihad, America has seemed a bit like Jason. Every time it cuts down an enemy, more spring up to attack it,” he said in the book.

Fair journalism requires a reasonable degree of objectivity and objectivity in turn requires a relative absence of parochial zeal to produce a credible narrative. Imagine if instead of having Irfan Husain or Saleem Asmi as colleagues, I had a Pakistani clone of India’s Arnab Goswami, with his foaming-at-the-mouth jingoism to work with. It would not happen, period. It has thus been a joy to work with Irfan and other Dawn colleagues who harboured goodwill for India. A depleting gaggle of Indian journalists has similar feelings for Pakistan, and they are there. Irfan gave me courage and an example to write without fear or favour from across a periodically tense border.

The approximate obverse of nationalist zeal in journalism is a steady flow of self-criticism. When Noam Chomsky slams Israel’s excesses against the Palestinians he can’t be accused of anti-Semitism. When Irfan Husain turned his attention from describing the rot in Pakistan to the violation of Kashmir’s freedoms by Indian forces, it was difficult to dismiss him as a zealous Pakistani. It is not only important to note what is being said, but who is saying it.

Firaq Gorakhpuri treated Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s popular poem Madhushala (tavern) with a sceptical frown. Firaq believed that Omar Khayyam’s celebration of the forbidden elixir made as much sense as Ghalib and Faiz paying fulsome tributes to the goblet for similar reasons. In Bachchan’s culture, drinking wine was far from taboo. Irfan Husain’s progressive pursuits were to me like Khayyam’s resistance against a stifling order, occasionally couched in poetic imagery.


Jawed Naqvi is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.


Concern for Religious Freedom

By Syed Mohammad Ali

December 19, 2020

The US State Department released a press statement this past week listing 10 ‘countries of particular concern’ (CPC) for “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom”. Pakistan again finds itself on this list alongside not only American foes such as China, Iran, or North Korea, but also its steadfast allies like Saudi Arabia. Why some countries are placed on the CPC list, and others are excluded, therefore, is not a straightforward matter of American political biases. Yet, the fact that a country like India was not included on the CPC list this year is a cause for consternation, which will undermine its credibility abroad.

The State Department’s CPC determination is based on assessments provided by the Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the Congress to monitor, analyse and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. In its 2020 report, USCIRF had listed nine countries that the State Department had designated as CPC in the previous year (which also included Pakistan), as well as five additional countries, including India, which USCIRF also wanted the State Department to include on the CPC list.

In a recent press release, the Secre¬t¬a¬ry of State has only partially heeded the USCIRF’s advice. Nigeria has been included on the State Department’s CPC list as per USCIRF’s suggestion, but Russia is placed instead on a ‘special watch list’ instead of the CPC. The State Department has included other countries like Cuba and Nicaragua on this special list too, which is not what the USCIRF had recommended. Another important omission which will no doubt be noticed by Pakistan is that India is not included on either the CPC or on the State Department’s ‘special watch list’, despite USCIRF’s determination.

The “rationale” for Pakistan being placed on the CPC by USCIRF include enforcement of anti-Ahmadia laws, the failure to address forced conversions of religious minorities, and the state’s handling of blasphemy accusations (despite the high-profile acquittal of Asia Bibi).

The USCIRF had elevated concern for India’s deteriorating religious freedom infringements due to the BJP’s introduction of problematic legislation like the Citizen’s Amendment Act, and the state’s toleration of hate speech and incitement to violence. However, the State Department decided not to declare India a ‘country of particular concern’.

The State Department’s decision to not follow the USCIRF’s advice may be indicative of tensions between different institutions at the tail end of the Trump presidency. The State Department’s decision to include the Taliban as an ‘Entity of Particular Concern’, alongside militant groups like Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Islamic State is also causing concern given that the US government had itself signed a peace deal with them.

There are ample problems with assessing international religious freedom by powerful Western countries. A Pakistani anthropologist, the late Saba Mahmood, had pointed to hegemonic neo-liberal discourses and a paternalistic legacy of Orientalism coopting ethical norms like the right of religious freedom. It is indeed ironic how Euro-American interventions on behalf of religious liberty turn a blind eye to their own dismal record of protecting minorities (including the Welsh and Irish in Britain, the Bretons and Basques in France, and the Native Americans and blacks in the US). We thus continue seeing the instrumentalisation of the otherwise noble principle of respecting religious freedoms to serve realpolitik goals.

The act of Western governments and think-tanks declaring other countries religiously intolerant is criticised for being one-sided, partial, or motivated by political considerations. Yet, it is still difficult to refute the fact that there are genuine problems with how countries designated in the CPC ranking treat their religious minorities.

Pakistanis may rightly feel upset by the failure of the US State Department to include India on its CPC ranking. Under a Biden government, we may see the State Department taking India to task during the next year too. However, instead of dismissing the CPC list for being partial, or trying to convince the incoming administration to put India on it too, Pakistan should be primarily concerned about taking measures to get itself off this list.


Patriarchy or A Psychological Dilemma?

By Hafsa Bashir

December 19, 2020

I always find patriarchal or misogynist behaviour deep-rooted into psychological darkness. Lack of respect, love, empathy and humanity enforces regressive thought process. Individuals exhibiting rigid fundamentals are not mentally stable or contented people; they either have gone through a chaotic childhood or have seen disaster in relationships. Regression of basic instincts and desires sits back and comes out as a stingy monster implying repression as a rule of life. Such thought not only springs from psychosocial roots but gives rise to a whole generation of psychotics exhibiting multiple abnormal behaviours as societal norms. We establish abnormal behaviours as norms and then normalise those for generations to follow involuntarily and unquestionably.

Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s words resonate with a guilty reverberation, Bol kay lab azaad hain teray. The permission to speak or silence, exist or exit, choose or chase has to come from an authority because a lesser gender was born incomplete and incapable. A self-sufficient understanding of life and choice to decide the course of life is by no means a treacherous act. It’s an instinctive right to all genders as the patriarchs boast of conserving.

Subtlety of patriarchal implications makes the whole idea justified by the patriarchs and the very subjects too. These impressions are transferred as inheritance which stays with generations. More interesting is the fact that power, liberty and immunity endowed to subjects of a patriarchal system do not qualify to be a right rather implies broad-mindedness and yet another privilege of the higher order.

This psycho-socially normalised behaviours cannot be justified as innocent and involuntarily operative. It is an individual’s contribution towards normalising norms which are actually human and based on equality. Innumerable research patterns have found an equable part of environmental influences and an individual’s own understanding of his existence and experience. It is his own peculiar understanding of life and people which will ensure his liberation from the peril of a patriarchal trap.

As a society, we might need a better and advanced mental health awareness regime. Extremely talented people spend their lives fighting a mental issue and ruining not only his/her life but of the many people associated or dependent. They can be precious beings with a little bit of clinical or therapeutic help.

Our society thrives over the concept of shame and is driven by emotion. We need to inculcate emotional intelligence to act right in the middle of chaos. Along with feminist and patriarchal confrontations, we might need a serious overview of the psycho-social aspects of individuals who fail to understand or adapt to the normal strata of society. Healthy minds give rise to healthy lives and sick minds infect everyone related and even affect society by setting up another sickening instance of disease. Honour killing, harassment and abuse are just a few instances of these situations. Problematic is the issue of never realising that human beings can and do suffer from mental illness and it is as sickening as any other disease. We don’t need sermons about piety and grandeur of women in religious or cultural doctrines. We need an accelerated instruction of the psychologically challenged individuals exhibiting misogynistic demeanours.

Power and paradigm of patriarchal enterprise isn’t a plateau to be fertilised with a singular idea rather it is a rocky hill to climb with a novel strategy at every step. This has to be done through media, literature and curriculum based on human understanding rather on the basis of gender, race or colour. An in-depth study and therapeutic instances may help the souls suffering from patriarchal disorders by ensuring that their prestige and value will be handled with care being terminally fragile.


Why British Pakistanis Are Running Back To Pakistan?

By Shabana Syed

December 22, 2020

In a world where the fear of a pandemic has rules which no one really understands — one of them being that if you have this ‘deadly virus’, you must isolate, stay at home and don’t see a doctor; and if you do happen to die, God forbid, the main reason could only be due to ‘neglect’ from doctors and other fellow human beings.

It appears that Covid-19 will not kill as many people, as will these continual lockdowns along with neglect of patients. The Lancet report predicts a substantial increase of avoidable cancer deaths as a result of diagnostic delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. While the Royal College of Psychiatrists is warning that people with no history of mental illness are developing serious psychological problems as a result of lockdown, amid growing stresses over isolation and an uncertain future. In the UK if you have another serious condition, the only way you can see a doctor is through your phone screens from where they may be able to make out what is your illness. The essential human comforting contact is rarely available.

It was under these conditions of continual lockdowns and being forced to stay in doors for weeks that has led many Londoners to become medical tourists and fly out with their illnesses to saner climes, to receive medical attention. In my case it was Pakistan, thanks to a well-connected friend who invited me to see her exceptionally renowned Pakistani surgeon, as no one was taking my ready-to-burst gall bladder seriously in the UK. Researching about medical tourism in Pakistan I found that the country had exceptional highly experienced doctors and surgeons. Also that long before the issue of Covid-19 popped its ugly head and alienated the medical profession from suffering patients, Pakistan was fast becoming popular as a destination for cosmetic surgery, dentistry and heart surgery at reasonable rates, while its vast diaspora of Pakistanis settled in western countries always resorted back to their home country for any medical emergencies.

However, the country has taken on more importance thanks to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policy of smart lockdowns allowing the country to observe the mandatory masks but operating as normal with regards to essential medical facilities. As a result, a steady flow of patients has started to make their way to the country, knowing that they will find some sanity or should I say normality, where they won’t have to suffer in ‘isolation’ or neglect.

The plane was full of people escaping the confusion, which is now the UK. However, the irrationality continued in the British Airways plane where BA staff insisted on face masks, which could be removed for thirty minutes or so to eat food. Apparently during the 30 minutes Covid will not attack us, nor will it attack us while we are sitting in the plane like a tin of sardines with no hint of social distancing.

Who would have thought twenty years ago that the tables would have turned, the flow to the affluent medically advanced West would be flowing back, starting off as a trickle and turning into a flow of westerners seeking medical attention not available or sufficient in western medical facilities, and if they are then at astronomical costs.

When Imran Khan stated that Pakistan has the potential to become a world renowned tourist resort due to its untapped natural beauty and historical sites, he forgot to mention the fact that it was already becoming a hub for medical tourists. Many people from the Middle East have been coming here for decades for serious operations, like heart surgeries, besides thousands from the diaspora of Pakistanis living around the world for being unable to afford the costs or, as is the case now, losing faith in western medical practices, which rely heavily on painkillers and anti-depressants as some medical reports testify.

In the waiting room of Dr Muhammad Sajid Sheikh, a renowned Pakistani surgeon, I met a London-based Pakistani patient who informed me that she had to fly urgently to Pakistan in a wheelchair as she was unable to walk due to an inflamed gall bladder that a London hospital had refused to operate on as “her temperature was not high as yet” and to wait until it gets to that point. Her relatives spoke to a known surgeon who said he was ready to attend to her as soon as she arrives in the country. Her operation was a success and she now had come back to see if he can attend to her hiatus-hernia that was causing her an inability to eat anything and all London doctors could offer her was an anti -acidity pill.

Explained to me, Dr Sheikh said: “We have many patients from US and UK for medical treatment that the medical facilities in their own countries could not resolve or were made to wait months in pain for surgery”. He said: “recently I had two patients – one from London another from Muscat who had gall bladders in a critical condition and needed urgent surgery. Most of my patients come to me through word of mouth and the fact that I operated on one of their relatives or friends and they were happy with the results.”

The calls for Pakistan government to support and develop medical tourism have been made as far back as 2017 when at a medical event which was addressed by Dr Aurangzeb Khan and Dr Hanif Saeed, amongst many other prominent doctors, who spoke of the need to develop this sector further. They spoke about how India and Turkey are attracting patients for liver, kidney and heart transplants and how expatriate Pakistanis annually visit the country for dental procedures, eye surgeries, general surgeries – something which affirms that local health experts are as good as foreign surgeons and experts.

Renowned Hair Transplant Surgeon Dr Hanif Saeed highlighted how Turkey receives hundreds of European patients seeking hair restoration therapies, but Pakistan’s medical practitioners can carry out these medical procedures more effectively, also at cheaper rates. Dr Saeed called on the government to promote Pakistani hair transplant surgeons as well as facilities available here and said: “Pakistani specialists can fetch millions worth of foreign exchange for the country if medical tourism is promoted”.

Owais Kabani highlights the potential of medical tourism in research paper ‘Pakistan as a medical tourism destination, Just wishful thinking?’ He argues that medical tourism industry is in fact considered as one of the fastest growing industry and highlights a 2013 report by Transparency International which states that in the year 2012, the global medical tourism market which was valued at over $10.5 billion “is estimated to grow at an average rate of 17.9% to a remarkable value of $38.3 billion by 2020”.

Being widely appreciated in the West is Imran Khan’s smart lockdown strategy which advocates a humane balance between lives and livelihood, whereby masks are observed while people armed with their Islamic faith bravely continue to work for their livelihoods, and Covid-19 cases are low. It may also be that they are also aware that poverty and hunger is a worse threat than Covid-19.

It is a pity the West hasn’t implemented this balance between ‘lives and livelihood’. In UK, for example, the continual fear mongering and lockdowns have not brought down the cases of Covid-19. They have rather increased the numbers, besides bringing an economic nightmare of job losses, homelessness, poverty and a ‘tsunami’ of pending health issues.


Warming Up To Gulf Sheikhs

The Daily Times Editorial

December 22, 2020

Surely it’s no coincidence that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi just concluded a very successful tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Prime Minister Imran Khan received the Saudi ambassador just when the news cycle was full of chatter of a possible breakdown in relations between Pakistan and the Gulf brethren states. The bit about Pakistan having to pay back some billions owed to Saudi Arabia, for which it had to seek China’s help once again, no doubt fueled such rumours. Yet the fact that not just Islamabad but also Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have been very quick to rubbish such claims ought to be enough to show that in reality things are about as good as ever. The visa ban to UAE, too, is only temporary and because of the pandemic more than anything else.

The truth is that Pakistan has always had very good relations with Gulf states, since long before they became the center of global attention because of their oil wealth and its judicious use actually, even if over time this relationship has become somewhat transactional. Now, as things stand, we supply them with an army of our labour force, which helps build their grand cities, etc, and they sign the checks that make up a very big part of our annual remittances. And Pakistan, especially, has no reason to want it any other way; at least for the time being since we continue to struggle with our foreign exchange reserves. But Pakistan is put in a particularly awkward position when it is forced to choose between our friends in the Gulf and our Iranian neighbours.

It’s not secret, of course, that GCC foreign policy with regard to the Republic of Iran has been cause for a fair amount of strain in Pakistan. Lately, especially during the Trump administration when Iran was sanctioned more brutally and unfairly than at any other time in history, Pakistan was forced to maintain a safe distance with Iran, so to speak, owing to dual pressure from the Arabs as well as Washington. The new PTI government tried to break the ice by offering to mediate between the two estranged Muslim blocs that dominate the Persian Gulf, but unfortunately that drive lost steam rather quickly. Hopefully in his latest dealings with the Arabs the foreign minister as well as the prime minister would have reminded them of our need to play ball with both camps. Good relations with Gulf countries are always very welcome, but we should do more to improve our ties and trade with Iran as well.


The Last Days Of Mrs Jinnah

By Saad S. Khan

December 22, 2020

Jinnah had returned to Bombay after attending the All India Muslim League session by the first week of January 1929 and resumed his daily visits to his ailing wife. By the end of the month, he had to leave for Delhi for the legislative assembly session commencing on 28 January 1929. Since Jinnah arrived on time to attend the opening session of the legislature, it meant that 27 January could be the last day he saw his wife alive. Sarojini Naidu had left the country for a fairly long tour, on whom Jinnah used to depend when it came to keeping an eye on Ruttie’s health and moods.

This time, Jinnah had to leave her in the care of Lady Petit and other members of her immediate family who visited Mrs Jinnah regularly whenever Jinnah informed them that he would be away. To keep himself posted, Jinnah needed to rely on Mr and Mrs Dwarkadas, considering Mrs Jinnah’s comfort level with them.

6 Whenever Jinnah left by train for Delhi, his limousine would follow him by road for his use in the capital city. This time, after dropping Jinnah off at the railway station, his driver, Abdul Haye, returned to Mrs Jinnah to bid her farewell and to ask her if she needed anything from Delhi. She gave him a meek smile, beckoning to her mother to give him some money. Haye declined, saying that he would accept it when she would fully recover and join her husband in Delhi. ‘Yes, when I come to Delhi, you have to take me to the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya,’ she said. ‘Why not, my lady! As soon as I reach Delhi, I will go there myself to offer prayers for your health,’ Haye replied and left. He was never to see her again.

Just three days after Jinnah left, Dwarkadas informed a delighted Mrs Jinnah that the towering philosopher, J. Krishnamurti, was to visit Bombay. Krishnamurti knew Mrs Jinnah well enough to readily accept an invitation for tea at her residence on 1 February..

At 5 p.m. he arrived with his secretary, Yadunandan Prasad, while Mr and Mrs Dwarkadas reached independently. They stayed for one and a half hours chit-chatting with Mrs Jinnah over snacks.

On his part, Krishnamurti invited Mrs Jinnah for dinner the next evening at Annie Besant’s friend and contemporary theosophist Ratansi D. Morarji’s residence, where he was staying. On 2 February, Mrs Jinnah attended the banquet and had a long, pleasant chat with the host and various other guests. On 13 February, she was feeling better enough to be able to go to the cinema to watch an after-dinner show of a film with Mr and Mrs Dwarkadas, with whom she had earlier had dinner at a restaurant.

8 Due to the outbreak of riots, however, Bombay was under curfew. Dwarkadas, who was an honorary presidency magistrate, was so busy that he could not visit her for the next two or three days. Between 16 and 17 February, he was on night duty at Byculla. Mrs Jinnah felt lonely and unhappy.

On 17 February, she unexpectedly dropped in at Mr and Mrs Dwarkadas’s place for tea and stayed for four hours. During this meeting, she asked them to take care of her cats, in case she died. Mrs Jinnah would often talk about death, so the couple did not get alarmed. They could not have known that it was indeed the last time they would meet her.

9 Having dropped her back at her house at 7 p.m., Dwarkadas went to see off Annie Besant at the railway station. Annie Besant also advised Dwarkadas to take care of Mrs Jinnah. On the morning of 18 February, Mrs Jinnah rang up Dwarkadas, asking him to see her again. Dwarkadas promised to come by night. ‘If I am alive!’ she is said to have replied.

She again asked Dwarkadas to take care of her cats and not give them away in case she did die. When Dwarkadas checked on her at 11 that night, he was informed that she was asleep.

10 By the afternoon of 19 February, Dwarkadas was informed that Mrs Jinnah had fallen unconscious and that her condition was critical. The servants alerted her parents, who rushed her to critical care at the Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy Hospital, incidentally founded by Mrs Jinnah’s maternal grandfather.

The Last Birthday Cake Finally, it was 20 February, her twenty-ninth birthday. On the morning of her birthday, J.R.D. Tata—the owner of the Taj Mahal Hotel—sent her a cake. Her mother and at least two of her brothers also came to wish her, only to find her lying unconscious on the bed. It is difficult to ascertain whether it was a stress-related disorder or a stomach-related one that caused her death.

Nehru’s sister, Krishna Hutheesing, mentions in her autobiography that Mrs Jinnah’s cause of death ‘was given out as “peritonitis” [inflammation of peritoneum]’.

11 Haji Dossa (2013) says it was something akin to a ‘stomach cancer’.

12 Dwarkadas, on the other hand, writes that she was feeling depressed for the past three or four days. It might well have been a combination of both, as the psychological stress might have caused her colitis to flare up. Reportedly, on 19 February, she took an overdose of medicine that caused an abrupt deterioration of her condition. In case she had been feeling lonely or wanted to sleep but could not, chances were that she took the Veranol pills again and again to relax. But the account of her daughter, Dina, suggests that her stomach condition caused her excruciating bouts of pain. If that had kept deteriorating with each passing hour that afternoon, it is plausible that, in her desperation to get some respite, she might have taken morphine instead, which was the best-known painkiller at the time. Her death was caused, ‘almost certainly, by an unintended overdose of medicine’.

13 This prognosis is substantiated by the immediate treatment doctors gave her at the JJ Hospital to wash her stomach. Despite all efforts, her life could not be saved. Mrs Jinnah breathed her last that fateful Wednesday evening in 1929.1

4 Whether she would have survived her illness had she not taken the overdose is a moot point. Future medical historians may be able to comment on this better. Dinshaw Petit II’s Phone Call Unaware of what had happened to his wife, Jinnah was sitting with Diwan Chaman Lal in Delhi’s Western Court when a trunk call was placed to him from Bombay.

After attending the call, he asked Lal, ‘Do you know who that was?’, and continued without waiting for his answer that it was his father-in-law, who had spoken to him for the first time since his marriage. Sir Dinshaw, however, only told Jinnah that Ruttie was seriously ill.15 It is possible that the doctors had not confirmed Mrs Jinnah’s death until that time, or maybe, as a father, he failed to muster up the strength to say that his daughter was dead. Jinnah rushed back, taking the Frontier Mail the very next morning for his twenty-four-hour journey to Bombay, aboard what was then called the Great Indian Peninsular Railways, oblivious of his wife’s death.

It was during that train journey that Jinnah got to know of his wife’s death through the condolence telegram from none other than Lord Irwin, the viceroy of India. ‘I have just received the sad news of Mrs Jinnah’s death. Please accept very sincere sympathy from Lady Irwin and myself,’ the condolence message read.16 It can hardly be imagined how Jinnah must have felt at the bereavement.

The premature death of his wife was the greatest personal loss in his life. Disembarking at the Grant Road train station in Bombay on the morning of 22 February 1929, he was received by his friends Colonel (later Major General) Sahib Singh Sokhey, the well-known military physician, his wife Mrs Maneka Sokhey and Kanji Dwarkadas.

They accompanied Jinnah to the morgue of JJ Hospital, where his wife’s body had been packed in ice, awaiting his arrival. The arrangements for Mrs Jinnah’s funeral rites as per Muslim tradition was taken care of by Haji Daudbhai Nasser (a prominent member of the Khoja community, to which Jinnah belonged) and Rajab Alibhai Ibrahim Batliwala (Mariam Peerbhoy’s son-in law) before Jinnah’s arrival. The namaz-e-janazah (funeral prayers) of Mrs Jinnah was held at the Pala Galli mosque on Samuel Road, the same mosque where her nikah had been registered. Allama Hassan Najafi, the cleric who had solemnized the marriage eleven years ago, led the prayers. Several hundred Muslim friends attended the prayers.


Saad S. Khan, Ph.D Director General, National Institute of Management (NIM),


For Some in Pakistan, There Is No End to Suffering

By Hassan Niazi

December 22, 2020

Why must children suffer for this country to realise its mistakes?

The list of children we have failed is long: Zainab Ansari, Malala Yousafzai, Aitzaz Hasan, the children of APS Peshawar. They had to suffer for the sins of this country’s rulers and elite who have grown so distant from the plight of common people that only the suffering of children gets their attention.

We dub the children who give up their lives for this country as martyrs. We do this to console ourselves — it matters little to the children. No child should ever be a martyr, because children are not supposed to be soldiers. They are not supposed to sacrifice their lives for a higher cause. They are only expected to live and be free. Children are supposed to be protected.

Pakistan’s schoolchildren are expected to display peerless bravery simply to attain an education. A fundamental right under our Constitution. Zainab Ansari was on her way to a Quran class when she was abducted; Malala Yousafzai survived an assassination attempt while on her way home from school; Aitzaz Hasan tackled a suicide bomber who planned to attack his school; 132 children lost their life in APS Peshawar.

According to Human Rights Watch, there were 867 attacks on educational institutions in Pakistan from 2007 to 2015, resulting in 392 deaths. Despite these figures, most public schools lacked basic security features until the attack on APS Peshawar. The report by Human Rights Watch points out that before the Peshawar attack, approximately 5,000 public schools in K-P, 2,600 in Punjab, 3,600 in Balochistan, and 49,000 in Sindh lacked a boundary wall for protection.

It took the lives of 132 children for us to realise this was a problem.

This month, the country marked six years since the attack on APS Peshawar. Six years on, the parents of the victims are still searching for answers.

How these people have been treated is a testament to the moral decay of our leadership.

Consider this, it took six years for a report on the incident to be published. For comparison’s sake, New Zealand prepared a comprehensive report on the Christchurch attack within one year of the incident.

Six agonising years of waiting. Meanwhile, the country moved on.

The parents are owed accountability. They are owed justice. A state that lets feelings of injustice fester within the hearts of its people sets itself up for failure. We appear to be on that track.

No individual who fostered a system that allowed militants to walk into a school and kill indiscriminately has been held accountable. Elected ministers, members of law enforcement, the security establishment, all get to walk away and blame ‘bad intelligence’.

The APS report spans more than 500 pages. It speaks at length about the security lapses that led to the attack occurring, the problems associated with having a porous border with Afghanistan, the inadequacy of the first layer of security, and locals who gave shelter to the terrorists.

What the report doesn’t speak about — at least not at length — is the structural and institutional reform that needs to be implemented across the country to prevent such attacks from happening again.

To be sure, after the events of APS Peshawar, terrorism decreased in Pakistan because of a strong military response. But a military response is reactive, we still need proactive solutions to keep our children safe. For one, we can’t keep depending on the military to do the job of local law enforcement. Yet, police reform, something that nearly everyone in Pakistan agrees is necessary, never materialises. Neither does judicial reform, reform that would allow our ordinary courts to try terrorists while protecting the judges and witnesses involved.

The National Action Plan (NAP), framed in the aftermath of the attack, was supposed to guide us towards reform — a better, safer country. But all we really did was hand over control of pressing national problems like reforming our court system to the military. The Constitution was amended to give us military courts to expedite trials — due process be damned. Legislation passed in the aftermath of the APS attack authorised secret trials by military courts and annihilated established due process standards such as the presumption of innocence.

This was supposed to be a temporary measure to allow us to whip our regular courts into shape in the interim. That never happened. Military courts eventually went away, while regular courts stayed the same.

And so, the police and courts were never reformed. Instead, we did what we do best: try quick fixes to a deeply entrenched problem.

For other problems, we didn’t even try. According to NAP, we were finally supposed to get around to reforming Pakistan’s madrassahs. This is something that is only spoken about, but hardly ever acted upon. Despite legislation existing, there is no word on implementation. Unchecked and unregulated, madrassahs continue to produce hatred and bigotry amongst their students.

Curbing hatred amongst our people should have been one of the top priorities of the state. Hatred breeds terrorism after all. But the rise of the TLP and its open peddling of hatred and violence paint a picture of a state that continues to look the other way.

Meanwhile, for the parents of the APS victims, the long search for justice continues. They continue to live with the state’s hypocrisy. The story of Advocate Fazal, who lost his son in the attack, encapsulates their treatment. Advocate Fazal became the president of the APS Shuhada Forum and campaigned extensively to obtain justice for the victims. When he became a member of the PTM, he would have multiple FIRs registered against him because of this. Earlier this year he survived an assassination attempt on his life.

For some in Pakistan, there is no end to suffering. Their grief is eternal.



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