Partisan problems

Friday, Sep 24, 2021

This refers to the editorial ‘Unnecessary controversy’ (September 22). It seems that the ruling party members had no problem with the chief election commissioner (CEC) until the latter opposed the use of EVMs.

As for the information minister’s accusation that the CEC is partial towards the opposition, one must remember a certain senator of his party who won the 2018 NA election against Shehbaz Sharif in Karachi. This person was accused of perjury but no action was taken against him.

Shakir Lakhani

Karachi

https://e.thenews.com.pk/detail?id=6436


 

The Supreme Court has told forty three innocent buyers of apartments in the soon-to-be-demolished Nasla Towers to get back the amounts they paid from the builder. The question arises: is the builder alone responsible for constructing the building on a fservice road? Why not punish those who allowed the construction to happen in the first place and did nothing to stop it?

The Sindh Government deliberately re-named the Karachi Building Control Authority as Sindh Building Control Authority so that it could appoint its favorites from the interior of the country. Out of 25 directors, twenty two are from places other than Karachi, even though ninety percent of new construction takes place in Karachi. That's why so many buildings have been constructed on amenity parks and illegally acquired government land, not to mention Bahria Town for which thousands of villagers were evicted from their villages and four hundred were killed.

So the apex court should really have recovered the amount from the Sindh Government employees who facilitated the crime. 

The double standard is also evident. Imran Khan's residence and other properties in Islamabad were "regularized" after payment of paltry amounts while such properties in Karachi face demolition.

But the question remains: Nasla Tower flats are probably worth four times as much as the buyers paid for them years ago. How will the builder (Altaf Pardesi) pay them the huge amount (probably forty million for each flat)? The poor owners will have to pay at least that much to buy similar flats elsewhere in the city. Besides this, there are many such buildings that have been built on illegally acquired land. The court will have no option but to demolish those as well. Why not do what they've done in Islamabad: regularize all such buildings after payment of similar amounts?

Gas woes

September 22, 2021

According to some news reports, the government has proposed to increase gas prices by up to 37 percent for some consumers. Instead of burdening consumers, it is suggested that the government takes measures to catch the people stealing gas.

Presently, more than 10 percent of Pakistan’s gas production is unaccounted for, and of that, up to 50 percent is stolen. A check on theft of gas will eliminate the need to raise gas prices. Initially it may prove difficult as quite a large part of the theft takes place in KP, where the PTI has been in power.

Shakir Lakhani

Karachi

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/894268-gas-woes



The only surprising thing about the New Zealand Cricket team suddenly cancelling the tour (just an hour before the first match started) is that they came to Pakistan in the first place. After the Taliban's violent take-over of Afghanistan and the resounding support they got from Imran Khan, any sane person would have hesitated before even thinking of coming to this country. And as if that wasn't enough, the news of seven soldiers being killed in Waziristan as well as photos of the armed Mullah Abdul Aziz preventing policemen from pulling down the Taliban flag from the roof of his mosque should have been enough to make all foreigners in Islamabad dash out of Pakistan.


But of course our ministers (like Shaikh Rasheed) refuse to accept responsibility for this debacle. It was one of the top police officers in Islamabad who warned other departments of possible terrorist activities targeting the New Zealand cricket team. Perhaps this memo found its way to the concerned cricket officials who decided to abruptly call off the tour. 

But the government is least bothered. Instead of taking appropriate action to find out what really happened, its ministers are content to blame the whole thing on enemies of Pakistan (particularly India).

Ironically, just a couple of days back, the powerless president of the country (whom I used to interact with thirty years back) declared that the whole world should follow Imran Khan (in Urdu, he he said that they should become his "mureed" or disciples). From this incident, the only thing they can learn from Imran Khan is how not to conduct their foreign policies.

Someone should check whether Imran Khan really studied at Oxford. Or whether he even passed Grade 10. The man is stupid beyond belief. Already the people have been trying hard to survive due to massive inflation. But ignoring the signs, Imran Khan has increased the prices of all petroleum products by five rupees a litre. It seems he's bent upon making himself very unpopular. Doesn't he realize that people are fed up with him, and one sign of this is his party's poor showing in the recent Cantonment Board elections?

When he was loudly proclaiming that every time petroleum prices are increased, the extra amount goes into Nawaz Sharif's pocket, people believed him. So the people won't be wrong if they believe that Imran Khan himself is as corrupt as Nawaz Sharif. In fact, considering that this government has taken more loans than both the previous regimes combined, it looks like Imran Khan is much more corrupt than both Nawaz and Zardari.

But I'm amazed that leaders of the opposition parties cannot get together and come out on the streets to protest, as they did in the final days of Ayub and Bhutto. Surely the high prices of edible items must be pinching them too. Right now they seem too preoccupied by the draconian steps the government intends to take to curb the social media, which Imran Khan believes is responsible for all his problems. This is a good time to come out and make Imran Khan realize that he is no longer wanted. But then, who will bell the cat?

So far, Imran Khan has strongly resisted holding elections to the local bodies, as he knows the people will not vote for his party. If further confirmation was needed, in the recent Cantonment elections, his party was able to get only thirty percent of the seats. In fact, in four major cities (Lahore, Peshawer, Multan and Rawalpindi), his party appears to have been almost wiped out. Naturally, he will blame the social media and other external factors (like election rigging) for this debacle. But his party did very well in the Azad Kashmir elections a couple of months back. At that time, he had no problem with the present Chief election commissioner. Now his ministers have started accusing the Chief Election Commissioner of being biased in favor of the major opposition party, the PML-N, which did very well in the Cantonment elections, getting almost as many seats as the ruling party did.

But what must be worrying Imran Khan more than ever is that he can no longer expect any support from the establishment to rig the elections in his favor (as happened in the general elections of 2018). That is one reason why he wants to clamp down on social media, which is the only outlet people have to know the truth about his corruption and ineptitude. His insistence on getting the Pakistan Media Development Authority ordinance passed is due to the social media conveying to the public the real state of affairs in the country. By clamping down heavily on the print and electronic media, he can easily coerce them to toe the line. But social media is another thing entirely. Let's hope the opposition parties remain united on this issue at least.

The other day, a PTI minister (Azam Swati) accused the Election Commission of rigging past elections and taking bribes to do so. So he confirmed what we already knew: that the 2018 elections were heavily rigged to make Imran Khan the prime minister. Another minister (Fawad Choudhry) claimed that the Election Commission is biased in favor of the major opposition party (the PML-N). This is strange, because so far the ECP has always sided with PTI, as in the case of Faisal Vawda.

Lest anyone forget, Vawda won the seat in the 2018 elections gainst Shahbaz Sharif by a very narrow margin (700 seats), yet the ECP didn't allow a recount. When Vawda vacated this seat, his party (PTI) got very few votes, getting even less than three other parties. This election was won by the PPP, even though my distant relative Miftah Ismail of the PML-N was a close second. Which proves that in the general election of 2018, Vawda won by massive rigging.

But if more proof is required, Vawda was found to have commited perjury by not declaring his US nationality at the time he contested. This should have been enough to disqualify him for life, yet the ECP has not done anything about it. There are many others of the ruling party whom the ECP has unduly favored. It was obvious from the start that the dice was heavily loaded against Nawaz Sharif who had grown very powerful and was defying the real rulers of the country.

I wonder if the ECP will take any action against the two PTI ministers for insulting the institution. I doubt it. The ministers will use their favorite excuse, "We were quoted out of context", or they will apologize and the matter will be forgotten. But the people have a right to wonder why there are such nincompoops in Imran Khan's government. But then Imran Khan himself is known for the many gaffes he's committed. So why should we be surprised?


 

For some unknown reason, history was not taught in my school (St. Patrick's), so I used to borrow history books from a friend studying in another school. I was fascinated by Mughal history, but in those days history was written by Indian Hindus who hated Muslims, so the books were obviously biased.

Recently I've read "The Anarchy" by William Darlymple who is a Briton living in Delhi. I read it on the recommendation of my late friend Abid Shaikh. Nowadays I'm reading another of his books ("The last Mughal"), and I'm struck by how similar were the conditions of Muslims in 1857 to the present. There was the same chaos, disturbances, lack of law and order that we find in Pakistan and Afghanistan today. Someone once said if the British had not come to India, it would have been a much richer country. I beg to disagree. Indians (both Muslims and Hindus) had been fighting among themselves before the British arrived. Mind you, Muslims were at war with other Muslims, while Hindus were also killing each other. This would have continued if the Europeans had stayed away from the subcontinent. 

The Mughals had already lost their clout more than a century before the collapse of their empire. Reading the events that led to the downfall of the empire in 1857 makes you realize that Muslims have not changed much since those days. The British took advantage of the disunity among Indians and gradually took over the whole country, just as India dismembered Pakistan because our powerful people didn't want a Bengali to be the prime minister of the country.

I would urge all my friends and relatives to make their children read our history (I know that most people of my age haven't got the time to read nowadays, with all those Whattsapp videos they get daily). Making the children and grandchildren aware of what happened in the past will make them understand why Muslims are in such a bad state today.

It's happened many times before: whenever a government wants to divert attention from its failures, some geniuses in Islamabad think of making hijab compulsory, initially for school girls and then for female government employees. Ultimately it has to happen: voters soon realize that women cannot be blamed for inflation, rapes and corruption. But our politicians think they can get away with everything, until they are forced to flee when the tipping point is reached.

Most of the men in Pakistan actually believe that women are responsible for all our problems, including earthquakes and floods. They advise their sons not to get too close to women, as if women's bodies emanate some radiation that will make men impotent. A man I know, a staunch Jamate Islami member, refused to have physiotherapy done by a woman. When he was in hospital a few months back, he didn't want female nurses near him. It's a miracle that such men marry at all and have sex with their wives. 

So the government of Imran Khan thinks that if women stop wearing jeans, prices of essentials will return to what they were three years ago, men will stop stripping women naked and raping them and street crimes will disappear. But who will they blame if the situation in the country becomes even worse?

The missionary school where I studied from 1951 to 1960 had dedicated teachers and priests who used to cane the students regularly. But they were poorly paid, which was natural, as most of the Catholic boys did not have to pay the monthly fees. The school therefore was always short of funds, which is why they hired a doctor at a very low salary. I don't think he was a doctor as he used to tell practically all the students that they would not be able to become parents unless they came to his clinic and bought medicines from him. Ferrodol was a liquid preparation that he sold us, as well as another mixture that we never took, it was so bitter. When this quack told me that I would never be a father because my penis wasn't normal, I naturally believed him, not knowing that he had said the same thing to practically every student. He had also told me that I wouldn't live a long life due to my frequent colds and coughs. So I always thought I would die before the age of forty.


Yesterday I turned 77, and considering that some of my relatives died before they reached 70, I think I'm lucky. Of course there are two male cousins who are three and five years older than me, but they never became parents, so they didn't have to undergo the stress most parents experience. With three children and seven grandchildren, I consider myself fortunate to be alive at all, even though I have to take many medications to survive. 

Now that I'm a year nearer to death, I often wonder whether I have lived a fruitful life. I doubt if my children and grandchildren will remember me two or three years after my death. The only thing I'll leave behind are the two hundred odd articles I've written that were published in newspapers. But now that most people have given up reading, I doubt if my descendants will ever even look at my writings. Perhaps one day they'll come across my blog accidentally, and reading it they'll know the kind of life I've lived. 

As for any advice to them on how to conduct their lives, I don't have any, except to urge them to be moderate in everything they do and not believe everything they're told by politicians and mullahs. I've seen too many of my relatives and friends being duped by Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif, Tariq Jamil, Imran Khan and others, and I know that it was my extensive reading that saved me from such people.