Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Baba ji!


In a recent news story (here and here), the Foreign Office of Pakistan celebrated the Father of the Nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s birthday on December 20th, for the first time in country’s history, instead of the actual December 25 which also happens to be a public holiday in the national calendar. According to reports, electronic invitations were sent out to foreign missions and the event was projected as a ‘Holiday Season Event’ to deflect public criticism.

Proponents of the event have argued that this was a pragmatic move to facilitate foreign diplomats in attending Jinnah’s birthday celebrations because they were often unavailable since his birthday and the Christmas day coincided, and so the change did not matter as it was not a date given by the Almighty Allah.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Dec 25, 1876 - Sep 11, 1948)
However, such reasoning is myopic thinking and a demented logic of appeasement. It implies that significant dates in a ‘national calendar’ have rather little or no significance and can be switched at whim. By the same token, would it be judicious to switch the Independence Day celebrations from August 14 to August 15 (next switch?) or to July 4, or the Pakistan Day celebrations from March 23 to January 26, or the Defence of Pakistan Day memorial from September 6 to November 11 (Veterans/Remembrance Day)? Logically, a question arises, why did Jinnah have to choose August 14 as the Independence Day in the first place, instead of going with the given August 15 under the Indian Independence Act of 1947? It was not just to allow Lord Mountbatten the comfort of attending two ceremonies on different days. So, a logical thinking required that if the government had wished to introduce Jinnah’s birthday as a ‘floating holiday,’ like Martin Luther King Day or Victoria Day, then such a change should have come through an Act of Parliament for a specific day of the week.

Note that symbolism and semiotics are one of the principal vehicles through which today’s nation-states build their ‘nations,’ cultivate a sense of ‘nationalism’ amongst people, and keep their nations alive – in essence through the interaction of symbols and semiotics with festivals, arts, etc – and then jealously safeguard these symbols and semiotics. A national calendar is as much an integral symbol of a ‘nation’ as its flag, anthem, languages, festivals, arts, etc.

Furthermore, in today’s Information Age, when peoples are deluged with information, misinformation and disinformation, when new and social media are used for purposes beyond communication, when dark recesses of the Internet at times provide fodder for a suffocated and misguided youth, and when phenomenal advances in technology eclipse geographical and societal frontiers, the nation-states that are unable to preserve, protect and promote their national symbols, national values and national culture would be unable to retain their national identities and national interests. Lord Macaulay (1800-59) was right when he predicted in 1835, “a people that lose their self-esteem and native culture will become a truly dominated nation.”

So, here’s to the Great Leader and to the 25th of December – Happy Birthday! Thank you for all your labour and for the country you fought for, though it’s an utter shame that so many ungrateful people here have no regard for your dream, for your motto and for your message!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cromwell, Robespierre and Bachha Saqqas of Pakistan

A leaf from history to refresh your minds:

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), the 1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland (1653-8), remains one of the most controversial figures in the British history. While some consider him a tyrant for being one of the signatories of the death warrant of King Charles I and for his genocide/near-genocide of Roman Catholics in Ireland and of Royalists in Scotland, yet others consider him a hero of the civil war, liberty and parliamentary democracy and a visionary for allowing Jews to return to England and for his formation of a standing army and a navy.
Oliver Cromwell dissolving the Long Parliament

On April 20, 1653, Oliver Cromwell dissolved the Rump/Long Parliament, to be later replaced by a Nominated Assembly-the Parliament of the Saints or the Barebones Parliament, delivering a stinging indictment of the House of Commons that rings true for the current state of Pakistani body-politic in 2012, though by no means implying a similar action here.

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.
Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God's help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.
I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place. Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! 
So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!”
  
Similarly, Maximilien de Robespierre (1758-94) was an influential but controversial leader of the French Revolution. While some consider him a tyrant for his successful demand for the execution of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette and for his reign of terror (1793-4), yet others call him ‘The Incorruptible’ leader of the Jacobin Club and organiser of the Paris Commune who supported equal rights and universal suffrage and helped establish sovereignty of the people and the republic.

Serment du jeu de paume, the Tennis Court Oath, June 20, 1789
On February 5, 1794, Robespierre delivered his famous Republic of Virtue speech to the French National Convention, arguing:

“What is the aim we want to achieve? The peaceful enjoyment of liberty and equality; the reign of that eternal justice whose laws are engraved not in stone and marble, but in the hearts of all men, even in the heart of the slave who forgets them or of the tyrant who disowns them. 
We want a state of affairs where all despicable and cruel passions are unknown, and all kind and generous passions are aroused by the laws; where ambition is the desire to deserve glory and to serve the fatherland; where distinctions arise only from equality itself; where the citizen submits to the magistrate, the magistrate to the people and the people to justice; where the fatherland guarantees the well-being of each individual, and where each individual enjoys with pride the prosperity and glory of the fatherland; where all souls elevate themselves through constant communication or republican sentiments and through the need to deserve the esteem of a great people; where the arts are the decorations of liberty that ennobles them, where commerce is the source of public wealth and not only of the monstrous opulence of a few house.
In our country we want to substitute morality for egoism, honesty for honor, principles for customs, duties for decorum, the rule of reason for the tyranny of custom, the contempt of vice for the contempt of misfortune, pride for insolence, magnanimity for vanity, love of glory for love of money, good people for well-bred people, merit for intrigue, genius for wit, truth for pompous action, warmth of happiness for boredom of sensuality, greatness of man for pettiness of the great; a magnanimous, powerful, happy people for a polite, frivolous, despicable people -- that is to say, all the virtues and all the miracles of the Republic for all the vices and all the absurdities of the monarchy.
In one word, we want to fulfil the wishes of nature, accomplish the destiny of humanity, keep the promises of philosophy, absolve Providence from the long reign of crime and tyranny.
What kind of government can realize these marvels? Only a democratic or republican government.
But what is the fundamental principle of the democratic or popular government, that is to say, the essential strength that sustains it and makes it move? It is virtue: I am speaking of the public virtue which brought about so many marvels in Greece and Rome and which must bring about much more astonishing ones yet in republican France; of that virtue which is nothing more than love of the fatherland and of its laws....”

Shortly afterwards on June 8, 1794, on the Festival of the Supreme Being (Le culte de l'Être supreme), Robespierre made another impassioned speech:

“.... Is it not He who, from the beginning of time, decreed for all the ages and for all peoples liberty, good faith, and justice?
He did not create kings to devour the human race. He did not create priests to harness us, like vile animals, to the chariots of kings and to give to the world examples of baseness, pride, perfidy, avarice, debauchery, and falsehood. He created the universe to proclaim His power. He created men to help each other, to love each other mutually, and to attain to happiness by the way of virtue.
.... It is He who impels the just man to hate the evil one, and the evil man to respect the just one. ... All that is good is His work, or is He. Evil belongs to the depraved man who oppresses his fellow man or suffers him to be oppressed.
The Author of Nature has bound all mortals by a boundless chain of love and happiness. Perish the tyrants who have dared to break it!
Republican Frenchmen, it is yours to purify the Earth which they have soiled, and to recall to it the justice that they have banished! Liberty and virtue together came from the breast of Divinity. Neither can abide with mankind without the other.
O generous People, would you triumph over all your enemies? Practice justice, and render the Divinity the only worship worthy of Him.
.... It is wisdom above all that our guilty enemies would drive from the republic. To wisdom alone it is given to strengthen the prosperity of empires. It is for her to guarantee to us the rewards of our courage. Let us associate wisdom, then, with all our enterprises. Let us be grave and discreet in all our deliberations, as men who are providing for the interests of the world. Let us be ardent and obstinate in our anger against conspiring tyrants, imperturbable in dangers, patient in labors, terrible in striking back, modest and vigilant in successes. Let us be generous toward the good, compassionate with the unfortunate, inexorable with the evil, just toward every one. Let us not count on an unmixed prosperity, and on triumphs without attacks, nor on all that depends on fortune or the perversity of others. Sole, but infallible guarantors of our independence, let us crush the impious league of kings by the grandeur of our character, even more than by the strength of our arms....”

Both Cromwell and Robespierre met a somewhat similar fate; Cromwell’s body was disinterred and executed posthumously in 1659 after the monarchy got re-established in England and his head remained on a spike above the Westminster Hall for about 25 years – only to be buried after about another 300 years, while Robespierre was arrested on orders of the National Convention and guillotined without trial in 1794.

It is a moot point whether Pakistanis understand the value of human life and its basic rights, democratic pluralism, equality and rule of law and can take a long-term view to nation-building!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fourteen Points to 'Reprogram' and 'Reboot' Pakistan


إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ
“Verily, Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change their inner selves”
– Al-Qur’an, 13:11

“Know others and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.
When you are ignorant of others but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal.
If you are ignorant both of others and of yourself, you are certain in every battles to be in peril.”
Sun Tzu (The Art of War)

There comes a time in the life of nation when silence is cruel and fence sitting is not an option. Today, as the Pakistani ruling elite apparently lay the foundation of a modern Pakistan, we rather find this resilient but bemused nation being sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, opportunism and cronyism, to the eternal shame of this country, by its own so-called leaders, and with utter disregard to its future. For instance, Pakistan ranked 30th in money laundering and tax evasion out of 144 countries in the Basel 2012 AML Index, slipped from 45/180 in 2008 to 34th most corrupt country out of 176 in the Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perception Index, ranked 8th most corrupt, 7th worst in delivery of civil justice and 18th worst in delivery of criminal justice out of 97 countries in the World Justice Project’s 2012 Rule of Law Index, slipped from 136/177 in 2007/08 to 145th out of 187 countries in the United Nation’s 2011 Human Development Index, slipped from 127/130 in 2008 to 134th out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Gender Gap Index, slipped from 92/131 in 2007-08 to 124 out of 144 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2012/13 Global Competitiveness Index, ranked 9th most economically distressed and sociopolitically vulnerable country out of 165 in The Economist’s 2010 Political Risk Index and 10th least peaceful country out of 158 in the Institute for Economics & Peace’s 2012 Global Peace Index. When a cancer has metastasised or gangrene spreads, there are fewer options and limited time; a surgical resection often becomes necessary over happy-go-lucky conservative care or faith-healing rituals. This piece, therefore, is a clarion call to all Pakistanis, particularly if you are also a public servant or holder of public office in Pakistan, to treat the disease, not the symptoms -- think rationally, dispassionately and altruistically and not impulsively, emotionally or selfishly, step out of your big bubbles of tiny egos and small cocoons of infallibility and megalomania, because “charity should begin at himself” and “they who serve at the altar, should live by the altar,” and gently reflect on the issues below constructively in order to chalk out a shared path ahead.

People are the real wealth of a nation. But in a place ridden with internal contradictions, double-standards and socioeconomic disparities, in a place ridden with systemic black holes - not mere loopholes, in a place that yearns for change and action but resigns to fate and inaction, clings to dependency and awaits a saviour, in a place where free-riders run amok and the moral hazard costs of few productive beings subsidising large unproductive teams run high, in a place where ‘show me the face, I’ll show you the rule’ remains mantra of the day, in a place where the social contract remains inherently unjust, in a place where according to Pakistan-born American billionaire entrepreneur Shahid Khan “the biggest impediment is that hope, getting to the next stage, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, there are forces that kind of prevent you from being the best you can be” – in short, there are no easy picks in a place with broken system and so springing the spring to spring becomes the most difficult spring. After all, what for, why bother, or how come!? In essence, it boils down to individual attitude, mindset and personality and the way individuals and society are ‘programmed’ because if people can not step up to change themselves it is recklessly naïve and fallacious to assume that they could spring the spring in a society and country.

However, not all is lost; finely-tuned, this nation can do wonders. The problems faced by Pakistan are not natural but man-made and can be overcome by the actions of Pakistanis. But as often attributed to Einstein, “the significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” So, when you find yourself riding a dead horse; it is time to dismount and change the horse. A new thinking becomes essential if you are to survive and move forward, just as skilled sailing is essential for a prosperous voyage or for turning a big ship around on the high seas. You must free yourselves of the longing for a saviour or that the problems will ever rest, rather you must breed a new mindset and learn to sail in high winds; once your mind is stretched by this new thinking you would never look back. There is little need to reinvent the wheel though; as Sven Lindqvist said, “it is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions.” You can surely jump on the learning curve making use of the best practices and lessons learned from contemporary world and past history - and there are plenty of these that have stood the tests of time.

Below is a Fourteen Point Agenda proposed to help change, revive and reclaim Pakistan. These are not words from the Gospel but the dock of the bay for fourteen teams of dedicated persons and an involved society, working in tandem, for a nation’s ship to set sail. These are no quick fixes; developing a nation and a country is a collective responsibility where everyone does his/her due share. The choices Pakistanis make every day would dictate the lives they lead. It is important to understand and remember though that not everyone would see the world the same as you do, because if nothing else it seriously constrains you to take on board other people’s insights, expertise and experiences. It is only when you have this tolerance for dissent, finesse for concession and conciliation, understanding of your positions and interests, and capacity to learn from history rather than reinvent the wheel each time that you can create a system of checks and balances to change, responsibly self-govern and construct a shared future. Recall from history that when peaceful change is made impossible then violent revolution or colonization do become inevitable.

  1. A Provinces Reorganisation Commission shall be set up to recommend the reorganisation of all provincial boundaries, so as to correspond more closely to modern Pakistan’s ethnic subcultures and administrative exigencies instead of the old colonial arrangement. This shall also reinforce inter-provincial amity, ethnic inclusivity, public ardour and social harmony.
  2. Land management systems must be restructured. Land records are one of the most important and most commonly used public documents. In order to protect citizen’s right to property, provide speedy access to land records and related services, insure accuracy and prevent tampering of land records, fake mutations, illegal land transfers or land grabbing, a functional Provincial Land Records Index and Information Management System along with computerization of land records in each district shall be fully completed, a departmental activity free of any interim legal injunction, statutory limitation or administrative delay, throughout the country within 1 year on an emergency basis. Land settlement of each district shall also be conducted and completed on an emergency basis, a departmental activity free of any interim legal injunction, statutory limitation or administrative delay, preferably keeping the last settlement done under the colonial rule pre-1947 in that district as the necessary and fair reference point, throughout the country within a maximum of 3 years, and thereafter done regularly on a 10-year cyclical basis. Equitable distribution and efficient administration of agricultural and non-agricultural land must be assured to minimize social and economic inequities and inequalities, upgrade land utilization, tenancy structures and productivity, and prevent investment of black money into land transactions in the country. Relevant laws shall be altruistically amended and implemented to abolish intermediaries, protect tenants, rationalize tenure systems, improve management of Common, Colony, Evacuee/Auqaf and Waqf lands, and in particular impose ceilings on landholdings, such as a ceiling of 5 Hectares (~100 kanal) for agricultural land owned by a single person or household unit but under sharecropping tenancy, a ceiling of 10 Hectares (~200 kanal) for self-cultivated agricultural land owned by a single person or household unit, that is a maximum of 15 Hectares of agricultural land, including any shamlat-deh/Common, Tribal, Forest or Colony or other lands on allotment/lease, owned by a single person or household unit, and a maximum of 10 Hectares of agricultural land, including any shamlat-deh/Common, Tribal, Forest or Colony or other lands on allotment/lease, exclusively owned by a private company or not-for-profit society or trust comprising of non-competing shareholders, and a ceiling of 1 Hectare (~20 kanal) for non-agricultural land owned by a single person or household unit for urban, residential or commercial purposes, and a ceiling of 10 Hectare (~200 kanal) for non-agricultural land exclusively owned by a private company or not-for-profit society or trust comprising of non-competing shareholders for urban or commercial purposes. Furthermore, independent District Agriculture Development Boards with membership of the community and agriculturists may be constituted in each district to advise the District Governments on agriculture extension, diversification and marketing, monitor agricultural program delivery, foster agricultural cooperatives where needed, and help enhance farm efficiency and productivity.
  3. Freedom of the Press is guaranteed not only to those who own one but also to all citizens of the state. The current system of self-regulation is inherently constrained to expose or rein in any wrongdoing in the media. In order to insure media ethics and appropriate checks and balances, the relevant laws shall be amended to provide for an independent statutory office of Media Ombudsman to handle public complaints, determine whether the actions of print and electronic media in Pakistan are in line with good journalistic practices and make an independent decision or refer complex cases to the Press Council of Pakistan or to the court for action, as needed. Moreover, in order to maintain freedom of the press, editorial independence, content neutrality and diversity, and to prevent a monopoly of ideas, in public interest, relevant media ownership and regulation laws shall also be amended to check media concentration and convergence in Pakistan, inter-alia, limit a single person or household or company to own one national broadcast network, or two local stations in a single media market, or one radio and one TV station cross-ownership in a local/provincial market, prohibit common or cross-ownership of a daily newspaper and a broadcast station (TV or radio), and cap foreign content to one-third each in radio, TV, movies and advertising. The newspaper/broadcast cross-ownerships and combinations that already exist shall be required to divest their majority holdings into open market within a period of two years from this amendment.
  4. Relevant federal and provincial ministries and departments may collaborate to develop, implement and evaluate a plan to promote arts, culture and heritage. National, provincial and regional cultural festivals, fairs, sports events and trade shows must be organised regularly to promote communal interaction and integration, ethnic harmony, domestic tourism and commerce.
  5. Religious freedom and harmony must be protected. In order to prevent communal discord or discrimination of any faith group and to safeguard the right of each individual to worship, the places of worship for all faiths, faith-based community/cultural centres and faith-based schools may require a license to operate, and the future establishments shall also require a building permit, based on specific criteria and procedures, prior to construction from the respective district or provincial government. A province may also appoint a recognized community member as a congregation leader, in a suitable government pay scale, at a particular place of worship, if requested so by the relevant community. All faith-based schools must follow a standardized curriculum as other schools in the country, be open to students of all faiths, foster interfaith interactions and the religious instruction should be after-class and optional.
  6. Education system shall be overhauled. A uniform and standardized academic curriculum for Grades 1-12 must be followed by all public, private, not-for-profit and faith-based schools/colleges of the country, except international schools for wards of diplomats and other foreigners in Pakistan, and parallel systems of education shall not be allowed under no circumstances. All school education must be bilingual (English and Urdu/regional language, as determined by the province) from Grade 1 and students should have the choice to write their examinations in either of their two languages. To implement this, a province may opt to shut its schools down for a limited period, if needed, so as to complete training of its teachers and standardization and introduction of the new curriculum. In addition, special attention may be given towards primary education and the best teachers shall be hired, trained and retained for primary schools. The schools must evolve mechanisms for teachers and parents to collaborate and ensure that the seven primary values of truth, honesty, fairness, respect for law, tolerance, hardwork and respect for elders are inculcated amongst children at a tender age. Moreover, independent District School Boards with membership of the community and educationists may be constituted in each district to advise the District Governments on insuring high-quality teachers, accountability of schools, administrators and teachers, and an overall effectiveness of local education systems.
  7. In order to nurture right attitudes, values and a motivation to give back to community, it shall be mandatory for all students to do 60 hours in local community service projects over three years for higher secondary school completion. To continue students’ all round personality development, foster a responsible work ethic, improve ethnic harmony, strengthen university-community relationships and advance students’ job market prospects, it shall be further mandatory for all students to do a minimum of three months in community service projects in cities other than their city of origin for graduation. A National Youth Service Organisation may also be established to coordinate and assure quality of these community service programs and partnerships.
  8. A Federal Public Health Agency shall be created to promote and protect the health of Pakistani peoples, prevent and control infectious and chronic diseases and injuries, prepare for and respond to public health emergencies, strengthen intergovernmental collaboration, and importantly coordinate with multilateral and international donors, international and national NGOs and provinces in implementation, monitoring and evaluation of foreign-assisted primary health care, basic health services and emergency medicine projects. The Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) and the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan (CPSP) shall assist government in strengthening laws against quackery to check fraudulent medical practitioners and traditional healers and shall also set up minimum safety and quality standards for private healthcare establishments in the country. This should require PMDC/CPSP to conduct periodic inspections of private healthcare establishments and shut down services/procedures in establishments that do not meet the minimum standards, that is where staff lack appropriate qualifications for the services/procedures on premises, where internal quality audit systems are deficient and where access to critical medication on premises such as cardiac resuscitation is inadequate, and so restrict such establishments until a corrective action is taken and the site is reinspected and cleared.  Moreover, independent District Health Development Boards with membership of the community and health professionals may be constituted in each district to advise the District Governments on insuring public solutions for high-quality public healthcare services and an overall effectiveness of local healthcare systems.
  9. The local government laws shall be amended to provide for an independent statutory office of District Ombudsman at the level of each district government to investigate into misuse or abuse of power, corruption or administrative wrongdoings by government departments or elected representatives of the district and public servants working in the district and make an independent decision or refer complex cases to government, police or a relevant court for action, as needed.
  10. The civil service and its values need a renaissance. Public institutions must be more transparent and public officials more accountable to assure ethical governance. Archaic selection system and colonial/post-colonial service structures that by default limit the capacities to deliver in a modern nation-state, erosion of civil service values, false self-imposed insecurity, negative competition within and between groups/services, and a lack of specialisation within most groups/services have severely affected the performance of civil servants. The civil service values of representativeness, responsibility, professionalism, efficiency, accountability, participatory policy-making and decentralized governance with sufficient provincial autonomy must be nurtured. Managing day-to-day affairs of the state, ensuring provision of essential services to people and resolution of public needs are primarily the responsibilities of civil bureaucracy, and not judiciary, military, press or politicians per se, as it is the civil servants, who through their professionalism and excellence in work ethics, act as guardians of the public interest, guarantors of a responsible, ethical government and stewards of continued good governance. So, the civil servants must embody a system of checks and balances in their work and in the dynamics of the state, strengthen the offices of federal and provincial ombudsmen, and improve their recruitment, training and performance management systems. An independent Civil Service Reforms Commission shall be constituted to allow for equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, nurture a specialist bureaucracy, foster civil service values, improve efficiencies and plug all systemic loopholes. For instance, the eligibility criteria and structure of the competitive examination for recruitment into BS-17 positions in the federal government (erroneously called ‘Central Superior Services’ examination, a misnomer in itself as it implies some services and public servants as ‘inferior’) must be reformed, loopholes such as abuses of domicile claims by non-resident or extra-provincially/regionally educated candidates, optional subjects and discretionary oral assessments may be rectified, and the candidates may be allowed to write the examination in a language of their choice (English, Urdu or a regional language). Common recruitment through the federal competitive examination into BS-17 must be limited to three groups/services only, namely the Foreign Service of Pakistan, the Police Service of Pakistan and the Pakistan Administrative Service (erstwhile District Management Group). Specialized recruitment into BS-17 shall be carried out for all other federal occupational groups/services, so as to develop a specialist bureaucracy instead of generalists and enhance government efficiencies. To allow equal horizontal mobility to both federal and provincial public servants and encourage extraordinary talent to rise, all federal and provincial ministries in the secretariat, including allied and autonomous departments under their administrative control, except the Foreign Service of Pakistan, the Police Service of Pakistan, health, education, law, science and technology, agriculture, and communications and works departments, shall also conduct a specialised competitive examination open to all federal and provincial employees for recruitment into BS-19 in that particular department/ministry. In order to allow fair opportunities for career growth and minimize nepotism at the highest levels, all federal and provincial appointments in BS-21 and BS-22 shall be limited to two tenures of two years each and should lead to retirement, if the public servant is not promoted to the next level by the end of the second tenure. Moreover, a representative bureaucracy is the lynchpin of self-government. An agreement must be reached between the federation and provinces that defines a formula for federal representation in provincial institutions and vice-versa, and equally guarantees implementation of this quota of federal public servants in provincial governments and provincial public servants in the federal government. Because law and order is essentially a provincial subject, appointment of federal public servants to administrative, revenue or police positions in district or provincial governments must not under any circumstance exceed their agreed quota for the relevant sanctioned positions in a province. The key civil bureaucracy appointments of secretary to the chief minister, secretary to the governor, and chief secretary in a province shall also have a statutory rotation between public servants from the federal and provincial governments. Furthermore, specialist/professional departmental public servants must always, without exception, lead the departments of health, education, law, science and technology, agriculture, and communications and works. In order to minimize arbitrariness and nepotism, section 10 of the Civil Servants Act and other discretionary provisions including reclassification of sanctioned positions to accommodate non-group/service personnel to cadred/group positions or appointment of federal public servants to provincial positions in excess of their quota must be rescinded forthwith. Deputation rules must also be revised and no public servant shall be allowed to serve more than two tenures of two years each with a multilateral agency, international donor, international or national NGO, or an academic institution through the length of their careers. To prevent any conflict of interest, public/civil servants in active service or on leave shall be ineligible to hold an office or a special service contract as a consultant, private contractor or service provider for a public sector corporation or state-owned enterprise, and shall be ineligible to hold an office or a special service contract as a consultant, private contractor or service provider for a federal or provincial government, public sector corporation or state-owned enterprise for a mandatory period of two years post-retirement. 
  11. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall be restructured to respond to the heightened need of professionalism and excellence, to have an effect and relevance in the increasingly multifaceted scope and complex challenges of modern diplomacy and international affairs, and to serve the interests of the country in an integrated manner. The ministries of Foreign Affairs and Commerce must collaborate, along with relevant stakeholders, to jointly develop a Country Positioning Strategy and assure its implementation and evaluation, minimize dyarchy of trade and diplomacy in the missions abroad, and help transform country’s economy base to “services” from raw materials or semi-finished goods by leveraging on the talent and expertise at home and of the diaspora abroad. The commercial positions in the missions abroad must only be staffed by members of the Commerce & Trade Group, adequately trained in international marketing, trade promotion and WTO law and selected through an internal examination, to help improve trade diplomacy and trade promotion efficiencies, enhance returns for Pakistani businesses and strengthen institutional knowledge and institutional memory in international trade on return. A Pakistan Agency for International Development shall also be set up, as an autonomous agency, to ensure that Pakistani economic, labour, technical, social and humanitarian investments abroad, particularly in the emerging, developing and non-aligned economies, must promote Pakistani business, economy and ideals, bring benefits to the people of Pakistan and facilitate an improved and enhanced country image.
  12. All provinces may be encouraged to set up and/or strengthen their own provincial boards for investment, trade promotion and tourism.
  13. The basic trainings in military academies of the defence services shall be revamped to groom a new generation of professional officers, with at least four heads: military, technological, economic and sociopolitical, within an overarching ambit of democracy, to help the country meet its challenges and responsibilities in the 21st Century. Talented officers should be sponsored for doctoral studies in these disciplines at civilian graduate schools, early in their careers, with a condition to teach for three years in a military academy on return. Also, an independent National Intelligence Review Committee may be established as a top intelligence ombudsman for all intelligence organisations in the country to monitor any misuse or abuse of power, or administrative wrongdoings, and make recommendations to the government. The existing Defence Committee of the Cabinet may be upgraded to a statutory National Security Council for improved and enhanced institutional synergies, coordination of policies on national security issues and advising chief executives on matters related to national security. Furthermore, involvement of defence services organisations, their attached departments/wings, subsidiaries and/or personnel, directly or indirectly, in industrial or commercial enterprises must be discontinued in the future and any existing majority holdings in any enterprise shall be divested into open market. To prevent any conflict of interest, officers of the defence services in active service or on leave shall be ineligible to hold an office or a special service contract as a consultant, private contractor or service provider for a public sector corporation or state-owned enterprise, and shall be ineligible to hold an office or a special service contract as a consultant, private contractor or service provider for a federal or provincial government, public sector corporation or state-owned enterprise for a mandatory period of two years post-retirement.
  14. A Federal Constitutional Court shall be established with an exclusive responsibility to interpret the constitution. This would also allow the existing superior judiciary to facilitate administration of civil and criminal justice in the country by better expediting and streamlining dispensation of justice to the common man especially in regard to routine civil, criminal or other special laws. Furthermore, in order to strengthen the independence of judiciary, judicial impartiality, judicial review and a system of checks and balances between the branches of the state, “nemo judex in causa sua(tr: no man may be a judge in his own cause), all nominations/appointments to and impeachments/removals from superior judiciary by the Executive must be subject to confirmation hearings of the joint parliamentary committee on law and justice.
T.E. Lawrence cautioned, “all men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.” It is time now for the Pakistanis to not merely dream but plant trees so that the next generation gets the shade.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Manipulating History

re the article “Karbala and how Lahore was involved” in the Daily DAWN, dated Nov. 26, 2012.

Disappointed to read this attempt to rewrite the history of Karbala on anecdotal, unsubstantiated evidence. The article requires several fact-checks, such as for instance:

Names of the 72 martyrs of Karbala
(i.) The list of 72 martyrs of Karbala includes no Dutts, Brahmins or Indians. Has someone tampered with the lists? 
(ii.) The author talks of some graves in the Bibi Pakdaman graveyard of Lahore as an evidence, which is extremely difficult to believe/prove, given the practices of khanqahs and jhanda pirs in this part of the world. By the same token, can the author confirm the genuineness of Virgin Mary’s tomb in the outskirts of Murree and Moses (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh) tombs in the outskirts of Srinagar?
(iii.) The author's claim that Imam Hussain (626-680 AD) was married to the sister-in-law of King Chandragupta (340 BC- 298 BC) is utterly fictitious; the two were about 1000 years apart.
(iv.) There is no dearth of historical works on medieval India by Muslims, and most medieval chroniclers and historians were also scholars of Islamic literature and law. Were they all ignorant or complacent to miss such a contemporary historical feat, or rather a favour, of the Lahori Dutts?
(v.) Can any one cite a work of an accomplished historian of medieval and Mughal India, such as Al-Biruni, Abdul Qadir Bada'uni, Abul Fazl, Nizamuddin Ahmed, Abdul Hamid Lahori, Khafi Khan, Kalhana, or Firishta that provides evidence of this historical favour of Brahmins and King Chandragupta Maurya to the Ahl-e-Bait and the wider Muslim world.
(vi.) Can any one cite a reputed historical work to confirm that the Lahori Dutts were trading with the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in the 7th century AD, their patriarch had met with and made a promise to the Prophet (pbuh), and had such a quick means of communication at his disposal that he knew of Imam Hussain’s movements in advance and so successfully prevailed on the Mauryan King to despatch a full army to fight with the Imam, only to miss out on the actual battle by a whisker.
(vii.) Finally, the author’s assertion that Sunil Dutt belonged to Lahore is also concocted, as Sunil Dutt reported Jhelum (Pakistan) as his hometown and even went to his ancestral village of Chottala in Jhelum with full state protocol during his trip to Pakistan in 1995/96. 

In a nutshell, the article defies all logic and evidence. One wonders if this is another phoney attempt to rewrite the history and glorify Brahmins and the Maurya dynasty similar to occasional claims that the principal centres of Indus Valley Civilization were not Moenjodaro and Harappa but rather Lothal and Rangpur in Deccan?

Distorted history promotes communalism and does not foster communal harmony or national integration. As Lord Acton said, “history to be above evasion or dispute, must stand on documents, not opinions,” it would help if people do full research and exercise due diligence before making such claims or sowing seeds of doubt in an already confused populace!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Can the Politics of Judges Craft the Rule of Law in Pakistan?


ne fiat tantum iustitia, sed et pateat fieri
“Justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done”
– Lord Chief Justice Hewart

Justice is a basic virtue. It may not be a “cloistered virtue” but in delivering justice, the Pakistani judicial system ought to ensure that its end-product is not only ‘just’ but its process of dispensation is perceived as ‘just’ too. Before we discuss some of the glitches in this process, let us ask what constitutes a ‘good judge’? It is said that a good judge conceives quickly and judges slowly. That is, “judicis est jus dicere, non dare” (trans.: it is the property of a judge to administer justice, not to give it) andjudex habere debet duos sales, salem sapientiae, ne sit insipidus, et salem eonscientiae, ne sit diabolus” (trans.: a judge ought to have two kinds of salts-the salt of wisdom, that he may not be insipid and the salt of conscience, that he may not be a devil). An empirical study of Canadian judges by McCormick and Greene has identified seven essential traits of a ‘good judge’: industry and diligence, courtesy, empathy, patience, knowledge of the law, intelligence, and sense of fair play. Independence of judiciary is often considered as a key enabler for a ‘good judge’ and the bedrock of a civilized, democratic society. Operationalisation and institutionalisation of judicial independence in Pakistan entails four core components, namely (a.) security of service of judges, (b.) financial adequacy in terms of salaries and benefits of judges, (c.) administrative freedom to develop the rules and procedures to manage the litigation process for dispensation of justice fairly, transparently and consistently, and (d.) judicial accountability to ensure ethics, integrity and discipline within the judicial system.

But what does ‘independence of judiciary’ mean for Pakistanis in the first instance? There are two core ingredients of judicial independence. And while people in Pakistan often mention the first one, that is, the separation of judiciary from the other two branches of government, executive and the legislative, there is little emphasis on the second ingredient, namely a guarantee that judges make decisions free of any influence or conflict of interest, without fear or favour, affection or ill will, and solely on the basis of fact and law.

The first ingredient not just ensures a trichotomy and separation of powers but it also puts an extra onus on each branch of the state of Pakistan to avoid assuming responsibilities or intruding into other branches of the state, just as Lord Dilhorne advised the judges “to stay out of the arena” and “neither have nor assume responsibilities” to be a prosecutor or a plaintiff. Pakistan’s judiciary has come a long way from Chief Justice Munir’s deathblow to constitutionalism and rule of law in 1955 that paved the way for future extra-constitutional actions, and judiciary’s ensuing validations of military governments to the present judicial hyperactivism of 2012. In the past few years, an overzealous and aggressive judiciary in Pakistan has, prima-facie, often gotten embroiled into executive and legislative business in a climactic order. For instance, the public and legal opinions remain divided over some of the Court’s intrusive judgements such as the conviction and in effect dismissal of a prime minister and thereby a federal cabinet on charges of contempt, the direction to dismiss Balochistan government on failure to maintain law and order in the province, the annulment of a constitutional amendment that had defined a procedure for judicial appointments and instead seizing the de facto hiring and firing powers for itself, the annulment of laws such as the law of contempt which had permitted fair speech relating a judgement or a judge’s conduct, treated all judicial officers equally and provided immunity to holders of public office while performing their functions, the monitoring of and directions on prices of everyday consumer goods like sugar, fuel, gas etc, and the handling of allegations of bribery and blackmailing on the chief justice’s son. It is obvious that the delimitation of powers and obligations of various branches and organs of the state in Pakistan is still evolving and an institutional equilibrium has not arrived yet. A historical sense of insecurity and mistrust has kept the organs of state busy fighting turf wars, while little attention has been paid on improving the internal dynamics, processes and efficiencies within their respective domains. Ironically, when institutional heads relentlessly critique or advise another institution on how it should perform but have little interest, time or energy to do realistic and pragmatic institution-building at home then a ‘balanced government’ and ‘institutional equilibrium’ may remain unfulfilled dreams.

While the first ingredient of judicial independence sets a framework for constitutional governance and lawful coordination and interaction between branches of the state, it is the second ingredient that would promise true rule of law in Pakistan. Judicial impartiality, integrity and accountability are the supreme judicial virtues, as these generate public confidence and institutional legitimacy. Lord Bowen emphasized, “judges, like Caesar’s wife, should be above suspicion.” Note that administration of justice is not synonymous to public administration or to a political movement. The courts are apolitical institutions that draw their powers from constitution and laws, and should not seek power from interest groups whether it is media or the bar. In fact, too cosy relationships between the bench and the bar, or between the bench and the counsels for either party, or with the parties themselves are detrimental to judicial impartiality and accountability in Pakistan. For instance, although the precise number of visits and speeches made by the chief justice of Pakistan to various bar associations across the country or the delegations received in the office vice versa since 2005, and likewise by other members of the superior judiciary, is not available but, based on media reports, these have happened on a regular basis, almost on every other weekend. It is not a surprise that few commentators have questioned those appointments to the superior judiciary, when lawyers were apparently rewarded for their personal or financial contributions to the movement for reinstatement of the chief justice. A question arises whether there exist effective checks and balances to safeguard against judicial cronyism and malpractice and to ensure judicial integrity and impartiality in the administration of justice in Pakistan?

Corvinus, Johannes Arnoldi
Iurisprudentia Romana
Amsterdam, 1644
Justice has to be impartial (think, why is it shown blindfolded in statues) and the central tenets of administration of justice are impartiality and public scrutiny of judicial process. It can not be assured in Pakistan without adherence to the principles of open justice, judicial accountability and its performance benchmarking. This means that the proceedings are conducted in an open court accessible to the public and the media, judges speak through their reasoned judgements only and publish reasons for their decisions, accord complete procedural fairness to parties, avoid perceived or real bias whether it is bias on account of obstinacy or arising out of preconceived notions or an institutional bias, and ensure absolute fairness of the suit/trial. Nothing is more unfair than venal justice and “judex bonus nihil ex arbitrio suo faciat, nee propositio domesticiae voluntatis, sed juxta leges et jura pronunciet” (trans.: a good judge ought to do nothing of his own pleasure, nor may he have in view the gratification of his private inclination, but pronounce according to law and justice). This is why Jeremy Bentham argued that, “publicity is the keenest spur to exertion and the surest of all guards against improbity; it keeps the judge, while trying, under trial,” and Chief Justice Gleeson explained that open justice and judicial accountability to the public are guaranteed through close scrutiny by both the legal and general communities. On the contrary, the working of the Court has become increasingly opaque in Pakistan with only a very small group of judges entrusted with sensitive cases relating to other organs of the state, with likely suppression of dissent on the bench such as those headed by the chief justice invariably deliver unanimous verdicts, and with a lack of transparency such as the refusal to parliamentary public accounts committee audits or even failure to disclose accounts to public, if there were any internal or external audits. H.G. Wells said, “In the Country of the Blind the One-Eyed Man is King.” Public scrutiny of country’s judicial processes is imperative to strengthen the judicial independence and judiciary in Pakistan, as in the words of Justice William Brennan, “it enhances the quality of proceedings and safeguards the fact-finding process which benefits both the defendant and the society.” This implies that transparency and public scrutiny safeguard against any attempt to corrupt a judicial system, promise justice as well as a just and balanced government, and promote judicial integrity and capacity. One is reminded here of Lord Acton’s warning, “everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show it can bear discussion and publicity.” This should also facilitate an institutional equilibrium in Pakistan, which is not a free market phenomenon but a legal balance that respects institutions’ roles based on constitution and laws and not on individual ego or self-service.

Judges speak through their decisions and judicial officers are not supposed to play to the galleries. Chief Justice Warren Burger commented, “judges rule on the basis of law, not public opinion, and they should be indifferent to pressures of the times.” The Pakistani judicial system faces four key systemic challenges in this context, (a.) a bolshie use of the power of ‘judicial review,’ which raises two concerns: Firstly, ‘judicial review’ is actually meant to review not just violations of constitutional and legal rights of citizens but also a misuse or abuse of powers by all functionaries of the state, including the judicial officers at all levels. The maxim - “be you ever so high, the law is above you” - applies to the judicial officers as well. It is thus imperative to incorporate detailed guidelines for Judicial Ethics either within a standard Code of Judicial Conduct or into the recruitment offers and oaths of all judicial officers in Pakistan. Secondly, the wilful exercise of ‘judicial review’ has lacked consistency in application and interpretation. Rhetorical political posturing or micromanaging the business of the state by a court undermines its legitimacy in the long run. The precise number of suo moto proceedings by the superior judiciary in Pakistan since 2005 is not available but these are likely to be in hundreds. Would this actually deliver ‘justice’ or would the Court be perceived as a judge, jury and executioner?; (b.) an undue use or threat of the Contempt of Court law which has in reality suppressed even meaningful critique of judgements or a judge’s private conduct in the country; (c.) issue of “angel petitions,” wherein either a lawyer/court staff lodge a proxy plaint on behalf of the presiding officer or the brother/sister judges and magistrates use their power of ‘cognisance’ to lodge/initiate a suit in another court; and (d.) conduct of preliminary investigations, prima-facie determination of culpability of an offence worthy of prosecution, and so an assumption of ‘trial’ functions by the superior courts that seriously taints the judicial process. In fact, such a misuse or abuse of judicial powers could effectively make the courts/judges parties to an issue, drastically affect procedural fairness by limiting avenues to recourse, impression and prejudice the investigation agencies, prosecution and trial courts, and may lie on the borderline of judicial autocracy.

The approach of a society to the role of its judges has critical implications for judicial ethics, integrity and accountability. Firstly, there is a historic divide between judges as ‘umpires’ and ‘interpreters of law and constitution’ and ‘political judges’ who become ‘arm of popular opinion.’ Some might argue that the first role is for judges in a stable society and the second role for judges in an unstable society ridden with injustices and inequalities which by its nature may require a ‘political court.’ But note that the effects of environmental factors and social stimuli on personality make-up have been empirically validated and judges are also products of a society. So what evidence does one have that the arbiters in an unstable, chaotic society themselves or the politics of judges will not be a product of similar stressors, or owe their offices to similar inequalities, or are not impressioned by popular opinion, and are rather emotionally and psychologically stable? Shouldn’t judicial appointments in Pakistan require prior psychological testing to assess candidates’ emotional and social quotients and evaluate their personal and social competence, such as in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands or Kyrgyzstan and the civil-military bureaucracy in Pakistan? Secondly, by the same token, one can argue that judicial system in an unstable, chaotic society as Pakistan’s, ridden with several disparities, is as a matter of fact also heavily burdened with a plethora of cases which delays or limits timely access, delivery and affordability of justice. In such a situation, there is an inherent risk in consolidating all supreme powers in one Court or office, as it would exacerbate unwarranted turf wars, lead to a gridlock and cause delays. In order to expedite and streamline dispensation of justice to the common man especially in regard to routine civil, criminal or other special laws, and to avoid bringing the government to a standstill, as one notices that the incumbent government has probably less governed but spent much of its 5-years term in the Court, and in order to strengthen the system of checks and balances, it is now necessary to establish a ‘Constitutional Court’ in Pakistan, such as in Germany, Austria, France, Turkey or Egypt, that is entrusted with the exclusive responsibility of interpretation of the constitution. Thirdly, the current procedure for judicial appointments in Pakistan wherein the Court enjoys primacy and has the de facto hiring and firing powers for itself is contrary to the fundamental principle of natural justice, “nemo judex in causa sua(trans.: no man may be a judge in his own cause). The joint parliamentary committee need to be strengthened and should have more powers in the recommendation and confirmation to appointment and the recommendation to removal of judges from office. In fact, all appointments to the superior judiciary should be subject to its confirmation hearings.

Judicial independence is often considered as the reason why judges and the bar would seldom talk about judicial ethics, integrity, accountability, impartiality and transparency. However, the fundamental reason for judicial independence should not be ignored. As Justice McGarvie reasoned, “it is important not to cast a good principle too widely. The only independence which I seek to justify within the principle of judicial independence, is that which, if absent, would put at risk impartiality in deciding court cases.” Judicial independence has to be in the interest of justice and it is, therefore, imperative that it vests in persons who will behave in an ethical manner in their judicial and personal lives. Lord Buckmaster advised, “the importance of preserving the administration of justice from anything which can even by remote imagination infer a bias or interest in the Judge is so grave that any inconvenience experienced in its preservation may be cheerfully endured.” The chief justice of Pakistan would do well if he is able to develop enduring ethical values, structures, processes and efficiencies throughout the judicial system which create a sustainable institutional legitimacy that is a rational, pro tanto moral obligation based on the rule of law, and is not person-centred or based around a cult or clique within the Court/judicial system. One of the responsibilities of being a judge is that one is expected to rise above one’s mortal self and dispense justice with a divine-like objectivity. One must not forget the maxim – “qui altari serviunt ab altari vivant” (trans.: they who serve at the altar, should live by the altar). Those who feel shy of taking this responsibility and meeting the demands of this role had better not vie for it.

So, who will judge the judges? The people of Pakistan have every right to ask what mechanisms have been put in place to check on the use, misuse and abuse of judicial power, what code of judicial conduct and judicial ethics oversee court personnel and ensure judicial integrity and impartiality, what legal and ethical guidelines direct a judge’s disqualification or recusal, what rules govern a judge’s civic, charitable, quasi-judicial and extra-judicial activities, what rules monitor a judge’s personal finances, business or financial dealings, and financial disclosures, what rules administer a judge’s political activities or expression of views on contentious political issues, and so on. In essence, how effective and efficient these mechanisms are really working, if they do exist, or else what effort is being made to genuinely strengthen the institution instead of bolstering an office, person or turf war? Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote, “sunshine is the best of disinfectants,” and his prescription is valid when it comes to the administration of justice in Pakistan!

Monday, November 5, 2012

“The London Group” and Balochistan – A Little-Known Fact of the Pakistan History


Pakistani youth studying abroad has a long history of getting embroiled in anarchist and lawful politics at home. One of this was the “London Group” formed in London in 1969 by around 25 Marxist Pakistani male and female students studying in the United Kingdom.

The “London Group” used to publish a monthly magazine titled “Pakistani Nationalist,” which provided an alternative perspective to the insurgency in East Pakistan and was highly critical of the Pakistani security forces. During this process, the magazine also helped the Group to forge relationships with Baloch nationalists like Nawab Khair Baksh Marri and Sher Mohammad Marri (through Mohammad Bhabha alias Murad Khan and Ali Baksh Talpur) who invited the Group to travel to Balochistan and help the Baloch nationalists launch their own separatist movement on lines of the East Pakistan’s separatist movement. While the East Pakistan insurgency was still on, about five members of the “London Group” quit their studies in London, travelled back to Pakistan in March 1971 (initially hosted by Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani and his father Gula Khan) and launched an insurgency in the Marri tribal area. The five included Najam Sethi (now The Friday Times, Vanguard Books), Ahmed Rashid (now a well-known expert and writer on Afghanistan), Asad Rahman alias Chakar Khan (lately Sungi Foundation) and his brother Rashid Rahman (now an editor of The Daily Times – both were sons of Justice S. A. Rahman who retired as Chief Justice of Pakistan in 1968), and Dalip Dass. None of them was Baloch; in fact they were from Punjab except Dalip who was Karachi-based.

Asad Rahman alias Chakar Khan, Ahmed Rashid and Dalip Dass operated in the Marri and Bugti tribal areas, adopted Balochi names, learned the Balochi language and culture and actively participated in the insurgency against the state of Pakistan. Najam Sethi and Rashid Rahman established an incognito liaison cell in Karachi for raising funds, ensuring medical treatment of the injured, publishing a magazine titled “Jabal,” and leading the propaganda/media war for the Baloch insurgency and secession. It is reported that some other members of the London Group were also based in Karachi and assigned other tasks.

In 1973, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, in his aims to centralize and maximize his powers, dismissed the NAP’s provinicial government of Balochistan which added fuel to the fire. In reaction, the Baloch tribesmen picked up arms and the insurgency spread to other parts of Balochistan. The Pakistani government only came to know of the London Group’s pivotal role in founding and shaping this insurgency in 1974.

Asad Rahman alias Chakar Khan
Dalip Dass was later killed in an encounter with the Pakistani security forces while the rest were granted general amnesty when the insurgency ended under Zia-ul-Haq. Asad Rahman alias Chakar Khan accompanied some Baloch sardars into self-exile to Afghanistan in 1979 where they were looked after well by the Soviet-backed regime in Kabul. He returned in 1980 for a while before leaving for London, while his brother Rashid Rehman became a journalist and is now an editor of The Daily Times. Later, Asad Rahman alias Chakar Khan remained associated with an NGO, Sungi Development Foundation, as its Executive Director for several years.

Asad Rahman alias Chakar Khan first admitted his involvement in the insurgency of 1970s in an interview with The News on Sunday in June 2008 and later disclosed the names of five members of his group and their role in the insurgency in an interview with Malik Siraj Akbar in October 2009, much to the annoyance of his other comrades. Here are few interesting excerpts from that interview:

“.... MSA: How was Najam Sethi captured?
AR: He made a “very stupid” move –I call it a “stupid move”. As the cover we had in Karachi, Rashid was running an automobile workshop while Najam was with some architects and development consultants. Najam persuaded them to bid for some development projects in Marri area under Bhutto’s government. In the meanwhile, some people from the original London Group had been arrested from Karachi. They disclosed the names of all of us. He had at that time gone to Quetta and was flying in a military helicopter to go and see the site of a project that they wanted to build.

MSA: How did he get into a “military helicopter” as you people were already fighting against the military?
AR: Now that is the whole question. We don’t know. Maybe the government gave them the consultancy and asked the army to take him there. I don’t know. The benefit of doubt has to be given over there. In any case, the message was sent to the pilot of the helicopter that Najam was flying in. Hence, the pilot turned back to Quetta where they arrested Najam and took him to the Hyderabad jail. After that, he had no role whatsoever in the Balochistan movement of the 1970s.

MSA: What about Ahmed Rashid?
AR: Ahmed Rashid is maybe a good intellectual but physically he was not suited for guerrilla activity or living in mountains. He was never able to pick up the language very well and he stood out that he was not a Baloch. He was very fair; a scanty beard although he was much older than me. He was not able to keep up with our Marri comrades when we were moving in camps. He wore spectacles at that time which transformed into a disadvantage for him. Plus, he was flatfooted. He was falling all over especially at nights when we were moving around. He never developed good friendships the way I was able to do. Maybe I had learned the language, the traditions and customs much better than anyone. At the same time, because I was involved in fighting, when your life depends on somebody else’s actions then there develops an affiliation of comradeship which is much deeper than anything else. Unfortunately, Ahmed was not a good rifleman. He could not shoot very well. In the Baloch culture, they expect you to do all these things but when you are unable then you stand out as somebody who is alien to the culture and life style. There was a similar case as far as Dilip Dass was concerned.

MSA: What recommendations do you have for Islamabad to resolve the Balochistan crisis?
AR: The government should immediately take confidence building measures. The government needs to address these issues immediately. 1) Withdraw the FC from Balochistan as they are promoting ethnic conflict. 2) Withdraw the army to the positions of 2000. 3) Release and give information of all missing or killed Baloch people especially the 150 odd women. 4) Cancel all agreements with foreign companies who are exploiting the gold-copper from Balochistan and the Gwader port authority. 5) Hand over these projects to the provincial government. 6) Release all political prisoners and student activists. 7) Move complete provincial autonomy as the priority legislation to be made for all provinces allowing only 3 or 4 subjects to the Federal government. 8 ) Taxation should be provincial subject with a share given to federal for its expenses. 9) All natural resources belong to the people of the district, province and not the central government....”

Asad Rahman alias Chakar Khan died recently in Lahore on October 30, 2012. He was an active insurgent til his death.

Surprisingly, while the Baloch considered the London Group as the founder of their separatist movement and have mourned the death of Asad Rahman his old comrades-in-arms Najam Sethi and Ahmad Rashid have not publicly expressed a word of condolence. Did they switch sides and part ways down the road, or did/do they consider this a ‘sardars’ war’, or are they rooting for some other Che Guevara now?

Further Readings:
7. Baloch Hal; Daily Tawar; Baloch sarmachar