National cohesion – 19 Nov 2022

Almost all nations face a series of challenges and difficulties. And while such situations may appear insurmountable, if tackled skilfully, they can be managed successfully. Nations which handle such challenges with a lacklustre approach often fail to overcome them and lag behind.

The most important aspect in handling such scenarios is to identify the problem and then look for the right solution. It is worth mentioning that a country’s challenges and problems are not only physical in nature like a threat from an enemy country, devastation by natural calamities and pandemics etc. When a country is unable to keep pace with developments and advancements in the world, it is said to be under an existential threat.

Pakistan has been facing a plethora of challenges for quite some time. Unfortunately, we seem trapped in a succession of domestic and international issues that pose a threat to our national security every now and then. It was only recently that Pakistan found itself on the edge of war with India in 2019, trapped in a long drawn wave of terrorism and had to deal with restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, devastation caused by the floods, and feeble economic health. But somehow Pakistan has consistently managed to steer out of the crisis.

Have we ever wondered what helped Pakistan come out of difficult situations? Whenever we faced challenges, it was our national cohesion which acted as a shield to protect against the never-ending crisis. Every difficulty brought the entire nation closer – on the proverbial one page. This made an iron fist of all government resources backed by the people. Be it terrorism, Indian threats, the pandemic, natural calamities or economic frailty, we stood together and fought back.

Today we face the challenges of exponential development in cyber technology including hybrid or fifth generation warfare, and Pakistan is lagging behind the rest of countries. Without stressing upon the broad contours of this development, it should be noted that this advancement is taking place in all aspects of our lives. And if we don’t take heed of the situation now, we will lag behind.

Despite being aware of the looming challenges, we are still not together. It is true that national cohesion is stirred when any difficulty arises; yet the nation needs to be ready. Government organizations, all pillars of the state’s national security, political institutions and society should have the requisite strengths available to handle it. However if there is discord among them, the challenge starts getting out of control.

The domestic environment in our country has been turbulent for the past few months, leading to never-seen-before polarization, protests, and baseless accusations hurled at state institutions. All of this sows discord between the people and the government. While it is easy to create such distrust in any country, we need to understand that it has repercussions for the entire nation in the future.

Our history suggests that we tackled challenging situations through standing together. It will not be an overstatement to point out that during such challenges, the Pakistan armed forces have always played an important role in bringing the country out of turmoil. It has been because of their inherent capacity and the unflinching public support that our armed forces have always successfully tackled difficult situations. Their role in the ‘war on terror’ has been exceptional. Not only did the Pakistan Army sacrifice the lives of its brave solvers, it also played a critical role in the rehabilitation of the displaced – and of those terrorists who surrendered.

Another big task that the army has performed is the fencing of the Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran borders. Also the Pakistan Army worked closely with the government to overcome the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, rescue work after natural calamities, FATF compliance and economic revival.

If an institution that has been our mainstay in difficult times is weakened, how will Pakistan tackle any future challenges?. It is time our political leaders realized the severity of the situation and refrained from dragging state institutions into political discourse.

Instead of tarnishing their image it will be prudent to keep them out of the political blame game. We must not forget that only national cohesion can make us rise to the occasion whenever it is demanded by the trials we are going to be confronted with.

The writer is a communications strategist at the Institute of Regional Studies and can be reached at:

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What is the One Percent Republic? – 19 Nov 2022

Last week, Dr Miftah Ismail initiated an important debate by terming Pakistan a “One percent Republic” – a society that works for the few and reproduces elite privilege over time. This is a damning verdict of Pakistan’s political economy, particularly since it comes from a former finance minister who has seen the intimate link between educational, political and economic power that coalesces within our state.

Yet, his comments were mostly of a descriptive nature as he stated the malice of entrenched inequality in society without delving into the reasons why it continues to haunt our society. In fact, real ideological cleavages always emerge not by describing the symptoms but on identifying and explaining the underlying disease. Moreover the problem of inequality is no longer specific to Pakistan. According to an Oxfam report in 2017, eight richest men owned more wealth than the poorest 50 per cent of the world’s population, a grotesque form of inequality unworthy of human existence. In this article, I present the Left’s perspective on explaining the roots of this global economic and moral crisis.

First, despite the apparent neutrality of the aforementioned article, ideological affiliation nonetheless did slip in. In contrast to generational wealth in Pakistan, the former finance minister approvingly cites the US example, where the Rockefellers and Fords were replaced overtime by innovative entrepreneurs who did not stem from elite backgrounds. A meritocratic form of capitalism is counterposed to the plutocratic nature of economic and political power in Pakistan.

Yet, the very language of ‘One Percent’ used by Ismail is borrowed from the Occupy Wall Street Movement in 2011 that was directed against the one per cent elite in the US that has monopolized economic interests against the 99 per cent who are suffering from declining living standards. The Occupy Wall Street protesters blamed economic policies that started from the 1970s onwards and which came to be known as ‘neoliberalism’; these included promoting free markets, free trade, cuts in government spending (austerity) and low corporate taxes.

These policies, inspired by the University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman, were premised on an unprecedented attack on the working class including cuts to welfare, dismantling of trade unions, disinvestment in industry/public infrastructure and a rise of financialization of the US economy. As a result, while real wages of the working class remained stagnant for over 40 years and household debt increased exponentially, the corporate sector (particularly financial vultures on Wall Street) made record profits.

When the financial system crashed in 2008, Western governments that had imposed austerity on their working classes acted immediately to pour in billions of dollars to save the banks, leading to the phrase “Socialism for the Rich”. CEO salaries have continued to soar, while corporations have made record profits during the pandemic as workers struggle with low wages, indebtedness and high inflation. This decoupling of the financialized economy from the ‘real economy’ and the rise of gigantic tech monopolies has led former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, to term the current era as one of “techno-feudalism”, with a vast majority of humanity reduced to helpless serfs against the daunting power of the billionaire class.

The slogan of ‘One percent vs the 99 percent’ was a rallying cry precisely against the billionaire class, which has locked the youth out of chances for social mobility as increasing numbers of young people are suffocated by rising debts and costs of living. The simultaneous rise of Donald Trump and the democratic socialist Bernie Sanders reflected the immense anger against the neoliberal status quo in the US which faces a crisis of legitimacy. Recently, US President Joe Biden acknowledged that the neoliberal model had failed, an acknowledgment that came after imposing four decades of relentless market fundamentalism across the world.

These policies had an even more disastrous impact when they were imposed on the Global South after the debt crisis that plagued the world economy in the early 1980s. Known as the Washington Consensus, the US imposed neoliberal policies across the world (often through CIA-supported military coups), leading to years of economic stagnation in the Global South. Naomi Klein argued that these policies function according to the “shock doctrine” where an economic emergency is invoked to justify massive restructuring of the national economy to meet requirements of global Capital while abruptly reducing living standards for the working class.

The worst manifestation of this concept was witnessed in the former Communist Bloc, where public institutions were privatized and markets were deregulated overnight, leading to a bonanza of financial predators who looted public wealth while leading to a sharp decline in life expectancy in the former Soviet Union.

This context is necessary to understand how the global system in which Pakistan is embedded is premised upon the exploitation of working people and national resources. By the 1980s, Pakistan’s elites abandoned even the pretext of a sovereign national project of economic development and began mimicking policy prescriptions emanating from the US. Trade unions and student unions were systematically destroyed, corporate regulations were reduced, speculative housing societies were encouraged at the expense of agricultural land, a private education mafia flourished while public schooling declined, and banks engaged in short-term speculation rather than providing credit to industry or agriculture.

Dr Hafiz Pasha has in his work detailed the ways in which successive ‘reforms’ have helped consolidate inequality and class power over the past four decades. In his calculation, state subsidies received by elites annually equal an enormous Rs2700 billion, making Pakistan a welfare state for the rich. The elites in Pakistan have chosen to use these subsidies to fuel consumption-driven lifestyles, building luxurious housing societies rather than investing in the productive sector. This unsustainable system is powered by foreign loans, which the ruling classes continue to acquire with two assumptions: one, the US will forever rescue Pakistan as long as the military rents out our geostrategic position; and two, the burden of loan repayments can be transferred to the public without effective resistance.

Since the first option seems highly unlikely as US interests in the region change, the second option was on full display under Miftah Ismail’s brief stint as finance minister. In a Pakistani-styled shock therapy, the price of oil was liberalized, energy prices soared, food inflation became unmanageable, and layoff from factories continued, while the government did not touch the wasteful subsidies enjoyed by the rich. In other words, the public was asked to bail out a moribund economic structure and irresponsible elites at the expense of its own well-being.

This ‘Socialism for the Rich’ has allowed Pakistan’s elites to inhabit separate housing societies, separate schools, separate public spaces, separate hospitals and even separate language for themselves. Their ceaseless attempts to separate themselves from the rest of society easily make our ruling classes leaders of the most successful separatist movement in the country’s history.

No ruling constellation ever gives up its privileges due to a change of heart. A few individuals may break ranks to become traitors, but one cannot expect a collective class suicide. Only a new constellation powered by the forgotten and the excluded can present an alternative vision and lead the fight against inequality.

In Pakistan, we can learn lessons from Latin America where we are witnessing the rise of such an alternative coalition that includes trade unionists, farmers, students, intellectuals and professional classes that are challenging the elites and rejecting the US-imposed economic order. Left-wing movements have managed to win elections on this anti-neoliberal platform, including one led by a school teacher in Peru, a student activist in Chile and a trade unionist in Brazil with the formidable return of Lula De Silva in the recent elections. Three essential pillars of their campaign included economic sovereignty, redistribution of wealth and re-establishing a relationship between developmental objectives of the state and the private sector

The ‘One Percent Republic’ represents a global system where financial predators control the resources of society and override state sovereignty. Whether a few faces change at the top is irrelevant to the fact that a vast majority of humanity remains excluded from the planet’s resources. There is no exact blueprint on how to defeat the logic of neoliberalism, but it is crucial not to mimic the failed policy prescriptions from Western technocrats when their own governments are abandoning them.

It is not easy, but we must remember that moving beyond the limits of a system is always deemed impossible by those guarding the status quo. Considering the stakes involved, we have no choice but to violate these limits and turn politics into the art of the impossible.

The writer is an historian and a member of the Haqooq-e-Khalq Party.


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4th Sino-Pak Marine Info workshop held – 19 Nov 2022

ISLAMABAD: The fourth China Pakistan Marine Information (CPMI-2022) workshop was held in CUI Wah campus here.

It was jointly organised by academic and research institutions from China and Pakistan; including COMSATS University Islamabad, FAST, Pakistan Science Foundation, Pakistan Scientific & Technological Information Centre, National Institute of Oceanography (Pakistan Partners), and Harbin Engineering University, China Association of Science & Technology, Chinese Society of Naval Architecture, and Heilongjiang Science and Technology Association (Chinese Partners).

This was the fourth workshop of this series as part of the One Belt One Road initiative under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with this year’s theme “Smart Ocean Informatics” with oral and poster presentations.

The worthy Rector CUI, Prof. Dr. Muhammad T. Afzal was the chief guest. On behalf of Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF), Dr. Miskatullah graced the opening ceremony as guests of honor.

In his opening remarks the Rector CUI, Prof. Dr. Muhammad T. Afzal, extended his gratitude for bringing the China Pakistan Marine Information Workshop in COMSATS and organizing it successfully to strengthen the scientific collaboration in the field of marine engineering and sciences.

He mentioned that CUI strongly believe in internationalization and working in emerging technologies and always take lead to bring research and academic programs to benefit Pakistan. He mentioned that there are a lot of opportunities in Pakistan at the coastal side of Gawaddar for the development of marine sciences and engineering under CPEC to explore.

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Schoolboy killed by truck – 19 Nov 2022

A school-going boy was killed and his two brothers injured after a motorcycle was crushed by a speedy dumper truck in Karachi’s Surjani Town area on Friday. The accident took place near the Baba Morr within the limits of the Surjani Town police station.

Police and rescue workers reached the scene and transported the casualties to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where a 15-year-old boy, Azhar, son of Asghar, succumbed to his injuries during treatment. The injured boys included his brothers Umar, 12, and Usman, 10. Police said the accident took place when the victims were going to school on a motorcycle.

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Minor girl who disappeared in Quaidabad on Wednesday found raped and murdered – 19 Nov 2022

A seven-year-old girl was found raped and murdered on Friday two days after her kidnapping from the Quaidabad area of Karachi.

The girl’s family claimed that as she went missing, police did not register a case and instead of making efforts to trace and recover her, they kept delaying the registration of an FIR for two days. The family themselves found her body bearing torture marks at a garbage dump near an under-construction building in Landhi’s Muslimabad Colony.

The victim was a resident of the Quaidabad area. She went missing on Wednesday when she left her brother’s house for playing. Two days later, her body was found by her family members within the limits of the Quaidabad police station.

The family took the body to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where a preliminary post-mortem report suggested that the girl had been raped before she was strangled to death and marks of torture were also found on her body. The body was later handed over to the family for burial.

The victim was the third among six sisters. Her father is a fruit vendor. Following the discovery of her body, her family members and relatives staged a protest and demanded that the government take measures to protect girls so that the same did not happen to someone else’s daughter.

The family said that the victim went missing from outside her brother’s house that is located near her home. According to the father, she went outside the house without wearing slippers, which suggested that she was playing just outside when she was abducted.

“For two days, instead of registering an FIR, the police kept avoiding it,” the ill-fated father said. “When she was not found till Wednesday night, it was believed that she had been abducted.”

The father bemoaned the police attitude, stating that they just fulfilled formalities by asking his mobile phone number and missing daughter’s name and then asked him to leave the police station saying that if they found the girl, they would inform him.

He said that he again went to the police station on Thursday night and asked the police to register a kidnapping case but the relevant official for registering a case was unavailable. On Friday morning, he again went to the police station but the police continued to resort to delaying tactics.

The father maintained that his brother called him on Friday to inform him that his daughter’s body had been found. “I lost my princess, but the police did not try to recover her alive or dead as the family itself found her body.”

Following the incident, District Malir SSP Irfan Bahadur and investigation SSP visited the area to investigate the case. A forensic team collected evidence from the crime scene. Police officials said geo-fencing was also being conducted in the area, police officials said, added that footage of CCTV cameras was also being obtained around the crime scene.

The police started investigations but interrogating neighbouring persons and some suspects. The investigators said the suspects would be detained in order to collect their DNA samples. The police also recorded the statements of the girl’s relatives. SSP Bahadur instructed the investigators to provide all possible help to the family members and not to be careless in the investigation. He assured the family that those who had kidnapped, raped and murdered the girl would be brought to justice soon.

Body found

Separately, the body of a man was found on a vacant plot near Bhains Colony within the Sukkan police station’s remits. Upon receiving the information, police and rescuers reached the scene and transported the casualty to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where the man was identified as 35-year-old Shahzad Khan, son of Shahroz Khan. Police said the victim had been shot and killed by unidentified suspects.

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Son of PMLN Senator arrested – 19 Nov 2022

LAHORE: The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) Department Punjab, arrested Osama Abdul Karim, the son of PMLN Senator Abdul Karim over charges of building a shopping plaza on the mosque’s property in Dera Ghazi Khan.

The Punjab ACE authorities said the action was taken against Osama under several provisions after registering a case against him. They said that they would present the challan before the court after an investigation from Osama.

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Money-laundering, theft case: Rice mills partner remanded – 19 Nov 2022

LAHORE: A Magisterial Court of Judicial Magistrate Ghulam Murtaza Virk on Friday granted a four-day physical remand to a managing partner of a rice mills.

The accused Muhammad Deen was arrested over the charges of money laundering and theft of mortgaged stock in the bank. The court has directed authorities concerned to produce the accused again by Nov 22. The Court also ordered to send a copy of the remand order of the accused to the Sessions Judge Lahore. As per details, it has been alleged that the investigating officer traced the sacks of stolen rice from accused.

The case was filed by a private bank on charges of fraud and money-laundering. The accused took a loan from the bank and mortgaged sacks of rice and later stole the stock, the bank stated. The accused stole the stock and sold it and used the money for money laundering, the bank alleged.

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FIR of Sehwan road accident registered – 19 Nov 2022

SUKKUR: The Sehwan Police registered a first information report (FIR) of the wagon accident, which claimed 20 lives and rendered 13 others injured.

The incident took place on Thursday near the Sehwan toll plaza when a wagon carrying devotees fell into a ditch due to over speeding by the driver. According to police, the Indus Highway has been dug up at different points to drain out floodwater from the surrounding areas. However, they have not been filled so far, even after two months. Incidentally there was no fence or warning signboard erected along the Indus Highway.

The police registered an FIR No:183/2022 under section 320,322, 279,427, 357 PPC. The report mentioned number of factors including over speeding, overloading and absence of warning signs on the road.All the dead and injured belonged to village Dawood Goth of Khairpur.

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Body of abducted girl found – 19 Nov 2022

LAHORE: A class 10 female student, who was abducted a few days ago, was found in the canal in the limits of Barki police on Friday.

According to the initial investigation, the girl went missing on her way to school on November 12. The police expressed suspicion that the student was killed and her body was thrown in the canal after the alleged rape. Police shifted the body to the morgue.

31 men, women arrested: Wahdat Colony police arrested 31 men and women on charges of drinking alcohol, resorting to firing in the air and dancing by installing a sound system in the street late at night. Police also recovered bottles of liquor, weapons and a sound system from the possession of the accused and registered cases against them. Meanwhile, Phularwan Chowki police arrested two criminals, including an impersonator.

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Youth shot dead – 19 Nov 2022

LAHORE: A 22-year-old youth, identified as Habibullah Khan, was shot dead by unidentified motorcyclists in Green Town police area on Friday.

The victim was on his way back to home on foot when two persons riding a bike intercepted him and shot him to death. The police said that the deceased had an electronics shop and also used to do installment work. However, the reason behind the killing was still unknown.

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