Here is my latest piece about democracy in Pakistan. "Nawaz Shariff should respectfully resign for the sake of orderly democratic Pakistan" http://redeemingpakistan.blogspot.com/2014/08/nawaz-shariff-should-respectfully.html

Mike Ghouse

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My azaad huwa be hooN ya NahiN.

This poem reminded is published by Zaid Hamid on facebook, but not sure who wrote it.

The poem reflect the work we have embarked on at America Together Foundation, our mission is to build a cohesive America where no Americans has to live with anxiety, discomfort or fear of another American. I am committed to building cohesive societies.

As a pluralist, I see this every where. Recently, a friend shared a story where a a lady asked him a question, aren't you afraid of Hindus? The truth is there are Hindus who are afraid of Muslims as well.  A lot of myths and falsities are built around others and as responsible citizens, we have to allay those fears, we have to be Amins of the society.
This is the foundational value of Islam, the very first step in creating cohesive societies where no one has to live in apprehension or fear of the other, trust is the glue that binds and ensures smooth running of the societies. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was divinely guided to set up the model of Amin based on this principle. Amins is the one who is trustworthy, tells the truth, has immense patience, who is just, and whose presence makes others feel secure. Thus he was called Amin by the Jews, Christians, Pagans and others during his life time. 

What does this mean for Muslim Americans? It simply means we have to become Amins of the society, and have to be there for our neighbors in their crises, deaths, marriages, birthdays and other celebrations and commemorations. Islam does not shut us down, it frees us up. There are over 18 verses in Quran where God consistently talks about taking care of fellow humans. Indeed the Prophet (pbuh) had said it in so many different ways that an irreligious guy who takes care of his neighbor earns God's grace over the guy who is relentlessly praying. For example, "None of you is a believer if he eats his full meal while his neighbor hasn't anything." (Musnad) and, "None of you have faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself" (Sahih Muslim).

Here is the bottom line. We need to have comfortable working relationships with everyone from Atheists to Baha'i, Buddhist, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Jewish, Native Americans, Pagans, Sikh, Wiccan, Zoroastrians and every one in between including fellow Muslims of different denominations. We should not be dumbfounded when it comes to the right knowledge about others, preferably as they express it and not what is dished out about them. We ought to take pride in knowing all of God's creation expressed in different faiths and traditions. 

Quran 49:13 says that God has created us into different tribes, communities and nations, and expects us to have conflicts, and then says, the best among you are the ones who know each other, indeed, knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance and appreciation of God given uniqueness of each one of us, and when that happens conflicts fade and solutions emerge. 

The very first guidance from God was to learn! Prophet Muhammad beefed it up by saying, learning is a primary duty, and if you have to go to a far-off land (China) to learn, go for it.

Can we be the Amins? Yes, we can, indeed we cannot be a Muslim without being the Amin.
What does it take? We don't have to go to far-off lands, we can learn it in our Friday Sermons, we should pound on this message, and the board members of the Mosques be required to serve in public non-Muslim and non-profit organizations to understand this model of the Prophet. 

These organizations ought to focus on building the value of Amin and hold "Amin competitions" in their annual conferences rather than Qirat (Quran recitation) competitions. This should be our #1 priority to be fully participating members of the society to create a cohesive America for us and our future generations.
We should go with a 10-year plan, at the end of which, when a Muslim in a public square says "Allahu Akbar" it should not cause panic, instead people should gather around him, because he is expressing humility and not a shout to kill someone. When a bearded man boards the plane, people ought to greet him because they know he is Amin trust worthy, kind and gentle. When we become Amins first, our prayers, our beards or ethnic clothing in public will not frighten anyone.

This was part of my article at Huffington Post, to read the full article, go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/american-muslim-agenda-a-_b_5528706.html 

This is an opportunity for Muslims to contribute towards a cohesive America.
Mike Ghouse


The poem is also in Roman English below

My azaad huwa be hooN  ya NahiN.

Ab my azaad hooN
Ab agar my Shia hooN to Mujhe Sunni say dur hai,
aur agar Sunni hooN to Shia say dur hai

Agar Pathan hooN to Mahajir say dur hai
Police ka jawan hoon to Taliban say dur hai

Siyasatdaan hooN to Army Chief say dur hai
Dukandaar hooN to Bhattakhor say dur hai

Namazi hoon to khudkush bombaar say dur hai
Jeans pehenta hoon to maulavi say dur  hai

Pehle my Musalmaan tha, Mujhe Hindu say dur tha
Ab my azaad hoon, aur Mujhe Musalmaan say dur hai

My azaad huwa be hooN  ya NahiN. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Five toppled Governments and this may be the sixth!

By Saeed Qureshi

Five governments in Pakistan were changed either by street agitations or through military intervention. The first was headed by Ayub Khan, the second by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the third was the first PMLN government (1993-1996), the fourth was the second PMNL government (1997-1999) and the fifth that of Pervez Musharraf.  The incumbent PMLN government may be the sixth one but the chances of its unceremonious send off seem to be slim.

The reasons for such an assessment are that Imran Khan is not a Bhutto and his appeal is limited to a section of the population, second the ground realities are different now, and third that PMLN is a duly elected government and supported by second largest party PPP. However, the perpetual chaos and continual turmoil may prompt army to step in.   

Ayub Khan captured power through a military coup. As a result of the popular uprising launched by ZAB, Field Marshall Ayub Khan bowed out of power in March 1969 after a decade’s autocratic governance. But he bequeathed a legacy of economic vibrancy for Pakistan. The Tashkent pact signed with India after 1965 war turned out to be his bĂȘte noir and the nation accused Ayub Khan of watering down the boons of war that the army and the nation fought in unison.

One could recall in the hindsight the intensity of emotions and the fervor and a bubbling spirit of patriotism and sacrifice in those days of war with India in September1965. The Tashkent agreement was profitably and deftly exploited by ZAB who was his foreign minister but had parted company with him to launch a countywide vilification campaign for his ouster. ZAB was a charismatic figure and knew the art of rhetorical outbursts and soon he became a darling and most lovable revolutionary leader of the entire nation.

He knew the art of mobilizing a subdued nation and truly that was the ripest moment for a phenomenal change that the Pakistani nation was yearning for long. The Tashkent declaration worked like fuel on the fire. On December 18, 1971, Bhutto was taken to the President House in Rawalpindi where he took over two highest positions from Yahya Khan: one as the President and the other as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Thus he was the first civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator of the dismembered Pakistan. That was the most glorious moment for ZAB.

But unfortunately he became obsessive and so much power drunk that he started sacrificing his secular, liberal, socialist and democratic credentials at the altar of power. After the PNA movements in 1976 against the alleged rigged elections, he abandoned all his cosmopolitan principles and accepted all the conditions of the PNA. Pakistan from that moment turned into a conservative and orthodox Islamic state with curbs of religious freedom of the minorities, ban on production and use of liquor that amounted to the curtailment of civil liberties.

But his volte face did not rescue him from the inevitable fate of a betrayer of his conscience, creed and principles. The PNA after getting all their demands accepted and made part of the constitution, still kept him on the tenterhooks that culminated in the proclamation of Martial law by Ziaul Haq and the rest is history. He was sent to gallows for a controversial murder case.

Pakistan came under a brutal dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq who ruled Pakistan with an iron hand. He suppressed all dissent, curbed calls for democracy and human rights with full might of the state. He was the one in whose time even journalists were lashed. General Zia’s one plus point is that he spearheaded a crusade against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and succeeded in throwing them out of that perennially bedeviled country. But he too was killed in the mysterious helicopter crash. It is still not known who was behind that plot.

The political parties that ruled the roost in Pakistan have been showing scant interest in the welfare of Pakistan and its consolidation. The four governments (two each) of PPP and PMLN were kind of family-centric and thus Pakistan remained a country to be fleeced and bankrupted by the vested interest by these ruling cabals.

In the first PMNL government that lasted for barely three years, Nawaz Sharif had to resign under military pressure. The Nawaz Sharif’s second government (1997-1999) remained locked in a confrontation with judiciary and army.  Nawaz Sharif was deposed through a military coup  by General Musharraf On October 13, 1999.

However since his return to Pakistan in December 2007 from long exile, Nawaz Sharif has been supporting democracy and kept extending cooperation to PPP to complete its five years constitutional tenure.

Of late, Imran Khan has emerged as a formidable political contender of Nawaz Sharif and the ongoing standoff between the PMLN and PTI led has been swelling beyond conjectures. Imran Khan has portrayed himself to be an obdurate and inflexible rival who doesn’t seem to be in a mind frame to patch up with Sharif. His demand is the ouster and trial of Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif.

This irreconcilable attitude from Imran Khan and his mobilization of the country’s youth and disgruntled sections had created an unprecedented prolonged rally in the federal capital. But overall Imran Khan doesn’t enjoy the support of the majority of the people of Pakistan. He can keep demonstrating in Islamabad and other cities of Pakistan indefinitely but there should be an end to this French style revolution call. 

Imran is trying to knock down the political edifice by forcing Sharif and PMLN out of power. The insistence on this demand through violence and show of street force may finally impel the armed forces to step in to disengage both the sides and take the country back to another prolonged and indefinite martial law. If that happens, it would be the fourth time in Pakistan of the ouster of a government through military take-over.

 Even if Imran Khan succeeds in forcible ouster of the PMNL from power then what next? Will he like the traditional revolutionaries walk into the prime minister or president house and start issuing orders? Still he will have to gain power through the votes of the people.

Will he without any constitutional authority force his dictations? Would the other political parties keep watching him doing all these things with folded hands? Would there not be a political vacuum of governance? It is not difficult to fathom which power will fill that vacuum. It would be then fourth military rule in Pakistan. As for interim government to hold midterm elections, it is doubtful that the other parties would agree to this demand.  

The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat. This and other articles by the writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Mayhem in Islamabad--Who is Responsible.

It is
By Saeed Malik
For a little over a fortnight almost all the "intellectuals one hears on TV  have been making the point that a few thousand agitators holding Islamabad hostage should not be allowed to bring down the government. 
This is absolutely correct and no one can argue with this position.
But equally, there is another position, in two parts, against which no argument can stand viz:
a. If a government closes down all avenues to legal remedies against a charge of rigged elections from which such government draws its legitimacy, such legitimacy MUST be considered spurious, and therefore non-existent.
b. If a government kills 14 of its citizens who are unarmed and wounds and hospitalises another 80, and then consistently bars every legal remedial door to the aggrieved, such government loses its legitimacy, and must leave [and be tried].
When a government is guilty of the above crimes and attempts to gain immunity through deployment of state power, it leaves no door open to its its citizens to get justice but to overthrow such power.
The present government of Pakistan, by denying the legal right of a plaintiff to have an electoral audit of four constituencies, and when such plaintiff has exhausted every legal avenue of redress, is guilty of leaving such plaintiff with no other option but to take law into his own hands to get justice. The very aim of law is to have an ordered society. Implementation of law MUST ensure justice and redress so that there is no recourse to violence. When a government subverts the law to serve its own narrow interests, it invites violence from those whose rights it usurps.
The Punjab government, has also followed suit to deny justice to the families of those innocents it killed out of hand, and those it hospitalised. But it went further. It charged the victims with the crime it perpetrated itself!
After that this government chose to hide behind the convenient cover of a sham democracy, and a subverted constitution which facilitates rigging by the party in power, and thus its perpetuity.
There was a chance that the current situation could be stopped short to reaching the present pass. and the PM took the correct decision in this regard when he requested the Army Chief to defuse this situation, because he was the only one whom the aggrieved parties thought they could trust. After invoking the good offices of Gen Raheel Sharif for this purpose, and after the Chief had held his first round of meetings with Imran and Qadri, the very next morning the PM declared that he had given no such mandate to the General. 
Though the ISPR contradicted this assertion by the PM, this was really not needed, because in this case the circumstantial evidence giving a lie to the PM's statement was sufficient in and of itself--for a good 15 hours EVERY TV channel of Pakistan kept repeating at intervals, that the government had requested the Army Chief to act as a mediator and guarantor vis a vis the aggrieved parties and the government to defuse the situation. Surely the PM and EVERY one of his ministers must have heard these broadcasts. If these broadcasts were indeed incorrect why did NONE of them find it convenient to issue an immediate contradiction to these news outlets??
The  PM, by his flippancy, did indeed let the army down, but by the same token he confirmed to the Chief that both Imran and Qadri were entirely correct in not putting their faith in the word of the man ruling Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharif and his cohorts have now left the army with only two options. It must either move to save the country, or save a constitution the only purpose of which seems to be, to afford a place behind which a criminal gang can hide and despoil Pakistan.
I hope, the army chooses to save Pakistan. And while doing so, I hope it eschews any impulse to rule the country. The army has done this four times earlier and made a mess of it each time it tried. If the army culls the rotten eggs from the system and fattens them for trial for gouging out the country of its wealth, and gives to Pakistan a totally free and fair elections, the generals will have immortalised themselves.
I started this piece with a reference to our "intellectuals" who have sought to educate us on what has gone wrong, and where. Sadly, and most unforgivably,not ONE of them thought it worthwhile to bring to the attention of the people of Pakistan a fact that should have been obvious to ALL of them i.e it is not for thieves to run a family, much less a democracy. The motivation of a thief is only to fatten his bank accounts,and this has nothing to do with the welfare of the people whose wealth he is dedicated to steal.
And now I leave the readers with just one question which they must answer honestly to themselves I.e which one among Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, Altaf hussain, Mulla Fazal, Asfandyar Wali Khan, Aftab sherpao, and Achakzai is NOT a dedicated thief?
A truthful answer to this question will be an answer to a myriad others.
Saeed A Malik

Nawaz Shariff should respectfully resign for the sake of orderly democratic Pakistan

Nawaz Shariff should respectfully resign for the sake of orderly democratic Pakistan.

By Mike Ghouse
The Ghouse Diary.com

Shariff was elected by the people and the same people are asking him to step down - and that is indeed a genuine democratic thing to do. He should remember that peaceful demonstrations earn respectable name for Pakistan in the world, and if he honors the peaceful people, he will have a place in history.

Pakistan turmoil, courtesy Rueters
On the other hand if Nawaz Shariff goes berserk, he will cause Pakistan to go violent and endanger his own existence.
What does he think of himself, a Netanyahu or Al-Baghdadi that he can silence the people by brutal force?

If he were any smart, he would go on the national TV and appreciate the people and welcome them for peacefully exercising their democratic right to protest, and do what the people ask; to recount the ballot or resign. Is that a problem?   More than likely, the demonstrations would have been called off and he would have remained respectable and would have won another landslide victory, but the he did not have the brains to do that. 

Every peace loving person should be outraged at this dude for deploying 10,000 Special Forces to disperse the peaceful non-violent crowds seeking political solutions. On the top of it, he ordered firing at nearly 200 injured women, which reminds me of Jalianwala Bagh incident where British forces did the same thing and women jumped into the wells and died. I am proud of these women who stood and took the bullets. But, this is outrageous and unacceptable, he ain’t no Baghdadi. 

When the bad guys were killing fellow Pakistanis be it Shia, Christians, Ahmadies and others, Shariff let it happen, and now when his days are numbered, he deploys 10,000 forces to squelch the peaceful demonstrators. It does not work that way.

What kind of non-sense is he talking about when he says he wants to protect democracy? If he steps down respectfully, he will have a chance to continue in some form of governance, if not, he knows her kuttay ke din hotay hain, he has seen every dog had his day, and he will be one too if he goes against the will of the people.

Its time for Obama to ask Shariff to step down, it is in our (American) interest and the interests of the people of Pakistan to have stability in the region, we cannot have more than one Afghanistan.  I hope Obama will not wait until it becomes messy to ask Shariff to step down; as he did the right thing with Mubarak in asking him to step down by siding with the people of Egypt. Obama made the same mistake with that Idiot Maliki in Iraq, had Maliki formed an inclusive government, we would not have seen this mess. Of course, all these problems stem from Bush's criminal adventure in Iraq. Obama is a good guy, but he needs to be a bully to deal with the bullies.

It’s time for Obama to be on the side of the Pakistani people and not with the guys who are desperate to remain in power. Be smart and be with the people and not with the transients.  All Obama has to do is ask Nawaz Shariff to announce recounting, or announce a date for re-election. It will restore calmness. The people of Pakistan deserve that.

Nazia Khan, Aqeel Qureshi and a few others are out there witnessing the mayhem first hand, and I hope to incorporate their quotes in the piece, I am writing on our goofy foreign policy about nurturing democracies.

Mike Ghouse is a public speaker, thinker, writer and a commentator on Pluralism at work place, politics, religion, society, gender, race, culture, ethnicity, food and foreign policy. All about him is listed in several links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at www.TheGhousediary.com and 10 other blogs. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.