"There is no better place than Berlin to notice the signs, symbols and the consequences of Germany's past legacy" The Friday Times, Plot No 52-53, N-Block, Main Guru Mangat Road, Gulberg II, Lahore, Pakistan. 042.35779186; Fax: 042.35779186, email: ...




There is wave of unrest in the streets that massive corruption, tax evasion and an elite, which has no stakes in the country, has become a hurdle for economic development and rule of law. Hundreds of thousands are protesting on the streets in South Korea, demanding the resignation and trial of President Park for giving inappropriate access to her close friend in state contracts worth billions. She is guilty of conflict of interest, abusing her office to give undue favors to close friends for commercial contracts.

Similar protests are taking place in South Africa where President Zuma faces similar charges following allegations of influence peddling, fraud etc., and spending colossal amounts of money on his personal real estate, declaring it as a camp office, under the garb of security. In Pakistan, the sitting PM, like his predecessors, has defiantly misused his offices to promote his commercial business interests through front men and close relatives, granting them undue favors, although this is not allowed in Islam and is universally considered an unethical practice. When a country allows its public officeholders, both civil and khaki, to hold office despite the fact that their family and assets are located abroad, such abuses would continue to devour the economy.

It is an accepted ethic of governance that those holding elected or paid public offices cannot themselves, nor are their children involved in private business ventures during their tenure. Although Pakistan is supposed to be an Islamic state, yet almost every paid public officeholder, both civil and khaki, including ministers are openly involved in real estate ventures, LPG contracts etc.

Almost every businessman politician has ended up involved in scams such as Berlusconi of Italy or Thaksin Shinawatra and Yingluck Shinwatra of Thailand etc.  It seems President elect Donald Trump might be susceptible to similar allegations, because although he has announced that during his tenure his children will be in-charge of his business, yet same family members are actively involved in selecting his transition team.

Ali Tariq,




The Pakistan State Oils Company Limited announced its dividend on 15/8/2016 for financial year ending on 30/6/2016. It has been three months since the announcement of the dividend but the shareholders of the company have not received the dividend. An unbelievable delay! It is surprising to note that in today’s world of technological advancement, our country’s biggest company takes more than three months after declaration to pay dividend to its shareholders. This surely needs improvement. I would like to request Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the honorable Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources, who is also the chairman of PSO’s board of directors to look into this matter and help the shareholders, especially the small and retired ones to get timely payment of dividend.

Ejaz Ahmad Magoon,





It was interesting to see different TV channels, yesterday, showing the farewell to the COAS. I am in favour of farewells and welcome parties but not of too much expense to be made in such functions, especially when our national exchequer is concerned. Our per capita income, according to the finance ministry is $1512 (2014-15). This means a monthly rate of $126. When this is the situation then we should avoid luxurious life at state expenses as it was observed on November 24, 2016. Our channels were showing luxury cars and jeeps dropping the guests and then inside the building, decorations and serving looked like that at a palace of a king. There are acts of Quaid-e-Azam in so many people’s memories about the limitations on state expenses including parties. We see the portrait of Quaid-e-Azam in offices, especially those who run the system or play important roles but rarely like to follow his acts.

Khalid Mustafa,




Reference reports that Canada has appealed for the release of Dr Asim. He took oath as senator in violation of the constitution and Supreme Court rulings that forbid foreign passport holders to hold elected public office. In this crime, the PPP, which made him a senator and an advisor on petroleum are equally responsible for willful violation of the constitution. It is ironical and an insult to our sovereignty and judicial system that foreign states dare to intervene on behalf of these criminals who have robbed this country of billions and invested them in another nation.

It was under Asim’s watch that Pakistan continued to import sub-substandard petrol of RON89 although countries all over world such as in Malaysia, basic petrol sold at pumps is RON95 and high octane fuel with RON97. He allegedly abused his office by giving permission to scores of controversial applicants for opening medical colleges, bringing into disrepute credibility of degrees issued by Pakistani medical colleges and compromising health of millions of citizens. Pakistan’s controversial civil and military governments should be held accountable as to what were ulterior motives of their preference to appoint dual nationality holders to key assignments, ignoring hundreds of more or equally qualified citizens of Pakistan, who could be held accountable for any financial and administrative irregularities?

The PML-N government has continued in this highly objectionable practice of appointing foreign passport holders, who revoked all previous loyalties they may have held and pledged total allegiance and loyalty to the country whose citizenship they have acquired.

Malik Ali,


True democracy


The leaders of most of our political parties are authoritarian by nature. The recent PML-N intra-party election proved that its leader cannot tolerate any opposition – he was elected unopposed after his opponent was disqualified. This reminded me of how Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was elected unopposed from his home town Larkana in the rigged 1977 elections – his rival Jan Mohammed Abbasi was picked up and held incommunicado so he could not submit his papers to the ECP. Although Bhutto would have won the elections anyway, he was too insecure to allow anyone to stand against him. The same trait can be observed in the PTI chairman, Imran Khan, the former president Asif Zardari and the founder of the MQM. The Jamaat-e-Islami and the Awami National Party are perhaps the only parties that conduct transparent elections. The leaders of these parties often consult with senior party members before taking decisions.

It’s good that the Supreme Court has held that the prime minister cannot decide state matters without the consent of the cabinet. Let’s hope that the prime minister follows the order. This can be the first step to introduce true democracy in the country.

Shakir Lakhani,



Huge loss


The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), in its annual report said that the country has suffered direct and indirect losses from terrorism to the tune of $118.3 billion during the 14 years from 2002 to 2016.

This is a very alarming situation for our economy and an eye-opener for all of us. Actually, it all happened due to the participation of Pakistan in proxy wars under the umbrella of military dictators. First, General Ziaul Haq joined the Soviet-Afghan war with the help of Islamists and provided covert support to Afghan resistance against the Soviet Union. As a result, US aid in the form of weapons contributed to disorder and violence in Pakistan. After the September 11 attacks, former military ruler Pervez Musharraf sided with the US against the Taliban government in Afghanistan and provided logistic support by allowing to use three airbases for operation Enduring Freedom. In 2002, the Musharraf-led government took firm stand against the Jihadi organisations. Amazingly, the past’s mujaheddin declared by the US as freedom fighters suddenly became terrorists. In 2014, the Pak Army launched operation Zarb-e-Azb against militants.

Pakistan has been afflicted with the war on terrorism for the past many years. Both economic growth and social sector development have been severely hampered by terrorism-related incidents. Apart from causing immeasurable human suffering including casualties and displacements have also resulted in huge losses to the country’s economy. Foreign investors were shying away from the country, while domestic investors adopted a wait and see stance.

The present PML-N government has been taking many initiatives regarding bringing back peace, stability and sustainable economic growth. The IMF has successfully completed its three years EFF programme. Foreign investors are showing deep interest to invest in Pakistan. The dream of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become a reality now. Hopefully, Pakistan would recover its economic loss very soon by adopting the right path and avoiding becoming a part of any proxy war in future.

Mansoor Ahmed,


Patronizing Black Economy


Reference various statements by the finance minister, chairman FBR and governor State Bank regarding plans to widen the tax net and curb the black economy; instead of taking steps to achieve these goals, what we witness is an endless spate of tax amnesty schemes to patronize the criminal economy, land mafia and money laundering sharks.

India has resorted to an extreme and unpopular decision to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1000 currency notes, with the declared objective to force the criminal black economy sharks to rush to banks and enforce documentation. In contrast, our government, like its predecessors, has been encouraging all sectors involved in tax evasion and flight of capital through illegal channels by giving them tax amnesty schemes. Instead of punishing known and established tax evaders every government has in consultation with these financial criminals whom it calls stakeholders, drafted numerous tax amnesty schemes, which once issued are then rejected by tax defaulters, who basically would like the state to collect zero tax from them, while giving them numerous benefits.

In developed and developing countries, tax evasion is considered a more heinous crime than murder, because without tax collection, the state fails to function, compromising its national security and sovereignty, and most likely lead to social and even geographical disintegration from within. A cursory look at luxurious mansions built on state expense, for elected and paid public office holders, and in contrast compare them with despicable state of hospitals, schools etc built for vast majority, would reveal the tragic abuse of power and convoluted priorities of those who hold office. Which country in the world gifts houses to paid khaki officer elites and allots numerous plots of prime real estate at subsidized rates to its paid civil and uniformed servants for performing duties for which they were paid for and retiring hale and hearty?. If we want to survive as Nuclear State, defend ourselves from our arch enemy India, which publicly seeks to destroy us, than we have secure ourselves economically, cut back reliance on foreign debts and raise revenues through direct taxation and give relief only to poor and deprived, instead of the affluent rich and paid bureaucracy.

Ali Malik,





It is hardly surprising this should be so when seminaries are producing demagogues and hatemongers, when university teachers are earning cut-and-paste PhDs to secure their tenure rather than engage in intellectual creativity. There is no application of rationality and no challenge to existing orthodoxies and taboos in the social and natural sciences. Nor have state mechanisms or religious practices changed for the better so as to counter discriminatory traditional structures. All we have is tunnel vision, spewing more hatred and more venom in colleges and universities. It is ironic to consider that an Afghan court should have accepted DNA as credible scientific evidence in rape cases while the Council for Islamic Ideology in Pakistan has ruled the opposite.

What lesson are we to learn from history? If the brutal distortion of religion is not stopped and equal rights and citizenship not accorded to all, irrespective of sect and gender, our seats of learning will produce an army of Sadia Jalals (Jalal, a university professor, was arrested for her role in ‘facilitating the suspects of the Safoora carnage’. According to media reports, she had been ‘brainwashing’ her students in an attempt to recruit them as members of a terrorist outfit). The literacy rate may have increased, but it is divorced from ethics, tolerance for diverse faiths and practices, and humanity.

Abdul Ali,





Germany was “unified” in October 1990 but the country is still going through dramatic transformation and a kind of soul searching. Some see it as the happy unification of a divided nation and country but there are others to whom it wasn’t unification on equal grounds, and rather a result of East Germany’s defeat at the hands of West Germany. It was also a defeat of the socialist block by the capitalist block.

In Germany, those generations now live side by side, who for decades had lived separately in East and West Germany. It was one nation with two different systems and ideological directions. Before the division of Germany, this country had led one side in the First World War. The unfair treatment of Germany by the victors of the first war gave birth to an extreme form of nationalism in Germany under Adolf Hitler that triggered the Second World War. These very complex and difficult historical experiences give Germany a special place among nation states.

There is no better place than the German capital Berlin to notice the signs, symbols and the consequences of Germany’s past legacy and at the same time observe the amazing transformation of Germany into a modern power leading the European continent.

The East German secret police or Stasi was one of the largest surveillance system in history and had allegedly infiltrated every institution of society and every aspect of daily life, including even intimate personal and familial relationships through a vast network of informants and unofficial collaborators who spied on and denounced colleagues, friends, neighbours, and even family members.

It is claimed that by 1989, the Stasi relied on 500,000 to 2,000,000 collaborators as well as 100,000 regular employees, and it maintained files on approximately 6,000,000 East German citizens—more than one-third of the population. Stasi members were not prosecuted and some victims are still awaiting compensation— even since files were made available to victims who most of the time knew the name of the people who spied on them/denounced or persecuted them.

The Wall is gone but the memories associated with it remain. Those who suffered because of the Wall are alive and face new challenges. West Germany’s government and taxpayers have been paying for the growth and the uplift of former East Germany. However, despite huge economic and social support by West Germany areas which were in East Germany lag behind in economic development. In the Eastern part of the country, a significant number of people in their 40s, 50s and 60s face hardships because their skills and experiences are not required in the job market or some of them have not learned new skills.

Since the fall of the German Wall, Berlin is changing, transforming. Like phoenix, Berlin has born anew from its ashes. Today it is a new and modern city—-young and trendy where fusion of art, cultures and ideology is taking place at a fascinating pace.

Indeed, the story of Berlin is the story of a world’s great seat of power and a war theatre that is now transforming into a hub of international culture, intellectual debates and peace movements, this fascinating story can’t be fully told in one go or by one person.

Shiraz Paracha,