"Puppets cannot control their masters"


Puppet masters



We must remember that the puppet masters who are pulling the strings are in control, and not the puppets. The puppets cannot control their masters.

In late 1970s, the script writers midwifed an ethnic party in Karachi to counter the PPP and Jamaat-e-Islami and then gave sanctuary to extremists to wage a jihad in Afghanistan, so that an illegitimate dictator could gain legitimacy. The unfortunate reality is that the People’s Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami still exist as potent national political forces, while the peace of Karachi and the rest of Pakistan has been destroyed by these Frankenstein’s type monsters pursuing their own agendas. Nothing could be a bigger comedy than calling for tax evasion through civil disobedience, instead of demanding more direct taxes from rich.

But the puppet masters have failed to learn lessons from history, and we now witness script writers embarking on another misadventure to contain the PML-N in Punjab, by unleashing another cult like political party headed by a Canadian national, with immense hypnotic powers captivating minds of his blind followers. Short term political objectives may be achieved, but the harm done to Pakistan would be far worse by setting precedents of creating warlords with blind supporters challenging writ of the state, holding people ransom, and leading this country on a path to anarchy, where laws will not prevail and  brute force will be the sole arbitrator. There should be no doubt that we need accountability, not just of elected political leadership but also paid public office holders involved in corruption, plunder of state lands and funds, abuse or misuse of power and large scale flight of capital from Pakistan to acquire assets in foreign countries and massive tax evasion by rich.

Quaid-e-Azam wanted Pakistan to be a modern democratic welfare state, where people and laws were to reign supreme. In words of Edmund Burke “It is the love of the people, it is their attachment to their government, from the sense of the deep stake they have in such a glorious institution, which gives you your army and your navy, and infuses into both that liberal obedience”.

Let us learn some lessons from history and ensure that our salvation lies in democracy, where laws prevail, not whims of individuals.

Ali Malik,


Dangerous waters



The worsening political situation can be compared to a pirate ship approaching our vessel. Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri, and their political associates, will try to make a hole in our ship, and if they succeed in doing that, it will not be possible to remain afloat for too long. The shiop of our state may drown.

However, if the state has a good repair and rescue plan, then a tiny hole in the shop will not matter. In my view, the pirates look well determined to fight till they succeed. But the people on state’s ship are a little confused.

I do not wish to see bloody waters.

Khalid Mustafa,


Hopes and fears



The government of Khyber Pakthunkhwa is ruled by the PTI. According to analysts, they have not achieved what they had promised.

As for Tahirul Qadri, the demands he has presented to the government are very valid and they must not be ignored. But about his personality, I have many doubts. Thanks to the internet, we know that he is no different from the lying politicians. He said things when he was abroad that contradicted the things he said when he was in Pakistan.

To the outside world, he says he had nothing to do with the dictator Ziaul Haq and the controversial laws he introduced. In Pakistan, he not only declared them in line with Islamic principles, and even said that the blasphemy laws were pushed by him.

I fear that they are both misleading the people who are frustrated with a series of political governments, but are themselves no better.

Abid Habib,


Rebels without a clue



PTI s powerful demonstrations have given birth to a digital and social revolution within the country by any measurable standard as a party that believes in public reform, transparency, human rights and freedom of expression. However, PTI’s reputation was  marred by the recent call for civil disobedience.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government claims that it will not collect any taxes. The largest revenue source for the province out of the total Rs 404 billion comes from the federal divisible pool, collected by the center and then transferred to the province as per the NFC Award. If revenue declines, the provincial government will find it extremely difficult to meet their expenses and overheads as lots of ongoing projects rely on funding, not just governance alone.

Furthermore, if the federal government refuses to lend a hand in the aftermath of the events that have taken place, this will create a massive void for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in terms of its overall development strategy. The central bank may or may not be able to help them in view of their recent call for civil disobedience.

If this party believes in justice for the common man, it should realize that any step taken in haste might affect its position and its mandate in Pakistan.

The PTI should immediately take back its call for civil disobedience, or clarify how it will pay the salaries of the government staff and workers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Zeeshan Shah,


Necessary evil



The nuclear age dawned in 1943 once the US made the first nuclear bomb. Albert Einstein, the man who played an instrumental role in American quest for nuclear weapon, once said, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” One wonders if his thoughts were in remorse or to encourage others not to take that path, while his country of second residence could retain it.

It can be reasonably inferred from a quick reading of the history of American nuclear weapons program that they made the bomb for prestige, so did few other states. Pakistan, however, made it in pursuit of self-defense. Nuclear weapons cause massive destruction and that is why Pakistan has been a great supporter of disarmament. This would be a difficult ideal to achieve as long as India does not disarm and resolves bilateral disputes like Kashmir. The onus of nuclearizing South Asia lies on India and it will have to take tangible steps to alter the situation.

On May 18, 1974 India surprised much of the world by detonating its first nuclear device, code named as “Smiling Buddha” at Pokhran by diverting peaceful nuclear program to military purposes. The Indian nuclear test posed serious challenges for Pakistan but policy makers in Pakistan were acutely aware of the risks and responsibilities which nuclear weapons carried with. On the other hand, India initiated an ominous nuclear aspect into the volatile security environment of the South Asian region.

Pakistan brought a proposal before the United Nations for a nuclear weapon-free zone in South Asia.  To prevent South Asia from a nuclear arm race, Pakistan offered various proposals to India. In 1978 Pakistan proposed to India a joint Indo-Pakistan declaration renouncing the acquisition and manufacture of nuclear weapons. During very next year, Pakistan proposed to India mutual inspections by India and Pakistan of nuclear facilities.

Most importantly in 1979, Pakistan offered simultaneous adherence to the NPT by India and Pakistan. In the same year, Pakistan proposed to India simultaneous acceptance of full-scope IAEA safeguards too. Unfortunately, all efforts made by Pakistan were not welcomed internationally. In June 1991, Pakistan again proposed a five-nation conference, which was later expanded to include permanent members of the UN Security Council, to discuss conventional arms control and confidence-building measures and promotion of nuclear restraint. In 1997, Pakistan’s proposal for mutual and equal restraint by Pakistan and India on the development of nuclear and ballistic missiles was also refused.

Pakistan was left with no option except restoring the balance of power in the region. Although, Pakistan has achieved the nuclear weapons capability in 1983, it continued to exercise restraint until it was finally compelled to respond to second Indian provocation in May 1998.

Yasir Hussain,


Unsung heroes


I would like to draw your kind attention to a matter that might not seem very significant, today, amidst all the political-economic chaos here, but which I feel should not be neglected.

All over the world, people in many countries have started from this year onwards, to commemorate the World War I (1914-1918) Centenary years, which shall continue until 2018.

The UK and most of the Commonwealth have set up special committees and involved people from all walks of life, including families of veterans/those who fought in the ‘Great War’.

India (via the USI, the National Archives of India, and the Indian Army set up) has also made up an extended programme of activities at this time in history.

Regrettably, Pakistan is the only country in the world that seems largely oblivious to this. It must please be kept in mind that the old British Indian Army (pre-1947) volunteered over 1.27 million troops in all, to the First World War, and its soldiers took part in it in many areas, in three continents. Of these 1.27 million around 75,000 died in combat. And of the total force around almost 52% was sent out from these areas – Attock, Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Chakwal districts of Punjab and Hazara district of NWFP, ie areas that now comprise parts of Pakistan. Every household and family in these areas had its elders and ancestors who played some role or the other, but who is paying any attention to them now?

Out of many notable brave men from these areas, some of the better known ones are:

(a) Havildar Khudadad Khan, VC

(b) Naik Shahamad (Shah Ahmad) Khan, VC

(c) Naik Sahib Jan, IOM, IDSM

(d) Jemadar Abdul Latif Khan, IDSM

It is bizarre why Pakistan is totally neglecting the commemoration, with the general excuse that ‘It was all British India so the Indians will now commemorate’ – conveniently forgetting our contribution. It seems that so far, only the Pakistan military attache in London, UK, and a few recently retired senior officers of the Pakistan Army (who have no connection to any World War I veterans/soldiers) have participated in a few events in the UK and on European battlefields (France and Belgium). But are we laying down any wreaths? Are we recording any memories by descendants of those who fought in WWI?  In Karachi, there is the small CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Memorial) but one wonders what sort of condition that is in; and if any sort of remembrance ceremony has been or will be planned there.

Dr Ilyas Khan,


The boy in Gaza

(On seeing a Palestinian boy staring at a wall and a bandaged donkey in Gaza on CNN in the early hours at Sarajevo in August 2014).

The wall in front of you

The wall behind you

The wall is all

This world has for you


But in your heart

Don’t let it grow

Young boy in Palestine

Don’t turn away

From the world

That has turned

Away from you


Allow the world

To feel ashamed

Looking you in the eye

The eye of a boy

Without boyhood



Whose hand

Ignoring death

Whose steady hand

Put the bandage

On your donkey’s leg



For you see farther

Facing the wall

Which hand

Will lead the world

The one that

Pulled the trigger

Or that which healed

Your wounded donkey


Turn around

Show the face

Of a boy that never was

Help the world

That has not helped you


For the sake

Of brave people from afar

Sharing with you

Death and Honour

In the name

Of the children in Nigeria

Syria, Mexico, Iraq

Abducted children in Australia

Dead children

On the bottom of the Mediterranean

Children still alive

In the mines and sweatshops

Children on the borders and wires

Waiting for a raindrop in deserts

Children in the Philippines

Somalia, Palestine and Bosnia

Children in the slums

Sleepless and dreamless


For the sake

Of all those

Unafraid of your memories –

Of wells with clear water

Of uncut olive trees

Last seen

In your grandfather’s eyes

When he talked of home –

The memories unscathed

By bullets and barbed wires


For the sake of children in Israel

Who bear no guilt


Turn around

Young boy in Palestine

Save this world


Help it be ashamed.


Haris Silajdzic,

No country for old men



The pot is boiling and a neglected and abused desperate nation is on verge of erupting into a volcano, if those at the helm do not start taxing rich and giving relief to the poor and the elderly. The unfortunate reality is that neither the government, nor the opposition, nor the establishment of this country have any concrete plans to address real issues that confront the poor and the middle class of this country. All that we see is a struggle for power, empty sloganeering, and a change of faces, and when they come to power, be it elected civil or uniformed elite, all that occurs is plundering of state assets, welfare of the elite, nepotism, organized land grabbing, tax evasion, massive flight of capital and reducing state owned enterprises to entities for providing surplus jobs in violation of merit.

This is a country where even senior citizens have not been spared. Instead of giving relief to them, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and the FBR thought it appropriate to raise Withholding Tax from 10% to 15% on interest earned from deposits in National Saving Centre. As it is citizens serving in private sector, who have paid Income Tax for decades just like their compatriots serving in government are denied benefit of Pension Benefit Account Scheme of NSC. Just look at the callous disregard of FBR for these people that even in the case where a Joint Account is held by a senior citizen with his dependent spouse or child, the Withholding Tax has been increased to 15%, even when the senior citizen continues to be on Active Tax list.

Same is the situation for Property Tax on the sole self-occupied house of a Senior Citizen. For instance, retired citizens who were employed in semi-autonomous corporations like CAA and PIA, although administratively under Ministry Of Defense and on numerous occasions placed under Essential Services, are not allowed relief in property tax for Senior Citizens by the Cantonment Board.

The state does not seem to be bothered by the plight of retired citizens, whose pension emoluments are not enough to pay even electricity bills, but its heart melts when it deals with those earning crores of rupees in real estate sales and stock exchange profits.

Tariq Ali,