"When Hitler laid a siege to Leningrad, and thousands of Russians died in the freezing winter, school examinations were not postponed"

Tall order



Nature has graced the Muslim world with an abundance of natural resources such as petroleum, gold, and rare minerals, but all this wealth has been wasted by its elite living in luxury and extravagance, building the tallest buildings in the world, large palaces, the biggest hotels, and importing luxury items. There is nothing to show in terms of universities and hospitals of world repute, or research and development, so essential for long-term self reliance. There is no realization even after having exhausted their petroleum produce that time is running out and very soon the infrastructure they have bought would not be sustainable once the expatriates leave because of their own human resources incapability.

For instance, the airport at Jeddah, except the Hajj terminal, may be widespread in terms of land, but is amongst most user-unfriendly in this region. What purpose would palaces with over 5,000 rooms or aircraft with gold bathroom utensils serve any nation? Why cannot our numerous rich elite lead the lives of relative modesty like Bill Gates for example, and be seen investing in development of human resources or helping the poor in their countries or region?

The gross ADB of all Muslim countries, with their abundance of natural resources, is less than that of Germany and Japan, which have invested in developing their human resources. Singapore, a city nation, does not have tallest building in the world, but can boast of having the best universities and hospitals in the world, comparable to any in Europe or the US.

Europe and Japan occupied countries in Africa and Asia to capture natural resources which they lacked, to fund universities vital for research and development, apart from building hospitals and infrastructure of roads and bridges, so vital for industrial growth. Having developed their human resources, they tested their technological prowess by building the Empire State building in 1931, followed by Sears Tower in 1973, and then realized that they need to focus on technological research and development to retain their economic and military hold on the world.

The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, and after the addition of an aerial top in 1957, it continues to be highest structure in France, whose government thereafter realized that national interest would be served better by investing in research and development.

Dilawar Shah,


Tax lax



Democracy ensures the right to dissent without resorting to violence, threats or intimidation. Unfortunately, prolonged protests in Islamabad amidst half-hearted calls for civil disobedience and non-payment of electricity bills, unacceptable moves such as the storming of the National Assembly and Pakistan Television, and attempts to scale the fence around the Presidency have only scarred what would otherwise qualify as a legitimate political process.

Politicians should lead by example, and never allow civility to be a casualty in their public addresses as has been done by Sheikh Rashid. The controversy about the use of an aircraft owned by JDW, whose majority shares are owned by Jehangir Tarin, points to the conflicts of interest of those who have been in power for decades, holding important constitutional offices.

While business ethics, transparency and morality need to be incorporated in our private sector, this can only take place if those in power lead by example, by eliminating wastage of already scarce public money on extravagant expenses, including maintaining a huge fleet of aircraft for use by both elected and paid public office holders and declaring multiple private residences as official. The constitutional oath binds public office holders to prevent wastage of public money.

It is also a constitutional obligation for any elected government to ensure that every citizen earning above a declared quantum be subjected to uniform direct income tax, instead of resorting to indirect taxation without exhausting all direct taxation options.

It is embarrassing for citizens of Pakistan when host heads of state, too busy with their official duties, not having time even for a photoshoot, or their elected public office holders, rebuking us for becoming a burden on their taxpayers seeking grants and aid without collecting taxes from our own elite.

Ali Malik,


Saviors of the poor?



This is with reference to Raza Rabbani’s opposition to privatization of loss making state-run enterprises, which are bleeding our scarce resources while hundreds of children are dying of malnutrition in Thar.

The billions of rupees poured into this bottomless pit could have saved hundreds of thousands dying of hunger, starvation and unchecked spread of disease, and on imparting education.

Public sector state owned enterprises can only survive if their managements are appointed on merit, which unfortunately has not happened either in decades. Why didn’t PPP leaders employ in their own industries the people they have burned overstaffed state-owned enterprises with?

Where was Senator Rabbani when Pakistan Steel Mills and Pakistan International Airlines were subjected to organized plunder for years, by corrupt people placed at the helm? Where was he when corruption thrived, jobs were sold and scores of permanent regular employees of PIA were terminated at the whims of semi literate managers?

Many in the PPP claim to be the saviors of workers and laborers, by recruiting surplus staff without any merit, putting at stake the livelihood of thousands already employed. But he must first answer why billions of rupees in funds collected for the welfare of deserving aged laborers by the EOBI allowed to be robbed by PPP nominated chairman and why did Senator Raza not embark on a campaign to recover this money?

Malik Tariq,


Save the children



More than 35 little girls, mostly from the Bajaur tribal area, were somehow transported through hundreds of security checkposts scattered along FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh, traded like a herd of animals by what is conveniently being called an unregistered madrassa, and yet the state remains unmoved to its constitutional and moral obligations. Except a few in the media, others have failed to give the matter proper coverage, because perhaps in their opinion it lacks the spice necessary for higher viewership ratings.

In a country where slave trade thrives, child sexual molestation has been becoming more widespread, and terrorist outfits are recruiting innocent children to blow themselves up, this should have sent shockwaves in the corridors of power and those who have assumed unto themselves the custody of the society’s morality.

Have we forgotten how unaccompanied minor children were allowed to be sent illegally as camel riders to countries in the Gulf by a powerful nexus involved in illegal human smuggling, and nothing was done until there was an international condemnation and outcry?

Where were our police and security agencies when these girls traveled all the way to Karachi? Should we thank the two governors involved in arranging their transportation back to Bajaur, or condemn all the provincial governments involved for their failure?

Rabia Atif,


Price vice



The prices of petroleum products have been reduced in Pakistan once again, and they are now at the 2008 level. But I am unable to find any price difference in essentials. Eggs cost between Rs 110 and Rs 120 per dozen, chicken is being sold at Rs 160 per kilogram, and the prices of vegetables, fruit, and other grocery items are also the same as they were weeks ago, if not more.

The big question is, who is responsible for this? Why are the prices not going down? The federal and provincial governments must take stern action to bring the prices down.

Mubashir Mahmood,


Power problems


The problems confronting Pakistan today are innumerable. The gravity of these problems is serious enough to send shivers down the spines of every citizen of this country – rampant corruption, energy and water shortage water shortages, miserable law and order, rapidly declining foreign investment, terrorism, and many, many more.

The most critical of these problems are the devastating electricity and gas shortages. These two problems have acquired critical dimensions because they are directly impacting the industries and thereby the economy of the country. It’s not that the government in the saddles is ignorant about the severity of the situation, but things have gone so bad that it has become awfully difficult for it to bring these two extremely vital problems under immediate control.

Initially, it was decided that the government would bring down electricity and gas supplies to the industries. But realizing that this action on part of the government would have a serious impact on  industrial production and thereby the dismal economic condition of the country, it has decided to retract the decision. Unambiguously, the commitment made by the government has raised the expectations of the industrial sector of the country without taking stock of its ability to meet it.

We are hoping that the government would somehow succeed in fulfilling the commitment, which would not only resuscitate the rapidly waning industrial sector of the country but also reinvigorate it. This may also bring some relief to the domestic consumers of electricity and gas who stand equally brutally battered by the menace of electricity and gas shortages.

M. Fazal Elahi,


China’s charm


Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s first foreign visit destination was Beijing. He was warmly received by the Chinese President Xi Jinping himself at the airport that shows the increasing importance of Afghanistan to China. China being a neighbor of Afghanistan has serious stakes in peace and stability in that country therefore, based on the Chinese ethos of helping friends – the current focus of China’s engagement with Afghanistan is centered on capacity building of Afghans through financial assistance and investments, enabling them to meet the upcoming challenges successfully.

China has traditionally been keeping a politically low-profile on Afghanistan for some obvious reasons, one of them being overwhelming presence of the US and NATO, it did not want to convey any wrong signals. Now with the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan a new challenge has surfaced for neighbouing countries as to how the factors of instability could be preempted. This could only be achieved by strengthening the capacity of Afghanistan’s elected government and developing a broader consensus amongst the stakeholders. Therefore, it was for the first time that China held an international conference on Afghanistan.

China is taking keen interest and assuming a key role in eradicating poverty (one of the root causes of terrorism) in its neighbourhood by making investments and undertaking construction of infrastructural projects for better communication and expansion of trade. China’s approach towards Afghanistan is inclusive as reflected by Xi Jinping’s consultations with his Indian, Russian, Pakistani and other counterparts. Beijing has expressed interest to become part of all innovative initiatives aimed at preventing political chaos and infighting amongst Afghan groups and supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.

Over the years, China has also emerged as the largest investor in the mining and energy sector in Afghanistan and during the recent visit Afghan President expressed his country’s ‘willingness to cooperate’ with China in areas like oil and gas, mining and infrastructure projects besides welcoming Chinese investments in the country.



How not to fight polio



How can we expect to eradicate Polio and illiteracy from this country when our foot soldiers – health workers and teachers – are not being paid their salaries but are expected to go unprotected to every nook and corner of this country? Millions of dollars given in grants and aid have been pilfered, with enough funds to buy SUVs for bureaucrats sitting in air conditioned offices, but no money for safely transporting lady health workers for their immunization campaigns in areas where they are working under security threats. What can be more criminal than this?

If only two months our VVIPs were sent abroad at their own expenses and the political protests called off, there would be enough police and Rangers available to accompany every health worker on a government-owned vehicle. If the army can be called in aid of civil government,  paramilitary forces can also be deployed if required for polio immunization campaigns in sensitive areas. If only there were enough political and administrative will, something could be done to fight this menace that threatens to isolate us from the rest of world.

When Hitler laid a siege to Leningrad, and thousands of Russians lay dead in the freezing winter, school examinations were not postponed, but in Pakistan, when even the slightest of things go wrong, the first announcement is postponement of all examinations in Karachi.

What is precisely the agenda of the government? Are they unaware of repercussions of their insensitivity towards the future of this country?

Can we proudly justify being a nuclear capable nation, yet be declared as the worst in all other socioeconomic indicators? We have as polio, highest spread of breast cancer in Asia, and Hepatitis already an epidemic, yet our emphasis is on building motorways.

Rais Abid,