Why blame America?
Sir, Relations between states are dictated by self interest, not by bonds of religion or lofty principles. America is no exception, for its elected leaders and civil and uniformed bureaucracy, are there to serve their people and their economic or strategic interests. These objectives are clearly defined in their oath of citizenship, where all citizens are bound to serve country whenever called upon to do so, willing to bear arms on behalf of the US when required by law, perform noncombatant service in Armed Forces when required by law and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom, or which, they have been a subject, or citizen and on oath pledge to support and defend the constitution and laws of the USA against all enemies, foreign or domestic. America has never made any ambiguous commitment to defend any country unless it serves their interests. It has never sought to serve the role of a Messiah, but does prefer to promote democracy only as long as foreign elected governments serve their global interests. In this pursuit for their national interest it has supported foreign tyrannical monarchs and tin pot dictators as long as they served them and abandoned such villains when they have become so unpopular that regime change would suit them better. The American government and establishment would never tolerate that a citizen who has held an important public office, or had access to sensitive information, be allowed to seek any immigration status in another country, or pledge oath of allegiance to any alien constitution or monarchy. This is why they seek to haunt individuals like Snowden, whose revelations will embarrass them. It would be inconceivable for a head of CIA, members of elite civil or uniformed bureaucracy, or a politician who has held important constitutional office, to serve in another country after retirement, or acquire undeclared assets in a foreign state. If we allow such officials to take up a foreign assignment or join a think-tank immediately after their retirement, then in the words of Shakespeare: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
Malik Tariq Ali,
Nawaz in Washington, Manmohan in Moscow
Sir, Russian President Vladimir Putin has seemingly started calling the shots, thanks to his recent win in the Middle East crisis. His firm stand against the US plan to attack Syria and the threat to attack Saudi Arabia instead worked well. Saudi Prince Bandar’s reported meeting with President Putin that led to Moscow moving its war ships to the Mediterranean is one of the reasons of Riyadh’s frustration, which was reflected in its rejection of UN Security Council’s non-permanent seat offer. While Nawaz Sharif was in Washington, Manmohan Singh was meeting with President Putin in Moscow. He is also visiting China in a bid to forge closer economic relations and ink a pact to ease tensions along their disputed border. In the changing paradigms ahead of 2014, New Delhi seems to have made smarter diplomatic moves compared with Pakistan’s lacking vision.
F Z Khan,
Kings and Islam
Sir, Hearing that the Sultan of Brunei announced the phased introduction of Islamic punishments including death by stoning for crimes such as adultery made me laugh. Can a king be a Muslim? Does a Muslim become a king? Truth comes first. Kings have no religion. They use religion only to extend their kingship. Akbar was a Muslim king but his kingdom was not Islamic. Aurangzeb was said to be a devout Muslim but he took over the reign after killing three real brothers. Shahjehan’s Taj Mahal is symbol of his love for his wife Mumtaz, but she died of the pain the king gave to her after getting involved in the love affair of her sister, who, after Mumtaz’s death, really joined the wifedom. The zinjeer-e-adl, justice, stoning to death, and all that, were used as tools of necessity. This doctrine (of necessity) is rampant everywhere. The Sultan of Brunei is one of the world’s wealthiest men at the expense of his people. If he implements Islam in its true letter and spirit, he must award the first punishment to himself. And by the way, ‘stoning to death’ is not permissible in the Holy Quran.
Power to Pakistan
Sir, Pakistan is facing some of the most serious socio-economic and national security challenges since its birth. An energy crisis is the most recent of them. The problem starts from mismanagement of water. While India has built more than 25 big and small dams, we have not built enough of them to store the already available water. Another problem is that Pakistan has among the largest coal deposits in the world in Tharparkar, but our governments have not been able to harness them to fulfill Pakistan’s energy needs. Our gas reserves are fast decreasing because of excessive use. Pakistan’s gas agreement with Iran has hit a snag. Earlier the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline plan was abandoned. The Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline project is not moving ahead either. Among the infrastructure related causes of the current energy crisis are aging equipment, lack of high standard maintenance, wastage of energy because of poor conservation, and high cost of fuel. Crude oil cost has increased from $40 to $150 per barrel in a short period of time. There has been no exploration for energy sources, and no progress in renewable energy generation. The world’s oil and gas reserves will be finished in the second half of this century. Our own natural gas reserves are also finishing rapidly, so it is necessary that electricity be produced by alternative sources. Although fuel supplies and payments to thermal power plants can be increased to produce more energy, but with the low efficiency, the energy produced will be at a very high cost. Therefore, the best option would be to install 5,000 megawatt coal power plants in locations that are away from the population, near ports or other transport facilities, and close to the national grid. In the long term, these have the potential to generate 55,000MW of electricity, which can be sold to Afghanistan, India, China and Oman. Pakistan’s northern areas rise like a series of steps, creating opportunities for generating hydroelectric power. Such plants can take 2 to 6 years for construction, and an additional 2 to 5 years for the dams to fill. Nuclear reactors are another option, but they have high startup costs. Currently, Pakistan has an installed power generating capacity of nearly 23,000MW from all sources. According to IAEA assessment, its demand will increase to more than 49,000MW by the year 2025. Since 1996, no new power project has been launched. In 14 years, our production capacity has increased by less than 2,000MW. Pakistan should consider solar and wind energy projects, that may have high startup costs but the production of electricity is very cheap.
Brave or lucky?
Sir, Bashar al-Assad has only escaped a dreadful end. His fate might have been delayed for the time being, but not changed. It depends on what he does now. Assad has proved himself strong, but he has also been lucky. One would also advise Assad not to go for running the 2014 election and leave it to the people of Syria to choose someone else. America is the enemy that never forgets its friends, and Russia may not come to rescue next time.
Sir, Through the columns of your esteemed newspaper, I would like to bring to notice the condition of the roads of Karachi. They are in such a bad condition that cars and motorcycles break down, and people have a hard time getting from one place to another. Some roads are actually just dirt tracks with ditches. When it rains, it becomes worse. Vehicles get stuck in the ditches and the mud. As a concerned citizen, I urge the government to improve the city’s roads and ensure that new roads are built with quality material.
The rise of Malala
Sir, People who do not know Malala are questioning why she is popular although she has done nothing except surviving an attack by Taliban militants. I would like to dispel this wrong impression. Even before 9th October 2012 when she was shot in the head, Malala was not an ordinary schoolgirl. When the Taliban started destroying girls’ schools and forbidding girls’ education, a BBC Urdu correspondent in Peshawar, Abdul Hai Kakar, began looking for a girl student who could speak against the Taliban. He contacted Ziauddin Yousafzai, who was running a chain of schools in Swat district. They selected a girl named Ayesha, who was four years older than Malala. But because of threats from the Taliban, her family declined to let her write for the BBC. At this stage, Ziauddin Yousafzai offered to allow his daughter to do that. She was a 7th grade student at an English medium school in Mingora. In order to ensure her safety, they decided that she should write her diary under the pseudonym Gul Makai. Malala was a talented girl and a bright student, and her blog became popular. In September 2008, she addressed the Peshawar Press Club, and spoke very confidently against the Taliban for taking away her basic right to education. The speech was covered by several newspapers and TV channels. Thereafter, she appeared in an interview on Geo TV where she demanded her right to go to school. Because of her struggle for girls’ education and emancipation of women, she was given the National Youth Peace Award by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in 2011. This proved a great incentive and she accelerated her struggle, defying threats from the TTP and Mullah Fazlullah. The Taliban had the girl on their hitlist because she was speaking openly against their ideology, and sent two men to kill her in 2012. The men shot at her when she was in her school van. Malala survived the attack but was hit by a bullet in her head. The news spread worldwide and special prayers were held throughout the world for her recovery. Malala was flown to the UK for a surgery and recovery. She is now an icon for Pakistan’s youth. Her address in the UN Youth Assembly on her 16th birthday on 12 July, 2013 was a memorable speech which she delivered with great confidence. She then became the youngest nominee for the Nobel peace prize, which is a great honour for Pakistan. We should all be proud of her.
I fully agree and support Mr Azhar Khawaja’s assessment of Malala. As far
as our Jihadi journalists like the duet that appeared on Kamran Shahid’s
TV circus is concerned I would only amend Habib Jalib and say:
DURTAY HAIN YEH DARRHEE WALAY
EIK NEHITI LARRKI SAY