Saturday, November 26, 2016

Struggles of a Conscientious Government Servant: Lessons Learned from Memoirs of Irtiqa Zaidi

I felt honored when I was asked to review the book of memoirs of Mr Irtiqa Zaidi that is about to go into publication. The book is exciting, enjoying, and often a thrilling account of his photographic memory of the events spanning the expanse from his childhood in Quetta to his rise as a senior official in Government, where he was involved in some momentous agreements of Pakistan related to trade and commerce. 

My first meeting with Mr Irtiqa Zaidi was in the early 1970s when he got posted in Islamabad and came to stay at our place while waiting for the allotment of a suitable government accommodation. Irtiqa Chacha is a close relative of my father, and also the elder brother of my brother in law.   During that first winter when he was staying with us, I remember listening to his stories with my father, mother and sisters huddled around coal fire with blankets wrapped around us. I remember listening intently to his wonderful and picturesque narrations that were and still are full of humor and suspense with dramatic turns and twists from among the huge collection of his encounters and personal experiences. I recall that this fully captivating story telling sessions would often seamlessly extend for hours. I had the pleasure of listening to such experiences throughout the seventies when he was among those few relatives that we had in Islamabad, with whom we would regularly meet every week or so. During 1980s and later when I had moved to Karachi,  I would lose no opportunity during my trips to Islamabad to get that warmth of his riveting accounts often starting around dinner time and extending deep into the night.

Coming from that experience of his oral traditions, and after having read the book, I can safely say that this is only the first installment of his store of vivid memories and we are looking forward to an inspiring writer who would now be rendering in print that voluminous store of vivid memories, in volume after volume. At times the details in the book suggest that he has been taking copious notes. However, I think that these graphic details are etched in his mind because of his extra ordinary ability to engage anyone around him with stories of interesting life events. His distinctive humorous style would compel people to soon gather around him, and in no time he would become the center of attraction. This is still true for any gathering where he is. You will see this in his various accounts of foreign training programs and visits, university life, national tours, office gatherings and associations. In fact he quickly became the center of social events wherever they were. The fantastic thing about his stories is that he would always pullout the ones relevant to the audience. I am sure that he remembers the facts because he has related them orally so many times to so many people. Moreover, he had the unique distinction of always remembering the ones he has already told to whom and thus never boring any one with repetition. In cases when he would repeat an incident it would be in a uniquely differently manner.

The book represents the recollection in writing emanating from this refined store of his memories etched in his mind due to their repeated oral renditions in gatherings. This book contains events that I don't remember hearing from him earlier. I suspect in this book he has tried to write down the stories that he has seldom related elsewhere and would like to put them on record. Especially, those related to the challenges of his career and the conflicts that emanated on policy related issues and personalities. Which incidentally is the subtitle of the book that it is the story of a government servant. 

Here are the lessons that I have learned from this book and how I see their relevance to our present challenges. In the following I relate my learning from the incidents of this book. The author may have written them from a different perspective. 

Jhoot ko burai samajhna: How abhorrence of lying was inculcated

Some interesting childhood incidences related in this book indicate how elders in the families in the decades of 50s-60s inculcated in their children an abhorrence for "lying" through personal example. The incident about how a neighbor's "murgha" (cock) enters the house and mistakenly gets killed when a rather heavy footwear is hurled towards it by an elder woman in the house who was trying to scare it and trying to shoo it away. There was remorse and a conference to decide what needs to be said when eventually the neighbor would come looking for it. The deliberations described indicate how important it was to phrase the explanation that it should not constitute a lie. This incident emphasized in the child not to tell a lie, so that he remembers as a value to be cherished irrespective of the consequences. Some other incidences bring out how these values were not taught but were learned through daily life incidences. 

Teachers of 1950s and 1960s

It was interesting to learn that the notion that today's teachers have somehow inferior values and ethics than previous times turns out to be not true. There are good and bad teachers in every era. Some are good and others not good. For instance, Math's teacher who forced the students to buy ink from the poor students and then victimizing and becoming vindictive on those students who could not afford to buy or would not buy reminds me of similar tactics by today's teachers when they victimize the students who do not come for private tuitions from them. However, not all teachers were bad. There were some teachers like Mr Saleem who were passionate about their subject and would go out of their way to help the students becomes very clear. There were good and bad teachers in school as well as in the universities. 

Cheating as Mischief in Exams 

The culture of taking help in examination and where possible trying to circumvent the rules was already taking root during the 1960s . Although cheating/taking undue help had not been institutionalized at that time. The intent, then, was more from the point of view of student indulging in mischief to explore the limits of the system and to test whether the teacher or the student is smarter. However, later this mischief evolved into an institutionalized culture that brought to the knees the system of meritocracy in Pakistan. Starting in 1970s as an unstated policy to support the backward area people's mobility into the government jobs and continuing into 1980s, cheating culture was allowed to make mockery of the board examinations. By 1990s the board examinations had lost lost all their credibility and had forced the universities to resort to entry tests. Good news is that Punjab and to lesser extent KPK has greatly controlled the prevalence of cheating in board exams. Punjab had nearly eliminated the cheating culture from the matric and intermediate board examination over the last 20 years, and is even contemplating eliminating the entry tests for medical and engineering universities. KPK is fast on the track during the last few years, and is on road to completely cleanse the cheating culture. However, Sindh and Balochistan, instead of improving, continues to slide down to ever greater abyss of the cheating culture.  

Lectures in English 

How the use of English has pushed the children from poorer background to remain poor was already established in the 1950s and 1960s. This can be seen from the struggle of the poor people mentioned at Tando Jam University, and how the English competency of Irtiqa Zaidi sb (thanks to the interest developed during the school years by Mr Saleem), enabled him to breeze through the university studies. Competency in English in Pakistan had been and is equated with competency in knowledge, thinking and ability. Interestingly enough English as a yardstick to measure the competence of a Pakistani had been used by the elites to keep the poor people from not challenging the status quo. Only a few very committed and fortunate children who get some good guidance or a good teacher are able to tear out from their straitjacket, improve their English and join the elite club. The book highlights several instance where this extraordinary effort that went into writing flawlessly enabled Irtiqa Zaidi sb to become indispensable for his bosses in the government who really wanted to do something. 

Tribal Areas of DI Khan, Lady Doctor's Kidnapping and Today's Issues

As I read the interesting story of the Lady Doctor's kidnapping by the tribals of DI Khan in early 1970s, that got viral on the media of that time, and people were avidly following the proceedings in newspapers, I was comparing with the current situation of DI Khan. Poor and starving people of the tribal areas with no sources of generating income from legal means had been resorting to kidnapping for ransom since old times. The lady doctor who was abducted during Ramazan leaving behind her child and husband was very disturbed and afraid. However, the kidnappers treated her well, as she recounted after her release. They told her that they had planned to kidnap her along with her husband and children so that they can live comfortably in their custody but as alarm was raised much earlier they could not follow the plan and had to just escape with the lady doctor only. However, no harm came to her and she befriended the ladies of the tribe of the kidnappers. The tribe-women had told her that if they do not get the ransom, they will starve. The lifestyle of the kidnappers of the 1970s showed their plight. The lady doctor eventually got her release through ransom. 

Successive governments had done nothing to ameliorate the causes that had compelled these tribes to resort to kidnapping for earning their livelihood. As I was reading this book in 2016, one can see that the situation had not changed. Coincidentally the news in the media when I was writing this were again related to a similar kidnapping for ransom in DI Khan. Areas around DI Khan and DG Khan seem not to have been amalgamated in Pakistan. The tribes are still living in a no-man's land; there had been no development, no infrastructure and no income generation. The Ayub, Bhutto, Zia, and Musharraf eras had done nothing except to exploit them for resources or use them for strategic depth purposes creating a huge problem that we are still fighting. Only now there is some talk about making these areas a formal part of the federation.  

Punjgor Travel in Balochistan and the Dangers and Today's Situation 

As I read the dangers and life threatening visit to Punjgor in Baluchistan in the early 1970s, I could visualize the fear of travel for the government officials and private vehicles. Even in those times the roads were bad, broken, without any means of communication, no support for vehicles breaking down, vehicles had to travel in convoys for fear of kidnappers and violence from the tribes. Fast forward to 2016, and one reads every week and every month some major incident of vehicles getting ambushed. Forces getting killed. Hazaras getting killed. Travelers getting abducted. Starting from the Military Operation of the 1970s during Bhutto regime and the continuing Baluchistan operation over the last 20 years starting from Gen Musharraf, leading to creation of BLA, killing of Bugti, forced disappearances of locals, Baluchistan had become a playground of foreign intelligence agencies and games played by our sensitive agencies. There seems to be no respite. Ignoring Baluchistan, and exploiting the wealth had remained the hallmark of all the governments. Only today with CPEC related development, one sees some changes with massive investment in the infrastructure. However, would it transform the lives of Baluchistan  or would CPEC turn out to be yet another exploitation remains to be seemed. 

Check Dams and the Parliamentarian Insistence on Development in his Constituency

It was interesting to read about how a Baluchistan minister who was not well versed in the technicalities of project design imploring the government official to shift the money for Check Dams (which could only be constructed in a particular terrain) to his constituency which had an incompatible geography and terrain unsuitable for that kind of dam. However, government officials in their restricted view of project feasibility could not appreciate and fathom that for the minister it was important that some development work had to be done in his constituency. In the minister's knowledge, this was the only project that could have been executed. And he probably did not have the competence or the bureaucratic support to design an appropriate project for his area. 

This incidence tells us why bureaucracy which had not been creative enough to come up with feasible projects for the poor constituencies of the ministers was later forced and coerced into supporting infeasible projects. The issue was not the feasibility of the project but the short term injection of development money in that poor area. Had the government officials understood the development needs of the ministers and designed feasible projects for them in the first place, the situation may not have descended to a level where these representatives of the poor constituencies had to coerce the bureaucrats to put in the development in their areas the only way they knew , whether by hook or by crook. A bureaucracy responsive to the development needs of the poor constituencies could have easily designed development projects for the ministers that were both feasible, efficient and sustainable. 

Gawadar Road's Dilapidated Condition and Today 

Dilapidated roads of Gawadar of early 1970s as described in the book and comparing them with Coastal Highway connecting Karachi with Gawadar and hundreds of kilometers of recently constructed Indus Highway and its link highways in interior Baluchistan indicate that things are definitely improving. The incident described in the book where the car breaks down on that rubble road to Gawadar in the dead of the night in the vast wilderness where there is no one living for hundreds of kilometers, and which necessitated the procurement of spare parts from hundreds of miles away was scary.

However, lately the CPEC related massive improvement in the infrastructure is happening today, and this story seems destined to remain a story of bygone days. The politics of development money going into Gawadar with hope for a trickle down to the poor tribes of Baluchistan is a wish that may or may not be fulfilled. The rewards of CPEC must trickle down to the people of Baluchistan otherwise there would be no peace. 

1973's Administrative Reforms and their Adverse Effects

Politics of Bureaucracy: Economist Group vs DMG 

It was amusing to see the politics of bureaucracy revolving about who is going to be promoted to which grade depending upon which group one belongs. The incessant politics of who is going to the next foreign trip seems to be the only desire in Islamabad. How merit is sacrificed, quota system is enforced on the basis of provinces, how artificially subgroups of government servants are designed and labeled as DMG, Economist or other groups, and ethnic and personal and political affiliations play out in the corridors of powers is instructive of the chasm between the world of government and the world of the poor people of Pakistan. The old machinery of bureaucracy was amputated through 3not3 followed by later expulsions, followed by lateral inductions of cronies which destroyed the "public service" and led to self service by bureaucrats.

While the bureaucratic politics plays out, it seems from the incidents described in this book that the government bureaucracy is there to support and implement the agenda of World Bank, IMF or Asia Bank to satisfy the aspirations of foreigners. To entice the government officials to sign WTO and other such international treaties (to which even USA is not signatory) only requires that a handful of senior government officials be sent on official jaunts and foreign trips funded by the vested interest and one could have these officials sign any treaty. 

Whatever government remains is on the shoulders of few conscientious public servants who burn their midnight oil and work diligently and with commitment. Mr Irtiqa Zaidi comes out as one such representative. People like him are the lone wold trying to fight the battles with such donors with vested interests. 

Guilty unless Proven Innocent Attitude of Government vs The Hague Experience

Government machinery in Pakistan works on the assumption that all are guilty unless they prove otherwise their innocence. All procedures and systems in Pakistan are based on this "First Principle". The Hague experience where cash was disbursed to the visiting delegation with no receipt came as a stark rejoinder to the alternative system. In The Hague trip, Mr Irtiqa Zaidi recounts how the lady in charge of the cash disbursements was distributing cash without receipts. When the conflict arose the attitude of "Innocent unless Proven Guilty" brings the best of ethics out of the people and leads to a graceful resolution. This is the lesson that designers of Pakistani system of governance should learn from.

Work in Progress on the following subsections:

Conflict with Nadeemul Haq 

Incompetence of Gilani and Shujaat

Boldness, and standing on what is right. Counseling during the early part of the career by?

Not accepting pressures from highest quarters, seniors, secretaries, ministers, prime minsters, USA, ...

Ahsan Iqbal acting on his suggestions

Afghan Transit trade and US facilitation of Indian interests

Sunday, October 16, 2016

At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions

Political discourse in Pakistan is punctuated with allegations and counter allegations without a formal study of the economic implications of the various decisions that have been rocking the country from as early as 1950s. The series of posts in this thread of "At What Cost" is attempt to build a framework for researchers to explore the economic costs of each of these decisions. The title of this series is based on my extensive discussions with late Mr Fazle Hasan of IBA in 1986-87. My later reflections on the lessons that he was trying to convey and which I vehemently disagreed with at that time, but have now come to appreciate only recently have been put down as the first post in this "At What Cost!" series: At What Cost! Fazle Hasan of IBA and our Computation of Economic Costs

Connecting vs Disconnecting with Relations- Sila e Rahmi vs Qata e Rahmi

Over the last few years, misconceptions regarding disconnecting from the relations (relatives, neighbors, colleagues) seem to be spreading. Disconnecting from relatives and relations is not a part of our culture or tradition. Our guidance has been to mend fences and work towards establishing relationships. Ethical leadership in our tradition requires that we care for those who throw garbage on you, make fun of you, or even try to harm you. Mohabbat fateh e Aaalim.

Left hand column shows the basis of our culture and traditions, whereas
the right hand column shows typical messages being shared on the facebook/whatsapp promoting
misconceptions that stand in stark opposition to our culture and traditions. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

What does a Child Need? Mother's Teacher-hood vs Motherhood

I am forced to write this post as I increasingly encounter cases upon cases of children with shattered confidence, broken personality and with severe personality issues and most of them emanating from the tremendous desire of the mother to relinquish her "mamta' (motherhood) role and assume the role of a teacher for which she is singularly unequipped! A child needs his mother's motherhood more than her teacher-hood. In their enthusiasm to make their children smart, and under tremendous peer pressure and the pressure from schools, mothers in Pakistan are assuming more and more the role of a teacher, at the expense of  their motherhood role. This is disastrous for the confidence and feeling of self-worth for a child, especially, because motherhood is a natural role for the mother, however, role of a teacher has to be learned and does not come naturally to everyone. Teaching requires aptitude, attitude, soft nature, quest for knowledge, magnanimity and  hosts of teaching skills. These skills are in short supply even in those who have had formal training in teaching.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

How to Distort History through Prejudices of Today: Taj Mahal as a Symbol of Love

I often see people looking at history using today's prejudices and lenses. History can not be seen in the light of our current preferences and current philosophies. History has to be evaluated in the context of the prevalent norms and challenges of that day. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Top 10 Reasons Why Students Fail in Semester System- Survival Guide

About 5%-10% of students entering the university are unable to survive the semester system. The following list of top 10 reasons is based on my observations as a student from 1980-1994 at NED, IBA Karachi and at Univ of Texas at Austin. These are also based on my interactions with dropouts as faculty member from 1995-present (FAST NU, IBA, KIET, IoBM) with eighteen years as Deputy Director and Dean. I have given counseling to countless students. Often the students come when it is too late. At times their behavior compels me to think that they were asking to be dropped! You will agree too after reading this list. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dr Wahab and IBA of 1980s and 1990s

Dr Abdul Wahab went to meet his creator on Sep 6, 2016 morning, inna lillah we wa inna ilaihi rajioon. The news brought flashbacks of several memories from my association with IBA; first as an MBA student from 1985 to 1987, and then during my stint as a faculty member from 1995 to Dec 2000, the last four years of which were spent as Deputy Director. I relate here the essence of Dr Ab Wahab's contribution to IBA from the period when he became director in 1978 till he retired in 1999. The contributions are pictorially represented in the graph below.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Youth Leadership and Dave Ulrich-Orientation for University Students

[Presented at IoBM Orientation Session for Fall 2016 intake on Sep 3]

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending a workshop on leadership at Karachi Marriott by Dave Ulrich, who is considered as the father of modern Human Resource Management. Ulrich is a professor at the University of Michigan and a consultant to top companies of the world. With over 30+ books on HR and leadership, he was ranked #1 Management Educator and Guru by Business Week, and was selected as one of the 10 most innovative and creative leaders, and was named as the most influential thinker in HR of the decade by HR magazine.

Dave Ulrich ended this Karachi workshop on leadership by presenting the three questions on which he had based his commencement speech at the graduation ceremony of a US university some years ago.

I will start my orientation speech with those three questions which I think are so fundamental to youth leadership that instead of you grappling with these questions at your graduation, you should be asking them at the very start of your professional education. The three questions that Dave Ulrich briefly touched upon in about ten minutes were:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why Engineering Students are Reluctant to become Entrepreneurs: Role of PEC and Universities

Presented at ICEE-2016, International Conference on Entrepreneurial Engineering: Commercialization of Engineering Projects and Research

There are several reasons why Engineering students in Pakistan have been found to be reluctant to opt for entrepreneurship in their engineering fields as opposed to other disciplines such as Computer Science. These reasons can be classified in five major categories; (i) cultural and family mindset, (ii) demographic pressures (iii) narrow focus of curriculum, (iv) teaching and lab methodology, (v) enabling and facilitation environment.  Pakistan Engineering Council has a major role to play in at least the last three areas. The curriculum design and enforcement of PEC has left no room for subjects that can broaden the vision of the students and open their minds to other areas. The recommended lab methodology is based on the use of trainers and fill-in-the-blank type of submissions that further constrains the work of the students in predetermined directions. The recommended teaching methodology focused on class-room type of work also leaves no room for out-of-the-box exploration of ideas. There is a need for the universities and PEC to join together to provide an enabling and facilitation environment that can help the students. There is a need to diversify the curriculum to other areas by reducing the number of technology intensive areas and more creativity and exploratory courses that can broaden the perspectives. There is a need to adopt new methodologies such as project based learning and problem based learning. The lab work needs to be liberated from the clutches of the trainers. A post graduation apprenticeship or internships in exploring new ideas is necessary for entrepreneurial engineering. 

The Case for Engineering Entrepreneurship

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Abuse of Presentation Slides in Classrooms: Ban Powerpoint Presentations

Problems with Powerpoint Presentations in Classroom

A couple of weeks ago I came to deliver a presentation in a seminar after four speakers who were delivering a technical talk to the business owners using powerpoint and speaking in English, which is the second or third language of the speakers and the audience. I could see the disconnect of the speakers with the audience. I could see the boredom. It was getting late after lunch and people were dozing. I came, junked the presentation that I had prepared, and made a presentation using our local language and talked with my heart. Immediately I got the attention and the audience woke up. Several from the audience later came and congratulated me for waking up the participants and making the session lively.

 For  over 10 years now, I have realized the futility of using the presentations. I have discarded the use of the powerpoint presentations, except very technical talks to very captive audience where there is enough time to intersperse talk with slides, in workshop type formats.
I had started with power point presentations much before they became a norm. It was way back in the mid of 1996-97 that I started with multi-media presentations using a laptop. Those were the time when powerpoint presentations and multimedia was a novelty. Somewhere along the line they became a ritual. They lost their power and became a drag on the presentation.Following are my reasons for urging people to ban the use of powerpoints:

Lights are on the Powerpoint Screen and
the performer is hidden in the dark

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Who has Greater Will and Resolve in controlling Karachi Disturbances: Dictators vs Civilian Governments

To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions

At What Cost? Costs of perceived strictness of military dictatorships vs the reality of civilian governments in Pakistan

This post studies the case of Karachi disturbances and rise of MQM from 1980 and the relationships of various governments with MQM. It is interesting to note that unlike military dictators with cozy relationships with MQM, civilian governments have been more focused and have shown greater political will and resolve in dealing with the disturbances. The poor dictators always seem to be busy trying to buy legitimacy through political wheeling and dealing. There had been five major operations in Karachi during this period interestingly enough every one of these operations were conducted during the civilian governments. In contrast, during the two dictatorial regimes of General Zia and General Musharraf, MQM was given a free hand to fashion the situation of Karachi as they pleased. In both of these regimes, MQM continued to amass more and more power, and acquired greater and greater control while the civilian and military agencies acting more like bystanders. Although the rangers had been deployed since late 1980s, but they seem to had only been "operational" only during the civilian regimes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Traitor/Foreign Agent Production Factory of Pakistan

To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions

At What Cost? Costs of Branding a Politician as a Traitor

There is a traitor/foreign agent production factory in Pakistan that seems to be in full swing. It has targets that have been trained on most prominent elected politicians since mid 1950s and did not spare even the sister of Quaid-e-Azam, Madre-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah.  The list has included former prime ministers (HS Suharwardy, ZA Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto), politicians who had been been blue eye boys of the establishment (MQM/AH, Akbar Bugti, Jehadists/Talibans) and political leader like Shaikh Mujeeb ur Rehman who was once with Muslim League and led the election campaign of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah a few years before he became a case of self-fulfilled prophecy! The factory efficiently converts good Pakistanis of yester years  into bad Pakistanis through a staged fall from grace. Then a time comes when they meet their ignominious end.

 Interestingly enough the official list of traitors never listed the Dictator Generals who were responsible for breaking half of the country, and who ensnared us in useless wars.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cyber Control and Cyber Crime: From Panopticon of 18th Century to Imprisonment in Technology Age

"Cyber Control and Cyber Crime : Big Brother is Watching Us" was presented at FPCCI Seminar on Media Security and Cyber Crime on August 17, 2016 at Federation House, Karachi.
Modern Times (1936) CEO monitoring washrooms

This presentation focused on the problems introduced by the pervasive cyber world of today at a higher philosophical level where the existence of human being and the concept of being human is being questioned by the "Internet of Things", and where people are willingly ceding their privacy and the personal control of their lives to external social networking platforms represented by googles and facebooks of today. This cessation of our relationships, our thoughts and feelings and what constitutes our personality to external agencies and allowing them to define who we are and what do we represent is much more sinister and a much greater concern than the issues of Cyber Crime and Cyber Bill that we are discussing today.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Field Marshals of Pakistan: Costs of Sycophancy and Political Expediency

At What Cost? Costs of Self Proclaimed Field Marshals in Third World Countries

In Pakistan the award of Field Marshal rank has been a product of sycophancy and political expediency for personal gain and short term advantage. The case of Ayub Khan who self awarded himself the rank of Field Marshal is a case in point.

Currently, there is also the debate of awarding Field Marshal to the current COAS for every thing except any victories against enemies on the battle field. “The prime minister is repeatedly asking the army chief to take an extension and become a field marshal because he [PM Sharif] fears him;”  Imran Khan

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Costs of Justice Munir's Doctrine of Necessity: 4 Martial Laws and 35 years of dictatorships

Doctrine of Necessity Decision by Justice Munir had been disastrous for Pakistan. Not only did this decision annulled the historic judgement of Sindh High Court that has disallowed the dissolution of assemblies by Gen Iskandar Mirza in 1954 [1], it also laid the foundation of subsequent usurpation of power by the saviors on the horseback leading to disastrous martial laws and their horrendous costs.

I recall a documentary that I saw in the late eighties celebrating 200 year celebrations of US Constitution in which ABC anchor Peter Jennings describes the incident of a Governor dissolving the assembly and the dissolution of assembly case goes to a court that holds the dissolution illegal. [I need reference for this] I remember Peter Jennings saying that this was a crucial time in the constitutional history of US. Had the decision gone the other way, the history of US would have been different. Unfortunately, in our history the supreme court overturned the Sind High Court decision and as a result we had lost 50 years until Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry's bold decisions brought back the autonomy to our court.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Costs of Military Dictatorships of Pakistan

Historic Failures of Strategic Doctrines by Dictator Generals in Pakistan

What happens when generals (military men) arrogate to themselves "strategy making" when at best they have been trained for obtaining tactical advantage? 

The table below shows the fiascoes in which our country had been led into: 
Major Areas Ignored
Unrestrained Development at the Expense of Have-Nots without representation
Ignored people’s power
Estrangement of Bengalis Surrender and Fall of East Pakistan
Created rich-poor divide; created ZAB’s rise
Created famous 22-Families Nationalization of all major firms that sent us back for fifty years
Defense of East Pak lies in West
Size/depth of enemy forces; inability to read enemy’s mind
Failure of Op Gibraltar → 1965 War
Popular discontent in East Pakistan can be subdued by military force
Fierceness of Bengali resistance,
Indian forces all out support 
1971 war → Surrender of East Pakistan; 92,000+ Pakistani soldiers become PoWs
Army as Protector of ideological frontiers
Ideologies are not Concrete frontiers. Military is not in the business of ideological warfare
Created Jehadists → Increased sectarian polarization → → Led toSectarian killings → bomb blasts
US’ Afghan Jehad, Strategic Depth
Ignored US response in Clinton’s time & 9-11
Arms culture → drugs culture militancy → instability Talibanization
Bleed India in Kashmir
Ignored Indian capacity to strike back in kind; RAW infiltration in Balochistan
Baloch resistance, Baloch insurgency, Karachi disturbances
U-Turn: Good-Taliban-Bad-Taliban
WoT imported in Pak; Blackwater/RAW/BLA infiltration
Suicide bombers → War on Terror → Op Zarbe Azb

Costs of General Musharraf's Dictatorship

This post analyzes the continuing accumulation of long term costs associated with General Musharraf's dicatatorship 1999-2008 in the areas of ideological costs, economic costs, governance costs, foreign policy debacles and political engineering costs.

Costs of General Ayub's Dicatatorship

We typically look at General Ayub and the economic performance during his time, ignoring the long term economic and political impact of the decisions that he took and the processes that he set in motion. This post analyzed the long term costs of his dictatorship.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Blaming the Founding Fathers for Our Mistakes: Case of Pakistan

In the cozy environment of our drawing rooms, we often see the self styled intellectuals belong to the ilk of Hasan Nisar trying their best to put the blame of shortcomings of our nation on to our founding fathers. The venom in their opinions indicates their disdain for this nation and the founding principles. They lose no opportunity to take snipe at the founding fathers including Quaid e Azam and Allama Iqbal to vent their frustrations when the nation seems to climb out of impossibly discouraging situations.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Edhi, Old Home and our Bari Bi

I first met Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi in the early 1980s in a deeply emotional context. My mother had read a detailed motivational description of Edhi and his work in Urdu Digest (or was it Sayyara Digest?) and then she also gave that to me to read. Thereafter I was assigned the task to visit Edhi Center in Kharadar and evaluate the veracity of the published account and inquire about Edhi's Apna Ghar. I had disembarked from bus near Denso Hall and had walked to the center through the maze of congested streets. I recall an open space in the middle encircled by 3 to 4 storey  flats on all sides except a narrow opening providing for a driveway entrance. The operational areas of the center were on ground floor with a concrete bench outside an office and some work area. I went inside the office and inquired about Mr Edhi. I was told to wait as he would be there shortly. I sat on the bench and waited.

A little while later a Suzuki pickup entered through the driveway and was parked nearby. The driver disembarked. He was a man in militia gray shalwar kameez with black beard wearing chappals and appeared like a worker. He quickly walked inside the office and sat down behind a worn out small desk. I saw people coming and approaching him. After waiting some time I again went inside to ask about the whereabouts of Mr Edhi. I still remember and can feel the shock when the driver sitting sitting behind the desk mentioned that he was Edhi and started asking me about what I wanted. I was expecting Mr Edhi to be dressed like a babu with shining shoes, waist coat and an exclusive office. Here was Edhi, the unpretentious, worker like, a common person. Suppressing my exclamation, I quickly asked him about the whereabouts of Apna Ghar and the process to be followed for admission and charges. The conversation may have lasted a few minutes wherein he gave me the directions and asked me to just bring the person and not to worry about any thing.

Then my mother went with my sister for a reconnaissance visit to Apna Ghar a few days later, and came back reasonably satisfied.

Here are my brother's recollections of the subsequent visit:
"I first met Abdus Sattar Edhi murhoom in  1982 when we took بڑی بی to Edhi's Apna Ghar on Sohrab Goth, Karachi. Bari Bi was a domestic worker in our house and had worked for our family for several decades. By 1980 Bari Bi was old, frail, had all the typical old age illnesses. She could no longer take care of herself, let alone do household work. She required care and help during her last days.
We took Bari Bi (Zainab Bano) to Edhi's Apna Ghar which was a refuge for old people who didn't have relatives to take care and who had no support. In early 1980s I got to see the man [Edhi] in his customary gray militia shalwar kameez working selflessly long before his fame hit the media and Edhi became a household name.
My Ammi Jan , may Allah shower her soul with mercy and رحمه brought Bari Bi home after a couple of days as her conscience would not allow Bari Bi to be abandoned."
[More on this aspect later in the post. ]

Bari Bi had no relatives to take care of her. Her husband had died after migration.  They had gotten in claim two small quarters in Landhi and she had started a small shop in one of them and the other was on rent. She had seven children and the first six had died in infancy in Bombay before partition. Seventh was the son who had accompanied her to Pakistan.  He passed matric and became a hafiz and she doted on him but he unfortunately also died when 14 leaving Bari Bi despondent and mentally disturbed. She could not read, write or understand how and where to contact other relatives. It was in mid 1950s that my grandfather had found her selling chat somewhere, and she landed in our house as a domestic worker. She went to haj after selling one of her quarters. She had also adopted a youth whom she used to refer to as her nephew Badar. She had given him the shop to run and given her to live in the quarter on rent which he never paid. He gradually occupied her quarter. Some years later he came and took Bari Bi promising to take care of her. He somehow misled her in to signing off the transfer paperwork, where after he threw Bari Bi out, and she returned back to our place. By early 1980s she had been at our place for around three decades (with some breaks).

Early 1980s was also the time when Ammi was getting sick and weak too. With her multitude of ailments, arthritis, blood pressure, complex surgeries and recurrent incisional hernias accompanied by intestinal obstructions, Ammi could not take care of ailing Bari Bi who was in her 80s then. My Ammi found herself in the role of the main caregiver for which she didn't find the energy and capacity.

These were the times when my father had retired and the family was trying its best to maintain its semblance of "safaid poshi" in the pension of a government grade 18 officer that amounted to a few thousand rupees. My father had also commuted his meagre pension to payoff the House Building loan, which had become a black hole where payments of installments for over a decade had vanished. The loan stood at around the same level in 1980 as what it was when acquired in 1969, and therefore this "scrooge" of a loan had to be gotten rid off. The resulting relief in mental pressure was remarkable. However financial pressures remained. The additional rental income of a few thousand rupees from the other portion of house could barely help the two ends meet.

It was in such health and financial constraints that Bari Bi's sending to Apna Ghar was contemplated. However, my mother could not take the emotional distress of leaving in old home someone who had worked for us for decades. She kept on musing about it for a couple of days. She was deeply distressed and lamented her decision. Then she could take it no longer. She made a resolve to take care of Bari Bi irrespective of health and financial issues.

"We brought her home and hired a personal care giver while my mother struggled with the financial means in the limited income of a pensioner of federal government.
A few months later Bari Bi left us and my mother had the satisfaction of serving during her end days this lady who had served our family well during her better years. 
May Allah have رحمًand mercy on their souls. May Allah enable us to help our parents, family and people around us in the likes of these three great people that I knew and I am sure all of you would find in your own little circles. Ameen". [my brother Noman Haider's post on a family group]
The Edhi whom I met before he became world famous  had not changed from the famed Edhi who became a household name. He had maintained his early lifestyle. Billions of annual donations later and having the largest fleet of ambulances that would respond to any emergency anywhere, and a galaxy of support services had not impacted his simplicity and humility even a bit. Sign of wazadari and greatness as my father had explained to me:
Greatness of a person is measured by his "wazadari" which is a character trait that defines that your behavior and lifestyle should not change for common people irrespective of how much wealthy and resourceful you later become. More on this in a later post.


Metaphysics of NGOs and institutional solutions to abdication of individual responsibility

This post about Edhi in early1980s, his comfortable Old Home facility and Bari Bi, our family's domestic  worker for around 30 years raises some serious questions:
  • Why did my mother with all her medical ailments and post surgery complications decided to bring Bari Bi back to our home from a rather comfortable and convenient Edhi's old home after only couple of days?
  • What tormented her and not allowed her to sleep till she brought Bari Bi back and then cared for her through Bari Bi's last days for the next few months despite her illnesses?
  • What is the metaphysical position of my mother's approach vs the metaphysical position of an old home provider NGO?
  • What is common among the issues such as issue of caring for children born from illicit affairs, issue of old homes, issue of daycare for infants, issue of one night stands, issue of pollution etc?
  • Can we identify a commonality at philosophical and metaphysical levels?
  • What is the philosophy of institutionalization that promotes and even encourages abdication of personal responsibility?
  • What is the result of making the society pay for the personal irresponsibility arising from unfettered freedom?

Does Western approach wants man to enjoy life and freedom without assuming responsibility for the consequences of man's actions?
  • (1) Enjoy illicit sex and shift responsibility of caring for the consequence (birth out of wedlock) to Edhis or government or NGOs.
  • (2) Enjoy growing up in parents' home and shift responsibility of caring for old parents to Edhis/ old homes or govt.
  • (3) Enjoy marriage n career but shift the responsibility of caring for the children to daycare or schools,
  • (4) enjoy fastfood n convenience of disposable culture and shift responsibility of cleaning up the pollution to govt or future generations.

Some more thoughts:
  • In Germany, they chase the father through DNA and force him/her to pay for childcare. But, then they are opting for abortion n planning. This has resulted in their race imbalance which has led to immigrants which has led to racism n neo-nazism
  • Traditional cultures want man to be responsible for his actions. Allowing the people to not take responsibility is creating serious issues for family, society, environment?
  • The interesting issue is about the institutionalization of abdication of personal responsibility!
  • Committed and self less people like Edhi are simply trying to treat the symptom and not the cause. Durable n sustainable solution is not to develop institutions to provide child care but to eliminate illicit sex or make the partners pay for the child care. Institutions for treating diarrhea resulting from use of unclean water will never provide a sustainable solution. The cause i.e use of unclean water or unwashed utensils must be treated.
  • Dr Bari of Indus Hospital and his team have realized this over the years. They are now focusing more on eliminating the causes of poor people's diseases (mainly hygiene n cleanliness related) realizing that no amount of treating diarrhoea will ever eradicate epidemic like menace unless the cause is addressed.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Why Pakistani Democracies are a Sham? Costs of Controlling a Democracy from Outside

Why we had only sham democracies in Pakistan?
This post identifies eight fundamental tests on which our democracies fail to be called a real democracy. It identifies the forces and the compulsions that did not let them to mature into a real democracy. We will discuss the costs of sham democracies in a later post.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Costs of General Zia's Dictatorship in Pakistan

This post lists major cost elements of General Zia's Dictatorial 11-year rule from 1977-1988. It identifies five major cost categories: costs related to ideology of Pakistan, economic costs, governance costs, foreign policy costs and costs of political engineering. This post is in response to mostly naive comparison of dictatorial rules in Pakistan with some of the political regimes. Such comparison often ignores the long term economic and social costs accruing due to the polarization engendered by the dictatorial rule in which short-term agendas often dominate the long term strategic blunders:

Costs of Sham Democracratic Governments in Pakistan

Sham Democracy vs Real Democracy: Discusses the question of whether we ever had a real democracy in Pakistan, and why our democracies have been sham. In this post we look at the costs of having a sham democracy. Total democratic constitutional rule in Pakistan had been only 4 years of ZAB from 1973-77; Please note that ZAB assumed power in 1971 as a first in the world Civilian Martial Law Administrator, which continued till 1973 when Pakistan's consensus constitution was promulgated. The musical chairs of prime ministership of BB and NS during the 1990, can only be termed as a quasi democracy as the Damocles sword of the 8th Amendment continued to hand over their two stints each of around 2 years each. Each of their rule was abruptly terminated by the establishment exercising the power directly or through the 8th amendment. AZ's rule after the end of 8th amendment was a dismal affair as his hands were effectively tied by the NRO and the existing arrangements with the establishment. NS3 rule since 2013 can be though as a more democratic regime, however, the unwritten rule is that ALL affairs with the neighboring countries would have a veto power from the establishment. It is for this reason, that the NS3 finds no need for a Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Work in Progress: WIP


ZAB was a product of Gen Ayub Khan and used to call him his daddy. He was foreign minister of Gen Ayub and was the one who gave assurance to General Ayub that India will not cross internationally accepted border before the start of formal war of 1965.

His assumption of power after the fall of Dacca is widely considered to be a muk-muka with the establishment that reluctantly handed over power to him after the attempted mutiny by some of the forces in Mangla against Gen Yahya [1]. The muk-muka with establishment stipulated that there would be no action on CJ Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report. This also protected him of his role in the fall of East Pakistan.

ZAB's rule first's misstep was the mass nationalization of business concerns without any planning, and development of infrastructure. The nationalized businesses simply stopped working creating country-wide shortages of essential items like ghee, sugar, atta, cement etc. Each of these things became scarce and ration cards were issued and only a limited quantity was available to the entire household. People had to run from pillar to post for getting recommendations for the precious quota of a few kilos for their marriage and other ceremonies. I know this because I had to stand in line often of hundreds of people just to get the ration of ghee or atta issue after wait for hours. I remember this because I was preparing for my 9th and 10th class exams and while waiting for hours used to revise my course books. For my sister's marriage in 1975 and another sister's marriage in 1977 had to go to National Assembly and meet a relative who was working in the budget department and the MNAs used to come to him for clearing their medicine bills. He used to manage to get us special quote of 5 kg approved through these MNA recommendations enabling us to arrange for the sweet dishes in that time.

  • Deterioration of government machinery with quota system, loss of merit and rampant provincialism and ethnic favoritism. 
  • Decline of the heavy mechanical industry, PECO and others
  • Decline of public schools and universities creating a massive vacum that was later filled by private schools creating another set of issues. 
  • Decline in efficiency of public departments: Firing of another tranche of around 1000 senior bureaucrats after teh 3not3 batch that led to the bureaucracy losing their spine and their independence and became a hand maiden in the hands of who ever was in the power. 
  • Establishment of FSF and the torture cells
  • Proclamation of emergency immediately after the passing of the constitution
  • Erosion of independence of judiciary through several successive amendments that clipped the wings of the justicies. These same amendments were used by Zia later on to swith the chief justices and then hand ZAB. 
  • Deterioration of the commercial banks, PIA, Railways, Pakistan Steel.
  • Atomic Policy
  • Islamic Summit
  • Abuse of slogan of Islamic Socialism; sidelining of his erstwhile socialist allies like Mairaj M Khan and JA Rahim. 
  • Language Riots in Karachi


  • Assumption of power after muk-muka with establishment. 
  • Installation of Governors of Provinces and President as representatives of Establishment. 
  • AZ as Mr 10%. 
  • Stories of corruption
  • Deterioration of public services
  • Deployment of rangers in Sindh. MQM vs PPP and Sindhis fights in Karachi and other areas. 


  • Assumption of power after muk-muka with establishment
  • Major operation in Karachi against MQM.
  • Stories of corruption
  • Easing of foreign exchange restrictions. 
  • Privatization of nationalized units became an art form for loot sale. 
  • The entire rein was punctuated with acrimonious allegations and counter allegations of corruption with BB. 
  • Public sector performance continued to deteriorate.   
  • Allotment of public land at throw away prices became the easiest way to earn tons of money. 





[1] Link to reference here

See Also: 

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sharing with Responsibility on Social Networks: Avoid Mass Dissemination of Lies and Ignorance

Reliance on unverified sources and unverified reporting and forwarding on social networks have made them a platform for the mass dissemination of ignorance and lies. See for instance some of the Fake Quotes making rounds on the internet: 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Growing up with Mohammad Ali's Legend

This is 1971 and I am in class IV in Islamabad. I find myself in the midst of young people animatedly discussing the impending fight of the century in  a charged environment. We in Pakistan are excited about a Cassius Clay who converted to Islam and became Mohammad Ali but was stripped of his Heavy Weight Champion title for refusing to join the Vietnam War or for having converted to Islam. He was going to fight Joe Frazier who was the reigning champion to reclaim his title. Both were undefeated and were going to enter a fight which has been hailed as the Fight of the Century.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Conclusion vs Assumption in Research Writing- Flipping the Thread of Argument in your PhD Thesis

Research especially PhD research is often not a predictable process. Starting with some assumptions we start moving in a particular direction, however, the direction may change a number of times during our journey. Initially, we may have started in a particular direction thinking about a certain goal, however, the goal may change not once, but often several times during our research. We continue modifying the goals till such time that we identify a possible conclusion which would be significant enough to merit the award of the PhD degree. This journey is shown in the figure with yellow lines moving in different directions.