Democracy versus dictatorship – Javed Chaudhry

A woman called me and started crying over the phone. She said she had been collecting money for the last five years so that her mother could perform hajj but each time the government increased the cost; this year the increase was by Rs38,000. She said that this was her mother’s last wish but now it seems it would remain unrealised. “If my mother dies without performing hajj, I will send the money to the prime minister and ask him to spend it on his protocol instead.”
I trembled with fear because I know Allah is very close to the hearts of the poor and He listens to the plight of the oppressed.
Another call I received was from Mansehra. Khalid Mehmood said he was a poor carpenter. However, his business was booming and prosperity knocked at his door during Pervez Musharraf’s days. Good food to eat and his children admitted to good schools. “Then I was told Musharraf is a dictator, an American agent and against Islam and Pakistan so I also shouted: ‘Go Musharraf, go’ with other people”. The democratic government came followed by slump and poverty. No money to pay the school fee, or for petrol or the utility bills. “The worst dictatorship is better than the best democracy. Please keep your democracy and return me the dictatorship.” Again I shuddered — since I like democracy but I could see that it had not delivered.
The last call was from Karachi. It was different and more interesting.
The man on the other end of the line said that Pakistan has had four military dictators: Ayub KhanYahya KhanZiaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf. All four left the corridors of power with full protocol and their lives ended honourably. Ayub and Musharraf left the presidency with guards of honour. Musharraf is enjoying a relaxing time in London and Ayub had spent his last days on a rocking chair comfortably in his lawn. Yahya Khan’s coffin was wrapped in the Pakistan flag and was given a salute. As for Zia, when he died, the eyes of the entire nation were full of tears on his death.
Contrary to that the end of democratic leaders was not good. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged and only a couple of prisoners participated in his funeral prayers. He was buried in the darkness of the night. Two of the Benazir’s governments were dismissed disgracefully and no one came out in her support. She met a tragic death. Nawaz Sharif was arrested along with his family and was exiled. Ninety per cent of his party men betrayed him. Chaudhry Shujaat and Pervaiz Elahicurrently are in search of face-saving as well.
Why is it that in Pakistan dictators often do not meet unfortunate ends while democratically-elected leaders do?
“The answer is the state of poor common people” the man said. They lived better lives, filled with less pain, and they had food and medicine and this was during the time dictators were in power. As for democratic leaders instead of providing ‘roti, kapra aur makan’ for the people, they deprived them of these things and this only increased their troubles. That is why, the man said, ordinary people prayed for dictators.
“If the present rulers do not understand this point and do not wipe the tears of the poor people, the same thing will happen again.”
And then the call dropped.

The life of a working woman

She had been calling for the last two days. She said that she had come from Karachi just to see me and that the meeting was very necessary. I finally agreed.
She was beautiful — like a perfect white marble Greek sculpture. And she was the most intelligent lady I have ever met. She had manners and she had read thousands of books. I was impressed. But as she disclosed her profession, I felt ashamed. However, she seemed not to care. She only wanted me to write my column on her life. A column to help other young girls of this country and their parents.
She belonged to a lower-middle class family of Karachi. Her family had descended from the Pathans, Kashmiris and Awans and she was an attractive and pretty girl. She was educated in good institutions and obtained an MBA from a reputed business college of Karachi, after which she began an internship in a bank.
A young man met her while she was working there. She said he was handsome, had a foreign degree and was rich. He lived alone in a large house in Defence, travelled in a car worth millions and his monthly credit card bill was between Rs200-300,000. She was impressed by his personality, wealth and lifestyle and soon they became close friends.
The man started spending a lot of money on her. This continued for two months. And then one day he gave her a CD that contained ‘horrible’ scenes of the two. She was shocked. The man told her that someone had shot their film and was now blackmailing him.
In a week’s time a third character appeared on the scene. He told her that she had been trapped by a gang — that the young man she had met and liked was part of the gang and that there was now no escape. She was offered ‘work’ in the profession she is currently involved in. She says she tried whatever she could to get out of it but in vain. Her parents have been told that she works in a large firm, from where she gets a salary every month.
She said that the gang was like a mafia with its headquarters in Karachi and young male and female ‘agents’ in many cities. They get beautiful girl agents admitted to colleges who make friends with pretty girls, take them to parties and introduce them to handsome boys who then trap the girls and make movies. Their agents are also active in banks, travel agencies and shopping plazas.
After I heard her story, I told her I would write my column on her. I came out to say bye to her and a seven-series BMW was waiting for her. I recognised the driver — he is the chauffeur of a VVIP.

Shaukat Aziz’s three predictions – Javed Chaudhry

Shaukat Aziz is no doubt a clever person. He was an ordinary employee in Citibank in Dubai where he made friends in the royal family. He went to America and became a banker to a group of global kingmakers. PML-N Senator (and then-finance minister) Ishaq Dar brought him to Pakistan where he started advising the government on economic issues. Mr Aziz’s aim was to become governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and Ishaq Dar was about to do just that when the PML-N government fell.
However, Mr Aziz immediately contacted a relative of Pervez Musharraf and managed to speak to the army chief. The result was that he soon became finance minister and later prime minster. In fact, Mr Aziz played his cards so well that after Musharraf’s fall from power, he left the country and is now leading a lavish lifestyle abroad. People blame General Musharraf or the Chaudhry brothers for most of the ills of the previous government, conveniently forgetting Shaukat Aziz’s doings. And the irony is that he is still giving advice to poor countries on how to run and improve their economies.
Now, I have to say, I have seen a very different Shaukat Aziz in a meeting right before he left his post as prime minister. He told me he was under pressure about what to do with the Lal Masjid issue and the suspension of the chief justice of Pakistan. But what I want to mention is three predictions he made at the time, all of which I disagreed with, but which came true.
He said that Musharraf will get all his sins white-washed but the Akbar Bugti murder would be his undoing and that certain evidence in that matter, if and when disclosed, could make life difficult for him. “It will be a difficult time for Musharraf and then the army will have to choose one; Musharraf or Balochistan,” he had said.
The second thing he had said was that Nawaz Sharif will be able to return home but America and Saudi Arabia will not let him speak freely and that if the PPP and the PML-Q formed a government in the future, Sharif will be “periodically active, periodically inactive.”
And the third was that a third power is using the bench and the bar for its own interests. Ultimately the judges will get restored but the lawyers will not let them work, creating a crisis where the bench and bar will lock horns with one another. “Both will have an end similar to ours,” he said.
The first two points have already become true. And now the lawyers and the judiciary are pitched against each other, so much so that an honest and principled district and sessions judge,Zawar Ahmed Shaikh, has been sent on forced leave.

A humiliating experience – Javed Chaudhry


It took us four hours to come out of Washington DC’s Dulles International Airport. We had landed there at three in the afternoon but when we came out of the airport, it was late evening.
We had left Paris at noon and when we landed at Dulles we were received in the way we had feared. I stood in line for half an hour just to reach the immigration counter. Once there, the immigration officer asked me a series of questions. It began with: “What is the purpose of your visit to the United States?” I replied: “Pakistan and America are holding a strategic dialogue and I have come for that.”
The officer asked me who had invited me and I told him that it was the US Department of State. He asked who would be my host and I said the US government, to which he asked if I had any “proof” of that. I showed him the proof. He then asked me what I did and I told him that I worked in a newspaper and a TV channel. He then asked me how old I was, to which I said “forty”. He fixed his eyes on me and I couldn’t hide my grin. I was then asked for my thumb impression and directed to another counter.
There sat a fat, bald American in a blue uniform. He took my documents and ordered me to sit in what seemed to be a waiting hall. Soon enough, the rest of my travelling colleagues joined me — apparently they were also suspects like me. After some time, people from other nationalities also started coming into the hall.
An hour went by. My colleagues and I were discussing the future of our government when the fat American appeared and in a pure, American accent yelled something like “Jeuw’ved Shoodri”. My colleagues and I guessed that he had called my name but before I could stand up, an old East European couple started following the officer. We resumed our discussion but my eyes were following the immigration officer.
From a distance, I noticed the old couple arguing with the officer. I felt they had gone there wrongly as my name had been announced and I went to where they were standing.
An exasperating and tiresome interview started in which I was made to feel as if I was solely responsible for all the anxiety Americans everywhere were experiencing on account of terrorism. I was made to think I was the reason Americans spent sleepless nights.
I got exhausted during the 40-minute interview and decided to accept all the allegations and accusations levelled against me. But before I could do this, the bald man relented and allowed me to enter America. I took my passport, praised the bald man for his generosity and hospitality and triumphantly shook his hand. I was sure at that moment that some of my colleagues must have become jealous of my success.
Mubashar was waiting for me in the hall. He has a French passport and therefore, I thought, had escaped the special suspicion that we were greeted with. However, I was wrong. As both of us were about to leave the hall he was stopped by officials — it was his turn now. They asked him only three or four questions but exhausted him by making him wait for 90 minutes.
Eventually, the wait ended for all of us and as we all walked out of the hall, something dawned on me. I realised that citizens — be they ministers, advisers or journalists — of a nation that does not guard its honour must go through total humiliation if they want to enter the United States.

Fighting the sugar mafia – Javed Chaudhry


Every event that happens in our lives has various aspects to it. One aspect of the invasion of Muhammad Bin Qasim at Deebal (near present-day Bhambore) is that Hajjaz bin Yusuf had sent an army, under Qasim’s command, to help and free Muslim pilgrims captured in territory under Raja Dahir’s control. But there is another important aspect to all of this as well. Muslims were a rising power in those days and were trying to spread their influence to Asia, Africa and even Europe. However, in this they couldn’t afford to let even a small ruler like Raja Dahir plunder Muslim ships and enslave Muslim women and children because that would put the writ of the whole Muslim state at peril.
States rarely get the chance to fight big adversaries like Alexander the Great but small rulers likeRaja Dahir provide them an easy opportunity to establish their writ. With this in mind, one should look at present day Pakistan and, in particular, the unfolding sugar crisis.
Some years ago, a situation arose whereby it became known that some federal ministers, including then federal minister for industries and production, had hoarded large amounts of sugar. As a result, the price of sugar began to rise. Eventually, the Supreme Court stepped in and ordered the government to ensure the supply of sugar at Rs40 per kilo. But the crisis didn’t end.
Meanwhile, the then finance minister said something to the effect that the sugar thieves were sitting in the cabinet and had earned Rs25 billion as a result of this manipulated crisis. One may blame Shaukat Tareen for many things but his honesty and courage cannot be questioned.
The sugar mafia forms part of our parliament since most of the 82 sugar mills in the country are owned by politicians. Therefore, the government was unable to control the sugar crisis. This, in turn, encouraged small thieves, hoarders and profiteers. The result is that sugar is now being sold at Rs130 per kilo.
If the government were a little wiser, it would use the sugar crisis to increase its goodwill and establish its writ. It could initiate a crackdown against all criminals involved, publish the names of powerful sugar mills owners (and this includes several ministers and senior politicians) and arrest the hoarders. It should also have promptly arranged for the import of sugar, so that increased supply would have led to a fall in prices — but it failed to do any of this.
People are now saying that a government that cannot do small things like provide sugar to its people is unlikely to solve big problems. Our government is preparing itself to fight the Alexanders of the world but doesn’t want to fight the Raja Dahirs that make up the sugar mafia. Why?

Superb Accurate Timing Dogs Snaps


The internet is full of bright happy perfectly-timed pictures by camera so a great number of, in fact, that we figured we might be able to make a complete post one and only out of bright happy perfectly-timed dog pictures by camera. turns out we were right! Perfectly-timed pictures by camera can be strange, causing surprise enough on their own, but they're so much better when they've got a goofy-looking dog for an unwitting one taking part as well. If you have made prisoner a foolish, with no sense dog picture by camera of your own, part it with us under! 





























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Polish Artist Creat Lace Patterns at City Streets


Just because street art is a relatively of-the-day development doesn't middle, half way between that it should only point of-the-day able-at-art general looks. NeSpoon, a street artist in Poland , makes come into existence beautiful pieces of street art that copy complexly old and wise lacework. Nespoon doesn't limit herself to just apparatus for putting on a coat of liquid (paint) paint and outlines of designs, either (as strange as they are). For some bits, parts, she has made full sidewalk cracks with cement that she then maked pretty with her beautiful, polished designs. For others, she has made come into existence webs of current ornamented cloth-worked cord for shoes doilies in public spaces. Her art is test that almost any sort of able-at-art middle can be brought into public spaces through street art.






















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