A Naya Pakistan will be created the day Pakistanis acknowledge past mistakes, and move forward. It will not be created by looking back at some mythical past.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly spoken about how Naya Pakistan will resemble the 7th century state of Madina. Starting from his inaugural speech of August 20th the Premier has mentioned this on more than 11 different occasion. As academic and commentator Pervez Hoodbhoy notes in a recent article, “To create a prosperous welfare state is an admirable — and universal — objective. Serving the needs of their citizens without prejudice, a few modern states already have operational systems in place. To join them, just five minutes of serious contemplation can tell you what needs to be done here in Pakistan. It’s almost a no-brainer: eliminate large land holdings through appropriate legislation; collect land and property taxes based upon current market value; speed up the courts and make them transparent; make meritocratic appointments in government departments; change education so that skill enhancement becomes its central goal; make peace with Pakistan’s neighbours; choose trade over aid; and let civilians rule the country rather than soldiers. That’s pretty hard! Implementation shall need no less than a revolution, bloodless or otherwise.”
Further, he notes, “if Imran Khan wants to emulate the Madina state as a political entity, it will be way trickier. Modern states have geographical boundaries, a practice that followed the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) between European powers. But for the Madina state, borders were irrelevant — where you lived did not matter. Is Imran Khan’s goal to adopt the Madina state’s laws and emulate it as a political entity?”
Furthermore, “what about judicial matters? Shall laws of the Madina state apply in naya Pakistan? Viewed through the prism of history, the accord negotiated by the Holy Prophet was perfectly logical at a time of bitter intertribal wars. The interested reader may consult Dr Tahirul Qadri’s PhD thesis on the Misaq-i-Madina. This lists 63 rules for determining diyat (blood money); ransoms to settle tribal feuds; life protection for Muslims and Jews; apportioning of war expenses; etc. These led to peace within the framework of Arab tribal justice. But justice is an ever-evolving concept in every culture and religion. So, for example, 2,000 years ago, Aristotle had argued that some individuals and races are “natural slaves” better enslaved than left free. And, until 200 years ago, socially respectable Americans were slave owners. Kinder ones treated slaves better but slave-owning is now viewed as utterly abhorrent.”
Finally, “The world of yesterday and the world of today bear no comparison. One marvels at the Holy Prophet’s sagacity in negotiating a better deal for all warring Arabian tribes. Still, we should appreciate just how different the world has become from those times. The combined population of Makkah and Madina was less than Kharadar’s, a typical Karachi neighbourhood. Joblessness and lack of housing were non-issues; air pollution and load-shedding hadn’t been conceived; and white-collar crime was awaiting invention centuries later. No police or standing army existed in the Madina state. There were no jails. It is easy to see why certain religious slogans appeal to the popular imagination. In a country that is deeply unequal and plagued by huge class asymmetry, people yearn for an unblemished past when everything was perfect. But when political leaders promise to take us there, how seriously should we take them? The masses had responded favourably when Gen Ziaul Haq had raised a similar slogan in the 1980s — that of Nizam-i-Mustafa. Disappointment soon followed. Can it be different this time?”
Continuing an old tradition going back to the 1970s, Prime Minister Imran Khan, went to Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip. During his two-day trip Khan called on King Salman, Crown Prince, Mohammad Bin Salman and also attended a state banquet.
With Pakistan’s economy in the doldrums, the country once again is turning to its two faithful allies – Saudi Arabia and China – seeking aid in order to avoid having to go to the IMF for the 13th time.
Soon after Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear tests when Pakistan faced crippling sanctions, Saudi Arabia offered Pakistan oil on deferred payments but there was a tacit understanding that Pakistan would be there for the Saudis when required.
In earlier decades, Saudi Arabia has deposited money in Pakistan’s exchequers to help the government tide over shortage of foreign exchange reserves. The Saudis did this in 2014 when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took over power. But at that time Pakistan had promised to send its troops whenever Riyadh requested. However, when the time came, we backed off and did not send our troops. The Saudi displeasure has been evident, clearly visible in their deepening ties with India.
If the current government would like Saudi Arabia to either offer deferred oil payments or deposit money in our exchequers, then what are we willing to do in exchange? Are we willing to send troops to Yemen?
And even if we say we will send troops, why would Saudi Arabia trust us this time round and give us money before Pakistani troops show up? We should understand their frustration too. Why promise what we cannot deliver?
Pakistan is facing an internal financial crisis, the economy needs more investment and we need a positive image of Pakistan to end our increasing international isolation. For that to happen one of the many things we need is to get off the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Grey list.
However, the recent decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to permit the globally designated terrorist organization, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and its humanitarian arm Falahi Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) to continue relief and charity work in Pakistan. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has placed both these organizations on its list of sanctioned terrorist organizations.
In January of this year the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), prohibited companies from “donating cash to the entities and individuals listed under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions committee’s consolidated list”. This sanctions list “includes the names of al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, JuD, FiF, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other organizations and individuals.”
That Pakistan has allowed a globally designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed, someone who has put on the UNSC sanctions list as a terrorist in 2008, to run charity operations inside the country sends just the wrong message to the global community.
According to a news story: “The two-member SC bench including Justice Manzoor Ahmed Mulk and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood rejected the federal government’s appeal against Lahore High Court’s verdict. JuD’s network includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance services. The JuD and FIF alone have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers, according to two counter-terrorism officials.”
Four decades after the start of the Afghan civil war and seventeen years after the American-led international intervention in Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban appear to have made a comeback in that country.
On Friday August 10, over 1000 Taliban fighters entered the city of Ghazni, a strategic urban center less than 100 miles from Kabul, and have killed “dozens of Afghan soldiers and police officers, cutting communications and severing the main highway from Kabul to the south and beyond.” According to Afghan defense minister Tariq Shah Bahrami the attack on Ghazni city was carried out by Taliban with the support of foreign militants, including Pakistanis, Chechens, and Arab Al Qaeda fighters.
According to reports on the social media dead bodies of Pakistanis killed in Ghazni city clashes are being shifted to Pakistan. Prominent politician from the Awami National Party (ANP) and former senator Afrasiab Khattak in a series of tweets asked Pakistani authorities to explain what was happening and referred to the involvement of Pakistani militants in Ghazni as a repetition of the disastrous Jalalabad fiasco of 1989.
Afghan journalist Bashir Ahmad Gwakh stated that the fighters were primarily Punjabi, affiliated with the terror organization Lashkar e Taiba, and referred to videos of the funeral ceremonies of these Pakistani fighters being uploaded on the Facebook pages of the Taliban.