White Lies

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By E55 Aich

It seems that the extended family of a VVIP
has the privileges that even the Queen of
England is denied. Just ask the passengers of
a PIA flight that took off from Karachi to Lahore
last week. We hear that the passengers of this reg-
ular flight were informed, after checking in, that
there would be a delay of half an hour due to "un-
avoidable reasons." Half an hour later, the "un-

avoidable reason" walked in and as it turned out
she was the first "samdhan’ of the first VVIP. She
had been stuck in the Karachi traffic for the last
some 30 minutes and since she was on the impor-
tant mission of attending a musical evening in La-
hore, PIA obviously had to make some
adjustments in its schedule. Why not? The nation
deserves to have less routine and more VVIP life.

W

e hear the "rap musician" daugh-
ter of a VVIP has two persistent
suitors. They are the sons of
VVIPs who have even higher ambitions of
wealth and power that such a union prom-
ises to deliver. It would be a match made in
heaven with Islamabad and French chateaus
thrown in for good measure. However, till
the matter reaches a conclusion, the compe-
tition grows fierce. The battle between the
father VVIPs is getting ugly. The race is on
and may the best son win.

*"****

W

here is Niazi, former Chairman
NIC and, not to forget, also for-
mer night club manager from
Dubai. He may be wanted with a trail ofbil-
lions leading to VVIP sons, but the police
and NAB hounds just cannot find the man
who ‘disappeared into thin air the minute the
NIC scandal came to light. However, our
mole tells us that this son of the soil is in a
safe house where he has full protection from
the law. Incidentally, this safe house is a
VVIP residence which the security hounds
dare not enter without some one’s permis-
sion and that permission is not coming.

White Lies

 

By Ess Aich | Published: November 27, 2010

It seems that it is easier to manage a foe than to manage a friend, as Punjab’s top honcho may have found to his discomfort. One can always get a Rana Sanaullah to deal with the guv who has mastered the art of anti-Sharif one-liners but how does one handle a friend who was once Punjab’s top mandarin but was put aside after a hit and run incident in which his involvement could not be denied. The dilemma persists that this is a grade 22 friend and there are no other grade 22 jobs to be handed out in the province. The man has to be surrendered to the centre if he is to maintain a grade 22 status but who knows how the centre will treat a bureaucrat from the enemy camp. So an OSD he remains with the role of an unofficial advisor and the perks of a linchpin. Never mind the army of minions, the column of cars and the generous gas and fuel bills. This is a friend of a different kind, a grade 22 friend in need.

* * * * * * *

Two VVIP weddings and a mighty traffic jam is how commuters described Thursday night’s road blocks in Lahore. Defence Minister, Ahmed Mukhtar’s daughter tied the knot at a five star hotel with the son of a police officer who once provided the biggest photo op to the media and may just have kicked off the lawyer’s movement when he pushed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry into a car. The Defence Minister had a guest list as long as his arm and the traffic jam on the road leading to the five star venue. Same day, same time, same city, the Prime Minister was celebrating his son’s walima. However, he was kind enough to choose a farm house away from the maddening crowd and wise enough to keep his guest list more exclusive. The Defence Minister was included and was seen taking time off from the daughter’s wedding to join the walima celebrations but there was no sighting of the Prime Minister putting in an appearance at the minister’s do. Just as well because his motorcade would have created havoc on The Mall and it could have been two weddings and a few funerals.

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Country’s survival rests upon rule of law, says CJP

 

Country’s survival rests upon rule of law, says CJP

By: Staff Report | Published: November 28, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Salvation and survival of the country rest upon rule of law and the implementation of the constitution, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Saturday.

Addressing the fifteenth roll signing ceremony of newly-enrolled advocates of the Supreme Court, the chief justice said, “After 63 years, we have been able to understand that our salvation and survival rest upon rule of law and the implementation of the constitution.”

Urging lawyers to abide by the constitution and the law, the chief justice said, “There is no oath which has to be administered to the advocates of the Supreme Court but it should be their aim and effort that they shall abide by the constitution and the law.

As you know the honourable judges of the Supreme Court and high courts are subject to the code of conduct and they are bound to act only under the constitution and not to take order from any unlawful authority or take oath other than under the constitution”, the chief justice said.

He said all bar members should give the court the same commitment and should refrain from being influenced by any ‘incentive’ to support acts in contravention of the constitution.

Congratulating the newly-enrolled advocates on behalf of the SC, the chief justice said, “There is no court in the country above the Supreme Court or any other remedy is available after the SC therefore, you should come and appear before the court after fully mastering your case to properly assist the court.”

Around 53 new advocates, 39 from Punjab, seven from Sindh, one from Balochistan and six from Islamabad, were enrolled as advocates of the Supreme Court.

Eat, pray, tax

By Hassaan Ghazali | Published: November 24, 2010

The observance of Eid this past week gave one a rare glimpse into the plight of citizens and how similar our fate is to that of livestock at slaughtering time. And with the debate on Reformed General Sales Tax and Flood Tax gaining momentum in the legislative arena, our similarities become more striking still. As a bleating nation waits on the altar, one cannot help but wonder whether this sacrifice is even necessary, and what we may expect from our ‘kasais’. We would be lucky to get a swift dispatch to the hereafter however the track record of this government would suggest that a blunt knife lies in store for us. We may as well cue the bleating.

 

 

 

 

The revelation that only 1.6 per cent of 160 million Pakistanis are registered taxpayers is a poignant reminder to us that the federal government’s tax administration system has failed to deliver. If you are one of approximately three million lucky bearers of the National Tax Number card, you would do well to enjoy the warm paternal feeling that normally arises when one has responsibility for others. However, the current macro-economic framework of Pakistan is anything but normal and so the warmth, however short lived, will not ease the chills going down your spine if the taxman should come knocking this winter.

 

Although there are many good things the government could do for responsible taxpayers that sustain the economy, it appears few alternatives have been considered. Perhaps declaring them as a special minority, or honouring them when the Presidency next dishes out civil awards would generate much needed attention because presently the government seems to be more interested in cooking up new taxation schemes and less concerned about getting more taxpayers enrolled in this exclusive club. Perhaps the fiscal crisis provides stakeholders with the context for introspection and the opportunity to coalesce around an issue before it is too late. Already, the tax proposals have earned the ire of trade associations, politicians, civil society and the media. With whisperings of revolt across the country, perhaps our decision makers need to address the inequities prevalent in society before they decide to pick our pockets.

 

In all fairness, one does not require statistics to witness the grave injustices meted out to taxpayers. A merry stroll through any of our human settlements presents ample evidence of the real problems we have to contend with and how intrinsically linked our lives are to the rule of law, or lack thereof. In a country which rewards informality by according the poor with the same privileges enjoyed by the rich, it comes as no surprise that the taxpayers are the only ones who do not have immunity from the law.

Notwithstanding the fact that no less than thirty seven government agencies levy more than seventy separate taxes on various goods and services, only one out of every sixty eight Pakistanis is formally recognized as a taxpayer. These lonely souls would love some company alas the poor have nothing for tax to be levied upon and the affluent ones sitting in Parliament have done a good job of exploiting the corruption which is endemic in our tax administration system. As long as the hammer falls squarely on those that enjoy neither squalor nor luxury, it is unfortunate that the government would insist on placing an additional burden on our shoulders.

Given that the rhetoric and political discourse has yet to offer up firm proposals for reform of the tax administration system, measures designed to break our backs will continue to face considerable resistance from all quarters. Before new fiscal measures are proposed to milk the masses, it may help citizens to hear the government first announce drastic austerity measures for the public sector along with a plan that ensures good housekeeping by the tax authorities. Anything else would lead to a vicious cycle where taxpayers giving an inch of rope find that a benign government suddenly becomes a lasso wielding cowboy.

Before we get wrangled into the tax corral, we must accept that proclivities of the present administration suggest that tax reform is next to impossible in Pakistan. It would seem that the only way to usher in a golden age for citizens is to take control of our own destiny and reject the entrustment of our affairs to inept landowners, industrialists and rent-seekers sitting in Parliament. Perhaps that way we can stop big government from bleeding us dry and will help set the stage for a concerted effort at tax administration reform. Until the government can convince us that it has atoned for past sins and is fixing itself, any new tax will be shot down faster than you can say Baaaaaa!

The writer is a consultant on public policy.

This news was published in print paper. To access the complete paper of this day. click here

*$260 billion gold mines going for a song, behind closed doors*

 

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: Quietly, and below the media radar, some 20 top corporate bosses and lobbyists of two of the world’s largest gold mining groups have been meeting President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Governor State Bank and others in Islamabad throughout last week, pressing them to quickly hand over one of the world’s biggest gold and copper treasures found in Balochistan at Reko Diq, worth over $260 billion, to their companies, and for peanuts.

 

 

 

Before these highly enticing visits of the mining tycoons to clinch the deals, which followed intense behind-the-scene negotiations and bargaining through middle men, some highly bizarre developments have been taking place, leaving experts and the rest of the mining world stunned, amazed and confused.

These companies want that the mining licences should be issued by Pakistan immediately after their exploration licences expire soon. But there are legal hitches and pressure is now being put through the backdoor to get the target.

In recent years, so many games have been played to keep Pakistan’s share in the enormous treasure to a bare minimum, thanks to some greedy politicians and bureaucrats who sold their country’s natural wealth.

A deep study of numerous documents, statements of major players, stakeholders and competitors, interviews with key Pakistani officials, including Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani, the picture that emerges is so murky and mind boggling that any ordinary soul just cannot fathom what is going on. Only a thorough and detailed judicial probe can untangle this mystery.

There is a plethora of documents, which prove that almost everybody involved is trying to deceive everybody else, the real picture is never presented, misleading statements and even contradictory claims have been made in the media, the issue has been kept confused as the real mega deal is maturing fast behind closed doors. “Because there is no effective investigating agency like NAB operating in the country, it is just the right case for the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of Pakistan to pick up the issue, put a hold on whatever is going on before any binding contracts and deals are signed, which may cause losses of billions of dollars, yes billions of dollars to Pakistan,” according to a corporate executive involved in the mining industry, based in New York. His company chairman is a reputed former three-term Congressman.

“The Reko Diq scandal is equal to 260 steel mills valued at one billion dollar each or 570 steel mills at $350 million each, the price at which PSM was being sold by PM Shaukat Aziz before it was stopped by the Supreme Court,” shows a calculation.

And according to one Washington mining industry expert, if Pakistan gets its fair share from the gold and copper mines, Balochistan and Pakistan would become richer than any of the present oil producing Gulf countries, many times over. “They have the goods, they need the will,” he said.

The massive mine deposits at Reko Diq in Chagai Balochistan are part of the same geological belt discovered in Afghanistan, which the Pentagon recently claimed was worth one trillion dollars, though President Hamid Karzai claimed it was worth more than 3 trillion dollars.

According to a report in the New York Times on June 13, 2010 by James Risen:

“The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe. An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the Saudi Arabia of lithium, a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and Black Berrys.”

Pakistan, it is estimated in mining circles, has more deposits than Afghanistan, so the enormity of the riches and the cost of the backdoor deals can easily be guessed. “It would be the mother of all the deals and grandfather of all the corruption cases in Pakistan, put together,”

according to one expert. Reading the piles of documents, statements, interviews and legal papers available with The News, the picture that emerges is one of a grand deception, loot and plunder that never happened before on such a scale and the facts, untruths, half-truths, attempts to sabotage, frauds and backdoor bribes, are all documented.

It all started in the Musharraf era but once the massive scale of the stakes involved became apparent to the PPP government, the Raisani/Zardari camp quickly jumped into the fray to renegotiate the deal, behind closed doors.

 

An Australian mineral exploration firm originally started the exploration and invested some $30 million but in 2006 sold the company to a Canadian and Chilean joint venture for $230 million. The old company was an Australian public company Tethyan Copper Prosperity Limited and the new company was named Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) of Pakistan. A trick game is being played in these cosmetic changes. The Canadians and Chileans, according to publicly declared information to their shareholders and regulators, took 37.5 per cent share each, while Pakistan only had the remaining 25 per cent.

Seeing the vast potential, the TCC soon raised its investment to half a billion dollars. The Pakistani shares belong to the Government of Balochistan and the federal government has no share. Due monies have not been paid to Pakistan or Balochistan treasuries.

Two licences (EL-6 and EL-8) for exploration were also given on a 100 per cent ownership basis to these foreign firms, with Pakistan (or Balochistan) having no share at all. All this was done during the Musharraf regime and bureaucrats played havoc with Pakistani interests. They were trying to emulate President Hamid Karzai’s mining minister, who was caught with $30 million in his Dubai bank and later removed. According to a Washington Post report on Nov 18, 2009: “The Afghan minister of mines accepted a roughly $30 million bribe to award the country’s largest development project to a Chinese mining firm.”

Quoting a US official, the Washington Post said: “The alleged payment to Mohammad Ibrahim Adel was made in Dubai within a month of December 2007, when a big Chinese metallurgical group received the contract for a $2.9 billion project to extract copper from the Aynak deposit in Logar province.

Aynak is considered one of the largest unexploited copper deposits in the world.”

The Pakistanis were never told the exact size of the gold and copper deposits that were found by these foreigners. Even until July this year, when a top level delegation of the Canadian company led by Aaron Regent met Prime Minister Gilani in Islamabad, the PM was told that development of this mega project shall generate a revenue of only about $3.5 billion for Government of Pakistan and $4.5 billion for Government of Balochistan over 40 years.

But the Canadian company has to report the real value to its own Canadian government agencies every year and on December 31, 2008 it informed these agencies, and its shareholders, that its 37.5 per cent share in Reko Diq would yield 17 million ounces of gold and 20 billion pounds of copper in measured, indicated and inferred resources. And these deposits have to be mined in 25 years, not as PM of Pakistan was told in 40 years.

At current prices of these two minerals, the total asset of the Canadian, Chilean and Pakistan government would be over $260 billion and according to former Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, as the prices of gold and copper go up, the total yield could be even $500 billion or may be a trillion.

In 2008 the PPP leaders entered the equation and on Dec 25, 2009 the Government of Balochistan announced the cancellation of the Reko Diq agreement. The decision was taken unanimously by the provincial cabinet, which also means the entire Balochistan Assembly. The cabinet also decided not to extend exploration licence of Reko Diq to the Canadian company and not to issue any mining licence for further work.

Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani said on the occasion: “Cancellation of the Reko Diq copper and gold project agreement is a step towards getting control over provincial resources in accordance with the wishes of the people.” The key statement he made was that he had held consultations with the coalition partners (read PPP and President Zardari) on the matter.

Before Raisani’s decisions in 2008 and 2009, the former chief minister during the Musharraf regime, Jam Yusuf had visited Canada and Chile in early 2007, why no one knows as it can only be guessed what a CM could do in the corporate HQ of a company.

Early this year, Raisani handed over affairs of the project to the Department of Mines and Mineral Development of Balochistan and acquired the services of eminent nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand, who was made head of its Board of Governors. After the July 2010 visit of the Canadian company head to Islamabad, Chief Minister Raisani and Federal Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources started pressurising the federal and provincial government officials to make an early decision about Reko Diq.

Lots of officials were transferred from their posts. In October, in an unprecedented letter, the CM asked President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to convene a high-level meeting to take the final decision. It seems double games were already underway.

But in Dubai, before the Canadians visited Islamabad to see President Zardari, the CEO of the company announced on October 25, 2010 that Reko Diq project would go ahead as planned despite plans by the provincial government to cancel it. “The project is going ahead and will not be cancelled, we are now in talks with the government and we expect production to start by the end of 2015,” Gerhard Von Borries, Chief

Executive of TCC, said on the sidelines of an industry event in Dubai. One month before the October visit to Islamabad, the company submitted a 100,000 pages feasibility study and gave the cost as $3.3 billion. Experts say this

$3.3 billion will be the construction cost to build the mining infrastructure to extract the gold and copper. It took three years to write this report and the Samar Mubarakmand Board was expected to study and give its finding, quickly, may be in just a few days.

But before the Board of Governors headed by Dr Samar could open the report, a new committee was formed on October 1, 2010, excluding most of the board members and perhaps the new committee would now decide everything, in undue haste shortly.

The Canadian company, Barrick Gold, with 29 mines all over the world, is already being accused on the web of some strange activities. These include spills of cyanide, mercury and other heavy metals, police and legalistic repression of critics, threats to water resources on four continents and even food poisoning, as well as rape. In 2008, under oath in the Balochistan High Court, Barrick Gold stated it had nothing to do with building an airport in the heart of Balochistan for its mining operations.

It turned out the airport was actually built but on someone else’s property, a neighbouring exploration company from the US. However, in its quarterly filings of March 2007, Barrick reported to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington DC that they had spent $30 million to build the airport in Pakistan and other activities. It was the same strip built on the neighbour’s property. The company made a false statement, to either the Balochistan High Court or the SEC. It was potential perjury any way. The US company, Benway Corporation, which is also exploring in the same area, has gone to Balochistan High Court against the intrusion on its land besides reporting the case to the SEC, which is looking whether violations of the US laws on corrupt practices have been violated.

While these confusing details may not make any sense for an ordinary reader, some 1,050 documents filed in the Balochistan High Court show that the TCC has been given unlawfully 508 sq km land on 30-year leases, a fact which CM Raisani has no clue about.

On Oct 28, when TCC executives were meeting the top PPP bosses in Islamabad, Chief Minister Balochistan was also around and he told Ahmad Noorani of The

News: “This is impossible. As so far issues have not been finalised, so in no way TCC could be leased such a big land and that too for 30 years”. He was asked: “Do you know that Reko Diq Exploration Licence No 5 gives TCC 240,000 acres of land and it expires in 2011. That TCC has had this licence from the Department of Mineral and Mining Development and on December 24

2009 you declared by a unanimous cabinet decision not to renew EL 5. But actually TCC had carefully bought and leased all that land from Board of Revenue of Balochistan in 2008 for 10 million dollars for 30 years. Your December 24 decision really had no teeth. TCC owns the land for 30 years.

What has changed since December 24, 2009 that you are ready to sign a new agreement within a week or by November 24, 2010?”

The chief minister, who had no idea that a 30-year lease had been granted,

responded: “It is not possible that such a big chunk of land is leased to TCC for a period of 30 years.” He asked his personal secretary to recheck and confirm the exact situation of the land lease to the TCC.

He was then asked about the cheques of millions of rupees he had received from the Canadian company. “How many total cheques you received from TCC or their related companies since you were sworn in as the CM. Why he thought they were giving him checks when their case was in the process of a major decision.”

Raisani admitted that a total of two cheques were given to him for Rs 10 million and Rs 8.5 million. “Both cheques were for the chief minister’s relief fund and were deposited in the Government of Balochistan account,” he maintained.

A spokesman of the TCC in Islamabad told The News that a cheque of Rs 8.5 million was given to Chief Minister Balochistan on Aug 25, 2010 for CM’s flood relief fund only and this cheque was for chief minister. But Press Secretary to the Chief Minister, Kamran, claimed that the cheque of Rs8.5 million was given by the TCC in the name of the Government of Balochistan and was deposited in the CM’s account for flood relief. He said this cheque had nothing to do with the files of the TCC in CM’s office.

CM Raisani told The News after the Dec 24, 2009 decision that the TCC had submitted a fresh feasibility study, which was being analysed and so far no final decision had been taken. Despite the statement of his press secretary, the CM asserted that no date could be given when the decision to award this project would be taken. Asked about the licences, which were totally foreign owned without any share of Pakistan, the CM answered that for exploration licences there was no question of any share of Government of Balochistan. “For exploration, Balochistan will have to pay the TCC,” he argued. In answer to the most pertinent question asked about the size of the deposits and what Pakistan would get out of the deal, CM Raisani was evasive.

He was asked: “Do you know that the value of Reko Diq is $260 billion as per records of the Canadian company (at today’s gold/copper international market rates), the government and former Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said its value was $500 billion but in July the President of Barrick Gold came to PM Gilani and said the value was only $50 billion. Why is the government in such a hurry to decide this matter in favour of TCC on the fast track?”

In a surprising statement, Raisani just said the total cost was Rs 8.9 billion, not dollars. He ignored the rest of the question. Asked whether any international consultant was being hired to study the 100,000 pages feasibility studies as this was the first project of its kind in Pakistan, the CM said: “No, we don’t. We don’t need any. We have so many experts in different fields.” “Is it correct that CM Balochistan is being pressurised by President Zardari to sign a deal with TCC,” he was asked. His response:

“I met President Zardari on this issue on Wednesday (last week).” Asked what the president told him to do, he said it was between President Zardari and him and he would not disclose what Zardari asked him on awarding of the project to the TCC.

But then, as an after thought, he added: “The federal government is not pressurising me on this issue. We are dealing with this ourselves.”

The bottomline is that Pakistan now has to issue mining licences to extract gold and cooper, which is worth billions of dollars and the current mood in Islamabad is to give the foreign companies a huge share. In fact, Pakistan should retain 70 to 80 per cent of these treasures.

In many countries, where agreements had already been signed giving a much bigger share to foreigners, these agreements were revised in the interest of the host country. Ireland, South Africa, Venezuela renegotiated their mining and oil exploration contracts to their benefit.

Anyone interested in making a few million dollars, like the Afghan minister of the Karzai government, which could cost the country billions, must not be allowed to do so. This is the role the Supreme Court, parliament and the media have to play at this crucial time.

Note: The Islamabad portion of this Special Report including CM Raisani’s interview was filed by Ahmad Noorani.

Popular energy drinks have hidden risks

ENERGY drinks are hugely popular, but each
one could be giving you more caffeine than a
cup of coffee, a study said In addition, that caffeine could combine with
other ingredients in potentially risky ways,
with the use of energy drinks with alcohol a
particular concern. .


"What we know is that a typical energy drink
can have as much as a quarter cup of sugar, and
more caffeine than a strong cup .
of coffee," said John Higgins
of the University of Texas
Medical School at Houston,
who led a study that
appeared in this month’s’
Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
.
Caffeine content of energy
drinks ranges from
, 70 to 200 mg per 16-oz
serving. By comparison,                                                                              
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an 8-oz cup of coffee can
contain between 40 to 150
mg depending on how it’s
brewed.


Even more of an issue
is how ingredients often
not mentioned on the labels
– such as the herbal
stimulant guarana, the
amino acid taurine, and
other herbs, minerals and
vitamins might interact
with the caffeine, he told
Reuters Health.

‘The concern is how such
interaction might affect
heart rates, blood pressure
and even mental states, especially
when consumed in large
amounts, with alcohol, or by athletes. Higgins
and colleagues reviewed medical literature on
energy drinks and their’ ingredients between
1976 and 2010, only to find there has been little
research into their impact.

Some small studies, usually on physically
active young adults, have shown the drinks can
. .-
increase blood pressure and heart rates. But .
evidence of more serious effects such as heart
attacks, seizures and death are anecdotal, they
wrote.

Norway, Denmark and France banned Red
Bull after a study showed rats that "were fed
taurine and exhibited bizarre ‘behaviour, ineluding
anxiety and self-mutilation." "We’re
not rats, but consumption has been shown to be
positively associated with high-risk
behaviour," Higgins and his colleagues
wrote.

Energy drinks are often
promoted to, and used by,
athletes for an "extra push." .
But 1Higgins and his group
noted that based on the way
caffeine and some other
ingredients affect the body,
there’s a risk that energy
drinks can seriously dehydrate
users.

"The possibility of dehydration
and increased
blood pressure make water
or lower-octane sports
drinks, which contain electrolytes,
some minerals
. and carbohydrates, a better
choice," he added.
Non-athletes should
drink no more than one a
day, never mix them with
alcohol, and drink lots of 
water after exercising.

 
People with hypertension
should never drink them,
and people with health conditions
such as heart disease
should consult their doctors before
using the drinks. Regulation of the drinks could
go a long way toward solving potential problems,
Higgins added. "Manufacturers can put
whatever in them, advertise however and people
consume however. Whenever you have a
situation like this, you are going to run into
problems," he said. .. -YN

VIPs creating lawlessness on roads

 

Published: November 16, 2010

VIPs creating lawlessness on roads

 

If Talibanisation stands for militancy, weapons, lawlessness and uncivilized behavior, the Pakistan Army may as well forget the Waziristan operation and begin its charity from home – the DHA and Clifton areas of Karachi.

These areas are now in control of VIPs and their army of bodyguards who roam around in trucks and mini pick-ups. They often travel in a convoy with dozens of prohibited bore weapons. They violate all traffic rules, hit, push, beat or even kidnap any decent citizen who questions this lawless behavior.

While the illegal detention of a prominent city architect and scuffle with a PAF officer have been reported in the media because of high-profile of these individuals, there are hundreds of similar incidents that go unreported. While the citizens of Karachi may not have any immediate fear from the Taliban of Waziristan, they are already in a state of siege by the lawless ministers, parliamentarians and powerful members of the state.

Many streets in DHA and Clifton have been partly barricaded to provide security to these highly guarded but insecure people. Bilawal House in Clifton and the Home Minister’s House in DHA are just two such examples.

While the hungry citizens commit suicides, the state spends billions on protecting the ones that need the least protection. The citizens must unite and ask for removal of all ministers and parliamentarians from these areas, unless they can learn to obey law and behave like ordinary citizens. The DHA and Clifton authorities must be taken to task for failing to check the blocking of streets, pitching of tents, and presence of thousands of armed militants.

The corrupt police who never fails to issue challan to a poor person in a Suzuki or motor bike will never notice hundreds of stolen Sindh Government’s vehicles. Should we not demand sacking of the incompetent senior police officials just for this reason?

The Government is itself a party to this crime when it encourages these criminals and fake degree holders to behave like thugs and criminals.

MUHAMMAD UMAIR MALIK, Karachi, November 13.