Saturday, 20 July 2013

End of battle at NA 250

By: Kanwal Abidi

A clash of titans was predicted in this NA 250 - an important constituency for all political parties. After many protests and demonstrations, ECP declared re-polling at 43 pooling stations of NA 250, PS 112 and PS113. 
Already a battleground for political parties, at the end it turned out to be a one sided affair at the re polling. A total of 180 polling stations were enlisted in this constituency. Law enforcement agencies took charge a day before on 18th May 2013 and Sindh police officials were made to stay over night at all the premises of 43 polling stations. Army and Rangers took on to roads to ensure law and order around the vicinity.

Early morning the ECP workers started coming in at 6.30 am - well before the polling time at 8.00 pm. The voters were seen to come to their respective polling stations with great fervor and interest. Small children were accompanying their parents. The parents quoted that “if their children will see the adults voting, then they will be inspired to vote for democracy when they grow up!” Few children volunteering at PTI camps were seen giving juice packs to the children accompanying their parents. A 12 year old was seeing being sarcastic as he shared his view with another child of same age “why is re-polling being done at 43 stations only? And if rigging did happen then shouldn’t whole Pakistan be having re-elections and where was army that day? – He left a question for all of us.

The largest polling booth was seen at DA Degree College for Women. Here 5 polling stations were in one college. (140 to 144) and the number of registered voters here was 10536 and a 35% turnout was witnessed. People started coming in late as they said they wanted to ensure that it is safe to come out of their houses. By and large, everyone quoted this re-polling process peaceful. But said that it is like a one sided game where the batting is been done on home pitch. However, at polling station, DHA Model School # 148, some women voters were seen complaining about the electoral process- primarily they could not find their names on the voters list. At 5.00 pm sharp, gates were closed and the counting began with army seen inside at every polling booth – doing their duty as if guarding the border of Pakistan. An army official quoted that on 11th May 2013, they were not allowed to step inside – but on 19th may 2013 they were empowered more than their own expectations. Counting was a smooth process and all the ECP officials were seen doing their duties efficiently.

Electronic media was seen with DSNGs’ and reporters all eagerly waiting after 5.00pm to break the news to the public. Law enforcement agencies were at peace and seen smiling around but wore a tired look as most of them were giving 24 hour duty. The buzz around the polling stations by PTI workers and polling agents started giving them fruits of their patience by a victory sign. Around 7.00 p.m , when the counting was done and the ECP female staff came out of polling station # 144, I was busy writing notes, when I felt a hand on my shoulder, I was asked which channel, I belonged? I politely, replied – addressing as her “Respected Madam, I have a pen and paper”- she turned off in search of cameramen. She returned to me and said that she is looking for some one to break the news that their daily wage of Rs 1300 as promised by the ECP to give to the re-polling staff was not full filled. A female was quoted saying “every rupee we earn is important to us – so Rs 1300 is a big amount for them!” They came to their duties at 6.30 am and were promised to be given money in cash after the counting finished. But they returned to home in anger as they were asked to report to city court on Wednesday 22nd May 2013 to collect their payment in lieu of their re-polling duties. Seeing this commotion, a few police officials confided that on 11th may 2013 their one day wage of a constable (Rs 400) and ASI, Head Constable (Rs 550) was cut by the Sindh Police that they would be given food to eat that day, even on 19th may 2013 their one day wage was cut. A police official quoted that “whole day we took tea and biscuits – as they were not even allowed to go out and fetch food”.  

The elected people from NA 250 and PS 113 and PS 112, please take these points to start your battle to end corruption in 90 days. Now time has come that what you claimed for, you need to deliver it too.  A 90 day corruption free plan – can it un-earth deep rooted problems in our establishment and system? A change is now in air where citizens have become street smart and will not keep silent. The battle ground of NA 250 has ended in electioneering but the next battle to keep up to people’s expectation for a “real change”- now starts!

Politically Yours - 11th May 2013

Politically Yours!
Good Luck to new cabinet but, fulfill your claims!

By: Kanwal Abidi

The end of electioneering saw the mayhem of 11th May 2013 which triggered a series of rigging and power politics game. The 100 meter race of jalsas, corner meetings, political lounges at hot shot clubs are over now – but, only to do a second round on a relay track.

I will quote an editorial excerpt of Late M.A.Zuberi – as I have always admired him for his courage and consistency with which he has written golden words – only if any of the leaders now care to read it and understand that they need to be “ethically sincere!”

“we have failed to organize well disciplined political parties with proper rules and clear objectives, faithful registered, membership who would work and propagate their point of view peacefully and without violence, who would consider all issues fairly and objectively, work out agreements patiently and sensibly, give all sides equal opportunity to air their views and let the will of one prevail upon the others through recourse to free and fair elections held in peace and without violence. And all this is not all. The victor has to ensure most scrupulous, fair and honest balancing of his own views and that of the opposition……………………………we ask all those who claim to represent the people, wherever they are, to analyze the situation, channel their patriotism into civilized actions and subject themselves to the majesty of the people’s will.”
                       Late  M.A.Zuberi (January 30, 1985)

This Election 2013 was an outclass match, where rigging was done on home ground by the players hitting their shot from the opponent’s batting line! When a match is fixed, it also has its certain “evil” principals. But the fiasco of this Election 2013 reflects a cocktail flavor where the blender machine got electrocuted. But, taking the Pareto Principal into consideration of 80:20, then credit should be given to ECP for conducting them on time and sailing their boat through the stormy day of 11th May 2013. Astonishing fact is that pre-poll rigging was also done – where certain fundamentalist did not let the all time favorite players do the net practice. The re-polling has been done in certain constituencies and people now settling by and large with the fact that yes – Elections 2013 are over and new government set to take its oath on 1st June, 2013.

The start off is with great zest and determination of the elected “clan” – which shall soon form a cabinet. Though KPK - by and large would be a large area to rule by the new players but if their net practice is not strong, and then the arrogance will be at par with the Israel arrogance of steel welding of Arab unity. However, the gigantic Punjab would be smooth to run for the elected “clan” but they need to watch out on South Punjab side. The pitch is damp there. In Sindh, the passive players turned out to be the clean sweepers. With no conspicuous public gatherings, posters and banners hung around every corner, their “jialas” did hit six runs by getting more than expected seats overall. They will prove to be strong repellants to the elected “clan” – however, mospel liquid of climate “change” will not make difference to their protective layer. And neither, they can catch dengue – as they are seasoned players and politicians in all senses. The Balochistan will also follow up with the elected “clan” as they are tired of their insurgencies and inner sectarian clashes; they also need peace like any of us.

This reminds me of a peace message by ending of the famous film “Terminator”, the machine (Arnold Schwarzenegger) destroys himself to protect the humanity – “if a machine understands the value of human life – then so can we! Therein, is a message to our new cabinet - to protect and value human life!

However, our nation’s respected leaders, I wish you best of luck and its not only high time but also the right time to get our country out of the problems existing at grass root level – where a common man ask for his right of survival – let luxuries be only a dream in his sleep!

Politically Yours
(For starters - give a peaceful sleep to us by restoring light so we can dream peacefully! The full menu will come itself in front of the public, and hopefully when the desert is served – you won’t forget your dear nation)

Citizen of Pakistan

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Evils of Taxation on our Lives!

Will our graves be – Taxed?
BY: Kanwal Abidi

While having breakfast at Dunkin Donut, I was hitting the keys of laptop to get connected to wi-fi – when sound of murmurs and giggles caught my attention. After finishing the mocha coffee, I struggled to finish the official presentation, when I couldn’t help over hearing a conversation. Glancing back, I saw a young couple, from a well to do family – they were openly discussing “how to elope?” I admired the girl’s courage to talk in public about sensitive issues – primarily then I realized it was so early (even birds were shying to chirp, chirp) that none of her family members could have possibly been around. They both looked as if hiding from world and trying to build a world of their own. I thought, they were in some kind of trouble, but they were victims of “being taxed?” The boy sitting with her looked concerned and worried. Why – because they had to marry and with the hotels / halls and wedding arrangements / food being taxed, the young couple looked lost and despaired.

I stood up and joined them – as an uninvited guest. The girl revealed to me, that her tailor had also threatened not to give the bridal clothes – as he said “bajee abh, sewing machine pe bhe tax ho ga!” - was that tailor’s sarcasm or qualitative impact of budget’s announcement? The boy was complaining that his family was putting lot of demands on him in wedding arrangements which was beyond him and then he said 100s of people come from everywhere to attend the event – so all cups of teas will be taxed (as milk price gone up). After conversing with both of them, along with few touches of heated debate – I got up to leave, when the girl hugged me and said “I hope this conversation and air we are breathing is not taxed!” I sheepishly smiled and whispered in the girl’s ear – “better to elope than to give your future husband’s money to our government”. She had a spark in her eyes, whose gleam will stay with me till long and remind me to pray that oxygen in air remains tax free. I left as one of their pre-wedding – distinguished guest.

However, while driving to work from Dunkin Donut – I thought that as the month of Ramadan is here – even preparing iftaree will be cumbersome effort. I can see one qeema samosa selling at Rs 15 to Rs 20 per piece, not to mention what will happen to rooh afza, price of dahi, fruits, dates etc etc! It is sad and harsh reality that even “”worship to ALLAH”” is moving towards the path of inaccessibility because of “evils of taxation!” Our leaders have forgotten the number of times ALLAH has instructed and mentioned in Holy Quran the aspect of “equal distribution of wealth” – had this principle being followed – we would be breathing air of “free tax zone!”

I stood at the signal waiting for green light – when I thought how our Prime Minister “implicit or explicit” terms with Saudia Arabia – could make “Air around Makkah” – tax free. Not to forget the purchasing of oil containers will be gamed up to strike 3-3 for making personal bank statements of politicians stronger. The heavy cost of $5.30 billion of IMF funding is the foundation laid for more “power politics” to embed in the financial system. Instead the Federal Minister Ishaq Dar should have made efforts to hire expert financial consultants and economists from International community to come up with sophisticated tax collection methods, rather than tax evil to be shifted and burdened on common man – which shall permeate the already corrupted political-economic system, and it’s qualitative impact adding on to the misery of the common man.

When I took off from the signal, a remembered my basics from economics class – I wondered how Ministry of Finance can forget such foremost lesson:

“The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising inflation.”    Thomas Sowell
Time has come now to get up and do something. We as citizens cannot allow ourselves to be manipulated in the name of the game that there is “no federal treasure!” We have to lobby with the parliamentarians that “kindly, look up the dome of the parliament house – where 99 sacred names of ALLAH is there to make you think for common man’s benefit, not to slain him in the name of tax.”
The parliamentarians use the National Assembly halls to wear branded clothes and flashy watches (a prominent MNA wore a 4.9 Billion dollar watch and its picture also flashed on one of our private TV talk shows). This is over and above my understanding that such an expensive watch – why? Can you Mr or Ms MNA – denote it for the cause of common man? If you shall denote that watch - I promise, I will vote for you in the next election – in a “rigging free zone!”
How can Finance Ministry forget the nation’s precious asset - “employees of the Government” and then later increase their salaries in the bracket of 10% to 15% - was it a “Miss and Hit Strategy” to give intra cabinet’s financial system a “credit chain?” I think, they need to work on the equity / liability equation to realize the “value of true asset” – common man (tangible asset) and not to forget the intangible asset being the goodwill of our country Pakistan – which I think is a deferred cost for next generations to come and repent on our burdened “fiscal deficit!”
I was so engrossed in trying to come up with some equation where our goodwill is enhanced, that I didn’t’ realize I had crossed the red-light at the signal. It reminded me of Sarin Gas which Syria used and consequently, US issued the red alert warning to Syrian regime. The current budget of Pakistan is more dangerous than Sarin Gas – as mostly it has left us with “no residual income” at the end of every month.
In crossing the red light, I had used emergency breaks on my car, otherwise I would have crashed into a truck which was stranded on the street (another issue which is ignored are huge trucks stranded around corners – which results in accidents). I thanked ALLAH and heaved a sigh on being safe.
Nevertheless - I thought, I had died and gone up, now waiting for a new tax to be levied on my grave. If it was in the capacity of our government, indeed they would “tax our graves!” (The tomb stone that carries our names with span of life will be handed to our heirs after being taxed……..)


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Field of Soul (A thought provoking poem on search of soul-mate)

Field of Soul !
By losing myself
I want to win
The path of field!
Where the pastures
Are not green
Are not warm
Yet, serene!

I want to over throw
Fear of winning
The world’s wealth!
As soul is
As soul is
As soul is
Immeasurable! ….
The soul search
Leads me to
Unexplored field!
Where immaculate love
Exists ---
Where immaculate soul

Patience is virtue
When soul follows
The truth … on earth!
To a path
Leading to success in life
Which is yearning?
Death in your arms
To awaken
In a Field ---
Where the journey
To next world
I call upon
Yonder ----
To awaken
My love in you! …
So await me!
In the …

Field of soul!


Kanwal Abidi (This poem has been written for those who seek true love and soul mate)

Women Parliamentarians of KPK

Women Parliamentarians of KPK vow to bring a “Socio-Economic” Change!

  • QWP launches the idea of “Women Parliamentary Caucus- WPC” in KPK
  • PPP will cooperate in national interest
  • PTI MPAs – Family party of CM and Speaker of Assembly - KPK
  • Jamat –i-Islami to work on hospital projects
  • Use of banking sector to mobilize funds for grass root level change

By: Kanwal Abidi

Being driven by winds of change, I thought to head towards to KPK to meet the female leaders of yonder years. After days of lobbying with my family to allow me to travel to KPK – I got excited on getting the permission. I packed my bag – bought a long chaddar and as I was already present in Islamabad for the 1st June 2013 National Assembly session – so, I took Daewoo in the wee hours of 30th May 2013 and I chose to land in KPK on Friday, 31st May 2013. I was aiming to meet all the female leaders of KPK. The juma namaz break at the provincial assembly gave me an opportunity to talk to them – 22 female MPA’s jointly agree to bring a “socio – economic change”.
                (10 PTI, 3 PML (N), 3 JUI, 2 QWP, 1 JI, 1 ANP, 1 AJI and 1 PPP).

Just before the namaz break started, few female MPA’s started escaping the desk of assembly and chose to relax in the common room! I also followed their pattern and went into their designated female room. Being cordoned off in a big room – gave me a pre-assessment of the mind set of the gender isolation. I was shocked to see the ambience of the female designated official common room. A government girl’s college canteen could wear a better look than KPK’s provincial assembly female room. The way the sofas were arranged against the wall of the room, with an empty space in between – so much so, it looked like a mocking imitation of an elderly mosque.

I made myself seated on a sofa looking like an alien. As before the assembly session was adjourned for the namaz break – 2 female MPA’s were seen making calls from a PTCL phone, by their burqa clad appearance they looked from JU party. As I waited for all to come in, a well dressed lady in red came and sat beside me. The moment she came in – 2 men came inside the room (No man was allowed inside except the tea boy). He said salam to her – and then in pushto they both exchanged greetings. She looked like a seasoned politician by her body language and also the way the tea and biscuits were served – it was evident that she was group head of the clan. She spoke to me in a courteous manner. She was NIghat Orakzai – MPA , PPP (Vice President of Women Wing), KPK. Candidly she talked about the problems as being in the opposition party and said she has plans to work in the national interest. She strongly condemned drone attacks and said that “PTI claims that the drone attacks issue and responsibility rests with the Federal Government – she also strongly commented that NATO supply should be stopped!” However, she said that a period of 3 months will determine the PTI’s promise to deliver to the nation – their promise to stop the drone attacks – otherwise the mandate they got on its basis would prove to be a failure. However, she made one statement clear to me that PPP will work for the betterment of the province and overall cooperate with the opposition in the national interest.

She smoothly sailed off the room – and said she is going on early break home and didn’t stay to hear the CM speech which was scheduled at 3.30pm. Her stance really impressed me. Only to be followed by another 2 powerful MPA ladies of KPK who belonged to QWP - Anisa Zeb Tahirkhali and Ms Meraj Hamayun Khan. They both vowed to bring a socio economic change through launching “Women Parliamentary Caucus” in KPK. It would be a forum working on the issues related to health and education and financial empowerment of women. They were so enthusiastic they even asked me to bring NGOs and other related agency to KPK for this issue. Also these 2 QWP ladies suggested that in their agenda is to bring computer education and female vocational training. They were so eager , in fact they also have plans to install computers in KPK provincial assembly and they was theys aid we want WI-FI here in the assembly so we can browse the internet ( I was impressed and in heart wished them – no male MPA of KPK – I talked to 11 male members - no one mentioned computers ). The way ANisa Zeb said WI-FI and laughed not PTI’s Hi-FI (I saw a spark in her eyes) – she said educating women and keeping pace with the digital age is the path towards success of socio –economic change

After having an interesting conversation with QWP ladies, I started to engage in some conversation with JUI and JI women – but their veil on face (and veil on their mind and thoughts) made me impossible to talk to them. After lot of insistence that I have come from a long way – she spoke about their party’s work in Nowshera and urged that in previous government lot of hospital projects Jamat-i-Islami started but due to non availability of funds they are left in lurch. So please note this PTI – If you want tsunami to be really seen in KPK – then you would have to float the budget too which will be allocated. Do not focus too much on “overseas investment”  and one window operation – and Jahangir Tareen - please use the banking sector to bring a “socio – economic change” rather than concentrating on how to bank upon the AML (anti money laundering) and KYC (Know Your Customer). Time is to Know Your Citizens!

Then I went and sat with the PTI women who were having tea. Amongst the 10 PTI females, 3 women hailed from the Khattak family, so I avoided talking to them as it would waste my time – only to be followed by the family members of Asad Qaiser (Apeaker of the Assembly KPK). However, an interesting and a enthusiastic, female PTI MPA - was Dina Naz – President PTI, Women Wing – South KPK region. She vowed to implement basic education policies and work on the livelihood for widows of those men who died in the bomb blasts. She also wanted to work in order to change the mind set about the females that they need to be educated and given equal standing. When I asked about their dual strategy of bringing women on streets at NA 250 in dharna at Three swords in Karachi, whereas in KPK in a particular area where the women were not allowed to come out of their house and vote – what will they do to change the mind set – she hurriedly answered this is the responsibility of male MPAs to bring issues of tribal areas in light. I smiled silently in my mind – and then she took my diary in hand ( a thing which I never experienced ) and said “bajee, I am writing these points on paper – heading wise, please print in your newspaper and then call me when it is printed , I will take its cutting and place it on my face book ( hint for readers – a point which MQM has been trying to say since long about the aggressive social media war and in general the obsession on facebook of PTI ) it is a mania which needs to be stopped as much as drone attacks should be!

However, then an “implied” slogan, synonymous to hearing of court was enchanted in the lobby of the provincial assembly that “Juma khatam – sab andhar jao”. All females made their way inside the assembly session for CM – Pervaiz Khattak speech. I sat for a moment inside the common room and reflected on my thoughts – which I want to address to Imran Khan – PTI Chairman, as I was seriously concerned about the future of females in KPK:

v     “Please note that the 22 female MPAs by and large are eager to work for a socio economic change – give them a chance to work! For starter, serve them hot soup in the shape of computers in the assembly session and in the full course menu give them a forum like WPC and in dessert ask your male MPAs to provide resources for social and economic mobilization. And for a mind set “change” about females, ask your male members to give them coffee! In fact coffee should be grinded with mocha beans – which can stir out a statement to all the men of KPK - a reminder that “I was trapped inside woman’s womb – before, I became a man!”

v     Therefore, “kindly do not think in tsunami perspective but aim for a peaceful and a serene ocean - where the land of the ocean does not get displaced and spill the water all over the KPK – and  your clean sweep becomes a knock out, where PTI wickets fall down”.
                                               (Fauzia Kausuri is your 1st wicket down).

v     On the 1st priority fulfill your mandate of Drone Attacks and do not hide behind Federal Government umbrellas and Social Media wars. Come forward and stop NATO supply and give empowerment to your females and educate them – only then people, not just in KPK but in Pakistan and in International Community too can say something positive about your real “change”. And in your internal set up, take close watch on your overseas counter and inner organization cash flow, before PTI becomes liquidated.