Friday, 28 July 2017

The one about Jinnah the movie

Controversy Surrounding the 'Jinnah' Movie Project 
Jamil Dehlavi, London
Akbar S Ahmed, Pakistan's envoy to Britain, has been quoted as saying in an article appearing in the February18 edition of The News that he "is preparing to go to the fraud squad with counter-claims about Mr (Jamil) Dehlavi's handling of the accounts" of my film Jinnah. The article, which reproduced the investigations of the Guardian newspaper, made some inaccurate, illogical and even libellous allegations.
The fact is that I have already instituted legal proceedings against Mr Ahmed's company for monies he owes me, for not crediting me properly in the promotion and publicity of the film which I not only directed but produced and co-wrote, and for not submitting accounts for royalty payments due to me. Clearly I am unable to go into details about this matter since it is sub judice.
When the Guardian's investigative journalist Seamus Milne revealed that Farrukh Dhondy had co-written the script and that Mr Ahmed had not written a word of it, he should have put his hands up and admitted the truth: of course, the initial idea of making a film on Jinnah was Mr Ahmed's. I am not denying that. He told Mr Dhondy and me that he wanted to portray Jinnah as a liberal, even secular leader upholding the rights of minorities. True, he recommended that we read certain biographies. True. That he wrote one scene or one line of dialogue. False.
In the said article Mr Ahmed's accountant, Mohammed Ashraf, says that he has personal knowledge that Mr Ahmed wrote the script as he himself was present at a function in Selwyn College, Cambridge, in 1995 when Akbar Ahmed presented the 'third script' to his fellow company directors. What script is he talking about? Farrukh and I wrote the script in 1996. There was an earlier script by Guy Slater, which Akbar Ahmed himself scrapped when he approached Farrukh Dhondy. For creative and copyright reasons, Dhondy refused to even look at this former script. We started from scratch. Mr Ahmed read several drafts of our script which finally became the film. All these drafts still exist, with fixed dates, on Farrukh Dhondy's computer. Mr Ahmed does not have a single line scene on his.
Mr Ahmed does not deny that he took payment for script-writing for the simple reason that this transaction for £51,5000 to his offshore account in Jersey can and has been traced. He now tells The News that this was necessary "in order to protect his rights as co-writer failing which the other writer could demand the other half of the fee." What is this supposed to mean? 
Mr Ahmed made Mr Dhondy promise he would not reveal the fact that he was involved in the writing and paid him a very much smaller sum in cash. For my role in the script I entered into a contract with Quaid Project Ltd and got a third of what Mr Ahmed received. Who then could claim what fee?
Further, there is the question of £70,000 which Mr Ahmed paid to his son, a student at the time, and to his son-in-law. Having discovered these payments, the Guardian journalist asked Mr Ahmed what these large sums were for. The good professor now claims that his son and son-in-law were fairly paid for work on the film.
Any member of the production team will confirm that these individuals had nothing to do with the production. It was after the completion of shooting that Mrs Ahmed wrote to my company asking us for £70,000 to be paid to Akbar Ahmed as his executive producer fee. They instructed the production office to transfer this amount to their personal account in Jersey. Her letter stated that her husband's invoice would follow. When the invoice did arrive there were two invoices from her son and son-in-law. The same sum was now to be shown in their names. Through this device the executive producer fee payable to Mr Ahmed is still outstanding and on his own admission he is now claiming it as a deferred payment for the film's profits before the investors get their money back. Even if, as he claims, Mr Ahmed took over £120,000 out of the film's funds only to put it back, he has extracted the project's money with his right hand and lent it to the project with his left, using the film's budget to buy shares in its profit. 
Mr Ahmed states that with regard to the offshore Jersey account, all Pakistani legal regulations have been followed. Are Pakistani civil servants or high commissioners allowed to have offshore accounts? As far as the accounts of the film are concerned, they are undoubtedly a matter of public and official interest for Pakistan. Jinnah is not just another film; it is a national project subject to the highest standards.
Mr Ahmed's accountant Mr Ashraf claims that the accounts were audited by two independent firms of auditors--Brown, McLeod and Berrie and Baker Tilly. I would suggest that journalists should dig more deeply into the relation between Brown McLeod and Berrie and Mr Ashraf who appears to use that firm's name as his alter ego when it suits him. As for Baker Tilly, they are indeed a reputable firm of film auditors. However, they were not able to audit the accounts which could not be completed by the production accountant Peter Winstanley when funds ran out and he could no longer be paid. The fact remains that there has been no independent audit of this national project's accounts.
Mr Ashraf tells the paper that I am claiming "a small amount of money still owned to his company Petra which has gone into receivership." The amount I am claiming is £49,000, the residue for years of dedicated work. This may be a small amount for a rich accountant, but for an independent filmmaker like myself it's substantial. My company went into receivership because the Quaid Project did not honour a settlement agreement to pay back the credit I had obtained for the production when the Nawaz Sharif government reneged on its agreement to invest £1,000,000 in the film.
Mr Ashraf states that Quaid Project is making a counter-claim of £667,000 for recovery of monies overpaid and wrongly claimed by my company. Ludicrous. How could a reputable accountant like Mr Ashraf have allowed Quaid Project to overpay me almost a third of the budget?
The most childish and absurd reaction from Mr Ahmed in the face of perfectly legitimate and fair questions from the Guardian is that I am part of some "Indian lobby" determined to discredit him. The journalist's investigation is about money taken out of a film production. I am a Pakistani and proud of it. I welcome the anti-corruption, modernising manifesto of the present government. To be accused of being part of the "Indian lobby" by a supposedly responsible ambassador of our country is laughable. A high commissioner using this unthinking and short-signed response on what will be seen in Britain as a personal rather than a diplomatic matter can only bring our country into disrepute.
May I conclude by stating my view that the use of Farrukh Dhondy in the writing and of Shashi Kapoor and Indira Varma as actors as never seen by me as a weakness of the film, but as living proof that creative Indian artists were willing to participate in what must be seen as a national Pakistani project--one whose integrity it is important to defend. My film Jinnah speaks for itself.

The one about Pakistani history

Published early 2000 by Pakistan link
End of the Millennium: Reflections and Recriminations 
By M.P. Bhandara
Being born in the late 1930s qualifies this writer to be a robust citizen of the 20th century, old enough to have had Hindu class-fellows in his Lahore school before 1947. Partition seemed somewhat incredulous at the time and defied most imaginations. The British withdrawal was a botched affair. With hindsight it appears that the great massacres were preventable, at least in part. It was the great Punjab exodus and massacre which laid the foundations of permanent hostility between India and Pakistan. The subcontinent might have been a different place had the Sikhs been persuaded to remain in Pakistan. 
Be that as it may, one witnessed tremendous enthusiasm for the new homeland of Pakistan. I recall one such meeting in 1948 below the steps of the post office in Murree. The refrain, if memory serves me right, was: never mind the trauma of the moment, we are now free in our own chosen land. With the Quaid living, the common man had a feeling of great security. When the Quaid died, genuine grief stalked the land; public grief comparable to the grief that overwhelmed the US on the assassination of JFKÖ. 
One of my fatherís lawyers was the redoubtable Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, who had served a stint as prime minister of Pakistan; a Bengal politician of the first rank before partition. On my fatherís demise in 1961 it was my privilege to come into close contact with him. 
Suhrawardy was a prince among men. He had no care for wealth. He knew it was within his power to create the means of livelihood and more whenever he chose to exercise his legal acumen and brilliant courtroom advocacy. He was a perfectionist down to his fingertips. A man of style and great courage. 
Though he did not see eye to eye with Jinnah and was incarcerated when he arrived in Pakistan in 1948. When I knew him his lament was that he clearly saw the end of united Pakistan. On this he had not the least doubt. He was not a party to its ending: a helpless leader in a sea of young men who had given up belief in Pakistan. On more than one occasion he did mention that if only he had had a fraction of Ayub Khanís power as PM, he could have built the foundations of a durable Pakistan.
Suhrawardyís concept of Pakistan was that of a liberal democracy with near-autonomous states (with a weak centre) getting closer together over a period of time, not by fiat but by the needs of interdependence. Of all the rulers that I had the privilege of being acquainted with, I think, Suhrawardyís precepts were closest to Jinnahís Pakistan - Pakistan as a homeland for the Muslims of the subcontinent with the ethos of a Muslim state, non-sectarian, modern and democratic. 
Ayub Khan was perhaps the best ruler we have had. His great strength was balance - a hard-working builder with a vision for Pakistan. He was somewhat nepotistic - thanks to the pressures of his family - but on the whole a clean, corruption-free ruler. His limitation was his soldierís mindset in politics. I am of the firm view that a partnership between Suhrawardy, the astute politician with a real mandate from East Pakistan, and Ayub - the builder and administrator - who enjoyed genuine popularity in the West, was a dream ticket for Pakistan. But alas, that was not to be. Suhrawardy was incarcerated by Ayub and later to die in exile. 
Ayub, the moderate, finally succumbed to the pressure of the hawks around him, especially Z.A. Bhutto, to go in for the adventures of Operation Gibraltar and Grand Slam in Kashmir. Pakistan intelligence was a dismal failure. The Kashmir people in the mid-sixties were not ready to accept the fire that ëGibraltarí was to bring. Shastriís warning was ignored. Soon we were struggling to save Lahore. The adventure lost focus. 
From here onwards it was a straight line to Tashkent, Yahya Khan, the 16th December, 1971, Bangladesh, the 4th of July, 1977, and finally the 12th of October, 1999. 
I had an opportunity to befriend Ayub Khan after he fell from power and till he passed away would meet him at frequent intervals. It so happened that I was invited to have lunch with him on the 4th or 5th of December, 1971 - the opening days of the war with India. I asked him point-blank on this occasion if during his time in power he had seriously entertained the possibility of East Pakistan separating? 
His answer in brief was this: ìAs army commander in East Pakistan in the early days I witnessed an enthusiasm for Pakistan which was greater than in the West. Later as President I sent the Nawab of Kalabagh to Dacca to divide the assets of the PIDC. An ashen-faced Kalabagh reported on his return, ëSir, what the Bengalis desire is not the division of the PIDC but that of Pakistan. This will happen inevitably, but you must not be on the scene when this happens.î Which prompted the next question: ìSo when you handed over power to Yahya Khan on the 25th March, 1969, you had every apprehension that it was the end of united Pakistan?î ìYesî was the reply. 
Why was Jinnahís Pakistan allowed to fall? It was certainly not inevitable. In the final analysis Ayub Khanís democracy could not understand or embrace the entirely different ethnic or social character of East Pakistan. The centre was far too rigid. China has since taught us the concept of ëone country and two economiesí in the case of Hong Kong and Macau. 
Today, the East Pakistan tragedy is a non-event, buried in the debris of time. We wish not to be reminded of it; for that matter also Jinnahís concept of Pakistan. Poor Jinnah has died a death, over and over again, strung up as an icon on the office walls of our decision-makers. 
Whilst on the subject of Jinnah, I recall a fascinating meeting with Maulana Abul-Aíla Maudoodi at his Ichhra residence in the mid-seventies. The venerable old man at the time was hardly homo erectus - severely bent, I suppose, by old age and debility. Every now and then he would rise from his seat with alacrity to fetch a book from the shelves of his library in support of what he was saying. The Maulana was at pains to explain that Islam gave much more to the minorities than ìany oneî could give. Muslims could not interfere in the life of non-Muslims in an Islamic state; the only problem was that Pakistan was an Islamic state in name only. These remarks were in reference to the Quaidís famous speech of 11th August 1947. The odd thing about this interview was that the Maulana would not utter the words Quaid or Jinnah. It was soon clear that the ìany oneî referred to in the conversation was none other than the Quaid! 
One winter morning in 1982 I received an invitation from General Zia-ul-Haq to meet him in his office (which incidentally was my old office cum residence). He extended an invitation to me to be his adviser on minority affairs. I replied, ìBut I am not a minority, Sirî to which he said, ìAre you not a Parsi?î I nodded and added, ìBut my religion has nothing to do with the business of the state.î He laughed and said, ìI offer it to you as a Pakistani.î ìAccepted with pleasureî I riposted. Our relationship was off to a good start. 
Zia-ul-Haq was one of the most extraordinary men I have met. Power makes men arrogant, proud, short-tempered and corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In Ziaís case it seemed to have the opposite effect. The more firmly he was in the saddle the more benign he became. People would say that his extreme courtesy to all and sundry was a put-on job. I think not. I suspect he had a violent temper and he was determined never to let it loose. Unlike most rulers he would never dominate a conversation; an attentive listener who would put any interlocutor at total ease. His courtesy was legendary. 
I remember having Khushwant Singh as my houseguest shortly after Bhutto was hanged. He had come to interview Zia. The day before the interview Khushwant was rampant, livid with rage. I thought he would knock Zia on the head during the interview. Khushwant - a lord of words - returned silenced and bewitched by the charm of the man. Once during a cabinet meeting Zia was suffering from toothache; this did not detract from his usual courtesy and patience. 
Zia grew in office whereas Bhutto shrank. I think the later Zia realized that his earlier years were a senseless exercise in brutality. Ziaís referendum was a sham. It was a pity that the plethora of funds pouring in from the West in the Zia years were not allocated to basic nation building tasks such as literacy, population control, safe water for all and Ayub-style industrialization. 
In the final analysis, the Zia years were a waste. His Islamization was antediluvian, unacceptable to many, and severely damaged the rights and status of women. His Afghan policy was courageous. He should be immortalized by the Americans for playing such a large part in the unraveling of the Soviet Union. But, his regime was a paradigm of virtue, compared to the corruption of his successors.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

QOTD: Mushahid Hussain and reforming the armed forces

Nation, Karachi, Pakistan
5 June, 2001
Reforming The Armed Forces
by Mushahid Hussain
It is not perhaps surprising that the military regime's zeal for reform
remains limited to civilian sectors. Since October 12, 1999, the military
regime has been trying to revamp and restructure almost every state
institution with evangelical zeal - the bureaucracy, police, political
system, constitution, laws, sports, post office, railways, CBR, etc. The only
exceptions are the Armed Forces, although as Admiral Mansoorul Haq's case
demonstrates, the 'monitors' themselves need to be monitored and reformed.
Like any institution in a status quo society, the Armed Forces too badly need
reforms. And in a country like Pakistan, only a military regime can undertake
this task. A civilian government will, first of all, not be allowed to do it
and even if it tried, it would be destabilised. Making the Hamoodur Rahman
Commission Report public, sacking Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan or going to India at
the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister are easier for a military regime.
Civilian governments taking these steps would be defensive, promptly accused
of "treason", "sell-out" or being "anti-national". A recent cartoon in an
Urdu newspaper aptly summed up this double-standard: a bearded gentleman is
asked whether it is 'halal' or 'haram' for the government of Pakistan to talk
to India, and he answers "it is 'halal' for the military but 'haram' for the
civilians"!
Top priority needs to be given to military reform in key areas. First, the
issue of accountability and corruption as it extends to the Armed Forces.
News reports in the Pakistani press, which have not been denied, have stated
that in defence deals in the last 20 years, of approximately $ 10 billion in
purchases of military equipment, almost 10 per cent, i.e., $ 1 billion, has
been siphoned off through corruption, commissions and kickbacks. Obviously,
the beneficiaries of such largesse would be senior serving or retired
personnel. Last July, the Prosecutor General of the National Accountability
Bureau (NAB) was on record stating that of the "six dubious defence deals"
NAB was then supposed to be investigating, "in only one deal, kickbacks worth
$ 147 million were paid". Admiral Mansoorul Haq's extradition from the United
States is probably a link in the same chain.
The Admiral's case is somewhat special. He is the first Service chief, a
four-star general, to be caught with his "hand in the cookie jar". He is the
first to have been sacked on charges of corruption, and that too by a
civilian government. He is the first Pakistani to be extradited from the
United States. And he is the first four-star general to face trial in
Pakistan on corruption charges, and that too under a military dispensation.
Given the passion for accountability which the military regime has
demonstrated mostly in the case of civilians - politicians, bureaucrats,
businessmen - in the interests of across-the-board even-handedness, it should
make public the results of the NAB investigation into the six 'dubious'
defence deals that were apparently investigated a year ago, as stated by its
Prosecutor General. This would also belie those cynics and critics who feel
that the Admiral has been made a one-off example, show-cased for public
relations purposes, because as a navy man, he represents the weakest military
arm.
The second issue of reforming the armed forces is that of transparency in
non-combat defence expenditures, which is all the more important given
Pakistan's serious economic crunch with annual growth dipping to an all time
low of 2.5 per cent. If civilian budgets are made accountable for the way
money is spent or misused, the defence budget too should be subject to public
scrutiny. And some aspects of khaki ostentation are no longer congruent with
our economic realities, namely, large limousines or spacious mansions and
messes.
This transparency should be extended to other areas of policy, which have
wider implications. Even though delayed, the military regime made a good
beginning by publishing the Hamoodur Rahman Report although its contents
showed its military predecessors in a bad light. Similarly, the report
prepared by the Command and Staff College, Quetta, still classified but
available at its library on the 1965 War, should also be made public. These
events are part of our history, and people need to know what happened and
what went wrong.

The third area of reforming the armed forces is its recruitment policy, which,
for the most part, has been a colonial holdover. Recently, in a welcome
change, the Pakistan Army's Adjutant General announced the "first ever
rational recruitment policy" aimed at the interior of Sind and Balochistan.
The recruitment policies of the armed forces were derived from the British
colonial outlook that preferred recruitment from what were termed as "martial
races", a codeword for loyalty to the Crown, which basically meant a few
districts of the Punjab and the Frontier provinces. 
Bengalis, Sindhis and the Baloch were deliberately excluded, with the result
that while the Armed Forces may be national in outlook, ethos and
orientation, their composition has remained quite lop-sided with over 90 per
cent representation to just two provinces. Interestingly, while the Baloch
readily recruit into the Oman Army, they have token representation in our own
Armed Forces. And in over half a century, there has never been a Sindhi
general in the Pakistan Army. It is good that the military regime has
developed an awareness of this problem, and there are serious efforts to
rectify this wrong. Need we recall that one of the major grievances of the
Bengalis was that they were systematically denied entry into the Army on the
spurious plea that they were "physically not fit" to serve since they were
supposed to be short in stature. As one prominent Bengali intellectual
remarked, if height is assumed as an index of a 'martial race', then, by that
reckoning, what about an average Vietnamese being shorter than the average
Bengali! Today, the Bangladesh Army has been the first in South Asia to admit
women to its military academy as cadets.
Military recruitment is an important issue, and given the wider role of the
armed forces, it has acquired a political dimension too. It is no accident
that whenever there is a military regime, the smaller provinces see it as
akin to "Punjabi domination", mainly because of the overwhelming Punjabi
presence in the Army. This needs to be changed as part of a conscious and
clear policy, which should be enunciated publicly as well.
Finally, a caveat regarding a unique feature of the present military regime.
This is the first military regime that is not only ruling but also involved
in actual governance. That role is evident from the large-scale induction of
military personnel in civilian posts, a normal feature of any military
regime. More importantly, an organized, widespread Army Monitoring system now
serves as an autonomous watchdog over various layers of officialdom, somewhat
similar to the role of the Communist Party political commissars that were the
'eyes and ears' of any communist system.
A three-fold danger could result from such a situation. First, the
"civilianisation" of the military, reflected in different ways, all
detrimental to the services: erosion of discipline over time, seeping in of
corrupt practices, and a lowering of espirit de corps as the army interacts
intimately with civilians unlike the insularity of "cantonment culture".
Second, the civil bureaucracy is either supplanted or viewed with suspicion.
Third, restructuring Pakistani society without reforming the armed forces may
create a khaki-mufti divide in an already polarised polity. Military reform
should be a top priority, because when the elected governments return, as
they must by 2002, the armed forces status of a "holy cow", reinforced after
October 12, would preclude any possibility of attempting reform under the
mufti.

QOTD: Mushahid Hussain

Dug up these old articles by Mushahid Hussain. These should be preserved for posterity.

First up his press conference after Nawaz Sharifs Kargil dash to meet Clinton in 1999,

taken from the Nation Newspaper

Washington Accord a 'giant leap forward' on Kashmir 
LAHORE-The Federal Information Minister and the chief government spokesman Mushahid Hussain Sayed attributes the recent Washington Accord between President Clinton and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a "great leap forward" in internationalising the Kashmir issue.
Speaking at a forum held by The Nation/Nawa-i-Waqt , he came out with a strong defence of the recent initiative of the government and its policies and claimed the logical outcome of it was that, "Kashmir was no longer a status quo issue." From its simmering, dormant position, the recent Kargil conflict has made it erupt like a real volcanic issue which calls for its urgent permanent solution, he declared.
What more positive proof of Kashmir being a live real issue can be had when it has emerged as the main election issue in the current Indian elections, and even encompassing the US to become involved publicly in its amicable solution.
He termed the Indian stance reharding US as a "posture" for public consumption while in fact already some headway has been made in the new emerging policy based on the recent accord and its implications. He also rejected that any compromise has been made on Pakistan's stand on Kashmir or its position to lend moral, diplomatic support to the Kashmiri Mujahideen. The "Kargil conflict", he maintained, was symptomatic to the real issue, which if not resolved, would continue to re-surface and emerge through many more conflicts at other places throughout the Kashmir Valley. Following is the text of Mushahid Hussain's statement at the forum.
Federal Information Minister Mushahid Hussain credits Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with steering the country out of every crisis faced during his tenure. He declared that never before any government had faced so many problems and serious issues and managed to come out of them with success as the present government.
Many governments in the past may have come across serious issues but none faced such a multi-pronged attack of problems like financial, constitutional, political, diplomatic and even national security issues as the present government did and faced at so manfully.
He claimed that each crisis was tackled by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who he said, was quite different from the past leaders. He is not a leader of 'status quo' but with a 'revolutionary agenda' and has been able to get the country through each 'turbulence' with his uncanny ability and guts. Let us face it, the Minister said, that if any leader takes such bold initiatives like making Pakistan a nuclear power, bring about constitutional amendments to strengthen democracy, and moves for the upholding of rule of law, it is inevitable that his path would be paved with resistance. But quite undeterred by such obstacles the present government has managed to navigate the country through record number of crises faced during their two and half years tenure so far, and all through a democratic process. Replying to the question asked about the handling of the recent 'Kargil issue', he said if read carefully the joint statement issued after President Clinton's meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Kashmir issue has been "internationalised", as a result of it. He said that there was no compromise on this issue of national importance in any way as the appeal for the return of Mujahideen was confined only to Kargil Sector. As far as the independence struggle of Mujahideen was concerned in Kashmir, Pakistan not only considers it legitimate but will continue its moral, diplomatic support like before. importantly, he said the accord was able to defuse the situation and the looming threat of an Indo-Pak war was averted. The Minister did not agree with the assessment that there was a visible tilt by the US towards India, and claimed there have been stepping up of activities in the US in support of Pakistan's position on the Kashmir issue. Indians, he said, had already accepted the US mediation in the matter practically. He explained that one must be careful to see through what was "posturing" by the Indians to its actual policy, as for all intent and purpose they have accepted the policy of mediation.
Mushahid made it clear that until the Kashmir issue is solved according to the aspirations of its people conflicts like Kargil, would keep emerging. Today it is Kargil, tomorrow it may be Baramula, or elsewhere in the Valley. Through Kargil, he said, a clear message has been conveyed loud and clear to the world that Kashmir issue is crying for a just and an equatable solution.
The Minister also spoke about the massive and negative propaganda launched by the Indian media against Pakistan grossly falsifying the facts. However, he said, some leading newspapers of India too have come out with objective reports contrary to the official line of the Indian government. Replying to the criticism being directed at the PTV for its inability to rise to the occasion, he countered that if it was so poor why was it jammed and shut down to the Indian viewers by their government. Such a step is unheard of and not even former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany never stooped to such a position which has been taken by India. The stirring up of the war hysteria, he felt, suited the BJP, who effectively used the situation for its election campaign. As against it Pakistan all along has sought peace and the just solution of the chronic problem of Kashmir.
Mushahid said that Indian army was in fact battling against Kashmiri Mujahideen with the Pakistan Army defending the Line of Control, its international frontiers and its air space.
Asked about the diplomatic failure on the Kargil issue, the Minister explained that main brunt of the diplomacy was faced by the ambassadors and the mainstream diplomats with the Ministry of Information and its nominees providing the supporting role. He felt there was a need to beef up the embassies and overall diplomatic effort especially in some key areas where weaknesses existed at present. He conceded that some embassies had shown an absence of professionalism in the crisis. However, he refused to answer questions pinpointed at the utter failure and poor performance shown by the Pakistan embassies in US and UK, whose heads have been under fire by the national Press for poor showing.
Replying to another question he said that unlike India which failed to call a session of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House). Pakistan promptly summoned sessions of both the National Assembly and the Senate and arranged a thorough briefing by Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz. The Opposition was also included in the 'in camera' briefing and the Foreign Minister answered 200 questions to satisfy the members of the Houses, which resulted in unanimous resolutions in support of the government.
Mushahid Hussain said that Kashmir has emerged as the main issue in the current election campaign in India, which is proof enough of our stand that it remains as the core issue in the way of permanent and lasting peace in the Sub-continent. On top of it, Washington has been included in the process of solving Kashmir problem, something which never happened before.
Turning to India, Mushahid said that there are over 17 major movements and armed insurgencies raging across India, spearheaded by Kashmir as by far the biggest one. What is most important that most of these movements have expressed solid support to Kashmiri people, which was a testimony to the success of our Kashmir policy. Defending the government's Kargil policy, which has been widely opposed by various Opposition parties, he said, it was the statesmanship and success of the present government which saw the country through a grave crisis, gave it a new dimension and brought relief to the people by averting a looming war. Under the present circumstances, what else the people could expect from its government, he posed.
The Minister asked about the slanderous campaign launched by the Indians against the Pakistan Armed Forces through paid advertisements in US, said it was not necessary to respond in the same fashion. It is not necessary to answer a $100,000 ad with an ad on the same scale. But, we did take steps to counter it through a vigorous campaign of our own placing articles, write-ups and lobbying at the appropriate levels and other means. In the US a committee consisting of prominent Pakistanis like Dr Nasim Ashraf, Dr Maqsud Shah and Dr Pervez Shah, were in the forefront of a lobbying effort which interfaced with Senators and Congressmen and were able to achieve credible results.
Asked about the vibrations coming out of the PML(N) lately with some prominent members expressing voices of dissent, he said, theirs was a democratic political party. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he said, had implicit faith in democratic process and had the patience and capacity to tolerate and face divergent views. He has been sitting for hours at various forums to listen to the views and suggestions, even criticism, which he feels helps in strengthening the democratic process. The Minister was of the view that there was nothing seriously wrong to come across with strong voices of dissent from prominent party stalwarts which have appeared lately in the media.
The Information Minister and the main government spokesman, also ruled out that the Prime Minister was averse to confiding with his partymen on major issues and facing divergent views. Quite contrary to it, he said, the PM was all the time consulting his partymen and had also held consultations with his party colleagues before proceeding to the US recently. He also said that the proposal of National Security Council had been aired by only one person and at the party meeting no one either supported it or raised it.
Replying to another question about the confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan, he said it was a two-way process. Under the Simla Accord Pakistan and India had only met twice and without any tangible results. India, he strongly felt, needs to move under the recognised international principles to resolve the Kashmir issue. However, he was convinced that the recent events and importantly the Kargil conflict, more than anything else, has proved Kashmir was no more a "status quo issue" a position which Indians held so steadfastly all these years.
Mushahid Hussain also paid tributes to the role of the "Nawa-i-Waqt and The Nation", and notably the efforts of Mr Majid Nizami and Arif Nizami, in safeguarding ideological frontiers of the country.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

QotD: The King, Zia & Black September

'The King asked his friend Zia UK Haq, the Pakistani general - who later became President of Pakistan, and who was in Jordan on a military mission - to travel to the Syrian front and telephone an assessment. Zia Ul Haq introduced the Jordanians to some American slang in his reply, which they did not understand and asked me to decipher. When Rifai asked Zia UK Haq how things looked, he said, "I'm shitting green!" -Kings Counsel

Sunday, 12 January 2014

QOTD: Ayub Khan and Peshawar

'But why single out Qayyum Khan, he is a typical product of Peshawar city and those that imbibe its spirit. Barring a few exceptions it is the breeding ground of devious crooks and cheats. In my younger days I was at one time Brigade Major of the Peshawar brigade, As such I had many duties- amongst them the protection of water supply which came from Bara and was at that time subject to tribal attacks. Someone told me that Bara water was most wholesome for health. I agreed but added that it also provided the biggest crooks on God's earth..'

-Ayub Khan diaries December 1970

Sunday, 24 November 2013

QOTD: Clinton on heresy and faith

This is one of my favourite interviews with an American President.

My answer to that question is from a religious and philosophical point of view is that the heresy is believing that your faith is not only true, which we all believe, but that you can be, as a human being, in full possession of the absolute truth, turn it into an absolutely true political program and then decide that those who don't accept it are less than human and deserving of death.

So my belief is that all religious dialogue is possible if we recognize that we have something to learn from one another. Not that our faith is not true, but that we can't be in full possession of that faith in this lifetime as fallible human beings.
- Bill Clinton  September 23, 2006