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Watan Ya Kafan

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The Awami National Party (ANP) began its campaign with the slogan “Pur Amn Pakistan”. However, in the aftermath of the attack on the Bilours of Peshawar, an unofficial slogan came to the fore and has since taken over.

Watan Ya Kafan” (Country or Shroud) sums up the stance of a group that is bloodied and cornered but yet proud and defiant. Not only does it signify ANP’s resolve but it also pays homage to the choice made by more than 700 of its martyrs.

One would assume that such gallantry would elicit praise from all quarters. But that is certainly not the case. Instead, there exists quite a strong sense of resentment. Polls indicate that, and my personal interactions corroborate it. By and large, the source of this resentment seems to be ANP’s financial corruption.

This belief is mostly backed by anecdotes. And one particular line that is quoted as the ultimate proof is “Baba ta easy load ka”, alluding that during ANP’s tenure bribing Haider Hoti’s father was necessary for getting things done.

Ironically, many of my friends who are utterly disgusted with ANP’s corruption, seem to have a different yardstick for their own financial integrity. One will claim a substantial inheritance from a father who was known for taking bribes. Another, a Government servant, is infamous for not even pardoning relatives when it comes to “fees”. But then both are completely disgusted over Baba’s “easy loads”. And they have every right to be, because hypocrisy of critics should not absolve the ANP of its crimes.

It would be ridiculous to claim that the ANP government was not involved in any corruption, but by the same token it would be naïve to rely just on anecdotes to associate it with corruption at unmatched levels. If the accusations are true and corruption was that widespread in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, then some indicator somewhere should capture it. Especially when compared with other provinces.

The Transparency International (TI) Pakistan is one such source. Its surveys for 2009 & 2010 provide estimates of the annual average provincial corruption expenditures. For both these years the sample from KP had one of the lowest corruption expenditures among the four provinces. For 2009, Khyber Pakhtunkha averaged at Rs. 3,454, while Punjab was Rs. 19,959. For 2010, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the lowest among all provinces at Rs. 3,528, while the highest i.e. Punjab was at Rs. 17,791. This infographic has more detailed comparisons based on those statistics.

TI Pakistan didn’t consider these estimates in its provincial corruption ranking for 2010, as it was based on perceptions. It focused on just one question; for KP, the respondents were asked if the present Government (ANP) was more corrupt than the previous government (MMA). But here is the twist; for some odd reason TI chose Peshawar, Mansehra, Abbotabad and Haripur as representative districts for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

An anti ANP verdict from the Hazara division was inevitable, and this was presented as the perception of the whole province. This result was then used extensively in the media to label ANP’s government as the most corrupt. I wrote a more detailed piece on TI Pakistan’s methodology back in 2010.

While the jury is still out on ANP, lets focus a bit on this national obsession with corruption. Yes, corruption is a huge problem in Pakistan, but does it really overshadow terrorism? Last year, Pakistan had a total of 652 bombings leading to 1,007 deaths, that means an average of 2 bombings and 3 deaths per day! and this was one of our better years.

But yet survey after survey confirms that Pakistan considers corruption to be a bigger problem than terrorism. This is akin to a cancer patient citing a common cold as his biggest ailment. The difference between corruption and terrorism should be obvious from their respective units of measurement; rupees for corruption and deaths for terrorism. How big of a bribe can outweigh the death of one human?

The ANP’s biggest sacrifice is against the menace of terrorism. If it had followed MMA’s path, today some of its top workers and leaders would still be alive. But instead it took on the biggest monster of our times, and paid dearly for it. Ironically the ones so eager to bestow the title of “Pashtun resistance” on the Taliban refuse to even acknowledge this non-violent defiance.

Acknowledged or not, but the followers of Bacha Khan are meeting the standards that were set in Qissa Khawani in 1930, and Barbara in 1948. The villains might have changed but the resolve of these martyrs harks back to the days of Ghaffar Khan. It is a fact that the number of martyrs of ANP is comparable to those from uniformed outfits like the Frontier Constabulary, Police and Pakistan Army. Not a small feat for a political party.

However the comparison is really striking when done against other parties, especially the ones claiming ferocity of felines and natural disasters. This lot is faking complete oblivion to a danger that threatens the very existence of their proposed “Roshan” and “Naya” Pakistans.

Cowardice and opportunism seem to be the only apparent reasons for their silence. A convenient excuse is to declare the war against Taliban to be “someone else’s war”. But while Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan may have their own interpretations, Hakeem Ullah Mehsud has made it clear that his war is against Pakistan, whether its “Roshan” or “Naya” will not make a difference.

Today ANP has been left alone to fight a war for the survival and continuation of Pakistan’s democracy. After every bombing its battered leaders reiterate their demand for a timely election, one that their party is very likely to lose. It is a slap in the face of those who want to destabilize our democracy, but as a principled stance remains unappreciated by most Pakistanis.

Supporting the ANP doesn’t necessarily mean that one votes for it. Regardless of party affiliations the need is to provide a united front against the forces bent upon destabilizing democracy in Pakistan, and are presently focused on the ANP.

For those who still think ANP’s corruption doesn’t make it worth the effort, I propose the following calculation.

Step 1: Put a price on the life of a loved one.

Step 2: Multiply that price by 700.

Step 3: From this total subtract the biggest possible estimate for ANP’s corruption (make it KP’s entire budget if you may).

Lets see if the remainder is positive or negative.

An edited version appeared in The News on the 27th of April 2013 under the title “Terror, Corruption and ANP”

Written by Imran Khan

April 27, 2013 at 5:34 am

Polaroid Progressiveness

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God has created men and women to be partners in the development of civilization. They are the two wheels of humanity’s carriage which cannot run on one wheel alone”. (Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan)

This is in response to the post titled: “Whither “Progressive” Bacha Khan’s Wife? – by Yasser Latif Hamdani, originally posted at Pak Tea House and then at LUBP.

The way Mr. Hamdani presents his case it sounds like one of those “my daddy can kick your daddy’s ass” type of arguments, goes without saying, that growing out of such thinking is an essential part of growing up. But, it might be “understandable” if he had done it as a response to someone else’s equally childish comparison, but still, Pak Tea House and LUBP should know better than to print these comparisons of progressiveness that are based on paparazzi coverage.

As a proof for Ghaffar Khan’s progressiveness, Mr. Hamdani demands a picture of Bacha Khan’s female kin. I might be mistaken but Mr. Hamdani does imply that Bacha Khan had a problem with his female kin being photographed or for that matter being active in politics.

But as it turns out, Ghaffar Khan actually does pass this test of  Polaroid Progressiveness… and with flying colors I might add.

Begum Nasim Wali Khan, the wife of Abdul Wali Khan, and the daughter in law of Ghaffar Khan began her political career in the 70s. As per the requirements of politics, Ms. Nasim Wali Khan was not only photographed in public, but filmed as well. Following are some of these “proofs of progressiveness”, which hopefully will prove that Ghaffar Khan let his “chattel” be filmed and photographed in public, just like Mr. Jinnah did. Because according to this test, a man’s progressiveness is tied to the fashion sense of his female kin, the shorter their skirts, the more liberal the man (read owner). The assumption of course is that no woman out of her free will could choose not to be in the public eye. But anyway, let’s see the progressiveness of Ghaffar Khan, as displayed by his daughter in law.

Here she is sitting next to Gohar Ayub Khan

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pimu/3352685865/sizes/m/in/photostream/

Another one where she is sitting with a Mahrum as well as a “Na Mahrum”

Hugging her son in Public

Addressing a rally

And here is a video of her fixing a plate for Bacha Khan while hosting a lunch at her house, and then answering questions in an interview.

But what does this prove? That Ghaffar Khan is a champion of women rights? If that is the case, then the same could be said about Qazi Hussain Ahmad and his “progressiveness” given the publicly available picture of his daughter, Samia Raheel Qazi, as well as her videos.

Mr. Hamdani shouldn’t mind the hijab in this case, as he wasn’t asking for a picture of Ghaffar Khan’s wife in a “miniskirt”. Needless to say if a miniskirt is the standard of progressiveness, then the saris of Ms. Fatima Jinnah with her head covered also give a very “non-progressive” statement.

But what if Begum Naseem Wali Khan had decided not to participate in politics, and as the first female elected member from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, it is very likely that she could have been a housewife like her sister in law or a doctor like her daughter. What if she wasnt that easily searchable on google images or youtube? Should this then have been the proof of Ghaffar Khan’s lack of progressiveness?

Ghaffar Khan advocated gender equality and female education, at a time when only 4 out of a 1000 muslim women were educated. Not only did he start schools for girls, he also encouraged them to become members of the Khudai Khidmatgars (KK),  he was of the opinion that sons and daughters should get an equal share in inheritance.

He didn’t even spare Pakhtun customs, and as a very vocal critic of the practice of Wulwar (Bride Price), he used his own wedding as an example to discourage others from carrying out this practice.

The achievements of Ghaffar Khan in the name of women empowerment cannot be trashed just because there are no publicly available pictures of his daughter and wife. The same way, Jinnah’s efforts for female empowerment cannot be discarded because of his falling out with his daughter over the issue of her marriage.

Both Bacha Khan and Jinnah are icons of the independence movement, while both had their good as well as bad points, the subjugation of women is something that neither of them have advocated.

Written by Imran Khan

August 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

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