Tag Archive | "Irshad Salim"

Bilawal success depends such individuals getting closer to him



is may 18 2013 60px Bilawal success depends such individuals getting closer to himRiyadh, April 15 — On Friday April 4, some enthusiasts of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) met at the residence of PPP-Riyadh Secretary General Mohammad Khalid Rana, and engaged in an insightful discussion on Bhutto’s style, form and substance of politics – its strength and relevancy in the present day situation vis-à-vis the scenario that beset Pakistan and the Pakistani nation over 40 years back.

Instead of discussing and reminiscing Bhutto’s death on this day, I noted that almost all attendees talked of the present and attempted to establish intellectual linkages between events now and then – a healthy sign that Pakistani nationals are moving forward instead of looking back or over their shoulders.

Rather than discussing Bhutto — the personality — and events surrounding his rise and judicial execution, the participants focused on highlighting “Bhuttoism as a school of thought, a mantra, an animated expression of embedding the have nots in the national polity, a political instrument of aligning and regionalizing Pakistan’s strength with that of the Muslim Ummah on its periphery through diplomatic means called bilateralism,” observed Rana.

zab1 Bilawal success depends such individuals getting closer to him

I believe the welcome change that I noted in these individuals who have their pulse synced with current affairs back home has a direct correlation with the continuity of the political process whose fountainhead is and has always been representative democracy.

The narrative that political process based on democracy has failed or has been failed by the political class in the country has been proven wrong. “The nation paid the price socially, morally as well as politically leading to the creation of a mosaic-like situation albeit irregular patchwork quilt-type scenario rather than being a boiling pot of diversity in unity,” said Riaz Rathore, Advisor to President PPP Saudi Arabia. Now we all are united, moving forward, supporting each other for the sake of democracy and national interests, added Rathore.

Interestingly, “it was Bhutto who initiated and stage-managed the new social contract written in 1973 and his successor Zardari enhanced its relevance by signing the 18th Amendment in 2008, and in 2011 by assuring PM Nawaz Sharif and his government that come what may PPP will let them serve the masses just as Nawaz and his party had let Zardari government rule (2008-2011),” said Sardar Sher Afzal, Vice President PPP Saudi Arabia.

Bhutto exhibited similar statesmanship when he succeeded in getting the 1973 constitution unanimously accepted by all political parties. The same instrument is the Holy Grail that post-2008 civilian governments are hanging their hats on for political unity, survival and management. Sans this document that Bhutto consensually developed, it is hard to believe how the nation would have reacted and managed after Musharraf era that left it in a daze,” said Younus Nawab Ghalib, President of Pakistan Thinkers Forum.

zab2 Bilawal success depends such individuals getting closer to him

“Bhutto also succeeded in bringing the heads of all Muslim countries on one platform by holding the first Islamic Summit in the country in 1973. King Faisel of our brotherly country Saudi Arabia enabled it. Without his help and support the summit could not have succeeded”, added Ch. Farman Saleem, Vice president PPP Riyadh region. “It was a manifestation of Bhutto’s vision to see Pakistan and other Muslim states as one block, and united. Same philosophy (Third World Order) seems being practiced, added Sardar Naseer, Vice President PPP Riyadh.

zab3 Bilawal success depends such individuals getting closer to him

I was happy to note that these individuals spoke candidly about the weaknesses that led to PPP defeat in the polls and discussed freely how their party should move forward, serve the masses, engage the youth and the poor, and manage failure. Most participants conceded that by invoking Bhuttoism and Bhutto’s art of exercising connectivity – that’s amiss, PPP sympathizers can rally and establish contours of meaningful nation-building.

I wonder if Bilawal has such individuals around him. If not then he should reach out to this motley crew of Jiyalas who I saw practice critical thinking and youthful exuberance — unlike the creed of Caligula (Saudi Gazette, March 10, 2014). If Bilawal already have such individuals around him, then more the better.

For turning ideas into reality, a party the size of PPP needs such individuals now around its young Bhutto — and not later, when the electables could do the rest. ZAB formula worked then — it can work again.    (To be continued…)


The author, who is presently in Riyadh, is the Editor-in-Chief of DesPardes (despardes.com), PkonWeb (pkonweb.com), and Lahore Times (Lhrtimes.com).


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Posted in Opinion, Overseas Pakistanis, Saudi Arabia Comments

Nawaz bowls, Imran bats — with army behind the wickets


is may 18 2013 60px Nawaz bowls, Imran bats    with army behind the wicketsImran Khan has dumped his pet words: Nawaz-Zardari muk muka, Tsunami, poll rigging — and replaced the space with bouquets and smiles for his major opponent PM Nawaz Sharif.

Sharif’s visit to his pristine abode did it.

After months of disagreement, the Nawaz team finally managed to get on board the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief with its strategy of tackling the bloody seven year-old Pakistani Taliban insurgency — with Sharif in the captain’s seat and Khan as the co-pilot. The Pakistan army has reportedly assured them it will wait in the wings to take on the bad guys to insure peace talks yield results.

imran nawaz breakfast meet111 Nawaz bowls, Imran bats    with army behind the wickets

The United States, Afghanistan, and India have maintained unusual silence for the last few weeks; so has the drones — as the Pakistan dream team embarks on a road map for peace on its northwestern front.

Nawaz ate breakfast with Imran Khan, a day after refusing the Sindh Chief Minister’s request to join him for lunch during his visit to famine-hit Tharparkar.

Both the leaders who happen to rule the two-third of Pakistan know who’s coming to dinner, and have decided to walk the peace talks together. Both got catapulted in the Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the condition they will cut peace deal with the Taliban and make things happen so that the country’s backyard is secure.

Therefore, Imran’s 500-watt smile, as Nawaz walked into his residence, and shook hands with him while exchanging pleasantries, was not just a photo op but a reminder that the breakfast meet could jettison him into a tryst with destiny.

Sharif took the PTI chief into confidence on national security issues including peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban minus the renegades. The complex brainstorming session lasted more than 120 minutes according to reports.

After the discussions, Khan and Sharif — in an atmosphere reminiscent of Sharif’s meeting with BB in Saudia that led to the famous Charter of Democracy in London, announced that the Nawaz government was moving in the right direction with regards to negotiations with TTP.

“I understand that the government, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar have been working in the right direction under great pressure.”

Khan also assure­d Nawaz of suppor­t for milita­ry operat­ion if launch­ed as a last resort, thereby sending a joint message to the militants that the two not only agreed on the strategy but also on tactics and what would follow if talks failed.

raheel shareef jeep Nawaz bowls, Imran bats    with army behind the wickets

With moderates and secular parties’ unpredictable lukewarm support for peace talks, the two leaders also needed to close ranks and show solidarity in their pursuit for dialogues. Khan thus handed his debit card to his one-time cricketing friend with words and kindness. Whether Sharifs will remain to be his major opponents in Punjab politics going forward is yet to be seen.

“We want to be on the same page to face future challenges,” Khan told media after his open-door, open-sky meet with the Prime minister — his new partner.

Both leaders agreed that failure of dialogue would give boost to terrorism in the country. During polls both PML-N and PTI pulled votes on similar stand, but did not join hands due to realpolitik.

However, “If peace talks fail, then we always have the option of a military operation,” Khan said on behalf of both, while assuring complete support from his party and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the peace initiatives taken by the Sharif government.

Not only that, the PTI chief commended Nawaz government for having successfully divided militants in favor of peace talks and those against it.

“I congratulate the government on creating divisions among militants through dialogue process which is a major achievement. Now there are militants willing to talk and small groups opposed to the peace process.”

He said the army was capable to eliminate those militants who still wanted to fight and carrying out terrorist activities. “The federal government…was achieving good results,” Imran added.

regional peace mar 2014 Nawaz bowls, Imran bats    with army behind the wickets

So here we are on the brink of the combined statesmanship of two right-of-the-center leaders who had promised their voters and supporters they will pull Pakistan out of “America’s war” and bring peace in the country. Now they have a strategy: Peace by negotiating with the good Taliban and killing the bad Taliban — a strategy that was suggested to the US by Pervez Musharraf like it or not.

How will the success of peace talks with TTP if and when it happens pan out in the context of regional peace? The Pakistan military has backed the two leaders’ resolve to be humsafar and humnawa going forward, and said it will fight menace of terrorism within policy parameters set by the political leadership (of the two).

With the civil-military galvanizing into a potent force, will Pakistan’s neighbors Afghanistan and India — both having axe to grind — and other regional stakeholders, fall in line to congratulate Pakistan? While the US will be happy whether it withdraws forces from Afghanistan or leave a contingent in Pakistan’s backyard, others may not like to see the Taliban and Islamabad at peace. Therefore, a more difficult and complex situation awaits Pakistan when it sits with the regional stakeholders at a larger table for dinner — for sake of regional peace. With minus-Karzai Afghanistan, things may look brighter for Pakistan, but with a Modi India, the ride could be rocky and as unpredictable as the Russian roulette.

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Pakistan sees chance for peace after talks begin with TTP on Tuesday

NEW YORK/ISLAMABAD, FEB 4 (MAMOSA Report) — A preliminary meeting between the Pakistani Taliban and the Nawaz government gets under way in Islamabad on Tuesday after months of violence.

Negotiators nominated by the government and the Taliban are due to chart a “roadmap” for dialogue at their first meeting.

afghan pakistan taliban BBC Pakistan sees chance for peace after talks begin with TTP on Tuesday

BBC map photo

All eyes are set on the outcome, with many hoping that it becomes the harbinger of meaningful dialogues in the coming days for lasting peace in the country. But many analysts doubt that a peace deal can be reached, citing the insurgent group’s violent history, decentralized command structure and harsh ideology.

Washington Post has called it “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s most ambitious step yet to address Pakistan’s most potent domestic threat” as senior civilian and military officials have repeatedly said militants cannot “coerce” Islamabad into accepting their terms in the government-initiated peace process.

While announcing their 10-member negotiating committee led by Commander Qari Shakil for the dialogue, the Pakistani Taliban said they wanted four well-known politicians including ex-cricketer Imran Khan to represent them in talks with the government team. Some reports say the TTP wants these politicians to be members of an arbitration committee to referee the peace talks.

However, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said he will not be part of a team representing the Taliban in the peace talks. He said the Islamist militant group should choose “its own people” as representatives.

His party, PTI also made it clear that senior party figure Rustam Shah Mohmand was already on the government team and could represent the PTI at the talks.

In addition to Imran Khan the Taliban also named several hardline religious figures including Maulana Sami ul-Haq – known as the “Father of the Taliban” – on its team.

Others on the Taliban team include the chief cleric of Islamabad’s Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Aziz, and two top religious party leaders – Mufti Kifayatullah of JUI-F and Prof Ibrahim Khan of Jamaat-e-Islami.

While Khan said no, the three right-leaning politicians, indicated on local television they might speak for the militant group. Latest news is that JUI-F’s central leader Mufti Kifayatulllah would not take up the role.

Maulana Samiul Haq and two other members of the TTP-nominated committee, Professor Mohammad Ebrahim and Maulana Abdul Aziz, held a meeting in Islamabad on Monday.

Meanwhile, TTP on Monday said two more names are likely to be finalized soon for its committee tasked to hold talks with the four-member government-appointed panel.

The names of senior journalist Orya Maqbool Jan and investigation journalist, Ansar Abbasi are being reviewed for nomination, TTP spokesman Shahidullah told media.

But Abbasi has clarified that if the Taliban and government accept an impartial committee, he could join the same.

Apparently buoyed by developments, Prime Minister Sharif said on Monday, “Things are moving forward satisfactorily. Committees have been nominated and we are hopeful the process will gain momentum.”

Last week Sharif had addressed the parliament and surprised many by saying, “I am sure the whole nation would be behind the government if and when we launch a military operation against the terrorists, but I want to give peace a final chance.”

TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid Pakistan sees chance for peace after talks begin with TTP on Tuesday

If the talks are not successful, Nawaz Sharif has signaled that he may order a military offensive to regain control of tribal areas that are effectively under Taliban control. The civil-military leaders are on the “same page”, Sharif told lawmakers.

Sharif, who was elected in May after pledging to reach out to insurgents, has been under pressure from U.S. officials to crack down on militants and has faced withering criticism at home for appearing powerless in the face of continuing militant attacks.

His announcement of a commission made up of two veteran journalists – Irfan Siddiqui who is Nawaz’s adviser on national affairs and Rahimullah Yusufzai; the former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah and a retired ISI Majore Amir Shah has been generally welcomed.

While raising no objection to Sharif’s choices for the negotiating team, the Pakistani Taliban responded by announcing their own 10-member team for the dialogue process including a five-member “arbitration committee” to oversee the process consisting of the right-wing Pakistani politicians.

According to latest report in US newspapers, some Pakistani Taliban officials have circulated 10 demands they want to pursue in the talks, including a ban on women appearing in public in jeans or without headscarves, the release of all Taliban prisoners, immunity for the group’s commanders, establishment of Islamic courts, a complete withdrawal of the Pakistan army from tribal areas and compensation for the victims of U.S. drone strikes.

The list has shocked Pakistan’s political and cultural elite, Washington Post reported.

“If this is true, it will not be acceptable to very many people in Pakistan,” Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a former Pakistan army major general, said of the demands.

Dawn News quotes Professor Ibrahim as saying, “the Taliban would first demand the implementation of Shariah law in Pakistan and if the government really wanted to impose it in the country in a democratic manner, it could have easily been done in the past 65 years.”

Analysts caution, according to the paper, that Sharif’s government may not have much leeway to bargain with the Taliban. Although Pakistan’s constitution is rooted in Islamic principles and law, it also includes provisions guaranteeing the rights of women and minorities, it wrote.

Efforts to ban women from wearing jeans in public would likely run afoul of those principles, Khalil ur-Rehman Khan, a former Supreme Court justice told the paper.

Though it’s rare for women to wear jeans in rural parts of the country, it’s becoming more common to see young urban women wear them in public, it stated.

“Under Islam, you have to dress in a way that is not profane, or abusive, but that choice is given, and it’s based on how society accepts you,” Khan said. “And the culture of society changes with the passage of time, more education.”

Zahid Hussain, an Islamabad-based defense analyst, said Nawaz Sharif would also run into resistance from military leaders if he agreed to any prisoner release. Many military leaders are still angered that Taliban commanders freed under previous peace initiatives have returned to the battlefield, he said.

“There have been several peace deals with the Taliban, and none of them have worked, and I don’t think things have diametrically changed,” Hussain added.

Apparently taking notice of the rumor-mill on “TTP’s 10-demands”, the Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah told WP in a phone interview that, “We have not yet put forward any conditions or demands for the talks.” “If there is a list of demands in the media, that is not ours but may be someone else’s.”

That’s great to hear they have not put forward any demands but there are so many sips between the cup and the lip,” said Khurram Habib, an overseas Pakistani professional. (by Irshad Salim)

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Riyadh: Pak-O-Hindh Literary Forum Honor Sameera Aziz

RIYADH, JAN 31 (MAMOSA Report) – In a remarkable show of maturity, Indian and Pakistani literary and media personnel celebrated an evening with poetry in Urdu, slide show presentation on India-Pakistan similarities and differences, Naat, Hamd, Ghazal songs and speeches at a local hotel here under the banner of Pak-O-Hindh Literary Forum.

The kingdom’s fastest growing English newspaper “Saudi Gazette” was the media partner of the event.

5 Riyadh: Pak O Hindh Literary Forum Honor Sameera Aziz

Gracing the occasion as the chief guest was renowned media and journalism personality Ms. Sameera Aziz who is set to debut with Bollywood’s first Saudi female script writer, filmmaker and producer. Her maiden film “Reem” is expected to be filmed and released this year, she said.

poh x Riyadh: Pak O Hindh Literary Forum Honor Sameera Aziz

Born in the kingdom to parents – mother from Pakistan and father from Saudi, and grandparents from India, Sameera explained the storyline of her film and spoke at ease in all three languages – Urdu, English, and Arabic.

Other guests of honor were: Ms. Mahwish Qalbani, Astt Commissioner Multan; Prof. Shamsunnisa Syed, a renowned educationist; Mr. Irshad Salim, Editor-in-Chief of Despardes.com & Lahore Times; Mr. Muhammad Qaiser, President Tanzeem Hum Hindustani; Dr. Erum Qalbani, and Babar Ali from Saudi Gazette.

poh organizers Riyadh: Pak O Hindh Literary Forum Honor Sameera Aziz

From left to right: Mohammed Qaiser of Tanzeem Hum Hindustani; Javaid Akhtar Javaid of Hum Hain Pakistani; Waqar Naseem Wamiq of Halqa Fikr-O-Fun; and Akhtarul Islam Nadwi of Tanzeem Hum Hindustani

Seven Indian and Pakistani poets rendered Urdu poems whose form, substance, theme and rendition transcended geographical differences and political divide between the two neighbors. They were: Khawaja Maseehuddin; Abdul Razzaq Tabassum; Khurshid ul Hassan Naiyer; Waqar Naseem Wamiq; Izhar ul Haq Izhar; Javaid Akhter Javaid; Dr. Abid Ali.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Erum Qalbani articulated the essence of the evening with her poignant observation: “We have been separated for only 60 years but we were together for a thousand year”.

The slideshow presentation by Irshad Salim showing the similarities that far exceeded the differences between the two peoples of India and Pakistan was well applauded by the mature audience.

is sl3 Riyadh: Pak O Hindh Literary Forum Honor Sameera Aziz

Mr. Irshad Salim, Editor-in-Chief of DesPardes.com and Lahore Times presenting his slideshow on India-Pakistan similarities, dissimilarities

is sl4 Riyadh: Pak O Hindh Literary Forum Honor Sameera Aziz

Mr. Irshad Salim, Editor-in-Chief of DesPardes.com and Lahore Times introducing Sameera Aziz slideshow

is sl5 Riyadh: Pak O Hindh Literary Forum Honor Sameera Aziz

Mr. Irshad Salim, Editor-in-Chief of DesPardes.com and Lahore Times introducing Sameera Aziz slideshow

Naat by Abdul Razzaq Tabassum, Hamd by Omer Khalid and Ghazal songs by Asad Ali were other highlights of the event.

Speaking on the occasion, the President of Tanzeem Hum Hindustani, Mr. Qaiser said, “The purpose of the forum is to hold (Urdu) literary and social programs by drawing Indians and Pakistanis together.”

While the show was compered by Javaid Akhtar Javaid, President of Hum Hein Pakistani, the event was coordinated by Waqar Naseem Wamiq of Halqa-Fikr-O-Fun.

The event was sponsored by Al Abeer Medical Center which owns and operates several hospitals in the kingdom and in GCC managed by staffs mainly from India and Pakistan.


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Bilawal success depends such individuals getting closer to him

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