Saturday, 24 November 2012

A leaf from history: The London conspiracy?

By Shaikh Aziz

During the second year of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government, one fine morning the news media flashed a report titled London Plan. Since then the term has become synonymous for intrigues and sedition. Was it a fact or a drama that was staged to malign the Pakhtun leader Wali Khan and his National Awami Party (NAP), or an attempt to extend PPP rule to the province where the NAP had a coalition government with Mufti Mahmood’s Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI).

The government claimed that the discovery of an arms cache from Iraqi Embassy in Islamabad was a part of the conspiracy to break Pakistan and create a greater Balochistan by annexing Iranian Balochistan with Pakistani Balochistan. The arms were reportedly meant for the separatists of Pakistani Balochistan. Later it was added that the NAP was working for independent Pakhtunistan.
The NAP Baloch leaders, Bizenjo, Mengal, Gul Nasir v Wikipedia

It started in September 1972 when Kausar Niazi, the information minister and a close confidant of Bhutto, claimed that NAP chief Wali Khan and his colleagues had hatched a conspiracy to break Pakistan into semi-independent units. He alleged that this occurred when Wali Khan visited London for eye treatment. It was claimed that then Balochistan chief minister Attaullah Mengal and Balochistan Finance Minister Ahmad Nawaz Bugti met Bangladeshi prime minister Shaikh Mujibur Rahman in London and discussed the plan.

This was corroborated by a speech by the Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti at Mochi Gate, Lahore, on January 31, 1973, claiming that Wali Khan and Attaullah Mengal had told him about the ‘Greater Independent Balochistan’ plan through which Balochistan would gain independence. He also claimed that the assistance for implementing the plan was coming from Greater Balochistan Centre in Baghdad. (We have never heard of any such centre in Baghdad, Iraq. It was all an orchestrated plan by ZA Bhutto to dissolve the Balochistan’s (non-PPP) government at the orders of Shah of Iran).

The reports about the London Plan appeared in news media in Pakistan as well as in the UK, which created a stir among the general public as they were just coping with the shock of separation of Bangladesh. Bhutto asked for an explanation from Bizenjo to which he reaffirmed loyalty with Pakistan but could not satisfy Bhutto. Subsequently, the Balochistan government was dissolved on February 14, 1973, while the KP government resigned in protest the next day. Wali Khan, Attaullah Mengal, Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Khair Bukhsh Mari, Mir Gul Khan Nasir, Habib Jalib — in all 52 activists were arrested.

The situation became very intriguing as NAP leaders rejected the government claim and said that the ploy was hatched by the then Interior Minister Abdul Qayyum Khan. When the story broke out in a London newspaper, Shaikh Mujibur Rahman on his own told The Times that the news was baseless and that it was engineered by the central government which wanted to create an excuse to dissolve the NAP-led KP government.

On the face of it the whole episode appeared to be a well-planned fiasco. It appeared true that the arms cache was meant for the Baloch activists but who would have distributed it? This could not be established. An open debate in the National Assembly was not allowed on the ground that it was a sensitive issue and involved a foreign Muslim country; this closed all possible explanations that could have surfaced.

One proposed argument sounds plausible: the Bhutto factor. The experience of the past 10 months proved that Bhutto did not like two border provincial governments in partnership of the NAP. Despite the Tripartite Accord with the NAP and JUI the centre did not fulfil many conditions that were agreed upon on March 6, 1972. Both the provincial leaders had been complaining about it but nothing was being solved. The interference in provincial matters was irritating both the governments. All that the NAP wanted was greater provincial autonomy and less interference in the working of the provincial governments.

Hyderabad Conspiracy trial via Doc Kazi flickr
In the light of these developments, what was the truth about the London Plan? As the scheme of things unravelled, the plan seemed a well-conceived mechanism to slander the NAP leadership and its partner JUI. This was achieved. With the Presidential rule clamped, the ruling party had been able to break the party structure.

Later, a Hyderabad Tribunal was set up to investigate the allegations and prosecute those found involved in seditious activities. Since prosecution did not have ample evidence the proceedings remained almost dormant. Soon Bhutto got entangled in such a political mess that it led him first to become a hostage at the hands of Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) and later his hand-picked army chief Gen. Ziaul Haq who overthrew his government and sent him to the gallows. The Hyderabad Tribunal was wound up and all detainees were released, but only after rotting in jail till 1979.

-originally published by the Daily Times of Pakistan 31/10/12 . republished with permission for information purposes

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Forbidden Love: Tales From Pashtunkhwa

By SesapZai and Shaheen Buneri

Love is the emotional, psychological and spiritual need of every human being to survive among the harsh realities of life. It is not a socially limited phenomenon, for people also find love in societies that are marred by war and political instability. If, on the one hand, certain people want to spread hatred and promote violence on the basis of religion, colour, ethnicity, political ideals and economic interests, there are others who believe in the beauty of the human heart and advocate love, humanity, and a peaceful co-existence.

The Pashtun dominated region along the Pak-Afghan border is a land of beauty where snow-capped mountains, gushing rivers, alpine forests, fascinating meadows, and a rich Buddhist cultural heritage make an ideal environment for poetry and love.

Yet, at the same time, the Pashtun society is passing through a transitional phase. The whole region from Swat to Waziristan is in the grip of unprecedented violence, where military operations are in full swing and natural disasters displace families from their ancestral homes. The slow phase of rehabilitation and reconstruction further erodes people’s trust in the State institutions. Confusion, fear and an acute sense of uncertainty prevails, and centuries old Pashtun social values, cultural traditions, and customs are confronted with serious challenges for their survival. A network of militant groups and organizations want to impose their extremist version of Islam on the local communities that is resulting into stifling delicate emotions of the heart.

Further, romantic love is considered taboo – it is a revolt and an attack on the established moral and ethical system. Not only is romantic love wholly discouraged and condemned, but it sometimes results in the loss of precious human lives. Hence, Pashtun romanticism is deep, fierce and devastating!

There are characters in Pashtun social history like Adam Khan, Durkhanai, Yousaf Khan, Sherbano, Sher Alam and Mamonai, who followed the call of their hearts and refused to surrender to the exploitative customs and traditions of the society. Perhaps, at that time, Pashtun society condemned and persecuted these revolutionaries; but for the modern Pashtun youth, they are celebrated as heroes and heroines. Such is the power of the human heart! These romantic tales thus craft the very soul of Pashtun arts and literature, and inspire generations after generations to pursue their dreams and build their own worlds.
Although, Pashtun romantic folk tales are the stories of unfulfilled love, of betrayals and of immense human sacrifice, it is important to note that romantic love is rarely practiced and showcased openly for the reason that it is considered “forbidden.” This is primarily due to religious and cultural practices, especially if exercised outside the sanctity of marriage. Most Pashtuns have their marriages arranged by their families, and people commonly marry within the tribe or close knit family circles. Any type of love before marriage is considered “taboo,” and commonly ends in tears, broken hearts, lost familial ties/disownment, and perhaps even death. Hence, the idea that “love comes after marriage” is every so often accepted as the norm.

Conversely, this study will attempt to examine the idiosyncratic concept of romantic love and what it means, especially in the Eastern/Pashtun context. It will also take a close look at how romantic love was secretly practiced, among the Pashtun locality, not only in past history, but also in the most recent and current time.

A recent interesting account is that of Pashtuns who were internally displaced (IDP) not only during the rise of Taliban extremism, in 2008, especially in Swat, but also due to massive flooding that occurred in parts of Pakistan, including Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in 2010. Albeit, extremism and flooding itself had extremely negative impacts, this was also a time when love was in the air; for young Pashtuns attained the opportunity to meet and fall in love in an open space, unlike that to which they were originally accustomed. Even during the flooding, war, and violence that had forcefully enveloped the region in despair, many Pashtuns were able to escape their horrid realities by creating a separate world in which they lost themselves in the euphoric solace of romantic love. It is no wonder that there was an influx of marriages once the IDPs returned back to their respective homes.

Moreover, this study will document romantic love stories of thirty Pashtun couples who have managed to overcome taboos of forbidden love. They are the modern Adam Khans and Durkhanais of our time for they, too, like the historical star-struck lovers, had to struggle through a plethora of religious and cultural obstacles to be with the one they love. One will quickly learn, through these personal narratives, how these star-struck couples have stopped to no end to achieve love, even if it meant putting their lives at risk.

However, it is also important to note that despite the positive element of romantic love, not all love stories necessarily have a happy ending; and this topic will also be covered in the study.

All in all, this study strives to examine the changing patterns of romantic love in the modern Pashtun society. Readers will get a first-hand peek into the hearts of those Pashtuns who want to keep the flame of love alive in a society devastated by decades of war and violence.

- The writers tweet at @Sesapzai and @shaheenbuneri 

© November 2012

Thursday, 8 November 2012

How Not to Talk about Malala

[Summary: Critics are exploiting Malala’s attack either to prove a point about drones or to “prove” Muslim barbarity.]

by Orbala

Many analysts and critics across a spectrum are exploiting Malala's attack to justify their own political ambitions whether it’s a position on drones or a moment to allegedly prove the barbarity of the Muslim world.

Those who support drones read Malala’s predicament as a reassertion of the Taliban’s destructive force in Pakistani society. They believe that drones are the only possible means to cleanse the region of the Taliban. Others who condemn drones have pointed out that Malala, a victim of the Taliban’s attack, has become an international icon and a heroine while innocent children killed by drones are ignored. The latter group argues that, while Malala is a significant part of Pakistani society and an important and influential teenage leader, it is unfair to condemn the attack of the Taliban on Pakistani soil while ignoring U.S. attacks that kill many more.

Neither side discusses the Pakistani army’s attacks on the people of FATA. The army bombs and utterly destroys lives, homes, and families. The motives for these attacks are disguised under the umbrella of the “war on terrorism,” but, in truth, Pakistan has its own motives in Pashtun-dominated areas, particularly the Waziristan region.  That is one reason among others to believe that the Pakistani state’s role in the destruction of the FATA people and their land is deliberately overlooked. Consistent focus on drones, in fact, facilitates Pakistan’s attacks because it deflects attention from army attacks.

The outcry over drones is partly because they are executed by an outside force, the United States, which drone critics interpret as a form of colonialism. Yet, greater numbers of civilians are killed in Pakistan’s operation in the same region.  Both need to be discussed in such a way that one perpetrator is not privileged over another, such that one is rendered completely invisible and nonexistent, particularly when both claim to share an ultimate aim. So, it is not outlandish to hope that one may soon be able to read equally careful studies about the Pakistani’s army operations in Waziristan, their mission and their impact, in the same way one reads studies on drones.

It is in this context that I find myself wondering what Malala would make of these connections. Would she find the drone discourse too complex to offer a simplified yes or no response to the question of drones? What if she does not appreciate being instrumentalized to support a political discourse?

The Western media, too, has made political use of Malala. For this media, the attack on Malala is “proof” of the barbarity of the Muslim world and hence a justification for Western intervention. Yet, it is important to ask, why Malala now? Why didn’t Malala become a household name during the time when she was speaking out against the Taliban? Why did she only become important after she was attacked? A tentative answer is that before her attack, Malala’s outspoken-ness demonstrated that our oppressors are not completely successful in silencing us because we are still speaking out. We, Muslim women, are still active agents. It would have been unsettling to Western ideas about the passivity of Muslim women.

The American media has falsely convinced its viewers that Malala was shot because she wanted to go to school. It is unfortunate that most viewers have accepted this narrative and failed to ask simple questions like, “Is Malala the only girl in all of Pakistan who goes to school?” The average Muslim woman, or even the average Pakistani woman, does not get shot on a daily basis; millions of girls and women go to school daily, even if there are still many families who deny education to their daughters. Yet, for the Western media, Malala has become a stand-in for the condition of the generic Muslim woman.

Yes, there are issues in the Muslim world—including Pakistan—but many of the experiences of women in the Muslim world are shared by our sisters in the non-Muslim world. Highlighting one Pakistani girl’s case, and misrepresenting it as an attack on any Muslim woman who wants to go to school, not only trivializes the issue but also diverts attention from women’s mistreatment in the rest of the world—including the Western world.

Such a diversion has several problematic implications. It affirms the classic juxtaposition of the “Western” world with the “Muslim” world, supporting political theorist Samuel Huntington’s facile division of the world into mutually exclusive, essentialist civilizational categories in which some, like the West, were “civilized,” while others, like the Muslim world, were “barbaric.” It further suggests that women are perfectly well off in the non-Muslim world, and all that remains to be done is to raise “them”—the “barbaric” Muslim world—to “our” level of civilization. It makes gender issues within the West invisible. 

Indeed, Malala represents all women rightfully demanding to practice their right to speak up against injustices as well as any other right that they rightly believe are inherent to them. But Malala is not a symbol of Muslim women’s resistance to mistreatment and injustices— she is in fact a symbol of the resistance of all humans, irrespective of their religious, sexual, gendered, racial, national, and all other identities. She represents the mind, Muslim or not, that is deemed a threat to the social structure of any given society, the voice that is constantly but unsuccessfully silenced because of its power, its potential to bring change that many in any given society often fear. This change should not be limited solely to women’s right to schooling; it should include all people’s human rights—which encompass the rights of all marginalized and “othered” individuals and groups, particularly those against whom discrimination of various sorts has historically been normalized. It is this symbolism of Malala’s case that helps us to understand and appreciate Malala’s struggle as one that all humans, particularly all marginalized groups of people, can relate to, empathize with, and perhaps even sympathize with.

Obviously, the attack on Malala must be condemned widely, and Malala deserves justice; what I am critiquing is the course of conversations surrounding Malala. We may have little control over the Western media’s instrumentalization of Malala to represent all Muslim women as passive victims on whose behalf the West should intervene. But, we must not allow Malala’s case to be used to make Pakistani army operations invisible by incessantly talking about drones to the exclusion of the army operations.  

The writer is a student of Islamic Studies and Gender Studies. She blogs at and tweets @qrratugai.

A version of this article was published at

Monday, 5 November 2012

Pakistan: Spending its way into social inequality

by Saleem

Discretion Vs Rules in Federally Funded PSDP Projects Allocation

The overall size of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the Financial Year (FY) 2012-13 is Rs 873 Billion as approved by National Economic Council (NEC) and reported in the budget documents of the Ministry of Finance1.  Different components of the PSDP can be summarized as below;

Table 1
Funds Allocations as per Budget FY 2012-13
Federal Ministries/Divisions
Rs 207        Billion
Rs 80.382  Billion
Peoples Works Programs (PWPs)
Rs 27          Billion
Special areas
Rs 36.055  Billion
Rs 10          Billion
Provincial PSDP
Rs 513        Billion

                                                                    Total PSDP

Rs 873       Billion
After the adoption of 7th NFC award in December 2009 with consensus among the federating units, which is applicable to the budgets in FY 2010-11 and onwards, the share of Provincial PSDP has been considerably increased as more resources were transferred from federal government to the provincial governments.  Earlier, the 5th NFC award, which was adopted in 1997 and valid for five years, was in place till 2010 as no consensus has been reached over the 6th NFC award. Under the 7th NFC award, the financial autonomy of the provinces has been ensured by increasing their share in the divisible pool from 50 percent to 56 percent in 2010-11 and 57.5 percent from 2011-12 onwards2. The size of the provincial governments Annual Development Programmes (ADPs), thus, increased considerably.  This is a healthy sign for the federation of Pakistan as provinces can now devise their own developmental schemes in accordance with the development requirements of its own people with more resources at their disposal.

However, there is still considerable amount of funds left with the federal government in federal PSDP to be utilized in the public sector development projects (See Table 1) of national importance. These include Funds available with the Federal Divisions/Ministries and Peoples Works Programmes (PWPs) among others. 

Should these funds be utilized throughout Pakistan under some Rules or should it be ‘discretionally’ used by the Chief Executive (PM) or his federal ministers?  There should be no room for discretionary allocations of these funds and strict rules are needed to maintain the regional parity while distributing these resources across different federating units.  This is the main point of this write-up and to show it I will try to highlight two such areas where extensive discretionary powers with the PM/Federal Ministers distort the allocation of these funds where some provinces are preferred while others were ignored. To me, this may ultimately increased alienation among the deprived provinces and their elected representatives will echo their voices in the parliament.
One Such area where discretionary allocations were made is from the PSDP allocation to the Planning and Development (P&D) Division.  P&D Division is one of the 41 other federal divisions which were allocated with funds to be used under PSDP (See PSDP 2012-13 published by Planning Commission of Pakistan). The total PSDP allocated to this division is Rs 37.840 Billion3. Out of this total amount, Rs 22.2 Billion has been allocated to some 25 projects across the country on some very vital programs in the social and development sector. These projects include, for example, Population Welfare Programs (part of the Vertical Programmes) for four provinces and GB, AJK & FATA. The shares allocated to different federating units indicate the proportionate share of each region according to its size. This is fair enough as the shares indicates the proportionate share of each region according to its size and that rules were adopted to maintain regional parity. However, the remaining funds of Rs 15.7 Billion were block allocation under 4 ambiguous heads namely a) Challenge Fund; b) Feasibility studies; c) Project Prefatory Funds & d) Develoved/closed Projects Liability. The funds allocated under these four heads are as under;

Table 2
‘Ambiguous’ Heads in PSDP with Serial Numbers
Funds Allocated in FY 2012-13
26. Challenge Fund
Rs 10 Billion
27. Feasibility Study
Rs 2.5 Billion
28. Project Preparatory Funds
Rs 2.2 Billion
29. Devolved/Closed Projects liability
Rs 1.0 Billion

Rs 15.7 Billion
According to the preface of the PSDP document of 2012-13 (published by P & D division under its secretary Asif Bajwa) , the ‘Challenge Fund’ will be the first step in setting fresh trends in the Public Sector Development arena to align PSDP with the objectives of New Growth Strategy announced by the Planning Commission of Pakistan.  The document says that this fund will be available to provinces for making ‘innovative projects’ targeting at ‘creative cities’ and ‘promoting youth skills’. I think it will be good to quote the entire 3rd paragraph of the preface to the PSDP 2012-13 document here
                “For the year 2012-13, the elements of New Growth Framework form the basis of allocation of resources. Measures have been taken to align PSDP with the objectives of new growth strategy. Federal PSDP 2012-13 sets fresh trends in the public sector development arena. As a first step ‘Challenge Fund’ has been created. This fund will be available to provinces for making innovative projects targeting at creative cities and promoting youth skills’
 In the total PSDP of Rs 37.84 billion of the Planning & Development Division, the money allocated to the challenge fund was Rs 10 Billion. As of today, Rs 9.6 billion has been spent on various projects under this head  which means the funds were utilized in the first four month of the fiscal year as budget was presented in June, 2012 (this is a remarkable! achievement as normally PSDP projects are faced with slow utilization which often lead to lapse of funds).  

This is also in complete violation of the rules set by P & D Division where a maximum of only 20% of the total cost in each quarter can be released during the first two quarters of the fiscal year4. Now please have a look at the projects which were approved and where funds were allocated are as under (I personally ‘collected’ this list from the P & D Division as access to information is the right of every citizen Now!); 

Table 3

Funds Allocated in FY 2012-13
 Challenge Fund

M-4 Motorway Multan
Rs 1,000  Million
Multan Inner Ring Road including 6 Interchanges
Rs 100     Million
Khanewal-Multan Inter District Road (Bosan Road)
Rs 400     Million
Dualization of Mandra to Chakwal Road
Rs 2,100  Million
Dualization of Sohawa to Chakwal Road
Rs 350     Million
Execution of 33 Miscellaneous development Schemes in NA-51 Gujar Khan
Rs 1,650  Million
Kacchi Canal (Phase-I, Balochistan)
Rs 4,000   Million

Rs 9,600   Million
Feasibility Studies
Rs 50.0     Million
Establishment of COMSATS institute of IT, Jaffarabad
Rs 1.7       Million
Inspector General Development Projects, Balochistan
Rs 126.3   Million
Rainee Canal (Phase-I) Sindh
Rs 2,000   Million

Rs 2,178   Million

While the funds allocated to Kachi Canal in Balochistan and other transfers from ‘Feasibility Studies’ to Balochistan make sense as it may be used by the federal government to reduce the grievances of the people of Balochistan but ignoring KP & FATA altogether clearly shows that while distributing these regional parity was not maintained.  The ‘domicile’ of these projects corresponds with the domiciles of our two illustrious Prime Ministers i.e. Punjab.  It is not in my knowledge whether this apparent inequality in funds allocation is somehow accounted for in somewhere else or not (I will feel happy if I am corrected).

Another such area is Peoples Work Program (PWPs) named as Special Programmes in PSDP 2012-13. A total of Rs 22 Billion were allocated in the initial budget as documented in June, 2012. There are media reports that another Rs 10 Billion were added to this particular head on the request of PM thus increasing the total amount to Rs 32 Billion. There are no such rules for the allocation of these funds (as no details were given how this money will be utilized across different federating units). This may depends solely on the discretionary authority of the PM and his ministers to utilized these funds5. There are media reports that almost all the funds under PWPs were utilized within the first four months of the budget by the new Prime Minister/ Federal Ministers on his selected projects.  The media reports indicate that these funds are mainly used for ‘vote-buying’. I have no problem as such with vote-buying as all government does it everywhere in the word but I am interested to know the ‘geography/domicile’ of this vote-buying. If votes are purchased in all four provinces, FATA, GB & AJK then it can be tolerated but if vote-buying is mainly restricted in Multan or Gujjar Khan (Punjab) at the expense of other areas then it becomes problematic.  
And by the way this is not limited to this year budget only as it is a recurrent practice.  Every year, in the federal budget, an amount is earmarked to keep it in large Block Allocation without any projects under its head. Last year the Federal Government used heads of a) feasibility study; b)Other requirements and c) devolved subjects at Federal level to ‘hide’ these block allocations to be used with discretionary powers of the PM/Federal Ministers.  

Now it is good that the share of the provinces from divisible fools have been increased but should the remaining funds with the Federal Government be spent in disregard of the provincial allocation? And the problem is that this is not the ONLY case where such disparities exist in the Federal PSDP. All such allocations spent on discretionary powers of the Chief Executive (in this case with the PM) will increase inequalities across different regions.

Lessons learned!
1.       There should be no discretionary authority of the chief executive or his ministers over the funds in federal PSDP. The same should also apply to the provincial governments. There should be clear and transparent rules for resource allocations across the different regions.
2.       No ambiguity should be kept in the federal budget as the representatives of the countries can discuss each and every component of the PSDP in both National Assembly and Senate of Pakistan.
3.       The existing Rules with the P & D regarding the utilization of the PSDP should be strictly followed.    

 -The writer @saleemiss is a PHD student 


1.       Source: Budget in Brief 2012-13, Ministry of Finance & Public Sector Development Programme 2012-13, Planning & Development Division, Government of Pakistan.
2.       Source: Pakistan Economic Survey 2011-12, Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan.
3.       Source: Public Sector Development Programme 2012-13, Planning & Development Division, Government of Pakistan page 75-76.
5.       Some rules can be easily devised here as in the case of initial launching of the BISP program where each elected MNA/Senator was given with 8000 BISP forms to be distributed in their respective constituency thus maintaining regional parity!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Art of the day: A girls journey

ed note - the captions have been chosen by QK team

by Sesapzai
A slave to ignorance 

The Awakening
'When i looked into her eyes all i could feel was love' -Abasin Yousafzai

The escape