Sunday, 30 October 2016

QK archives: Surgeon Kabir was a good doctor with business sense

• Surgeon Kabir was a good doctor with business sense

Published October 2003

Rahimullah Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: There was no way one could ignore Dr Mohammad Kabir. You either had to like or dislike the noted surgeon. No wonder then that even in death he got prominent coverage in the media and prompted both his admirers and critics to discuss his life and times.

Dr Kabir occupied almost every post a doctor could aspire for. He became a professor of surgery and was one of the most skilful surgeons during his heydays. He remained member of the Pakistan Medical & Dental Council for about 25 years, was principal of medical colleges both in the public and private sector, and served as NWFP's secretary health. He administered the largest public hospitals in Peshawar and was also the founder of the Gandhara University, an ambitious project that was his labour of love.

Political and socially, Dr Kabir was active and well-connected. His wife, Roeda Kabir, is the daughter of late provincial education minister Yahya Jan Khan and granddaughter of revered freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. Through intermarriages, including those of his two sons and two daughters, Dr Kabir was linked with many other influential and respected families.

For years, Dr Kabir held important offices in the Pakistan Medical Association, NWFP. He was associated with the anti-T.B. and diabetes organizations and was provincial president of Pak-Japan Cultural Association. His social work undoubtedly raised his public profile but it also showed Dr Kabir's kind-heartedness and his urge to help the ailing humanity. This aspect of his complex character was also evident from the support that he and his wife quietly extended to certain relief and charity bodies and many needy families.

Dr Kabir often attracted criticism and provoked controversies. Some of his critics felt he was self-centered and materialistic. This criticism became more pronounced when he launched the Gandhara University and commissioned its first project, Kabir Medical College. The unusually high fees, concerns about quality of teaching and the faculty, and problems in seeking affiliation with a university contributed to the teething problems that the college was facing and confronted Dr Kabir with hard choices. The students, concerned about their future, also panicked and held demonstrations against the college administration. But Dr Kabir, true to his nature, remained calm and continued his search for a way out of the crisis. And before long, the resourceful Dr Kabir had managed to overcome the crisis that was threatening to discredit his college and university.

Gandhara University was the first major and indigenous private university in the Frontier. It kept growing as Dr Kabir added new faculties to the university. The University Town Peshawar became the home of the university with its affiliated faculties and facilities scattered all over the place. At every milestone, he didn't forget his dear mother and father, naming the Sardar Begum Dental College after her and the Naseer Teaching Hospital after him. One relevant criticism of Dr Kabir was his inability to build a proper campus for the university even though it was often claimed that land on the outskirts of Peshawar had been acquired for the purpose.

Dr Kabir surely had political ambitions. He wanted the ANP ticket to contest the last Senate elections for the technocrat seat. He was disappointed when the ticket went to Ilyas Ahmad Bilour. However, he never went public with his unhappiness over the refusal of the party ticket and continued to maintain cordial relations with the ANP leadership, including Khan Abdul Wali Khan and his family.

Earlier, he had weathered another storm when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) nabbed his brothers on corruption charges. There were even speculations that Dr Kabir also was on the NAB hit-list. Had he not been strong-nerved, Dr Kabir would have succumbed to the pressure and thrown in the towel. But the surgeon, soft-spoken and yet very firm, kept his cool and gradually extricated his family from a very difficult situation. His brothers entered into plea-bargain with the NAB authorities and bought their way out of prison. Dr Kabir was happy to accommodate his out of work brothers in his fast-expanding educational enterprise at the Gandhara University.

Dr Kabir loved his native province and was aware of its historical significance. That is why he named his university Gandhara after the civilization that once flourished in the Peshawar Valley and beyond. The university definitely has many shortcomings and is primarily a business venture but Dr Kabir deserves credit for attempting to build an institution that is here to stay. Besides, he showed the way to others and now we have a mushrooming of private medical colleges and universities. Hopefully, the fittest would survive and offer quality education to students who could afford to pay their high fees.

It still seems unreal that the workaholic Dr Kabir is no more. He kept a busy schedule on account of the varied nature of his activities. He was a heart patient and had undergone bypass surgery but there was never a dull moment in his hectic life. As his son Dr Sameer Khan commented, his father kept going due to his work. It would be quite a while before we produce such a versatile man who excelled both as doctor and businessman.

Friday, 21 October 2016

The 'Invisible' Western Route of CPEC
by Sulaiman Mandarn

The PML-N on one side, all the others on the other. That is the CPEC divide. While the federal government considers it a game changer for Pakistan and the entire region, the others consider it a game changer for only Punjab.
Almost all political parties from the smaller provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan complain that the focus of the CPEC is Punjab and that their provinces are left out. Even the PPP, which ruled the centre in the previous term, does not hesitate in calling it the China-Punjab Economic Corridor.   That becomes a particularly jarring situation, given how the success of the project depends solely on these smaller provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Then there is the additional argument that these regions were historically left out of development as well and that this was a perfect opportunity to remove their grievances. Pick any socio-economic indicator of your choice, and you will see stark differences between the western and eastern regions. One analyst from Quetta tweeted that the CPEC is likely to exacerbate regional disparities and will increase inter-group tensions as growth will be exclusive; and, thus, will result in a weaker federation. This is alarming.         
Political parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan thus demand that the CPEC route needs to go through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. The Baloch, however, are divided as some want the route to pass through Balochistan while others consider it only to be another extractive tool of the federal government.   
In February 2015, the Awami National Party called an All Parties Conference to share its apprehensions regarding the CPEC route with other political parties. Given the opportunity to speak on the occasion, I had made it very clear, by showing documentary proof to the participating political parties, that the plan of the western route is no more on the books      till until at least 2030 and that the original route has been hijacked by the PML-N government.  
In response to the ANP’s APC, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged in another APC that the western route would be the priority route and would also be completed first. However, it was later clear that those were mere words, and the promise was not fulfilled. The following PSDP (budget document) didn’t have enough allocations for the promised western route and the same is the case with this year’s PSDP. The only road that is being constructed on the western route is funded by the ADB and work on it is moving at a snail’s pace. One can confirm this by having a look at the last three PSDP documents.
Senator Taj Haider, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on the CPEC, shared his committee report (available on the Senate of Pakistan website) in a talk show; the report said that the western route is not existent and that all projects are based in Punjab and Sindh. He made another startling revelation: that the Gwadar Port is a non-starter as the Karachi Port is going to be used for CPEC-related activities. I had also said in February 2015 that the plan on paper is to connect Lahore with Karachi through motorways and use the coastal highway for Gwadar at a later stage.
In a press conference on September 30, Ahsan Iqbal announced that the CPEC portfolio had increased to $51.5 billion as China was going to finance the ML-1 Railway Line. An extra $5.5 billion concessional loan has been agreed with China to upgrade Karachi-Lahore railway line. He added that the ADB would finance the remaining portion of ML-1 from Lahore to Peshawar which also mainly comes in the province of Punjab. This too is a project on the eastern route.
The Awami National Party called for country-wide protests on the issue and ran a social media campaign. In the meanwhile, the tweet of a senior Chinese embassy official did not confirm or deny the non-existence of western route of the CPEC.
A break-up of CPEC projects was given with 16 projects in Balochistan, eight in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 13 in Sindh and 12 in Punjab. However, the number of projects is hardly relevant, considering the funds allocated against each project. As someone wondered: how can one compare construction of a primary school in Gwadar with a multi-billion dollar Orange Line in Lahore?
On the official website for the CPEC [], a list of all CPEC projects is given with details about each project. In the energy sector, there are a total of 16 Prioritized/Early Harvest projects of 10,400MW costing $15.5 billion where only one is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the Kaghan Valley and one in Balochistan on the coastal region. A list of eight other energy projects is given, costing $18.3 billion; these projects are termed ‘actively promoted projects’. Under this section, all the projects are either located in Punjab or Sindh with the exception of two in Balochistan and none in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or GB.        
In the transportation sector, a list of eight projects is given in road and rail infrastructure which are entirely located on the eastern route of the CPEC. The only exceptions are the road project of D I Khan-Quetta highway and the Havelian Dry Port worth $40 million, both at the feasibility stages. The website shows the eastern route projects with a completion rate of 60 percent. The Karakoram Highway project is common to both the eastern route and ‘the invisible’ western route.
A list of other 10 projects is given, based in Gwadar and with a total cost of less than $1 billion. These projects are mostly related to make the Gwadar port ‘functional’. Interestingly, the Lahore Orange Line Project is shown in the list of projects under the CPEC industrial cooperation which cost more than $1.62 billion.
Summarising the information on the CPEC website and comparing it with documents of JCC meeting minutes, we find out that the major part of the $51.5 billion is to be spent on the eastern route while some portion on the common route – the Karakuram Highway – whereas nothing substantial is going to be spent on the western route. Nearly $45 billion is allocated for projects of the eastern route from different sectors whereas $6 billion is allocated for projects of the Gwadar Port and KKH.
All the information given above is taken from the official CPEC website, JCC documents and press statements of the federal planning minister. The message is clear: there is no western route. It is very unfortunate that Pakhtuns and Baloch are being sidelined from economic opportunities and denied their fair share.
The Punjab-dominated federal government has to open its eyes before it gets too late. These concerns are genuine. Labelling criticism as treason or as people working on a foreign agenda will further alienate the already sidelined people of the country’s smaller provinces.        
The writer is a member of the National Youth Organization of the Awami National Party. The article originally appeared in The News on 12th October, 2016
He tweets at @Mandanr

Monday, 3 October 2016

A Brief Account of Archealogical Remains in Hazarkhwani

"A Brief account of Archealogical Remains in
Hazarkhwani Graveyard Peshawar"

By Ibrahim Shah
The Hazarkhwani graveyard, known after a nearby village of this name, is located at a short distance to the south of Ganj gate of the walled city of Peshawar. It is also called Akhun Baba graveyard after the celebrity of the famous saint Akhun Darweza Baba lying enshrined herein. It extends over a vast area and is still used by the local people. When the graveyard was first made in use cannot be ascertained for lack of any inscriptional or literary evidence at hand. At the most the possibility that it was already existing at this place prior to the Mughal epoch cannot be ruled out. It houses thousands of graves belonging to the rank and file, higher government functionaries and saints in different mode of construction. Apart from this, the graveyard also contains two ruined mosques and remains of large well. Innumerable historic inscriptions found within the graveyard form a separate class of its own which is beyond the sphere of this work. Archaeologically, the graveyard bears utmost importance. The last but not the least importance is the location of the world-famous Shah Ji Ki Dheri identified to be the site of the Kanishka vihara in the northern quarter of this graveyard. The graveyard is bifurcated by a narrow metallic road going to Hazarkhwani, a village in the Peshawar. The existence of these historical monuments and graves makes it distinguished in the whole area. We are going to discuss on by one.

Research Scholar, Department of Archaeology, University of Peshawar.
Vol. XX No. 1 July 1997


In chronological order the site of Shah Ji Ki Dheri, dating to the time of Kanishka. can be placed at the earliest. It can be approached by a road leading to Hazarkhwani. The ruins of the mound, although at present hardly traceable, can only be identified by an elevated contour of the earth upon which now stands modern houses, lying in the north-east part of this graveyard. The spot is generally known as “Mahbuba Dheri” after a legendary loving couple “Mahbuba and Jalat Khan” whose love story is still circulating among the dwellers of outskirts of the city. The south side of he ruins is enclosed within the curtain wall of the tomb of Khawaja Sayyid Ata Allah which can be discerned from cultural material found within the debris of excavations conducted in the first decade of this country. Once it consisted of two large mounds laying in east-west orientation. The site was first excavated by Lt. Crompton in 1875, which was followed by D.S Spooner in 1908—09 and H. Hargreaves in 1910- II. The eastern mound revealed the great stupa while the western unearthed the monastery attached to it. This great stupa according to Hiuen Tsang, was located to the south of the sacred pipal tree itself lying to the south-east of the city. Buddha is said to have prophesied the erection this stupa having sat beneath this pipal tree whose height was one hundred feet or so …… four hundred years after by (my) departure from the world, there will be a king who shall rule it called Kanishka (Kia-ni-se-kia): not far to the south of this spot he will raise a stupa which will contain many various relics of my bones and flesh”5. As to the stupa, Fa-Hein observes that it was about 400 feet high, and “adorned with all manner of precious things.” Sang-Yun reports that “among the topes of Western countries this is the first”: lastly Hiuen Tsang says that it was upward of 400 ft, in height and 1/½ li or just one quarter of a mile, in circumference. Hargreaves reports that “ the monument was of cruciform type, the square base 180 feet in length, the projection 50 feet.” He further maintains that “ the circular bastion-like tower bases at each corner are

Vol. XX No. 1 July 1997

Journal of Central Asia
However, a unique feature of the monument....." . The eye-witness record of the Chineese Pilgrims informs that there were a hundred small stupas to the right and left of the great stupa standing with regularity, and executed with consumate art . Hiuen Tsang further tells us that "according to the prediction of Tathagatha, after this stupa has been seven times burnt down and seven times rebuilt, then the religion of Buddha will disappear. The record of old worthies says this building has already been destroyed and restored three times. When first arrived in this country it had just been destroyed by a fire calamity. Steps are being taken for its restoration, but they are not yet complete"9. Whether the prophecy was fulfilled and the stupa was finally burnt down for the seventh time is not known for certain '. Since the upper storeys were made of wood, they had therefore been subject to destruction by fire or lightening. Ashy layers exposed in the course of excavation have testified this statement.

The most celebrated Kanishka vihara was identified by Alfred Foucher with Shah Ji Ki Dheri which was attested by D.B. Spooner's excavations in 1908-09 who not only located the stupa but also succeeded in discovering the bronze reliquary . The inscribed cylindrical casket yielded three small fragments of bone believed to be the relics of Buddha (as per his prediction in the accounts of Chinese pilgrims) which were later on presented by Lord Curzon, the then Governor-General of India, to the Buddhists of Burma to be re-enshrined at Mandalay '. The relic casket is inscribed in the cursive Kharoshthi script, the language being Sanskritized form of Prakrit. Of the four epigraphs on the casket transcribed and translated by D.B. Spooner, the excavator, the most informative is as follows15:

dasa agisala navakarmi (k)aniskasa
vihara mahasenasa sangharame
"The slave Agisalaos, the superintendent of works at the vihara of Kanishka in the monastery of Mahasena".

Vol. XX No. 1 July 1997

QK Archives: Da Kabul Naukari...

The Frontier Post, July 1989

By Shahid Orakzai

“Hey buddy, how about a job at Kabul?”, the bandarwala would ask the monkey in the course of his public interview. The rhesus would shriek and jerk his head in strong disapproval and audience would burst into laughter. By the late 1920s, even monkeys roaming the dusty streets of Peshawar had picked up that much common sense. “Da Kabaul naukari na kawam,” (“employment in Kabul-Oh never”) had become a popular Pashto expression that echoed in the hills of the Khyber and rang through the valleys of the Pathan country. A job at Kabul, most probably recruitment in the ill-clad Afghan infantry, was not worth a monkey who happened to live east of Durand Line.

That was the time when the times actually started changing for the Pukhtoons on the two sides of the British drawn demarcation. Apparently, they had only two options. Either stay loyal to an impotent and bankrupt monarchy in Kabul or do business with flourishing British imperialism in India. There were very few floor crossings and people generally settled for whatever was available on their side of the Line. On average, it appears that Pukhtoons were sold out on a “As is where is” basis.

Some may now cite the hatred for monarchy as one of the reasons but the reason that worked and outweighed all others was the silver coin of the British India. The rupee, today the most authentic and popular measure of a Pukhtoon’s life and achievement, was to be found east of Durand Line. Military service in the Indian Army, earthwork labor, firewood, shoe-shine, transportation, smuggling and narcotics helped the Pukhtoons to discover the new frontiers of the worldly success beyond the banks of ‘Abaasin’ (the Indus). Like a typical watchman, Pukhtoons have watched everyone’s interest but their own.

The British initiated the phenomenon and did everything possible to make sure that the original Pukhtoon culture and values get drained out as fast as possible. The leftover residue of Pukhtoon nation, the way it lies before us today, could then be easily managed. For that objective, the British cultivated two classes in particular, i.e. the Maliks among the hill tribes and feudal politicians in the Charsadda and Mardan. The raj used them like the knife and fork to tear the Pukhtoon nation into pieces. North of the Khyber, Pukhtoons were fast asleep for decades and south of Torkham they were awake only to pocket economic gains. Today, on both sides of the Durand Line, they are a people without a vision of nationhood, sovereignty and even individual honor that once turned clay into a Pukhtoon.

The departure of the British did not prove to be a departure from colonial approach and policies. The knife and fork just changed hands. In fact, they went into hands that could mishandle the tools. Pakistan’s colonial establishment inherited the British visions and outlook and viewed the geo-political realities no differently. The reunion of the divided Pukhtoons could never fit in its scheme or frame of mind. That possibility could be perceived only as a threat. Consequently, Pakistan’s political and military leadership moved to counter that threat instead of capitalizing the idea.

After 1947, the Pukhtoons secured a reasonable share in the economic fortunes. Their lower and middle classes began to move around freely in the agriculturally rich plains of Punjab and Sindh in a variety of economic pursuits. Consequently, their social and economic bonds with Punjabis grew stronger with time while their blood bond with the people northwest of the Khyber began to liquidate. A bit of economic prosperity and political freedom injected a strange superiority complex among Pakistani Pukhtoons. They began looking at their own Afghan brethren as inferiors- in every sense of the world. During the last few decades, the economic pace at the two ends of the Khyber Pass drew another Durand Line. That’s what anyone seeking to divide a nation could eventually desire. The Establishment had always worked in that direction, patting the Pukhtoons and telling them, “you are much better off with us than you could be with Kabul.” Allow me to recall the comments of a Sindhi Prime Minister, as he addressed an audience of Maliks at my hilltop village. The most enlightened premier Pakistan ever had ordered his minister for power and resources to fix big tungsten bulbs on the Afghan border “so that they (the Afghans) can see the light on our side and feel the darkness on their’s.” If electric bulb is all the light that nations need to get enlightened, one wonders who is the dark?

As an Islamic Republic, Pakistan had always turned its back to the miserable state of Iranian and Afghan people. The champions of the freedom and liberty never challenged the policy that consolidated despotism in our western neighborhood. While the Muslims of the Pakistan wanted freedom and civil rights for themselves, they preferred to see others in chains. Turning a deaf ear to the advice of Prophet Muhammad-“Do not prefer for your brother, what you don’t like for yourself,” they set a new standard for Islamic brotherhood. The new motto is, “Support the kings, wherever you find them.”

The indifference towards the Persians and Afghans had a penalty. The penalty is being paid in the capitalist havens of the Karachi. And that’s quite natural and well deserved. If you don’t accept the blood bond between the Pukhtoons on the two sides of the Durand Line, how valid is the bond between the Pukhtoons and the Punjabis or Punjabis and Sindhis, the Sindhis and Muhajirs, Muhajirs and Punjabis. Name a single one of these relationships that is stronger than the bond between the divided Pukhtoons. What does a Pukhtoon share with a Sindhi that he does not share with his own tribesmen across Torkham?  Religion?  Language? Philosophy? Or separatism?

Employment in Kabul is still out of question for a Pukhtoon east of Khyber but his rejection this time shouldn’t be based on poor salary, provident fund and pension. A job at Kabul is still worth a monkey and Moscow has found the monkeys it needs. Informatively for the Pukhtoons, it is willing to pay them more than the British once offered.

QK archives: Interviewing Akram Khan Durrani

Newsline 2003 January

"Now the central government and the USA will have to review their policies"

- Akram Khan Durrani, Chief Minister, NWFP.

By Amir Mohammad Khan

Akram Khan Durrani was elected the 18th chief minister of the NWFP after the landslide victory of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) in the October 10 general election. A member and candidate of Maulana Fazlur Rahman's Jamiat Ulema-I-Islam (JUI-F), the party that had won the largest number of seats in the coaliton, Akram Durrani came to prominence in a house dominated by new faces as the MMA component parties accepted him as their leader.

Akram Durrani is the second Frontier chief minister who belongs to JUI-F. The first was Maulana Fazlur Rahman's father, Maulana Mufti Mehmood, who ruled the province as head of a coalition government in 1970. The National Awami Party (NAP), later re-christened the Awami National Party (ANP), was an ally of the JUI, now called JUI-F. Durrani heads a six-party religious coalition government that contested the elections under the MMA banner.

Before the election, MMA leaders, particularly those from the JUI-F, fearlessly opposed the US attacks on Afghanistan and also agitated against the Pakistan government's support to Washington and won the people's approval in the polls. However, after MMA's unexpected victory in the strategically located Frontier province, Akram Durrani appears uncharacteristically cautious and guarded in this interview with Newsline.

Q: What is your top priority as chief minister of the NWFP?

A: The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal has a programme for the country and the people voted it to power in the Frontier for its manifesto. The primary agenda, if the MMA's voted to power, was that it would impose Islam in the country. As it stands now, we are in the opposition and not the majority in the centre. However, in the Frontier we are in majority and have formed our government. There is an institution in this country called the Council of Islamic Ideology. This council, in which every party and school of thought is represented, has finalised its recommendations. We will try to introduce those sections and clauses of the report of the Council of Islamic Ideology which comes under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.

Q: What problems do people face in the Frontier, and what issues are you going to address?

A: We will work towards improving the law and order situation and make efforts to create a sense of security among our people. It is the responsibility of every government to give protection to its people and ensure peace and security in the country.

Unemployment is another serious problem that we want to address. If we are to eradicate unemployment, we will have to promote industrialisation. There is no other option. Industrialists need an improvement in the law and order situation, and we will ensure peace and security. We intend to form a joint committee comprising politicians and industrialists to work out recommendations for the promotion of industrialisation. We will look into giving incentives to entrepreneurs for investment in poverty-stricken districts to help overcome unemployment in these deprived areas.

Another sector is health services, which needs immediate attention. We have certain districts which have little or no health facilities, particularly in the southern districts. There is not a single proper hospital in the southern belt. Similarly, Kohistan and Dir have got their own problems. We will try to provide at least basic health and education facilities in these areas even if we cannot bring them at par with those districts where comparatively better services are available.

Roads in most areas of the province are in ruins. It is true that certain areas have better roads and it gives us pleasure that our capital, Peshawar, has good roads because people from other provinces and from across the globe visit this city. However, the situation is not that good in other areas. The southern districts and underdeveloped areas lack this facility. It is the duty of the government to build roads and improve means of communication.

Many areas lack potable water. There are areas where the people, including the women carry water at night and early in the morning in vessels on their heads from miles away. We will try to provide potable water to every village and house in these areas.

Educational facilities are available in most areas. We will try to establish colleges and universities in those districts which are underprivileged, underdeveloped in education, and give ethics-based education to our new generation and tackle obscenity, if there is any, in a gentle and kind way. Everything is not achieved by use of force.

Q: You mentioned ethics-based education. There have been voices in the Majlis-e-Amal against co-education. How are you going to treat co-education in the province?

A: There is no co-education at lower levels in our province. We have it only at the university level, and at this level one is mature enough to take care of one's behaviour. We have seen in the university that there has seldom been any indecent incident. One can object to co-education at the lower levels where one is too immature and young, but we don't have it in our province at this stage. This is a province of Pakhtuns who hold their values and traditions in high esteem. Everybody, both male and female, is sensitive about these values and tends to protect the honour and dignity of his family, mother and father. Still, provided enough resources, having separate education facilities for males and females is not a bad idea. However, our first priority is to provide education to the disadvantaged and underdeveloped areas.

Q: The PML-Q will try to implement its own agenda in the Frontier, which is, in many instances, at variance with that of the MMA . How will you be able to run the government efficiently in the Frontier if the centre's policies are in conflict with those of your government?

A: We will always try to have cordial relations with the centre. Our province has certain rights but they mostly come from the centre. Good relations with the federal government will benefit our province and help us take steps for its development. Prime Minister Mir Zafrullah Jamali comes from a neglected province and he will look at Balochistan in that way. The Frontier is similarly disadvantaged, and I hope he will not ignore this fact.

Besides, another advantage that our government has is that the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal leadership also belongs to the Frontier. If the PML-Q government treads the path of the previous governments and denies our province its just rights, the MMA has a powerful opposition in the centre [which will react]. Maulana Fazlur Rahman Sahib has said that had Jamali Sahib been short of a single vote, he would have been unable to become the Prime Minister. He has assured full cooperation to the Prime Minister for the sake of democracy and the country. If the federal government wants this cooperation to continue, it will have to keep good relations with our provincial government. I hope we will have better relations with the centre than any other government has had.

Q: The component parties of the MMA have been campaigning against the US attack on Kabul, its operation against the Al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Islamabad's support to Washington. The PML-Q government has announced its intention to continue the policies of the military regime. How will you react if the US continues its operation against the Al-Qaeda in the NWFP, with the help of the federal government?

A: The main reason for the victory of the MMA in the general election, was its opposition to the flawed American policy in our country. Now the central government and the USA will have to review their policies and respect the mandate that the people have given the MMA. By casting votes for the MMA, the masses have rejected the central government's policy to allow Washington's interference in Pakistan's internal affairs.

The US, which believes in democracy, will have to show respect for the verdict of the people. We have no enmity with them if they change their policies. If the US shows no respect for the people's mandate we will have to conclude that Washington does not believe in democracy. We have heard that the US forces have pulled back from Karachi. God willing, they will have to change their policy and stop interfering in our affairs.

Q: Let's assume for a moment that they do not change their policies. What will the NWFP government's response be under your chief ministership?

A: Ours is an independent country. We aspire for a respectable, independent life. We would not like to live in this country under threat and coercion. We can have friendly relations with others. It is our belief that defending this country is in the blood of every Pakistani. There is nobody in this country who does not rejoice in the independence and dignity of this country. We will always remain faithful to Pakistan. How can we be disloyal to this country, and particularly to this province, which has voted ordinary people like us to power? We will never compromise on the security and integrity of Pakistan.

Q: Many workers of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) feel threatened with the MMA's victory in the NWFP. They think that the clergy-led attacks on NGOs will increase. Will you allow NGOs to work unhindered, or ask them to close down?

A: We have never objected to the constructive work of NGOs. There are even Islamic NGOs which are involved in constructing mosques and universities. What we oppose, are those activities of NGOs which are against our culture and religion. Beside the ulema, ordinary people are also against this. We will check those activities which interfere in our culture and go against our religion. The NGOs should inform the provincial government about their programmes and activities and work with the government's permission. Nobody is allowed to come from abroad and start doing whatever they want to do in this province. Everybody is welcome to come and play a constructive role, and the provincial government will always grant permission for this purpose.

Q: Some MMA leaders have been very vocal about what they deem obscenity. What measures do you intend to initiate in this regard?

A: We are a democratic people and a product of the democratic process. There is a censor board to curb obscenity in accordance with the country's constitution. If we could effect changes through legislation, we will do that. Rather than my party workers intervening, the government machinery will have to implement the law. The implementing agencies are there and they will be asked to focus on their job.