Monday, August 30, 2010
What a bloody disgrace. Salman Butt’s statement that at the moment these are simply ‘allegations’ are the furthest thing from the truth I have ever heard. It is a fact that spot-betting took place with at least the four mentioned people and most likely even more involved. What the investigation must now uncover is to what extent have the Pakistani team members been involved in match fixing. According to the bible magazine of cricket, cricinfo.com Salman Butt was asked straight up at the press conference if the Sydney Test was fixed. He declined to comment. He was asked if he was innocent, he declined to comment. He was asked if he would resign the captaincy his response was ‘why?’ Why? WHY? I’ll tell you why. Because you have disgraced a country at a time when we needed cricket the most. In the post match ceremony of the previous test that Pakistan actually won, Salman Butt dedicated the win to the flood victims and said they would try to win the next test for the flood victims as well. Is this what you mean by dedicating a victory? Taking money to ensure spot-betting took place? He claims no allegations against him have been leveled besides having his name thrown about in the media. Really Salman, you being the one bloody semi-educated chap on the team can’t figure this one out? Mazhar Majeed clearly said that Aamer will bowl the first over and Asif will bowl the tenth. Sure anyone could tell you that with 90% certainty, but Mazhar guaranteed that will happen. The only person who can guarantee that Aamer would bowl the first over and Asif the tenth is our glorious captain, Salman Butt. So there is your allegation dumb ass.
Wahab Riaz’s name is somehow escaping the media by and large. Even loyal cricket supporters may be confused by that name. Wahab Riaz who just made his debut in the last test match is also involved. Included in the ‘News of the World’ report is a video where he exchanges jackets with an agent, the one he gets in exchange for his has a nice wad of cash in the inside pocket which was clearly shown to him before the switch took place. Wow, a guy who has played two test matches is already knee deep in shit.
The most heartbreaking part of this whole fiasco is the confirmed involvement of the 18 year old Aamer. Billed as the next Wasim Akram, Aamer has exploded onto the international cricket scene in the last year and has been a joy to watch. Yet here is, knee deep in shit. According to reports in the local media, the agents link to Aamer was through Asif, who I will get to in a bit. On Express News yesterday, reports suggested that Asif, being a well known bastard of the first order, was initially contacted exclusively to indulge in spot-betting. He was then asked how well he knew Aamer, and that is where the youngster got roped in. Now, objectively viewing the situation, if an 18 year old thrust into fame coming from a poor background was offered 20 lakh rupees simply to bowl one no ball, you could understand why he would say sure, why not. It is by no means acceptable, this was only the start, maybe by next year he would be willing to throw away the World Cup final. However, out of all of those involved, he is the least accountable, which means he deserves to be pelted with stones and not bullets.
The involvement of Aamer in this brings to my next point. Team manager Yawar Saeed said that Pakistan is not institutionally corrupt. Really? Is that why a debutant and an 18 year old are involved in spot-betting? Is that why the captain and vice-captain of the team are involved, because we are NOT institutionally corrupt? Bull. Shit. The PCB is under the Government of Pakistan, which is the most corrupt body on the planet. Pakistan is the only country to have had more than one person banned for life for match fixing, Saleem Malik and some nobody called Ata-ur-Rehman. Of course there was the Qayyum report with hero no. 1 in Pakistan, Wasim Akram heavily involved. Our current coach Waqar Younis has had his name thrown in the mix, along with everyone and there brother in the Pakistan cricket team (Im serious about the brother part, Wasim Akram’s brother is an alleged bookie). So yes, the PCB is most definitely institutionally corrupt, get it out of the governments control, get rid of this moron Ijaz Butt, who as far as I can tell his only qualification is being related to the current Defense Minister.
I round off this piece by putting before you the chief culprit of it all and moving on to suggested punishments. Our captain is as much if not more to blame than in this, except for maybe the no. 2 ranked ICC Test bowler, Mohammad Asif. The swine has already been caught TWICE for doping with the same substance AND he has been held prisoner in Dubai for a couple of days for possessing opium. If you are a bookie and you want to get a foot in the door with the Pakistan team, the first person you go to is Mohammad Asif and that is exactly what happened. The professional thief was even bargaining his price for his involvement in the spot betting nonsense. It is fitting then to lead off my suggestions for what should happen that I start with none other than Mohammad Asif. People have called for repeating the horror scenes of the Sialkot lynching for the Pakistan cricket team. Now while that may be slightly over-doing it, it is a symbol of the anger people have.
So justice must be done. Asif should get the maximum punishment. On Sky News it was said that the maximum punishment by law for fraud is 10 years in jail, so that is what he should get. And he should be kept in jail there, not here, here he will just find his way out like he has with all the other shit he has done. Salman Butt should also get the maximum punishment. Kamran Akmal’s involvement is still unclear, but he sure as hell is guilty and a very senior player, so 5 years should do it. Aamer is young and a first time offender but he needs to serve time, 2 years I think, after which he should be allowed to return to the game of cricket if so chooses. Wahab Riaz is a nobody, ban him for life, get him behind bars and honestly I don’t care for how long. As for the current series, call the entire Test squad home and have an investigation to who else was involved. In the mean time, send the Pakistan A team to join Afridi to play out the rest of the tour. God only knows if Pakistan cricket will ever recover from this.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I've said plenty of mean things about
Cameras and reporters were quick to arrive on the ground in affected areas. The real-time information served the dual purpose of directing attention where it was needed, while providing a warning to areas where the flood appeared to be heading. In the process the tragedy was transmitted into our homes and worldwide where it took time to register.
Analysts were spot on with their criticism, whether it be on the President's European adventures, the initial weakness of the response in comparison to the 2005 earthquake or the apathy of the international community.
The media's pressure greatly contributed in turning these wrongs into rights. The President and his government slowly moved into action (not as we would have hoped of course but better than their preliminary slumber), the Pakistani public, especially the youth, mobilized brilliantly, and the world was shamed into opening its wallets.
IVS Flood Victims Support is an initiative by Students Council and Rahnuma at the Indus Valley School or Art and Architecture. Photo Courtesy DAWN.
Surprisingly even the much maligned television anchors, forever accused of sensationalism, put their influence to constructive use. Kashif Abbasi (ARY) and Talat Hussain (Aaj News) started their own fundraising campaign, urging those people who complained of a lack of trust in the government, to donate to them instead. The initiative and transparency shown by the two is a model for the entrepreneurial spirit shown by many others in the country.
Similarly with the
These are tough times for
I don't have a beef with the articles themselves, but I do feel that in a newspaper with an international reputation, they seem awfully out of place. Sure you can put them in a blog where it is OK to be controversial or rude or whatever, but you can't label a nation as 'human cockroaches' or even worse (and I'm quoting directly here) call it a 'barbaric, degenerate nation reveling in bloodlust', however sarcastic you are, in a widely circulated publication. Then again maybe it's my fault, after all I shouldn't expect much of a newspaper whose opinion pages resemble a chaotic blog and whose wisest writer is a standup comedian.
My point is the incident was gruesome and condemnable for sure but I am not prepared to believe that it is a microcosm of the conscience of a 170 million people. The fact that the killings were brought to light, condemned by all and sundry, and are leading to protests for an improved system of justice and law (here's a report and a video of a rally held in Islamabad today), is a sign that Pakistanis are not barbaric as Fasi Zaka will have us believe. Saying that the mob that killed those boys is representative of all of us is like the international notion of saying that most Pakistanis are with the Taliban. Simplistic and patently untrue.
As a friend on Facebook put it, the violence is as bad as normal people walking into a school and killing dozens of kids, or priests molesting children, both of which happened in some of the most developed countries in the world. In the aftermath of those incidents the requisite outrage was coupled with a desire to understand the problem and put it into perspective. But there weren't any op-eds in the New York Times saying that the Columbine killer represented all of
If anything, the 'we are the mob in Sialkot' theory can be put to bed by something else happening right now. It might just be me but I believe we are witnessing one of the extraordinary events of recent times: the remarkable mobilization of Pakistanis, taking the challenge of dealing with the biggest natural calamity in years into their own hands. From donating to fundraising to volunteering, thousands of ordinary citizens, young and old, poor and rich, are showing outstanding character and spirit.
Amidst the ruins, this is a story that also needs to be told.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The response to the devastating floods across the country has been noticeably muted, both at home and internationally. There are multiple reasons behind this: Pakistan’s vilified image, a lack of contingency planning on the government’s part, inadequate infrastructure, lack of information regarding channels for donation, citizens’ lack of confidence in state-sponsored relief efforts, amongst others.
As this incredibly detailed database from the Guardian shows, international aid – while insufficient at present – is flowing in directly to local NGOs, international organizations operating in Pakistan and regional government agencies/bodies. The main agents in disbursing aid and engaging in relief efforts are (i) NGOs, (ii) locally-based INGOs, (iii) religious charity groups, (iv) government agencies (federal, provincial and regional), and (v) the Army.
Now it is increasingly evident that the relief efforts, if not altered or organized, will prove to be insufficient, discursive and inefficient. And the primary reason is organizational, not political. To illustrate this, I’ve attached a chart showing the organization of relief efforts at present.
At the moment, the disbursing agents receive donations but act as a single, disconnected entity, with the exception of the Army (which is because its capability is vastly superior to the rest).
This presents two (2) overarching problems:
(a) Individual NGOs pursue their own agendas using the funds they have been provided, which is commendable and may provide those affected with considerable comfort in the short-term. But this arrangement is likely to make long-term infrastructure development difficult and increase the likelihood of misdirection of already scarce resources. Any development projects carried out at the moment – or indeed, immediately after the water has been cleared, ad hoc and unsustainable, for the most part. Projects that will be considered successful would be limited in scope. For example, an effort by a local NGO to build new houses in one city would be successful but would hardly prove sufficient in providing widespread relief, which might have been achieved in collaboration with other organizations working in the same locality. More on that a little later.
(b) There’s little accountability for stand-alone NGOs working at a micro-level for flood relief.
What I’m trying to say, in a nutshell, is: without a collective agenda, the efforts of all these organizations and the support of the international community will not be enough. Second, what scarce resources are available will not be used efficiently. Finally, the onus, once immediate relief has been provided, will be on the civilian government and the Army, backed by an economy that has only just begun to show signs of recovery. So the future really doesn’t look too bright for the rehabilitative efforts or for the country, for that matter, since expenses will only mount.
In the absence of a credible state sponsor or emergency relief organization, NGOs have to fast shed their individual agendas to act in unison if flood relief is to be provided efficiently. Here’s a chart for the ideal situation:
The NGOs, under an overarching common platform, are allowed – based on internal capacity – to form task forces or associations with other NGOs in the area. This allows for a more concerted effort in redevelopment in selected regions. The rest of the disbursing actors – apart from religious charities, which are unlikely to engage in infrastructure development – will act, in such a structure, in collaboration with this platform.
There are plenty of advantages in adopting this structure:
1. Resources, when pooled and directed towards a collective agenda, are likely to generate institutionalized and better results. Various projects, performed under one umbrella will also be linked and developed in relation to one another. Low-income housing provision by one NGO, for example, when linked to a project on healthcare will better serve the social and infrastructure needs of residents.
2. NGO collectives will allow credible channels through which Pakistanis can donate, knowing where their money is going and for which cause.
3. Accountability. International donors are more capable of following the progress of larger projects, carried out by a collective. They act as oversight bodies for the recipient NGO and for the larger platform. The umbrella platform will also act as a secondary oversight body for task forces/associations as they pursue redevelopment/relief activities.
4. In theory and in practice, if NGOs are run properly, the platform will give civil society a larger say in the relief efforts, supplementing government and military relief efforts, making the entire process a more nationally-owned effort.
5. Local NGOs, operating in affected areas, are more likely to create policies and carry out reform efforts suitable to local needs as compared to the military, international NGOs operating through Islamabad or, for that matter, the government.
For all these possibilities, it’s very unlikely that such a platform will ever be created or even considered by the NGO leadership or the government. For one, it requires effective governance at multiple levels within the NGO platform and a selflessness that is ironically hard to find in the NGO community. Second, the government – even if it shows the will to act as mediator – is unlikely to be viewed as an honest broker. Third, larger NGOs are likely to be unwilling to partner with smaller, less resourceful NGOs on the ground. Finally, creating a sustainable platform for NGOs is a massive undertaking. Within the platform, bureaucracy will probably creep in to delay projects, generate internal politics and waste resources.
But here’s the sticking point: if such a structure succeeds, the gains are enormous, for civil society as a political actor, public policy, NGOs as an intermediary between the state and its citizens and, most importantly, for the millions affected by the tragedy.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
With the calamity struck upon Pakistan, many of our citizens have suffered at the hands of a horrific torrential downpour, a tragic AirBlue accident and a sickening “target killing” environment prevalent in Karachi. One would believe to look for guidance, consolation and leadership in the civilian government. To quote spider-man “with great power comes great responsibility”, but for Asif Zardari, this means pursuing “national interests” abroad, while thousands of lives have been disrupted and lost across the nation.
Now all in fairness, as one politician proudly displayed on his twitter “I cannot understand y a State visit by a President to further Pakistan’s national interests shud be politicised. It’s hard work no holiday”. Do tell me, is it absolutely vital for Mr. Zardari at this time to be pursing “national interests” by sipping tea and munching on biscuits with the very Prime Minister who stated that my country should not be allowed to “promote the export of terror”?
The President has made numerous trips abroad to pursue “national interests” since taking the reins of the Presidency. Even though such trips cost (on average) Rs. 20 million, I have rarely seen a public outcry in regards to such escapades. Being the President of a powerful nation housing 180 million people, Mr. President, some empathy in regards to the timing of your foreign affairs could have been witnessed this time around.
Was it absolutely crucial to use public money (that is already bare minimum) to travel abroad in the current circumstances? Would it not have been possible to formulate a domestic trip to Swat, Peshawar or Nowshera to stand by the unfortunate flood victims? Could the Rs. 20 million not have been used to conduct a memorial service for the tragic victims who lost their lives in the Margalla Hills? Is it too much to ask for Rs. 20 million to be spent on increased security in Karachi so we don’t read headlines on target killings every morning?
Throughout Pakistan’s turbulent history we have constantly heard drawing room chatter in regards to the Establishment not allowing the civilian government to flourish. Let’s put a spotlight over the recent weeks to see why the Pakistan Army has an image of being our savior rather than the civilian government. When target killings are carried out in Karachi, the Rangers step in. When ED202 crashed in the Margalla Hills, the Army came to the rescue (while one Minister exclaimed prematurely that there were a number of survivors), when the monsoonal floods hit the Northern regions, General Kayani surveyed the damage while expediting relief efforts, when the British Prime Minister made scathing remarks towards Pakistan, our ISI chief suspended his foreign trip to the United Kingdom. You of all people should know Mr. President public perception does matter.
Why was there a lack of civilian government presence in all the incidents mentioned above? Is the launch of Bilawal Zardari as a 21-year-old PPP-Chairman more important than the diminished livelihood of thousands across the country? Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t the young Zardari exclaim “jaan chahyai, jaan deingay hum, khoon chahyai, khoon deingay hum”? I’d like to see some of that passion come to the forefront Mr. President.
Now let’s get to the favorite topic of the day. Fake degrees. For the 2008 general elections, there was a provision requiring all candidates to have an undergraduate degree. Regardless of whether the law is satisfactory, it was penned in ink. Do tell me, who gives the right to 47 sitting members of Parliament to provide the Election Commission of Pakistan with phony documents? Ironically, the majority of these illegal Parliamentarians are not even from the Pakistan Peoples Party. Take the high ground, the moral ground, Mr. President. Allow the report presented by the autonomous Higher Education Commission to run its proper course. Break down the barriers being constructed by the Ministry of Education.
Pakistan is a very resilient nation. Over the last decade, we have experienced the effects of an on-going war being carried out in Afghanistan. We have seen a rise in domestic violence that has cost 3,433 lives in 215 suicide attacks. Pakistan lost nearly 80,000 citizens in the tragic earthquake of 2005. Our military has suffered 8785 casualties of which 2273 soldiers have died. Karachi endured 156 incidents of targeted killings in 2009. 334 were targeted and killed in the first seven months of 2010, while their have been 889 murders in Karachi alone during the same time period. 152 Pakistani’s tragically lost their lives in the Margalla Hills, while the current flood that has swept the country has already taken the lives of more than 1,200 citizens.
But we are still standing strong. We carry out an honest day of living without electricity and ridiculously high prices of domestic commodities. Despite the hardships we have faced, our faith in this country has strengthened our confidence. In less than two weeks we will be out in the streets, waving our flags, saluting our soldiers and standing with our heads high. The globe may assume we are a fractured nation, and some may state that we export terror, but our national interests lay within our own borders. Our morals will carry us forward, but being at the helm of affairs Mr. President it is your duty to lead the way. We have suffered enough to watch Establishment dictate terms, or civilian governments bankrupting the national exchequer. It is high time the 180 million are looked after for they make up the “national interests”.
Sibtayn Naqvi is a freelance journalist and he may be contacted at email@example.com.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Out of any number of talking points resulting from these events, I’ll choose three:
1. Extraordinary Misfortune
These really are strange times for Pakistanis when even the rains are against us. Eagerly awaited monsoons have overstayed their welcome, washing away villages already hit by vicious acts of terror. Malakand, amongst other northwest districts, has borne the brunt of the devastation. There is widespread displacement and impending spread of disease as the government and military begin a recovery effort hampered by an underperforming economy and overstretched institutions.
The plane crash, in its own right, has left the country in shock. For a relatively new aircraft, flown by an experienced ex-PIA pilot, to crash into Margalla was unprecedented. It’s a tragic end for the 152 passengers, which included promising members of the Youth Parliament, in Pakistan’s worst-ever plane crash – the first since the Multan Fokker accident and the most devastating since the Zia explosion.
2. Pakistan’s Deteriorating Image
There will be no candlelight vigils across college campuses for the crash victims or the 1000+ washed away – and countless displaced – in one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s history. Nor will there be a moment of silence for Pakistanis, those vile exporters of terror.
Cameron’s diplomatically incorrect comments and the Wikileaks ‘revelations’ have only served to compound the international public’s fear of the Pakistani connection. Indeed, the country is vilified to an irrational extent – NYT’s Tom Friedman proclaims that Pakistan's “double game goes back to 9/11. That terrorist attack was basically planned, executed and funded by radical Pakistanis and Saudis.” Five Rupees has a response here.
Fortunately, though, there are voices lending sanity to the discourse. David Miliband calls Cameron a “cuttlefish spurting out ink” in his piece in The Independent. Jawed Naqvi, meanwhile, has a counterpoint in Dawn, where he contrasts Cameron with Kaiser Wilhelm of Prussia. Mosharraf Zaidi, on the other hand, has a great column in The News on the Wikileaks incident.
3. Finally, a note for Mian Iftikhar Hussain – the man who’s come closest to mirroring Pakistan’s plight. An outspoken critic of the Taliban and militant groups, Mian Iftikhar lost his son in a terrible assassination and was then targeted by a suicide bomber in the subsequent funeral. Now, as the KP Information Minister, he’s had little time to recover as he seeks to mobilize support for flood victims and the devastated region.