The Asian Age – Zia-ul-Haq crippled Pakistan with his poisoned bequest

The elevation of these urges sapped the nation of creativity, tolerance and focus, with severe effects for economic potency.

Dr Niaz Murtaza

Dawn, 23 October 2019. Many kids lose their real father early, to be then raised by a cruel stepfather who influences (and distorts) their growth more than the real one. Pakistan suffered the same fate. Jinnah, the father of the nation, died early.

Zia later became the cruel step­father of the nation who crippled its long-term capacities to function as a normal state by corroding its basic societal structures more than any other ruler.

The Ayub, Yahya and Musharraf eras gave more violence but produced few durable changes in societal structures. Bhutto ranks as a distant second in harming long-term national abilities through nationalisation and a politicised bureaucracy. But then he also bequeathed some long-term pluses, eg, a constitution.

It is Zia who mainly shaped the deeply flawed social, political, economic, security and foreign policy structures of today’s Pakistan and crippled its long-term capacities.

In each sphere, he injected new toxic strains, elevated existing ones hugely or reversed gains from previous eras. Socially, he cemented bigotry, deep conservatism and the politics of faith.

These traits exist latently in many developing states, and even developed ones. They kept erupting in Pakistan off and on before him too. But he provided official patronage to them and declared them to be virtues.

Thus, individual latent urges crystallised into officially funded, muscular and violent societal forces. The elevation of these urges sapped the nation of creativity, tolerance and focus, with severe effects for economic potency.

Politically, he ensured a move from issues-based to corrupt patronage politics. Patronage politics emerges from the clan-based social structures of South Asian societies. The 1970 polls were won via issues-based politics. But Zia nixed that gain via partyless polls and block grants for MPs. Political corruption became endemic in his era.

The foreign policy mix included raising militants to achieve regional aims, which unleashed huge terrorism at home later. The security policy mix included extensive surveillance of society by intelligence agencies and their control over political actors.

Economically, he left a state that abdicated its role in upgrading industry, ran high fiscal and external deficits and debt levels, and chased IMF loans. The state played a key role in East Asian progress. The pre-Zia Pakistani state did play this role to some extent, via the Planning Commission and PICIC during the 1950s and 1960s and state-owned industrialisation under Bhutto.

Both eras had their problems. But under Zia this role ended. The state started running perennial fiscal and external deficits and became addicted to IMF loans. The involvement of the military in business increased hugely to reduce private sector space.

These structures largely remain intact today. This raises the obvious question of why we were unable to reverse his deep imprint even 30 years after his death. It takes a second to destroy a machine but days to repair it. It takes an idiot to destroy it but an expert to repair it.

Zia ruled for 11 years with absolute powers, guided by security-phobic lenses and with little regard for public welfare. Obviously, it would take highly capable rulers with a concern for public welfare, long tenures and full powers to undo this harm.

No civilian has had the longevity or full powers to do so. His army successor Musharraf had these luxuries. But despite his enlightened moderation mantra, his policies turned Zia-era extremism into huge terrorism as he too was guided by security-phobic rather than public welfare lenses.

Today, Pakistan has a sullied global reputation. The economy is industrially stagnant and suffers large deficits and debt. Politics suffers from instability, corruption, incompetence and agencies’ control.

Society is bigoted and intolerant with little space for freedom of thought and speech. All these reflect the corrosion of basic societal structures and the undermining of social, political, economic and national capacities primarily under Zia.

This corrosion has made Pakistan vulnerable to frequent social and economic turmoil, external threats and sanctions. So, even as it just emerged from its worst social turmoil since 1971 in the form of terrorism, it has plunged headlong into serious economic turmoil and FATF warnings. Political instability is high.

There is little chance that Pakistan can resolve these serious social, economic, political and external challenges and repair its corroded societal structures and national capacities under a manipulated political system. This can only be achieved by ensuring civilian supremacy and allowing political stability.

By arrangement with Dawn – Festival like atmosphere in village Thikriwala after Jagmeet Singh’s victory

Sikh24 Editors

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 23 October 2019. With the noticeable victory of NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, there is no limit of joy for the residents of village Thikriwala (Barnala). A festival like atmosphere is being observed in village Thikriwala since the announcement of Canadian election results.

It is pertinent to note here that Jagmeet Singh is the great grandson of Captain Hira Singh who was the cousin of Indian freedom fighter Sewa Singh Thikriwala.

Sewa Singh Thikriwala was jailed on a fabricated charge of utensil theft by the rulers of the erstwhile Patiala princely state where he died during a hunger strike in 1935. Till date, Jagmeet Singh has visited his ancestral village only once.

An octogenarian retired head teacher Surjit Singh said that his villagers were keeping a close eye on the Canadian elections and many villagers also offered prayers at local Gurdwara Sahib for his victory. “There are many who used to converge near his ancestral house here to offer support,” he added.

A local farmer named Dhanna Singh told the media that Jagmeet Singh has emerged as a role model for the youths of his village as well as the entire Sikh community.

“Jagmeet has brought laurels to Sikhs and Punjabis living across the globe. We hope he will spare time and visit his village,” said another villager Manjit Singh.

Balwant Singh Bhullar, a villager, said celebrations started immediately after villagers got to know about the good performance of the NDP. “Many have been distributing laddoos (sweets) while others have plans to celebrate it like Diwali with special lighting on their houses,” he added.

Festival like atmosphere in village Thikriwala after Jagmeet Singh’s victory

Deurne Ruggeveld – Antwerpen Broedermin – Gent Zuid

Tram 5 and 10
14 October 2019

Tram 5 to Wijnegem (right)
Tram 10 to P&R Schoonselhof (left)

Tram 10 to P&R Schoonselhof

Antwerpen Broedermin
14 October 2019

Tram 10 to P&R Schoonselhof

Tram 10 to P&R Schoonselhof

Gent Zuid
Tram 2 and 4
15 October 2019

Tram 4 to UZ via Muide and Sint-Pieters

Tram 2 to Melle Leeuw

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

OFMI – Joint Hindu-Muslim delegation thanks Ro Khanna for rejecting Hindutva

Meeting follows RSS-affiliated protest against Hindu-American congressman

Washington DC – USA, 22 October 2019. A joint delegation of Hindu and Muslim organizational leaders met with US Congressman Ro Khanna on 21 0ctober to thank him for his recent statement rejecting the political ideology of Hindutva.

Rasheed Ahmed and Ajit Sahi of Indian American Muslim Council joined Sunita Viswanath of Hindus for Human Rights at Khanna’s office in Washington DC. According to HHR, they “expressed solidarity and support for his commitment to pluralism and justice for all.”

Khanna earned their gratitude for his 29 August Tweet: “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists & Christians.”

Hindutva, defined by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom as an ideology that treats non-Hindus as foreign to India, is the guiding philosophy of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

“Modi’s political party (BJP) and its cultural counterpart organizations (RSS, VHP, etc.) form the backbone of the Hindutva movement,” noted Amar Shergill last month.

An attorney who serves as an executive board member of the California Democratic Party, Shergill added, “Hindutva is a fascist and supremacist movement similar to white supremacist movements in the US.

It mobilizes around a virulent religious ethno-nationalism, holding that India is a homeland for only Hindus and uses violence to intimidate compliance around its economic and political policies.”

Not all supported Khanna’s statement

On 03 October, approximately 25-30 people protested Khanna at a town hall event near San Jose, California. According to event organizers, most were allegedly members of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, the overseas wing of the RSS. They displayed signs denouncing Shergill as well as Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs.

Khanna’s call to “reject Hindutva” was posted in response to an article by Friedrich about US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s association with Hindutva organizations.

HSS protests Ro Khanna

“Congressman Khanna set an example for his colleagues by braving the heat to stand strong against supremacy,” comments Organization for Minorities of India spokesperson Arvin Valmuci. “He should do much more. The best way to reject Hindutva is to lead the charge against its devious agenda.

We call on Khanna to join his colleagues like Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal in challenging the Modi regime’s devastation of human rights in Kashmir.

We also urge Khanna to take action to expose the foreign interference of the Overseas Friends of BJP in America’s sovereign elections, such as the way they have meddled with the campaign of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. Words speak louder than actions.”

“Hindutva is responsible for an endless cycle of violence against non-Hindus in India,” says Brian Isai, an activist with OFMI. “One of the worst recent incidents of mass violence against Christians, though, happened in 2009 when the BJP’s opposition was in power.

The United States needs to make human rights the touchstone of a relationship with India. Congressman Khanna should put his money where his mouth is and introduce an updated version of 2013’s House Resolution 417, which would require US government dialogue with India to be based on religious freedom and related human rights issues.”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

Visit for more information – Canada: 18 Sikh leaders elected to Parliament, five more than India

One of the Sikh leaders, Jagmeet Singh, is being seen as a kingmaker because Justin Trudeau, who lost majority, will need his help to form the government.

Ottawa – Ontario – Canada, 23 October 2019. As many as 18 Sikhs were voted to the Canadian Parliament in the recently-concluded federal elections. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday won a second term after his Liberal Party secured 157 of 338 seats.

However, Trudeau will lead a minority government as his party failed to secure the majority of 170. The main opposition, the conservatives, secured 121 seats.

The number of Sikhs in the Canadian Parliament’s lower house, the House of Commons, is higher than those in India’s Lok Sabha even though Sikhs make up about 2% of the population in both countries, The Times of India reported on Wednesday. India has 13 Sikh MPs in the Lower House.

Among the newly-elected Sikh MPs in Canada, 13 are from the Liberal Party, four from the Conservative Party and one is from the New Democratic Party.

The Liberals include Harjit Singh Sajjan, Randeep Singh Sarai and Sukh Dhaliwal from British Columbia; Navdeep Singh Bains, Gagan Sikand, Rameshwar Singh Sangha, Maninder Singh Sidhu, Kamal Khera, Ruby Sahota, Sonia Sidhu, Bardish Chagger and Raj Saini from Ontario, and Anju Dhillon from Quebec.

Alberta MPs Tim Singh Uppal, Jasraj Singh Hallan and Jag Sahota, and Ontario’s Bob Saroya are Conservative members. New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh won from British Columbia province. Jagmeet Singh is being seen as a kingmaker because Trudeau’s party will need his New Democratic Party’s help to form the government.

The New Democratic Party won 24 seats, losing nearly 50% of the seats it had won in 2015 but the Left-leaning party is still expected to play a major role.