Response to His Excellency Mr. Al-Zarooni

His Excellency Mr. Zarooni,

Thank you very much for taking the trouble to write about us. Let me start with a friendly advice to kindly read the letter again that you think I have written. At the top of it, I have put the disclaimer in big, bold, underlined letters that it was received on WhatsApp and the writer is anonymous. You might have to take someone’s help to understand it, may be from one of your staff members that might be a Pakistani.

Having said that let me also reiterate that the said letter might not have been written by me, but I’m in complete agreement with the contents. Had I have written it, I would have left the cuss words to your royal imagination rather than putting in the text. Although, we Punjabis have a habit of being a bit more explicit while communicating. You don’t want to know Punjabi cuss words I’m sure.

I understand you are shocked to see that Pakistanis can react to the treatment given by your royal highnesses. I know it is a rude surprise for the Gulfis to see Pakistanis expressing their disgust on how their country is treated by those who use the rhetoric of ‘friendship’ and ‘brotherhood’ but act like masters. But that’s how the world changes, sir. Slavery had to go. So did Apartheid. Suffrage had to become adult with equal status of women. It might all be Greek to you. We understand. But trust me, there would be a time when even you in the Gulf would realise that all humans are equal.

In your piece of writing, you alluded to millions of Pakistanis living in GCC. Thank you for realising that our people are building your cities and helping you out in almost all chores that you can’t do by yourself. Yes many of us have ‘prospered’ there but only after contributing handsomely to your economy and social life. And guess what, our people who are helping you with all this, are not being treated like half humans even. You owe them a lot before you threaten them of consequences. A little reminder here would be useful; the quota of Pakistani workers in your country is much lesser than for those from India and even Bangladesh.

Talking about our politicians investing in UAE that you cited, you might realise that even they have INVESTED in your infrastructure and real estate. If you want, you can say no to their investment and send them back home. We won’t mind. If you want our workers to send back, we would know your hollow rhetoric of ‘brotherhood’ while being petty.

You are visibly irked by the reaction our Interior Minister rightly shared with media, who you said had ‘nothing to do with nation’s foreign policy’. No sir, each and every one of us has everything to do with OUR foreign policy. Its YOU who have NOTHING TO DO with how we respond to other countries trying to bully us, or what our sovereign Parliament decides, or how our elected ministers respond to the humiliations hurled by the representatives of other countries.

You reminded us of UAE’s help to Pakistan in the wake of floods, earthquakes etc as well as in the areas of health and education. We thank you very much for being generous at times of need. We value your concern for our problems of education and health care. But we are more concerned about how you have funded extremist and terrorist organisations like LeJ, ASWJ etc as well as funnelling unstoppable money into extremist factories, i.e. Madrassas. We can’t forgive anyone who supports insurgency in Balochistan either by money or by other means. And it is too difficult to miss your footprint in our country especially in Balochistan.

You said your rulers have ‘always strived to help Pakistan in their time of need’, well thank you but that has never been a free lunch that you had offered us. We have been helping you with your defence since 1960s. We donated you our head of ISI who started working with you immediately after his retirement. We would not normally allow any of our spy chiefs had it been any other country. We hope you would learn to be grateful.

You also wrote that you failed to understand if Pakistanis ‘have so much malice against UAE than [sic] why most of the prominent Pakistanis have invested heavily in UAE’. You are really at loss to understand the difference between malice and upholding one’s self-respect. We have no malice whatsoever for the states who treat us like their slaves. But yes, we do have a right to retaliate and react to their disdain. That’s exactly what we are doing. Try to deal with it however it is difficult we understand. But it’s never too late to learn civility.

Once again, our politicians and serving officials if have invested – I repeat, INVESTED – in your country, it is two-way relationship. On your allusion to the investment made by a sitting minister and a former minister from PPP, we are not interested, sir. If you don’t want their investment, throw them out. Majority of Pakistani people have anyway no access to your luxurious amenities nor do they have any interest in keeping the pleasures of this tiny and disconnected elite. Thanks, but no thanks.

These threatening reminders from you about Pakistani investors, especially from Pakistan’s ruling party, reflect much on you and your hollow rhetoric of ‘all weather friendship’ or ‘brotherly relationship’. Try to think, might be a little difficult but not impossible. You insist to ask questions, you are most welcome. But your questions are mostly directed to the elite and political leaders from PMLN and PPP who have invested in UAE or to PTI that went to UAE to collect funds. So what are the questions again? Are you saying, because these party leaders have personal interests attached to UAE, they must listen to you and not their own people? You are mistaken Mr. Zarooni. We are a nation of 180 million people who are vigilant on how their rulers act. If any of them would act against the interests of the people, they would be thrown out. We are not a monarchy like your country where individuals could make decisions based on their own personal interests forgetting about the nation.

UAE provides quality of life to the people of Pakistan you said? No sir, you provide an opportunity to many Pakistanis to take care of YOUR quality of life. And those Pakistanis enjoying quality of life in UAE afford the same quality even in Pakistan. The millions of Pakistanis, you wonder, would be perturbed seeing their country reacting to your rudeness. Think again. They might very well be relieved to see that at last their country is rising up against your arrogance.

You think because many Pakistanis are using UAE as second home, your country gets the right to meddle in our internal affairs. Sorry sir, our people are living, much more comfortably so with their fundamental rights and self-respect intact, throughout the globe. That does not give any country a right to dictate my country how we should behave in international relations. NRO you say, was signed in UAE. So? Should we give you some special rights for having hosted this notorious agreement? Better try to know what NRO is.

Once again, you have misread, which is quite expected of you by the way, that the said note for Mr. Gargash was written by me. The author of that letter is anonymous as explained earlier; I have just put it on my blog for wider readership. I know the language used in that letter for Mr. Gargash was ‘below dignity’, but his statement which the letter responds to is much below any lowest standards of dignity and basic principles of diplomacy.

You remind me that your country was not Pakistan ‘where abusing and making fun of your leadership is norm of the day’. “This is UAE” you say. Of course Mr. Zarooni, UAE can’t be Pakistan. Pakistan is a proud democracy with an ethnically and religiously diverse populace. We elect our governments and enjoy all the rights to criticise and poke fun at them if we want. Just like the rest of civilised world. You are UAE, can’t be Pakistan.

You say contempt of one of you means insult of all of you. Likewise Mr. Zarooni. It would be difficult for you to believe but the reality is that we are equal human beings and not your slaves. Our state might be getting cash from you but there is a quid pro quo. Quite an expensive one. We have been sacrificing our precious soldiers offering defence for your borders. If your Minister can be contemptuous and threatening for our country, rest assure you will have it from every child of Pakistan. Be ready for it if you want to enjoy the freedom to threaten my country.

Before you demand any apology from us just for being sensitive to our own self-respect, we – the Pakistani people – demand an apology from your government and your arrogant minister to apologise for the language used against my country and for threatening us.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Marvi Sirmed

An ordinary citizen of Pakistan (not Al-Bakistan, please make a strong note)

To His Excellency Mr. Anwer Gargash from an Average Pakistani!

Posting here as received on WhatsApp. Writer anonymous: 


His Excellency Mr Anwar Gargash,

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs,

The United Arab Emirates.

Dear Mr Gargash,

All of us Pakistanis are in receipt of your expression of outrage over the decision of our sovereign Parliament, to NOT bend over this time, grab our ankles, and allow a conflict with which we have no connection whatsoever, to pummel us senseless.

Your dire warning of “grave consequences” has left us all shaken. Terrified. We’re literally quaking in our f***g boots. Now, we will no longer be able to enjoy your largesse, probably. No more swanky residences in Jumeirah, I guess. No more penthouse apartments in Burj Khalifa, either. Probably no more visits to the Dubai Cup, or the Desert Classic. Wait…I just remembered. NONE of those things applies to the lives of a vast majority of Pakistanis, anyways. It applies, at best, to the handful of political cronies, stooges, and yes-men of yours who have ruled our blighted country over the ages. Whew. Thank God. Your thinly-veiled threat of “grave consequences” doesn’t matter the SLIGHTEST f*** to the majority of us, after all.

The few of us who HAVE visited the Middle East, have been duly received with scorn, disdain, and disrespect…as if we were borderline untouchables. So, in a way, I’m glad that you’re showing off your ugly – and very REAL – side to all of us. Before this announcement of yours, we were actually in two minds as to whether we mattered to you as “Muslim brethren”. I think no one amongst us harbours any such illusions, any longer.

In a way, I am glad, too, that our young men will no longer be able to build your glittering cities, our toddler children will no longer race your smelly f***g camels, our womenfolk will not act as your maids, our people will not perform duties as servants and lackeys, and generally, do all those duties – as bonded labourers – that you and your ilk are incapable of doing, simply because you’re lazy, smug, self-aggrandising, pompous, inefficient, incapable, and have actually no clue about how much you’re derided, scorned, and made fun of. Clearly, the lack of intellect that prompted your personal vitriolic outburst, comes into play in us formulating a poor f****g opinion of you, and others like you. So…good riddance, Sir. Have a nice f****g day.

Sincerely…an Average Pakistani.

P.S. Lay off our endangered wildlife too, you b***ds.

P.P.S. That last line was from an Average Houbara Bustard of Pakistan.

Thank you Parliament!

Pakistan Flag

On this day forty-two years ago, democracy started its journey towards maturity by unanimously adopting the Constitution.

Democracy reached another milestone when Charter of Democracy was signed.

The journey went on. And Parliamentary Democracy strengthened our federalism in 2010 with the passage of landmark 18th constitutional amendment that put us on the tedious road to provincial autonomy. Our representatives finally realised that our strength lies in our plurality. And that it was high time to realise our unity through diversity.

Our democracy passed a big milestone in 2013 with democratic transfer of power. Probably for the first time Pakistan has experienced second consecutive democratic tenure.

Our democracy was put to test by that little period of ‘revolution’. Last week people’s will triumphed when our citizens of 27 constituencies got back their voice in the parliament. Thank you PTI for coming back. Thank you PMLN & PPP for making it possible. Somethings however, could have been avoided in broader benefit of parliament’s sanctity. Hope our parliamentarians would keep it in mind.

Today our parliamentarians celebrated our first step towards democratic Pakistan, in the Parliament as Constitution Day.

Today was also the day that our representatives voiced our concerns on the floor of the House and adopted a Resolution to give a strong message to world’s powers – our friends and foes – that we would not be anyone’s client state anymore. If you want us on your side, we would look at our strategic interests and our ethical position.

Today, I am a proud citizen!

Pakistanis against Military Involvement in KSA

Pakistani citizens demand that Pakistan must refrain from any military involvement in Saudi-led coalition forces

Civil Society National Statement 5 April 2015

The Government of Pakistan reiterates its intention to “protect the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)”. However, the sole purpose of the current Saudi-led Arab military coalition is aggression against Yemen. KSA has formally asked Pakistan for ‘boots on the ground’, ‘fighter jets in the air’ and ‘naval ships on the water’ to protect its Royal Family.

Still grievously suffering from the wounds of our past mercenary services, e.g. the bombing of Palestinian refugees in Jordan (Black September 1970), Pakistan has learned no lessons. Killing Yemenis is inhuman, immoral, and a plainly visible disaster in the offing, which will push back Pakistan and the entire region by hundreds of years.

Why is the Government becoming so reckless on the Yemen issue, which we should not touch with a barge pole? Pakistan is bending over backwards to comply with the self-seeking desires of the House of Saud. We are also fabricating false narratives that easily outdo those in George Orwell’s “1984”. There are at least six falsehoods being used to mislead the people of Pakistan.

First: We must aid KSA because it is a ‘brotherly Muslim country’. Why do we deliberately remain silent on the fact that Yemen is also a Muslim country? If ‘brotherhood’ is based on being Muslim, then all Muslim countries should be our ‘brothers’. Why is Pakistan agreeing to kill one group of our Muslim ‘brothers’ (Yemenis) by taking money from the other (House of Saud)?

Second: Propagating the impression that Yemen is attacking KSA. The truth is the opposite. KSA and its Arab allies are attacking and bombing Yemen, not vice versa.

Third: Intentionally creating wrong perceptions about three completely different entities: KSA, House of Saud (Royal Clan) and the Muslim holy sites: Mecca and Madina. The fact is: there is absolutely no danger to the holy sites, except from KSA itself (see report by Islamic Heritage Research Foundation:

Fourth: Advocating that it is in Pakistan’s ‘national interest to support KSA’. The fact is that Pakistan’s national interest, and international standing as a UN member, will be irreversibly compromised by becoming an ally of the KSA-led Arab coalition, which has blatantly violated the UN Charter by its unprovoked and ILLEGAL act of aggression against Yemen, without a UN mandate.

Fifth: Emphasising KSA’s friendship and favours to Pakistan. The fact is that KSA heavily funds violent extremist jihadi groups and fights its proxy wars with Iran in Pakistan. Yemen does not. Does any Pakistani need to be convinced how Saudis treat Pakistanis in KSA with contempt and disrespect?

Sixth: Stating that ‘Pakistan’s international prestige and status will go up because of its involvement in the Saudi-led war’. The fact is that Pakistan will be further ridiculed as an insane country that is willing to rent out its armed forces when its own house is on fire. There is no doubt that Pak involvement will generate a new set of enemies, including Iran (another ‘brotherly’ Muslim country).

Our government thinks that Pakistani citizens have no say on this vital issue. But we DO. We demand that Pakistan must not compromise its armed forces into a mercenary force up for rent; that we deal with our own problems rather than seeking new conflicts in distant lands and taking sides in a complex situation. We believe that “the strength of a country must not be measured by its ability to fight wars, but rather by its ability to prevent them.” [ends-570]

Note: This statement has been endorsed by individuals and organisations listed below. In case you want to endorse it, kindly mention so in the comments underneath with your full name and affiliation etc.

Endorsed by following:


  1. Naeem Sadiq, activist from Karachi
  2. Tahira Abdullah, activist from Islamabad
  3. Marvi Sirmed, activist from Islamabad
  4. Samar Minallah, activist from Islamabad
  5. Yasmeen Qazi, activist
  6. Tahira Jabeen, activist from Islamabad
  7. Ambreen Ahmad, activist from Islamabad
  8. Mumtaz Hussain, activist
  9. Shabeen Naz Mehmood, activist
  10. Rukhshanda Naz, activist
  11. Reema Abbasi, Journalist from Karachi
  12. Imtiaz Alam, journalist from Lahore
  13. Zia ur Rehman, activist from Multan
  14. Taha Siddiqui, journalist from Islamabad
  15. Shehzad Ahmad, activist from Islamabad
  16. Rashid Aurakzai, activist from Abbottabad
  17. Maria Rasheed, activist from Islamabad
  18. Taimur Kamal, Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network
  19. Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, Scholar from Islamabad / Bahawalpur
  20. Abdullah Dayo, activist from Islamabad
  21. Meraj Hayun, MPA Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
  22. Sirmed Manzoor, journalist from Islamabad
  23. Saliha Ramay, activist
  24. Omaid Malik, activist from Lahore
  25. Babar Bashir, activist from Islamabad
  26. Sumaira Ishfaq, activist from Islamabad
  27. Sidra Saeed, activist from Islamabad


  1. Joint Action Committee, Lahore
  2. Women’s Action Forum Karachi
  3. Shirkat Gah, Lahore
  4. Sachet, Islamabad
  5. Pirbhat Women Development Society
  6. The New Communities
  7. Islamabad Debates, Islamabad
  8. Progressive Youth Forum, Islamabad
  9. Justice Project Pakistan, Lahore

Mind Your Language, Gentlemen

This is the unedited version of the article that appeared in The Nation on Tuesday July 8, 2014

“We are not wearing bangles”, “Be a man and face it”, “Have some balls and do it”, familiar language? Awfully so. Around us, at home, at workplace, on roads, in political rallies, in advertisements, in newspapers, on TV, on social media, where not?

Arsalan Iftikhar, the celebrated son of former Chief Justice of Pakistan, said it on TV and the anchorperson – a male – let it pass. Couple of months ago it was Khwaja Saad Rafique, the Federal Minister, who was demanding of Pervez Musharraf to ‘be a man’ and face the charges. Khwaja Asif, the Defence Minister, didn’t wait before raising similar ‘demand’ form the retired General. Federal Information Minister Pervez Rasheed was heard during those days mocking Musharraf’s ‘age-associated illness’, the nuanced way of alluding to the lost sexual drive that equals loss of ‘manhood’.

Not very long ago, Tehmina Daultana, a member of the parliament, was seen throwing bangles across the aisle in the National Assembly chamber as a gesture to describe them cowards. Ahsan Iqbal, another Federal Minister was recently heard on TV saying, “ہم نے چوڑیاں نہیں پہنی ہیں” (We’re not wearing bangles) while responding to Imran Khan’s announcement of long march. Even Tahir ul Qadri, the cleric prone to periodic fits of revolution, denied wearing bangles after police action on his Lahore residence last month.

What exactly is happening in the minds of these gentlemen and ladies? Poor guys are convinced of their perceived ‘strength’, which they invariably link to their reproductive organs. It is however quite funny that these reproductive organs would not survive a forceful knee-kick in many cases.

Sexist language is not limited to one culture or one era. We certainly don’t have copyright on it. During the primaries in 2008, Barack Obama had invited the feminist wrath when he said “I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she is feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal”. Well, really Mr. Obama? Periodically feeling down? PMS – Pre-Menstrual Syndrome – is a very familiar weapon to attack women. When a man raises his tone in a heated debate, he is just ‘a bit aggressive’. When a woman does it, she is PMS-ing. It takes just one strong argument on table from a woman, and they would hurriedly show their misogynist face.

The English language words like ‘mankind’ and ‘brotherhood’ or Urdu language ones like ‘bhai chara’ and ‘mardaana vaar” were not invented yesterday. Their unabashed usage today, however, is a blot on the face of 21st century man and woman in times best known for enlightenment and modernisation.

In a society bragging about ‘respect for women’ as their key distinguishing feature following their culture and / or religion, it is ironic that most men (and women too) would use sexual organs to describe bravery, courage and valor. Most of the words and phrases used to illustrate truthfulness, bravery, courage etc, describe (or imply) women as subservient, secondary or an inferior being.

The titles for the positions of power have ‘man’ as suffix. ‘Chairman’ was changed to ‘Chairperson’ only when Ms. Nusrat Bhutto and Ms. Benazir Bhutto became the Chairperson and Co-Chairperson of their party. That too ended with them. The next party heads reinstated the title to ‘Chairman’ as soon as they came in. The Senate and the parliamentary committees still have their chairMEN. Even that women chairing these Committees are called ChairMEN. At some instances I’ve even heard Lady ChairMAN from secretariat staff. It is probably very difficult to call her a chairWOMAN. Hurts badly no?

The Constitution includes she in he. Isn’t it other way round? Isn’t ‘he’ a part of sHe? So why call a president a he when you can write s/he? And when you mention this, there would be an avalanche of voices from all sides of the table who would educate you how a ‘he’ has the privilege of being used for both sexes in legal documents. Well, gentlemen, let me use ‘she’ as a neutral way to describe both sexes. Demeaning? I rest my case!

According to a 2009 paper by Marge Piercey, there are around 220 words to describe sexually ‘promiscuous’ women, while only 20 to describe such behavior among men. Slut-shaming is much more pronounced in south Asian cultures although. A woman is a ‘slut’ if she is non-conformist. At least that is the impression I get while facing criticism in every kind of media. Out of more than a dozen women that I spoke to, who were fiercely abused on social media, almost 99% admitted having been called sluts, whores and prostitutes just because they said politically controversial things.

My cigarettes have earned me many of such titles lately. A year ago, an otherwise progressive and self-proclaimed ‘secular’ blog used my enlarged picture with a cigarette as part of one of their posts. I was being castigated and disparaged in that post, for something I was presumed to have said. Subliminal message was: look she smokes; she is certainly a bad woman.

In 1911 Ambrose Bierce wrote The Devil’s Dictionary and expressed her surprise why there are titles like Miss and Missus for women describing their marital status while no such requirement for the Mister. Probably because it should be out and public when a woman still has ‘market appeal’ for the most popular game of all times, marriage hunt. ‘Marriagibility’ was and still is such a sought-after trait that determines a woman’s worth. Many factors, in turn, would determine your ‘marriagibility’ including being a Miss, being a virgin, being fair skinned, skinny, being a chaste woman, being a career-less, ambition-less, conformist and submissive woman having excellent skills to act as house maid.

On social media I experienced a new low in this trend. It is going to be shocking for many of my readers for which I apologise. But the fact is, a new qualification of a worthy woman appears to be how ‘rape-able’ she is. Not making it up. Couple of years ago when I was threatened for a rape and I made the threat public, I was told by the modern-day educated and forward-looking youngsters that I had such a ‘repulsive and ugly’ face that no one would ‘even rape you’. My shock and horror knew no bounds when a very progressive friend, a human rights defender (a male) expressed his anger for a woman politician who had said something offensive about other women. He while expressing his anger for her insensitive remarks about other women, casually said and I quote, “who will even rape this shapeless, unattractive cow’. He had also used the word ‘bitch’.

That reminds me of our college days when a popular badge-pin said: “Beautiful, Intelligent, Talented, Creative, Honest – I am a B.I.T.C.H.”. Apart from redefining or re-orienting sexist language, gentlemen and ladies have to embed in their minds, its what you have in your skull that determines your worth, not what you have between your legs.


Balochistan Assembly: a Critical View

This article was originally published in weekly The Friday Times on October 11, 2013

Beyond the grand debate on mightier political issues, broad constitutional reforms and rights violations by state institutions, Balochistan’s development and its people’s well being could have partly been ensured by strengthening democratic governance and the way governance institutions work.

Amongst the wider debates on political rights of the people of Balochistan, an important point is often missed – the importance of the day-to-day governance that affects the people the most, and more often. Especially when a people continue to suffer marginalization and discrimination embedded in the entire polity and structure of the state.

An elected provincial assembly is the key democratic institution that carries most of the burden of responsibility for overseeing the decision-making process by governing institutions. A strong assembly would not only make laws, but also ensure an effective oversight of government actions, substantially debating the policies and seeking timely corrective measures.

The very purpose of a legislative body gets defeated when all dissent is dissolved through political tactics, and even a thin possibility of oversight is removed

Looking at the track record of the two previous tenures of Balochistan Assembly, one gets a glimpse of the viciousness of the cycle that bad governance is. The very purpose of a legislative body gets defeated when all dissent is dissolved through political tactics, and even a thin possibility of oversight is removed.

Dissent in a legislature is manifest in the face of effective and meaningful opposition as well as independence of the members from even the treasury benches. Members’ freedom to hold opinions based on their objective analysis is key for a meaningful oversight, which unfortunately is dangerously lacking in Pakistan’s political parties across the board. But Balochistan is a special case as far as democracy index and legislative performance is concerned.

For two consecutive terms, from 2002 to 2013, Balochistan Assembly has had almost no opposition benches. In 2002, the entire House was treasury, while in 2008 only three members constituted the opposition. Almost the entire House was the provincial cabinet. Contrary to the popular belief that the only opposition in the assembly was offered by a Rind sardar, his name did not appear on the official record of opposition. The assembly record reveals three members as opposition, whose names were Pir Abdul Qadir Gilani, Tariq Magsi and Zulfiqar Domki. Weak or no opposition ensures free playing field for the government. When almost every member is part of the government, there exists a vested interest in not raising various issues that the legislature is mandated to debate on.

But this was not the only problem that the Balochistan Assembly has had. Committees are considered the eyes and ears of the legislatures. They are responsible for carrying out legislative as well as oversight business for the House. It is a parliamentary committee that ensures legislative proposals under consideration are assessed in detail, analyzed and minutely scrutinized before presenting to the House for approval to become law. Committees also make the incumbent government accountable for its actions and decisions. One cannot imagine how a House could function without any committees. In Balochistan Assembly’s 2008-2013 tenure, no committees were constituted.

Not that the House missed the committees too much. The assembly carried out very little legislative business. The assembly passed only four bills and around 30 amendments in five years. Needless to say, they were passed without any debate. Individual members did not take part in legislative business, as there is no tradition of Private Members Bills in Balochistan Assembly. The entire legislative responsibilities are on the government’s shoulders. Whenever a bill is tabled, it is passed within moments with members present on the benches. All laws are passed using an obnoxious Rule 84 of the Rules of Business of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan, which allows the government to avoid the committees stage and pass the law instantly. When some members were interviewed, they were clueless about the standard legislative procedures. Many of them didn’t even understand the concept of Private Members Bills and had little idea about their right (and duty) to generate legislative business through tabling bills responding to the needs of their constituents.

Ziaul Haq “transformed legislators into municipal workers”

Some members felt strongly about the development funds given to every one of them. A member from Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP) said the trend started when late military dictator Ziaul Haq “transformed legislators into municipal workers”. Another member from the National Party said he felt increasingly frustrated about how a member was converted into an “ATM machine” [sic]. That is probably why the new government in Balochistan has decided to do away with these funds and instead go for block allocations, so that the money could be utilized for the benefit of people rather than to serve political agendas or land in private pockets.

This reminds me of at least two members from the previous mandate. There was something peculiar about the way they spent their development funds in the last year of their tenure. One of them established a grand Madrassa in his constituency, while the other ended up constructing a monument at a crossing in Quetta “as a tribute to the martyrs of Pakistan Army”. Asked what kind of research or constituency work was carried out before making these creative ideas their ‘development projects’, the legislators looked at me like I was from Mars.

Research is a foreign word to Balochistan Assembly. Members have no technical or research assistance by the state. There are no Constituency Offices established anywhere in Pakistan, let alone Balochistan, where voters could reach out to their representatives. Members’ homes are unofficial and undeclared constituency offices.

To my horror, I also discovered that there had not been any Public Accounts Committee reports in the Balochistan Assembly. Public Accounts Committees ensure scrutiny of government expenditure. Since 1973, only two ad hoc reports of the PAC have come out – during the dictatorial regimes of Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf. In the second report, which came out during Musharraf’s dictatorship, around 77 objections were raised by the ad hoc PAC that consisted of technocrats as opposed to elected members of the provincial assembly. None of these objections could ever be taken forward for corrective action by the executive branch.

After some good things happened following this year’s elections in Balochistan, hopes have escalated. But the fact that the province is going on without a cabinet indicates that parliamentary committees are not likely any time soon. If it is going to be business as has been in past two mandates, it is safe to say that the elections have brought no change. Any talk of development in Balochistan will remain cosmetic without basic mechanisms to ensure democratic governance.

– See more at:

Mrs. Salamanka

A poem by Noon Meem Rashid (Urdu), posting here specially for Faiza Sultan Khan, with a promise to post it in Persian transcript soon!

Noon Meem Rashid
Noon Meem Rashid

Khuda hashr mein ho madadgaar mera

Ke dekhi hein mein ne Mrs. Salamanka ki aankhein

Mrs. Salamanka ki ankhein

Ke jin ke ufaq hein janoobi samunder ki neeli rasaa’i se aagay

Janoobi samandur ki neeli rasaa’i

Ke jis ke jazeeray hajoom-e-sahar se darakhshaan

Darakhshaan jazeeron mein zartaab-o-annaab-o-qurmuz parindon ki jaulaan gahein

Aisay phaili hoi jesay jannat ke daamaan

Parinday azal aura bad ke mah-o-saal mein baan afshaan!

Khuda hashr mein ho madadgaar mera

Ke mein ne liye hein Mrs. Salamanka ke honton ke bosay

Who bosay ke jin ki halaawat ke chashmay

Shimaali zameenon ke zartaab-o-annaab-o-qurmuz darakhton

Ke madhosh baaghon se aagay

Jahaan zindagi ke raseeda shagoofon ke seenon

Se khwaabon ke rum deed azan-boor letay hein ras aur peetay hein who

Ke jis ke nashay ki jilaa se

Zamaanon ki naa-deeda mehraab ke do kinaaron ke neechay

Hein yak-baargi goonj uth-tay khalaa-o-malaa ke jalaa-jal

Jalaa-jal ke naghmay baham aisay pevast hotay hein jesay

Mrs. Salamanka ke lab meray lab se!

Khuda hashr mein ho madadgar mera

Ke dekha hay mein ne

Mrs. Salamanka ko bister mein shab bher barahna

Woh garden, woh baanhein, woh raanein, woh pistaan

Ke jin mein janoobi samunder ki lehron ke toofaan

Shimaali darakhton ke baaghon ke phoolon ki khushbu

Jahaan dam-ba-dam itr-o-toofaan baham aur gurezaan

Mrs. Salamanka ka jism-e-barahna

Ufaq ta ufaq jesay angoor ki bail jis ki

Ghizaa aasmaanon ka noor aur haasil

Woh lazzat ke jis ka nahin koi paayaan

Khuda ke siwaa kaun hay paak damaan!

Civil Society Gravely Concerned at Tuesday Turn of Events

Islamabad, 15 January 2013

We, the concerned citizens, human rights activists and civil society organizations, are watching with the gravest concern the fast-unfolding events in Islamabad today.

It is the first time that a democratic dispensation was nearing its natural completion.

We condemn the exploitation and the use of women and children as human shields in the expensive drama being staged by the Canadian parachute Tahir-ul-Qadri.  It turned into farcical melodrama when the Supreme Court’s order to arrest the Prime Minister of Pakistan and 16 others re: the rental power case was announced in the middle of his speech being relayed live on Tuesday afternoon.  The well-trained emissary lost not a moment in making the linkage between his unConstitutional demands, incitement to treason and emotional blackmail with the SC’s order, terming it 50% success of his “million man (sic) long march” within 12 hours of the Islamabad sit-in.  We condemn this in the strongest terms.

Likewise, without going into its merits at all, we express, with due respect, our gravest concern at the curiously bad timing of the Honourable Supreme Court judgement/short order in the rental power case, which has been ongoing for months and months now.  We were hoping for and fully expecting the SC to take suo moto notice AGAINST Qadri’s unConstitutional stand and actions, instead of the OPPOSITE, which has wittingly or unwittingly made an unworthy hero out of Qadri.  It is inexplicably strange that Islamabad, the besieged capital, and Pakistan, a country in extreme crisis, had to witness this double whammy today. But perhaps it is not so strange and not a coincidence either.

We firstly wish to request the Honourable Supreme Court, with the utmost respect, to take all possible measures NOT to derail the democratic dispensation at this extremely critical juncture, no matter how flawed and non-performing its governance has been – which we decry and have been pointing out continuously over the last 5 years.

We demand that Qadri come out of the closet and inform Pakistanis of his mentors, whether stationed in Ottawa, MI5/London, Langley/Virginia, or indeed not too far away in Rawalpindi, or closer still, in Aabpara/Islamabad.  We warn him in the sternest language not to exploit the masses in the name of religion or poverty or basic needs.

We urgently demand that the federal Government, all the provincial Governments and all political parties immediately make a consensus statement regarding the election schedule, and their utmost resolve to uphold democracy and democratic norms.

We warn the armed forces of Pakistan NOT to stage either a direct or indirect coup d’etat, by either marching boots down Constitution Avenue, or by installing their proxy, whether in the form of Qadri or Khan or any retired general – or ANYONE.  The new Pakistan may not yet be at Tahrir Square, but we are not too far behind.  We are very closely monitoring the unfolding situation and we will not allow Jinnah’s Pakistan to be hijacked or derailed.  We are alive and we are alert.

Endorsed by:

Human rights activists, citizens:

  1. Tahira Abdullah
  2. Marvi Sirmed
  3. Samar Minallah
  4. Dr. Rakhshanda Perveen
  5. Ambreen Ahmad
  6. Naseer Memon
  7. Sirmed Manzoor
  8. Saleem Malik


  1. Ethnomedia
  3. Creative Anger
  4. WAF
  5. PRHN
  6. PODA
  7. Aurat Foundation
  8. Bedari
  9. WORD
  10. Rozan
  11. Khyber Pakhtunlhwa Civil Society Network
  12. Amn Tehreek
  13. SDPI