Illusion of a democracy


This article is a formal rebuttal to an article written by Mariam Sabih, the article can be read at http://meriamsabih.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/10-reasons-why-pakistans-twin-marches-are-heading-nowhere/comment-page-1/#comment-42


Point by point rebuttal:

In the article the author claimed that.

1) Despite irregularities, 2013 general elections were better than ever before and several polls suggest PML-N sustains popularity.

It is true that many polls suggest that PML-N is the most popular political party and the decisions made by Dr. Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri and Imran Khan have been utterly disastrous for the entire nation. I would have readily believed the survey results if not for the culture of corruption which has permeated every institution of the country. Therefore I did some research of my own and the results, like always, didn`t shock me.

Gallup Pakistan, which carries out most of the surveys is headed by Dr. Ijaz Shafi Gilani. His profile at Pakistan Herald states the following:

Educational Background
Dr. Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),
1977
Professional Experience
2003 – Present Honorary Senior Fellow, the Pakistan Institute of Development
Economics Islamabad and Honorary Dean of the Faculty of
Management and Social Sciences, IIU Islamabad
1980 – Present Chairman, Gallup Pakistan
1991 – 1993 Advisor to the Prime Minister and Chairman of the Prime
Minister”s Committee for Research and Analysis
1984 – 1993 Co-chair, the crisis and conflict Analysis Team at the Institute of
Strategic Studies
1980 – 1981 Chairman of the Department of International Relations
1979 – 1981 Project Director, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics
1977 – 1987 Taught in the Department of International Relations, Quaid – I –
Azam University
Field of Study
Social and economic development, strategic studies and political behavior

In simple words, Dr. Ijaz Shafi worked under Nawaz Shareef in the government which was formed by the intelligence agencies to serve their own purpose. This single fact alone casts doubts on Dr. Gilani`s objectivity. It is well known that Nawaz Shareef operates through loyalists.

Nawaz Shareef has been in power 3 times and all 3 times he has had the same team. Same advisers and same ministers. Blindly accepting the results of these polls under the given circumstances would be a great folly.

Who is Dr Ijaz Shafi Gilani?

In a nutshell, Dr Gilani is a life long affiliate of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan. He has also served as an employee and loyalist to Nawaz Sharif in his IJI/ISI engineered government during 1991-1993.

According to ICG Asia Report No 49 entitled “Pakistan: The Mullahs and The Military” (20 March 2003)

Intellectuals and writers are among the JI’s most valuable assets. It was the first religious party to include Western-educated academics, a policy that dates to the Jamaat-military alliance during the Cold War. Pro-Jamaat intellectuals, many educated in the U.S., dominate social science research. Intellectuals with past or active affiliations with the JI run research organisations such as the Institute of Policy Studies (Islamabad) and Gallup Pakistan. The secretary general of the Jamaat, Prof. Khurshid Ahmed, an eminent economist, heads the Institute of Policy Studies. The head of Gallup Pakistan, Dr. Ejaz Shafi Gillani,too, was originally affiliated with the IJT. (pp.10-11)
How professional and reliable is Gallup Pakistan?

Here is an excellent piece by Wasiq Ali on the hidden agenda and the lack of transparency and professionalism in Gallup Pakistan.

… in the West polling organisations openly acknowledge any political affiliation or sponsorship. We hear of Democratic Party pollster Mark Penn and Republican pollster Frank Luntz. The affiliation does not mean the polling data is inaccurate but it warns analysts against any possible tilt in the manner of framing of questions.
Pakistan’s oldest polling organization, Gallup Pakistan, was founded by Dr Ijaz Gilani, a competent man, whose polling reports do not frankly acknowledge his association with the Jamaat-e-Islami. The very fact that the primary field force for Gallup’s polling is recruited from Jamaat-e-Islami’s cadres could affect the outcome of the poll in the view of some. This is not in any way meant to cast aspersion on Gallup’s polling in Pakistan, just to suggest the need for full disclosure. Polls can only be accurate where the framing of the questions has been less than subjective and the public has a right to know the subjectivities of those conducting any poll.
A common mistake in Pakistani polls, which makes them less accurate, relates to provincial and urban-rural weight. For example, the latest Pew Poll acknowledges that its sample of 1,254 adults was “disproportionately urban.” The Pew Poll sample was 55% urban even though Pakistan is only 33% urban. The reason for the disproportionately urban sampling was stated to be the “greater heterogeneity of the urban population.”In its methodology section, the Pew poll states, “In addition to sampling error one should bear in mind that questions wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce errors or bias into the findings of opinion polls.”
The Gallup-Al Jazeera poll also had given Punjab 60% in the polling sample whereas Punjab only accounts for 52% of Pakistan’s population.Such anomalies fail to recognize the fundamental realities of Pakistan. First, Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League-N are primarily based in urban Punjab. Any poll giving more weight to urban Punjab would unduly favour Nawaz Sharif and his party. Secondly, urban Pakistan is more affected by the themes in the media. Since the Pakistani media has been intrinsically hostile to President Zardari that hostility is reflected in urban opinions.

Thirdly, polling is difficult in areas such as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). For example, the limited polling done in FATA affirms that people there support drone attacks because they get rid of people who are making their lives miserable.

But in the rest of the country, especially the urban areas, there is greater hostility to drone attacks largely because of the media drumming up anti-Americanism.
A detailed study of the Pew Poll methodology also indicates that there is no accounting for proportions of well-to-do versus poor and Muslims versus non-Muslim minorities. All these factors mean that just as the Gallup and other polls before the February 2008 elections failed to take into account rural and minority opinions they are doing the same even now.

Most polls before the 2008 elections predicted fewer seats for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and a lot more for the two Pakistan Muslim League factions. But we all know that the election result was different. So if President Zardari is still smiling after unfavorable opinion poll results he probably has good reason. Public opinion can change and if Pakistan can stay on the democratic course, which it should, then much can happen to alter public opinion between now and the next election due in February 2013. It is election results and not opinion polls that matter, however much hysterical anchors and columnists might drum up the opinion poll surveys. Source: The News

This is mainly why majority of the Pakistani`s do not believe in these polls and these technical irregularities or loopholes if I may call them are also the reason why people do not trust in the process of voting, as they are well aware that no matter who the majority votes for, the same old faces will emerge triumphant.

2) Time for unconstitutional power grabbing is over.
I agree with the fact that time for unconstitutional power grabbing is over. Which is precisely why these marches took place. Here I`d like to remind the author that democracy is not just the name of a political system. It never was and it never will be. If this is democracy, then Bashar ul Assad is a democratically elected President and the West should stop interfering in the internal matters of Syria. Everyone knows that Bashar ul Assad did not achieve his landslide victory through a majority consensus of the Syrians.
No democracy in its essence is the name of norms and values which must be embedded within a society for democracy as a system to flourish. Democracy as a system cannot flourish in a society where 88 out of 100 women and 75 out of 100 men cannot even read or write their own name. You cannot expect democracy as  a system to work flawlessly in a society where people are killed just because they belong to a  different sect or religion.Democracy is not simply the name of transfer of power and elections. I understand that the author has BA in English and Psychology, I can assume from her article that her grasp over politics, political and administrative systems is rather weak. Furthermore she appears to have no knowledge of the constitution of Pakistan. Do not take my comments as personal attacks, as I am only bluntly pointing out the weaknesses I saw in the article.Articles 4, 9 and 14 of the constitution of Pakistan deal with the law and dignity of men. Article 4 states that the individuals shall be dealt in accordance with the law and no action detrimental to life, liberty, body, reputation or property of the person shall be taken except in accordance with law.

Over 30000 people were arrested since 17th June 2014, men, women and children alike. Many women were raped by the Punjab police, men and children were tortured in the most brutal way possible. This is just one brief glimpse. Police brutality is a norm in Pakistan. Last week in Karachi a traffic police officer gauged out the eye of a person for violating traffic rules. Does this happen in any democratic state?

Article 11 of the constitution states that no child below the age of 14 years shall be engaged in labour. According to Global Slavery Index 2013, Pakistan is the third leading country with respect to child labour. According to the estimates of the World Bank, at least 30% children don`t  Primary education and at least  34% children drop out of school after Primary as they cannot afford Secondary education. Almost 15 million children in Pakistan are engaged in child labour and forced employment. Does this happen in any democratic country?

Article 19 (A) states that every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance. The government of Punjab has intentionally violated this article by pushing the Judicial Commission Report and the Joint-Interrogation Report of Model Town Massacre under the carpet. The public has a right to know who is responsible for the inhumane and gruesome slaughter that took place on 17th June in Model Town.

Is this the behaviour of a democratically elected government?

The first 40 articles of the constitution which contain the soul and essence of democracy have been subverted by the government.  How can then we call this as a democratic government?The author talked about transition of power. The power was transferred from one corrupt government to another. The election commission of Pakistan, admitted this fact in their Post-Election Review Report ( 9 December 2013 ) which is available on the website of ECP that elections were not conducted according to the rules and regulations which have been written in the constitution and Peoples representation act.The author also said that all political parties with in the parliament passed a resolution calling the resignation of Prime Minister as unconstitutional. This very act of Parliament goes against the constitution. I had a detailed reply in my mind, but I just saw this on the news and now there is no need to explain this point further because, Syed Khursheed Shah, the opposition leader who a few weeks ago supported the above mentioned resolution, said today that the Prime Minister should step down in greater interest of the nation. These are not my words, neither did I make this up. The very same person who declared the asking of resignation from the Prime Minister as unconstitutional has today gone back on his statement and is now demanding the resignation of PM.

I`ll end the rebuttal of this point with this poster.

153
3) Current rigging allegations are not enough to change the PML-N’s majority.
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These are the extracts of the Post-Election Review Report published by the ECP on December 9 2013 available on their official website.It has clearly stated that State Bank of Pakistan( responsible for providing details of loan defaulters ) , Federal Board of Revenue ( responsible for providing details of tax evaders ) , National Accountability Bureau ( responsible for providing details of those candidates who are charged with corruption and other criminal cases ) and NADRA ( responsible for the verification of thumb prints ) did not share information in time. In simple words, this means that all of these institutions with held the necessary information which was required for proper verification of the candidates. This is called pre-poll rigging. By with holding information regarding the candidates, precious time of scrutiny period was wasted and ECP was forced to clear every candidate whether they be loan defaulters, tax evaders, money launderers or even terrorists. Yes even terrorists and those who sympathise and fund internationally banned terrorist organizations were allowed to contest in elections.If pre-poll rigging was done at such a massive scale, then one cannot even begin to fathom the extent of rigging that took place on the election day. Every political party except Pakistan Awami Tehreek and Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, has accepted these rigged elections because every political party was a party to the rigging that took place. Why would they raise their voice against rigging when they themselves are beneficiaries? If rigging took place, then those who were responsible should be punished. But NO. No one was punished. To this day the government isn`t willing to conduct an audit of the elections.

Dear author, these are not mere allegations, these are hard facts which the government is unwilling to accept. Why was the system given by UNDP shut down on 11th May? Because it was an obstacle towards rigging. The system was deemed unusable and shut down so that the Returning Officers could compile manual hand written results without any checks and balances.

On 11 June, NADRA reported that 29 constituencies are suspected of major rigging.

Video evidence of rigging in Hyderabad. The ladies shown in the video are not voters, they are staff of the polling station. It can be clearly seen how they are stamping the ballot papers and stuffing them into the boxes.
In this video, it can be clearly seen that people were waving ballot papers out in the streets. Ballot papers were strewn across the roads as boxes with real votes were thrown out and fake ballot boxes were delivered by ROs and PrOs

Rigging in Dera Ghazi Khan

The lady in white was instructing the women to vote for a particular party and then she was checking their ballots if they had voted for the person who had hired her.
In another polling station, armed men of PMLN stormed the polling station and stuffed the ballot boxes with hundreds of ballot papers.
In this video you can clearly see that a single person is voting multiple times. Even more shocking is the fact that 2 people stamped their thumb prints on a single ballot at this the Polling agent had to warn them that a ballot paper with 2 thumb prints won`t be counted.

In this video, women can be seen protesting in a polling station against the rigging which was going on.

Rigging of Khwaja Saad Rafique – Minister for Railways, also one of the key accused in both Model Town Massacre and Islamabad Massacre. The police man can be clearly heard saying that “Mr Saaf Rafique is telling us to allow these men ( guys who were stamping the ballots) to do whatever they are doing.” and then the police man steps away from the room and smiles at his own helplessness and at the accursed fate of this great nation.

Furthermore, Najam Sethi, the caretaker CM Punjab (during the elections) disclosed in his talk show on Geo TV that during the election days, he had no authority at all, he was a CM for the name sake and real power and authority was with Shareef brothers.

There are more videos and statements which prove that the general elections of 2013 were totally rigged and one of the worst elections in the history of this country. These are not allegations, the evidence is available for the whole world to see.

4) Conspiracies on both sides must first be investigated
The author has quoted Javed Hashmi who suggested that Dr.Qadri and Imran Khan are doing this upon some London plan and that foreign agencies are behind this whole march. Well let me first quote the reply of Dr.Qadri which I have in the form of a poster.
191
Dr.Qadri has presented himself for Capital punishment if the government can prove that he took funding or is doing this upon the instructions of any local or foreign agency or organisation. He also invited the current government to investigate his whole life and hang him if they can find a single instance of being helped by any agency or organization.
If there was any agency or organization behind this march, then these innocent and oppressed men, women and children would not have to sit on the roads without proper food, water and beds for over 45 days now.The author without proper research quoted Mr Javed Hashmi, let me remind everyone that if this was a conspiracy, then why did the government slaughter 14 people and injured over 100 others with live bullets? Was that also a part of the conspiracy?Margaret Thatcher once said that when they cannot find any argument against you, they will attack your character.

5) Peaceful and lawful protests are a democratic right.
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10492008_887772971238700_252611610747141227_n 10420070_10154242814470442_4827211361681031392_n (1) BqVuw-jCIAA_nB- 14591089216_ecf2a87ea2_k Haroon Mehmud 10372350_312653488913084_3718781956437762313_n 10309728_666292370114953_2095788102632324865_n 10377620_887772317905432_7464377649775789635_n
Police officers thrashing cars in Islamabad and Lahore.
Dear author, when injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes a duty. Do you expect the people of Pakistan to sit like ducks while the police kills our brothers in front of our eyes? Do you expect us to stay quiet when they abduct and rape our sisters and daughters! No Never! Don`t take this personally as I am not criticising you, I am rebutting your article which doesn`t reflect the ground realities of Pakistan.
The institution of Police in Pakistan is heavily politicised and criminalised. Police here functions as the militant wing of political parties, when Dr.Qadri and Imran Khan told their workers to deal with the police, at that time police was abducting and killing everyone they could set their eyes on. The protesters acted in self defence and whenever any police officer got close enough to hurt them physically they repelled them with sticks and stones, whereas the police officers were shooting live bullets.
6) “Unverifiable” thumbprints due to ink quality does not make a vote “bogus.”
Let me first rephrase this statement.6) “Unverifiable” thumbprints due to usage of normal ink instead of magnetic ink does not make a vote “bogus.”
And now let me reject this statement in its entirety.ECP recommended the usage of magnetic ink, this magnetic ink was never used. Why? Because with magnetic ink it would have been easy to detect fake votes. Normal ink was used and government and ECP claim that it cannot be used in the verification process. Afzal Khan, a key member of ECP stated this on live TV that thumbprints with normal ink can also be verified for upto 100 years. It is not the ink that makes those votes bogus, it is the absence of other complimentary material such as counter foils and the fact that most of the constituencies had more votes than the number of people living in those constituencies. I suggest this means that ghosts and spirit also took part in the general elections. :)In some instances and this was shown in one of the above videos, ballot papers contained more than one thumb impression.

The author said that have Dr.Qadri and Imran Khan ever spoken against violent and obvious forms of rigging. The answer to this question will be in 2 parts.
Dr.Qadri is the first and only scholar of the Islamic world who issued a 600 page fatwa against terrorism and suicide bombings. He is also the only Pakistani scholar who took part in the preparation and is the signatory of the Letter to Baghdadi . A comprehensive letter outlining the evils committed by Islamic State. Dr.Qadri has always been at the forefront whenever it comes to rejected and condemning violent and extremist behaviour and mindset. Dr. Qadri forewarned the nation during his January 2013 Long March that if this unconstitutional ECP was allowed to conduct the elections, then terrorists would have a free run. As for Imran Khan, PTI lost 2 of its elected members in attacks by TTP( Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan).
Once again I am sad to see that the author failed to do some research before posting this article.
7) Civil disobedience hurts the state of Pakistan.
I am not a worker or activist of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf. This civil disobedience movement was started by PTI Chairman Imran Khan and someone from PTI can reply about the status of their movement in a better way.
However I can say with proof that Imran Khan stayed true to his words and he did not pay his utility bills. Instead he burned his utility bills in front of the entire nation.
Today WAPDA [ Water and Power Development Authority ] issued a 7 day deadline to Imran Khan to clear his dues otherwise they`ll cut off his utility connections.
This is why I am repeating again and again that the author lacks proper knowledge and research which is required to pen down an article on this topic.
8) Neither Imran Khan nor Dr. Tahirul Qadri have offered real solutions.
Clearly the author hasn`t heard the speeches of Dr.Qadri where he outlined his agenda and plan.
The author can read this | https://operationpakistan.wordpress.com/?s=10+point+agenda | to find out how Dr.Qadri has proposed to deal the the problems this country is facing.
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This is just a brief explanation. I suggest the author to view speeches of last 45 days as Dr.Qadri as clearly explained all the points in detail.
9) Pakistan is facing many crises that deserve attention.
I can do nothing but laugh. The marches started for this very reason. The government failed to tackle everything. The current government and the system are the root causes of rapidly worsening crises. As far as the IDPs are concerned Minhaj ul Quran , run by Dr.Qadri sent 20 trucks with aid supplies of over Rs 200 million. The annual 10 day spiritual retreat during Ramadan, was cancelled by Dr.Qadri and all the allocated expenses were used to help the IDPs. Minhaj Welfare Organization is also working in the flood affected areas for relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Had the author done prior research, she`d have known that Dr.Qadri runs a humanitarian organization which is present in over 90 countries with a special consultative status from UN ECOSOC. The organization is autonomous has been worked for peace and inter faith harmony since last 30 years. Moreover Minhaj Welfare Organization ( http://www.minhajwelfare.org/ ) is actively carrying out aid, relief and rehabilitation operations not just in Pakistan but also in Gaza, Syria and Africa.
10) Power vacuums aide extremism.
I agree with the author. This statement however, is totally irrelevant with the current internal situation of Pakistan. It is well known that the ruling party has connections with the banned terrorist organizations. Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef was a supporter of Osama Bin Laden in the past and the links of the current government with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are not hidden from anyone. PM Sharifs daughter is married to a prince in Saudi Arabia. Current government was against Operation Zarb e Azb which has now broken the back bone of TTP in Pakistan.
This movement is in reality a pre-emptive strike to stop Pakistan from slipping towards a brutal civil war. This movement is in reality for the strengthening of the institutions. The same institutions which have been hollowed out. Lets not forget that PM Sharef ordered the attack on Supreme Court back in late 90`s. Lets also not forget that PM Sharef almost caused a civil war and revolt within the Army in 1999 by sacking the Army Chief in mid-air.

With this I rest my case.
Danial Ahmed
Team Operation Pakistan
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2 Replies to “Illusion of a democracy”

    1. I can`t speak for Imran Khan but I can say that as far as Dr.Qadri is concerned he has dual Nationality and under Pakistani law he cannot run for government due to dual nationality status..therefore looking at this fact and complimenting it with his proposal of changes and reforms, I believe he is seeking to empower the citizens, but doing so will in my opinion inevitably require strong leadership for an interim period to allow the new setup to cement its roots.

      I also have nothing to believe that Imran Khan wants all the power for himself either. However his proposals haven`t been so clear. He believes that having honest people in the parliament will change things and then reforms can be done.

      Like

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