Archive | September, 2012

Response to Saeed Khalid’s News Piece

27 Sep

This article is in response to Saeed Khalid’s opinion piece (“As the Tsunami Passes) published in The News on 27th September. Having just left PTI, i concede to the fact that i have a series of differences with the emerging new ideology PTI is adopting. However, within this opinion piece by Mr. Khalid, a certain existing mindset is manifested. This is the kind of mindset that PTI had originally opposed – the ideological stance that the party had stood for was affirmed for the last 15 years (not including this year which is the party’s 16th year of existence). First and foremost, for Mr. Khalid to say that Khan should have joined an existing party comes as a strange sort of suggestion to me, as im sure it does to a large proportion of society who see Khan as a visionar leader representing change. What the status quo parties in Pakistan represent is a complete disregard for the masses, as is seen through blatant corruption. Moreover, parties like PML-N and PPP put on a facade for the public by which the former is what is, in most democracies, termed “an opposition,” but the minute they step foot into the parliament, any principles they claim to stand for disappear to ensure they remain in government in Punjab. It is this self-interest of these political parties that made PTI stand out for its principles. Therefore, to even suggest to Khan to have “tested the waters” by joining political parties with only self-interest at heart seems a little ridiculous.
On a second level, PTI’s decision to boycott the by-elections is criticized by Mr. Khalid. This, again, was a principled stance taken by the party that seemed to give the impression to all (be it false now) that a cheap shot at power was not necessary. Building up this sort of hope and desire for change through clean electoral politics is a decision that Khan and his party took which still represents the old party ideology. Thirdly, to suggest that a division be made between the electoral bunch and the think tank bunch is just absurd. Intra-party elections will hopefully filter out those electables who have consistently party-hopped, and who may be financially clean, but nonetheless, self-serving. This entire mindset of needing “electables” is what must be completely eroded from the history of Pakistani electoral politics in order for a truly democratic and representative system to emerge.
Conclusively, i agree with the points made regarding the need to come into parliament – however, i don’t think that these seats should be occupied by those very individuals who are responsible for the condition our country is in, in the status quo. If Khan can ensure an equal playing field for intra-party elections and eradicate this “big money” culture (which has manifested itself via their recent actions), i pray for nothing but their success, as, at the end of the day, it is the only party that is yet untried.

Shireen Mazari’s Resignation Letter

26 Sep

Imran Khan, Esq

Chairman PTI,

Islamabad                                                                                                        25th September 2012

 

 

 

Dear Imran,

 

It is with great sadness and disappointment that I am writing to let you know I have been compelled to leave PTI. As you know, when you came to see me at the time you had just formed PTI, I had made a commitment to you that I would join PTI only whenever I was able to join direct politics, especially electoral politics. I totally agreed with your vision for change, especially in the context of foreign policy which has always been a central focus of mine for over 40 years. So it was with absolutely no hesitation that I came to see you in 2008 after the elections PTI boycotted. I joined PTI with no bargaining for any position. All I sought was an assurance that the same ideals, again especially in terms of change and foreign policy, still prevailed.

 

I worked for the Party and tried to help any way I could – be it with Omar Cheema in the media or with the administration of the Islamabad office as well as formulating an alternate viable foreign policy narrative for the Party. The most encouraging and vital aspect of PTI at the time was the driving sense everyone had that we were going to be the harbingers of change not only in terms of nationalist policies for Pakistan but also in a new egalitarian non-elitist political culture. In fact this egalitarianism prevailed throughout the party beginning with yourself, which allowed for a truly democratic interaction in the Party.

 

In addition, your appeal of change was your own style of politics where you reached out directly to the masses of the electorate. It may have taken a long time but the Lahore 2011 jalsa was the game changer for Pakistan’s electoral politics. Unfortunately after the Lahore Oct 2011 jalsa, after which you, like ZA Bhutto, could have built up your party’s existing leadership including the large group of middle class and professional followers you had into potential “electables” who would directly interact with the people, you chose to open the floodgates for old traditional “electables”. 

 

 So, after trying to accept the new PTI realities for some time, I feel in all honesty I cannot go along with this post-Lahore PTI for the following reasons:

 

  1. This shift in moving from directly reaching out to the electorate to using intermediaries  – the so-called “electables” – between the people and yourself has gradually turned the PTI into a traditional political party with all the excess baggage that that connotes.  No doubt some of these “electables” are indeed financially clean, but to effectively hand them control of the Party was unwarranted. After all if they were so skilled and committed to principles then why were they unable to formulate policies to improve the country? Most had been Party hopping and had occupied public offices for substantive time periods yet they represented no stream of change or an alternative narrative to the status quo. The energy policy of PTI reflects this status quo mindset as does the economic policy which is effectively purely a fiscal policy set to please the IMF! A whole critique can be made of the economic policy but the main point is that it has no relief for the common man, including a total absence of any reduction in utility rates. It is strange that while you have been critiquing GST and indirect taxation consistently and correctly, the PTI economic policy has done a total reversal on this position – reflective of the policy shifts being made in PTI.
  2. A new culture of money has sprung up with big money taking over Party programmes. The plane and helicopter dependency is one reflection of this but so are other disturbing happenings like the donation of Rs 50 lakhs by one individual to some ISF leaders directly – ostensibly for aiding the membership drive – instead of it going via the Party account.
  3. The membership drive itself through membership booklets has some serious questions hanging over it and I did try to raise these in the PSC meeting on the issue but to no avail. I still maintain that by selling the booklets we allowed the rich members to purchase huge amounts of the booklets and then make their members with no check on whether these books were being filled simply to build up local support for the intra party elections at Union and District levels or whether the members being enlisted were genuinely believers and supporters of PTI! Also rumours abound about motorbikes and other gifts being given by the big money players to people who managed to make a certain number of members. In other words, the intra-Party elections are not going to be held on a level playing field by any yardstick!
  4. The reality is that today PTI has been effectively taken over by traditional politicians reflecting big money and/or feudal “sardars”.  As if that is not disappointing enough, retired civil and military bureaucrats have also found senior niches in the Party. Tragically none of these new entrants can bring about the change which PTI had been promising.
  5. To make matters worse, our think tanks which contain some of the most senior technocrats have been totally ignored in policy making despite some very competent people being present there like Mr Pervez Butt who headed our PAEC for many years. All these competent people have been either totally ignored or treated with utter disdain by the big money players.
  6. As for the incident in Rajanpur, I maintain my position that you could have driven the one hour distance from DG Khan to Rajanpur and I had offered Mr Tareen for your group to stay overnight at my village if you could not make it to Mr Tareen’s farm in Lodhran. The next day you had to go to Sindh and my village was much closer and Mr Tareen has an airstrip next door in Jamaldinwali so his plane could have come to pick your party up.  That I made the critical speech before our people in Rajanpur was necessary as I felt their pain – since they had waited from 11 am right uptil 4 45 pm! Many were flood affectees and to simply suggest that they should be reassembled from across the district the next day was not possible.
  7. Sadly, instead of resolving the issue amicably, your social media and their “trolls” chose to use filthy abuses against my daughter which compelled her to leave the party; and you chose to adopt a vengeful posture by serving me with a show cause notice and then sending a message that I should make a public apology and retract my statement. Since I maintain I did nothing wrong and since there was nothing incorrect in my statement about the takeover of the Party, I will not dignify the show cause notice with a response – especially since the points cited in it also happen to be factually incorrect.
  8. I have never doubted your integrity or commitment but unfortunately you are being overwhelmed by those who have never had an ideology in all the years they were in politics or the bureaucracy. It is not enough to simply have faith in you because a Party is defined by more than one man – it is defined by its collective leadership.
  9. I hope that we are not reduced to abuse and name calling on the social media again as it will not do anyone any good. I do not want to reduce myself to personal attacks and we refrained from such filth even when my daughter was being subjected to filthy abuse. But there are limits to everyone’s patience.
  10. If PTI really does choose to revert to directly relating to the masses, its original character and ideology of change and justice, I will be there to serve the Party in any way I can. For me coming into electoral politics through PTI was simply to affect national agendas in a way that qualitatively changes Pakistan for the better. Sadly, the commitment to change, that made us all in PTI develop a comradeship and bond that was unique, is withering away fast in all but name. So it is with a heavy heart that I leave PTI knowing that the only change PTI has brought has been in yourself and the nature of the collective leadership.

 

Shireen M Mazari                                           

My Decision to Leave PTI

18 Sep

I can tolerate criticism regarding my work, my attitude towards ex-fellow party members and a lot of other things but one thing I have put up with for the last 6 months (since April when I joined PTI in Rajanpur District) is abuse and character assassination. This is something I am simply not ready to tolerate anymore, be it for PTI or anything/anyone else; my respect and principles are more important to me than a party that continues to attack me despite my contributions to it ever since I joined. Admitted, I have made mistakes in the past, but being called a “prostitute,” or hearing/reading insults regarding my late grandfather by PTI workers is simply unacceptable. Yes, I wear what I want and I live my personal life exactly the way I want to – that is between me and myself; no one else ever had or will ever have a right to comment on it. I will never make any apologies for the way I choose to live my personal life. I tolerated my personal life being put up for criticism and abuse by PTI workers and ignored it because I believed in PTI’s vision and did not want to put any impediments in the way to their success.

When PTI started taking in feudals and lotas, I stood by them because Khan convinced us that he knew what he was doing. Despite his dictatorial decisions in the PSC in granting Musharraf’s ex-ministers the most significant positions in the party, I stood by my ex-leader. I trusted his judgment. I trusted that these people were coming into our party because they had changed and wanted a Pakistan that was a democratic, progressive welfare state. I was only to realize slowly and gradually how impaired my judgment had been. I even went so far as to stick by my party when party workers hurled stones at me and literally molested me at the Pindi Jalsa because I thought “if its for Pakistan, I can stick it out.” I just recently realized, well no, its not really for Pakistan is it? Is this a Pakistan any sane person would want to say? Admitted, PTI is the only option right now as the others have PROVEN to be corrupt and inefficient, but why should I continue to defend a party where a) not only am I abused but b) the senior party leadership has only its power-hungry interests at heart.

When I was angry, I wrote a 2 page article on specific people that were discrediting PTI and details of how they were influencing Khan to move away from the ideology we have had for 16 years. This was till I realized, I’m better than that. Just because PTI had treated me like dirt doesn’t mean I’m going to reciprocate such disgusting treatment. PTI Rajanpur and I will continue to work on an individual level on social work projects which are my main aim for the next few years. The people of Rajanpur are just as much my responsibility as I am theirs. I will continue to speak for those oppressed as I have always done – no Leghari or feudal sardar is going to be able to defeat that part of me. I truly pray that Khan wakes up and realizes that his party has been hijacked, as my mother stated, which only resulted in sick PTI workers abusing her as well, conveniently forgetting about how hard she has worked for Pakistan all her life, even without party affiliations. Khan may think he knows what he’s doing, but when he passes comments (regarding the Rajanpur jalsa which he did not attend), saying “convince them to come back later/why cant they just come back tomorrow,” I feel he has lost touch with the poverty-stricken and neglected population of not only Southern Punjab, but Pakistan, as a whole. These were poor people, most of them affected directly by the floods, who had borrowed money to try to make ends meet just to be able to hear Khan speak to them for 20 minutes. A delay in DGK, sitting and convincing more sardars to lend their support just doesn’t cut it as a justification for keeping these people waiting. If it had been just the wait, one could even forgive that – but the fact that he didn’t even bother apologizing to those people was what made me sick to my stomach. What pushed it one step forward was Awais Leghari’s attack against my mother, calling her  “unreasonable” for standing up for people who are oppressed by the system his feudal mindset propagates.

I for one am tired of slogans of change without any concrete policy. I sincerely pray internal party elections result in the removal of damaging elements from within PTI. I could write on and on about how senior leadership in the party has disrespected one another, including Khan’s disrespect towards my mother, but that’s another issue which I do not wish to delve into – ENOUGH of dirty politics.

Pakistan is and always will be my home; my soil to which I will always give back in whichever way I can – but I can no longer remain in a party where my ideology conflicts with theirs. If it is really a change Khan wants to bring about, why is the old guard of PTI shunned and humiliated so that he can use Tareen’s private jet? How Imran Khan thinks this isn’t elitism shocks me!

InshaAllah when I have my degree in hand and have served Pakistan to the extent where I feel I am in a position to re-enter politics, I have no other ambition but to do so. Until that day, health, education, women’s rights and other projects that I had been working on in Pakistan will not come to an end. Infact, with no party affiliation, I am in a more credible position to carry out my work. To all those who abused me and my family, I pray for you and hope you develop into decent human beings because that is something that PTI clearly hasn’t taught you. Criticizing Imran Khan does not make me a “traitor.” I am free to criticize on issues where I feel the nation is being misled; blind faith in a leader (any leader at all) is not the way I work – sorry to disappoint.

I appreciate the work that the Imran Khan Foundation and Shaukat Khanum are engaging in – but that’s what Imran Khan is superb at; social work. He is an asset for Pakistan in terms of his dedication in the field of social work. As a politician, I feel like he needs to remember who he was 15 years ago and what vision he had because it no longer exists in the party. What are considered “electables” aren’t what Pakistan needs – what we need is an honest and focused leader who will stick to his initial convictions and beliefs even when offered the short cut.