The One Thing Indians And Pakistanis Both Complain About But Equally Love And Live By, Corruption

…the decision and structure to remain corrupt lies with the people of both these nations, and sadly the consensus remains to continue those practices…

Advertisements

The Wall Street Journal has a great article, One Cheer for Corruption in India by an Indian writer about how the rich and corrupt ruling classes got richer by hook or by crook, while blaming the lower class Hindus (sadly Hindus have classes of people considered from the highest to the lowest, “untouchables”) and Muslims, who make up the poor.

That was something I had seen in my own visit to New Delhi, India many years ago. I commented on how Pakistan cannot just compete with India, but do even “better” in the unfortunate field of growing corruption.

“What an interesting and thought-provoking piece. I am an American, here for 25 years, but came from Pakistan, an almost completely Muslim country.

When Pakistanis have time to spare from making conspiracy theories, we have a holier than thou posture embedded into the national genome. A plunder today because tomorrow never comes mentality is in the blood of the rich elite — and of bureaucrats in positions to take bribes to help those rich get richer. I can sadly confirm that Corruption is institutionalized in both India and Pakistan.

We can blame the way the British set up these societies to rot from the inside, by empowering government servants with authority but poor salaries and leaving wealth in the hands of a few who could only keep it or grow it by avoiding the regulations those bureaucrats had to be paid off to look the other way on. (Yes, I know, run on sentence, but that is the intricate long flow of the full circle of corruption in these countries).

But, blame as we may the British, after six decades of independence, the decision and structure to remain corrupt lies with the people of both these nations, and sadly the consensus remains to continue those practices,

Imran Anwar
IMRAN.TV

Imran Anwar on Imran Khan: Why The Future Of Awakened Pakistan Is Not In One Man’s Hands

“National destinies are created by people, not by leaders, dictators, pedagogues, or sycophants. Pakistan needs to be saved not from America, but from (illiterate, violent, extremist, close-minded, crooked, corrupt) Pakistanis, by Pakistanis (who still believe in the great future that the nation is capable of achieving).” ~ Imran Anwar

The news media are buzzing about a rather large political protest gathering that took place in Pakistan. People seem galvanized and gravitating more to a national hero Cricket player, turned populist politician. Much that I am happy to see the silent majority Pakistani public starting to rise, I do not have much hope for the person they are following, even though I like and respect him. Here’s why.

Imran Khan was about a decade ahead of me at Aitchison College, Lahore, Pakistan, and about 100 years ahead of me in popularity (and dashing good looks 🙂 ). He will always have my respect for sacrificing his popularity not for wealth but for a Cancer Hospital (in the memory of his late mother). With that one mission in life, he has done more good than Zardari, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharaff combined could do – even if they had tried.

However, there were two reasons Imran Khan struggled in his quest for national power.

Initially it was the typical curse of Third World countries like Pakistan… the same “awam” (عوام – public/populace) that curses crooked politicians is also the one that votes them in to power. Why? Because the crooks are the ones who will help peddle influence illegally, to get things done when voters ask for favors. Someone supposedly aboveboard will not. So, he, like Imran Khan, will stay on the fringe and not get real power. This one sad realization was one major reason I said good bye to my political aspirations in Pakistan when I left 20 years ago. (I do salute Imran Khan for staying and putting up a good fight, even at great personal risk).

Now that the Arab Spring in the Middle East, the Occupy Wall Street in the United States, and far more importantly, the middle class uprising in India against corruption has vested interests and tyrants (political and economic) running for cover, Imran Khan may have a real chance.

But, that brings us to the second serious problem. He is still hampered by lack of any clear (articulated) PLAN that he would execute on, if he was in power. Even his speech in his largest rally (which is being reported on by media including the New York Times, etc.) was another “letdown”.

Richard Nixon meeting with President Bhutto of...Image via Wikipedia
The only Pakistani leader who could get away with rambling speeches, and still have a million people or more listening and jumping into action, was the late, once-great, later-tyrannical, deposed and hanged Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Imran Khan is nowhere near that man’s stature, statesmanlike quality, popularity, or even vision. In the end, even with his charisma (that Bill Clinton would want to learn from), speaking ability (that Barack Obama would dream of achieving without a teleprompter), it was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s hubris, putting the interests of his crooked henchmen ahead of the nation’s, and having no more vision and plan beyond getting re-elected, that got him hanged by General Zia-ul-Haq and the military.
Picture of imran khan infront of the flag of P...Image via Wikipedia
Imran Khan needs to do more than gather 100,000 people (and make a meaningless speech).

Even I can make a speech about what the problems in Pakistan are, name who the crooks are, and why we need to solve the problems….

But, without saying HOW I would solve the problems, WHO I would have as my trusted and nationally trusted lieutenants to execute the plan, I too would be as useless in power as Imran Khan will be – if he does by some twist of fate find himself in government.

Unfortunately, even 15 years in politics getting to this point, Imran Khan, whom I would love to see in power compared to the current crop of so-called leaders, has neither stated his vision, nor articulated his strategy, and neither has he shared a roadmap and execution plan. That is what makes Pakistan’s leadership void doubly sad.

Even worse, regardless of his Western education and former lifestyle, Khan’s current wave of popularity is driven by a populist state-the-obvious (politicians are crooks and have done nothing for Pakistan), blame-USA fervor (while sometimes sounding like a Taliban apologist).

Yes, the current leaders and even the opposition are crooks. News Flash: So are the ones in the USA and other countries. (Italy‘s Premier could give Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari a run for the money and the scandalous behavior).  Yes, the USA has a shameful record in Pakistan. Yes, Pakistan’s spineless sellout leaders have allowed even more exploitation for their own power. But, Pakistan had economic problems since independence. It has had ethnic near-civil war in different regions for decades before 9/11 or America’s arrival in Afghanistan.

Without addressing specific problems that Pakistanis themselves tolerate — and allow their leaders to create — neither the cronyism-loving leaders, populist personalities, nor well-intentioned analysts, or worse, power-hungry dictatorial generals, can change the country’s future.

As I have said in my own public speaking and on radio & television…. “National destinies are created by people, not by leaders, dictators, pedagogues, or sycophants. Pakistan needs to be saved not from America, but from (illiterate, violent, extremist, close-minded, crooked, corrupt) Pakistanis, by Pakistanis (who still believe in the great future that the nation is capable of achieving).”

What do you think?

© 2011 Imran Anwar
IMRAN.TV

 

 

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 

Pakistan Democracy: The Long March, The First Step

What a difference a day makes. What an even bigger difference a week can make.

What an amazing and exciting week this has been for Pakistan as a nation. Its elected leaders had just recently squandered a historic opportunity to set Pakistan boldly and directly on the path to institution and nation building.

On more than one occasion, on TV and radio, I had compared Pakistan, as a nation and especially as a government, to the ship Titanic, except that this one had deliberately hit every iceberg it could find.

Just when it seemed that the current government in Islamabad had completely forgotten the lessons of history – of merely one year ago – something changed. It had appeared that the policies of Islamabad were surely and not so slowly pushing Pakistan in the direction of chaos and eventual return of martial law.

As someone who has told his share of lawyer jokes, for the last one year I have had nothing but praise and kudos for the barristers and attorneys of Pakistan. Theirs is a career dependent upon daily earnings, made from daily work outside the court houses of Pakistan. One could not have been imagined that profession as the consistent and unstoppable source of the year-long protest movement. What the lawyers of Pakistan carried out was doubly special, as they did it against not one but two tyrants within one year.

Besides self-inflicted wounds, almost exactly of the kind that General Musharraf suffered from, perhaps there was some hubris or misconception in Islamabad. Maybe there was a feeling that people in Pakistan have become immune to tyranny. Perhaps it was felt that when push comes to shove Pakistanis are so used to having people in power do what they please that nothing would come out as protest against any power grab carried out by Islamabad.

But just when it seemed that our ship PNS Titanic was headed straight into a minefield, surrounded by icebergs, in the midst of the perfect storm, the most amazing opposite perfect storm arose in response. The nation became a nation.

The Long March, as it was called, was the best example of a peaceful (at least by Pakistani standards) uprising by the people of Pakistan to have their way with an elected ruler trying to cling to, and expand, his power.

I was in Lahore in 1977 when it happened the last time. I remember driving past puddles of blood covered with ash in dozens and dozens of locations on The Mall where anti-PPP protesters had been killed by the government at that time. This time however, thankfully, the perfect storm that arose was one of common sense, decency, courage and people power.

In particular in addition to the lawyers of Pakistan, there are many people I, even as a New York-based Pakistani, want to give thanks to.
This includes Prime Minister Gilani for his understanding of which way the wind was blowing and helping President Zardari see some light. General Kayani must have had to fight the urge not to take over the government. It must have been difficult when the elected leaders were themselves creating a situation that was going to endanger not just law and order in Islamabad but bring chaos across the nation.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has grown in stature not just within Pakistan but also abroad. He is being praised for taking a stand on principle, showing patience and then being very statesmanlike in his response to broken promises from Islamabad. To then show courage and refuse house arrest to march upon Islamabad put him on a much higher level of leadership than he was at before.

Even the police officers who, after some “kaarwai“, showed common sense and decency, either to resign or to let the protesters begin their march towards Islamabad, should be considered heroes of democracy. As most of my readers and fans know from my background, during my days at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore, in the early 1980s,

I was a student leader and chief organizer of QSF. The Islami Jamiate Taliba, as well as its parent, the Jamate Islami, were considered the mortal enemies of liberal organizations like ours. They even murdered Anas Choudhry, a final year student member of QSF, the year I joined UET.

But, today, as during the previous year, I am happy to give credit to this party for its principled stand against tyranny and dictatorship.

I never thought it possible, but even a member of the very political party and inner circle of Islamabad, Ms. Sherry Rehman, deserves praise for her decency, courage – and good timing – in resigning her position. It can be argued that she did it because there were others interfering in her ministry rather than what the government was doing to the independent media. But I, and the people, still give credit for her resignation.

Many of these things would not have become possible had it not been for the courageous, first-time in the life of our nation, stand of the real Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Choudhry, and his fellow judges, who resigned under General Musharraf.

They stayed out of office and jobs, despite pressure, incentives and other tricks that governments have at their disposal in Islamabad. I will avoid passing comment on the people who sold out their souls to get the appointments that they got. But I hope that this new chapter in Pakistan’s history will also be the time when we start naming our villains for future generations to remember and spit on the names of.

Another hero, an entire industry really, that is among the less respected professions around the world these days, including America, was the Pakistani media. I say this not as a member of the media but as a proud Pakistani American who was ashamed of the silent acquiescence of American media in George Bush and Dick Cheney‘s shameless rape of the American Constitution and human rights around the world.

American media cannot be shut down by any government. Yet the media here quietly let the Bush government do whatever it wanted.

The Pakistani government, through many of its Stone Age laws curtailing freedom of expression and press, can shut down almost any Pakistani media entity. The bigger they get in Pakistan, the more the government can squeeze them. Even as a teenager I know how many magazines Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto, whom I then admired, shut down for being critical of his policies. Urdu Digest was one that frequently had to reappear under other names.

I was a member of the press in Pakistan when vile dictator General Zia-ul-Haq gave many journalists a taste of what a dictator can do. He had writers’ nails pulled with pliers to make them stop criticizing him.

For the Pakistani media to have stood up, first to General Musharraf and then to the current Zardari government in Islamabad, at great risk and financial loss to themselves, is another element to celebrate in this great victory of the people. A lot of credit goes to GEO TV, Jang and many other media.

Lack of space and time prevent me from individually thanking every single group or individual, like Mr. Aitezaz Ahsan, who played a central role in this great turnaround. God bless you all, for being the new heroes of a new democracy that can still rise in our nation.

The long march may have been intended for Islamabad, but it may turn out to be something far more important.

The Long March may have become The First Step in a thousand-mile journey – to the true destiny of Pakistan – as a great, free, democratic society ready to take its place in history.

“Qadam Barhao Saathio, Qadam Barhao”

Imran Anwar is a New York and sometimes Florida based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

India’s Triumphant Cultural & Political March

India’s Triumphant Cultural & Political March:

From The Slums Of Bollywood To The Red Carpet Of Hollywood

By Imran Anwar

(New York) It was nearly 30 years ago that my first writings were published in a major Pakistani newspaper, the once defunct and then reborn Pakistan Times. The writings continued during my time with the Jang group, in particular MAG Weekly, in the late 1980s, until I left for the United States.

All during that time, despite all my criticisms of whoever was in power at that time in Pakistan, my writings were always full of hope, desire and confidence of a great future that Pakistan had ahead of it. I also often wondered about why people older than me, some who had also travelled abroad, were far more cynical and much less hopeful.

All through that time I had always been the staunchest supporter and the defender of the name of Pakistan, whether it be in writing letters to the editors of foreign journals and newspapers critical of Pakistan or trying to convince foreign diplomats and journalists, as well as Western citizens, about how great Pakistan was going to be.

One of the important yardsticks, which would perhaps now be called a Meter stick under the metric system, was how we were doing in comparison to India. I distinctly recall how Pakistan had always been a pro-western, America-allied, fairly liberal, capitalism driven society.

India, on the other hand, was a country we competed with on the field of sports, the battlefield, as well as for international influence. We used to laugh at the ugly, dinky little cars that the Indians made, instead of importing the fancy ones we were driving in Pakistan.

Yet in the last 20 years that I have lived in America, India has made amazing, impressive and steady marching progress towards becoming a major global player – in almost every industry in the world. Pakistan during that same time seems to have sprinted downhill – faster than any Olympic athlete could.

It should have been a matter of concern for us when India, the long staunch Soviet and Communist ally, became a major trading partner of the United States, a country on which we had long relied, and whose foreign policies we had often followed. India developed a pool of engineering and other professionals, providing services, engineering, talent and operational capabilities to the world’s largest companies.

In doing so they earned billions and billions of dollars for their country. During this time, we in Pakistan saw the decline of the educational system, the breakdown of institutions, if any existed, and simply the beginning of the end of what might have been a great future.

It was a matter of personal disappointment, almost shame, for me that the day that India launched its first astronaut into space was also the same day that Pakistan went to the International Monetary Fund to beg for survival money. Shame.

During the same time that we were making a name for ourselves, for kidnapping and beheading visitors to our country, India launched, and continues to run, one of the most impressive media campaigns to promote tourism in its country.

Titled “Incredible India!” this campaign appears in major newspapers, magazines and many other places. It simply takes almost exactly the same kind of tourism places and situations that Pakistan could offer visitors but turns it into a must-visit, mystique-filled, once-in-a-lifetime, cultural experience image.

During this time despite the proliferation of private TV channels in Pakistan, another field where the Indians have done an amazing job has been their film industry. They have leveraged it not just in making a name for themselves, but marketing their country and becoming a source of talent abroad. In addition, in exchange, they are bringing even more visitors and foreign exchange to their country,

First their hottest movie stars started appearing in Hollywood films. Then, despite many Indian movies being barely concealed copies of Hollywood scripts, India was able to convince Hollywood to make many Indian-themed movies.

Then they tied their greater and greater visibility in Hollywood, ever improving quality of Bollywood films – which were getting screened in America. They then mixed in marketing of India and its culture and cemented it with the welcoming of American tourists and filmmakers. This was an amazing recipe to lead India to one of its greatest global public relations successes just a few minutes ago.

The Academy Awards ceremony has just concluded in Hollywood, California. As this publication is going to press, the whole world (including a television audience of probably 1 billion people, along with the many millions more who will read newspapers and see photographs online) has seen India emerging as a triumphant victor on yet another field. This time it’ the red carpet of Hollywood and the Oscars ceremony.

Even a movie called Slumdog Millionaire, set against the backdrop of the intense poverty that can be found in India, has turned into a global publicity and financial victory for India, its culture, its movie industry, its tourism and its economy.

And this is not just about showbiz or something that has no global or historic significance. India’s clout, its visibility, its popularity and its new-found confidence – even from something as simple as a movie award – is manifesting itself in its ability to dictate to the world.

India can now even dictate what President Barack Hussein Obama‘s team can or will discuss with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan – who are now in Washington DC.

India not only did not attend the meeting, it made clear to the American government that Kashmir is not to be discussed. The American administration agreed to that. In the meantime the same American Administration has expanded the missile strikes it will carry out within Pakistan – while Pakistan’s shameless politicians are merely fighting over dissolving assemblies and not even worried about justice, the one promise that people had asked to be fulfilled, from Karachi to Swat.

The early copies of tomorrow’s New York Times show the exactly opposite paths that two countries born on the same day in history have taken.

The Indian movie industry’s massive triumph on the Hollywood red carpet is one headline related to India. On the same page, the news item related to Pakistan is about a secret United States unit now in Pakistan to train its commandos to battle AlQaeda and the Taliban.

While American companies, and even individual creative types, are literally discussing over cocktails this very minute the next project they want to do in India, the few people discussing Pakistan are wondering if Pakistan will even survive as a nation.

I wonder if I will be around in 20 years to write a similar analysis. And I wonder where in history, geography and world affairs Pakistan will stand on that day. What do you think?


Imran Anwar is a New York based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com and imran@imran.com . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar

IMRAN.TV: (Urdu) “What’s Next In Pakistan-India, Palestine-Israel Issues & Obama Administration?”

Imran Anwar, IMRAN.TV, New York, Local video feed clip of Pakistani TV channel’s question:

Q. What is the situation in America and what comes next for India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestine and other issues under the Obama administration?

What is your opinion?

Category: News & Politics

IMRAN.TV: (Urdu) “What Are People’s Expectations From Obama?”

Imran Anwar, IMRAN.TV, New York, Local video feed clip of Urdu TV channel’s question:

Q. What are people’s expectations of President Barack Hussein Obama?

What is your opinion?

Category: News & Politics

IMRAN.TV: Should India Attack Pakistan Over Mumbai?

There is a lot of discussion going on about the possibility of India attacking Pakistan over the Mumbai events. Even in the best of times two countries considering war as an option is usually a lose lose lose situation for them and the world.

For them to be two nuclear armed countries simply means an even bigger disaster for the whole world. For India to be a predominantly Hindu country, with Hindu extremists tried to come into power, and for Pakistan to be a dominantly Muslim country, with Muslim fanatics trying to take over power, the plot thickens. The possibility of a mushroom cloud rising over many cities in South Asia becomes even greater.

India was attacked, possibly by people from Pakistan. Pakistan denies it, but may also be in denial in itself. Kashmir is the most likely root cause. Should India attack Pakistan over the Mumbai events? Let’s view the video.

Should India Attack Pakistan Over Mumbai?Imran Anwar http://imran.TV / http://imran.com/media/blog/ comments on India and Indians wanting to attack Pakistan for Mumbai attacks.