FBR should be a no-go area for political carpetbaggers


Whether or not a businessman should be controlling the tax administration is an issue of political ethics but the situation of conflict of interest has led to murder of justice, merit and fairplay in promotion of senior tax officers


Those in the business of political wheeling-dealing have a different kind of Midas Touch; while they make tons of money from whichever institution they lay their hands on, they ultimately discredit, deface, mutilate and destroy it beyond repair and recognition. The first institution that was systematically destroyed by politicians in 1970s was civilian bureaucracy whose members were stripped of the constitutional protection which is enjoyed by civil servants everywhere else. The idea was to subjugate State machinery and use it for personal gains and as a conduit to transfer ill-gotten billions made through corrupt practices and stash the money in off-shore safe havens. PIA, Pakistan Steel, Pakistan Railways, WAPDA and other public sector enterprises are glaring examples of how greedy and incompetent politicians at the helm can be death knell for otherwise vibrant and profit making enterprises.

Constitutional protection to civil servants is the key to independence of State institutions

It has, therefore, become a time-tested dictum that illiterate and corrupt politicians should only be allowed policy-making which is their fundamental responsibility. They should have no role in placement and promotion of civil servants. The institutions which are no-go area for politicians’ whims are the most successful and effective but those which operate, not on system but, on personal whims are already doomed to fail and eventually go extinct. Mercifully, one institution is still intact because, despite their wailing and bickering, they could not subjugate it to lay their hands on. And that institution, to the horror of politicos, has proved to be the backbone keeping the country together.

There is a system of civil servants’ initial appointment and promotion through FPSC and Central Selection Boards, which, as long as it remains out of political influence, functions smoothly. There are no systemic inadequacies in the working of the system. But when promotion becomes a reward, not for the quality of output in the assigned job as appraised by the system, but the personal service to the decision-makers, it corrupts the institutions.

There is a High-powered Selection Board for promoting civil servants to the top-grade of B-22. The Board consists of mainly the ministers and is headed by the Prime Minister himself. In order to regulate the working of this Board, and save the civil servants from political victimization, Pakistan’s apex court has clearly ruled that promotion to BS 22 can take place strictly and only on merit on the basis of criteria set forth for promotion. That leaves no room for whimsical discretions a la royal decrees and exercise of executive authority outside the boundaries of law.

According to press reports, however, this Board has recently promoted some members of tax administration to the top grade clearly in violation of the principles of merit and justice. Those who are senior and have impeccable record of service have been denied a well-earned promotion and those who are junior in the order of seniority have been promoted. And this all has been done in violation of orders of the apex court. The contempt with which these political rulers treat the system was evident from the fact that proceedings of the Board were conducted in absence of head of tax administration, Chairman FBR. To add insult to injury, the Omnipresent minister for finance who may have panacea for every known political ill but who is not even a member, sat on the Board to decide the promotions.

It has been alleged that outcome of the proceedings of the Board were already known to the victims. A special assistant to the PM, who is a businessman and should have no right to control the Revenue Division, had threatened upright officers with denial of promotion if they didn’t fall in line. It is obvious that in such a situation no honorable and upright civil servant would be awarded promotion irrespective of his legitimate right and genuine expectation. Whether or not a businessman should be controlling the tax administration is an issue of ethics and is not a subject of this piece but the situation of conflict of interest allowed by the government has led to massacre of justice, merit and ethics in promotion of senior tax officers.

If nothing else, Prime Minister of Pakistan can make one valuable contribution to be remembered even when he is no longer in office; he should declare all public institution as no-go area for politicians who are known for greed, cronyism, corrupt practices, mediocrity and every misdeed under the sky. The institutions like FBR are particularly sensitive as only upright and honorable tax managers can bring about some visible change in the tax culture. Whether or not the PM heeds to this critical demand will remain a billion-dollar question, at least for the foreseeable future.



How JuD can sabotage Kashmir’s indigenous struggle for freedom?

Due to its indigenous character, the Wani-triggered movement not only attracted the attention of international community, it also shook the conscience of Indian intelligentsia and people at large.


Burhan Muzaffar Wani, a social media warrior of liberation movement of Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir, was martyred in an encounter with occupation army of India on July 8, 2016. Through his social media campaign, he organized and fired up Kashmiri youth who had started feeling betrayed and disillusioned at the hands of their leaders and was frustrated at the atrocities of the occupation army. Wani, son of an educationist, was second of his siblings to have sacrificed his life to free his homeland from the clutches of Indian army.

Wani’s death has triggered a massive uprising invigorating the resistance movement which is more powerful than all the previous movements. This time it was purely indigenous in character. It was led and run by predominantly younger population of the valley. Due to its indigenous character, the movement not only attracted the attention of international community, it also shook the conscience of Indian intelligentsia and people at large. It was for the first time that the world realized that Kashmir’s liberation was a popular demand and a dream shared by all Kashmiris. The movement is genuinely gaining ground without any inference from across the Line of Control.

Probably for the first time, the valley, and the world saw massive and unprecedented rallies of furious youth holding Pakistani flags. The message was clear; India has lost any iota of moral right to be occupying Kashmir and that the youngest generation of the occupied valley wants no more nonsense from any quarter. Kashmiris want freedom from India through the exercise of right of self-determination promised by the United Nations.

Kashmiri sentiments have so far been exploited by many vested interest groups who have their own axe to grind and who look for an opportunity to take credit and serve their petty interests. These elements are both political and religious but political in the final analysis. Kashmiri leaders of all hues including APHC and other small political and militant groups have thoroughly disappointed Kashmiris. For fighting the cause of liberation, these organizations claim their own pound of flesh. Some jihadi organizations want to enforce their brand of religion in the valley but have brought death and destruction. Innocent and unarmed Kashmiri men and women have to suffer at the hands of fanatics and Indian army. These jihadis have tainted the genuine liberation movement as being sponsored by Pakistan or its agencies.

The latest spanner in the works was thrown by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed when he claimed that the man who was leading the processions following the killing of Burhan Wani, was a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant. HuD may have made valuable contribution in the service of humanity but in an effort of claiming credit for his organization, he may have harmed the cause for which Kashmiri youth have offered supreme sacrifices. Kashmir needs silent soldiers, not credit-seekers. As for Pakistan, she is committed to provide moral and diplomatic support for the cause of Plebiscite in Kashmir but it cannot isolate itself internationally by being seen as a sponsor of the jihadi activities.



Four imminent spoilers of Erdogan’s Caliphate ambitions


There are four possible spoilers that Erdogan is busy dealing with right now; democracy itself, professional armed forces, independent judiciary and free-thinking intelligentsia


The failed coup of last Friday has not only changed the way Turkey looked a week back, it has shaken the very foundations of the country and shattered the faith of its well-wishers. Those who had pinned their hopes on outcome of the coup and had expected that the failed coup would lead to strengthening of democracy are feeling disappointed at the way the president is dealing with the aftermath.

It gives shudders to see Recep Tayyip Erdogan coming out of closet like a monarch and thus, losing his democratic credentials. It is now clear that he is using the failed coup to realize his dreams of enjoying an absolute power;  revival of the “glory” of Caliphate is what his followers believe he’s striving to achieve. The Caliphate that Erdogan seems to have in his dreams is a one-man rule; where he is judge, jury and executioner all put together.

Erdogan has embarked upon a nation-wide crackdown starting from the moment the coup was pronounced abortive in the morning of Saturday. It seems that the government had already prepared the lists of those it wanted to purge and punish at the first opportunity. According to some estimates, nearly 6000 soldiers have been imprisoned while an equal number of judges and academicians has been sacked. Erdogan has slapped the Rule of Emergency on Turkey which would further enable him to achieve his goal of an absolute power with relative ease. According to draconian provisions of this arrangement, all those criticizing Erdogan policies would be deemed to be coup collaborators implying thereby that they would be punishable by death and imprisonment. The people will now taste the fruit of Caliphate during the Emergency.

There are certain aspects of the failed coup which are utterly confusing and the speed with which Erdogan had started to purge and punish the “potential enemies” of his style of democracy leave many to suspect the genuineness of the so-called coup. It seems that the coup was actually an excuse to tighten the grip on the reigns of the government and to ensure that there would be no “institutional spoilers” of the plans of Erdogan, his family and cronies to attain perpetual royalty in Turkey.

To be specific, there are four possible spoilers that Erdogan is busy dealing with; democracy itself, the armed forces, judiciary and intelligentsia.

He has already demonstrated fairly clearly his contempt for democracy by imposing the state of emergency in Turkey and, that he considers the institutions of a functioning democracy as major spoilers. When he was the prime minister, Erdogan enjoyed the powers of chief executive but when he became the figurehead president like in every other parliamentary democracy; he refused to accept this reality. He had plans to become an executive president and absolute monarch but lacked parliamentary support as his ambitions could only materialize after rewriting the Constitution by the parliament. The failed coup may have frightened his political opponents into submission to enable him to do what he wants.

Incidentally, he has few takers in Turkish urban centers as he draws his support from rural areas. People have now started believing that the steps being taken by Erdogan government after the failed coup would threaten the democracy in a more fatal way than the coup itself.

The second spoiler is the armed forces who consider themselves as custodians of Turkey’s secular Constitution. The soldiers are generally secular and would resist any attempt to disfigure the secular face of the country. They have a role in the decision-making under the Constitution. It is important to realize the dream of absolute control only after weakening the armed forces.

The plan was already there to purge the institution of the secular soldiers. Erdogan, without mincing words, has announced to restructure the military, sack old soldiers and induct fresh blood. One can sincerely hope that the president is not looking for an army loyal to him and his family. Sad reality is that by implication it means that the new military machine would be “politicized” and “toothless” meant only to do the royal bidding. Many of those who have been arrested for planning or executing the coup or who simply think differently are facing death or imprisonment.

This will badly demoralize the armed forces and a demoralized forces is not worth anything, not even good for guard of honor for the rulers. It should be kept in mind that Turkey has finely-trained armed forces and defense production infrastructure including NATO-standard shipyards. By virtue of its military might, Turkey is a distinguished member of NATO, a military alliance raised to fight Soviet expansionism during the Cold War. Treating the armed forces as spoilers and destroying them for personal gain would be a strategic blunder. If Erdogan puts his plan to implementation, it would end of Turkey as a military power of the Muslim world.

The third spoiler is the judiciary which could insist to go by the Constitution or simply resist the high-handedness of the regime unleashed on the detractors. It was the first to be taken care of by sacking nearly 3000 members of judiciary immediately after the coup.

The fourth spoiler is free-thinking intelligentsia who are accused of being under the influence of Sufi preacher Fethulla Gulen, a follower of Mevlana Rumi who was an ally during the earlier years of Erdogan rule. He is in self-exile in the US and is running a network of schools around the globe and even in Turkey. A free-thinking intelligentsia spread the virus of freedom of thought and could be a threat to Erdogan rule graver than other threats.

Even before the coup, democracy was under siege in Erdogan’s Turkey where independent writers, journalists and social media activists were jailed for criticizing Erdogan policies. The new wave of draconian laws would pave the way for a more personalized, autocratic and perpetual rule.

TIME: Turkey Seizes Over 2,250 Institutions in Post-Coup Crackdown

Why Erdogan is the sole beneficiary of a failed coup in Turkey?

The failed coup will strengthen the hands of president Erdogan to realize his dreams of becoming an all-powerful Sultan of Turkey


After the fateful Friday night of the coup-makers, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in charge of the affairs of his country again. When the ill-planned and poorly executed coup d’état was underway, the president was fortunate to be able to communicate with his people through FaceTime, an iPhone-specific smartphone application, from Mediterranean Sea coastal resort where he was spending his holidays. He urged his followers to resist the coup and rally in his favor on the roads to stop the coup. The people responded enthusiastically and furiously with the result that the coup-makers had to surrender or flee.

Why the attempted coup failed in the first instance and was it the people alone who resisted the armed coup through their unwavering faith in democracy as the best political system their country needed? That the coup was “unprofessional” in both planning and operation was on full display. Such “phony” coups are meant to fail in the end.

There are certain reasons being given for the failure of the coup-makers, one of them being unwavering support the people displayed for the president and the system he is presiding over. The other reason that is being given is the stability and prosperity brought by Erdogan and the quality of service delivered to people that endeared him in the eyes of his people. While there are no questions about the economic turnaround brought in by Erdogan, his popularity was progressively eroding due to national security and foreign policy misadventures and also the repressive policies to gag all voices pointing out his failures and allegations of corruption leveled against his family and friends and in particular, his son Bilal Erdogan.

Istanbul is his home-base from where Erdogan draws his political strength but it was the same city which erupted in massive protests against him in June 2013 over his plans to alter the face of city’s legendary Taksim Square. People blamed him for his iron-fisted repressive policies and doubted his credentials as a democrat. He was accused of ruling Turkey as a tyrant who wanted to push Turkey back to Caliphate era with unlimited powers in the hands of one person.

Erdogan always blamed Fethulla Gulen, an ally-turned-opponent for troubles against his government. Gulen is a preacher having significant influence in Turkey. He is currently living in the US off multiple businesses including a network of schools and think tanks. He is a considerable following in Turkey’s key institutions like military and judiciary. First thing that Erdogan did after resuming and tightening his control on Saturday morning was to arrest 3000 military men and more than 2700 members of judiciary suspected of having links with Gulen.

Erdogan has been in the process of wresting back the powers from Turkey’s military that have always wielded influence over the affairs of the state and had assumed the role of guardians of the system established by Ataturk, the Father of the Nation post-Caliphate. Erdogan established his authority by initially punishing senior generals accused of coup-making in the past. This failed coup, which is being blamed on the armed forces, will provide Erdogan the needed opportunity to tighten his control over the military.

Erdogan has had plans to rewrite country’s constitution but has not been able to do that so far. According to Foreign Policy, if the Turkish president views his survival as a mandate to assert greater control over the country, he’ll likely start with his long-running plan to rewrite the constitution to create an executive presidency that will give him greater power at the expense of the legislature and the prime minister.

It is now written on the wall that Erdogan will swiftly move to further tighten his iron grip over the country, further gag the media and dissenting voices and clear the way for absolute power in his hands. The coup will eventually strengthen the hands of president Erdogan to realize his dreams of becoming an all-powerful Sultan of Turkey.





Corporate interests of the religious elite and Edhi’s philanthropy



Mullahs’ religious decrees against Edhi were not issued for religious reasons; these are motivated by corporate interests of madrassas threatened by philanthropy.

Hussain Saqib

Religious seminaries, called madrassas, were established in the Sub Continent to impart education in theology. The seminaries were few and far between and were managed by those men of letters whose academic credentials and moral and economic integrity was above board. Not all who graduated from these seminaries devoted themselves to religion; some of them even joined mainstream and made valuable contributions in many fields. The economic condition of these seminaries was volatile and sources of revenues were mainly donations. The teachers were underpaid and the managers didn’t look at these institutions as cash cows.

With the passage of time, the seminaries, like educational institutions in private sector, assumed a corporate style and became a unique system of Religious Capitalism. It has now its own haves and have-nots. As the revenues streams surged, seminaries proliferated and it became a rewarding business. It created three classes; owners, employees and students who would eventually become teachers in these seminaries as the education imparted was irrelevant to the society.

Owners are the religious elite, a kind of bourgeoisie, who receive donations from legitimate and illegitimate sources and refuse transparency; teachers are underpaid and exploited because they have no other economic opportunity. As for the students, they are drawn from poorest strata because their parents can’t afford to feed and clothe them, let alone provide education. These students and their parents are exploited in the name of divine rewards and retribution too. The poor children are today the sole bread-winners of this religious capitalism but they have no share in the revenues except food and shelter and some lessons in theology which they call religious education. The disgusting sights of these kids kept in chains and shackles speak volumes about the quality of education at these seminaries and the major focus of the owners.

Thus a corporate world of madrassas was created with a proper corporate governance system. Almost all the entities, despite receiving donations from individual and governments at home and abroad including foreign governments, are family-run and family-owned enterprises. They expand and multiply and enrich the owners. The mullahs owning these madrassas are fat-cats of the society and live the life of luxury.

Like other businesses, the madrassa sector has its own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. While poverty and religious illiteracy are major opportunities, philanthropists working for improving the conditions of humanity are a major threat for the corporate interests of these madrassas. These philanthropists effectively share the pie which clergy claims to be the right of their seminaries.  Madrassa education with 7th century curriculum assumes priority over other things because the causes such as health, education and general uplift of poor masses cut no ice with mullahs.

They believe, and also make us believe, that those who are underprivileged under divine arrangement should remain so and it would be next to blasphemy to disturb this arrangement. These mullahs have mocked, ridiculed and even abused Abdul Sattar Edhi, the greatest philanthropist of our times, with worst invectives and declared him heretic for serving the humanity without discrimination.

Thus, if the madrassa elite of mullahs has issued religious decrees against Abdul Sattar Edhi, it is not for religious reasons; these decrees are motivated by economic interests of mullahs threatened by philanthropy. The best part of this is that people are, as was Edhi himself, not pushed by these degrees. Edhi has rightly assumed the status of a saint in the hearts and minds of people of this planet. And that is something which defeats religious exploitation of hapless majority of Pakistan.


Why Madinah blast is a bad omen for the House of Saud?


 Someone somewhere is planning to get rid of the baggage called the House of Saud. In all probability, the Holy Sites are not the target, the target is Custodian of these sites.


It is not like “swallow your own bitter pill and burn yourself in the fires of terrorism you have been stoking everywhere.” Bomb blasts outside one of the two holiest sites of Islam, and elsewhere and that too in the last days of the month of Ramazan are not only ominous, these are outright outrageous. It gives us some glimpse of the things shaping up for the future. Life is not going to be the same for Saudis, royals and non-royals. Revenue stream from oil is drying up as are oil reserves. International attention and support the House of Saud enjoyed so far for its oil reserves is diminishing. Irony of history, as it is unfolding now, is that this international support which made Saudis a force to reckon with is shifting elsewhere. The house of cards is crumbling, falling apart and Saudi power fading into oblivion. Despite the show of anger and frustration, the game is over for a vulgar life of undeserved luxuries. The luxury to do whatever wherever with impunity has to come to an end like all other good things.

Or is it some over-simplified exaggeration of bleak future for a 7th century monarchy operating in 21st century? There are no educated guesses or informed analyses, only some premonition which says that if nothing else, it’s more than meets the eye.

Let’s make it clear at the outset. No Muslim terror group should have the capacity to undertake this. Haram-e-Nabvi is a sacred site for all Muslims irrespective of their sectarian leanings. There may be some exception and the Saudi-funded heretics commonly known as Khawarij may have the moral capacity to commit such a heinous crime. But the question is that if these blasts are meant to destabilize Saudi regime, why would those Khawarij bite the hands those have been feeding them? Should we construe that ISIS and others have outgrown the sponsor and have become a threat to the primary sponsor? Or is it a fact that the terror network Saudis and others funded as their own was actually to work for the sole super power?

Questions are many and the answer is one; the House of Saud may have fallen from favor and consequently weakened enough to embolden the likes of ISIS.

True that Saudis, royals and non-royal filthy rich, have been bankrolling terrorism to kill innocent people in Muslim countries. True that their allies-in-faith like Qataris have not lagged behind when it came to collecting and sending massive charities to keep terrorism alive and kicking. But this one we witnessed in the last of the month of Ramazan is no ordinary terrorism.

Remember when Saudis were prepared to finance an American invasion of Syria to topple Bashar al Assad regime? The die was cast and Assad was to pay for his crimes, no more grave that those being committed by all Arab regimes. It was when Syria’s friendship with President Putin paid off. It was Russia which successfully fought diplomatic battle for Syria shattering Saudi dreams of a Saudized Syria. Saudis are in fury since then and the fury has not helped them, like it helps no one. Fury can’t be a substitute for statesmanship.

Let’s recollect the events since then; Saudi refusal to accept Security Council membership as a show of protest for US betrayal on Syria, Saudi threats to Russia of dire consequences for supporting Assad, its demonstration of misplaced fury of Iran Nuclear Deal with the West and its comeback to international mainstream.

As a last straw on the back of our proverbial camel, there was a Congressional Report. The managed leak of the top-secret portion of this report suggested that Saudis, true to their reputation, had their hand in 9/11. This could lead to prosecution of Saudis as a State sponsoring terrorism. The process of prosecution has been halted but it has shown that Uncle Sam wants a way out the relations with Saudis which have turned sour and uneasy.

Is Uncle Sam seeking an excuse to topple Saudi regime?

In this backdrop, it is not a rocket science to look at the events which have started unfolding in Saudi Arabia. Someone somewhere is planning to get rid of the baggage called the House of Saud. It also shows that the Holy Sites are not the target, the target is the Custodian.

Is Uncle Sam seeking an excuse to topple Saudi regime?



If loss of human lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan counts as of no value, still American taxpayers have a right to ask why nearly a trillion dollars of their hard-earned money went down the drain for attacking a wrong enemy.  

A new turn in the story of 9/11 now suggests that it was Saudis who supported and financed 9/11 attackers of Twin Towers. These towers of the world Trade Center were destroyed on September 9, 2001 when passenger planes hit the buildings causing death of nearly 3,000 Americans. If this theory is accepted as true, then who will ask George Bush why he attacked Afghanistan immediately after the incidents. Who will account for tens of thousands of deaths and massive destruction in not only Afghanistan but also the neighboring countries, particularly Pakistan? If loss of human lives in Afghanistan and Pakistan counts as of no value, still American taxpayers have a right to ask why nearly a trillion dollars of their hard-earned money went down the drain for attacking a wrong enemy.

Twenty-eight secret pages of a Congressional report locked away in a room in the Capitol in Washington lie in the center of a crisis between America and Saudi Arabia which threatens to have severe and widespread repercussions. A new legislation passed by the US Congress would enable the families of victims of the September 11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia. The oil-rich desert kingdom was presented by the West as its most valuable ally in the Middle East, over alleged links with al-Qaeda terrorists who carried out the attacks on New York and Washington.

The classified pages are in a file titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive Narrative Matters”, which have never been published from the findings of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the attacks. Former President George W Bush claimed the publication of this part of the report would damage America’s national security by revealing “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the War on Terror”.

The Americans accused Afghan Taliban for sheltering the perpetrators of 9/11, attacked the country and toppled the Taliban regime but it has not been able to get out of Afghanistan mess even after 15 years. It also accused Saddam regime of Iraq for stockpiling weapons of mass destruction, attacked Iraq and toppled Saddam regime replacing. If history is any guide, the US may now be planning to attack Saudi Arabia, topple al Saud dynasty and leave the country in a bigger mess.

According to some conspiracy theorists, public’s confidence in the 9/11 story told heretofore, is eroding as a result of growing expert opinion that challenges the official line.  In order to redirect the public’s skepticism, a red herring is being pulled across the trail.  The Saudi angle satisfies the belief that some sort of government cover-up is involved but redirects the suspicion from Washington to the Saudis.  The Saudi angle also fits the neoconservatives’ original plan for overthrowing the Saudi government along with the governments of Iraq, Syria, and Iran.  If the American people can be worked up against the Saudis, the neocons can get their wish for “regime change” in Saudi Arabia.

Is it a simple case of public disinformation which governments often indulge in to distract the public attention from serious holes in the official tale or the Americans are seeking an excuse to topple the Saudi regime? The mystery will unfold in the coming years but some recent developments are quite puzzling; Saudi’s arrogance and maltreatment of President Obama in his recent state visit to Riyadh and Saudis’ warming up to Israel, a sworn enemy of Muslims, the world over.

Does it reflect a shift in Saudi policies and, as Saudis are self-appointed leaders of the Muslims, a signal to the world of Islam to accept Israel as a legitimate State? Are Saudis trying to replace Uncle Sam with Israel? It may be kept in mind that despite the Report of Inquiry, it is still a widely-shared perception that the House of Saud was a close friend of the Bushes.