Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Language Extinction

There are hundred of languages spoken around the world. People use language a tool for communication. Language is the medium of thinking. Man is nothing more than his words. He or she is usually the product of the language of the age. The importance of language cannot be underestimated. Even great religions were revealed in languages understandable by humans.

Unfortunately, languages are facing a decline. According to an MIT research languages have reduced from 6000 to 600 in the past 90 years. A language dies every 14 days. Mammoth  amount of human knowledge and wisdom is disappearing with language extinction. Thousands of year of human experience which is treasured by native languages in lost in translation. Translations don't substitute real, they only facilitate in understanding the major thought of a work.

Languages are dying at an unprecedented rate

Two reasons for language extinction given by MIT research are:
1) The Globalization of English language.
Today English is used as a language of trade, education, distant learning, capitalist economy and a medium of east exchange of idea between people of different communities. These factors have given English an edge over other languages, and subsequently reduced the importance of other regional languages of the country. For example, the Zulu language is not spoken anywhere in the world, no new literature is being produced in Baloch language, etc.
2) English has become a language of science.
Most of scientific research material is found in English language. According to Fareed Zakaria's book there are 80 million English webpages on the internet. most of the scientific journals (e.g. Nature, Scientific America) are in English language. Researcher from French and German speaking countries have to translate their text before it could reach an international audience.

Languages are a treasure which we should preserve for ourselves and the future generation!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why We Write?

There are hundreds of pages, thousands of words and millions of letters being invested on writting. People share their thought, their emotions, their perspective on every issue below the sun and beyond it. Every thing is discussed from issues related to minor problems such as using an hammer on an inclined floor to complex issue pertaining to Quantum mechanics, from domestic issues to international mayhem, and from animal rights to human rights. People giving out there opinions and thoughts which eventually makes the world a better place to live in.

Writing brings change! (Source: rehmalda.com)

Why do people write? Why do they want to invest their time on scribbling down words on a piece of paper when there are more important things to do? The answer is to this question is simple. Every man and woman has an hidden feeling, a secret beast or angel, a magic wand, a desire, a hope, a will to change and prosper, a desire for a better tomorrow, a blessed world for the next generation and global peace in today's world.

There are people who write because they get money from writing. People who generate money from writing are of two types. Those who -through their words- want to change the world for a better tomorrow. People like Habib Jalib, Emmeline Pankhurst, Malcom X, Noam Chomsky and Eqbal Ahmed invested their intellect to fight authority. Authorities which denounce human freedom and curtail rights of common man. These aforementioned people in every part of history have stood up against the norms of time and vehemently opposed injustice. Injustice at home or abroad. Injustice against men, women, Muslims, Jews, Arab, non-Arab. They have raised their voices against evil dictatorships and usurpers. The annals of history has enshrined their names for all times here after. 

There are also people who sell their words for petty prices. People such as the German philosopher Heidieger who supported Hitler's Fascism in the third Reichs. The Pakistani Lawyer Abdul Hafeez Sheikh who supported all dictators from the creation of Pakistan till present. Selling words gave life to death systems and led to a societal meltdown. 

The real intellect always opposed such writing which fuelled hatred in the society. They were sent to jails for their words, and for their actions against the oppressor. But history has shown, oppression always faces defeat whether it is in Germany, Italy, Libya, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Soviet Union or Burma. In future we'll also witness the  collapse of governments in Bahrain, Syria and even in China and Saudia Arabia. Such defeats have given life to the words of the intellects. Words have risen from ashes, like the phoenix of the Greek mythology, like the voice of Rose Parker against white domination, like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, like Gandhi and Jinnah in South Asia, like Karl Marx against the capitalist exploitation and like the writing of Aleksendr Solzhenitsyn against war. 

This is why we write!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mangrove Forests in Sindh

The Mangrove forests along Sindh's coastline are in acute condition. They are disappearing at a very fast pace, and intruding the agricultural land of Sindh. An inability to stop this intrusion might destroy the natural habitat of the area.

A view of Mangrove forest. (Source:  Cookies Pics)

1. The rate of erosion of mangrove forest found near Keti Bundar was about 1.5 feet per day,
2. 500,000 hectares of mangrove land has been devastated that can affect 400,000 families in Sindh.
3. From 1960s to 1980s, the mangrove cover area has reduced from 604,870 hectares to 104,000 hectares.
4. The mangrove devastation had costed Sindh's economy 15% of her GDP.
5. Over the last five years, the fishing industry is reduced to 25% of its original size.
6. There used to be 8 mangroves species which have reduced to 4.

The Mangrove ecosystem in Pakistan is one of the largest in the whole world. Mangroves are important in a number of ways (Note: all information is extracted from Prof. K. Kathiresan research paper):

1. Mangrove have high calorific value, hence more energy. 1 ton of mangrove firewood can provide energy equivalent to 5 ton of Indian charcoal.
2. The high amount of tannin in mangrove wood makes its timber more durable for furniture making.
3. The mangrove leaves are used in mats, baskets, and roof making.
4. Mangroves attract honey bees and help in apiculture activity.
5. Mangroves and especially Avicennia form cheap and nutritive feed forbuffaloes, sheep, goats and camels.
6. Mangrove extracts are used in indigenous medicine; for example, Bruguiera species (leaves) are used for reducing blood pressures and Excoecaria agallocha for the treatment of leprosy and epilepsy.
7. The Mangroves provide strong foundation for fishing industry. The forests are a breeding ground for fishes. One hectare of mangroves can yield 767 kg of wild fish and crustaceans, which is more than the yield in extensive system that can yield <500 kg ha‐1yr‐1. They serve as nursery, feeding and breeding grounds for many fishes and shell fishes.
8. Mangroves help in protecting the coast from solar UV‐B radiation, ‘green house’ effects, and fury of cyclones, floods, sea level rise, wave action and coastal erosion.
9. Mangrove swamps act as traps for the sediments, and sink for the nutrients. The root systems of the plants keep the substrate firm, and thus contribute to a lasting stability of the coast.
10. Mangroves help in reducing sea-waves, which in turn reduces devastation along the coastal region.
11. Mangrove systems offer protection to the coastline against the flood, which are often caused by tidal waves or due to heavy rainfall.
12. The mangrove systems minimise the action of waves and thus prevent the coast from erosion.
13. Mangrove ecosystems produce large amounts of litter in the form of falling leaves, branches and other debris. Decomposition of the litter contributes to the production of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and the recycling of nutrients. This helps in catalysing agricultural activity.
14. Reduces the amount of Salinity near the Indus Delta.

Mangroves are a blessing for Pakistan. It is unfortunate that no attention is being paid to natural resources which are a lifeline to Pakistan's economy. Pakistan being an agricultural economy cannot afford to lose the mangrove habitat. Immediate actions must be taken before it is to late.

A report by WWF (World Wide Fund) Pakistan summarizes the reasons for Mangrove devastation as follows:
1. Diversion of fresh water resources upstream only takes in the agricultural needs in account. This has reduced the amount of fresh water in the Indus Delta and hence affected the Mangrove ecosystem.
2. The untreated industrial and domestic waste water discharges from Karachi and its vicinity badly affects the mangroves.
3.  The government doesn't have resources to properly implement NEQs (National Environmental Quality Standards) as the environmental department is under-staffed.
4. Over-use of Mangrove food due to domestic usage. Families use mangrove as fire fuel in their daily lives.
5. Over harvesting of fish resources has also been an important factor for biodiversity loss in the mangrove
6. The Industrial policy is also a root cause in mangrove devastation. The report explains:
"Industrial policies favor centralized growth with implicit and explicit subsidies promoting inefficient production technologies and leading to increased marine pollution.  Trade policies, marked by tariff reductions and influenced by international prescriptions, emphasize export expansion to reduce trade deficits and revenue gaps. On the conservation side, over harvesting of fish resources in shallow waters indicate a complete disregard for the existing environmental protection laws.  Tax and water pricing policies have promoted inefficient water use.  Due to the lack of environmental assessment of these policies, biodiversity loss in the mangrove ecosystem has neither been understood nor given due attention."   

The government needs to take action:
1. Educate people about the importance of Mangroves. The government should include the importance of mangrove forests in national syllabus. Radio and television programs should be made on the importance of mangroves. Goverment should facilitate civil society to sponsor field trips and marathon races to the mangrove regions.
2. Strict laws pertaining to mangrove deforestation. The government must update laws regarding punishments in relationship to deforestation. The forestry staff should be facilitated in their work and no 'lateral input' should be accepted in implementing laws.
3. Effective Industrial policies which doesn't damage natural ecosystem. The WWF report writes: "In order to avoid conflict of interest and for strict compliance with the International Dredging Convention to which Pakistan is a signatory, dredging operations need to be monitored by agencies like EPAs instead of port authorities".
4. Welcome foreign investment in mangrove industry, which will greatly benefit the ecosystem and provide economic benefits to the economy.
5. A major scientific analysis should be conducted near the Indus Delta to re-evaluate the loss due to mangroves' devastation.
6. Freshwater divergence on the whim of the feudal lords must be prohibited and institutions should be developed which could punish the feudal authorities of the coastal region.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

سازشی مکالمہ

دو دوست آپس میں پاکستان کے مستقبل پر بات کررہے ہیں۔ اچانک سے ایک مکالمہ شروع ہوتا ہے:

پہلا دوست: یار! پاکستان کا کیا بنے گا؟
دوسرا دوست: (انتہائی یقین کے ساتھ) پاکستان جلد ایک عالمی طاقت بنے کو ہے! 

پہلا: لیکن چند لوگوں کا کہنا ہے کہ پاکستان ٹوٹ جائے گا؟
دوسرا: (انتہائی غصہ میں) معاذ اللہ!!! لا حول ولا!! توبہ کر! پاکستان قیامت تک کے لیے بنا ہے۔ دنیا کی کوئی طاقت اس کی طرف میلی آنکھ سے نہیں دیکھ سکتی۔

پہلا: (تذبذب کا شکار) لیکن یار! مشرقی پاکستان بھی تو  بنگلادیش بن گیا۔ وہ قیامت تک کیوں نہیں رہا؟
دوسرا: ( چہرے پر ایک مسکان آجاتی ہے) دیکھ بیٹا! وہ بھارت و ہندو استعمار کی سازش تھی۔ بنگلادیش ہم سے الگ نہیں ہوا، بلکہ اب دو برادر مسلم ریاستیں وجود میں آگئی ہیں۔ ہم مل کر ہندو سامراج کو شکست دیں گے۔

پہلا: (کچھ سوچتے ہوئے) مگر آج تو بلوچستان سے بھی آزادی کے نعرے بلند ہورہے ہیں؟
دوسرا: نان سینس!! یہ سب بھارت کی سازش ہے۔

پہلا: لیکن بلوچستان کی تو سرحد انڈیا سے نہیں ملتی؟ پھر انڈیا کیسے مدد کررہا ہے؟
دوسرا: (انتہائی غصہ اور پھر انتہائی سکون) دیکھو! افغانستان میں اسرائیل اور امریکہ کا گٹھ جوڑ بن گیا ہے۔ وہ بھارت کو رستہ فراہم کررہے ہیں۔ معاملے کو سمجھو! ایک بہت بڑی سازش ہورہی ہے!!!

پہلا: کیا بھارتی فوج، کنٹینروں میں آرہی ہے یا ہمارے افغان بھائی ان کی مدد کررہے ہیں؟ کیا بلوچستان میں مکمل امن ہے؟
دوسرا: ( بس میں ہوتا لاوڈ اسپیکر پر اعلان کرتا)، سب جھوٹ!! افغانوں سے ہمارا تین ہزار سال کا رشتہ ہے! مجھے تو محمد غوری اور محمود غزنوی کے گھوڑوں کی ٹاپیں آج بھی سنائی دیتی ہیں، ہندوں کو آج بھی ۱۰۲۵ء کا واقعہ یاد ہے جب سومنات پر ہم نے حملہ کیا تھا! ہم اسلام کا قلعہ ہیں، کوئی طاقت ہم کو نہیں توڑ سکتی!

پہلا: کیا اس بار ہم کو ایٹم بم۔۔۔۔
دوسرا: (بات کاٹتے ہوئے) ایٹم بم کے خلاف امریکہ اور یورپ سازش کررہے ہیں، لیکن وہ محفوظ ہاتھوں میں ہے۔

پہلا: لیکن ہم تو ڈینگی نہیں روک سکے۔
دوسرا: دیکھو بات سمجھو! ڈینگی سی-آئی-اے کی سازش تھی۔ پاکستانیوں کو نیست و نابود کرنے کے لیے۔ یہ ایک سائنسی تجربہ تھا!

پہلا: اور جالی دوائیں؟
دوسرا: یہ عالمی سرمایہ داری نظام کی سازش ہے پاکستان کے خلاف۔

پہلا: اور جو سیلاب سے تباہی آئی تھی؟
دوسرا: (تھوڑی خاموشی کے بعد، آہستہ سے) سیلاب کی وجہ امریکہ کی ہارپ ٹیکنالوجی تھی، وہ قدرتی نہیں تھا۔ اس ہی طرح مظفرآباد میں زلزلہ بھی قدرتی نہیں تھا، اس کی وجہ بھی ساَئنسی تجربات تھے۔

پہلا:(بات بدلتے ہوئے) لیکن اب تو چین بھی ہم پر دہشت گردی کا الزام لگاتا ہے؟ سنکیانگ کے صوبے میں علیحدگی پسند تحریک کے حوالے سے۔
دوسرا: سب جھوٹ ہے! یہ امریکہ کی ایک اور سازش ہے۔ 

پہلا: اور کشمیری بھی پاکستان سے الحاق کے بجائے، مکمل آزادی کا خواہشمند ہیں۔
دوسرا: نان سینس!! کشمیر پاکستان کی شہ رگ ہے۔ یہ سب عالمی میڈیا کا پروپگنڈہ ہے۔ میڈیا اسرائیل اور امریکہ کے ایجنڈے پر کام کرتا ہے۔ کشمیر ہمارا ہے اور رہے گا!

پہلا: لیکن کیا مشرقی پاکستان ہماری شہ رگ نہیں تھا؟
دوسرا: ( گھڑی کی طرف دیکھتا ہے) میرے مرشد کا پروگرام آنے والا ہے، مجھے جانا ہے۔

پہلا: مرشد کون؟
دوسرا: وہی جن کی میزبان ایک لڑکی ہوتی ہے اور وہ ہم کو کائنات کے سب سے بڑے فلسفی، جو دوبارہ کبھی پیدا نہیں ہوا اور نہ ہوسکتا ہے - علامہ اقبال - کا سبق دیتے ہیں۔ پاکستان کے خلاف پوری دنیا سازش کررہی ہے، تمھیں اس کا علم نہیں۔ آو! تم بھی ان سے فیض لو!!!

پہلا:  لیکن ابھی تو تم کہا رہے تھے کہ میڈیا اسرائیل اور امریکہ کے ایجنڈے پر کام کرتا ہے۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review: Between Mosque And Military

Between Mosques and Military by Hussain Haqqani - former ambassador of Pakistan to United States- is an excellent description of the influences the orthodoxy and army had on Pakistan. 

Between Mosque and Military by
Hussain Haqqani

Using his vast experience as a secretary to Nawaz Sharref, as a member of Jammiat (student organization of Jamaat-ul-Islami), as a close ally to Benazir Bhutto, as an ambassador to Sri Lanka and United States of America, as a journalist, and as a professor at the John Hopkins University, Haqqani summarises his intellectual and political interpretation of Pakistan's history. It is not a political memoir rather a search for the origin of Islamization in Pakistan and its consequences. 

Mr. Haqqani considers the Objective Resolution (1949) to be the most important document in the process of Islamization. The document give a clear direction for making Pakistan a religious state from "an ideological state". The history which develops post 1949 is a substantiation, and not an aberration, of the Objective Resolution. 

Mr. Haqqani considers the 1951 Ahmedia roits in Punjab as the synopsis of Mullah-Military relationship. In 1951, the mullahs attacked Ahmedi's worship place in Lahore. This disrupted the law and order situation of a newly born country and henceforth, army was called in to control the situation. The army implemented martial law in Lahore, but remained there even after peace was restored in the province. This 1951 incident was later repeated on a larger scale in 1958, 1969, 1977, and 1999. 

In 1958 there was a constitutional crisis for which the political system had given an inadequate solution. In 1969, Ayub Khan handed power to Yahya Khan as he had no confidence in Pakistani politician. On the other hand, East Pakistanis considered this a tactic to keep Bengalis out of politics as power was to be transferred to a Bengali national assembly speaker, Abdul Jabbar. In 1977, Zia made a claim that Pakistan has reached a deplorable situation in Bhutto's rule, hence a martial law is inevitable to save Pakistan. The martial law of law of 1999 was similar to that of 1977.

The Islamization process got a boost in 1973 constitution when Islam was declared as a state religion. The second amendment made the Ahemdis a non-Muslim sect. This may be called the first theocratic amendment in the constitution. The constitution had the power to declare someone a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

Gen. Zia took this process to new heights by implementing the Zakat and Ushr law in 1980 and hence forth introducing his version of interest free banking in 1981. The Afghan war of 1980s in Zia's era brought a wave of radicalism into Pakistan which generated a far more radical clergy influencing the state with more power. This radical clergy was subsidised by the general which further catalysed the process of Islamization. Gen. Zia's reign can be called the 'Golden Age of Islamization' in Pakstan.

Hussain Haqqani also gives a detailed analysis on the various politico-Islamic movements which developed in the course of six decades, i.e. PNA (Pakistan National Alliance), IJI (Islami Jamoori Ithihad [United Front of Islam]), and MMA (Muthihada Majlis-e-Amal [United Action Conference]). Mr. Haqqani writes down how ISI played an integral role in helping these movements to prosper and influence political development. PNA played a major role in dismantling the constitutional government of Mr. Bhutto and helped Gen. Zia to come in power. The IJI -a collaboration between ISI and major political parties- helped Nawaz Shareef  topple Banazir Bhutto's government in 1990. The MMA helped Pervez Musharraf to constitutionally rule to country while they themselves had a government in Khyber Pakhoonkhua (former NWFP). 

Haqqani predicts a bleak future and predicts that the Islamist would remain in power. He writes: 

"The Islamists are not content with having a secondary role in national affairs, and they have acquired a momentum of their own. Years of religious rhetoric have influenced a younger generation of military officers; the ISI, in particular, includes a large number of officials who assimilated the Islamist beliefs they were rhetorically called on to support in the course of jihad in Kashmir and Aghanistan."

The United States also has an important role to play. They should apply pressure on the Pakistan army for stop supporting the Islamists in the country. A big part of the US aid goes to military development. The US should develop a policy that directs this aid towards education and health. Lastly, Hussain argues, the United States should demand reforms vis-a-vis the military and security services in Pakistan.

Haqqani's book is a good read for anyone who wants to understand the deep nexus of Islam and army in Pakistan.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Fallacies of Pakistani Media

The electronic media has played an important role at critical junctures in Pakistan's development. It's role in the earthquake campaign, flood relief campaign, judicial movement, activism  on Hudood Laws (Sharia Laws implemented by Gen. Zia ul Haq), and as a government watchdog are highly appreciably.

Major media groups in Pakistan
With all its good endeavours, Pakistan's media hasn't develop an healthy culture of political analysis. It mostly survives on the basis of creating political bewilderments and misperceptions. From every confusion stems out another confusion, and as a result no constructive debate takes place.

The media also lends support to anti-state and extremists organization which are detrimental to the state of Pakistan. We see the media reporting the Defa-e-Pakistan (Defence of Pakistan) rallies, which in fact is against the very ideological basis of the founding father of this country. Advertising such rallies might generate more orthodox viewers and might also develop an unending series of 'media chatter', but such media propaganda undermines the liberal political order of the country. The media creates confusion on the question of whether Pakistan is a nation-state or world-wide political movement (see: Ongoing History of Pakistan). This confusion bubble develops till the time a new confusion is found, and the cycle goes on.

The Ongoing History of Pakistan

From the time of her independence, Pakistan has gone through a process of interpretation. The prime problem had always been about choosing the guardians of history. From the early days, an incessant fight is going on in trying to find out the real history of the country. Unfortunately, the answer is not just obscure, but is muddling with the passage of time.

The Crisis of Interpretation
The fight is not just between a secular identity versus religious identity; it is also on the very idea of Pakistan. People have different - and diametrical - views on how this country should be governed.
        Some people declare Pakistan to be a Nation-State, and hence it has it's own national interests. These interests do not necessarily coincide with the interests of the Ummah. Pakistan as a nation-state should sought a policy which would help her citizen to increase their quality of life regardless of what is happening around the world. Pakistan should foster relations only on the basis of her national interest. If a deal with India is good for Pakistan's economy, then nothing should stop the politicians from doing this.
        On the other hand, a group of people call Pakistan to be a global movement of self-determination. This group doesn't consider 1947 as the starting point of Pakistan, rather they go back to 712 when Muhammed bin Qasim conquered Sindh and set up his own government in Multan. People with this line of thought consider Pakistan to be a political movement with few traits of a modern Nation-State. Pakistan being a global movement should support people fighting for self-determination, even on the cost of risking her own future. These idealist imagine a world where people either are Pakistanis or non-Pakistanis. These sort of Utopian ideas are no different from the writing of the early utopian socialists, e.g. Saint Simon and Thomas More. 

The future of Pakistan seems to me as an ongoing historical process where fight will go on between these two paradigms. A synthesis of ideas isn't around the corner.The notion of constitutionalism and nation-state are only feasible in a liberal political order. A failure of such an order means turning Pakistan into an uncontrolled political movement which will have dire consequences on the region and on the world.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Senate Election - Effects in Future and Present Events

Election results for the senate election have been announced.

Senate results for 2012 elections. Source: DAWN

The PPP and PML-N, now, in toto have 55 seats, which is about 54% of the total senate strength. In the short run this wouldn't create any problem, but a democratic change can only come when a party occupies both houses of the national legislature.

The senators elected in 2012 will remain in their office till 2017 as the tenure of a senator is of 5 years. Let's assume that PTI (The movement of Justice) wins the 2013 election on the basis of bringing a change. The question is:

 "Will PTI be able to bring a democratic change when it doesn't have a single seat in senate?"