Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Talking about engineering

Three views from Europe

Some two thousand years ago, the Greek had contradictory opinions on 'practical production' (a term similar to modern engineering). Some Greeks commented that practical production is the work of foreigners and of slaves, i.e. a work below the standards of a normal Greek. On the other hand, philosophers like Plato remarked engineering as the "power which save cities from destruction", while Paracelsus interpreted engineering as a cooperation with God in completing the work of the Universe.
Ninety years ago, Herbert Hoover was on a journey from London to United States. Hoover was making this journey to convince Oxford and Cambridge to consider engineering an education on par with social sciences. 

Herbert Hoover shares an interesting tale about his chat with a lady, having an evanescent beauty, while they both were travelling back to New York. The two chatted on philosophy, politics, art, industry, history, et cetera.

When they arrived at the New York harbour, the lady asked Hoover about his profession:

"I'm an engineer", replied Hoover.

"Why! I thought you were a gentleman", the lady involuntary remarked.
In today's world engineering is, as Hardy Cross states, "the glory of adaptation of science to human needs". Ramo's comment on engineering is much more prophetic. He says," Technology will be the key factor in the future nature of society and that engineering pervades the government, the military, the home, the life of every individual."

These opinions on engineering tell about three different times in European history. Emphasis on the importance of engineering is sporadic in the European and American peninsulas. United States recognized the importance of engineering long before the British. The Europeans were busy studying literature and classics produced during the Renaissance and Romanticism eras.

Engineering in Pakistan

Now let's come to Pakistan. Why hasn't engineering developed on the same lines as that in Europe and United States?

Firstly, Pakistani society hasn't benefited from the European intellectual projects, e.g. Renaissance and French Revolution. Societal, feudal, traditional, and cultural restrictions encapsulate and hinder in the natural development of thoughts. There are multiple layers of ethos and taboos which remain unquestioned. It is a near miracle to develop an inquisitive mind in such an atmosphere. Many analogies can be made between the modern day feudal society in Pakistan and that of Europe. Europe got rid of feudalism in the 18th century, while we have a vibrant feudal class even today. 

Secondly, there are also many economical reasons for the underdevelopment of engineering. In Pakistan — like in any other society — it is economy which dictates professional priorities. The former generation of Pakistanis mostly focused on government jobs as it guaranteed a secure and fix supply of monthly income. Entrepreneurship was never popularised, hence student chose professions which were historically 'popular' in Pakistan, i.e. engineering and medicine. It was assumed that a doctor will always have patients while construction and development is impossible without an engineer. These assumption were based on strong historical facts, hence the rational decision was to opt one of these two disciplines. This is the point where this assumption starts to break down.

According to simple economics, when there is large supply of a product and a short demand, the product starts to lose its value. The assumption that engineering and medicine are the most secure professions generates a thrust to produce more engineers and doctor. This, henceforth, decreases the value of engineers and doctor. Thanks to degraded health conditions in Pakistan, doctors always have a large supply of patients. This balanced their economy. 

On the other hand, due to low economic growth, two phases of war (1980-1990 and 2001- ongoing), low FDI (foreign direct investment), corruption, reduced PSDP (public sector development program) funds to feed military, lack of security, and deteriorating infrastructure, making progress in Pakistan was like making castles in Spain. As the supply of engineers is continuously increasing, the demand is reducing reciprocally resulting in the devaluation of engineering in Pakistan. 

A linear increase in engineering demand only allows capitalism to prosper. In the last fifteen to twenty years a plethora of new engineering schools have come on the screen. These schools try to maximize there profits in the name of providing 'quality' education. In short, this is a capitalistic swindle.

Advertisements of such engineering schools can be compared with mobile phone advertisements. Just like companies have ISO certifications, these universities have W, X, Z certifications, accreditation, charters, and a dozen of abstruse symbols which make these advertisements colourful and attractive. 

A major point of distinction is that ISO is an international measure, while university certification is done by a Pakistani panel. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, it is difficult to cancel out the personal biases of the panel, corruption, and external forces that pressurize such panels doing their job. As a result, a reliable examination never takes place.

Similar to a mobile phone billboards, these institutes try to jot down their 'special feature' in a tabular form. Features such as, for example, centrally air-conditioned building; secretive scholarship funds; number of computers installed; and purpose made architecture. Isn't this phenomenon just like mobile advertisements highlighting an extra torch, Bluetooth connectivity, and a MP3 player?

Amazingly, they don't write down their fee structure just like mobile companies don't mention their prices. This is again a capitalistic decision, because a consumer will try to get the best mobile phone for the lowest price.

In future - following mobile companies - these capitalistic institutes might sell admission tickets in concerts. This might be an excellent publicity campaign, attracting thousands of new customers.

Solving this capitalistic swindle

In my view, there are four ways to solve this problem:

Firstly, there should a greater emphasis on humanities. There are many fields completely missing, e.g. anthropology, social linguistics, art history, ancient South Asian languages. These fields will allow in discovering the sub-continental history, culture and art. It will also develop thousands of new jobs and research endeavours which will help in emancipating human intellect. As students will opt for these jobs, there will be a decrease in the demand of engineers. This will result in reducing profits of all capitalistic educational ventures, and the most greediest capitalist won't be able to survive. 

Secondly, parents should allow children to independently choose their fields. Presently, we are passing through a period in which students have gain a degree of freedom over the generation before them. The urge for a government job has reduced, and entrepreneurship is being appreciated. This will take time to develop.  A 6% growth rate might accelerate entrepreneur activities in Pakistan.

Thirdly, only international panels should be allowed to grade these engineering schools. These accreditations would be more reliable and comparable with the modern world. 

Lastly, all capital making ventures should be converted into syndicates through nationalization of higher education. Apparently, this might seem as a move towards socialism and centralized planning, but this step will help in producing engineers in accordance with the national needs. Such an action isn't a peculiarity in history. Last year, president Obama funded the American Insurance Corporation. Apparently, it was against the spirit of a free-market economy, but at the end of the day, funding AIG led United States out of the financial meltdown. Temporary nationalization will also have such an effect on higher education.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Book Review: Persian Idioms and Adages

Book Name: Farsi Zarb-ul-amsaal aur Khawatain
Compiler: Muzzamil Ahmed
Publisher: Ferozsons
Pages: 240
Price: 100 rupees 

Idioms and adages summarize the collective human conciousness of a culture, nation, cult or a race. Idioms hide behind themselves a history of events. Sometimes they signify accidents. Sometimes, regional adages hold a treasure chest of wisdom in a precise sentence.

In earlier times idioms lived on through oral transmission from one generation to another. Even stories used to be transmitted through this medium. Two pertinent examples are The Adventures of Ameer Hamza and The 1001 Arabian Nights. Both of these books were regional oral traditions, but over generations they have become bed-time stories for children and past-time stories for teenagers and adults. 

Even Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him) compiled a book called the 'Book of Wisdom' which is now a part of the Bible. The book contain a large collections of Adages for the human race.

Thinking on this thought, Muzzamil Ahmed has done an excellent job in compiling approx. 1,500 Persian idioms with urdu translations in a book form. The purpose of this book, as Muzzamil states, is to allow the common reader to understand Persian idioms which have become common in our daily life. 

I found that most of the idioms were masculine in nature. This signifies the fact that most of these sayings developed in a patriarchal society. Women had a very small role to play in this society. The word Mard (Man) is frequent in many proverbs.

Secondly, religion had a very important role in traditional societies. Words such as Yazdaa (God), Allah (God),  Daroog (vice), NAik (virtue), Yousuf (Prophet John (peace be upon him)), Mosa (Prophet Moses (peace be upon him)), et cetera are scattered all over the book.

Here are some idioms from the book:

Transliteration: Bar Zaban Tasbhi wa dar dil ghoo khar
Translation: God's name on the tongue, while the heart filled with thoughts of cow and donkey

Transliteration: Dar Hamaa Kar Mashwaray Bayad
Translation: Taking Advice is  necessary in every work

Transliteration: Ta kaay Ahmaq baqi ast andar Jahaa'n
Mard-e-Aqel  kay Shayad Motaj-e-Noon
Translation: Until the fool is alive, the clever will never sleep hungry

Transliteration: Zay Sad teer Ayad yakay bar Neshaan
Translation: A single arrow from a hundred hits the target

Transliteration: Saiyaad na har baar shikaar baburo
Translation: A hunter doesn't always find a prey

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Notes on Economy — Part IV

Idea of Profit

Profit is one of the most debatable ideas in economy. People such as Karl Marx, Bernard Shaw, and Jawaharlal Nehru all opposed the concept of profit making. Prime minister Nehru is reported to have said to Tata, "Never talk to me about the word profit; it is a dirty word.". Hence, we can deduce that, profit making has different meanings in different economic models.

In a price-coordinated economic system (capitalism), profit acts as an 'incentive to creativity'. In an economic system without profit, there is no need of innovation. This means that the standard of living for any individual remains the same — perhaps, it might decrease. 

In socialism 'profit' is considered as an exploitation of the labour. A capitalist can only earn profit if he forces his labour to produce more than the intrinsic value of the product. For example, if the manufacturing cost of a product is 10 rupees, and the capitalist pays only the labour cost for producing this product. The end result would be that the capitalist won't earn any revenue. This is because, the labour value must equal the production cost in a socialist system. The capitalist can only earn a profit, if he forces his labour to produce products within the intrinsic. Hence, while he pays the labour only 8 rupees. The excess 2 rupees in called the capitalist profit or the exploitation of labour.

Nehru tried to develop Indian economy in a socialist framework. There is was profit — hence, no incentives — in such an economy. Sowell gives an apt example of an India car manufacturer 'Hindustani Motors' (HM). HM manufactured a car called 'Ambassador'. This car was a total replica of the 1954 model British car named Morris Oxford. The design remained the same for the next 25 years, with no technological innovations — as innovations don't convert into profits in a socialist economy. Therefore, the quality of Ambassador car remain the same as it was 25 years ago. Furthermore, people had to wait for months to buy a new car. The Indian government had disallowed the import of new cars from outside. As a result, many Indians couldn't own a personal car, and those who had one, the car was out-dated and less efficient. It was expensive to afford an Ambassador as there were no innovations for increasing engine efficiency and mileage per litre petrol.

In should be noted that by excluding profits, socialist economies add in systematic inefficiency. On the ither hand, capitalist economies trade off profit for removing systematic inefficiencies. At the end of the day, capitalist economies allow standard of living to increase.

It is this idea of profit which allowed Western Europe and United States to continuously increase product efficiency. Take the examples of iPhone, iPods and iPad. Apple launched two different versions of iPhone in the same year, while the new iPad 3 was launched in less than an year time. iPods have evolved from simple MP3 players into devices which are equivalent to smartphone and tablet.  All these innovations occurred in a short span of 6 years. Compare this with the development of the Ambassador Car by HM. There was no innovation for 25 years, as the manufactures found no profit in increasing efficiency. 

To conclude, profit plays an integral role in maximizing efficiency in a price-coordinated economy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Someone should speak on the plight of animals

In a country where people die like flies and insects, animal rights seems an insignificant issue. More than 1,300 people have died in Karachi in the 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. Moreover, Pakistani society hates calling itself a Social Animal — a term which is a part of human consciousness right from the time of Aristotle. Pakistanis consider themselves higher than these wild, barbaric animals in two respects. Firstly, Pakistanis are Pakistanis, a part of a Holy Plan which will destroy all vices from the face of the earth. They are in some sense a chosen country which comes out through a holy intervention in history (A detailed explanation can be found in Haroon-ur-rasheed articles in JANG newspaper). Secondly, Pakistanis like calling themselves Asraf-ul Maqluqaat (Best of the Creation). They loosely use this term, as if it attributes to them. Hasan Nisar's interpretation of this term is more logical, at least, in the Pakistani context of this word. He writes:
"Humans are by no means above other living objects. Every human being isn't the best of the creations. In reality, it is because sometimes, some humans perform actions which are incomprehensibly superior to their limits which make them higher than other... hence every human isn't an Asraf-ul Maqluqaat. It's these honourable mentions who are called the Best of the Creation." (translation )
So, when a gang of people (alias nation-state) start considering themselves something above animals, they start exploiting everything in a style more pugnacious and aggressive compared to there fellow wild and barbaric animals.

We are not Netherlands where a political party wins two seat on the basis of protecting animal rights. Neither are we like Greece, where the Animal Defenders International banned the use of animals in circus. 

In few cases, some psuedo-educated Pakistanis give an spectacularly astonishing logic for animal rights in Europe. They say that as Europeans believe in Darwinism (although it's called evolution), therefore all animals are in the their ancestry. When Europeans protect animals, in reality they are protecting their ancestry! Thanks God, such amazingly stupid rational is not yet a part of our national psyche. (I think, sooner or later, Pakistani social study books might write down this logic to promote this idea. Pakistani historians like presenting Pakistanis as some Übermann)

If any sane person reads the news of human carnage and exploitation of animals on the same page, he or she would come up with similar remarks as above.

Animals are in a very sad state in Karachi Zoo. In the last two weeks three major events occurred.

1) Ostrich laid eggs, which will hatch in 15 days
The ostrich trying to protect her eggs
on sensing danger. — Fahim Siddiqui/White Star . Source: DAWN

Although it's a positive news, but until the eggs are hatched, we don't know whether the hatching process is a success or not. Recently, a male ostrich died at Safari Park. Reports say that he had eaten a plastic bag which led to suffocation and eventual death. 

Load shedding is a major factor for the high mortality rate of ostriches. Dr. Kazim Hussain, senior vet explains: 
“Generally, incubators are used to hatch ostrich eggs. We have also got good results when we used the facility to incubate peacock and pheasant eggs. However, prolonged loadshedding, as we are experiencing these days, render the facility useless as the embryos are suffocated to death due to a drop in temperature.”
So KESC also has a role to play in keeping these animal alive! Why don't they purchase a generator for this hatching process. If they can buy Mercedes, Mansions, and outstation trips for themselves, why not invest on a cheap 6,000 rupees generator?!  

Recently, the death of a male ostrich has created a gender imbalance. Now, there are two female ostriches and a single male ostrich. New ostriches will definitely improve this gender discrepancy.

2) Male wallaby dies  
Mother wallaby sits with her baby in their 
enclosure at Karachi Zoo. — Photo by 
White Star . Source: DAWN

Wallaby is analogous to an Australian kangaroo. It is an endangered specie, which requires more protection and care. Unfortunately, the Safari Park administration failed in protecting this precious animal.

According to reports, the animal was in a very good condition on the night before his death. The death is a shock for the safari park. They don't know how it died, tagging it a 'shock' for the park. Was this an abstruse conspiracy which came as a shock! This is analogous to the 1971 'shock', which is official a Hindu conspiracy.

Again, we experience the same Pakistani attitude towards solving a problem. They come up with a conspiracy theory, whenever a problem seems more complex than their acumen. The administration is trying to tag the wallaby death as a 'conspiracy'. Maybe, in future, we come to know that a RAW or MUSSAD agent was involved in this killing. The wallaby was crying some secret intelligence data, which was against the interest of global Zionism!

3) Arabian Oryx dies

This is the most tragic loss for the park. The Arabian Oryx was the last member if its type left at the zoo. The wallaby will again be a part of the park through breading, but the Arabian Oryx has no substitute. The death of the Arabian Oryx will diminish the beauty of the Park for good.
A file photo of the Arabian Oryx, the last at the zoo; which
died at the facility on Thursday. - White Star. Source: DAWN

The story of Oryx's death is an interesting recall:
"We had shifted the lone animal to a big enclosure after tranquillising(sic) it. It regained consciousness after more than an hour and remained in stable condition for more than three hours... at around 5.30pm, it got panicked and violently hit itself against the fence and the wall many times before we could intervene"

The 'animal' remain stable for a time and then started to behave aberrantly. I think this is analogous to our national psyche. When president Musharraf was ousted from his office and the new democratic setup came into existence, people were celebrating, enjoying, dancing, and singing. It was like a passover from dictatorship towards democracy. It was as if a new Pakistan has emerged. A more stable and democratic Pakistan. But  —  like the Arabian Oryx —  this 'stable' condition lasted for only a year or two and then  started the phase of panic and violence which made the nation 'hit itself against the fence and the wall many times before [someone] could intervene' 

Why is this animal called an Arabian Oryx? Perhaps, Muhammed bin Qasim brought it to Sindh in 711 AD. It is through the progeny of that Oryx, that all other members came to life. This Arabina Oryx wasn't just an attraction for the animal lovers, but a historical legacy has also come to an end with its death.

I think news channels and media should follow-up these news bites. Anthropologists say that humans, animals and atmosphere are an integral part of the existence triangle. If anyone of these three building blocks vanish, life will end on planet earth.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Notes on Economy — Part III

Link to Part II

Importance of knowledge in an economy

Knowledge is the most scarce resource of all. In an economic system, millions of consumer buy millions of different product at any specific point in time. As predicting a future demand-supply curve requires absolute knowledge of all these millions of event, it is extremely difficult to conjure.

Any economic system which can handle this flow of market knowledge efficiently, will be the best economic system for the material satisfaction of humans.

There are two ways of managing knowledge, the first is a centralist model (communism) and the second is consumerism (capitalism). In a centralist economic model, knowledge flows from top to bottom, while in a price-coordinated economy, knowledge flows from bottom to top.

The flow of market knowledge in communist and capitalist systems can be understood using the idea of supplying petrol to different petrol pumps across a country. In Pakistan there are about 3,400 CNG pumps. Let us assume that there are 10,000 petrol pumps in the country (I tried to get a figure from APPRA (All Pakistan Petroleum Retailers Association), but no one picked up the phone). All these pumps spread out over a very large surface area, from Karachi to Gilgat. It is near to impossible for a centralist planner to gain all bits of knowledge, and than supply fuel accordingly. The planner won't be able to predict peak-time petrol usage in a specific area; the political conditions in a specific area, which might decrease or increase petrol consumption; how much petrol will be required on daily bases, et cetera. The central planner, to the best of his knowledge, would allocated fix rations of petrol for all areas, and therefore, petrol supply won't vary with consumer demand. There will be excess surplus in some regions, while a shortage will be recorded in others. Maybe, violence in Quetta might halt all traffic, while a motor-race festival in Karachi would inevitably increase petrol demand. A central planner can never have a precise knowledge of such intricacies, forcing the system to follow the personal whims of the central planner.

On the other hand, in a price-coordinated economy, demand-supply transcends central decisions. The dynamics of demand and supply would automatically be managed by petrol pump dealers. If a motor-cross event is going to take place in Karachi, the petrol pump owner would simply purchase more oil from the company, while in case of violence in Quetta, the petrol dealer won't make a oil transaction for tomorrow. Hence, knowledge in a capital system is dynamically controlled. The system automatically synchronizes without any central effort. All petrol pumps receive a dynamic amount of petrol and CNG according to their local knowledge. Intricacies in demand and aberances in supplies are all handled by the petrol pump owners, not by a central planner. This increases efficiency, and surplus petrol finds the best alternative use rather than filling petrol tanks for no use.

Surplus and shortages in an economy

The idea of surplus or shortage of goods has a direct relationship with the importance of market knowledge.

Sowell writes that in a rigid-planned economy, i.e. a centralist system, demands are rationed on static principles — such as the example of petrol described above. The absolute majority of good in a region either results in a surplus or a shortage. It is a frequent event in a rigidly planned economy to find the same product to be in surplus in some regions and to record a shortage in others.

In a free market, demand causes prices to rise when goods are in short supply and vice versa. The price tags around a product would urge a capitalist to sell his products in an area where prices are higher. This movement of products from area of low price tags to an area of high price tags creates a dynamic balance and uniformity in prices across the whole country. This phenomenon is visible in Pakistan. Oil prices only vary around 5% across the whole country signifying the benefits of free-market.

Link to Part IV

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Notes on Economy — Part II

Role of taxes and subsidies

Taxes and subsidies act as distortion in a price-coordinated economic system. Sowell writes, "These extra tags give focus on one subject and discard all other variables."

In India, electricity is free in the agricultural lands of Punjab. This allow farmers to produce cheaper rice allowing India to export more. Although this generates revenue of the country, but there is a big downside to this. The water-table (amount of water below the soil) decreases rapidly making the land no more cultivatable. Secondly, an artificial price of rice creates a surplus, which leads to starvation.

In Pakistan, indirect taxation on petroleum products help oil companies to prosper. On the other hand, they don't invest in exploration as taxation allow them to grow larger. Similarly, the government gives a cross-subsidy on gas, causing a rapid decline in Pakistan's gas reserves.

In United States, water supply in the state of California are heavily subsidized. A Californian farmer pays less than 1% for the same amount of water consumed in New York. As a result, agricultural outputs consume 4/5 of the water resources to produce just 3% agricultural output.

In a true free market, taxes and subsidies should be applied equally, and there should be no support for any product over other. Unforgettably, taxes and subsidies are used by politicians to meet their political objectives. They play with the dynamics of free market causing deterioration in the standard of living.

For example, in President Musharraf's last year in office, 2007, the government gave a 35 billion rupees subsidy on oil petroleum. This was done to attract voter's attention  towards PML-Q (Gen. Musharraf former party). Although this tactic failed, but economically speaking, it was a disaster for Pakistan's economy. A huge circular debt accumulated, the rupee devalued, and  an immediate removal of subsidy caused public anger towards the new democratic setup back in February 2008.

What is incremental substitution?

Incremental substitution is a pure free market concept. Unlike setting up 'categorical  substitution' — like national priorities, explained below — Incremental substitution means to shift allocation of resources on the basis of their consumption or production. Using the idea of incremental substitution, a free market can chose  product A and product B simultaneously. 

For example, if the price of apples soars, the whole market doesn't shift towards mango. Say, 35% shift towards mango, 40% shift towards watermelon while the 25% still buy apples. This is incremental substitution at work. On ther other hand, if a centrally control economy makes eating mango it's 'national priority', mango consumption will record a 100% increase. This will not only increase mangos' price, but would also diminish apples and oranges in the market. 

Another example, Pakistan considers the army as  its 'national priority'. Prioritizing the army over other institutions and services causes a deterioration in the standard of living. 48% of tax payer's money goes for military development. A large chunk of money goes in repaying debts. Hence, a major part of the public sector development program runs either on aid or foreign loan. Eventually, this causes deterioration in the standard of living.

Another example, if a country makes a 'categorical choice' of banning alcohol, the net result would be the scarcity of alcohol product in the country. Citizens would also be deprived from the benefits of drinking alcohol. 

It should be noted that 'categorical substitution' is based on personally whims of the central planner (i.e. a centralist economy), while incremental substitution runs on the dynamics of demand and supply. No external intervention is possible. 

What is scarcity?

Scarcity means that the amount of natural resources are always smaller compared to human desires. Everyone's desires cannot be fulfilled regardless of any economic system.

Scarcity always causes competition in a society. Competition to make the best alternative use of a resources for the betterment of the society. This is an inherent characteristic of a price-coordinated economy. It's always there. A subjective opinion whether this is good or bad is of no use. 

Completion allows creativity to prosper bringing in more efficient products with the passage of time.

For example, there is an ample prove that the world oil supplies — a scare resource — would end at the turn of this century. Today we observe a number of new renewable energy companies competing for this depleting resource. Many world-renowned universities are offering graduate and doctoral programs in the field of renewable energy. The reason we are experiencing these phenomena today is because of the idea of scarcity. Oil supplies were relatively abundant in the 19th and 20th centruy. Now, due to massive industrialization, things are change making oil a relatively more scare resource. 

Scarcity of resources in measured by their price tags. A large price tag means that the resource is more scare. For example, the price of petrol (95 RON) is US$ 0.21 per litre in UAE, while in Pakistan, it's US$1.41 per litre. Regardless of all the taxes included in Pakistani price tag, petrol is cheaper in UAE compared to Pakistan. This more a resource is scarce, the higher its cost.

Link to Part III

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Notes on Economy — Part I

All ideas in the following post are taken from 'A citizen's guide to economy by Thomas Sowell'. It's an excellent book which makes economy more comprehensible for non-economists like me. I've tried to extract major themes from the book.

What is economics? 

In the words of Lionel Robbins, "Economics is the study of the use of scare resources which have alternative uses". Economy is all about managing the natural resources for the best use of the majority. We can't have economics in heaven because the amount of resources in there is infinite. Therefore, no planning is required, and hence no economics.

Essentially, economics is about the material well-being of the society. Humans have developed two major economic systems in the last three centuries, i.e. capitalism and communism. Capitalism is a modern form of Mercantilism which from developed between 16th and 18th century, while soviet Communism got it's roots from the writing of Marx and Engels (Das Kapital, Communist Manifesto, and the German Ideology).

Capitalism — as the book explains — is a price-coordinated economic system. A system in which the demand and supply compels production and consumerism. A more efficient and creative company takes a larger part from the profit share.

Communist economy is highly centralist in nature. A centrally planned economy doesn't believe in the idea of making profit, as profit is inherently detrimental to humans. Centrally planned economies believe on the idea of fulfilling all basic human needs, rather than improving product efficiency.

This is a very raw comparison of both systems. A detailed analysis will follow.

What is price?

Thomas Sowell writes, "Price performs the most important function, i.e. to allocate scare resources." It functions as a measure of demand and supply in a society.

For example, nowadays Manto's book 'Manto Nama' costs around 1,200 rupees because Manto's 100th birth anniversary celebrations are on it's peak. The book costed only 600 rupees eight months ago. Why is this 100% increase recorded? In a price-coordinated economy, a increase in the cost of a product means that either the demand has increased or the supply has fallen. In this case, because more people are now reading Manto, therefore the demand increase, causes a price increase.

Another example — this one is from the book — when a hurricane hits a city, the hotel's price of reservation sees a sharp increase. This increase is due to the fact there are no houses are left in the area. Many people are now competing from a small number of hotel rooms, hence the price of reservation automatically increases.

It should be noted that this is not due to individual 'greed', but rather due to simple rule on how a price- coordinated economy works. As the development work starts again, hotel reservation prices begin to fall, gradually coming back to its original position.

This is precisely the reason why houses are expensive near a coastal region compared to suburbs. The coast always has a limited space for development while the construction space in a suburb is many times more compared to the area in a coastal region. More people compete to get a plot in a coastal area, due to its aesthetics or any other reason, which causes a price hike. Prices give a measure on how much a resource is left. As more coastal area is sold, the prices increase proportionally making the land much more expensive.

Making laws to manage a free market

Laws are the basic hindrance in the functioning of a free market. Market laws create an artificial scarcity of resources in a price-coordinated economy, which is essentially an obstacle in the flow of services.

Market laws which try to control free-markets have devastating results on economy. Thomas Sowell gives an example of the rent control law in Sweden, Australia, and United States. He writes, "The rent control laws in these countries increased the number of homeless people, rather than decreasing them. This is a direct co-relation with price control in these areas. There was no scarcity of house construction, but on the other hand, people acquired bigger homes than their need." This caused a decrease in the area of house per person, hence increasing the number of homeless people. Even today, due to rent control laws, many people live homeless in New York and San Francisco.

An example from Pakistan is the government's ban on importing re-conditioned cars. This has increased the prices of the formerly imported re-conditioned cars in the country. Note that — as in the case of rent control laws —  a restriction through market law creates an artificial scarcity of re-conditioned cars. As a result, fewer people can now buy a car in Pakistan.

Monday, May 21, 2012

محکوموں کی حاکمیت

ٹی وی پر ایک مولوی صاحب گلا پھاڑ پھاڑ کر کچھ کہہ رہے تھے۔ چہرے پر گہری سنجیدگی، ہاتھ کے اشعارے سے معلوم ہوتا جیسے ہٹلر کا پنرجنم ہوگیا ہو۔ کپڑے ایسے سفید کہ سننے والے کی آنکھیں ان کی طرف کھینچتی چلی جائیں۔ سر پر دستار سے عالم ہونے کا شائبہ ہوتا تھا، اور تقریر تو گویا غضب کی کررہے تھے:

"ان ظلم کی علامتوں، جن کو شریعت طاغوت کہتی ہے، نے ہمارے ہزاروں بھائیوں کو مارا ہے۔ ان کا راستہ رکھنا نہ صرف ہماری مذھبی ذمہ داری ہے بلکہ قومی غیرت کی بھی یہی آواز ہے! اقبال نے کہا تھا، نیل کے ساحل سے تا باخاک کاشغر، ہر جگہ اسلام کی حفاظت، میرے بھائیوں، ہماری ذمہ داری ہے۔ ہم کسی حال میں بھی ناٹو کا راستہ نہیں کھولنے دیں گے۔ ظالم کو ہماری قوت کا ابھی اندازہ نہیں۔۔۔۔۔۔"

اور معلوم نہیں حضرت جوش خطابت میں کیا کیا بولتے چلے گئے، لیکن لبِ لباب یہی تھا۔ ایک انجان دشمن، ایک خودساختہ طاقت کا گھمنڈ، اقبال کا ایک شعر، اور اس سب پر اسلام کا تڑکا۔ نعروں کی گونج، سماعتوں پر وجد طاری کردیتی۔ بالکل کسی فلم کا سین معلوم ہوتا، جس میں ادا کار خوب مشق کرکے آیا ہو۔

یہ سارا ڈرامہ ۱۸ سالہ سلیم اپنی ٹی - وی اسکرین پر دیکھ رہا تھا۔ اس کے والد، محمد عطااللہ نے نیا نیا ٹی-وی اپنی بیگم کے لیے خریدا تھا۔عطااللہ پشاور سے تعلق رکھتا تھا اور پیشے کے اعتبار سے ایک ٹرک ڈرائیور تھا۔ عام طور سے وہ گھر سے باہر ہی رہتا، لیکن سرکار کی طرف سے ناٹو پر حالیہ پابندی نے اس کو بےروزگار کردیا تھا۔ اس کے پاس کرنے کو کچھ زیادہ نہیں تھا۔ وہ روز اس امید میں ٹرک اڈے کا چکر لگاتا کہ شاید آج کوئی نویدِ سحر سنے کو ملے۔ لیکن وہ آج بھی ،روز کی طرح، گھر ناامید لوٹا۔ گھر کا انتظام یا تو قرض پر چلتا یا وہ دہاڑی پر کوئی چھوٹا موٹا کام کر لیتا۔ پیسوں کی کمی نے اسے چڑچڑا بھی بنا دیا تھا، اب اس نے دگنی سیگرٹ پینا شروع کردی تھی، اور غصہ میں بھی جلدی آجاتا تھا۔ بیوی سے لڑائی بھی عام بات ہوگئی تھی، اس کا واحد دوست، اس کا بیٹا، سلیم ہی تھا۔

محمد عطااللہ ابھی ابھی گھر میں داخل ہی ہوا تھا، جب اس نے مولوی صاحب کی زبان سے ادا کردہ کلمات سنے۔ ہونتوں کی لرزش تو سنائی نہ دی، پر آنکھوں میں شدید غم و غصہ تھا۔ شاید سلیم کی وجہ سے اس نے اپنے غصہ کو پی لیا۔

"ابا! یہ ظلم کی علامتیں مولوی صاحب کن کو کہہ رہے ہیں؟ جن لوگوں کی وجہ سے آپ کی نوکری چھٹی ہے؟"، سلیم نے معصومیت سے دریافت کیا۔

بیٹے کا سوال واقعی منطقی تھا، باپ کیا جواب دیتا، "نہیں بیٹا، یہ آمریکہ کو بول رہے ہیں، امریکہ کے ہزاروں فوجی، افغانستان میں مصروفِ جنگ ہیں۔ یہ ان کی بات کررہے ہیں۔"، عطااللہ نے جواب دیا

"لیکن ابا! زیادہ بڑے دشمن تو یہ مولوی ہوئے، دیکھو نا، امّا کی طبعیت بھی خراب ہے، میں اسکول بھی نہیں جا پارہا، آپ بھی بے روزگار ہیں؟ اور یہ سب مولوی صاحب کی تقریر کی وجہ سے ہوا ہے۔ خود تو یہ ٹرک چلاتے نہیں، اور دوسروں کو بھی چلانے نہیں دیتے"، سلیم نے سریعاً جواب دیا۔

بیٹے کا استدلال کامل تھا، اور والد کے جذبات کی ترجمانی بھی کرتا تھا، لیکن معلوم نہیں عطااللہ کو کس طاقت نے مجبور کیا، وہ بول پڑا، "بیٹا، ان لوگوں نے ہمارے چوبیس فوجیوں کو شہید کیا تھا، یہ اس کے ردِعمل میں کیا گیا ہے۔ یہ قومی غیرت کا سوال ہے۔" یہ جملے بولتے ہوئے عطااللہ کا دل اس کی زبان کا ساتھ نہیں دے رہا تھا۔

مانگنے والے کی کون سے غیرت، غیرت مندی اور جذباتیت میں فرق ہوتا ہے۔ ایک جذباتی غیرت مند خودکشی کرنے کو ترجیح دیتا ہے، جبکہ ایک باہوشغیرت مند اپنے قدموں پر کھڑے ہونے کو ترجیح دیتا ہے۔ عطااللہ جانتا تھا کہ جو مولوی صاحب آج غیرت کا لیکچر دے رہے ہیں، وہ ۸۰ کی دہائی میں امریکہ کے قریبی یاروں میں سے تھے۔ آج غیرت کہاں سے یاد آگئی؟

لیکن یہ سب جانتے ہوئے بھی، عطااللہ نے اپنے بیٹے کو غیرت کا سبق سنا ہی دیا، حالا نکہ وہ اس کی حقیقت سے واقف تھا۔ ممکن ہے کے سماج کے بے پناہ جبر نے اس کو یہ کلمات ادا کرنے پر مجبور کیا ہو۔ واللہ و اعلم۔

"ابا! آپ نے ہی مجھے بتایا تھا کہ غیرت تو ایک کیفیت کا نام ہے، یہ کوئی ٹھوس چیز نہیں، جس کو دیکھا جاسکے۔ ان لوگوں کو کس نے اجازت دی ہے کہ یہ غیرت اور بے غیرتی کا تعین کریں؟ ان کا تو تاریخی وجود ہی آمریکہ- روس جنگ کے پسِ منظر میں ہوا ہے۔ یہ کون سی غیرت ہے کہ آدمی اپنے وجود سے ہی منحرف ہوجائے؟ اور اگر یہ واقعی فوج سے محبت کرتیں ہیں، تو ان پچیس فوجیوں کی شہادت پر کیوں احتجاج نہیں کرتے، جن کو مذھبی انتہا پسندوں نے شھید کیا تھا۔ ان لوگوں نے کل کے روز ہمارے شہر میں ایک مندر کو بھی نقصان پہنچایا۔ اس پر یہ اس قسم کی تقریریں کیوں نہیں کرتے؟"

باب نے کوئی جواب یہ دیا۔ شاید پسر کو پدر سے زیادہ معلومات تھی۔ محکوموں کی غیرت شاید صرف اتنی ہی ہوتی ہے کا ایک ۱۸ سال کے بچے کا جواب دینا بھی مشکل ہوجائے۔۔۔۔

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On the Demand for Muhajir Province

A dormant phenomenon has recently became active — The movement for a separate province for the Muhajir[1] people. The movement is being patronized by the Mujhair Raabt'a Council (Council for the relation of Immigrants), a political movement which formed in Hyderabad, Sindh.

A historical analysis is needed to understand the recent phenomenon.

The activism for separation started after the fall of Dhaka (1971). Formerly, East Pakistan used to balance the power equation with the Western Wing. In the post-1971 Pakistan, Punjab became the centre of power. Even today, Punjab hold 148/272 (54.4%) seats while the smaller provinces make up the the remaining 46%. In those days, Pakistan's closets analogy was that of USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republic), where Russia controlling all the satellite states around it. The centralist attitude by the Czars of Punjab, escalated the voice for separatism and fuelled nationalistic tendencies in other communities of Pakistan.

A sense of deprivation has always been in the smaller communities of Pakistan. Mujahirs being an important community in Pakistan's struggle and development also felt the aforementioned pressure. In Ayub's era, 313 civil servants were removed on ethnic bases. Bhutto took out 1300 civil servants. So in a period of nineteen years (1958-1977), more than 1600 civil servants were removed on ethnic grounds. The case was similar in Pakistan Army. In his famous book, 'The Pakistan Army', Stephen Cohen writes that 75% of all ex-servicemen come from 3 districts in Punjab ( Rawalpindi, Jhelum, and Campbellpur) and 2 adjacent districts in Kyber Phaktoonkhaw (Kohat and Mardan). It should also be noted that these five districts make up only hold 7% of Pakistan's total male population. The disapproving attitude from the civil and military bureaucracy made many communities - including Mujhairs - to ask for their basic rights in a more undemocratic fashion.

It should be noted that is not just the Muhajir community who are asking for their rights. Pakistan's history in loaded with separatist tendency right after 1947. An excellent research is present by Muhammed Waseem in  paper titled "The Political Ethnicity and the State of Pakistan" (for reference, see The Idea of Pakistan by Stephen Choen, pg. 207). M. Waseem talks about the separatist tendencies which grew in the Baloch, Sindhi, Muhajir, Bengali, and Pashtoon people of Pakistan. He outline their aims and what was achieved.

It is only in this background the Muhajir province movement evolved. The Muhajir Raabt'a Council has published a new map and hold large rallies for the disintegration of Sindh:

Muhajir Sooba Map by MRC
The map includes all the important districts of lower Sindh, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta, and Mirpurkhass. These distincts are the economic engine of Sindh and worth its weight in gold.


Is the Mujhair province feasible in the present conditions? I don't think so. 

The centralist attitude by the Czars in Punjab is now not a major problem. The country is not like the old federation , where the centre had all the power to decide what's the best for the country. In this way, Punjab always had the veto power (holding 54.4% seats) in all nationalistic discourse. 'The Ideology of Pakistan' was defined by the centre, and unfortunately, by a single province. Today, this is not the case. The 18th amendment has changed the political balance of power. The concurrent list has been shorten, the NFC (National Finance Commission) awards have been announced, the federal divisible pool has been curtailed, and provinces now have the power to impose taxes. Recently, Chief Minister of Sindh, Mr. Qaim Ali Shah, spoke on implementing an agricultural tax on farm income. This is a revolutionary statement in a feudal society. 

It is only economies which keep nations together. It's not religion, love or language. The Mujahirs won't gain new taxes by carving out a land for themselves. The feudals would still control the assemblies and agricultural heartlands of Pakistan. The economy will remain in their hands. The Pakistani middle-class and lower middle-class (the 99% in Pakistan) don't have a voice in this economic system. The need of the hour is to change the economy rather than geography of Sindh.

The call for a separate province might lead to ethnic killings in interior Sindh. A large Mujhair community living happily with the Sindhi speaking community in those region. I, myself, am a testimony to this good relationship. Most people are living there after they migrated from India in 1947. A second migration inside Pakistan would only create excessive bloodshed. 

The major part representing the Muhajir community, MQM, is against any territorial redistribution of Sindh. A province can only be made if the provincial assembly of Sindh accepts a resolution on the creation of a new province. MQM has never filed in a resolution, signalling it will never support territorial redistribution. The MQM's Chief, Mr. Altaf Hussain, said in a public address:
"Karachi was the capital of Sindh. Karachi is the capital of Sindh, and will remain the capital of Sindh".  
When the 3rd largest political party of Pakistan and the largest party in Karachi is speaking against the idea of a new province, it can easily be deduced that the idea has no political support.

The idea of provincialism might face the same end as Napoleon faced in Orwell's Animal Farms! Most great revolutions end the same ways as Orwell's revolution ended. Hitler spoke for the Deutsches Lebensraum (German's Living space), he conquered Poland, Hungary, Austria, France, and Denmark. But in the end, he was killing the common Berliners and ended in the breakup of Germany into a west Germany and East Germany. Lebensraum for Muhajirs will only end up in identifying pure (Haqiqi)  Muhajirs and impure Muhajirs.

The armed forces have also opened their doors for the smaller communities of Pakistan. Recently, there was an intake of 5,000 Baloch cadets in the Pakistan army. Again, an unprecedented event in Pakistani history. Overtime, this racial imbalance will reach an equilibrium, that's how history works.

Summing up, the call for a separate province is more of a divergence tactic rather than an answer to the real problems facing the Pakistani society. After the 18th amendment, innovative ways should be sought to tilt the balance of power towards Sindh. This will help all communities and naturally, the Muhajir people also.


[1] I've used the word Muhajir for the 'Urdu-Speaking' community. Ali Chisti wrote an excellent article on the Muhajir Indentity.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Book Review: The Impact of Science on Society

The Impact of Science on Society is authored by Bertrand Russell - an eminent British philosopher who lived in the era of the World War II.

The Great War had a great affect on Russell's thought process, making him a vehement critic of war. He stood against the British policy of extending the war on Germany, and was sent to jail for speaking against the wind of his time.

When reading 'The Impact of Science on Society' it is necessary to understand that Russell is trying to create a more stable and sustainable world. For him, the only possible model for a stable society is that the whole world comes under a single government. He proposes United States to take this role. Russell writes:
"A scientific society can be stable given certain conditions are fulfilled. The first of these is a single government of the whole world, possessing a monopoly of armed forces and therefore able to enforce peace. The second condition is a general diffusion of happiness,.... The third condition (which supposes the second is fulfilled) is a low birth rate everywhere, ... The fourth condition is the provision for individual initiative both in work and play." — pg. 139
The First Condition
In modern times, the United Nations can be a substitute for Russell's idea of a single monolithic government. The mandate of UN should be increased allowing it greater interference in domestic policies. People might agitate on grounds of nationalism and patriotism, but in the end, the coming generation would simply forget how the world was conquered by a single power in the bygone days. It should be noted that people will only forget the 'love for their nation' if the second condition is fulfilled.

The Second Condition
Russell rightly says that it is only through 'the diffusion of happiness' a monolithic structure can acquire some legitimate grounds for setting up a workable mechanism. The vast majority of the people in the world believe in consequentialism - a doctrine in ethics which says that actions are either good or bad depending whether the output of those actions are good or bad. Therefore, if  teenagers in Karachi is able to acquire the same living standard as in any other parts of the world, they wouldn't even thing about the bygone age of their forefathers.

It is to be noted that past is mostly worshipped in societies where the future is dark and bleak. They worship past out of nostalgia. This nostalgia allows them to continue living, even in the most dire conditions possible. On the other hand, when the present is brighter than the past, people simply don't care what happened before. The past becomes unthinkable for many. The German diplomat recently commented:
"Before 1940s peace was unthinkable between Germany and France, but after 1950s war is unthinkable between Germany and France."
The collective 'diffusion of happiness' which the people of France and Germany have enjoyed can be replicated in other parts of the world.

The Third Condition
Population growth is the biggest problem of all. In the future, scientist and economists are going to call this the mother of all problems.

World Population Growth. Source: SUSPS

Just 9000 years ago the world population was near one million. In the last 250 year, i.e after the Industrial Revolution (1750 onwards), the world has experienced a population explosion. The graph becomes asymptotic as we approach 2025.

In such a situation,even maintaining nominal standard of living becomes a major problem. Just read today's  DAWN. The article clear states that Pakistan is going to face sever water shortages in the year 2025. It should be kept in mind that the Great Indus flows through the heartland of the country. If Pakistan is going to face a severe water shortage, the conditions in Africa are bound comprehension.

An exponential population growth with a gradual decrease in earth's resources signals that progress might becomes an unachievable goal for many. The oil is going to end at the turn of this century, the radioactive waste is going to be a major international debate issue in the coming decades. The lack of oil and free-space to dump radioactive waste on our plant, will pollute the Milky Way. That's the only place we can dispose off our waste. A decrease in population with a decrease in living standards is the only way forward to solve this anomaly.

Russell comments on population growth is really prophetic. Planers have to understand that an ever increasing population at such a rate is disastrous for the coming generations.

The Fourth Condition
For Russell, individuals have a big role in making the world more liveable. Even if we get a control on the  population accelerator, the world can only be a better place if everyone does more than his destined role. The will to change is an integral part in how Russell envisages a better tomorrow.


Russell also criticises the role of science which had made man into a living cog with no more usability that a machine which produces efficient output. Russell writes:
"What science has done is to increase the proportion of your life in which you are a cog, to the extent of endangering what is due to you as a hero or as a common man." — pg. 76
Russell says that it is the duty of the modern democracy to stop the ultimate conversion of man into machines.
"The idolatry of the machine is an abomination. The Machine as an object of adoration is the modern form of Satan, and its worship is modern diabolism" — pg. 77
In Russell's definition, a good society is characterised  by three qualities. 1) The man should be useful, 2) He should consider himself secure in times of misfortune and 3) He should have the opportunity for taking new initiatives, in all ways, not positively harmful to others.

Unfortunately, neither a capitalistic society nor a communist society can fulfil such a goal. Russell writes:
"Under capitalism. the incentive is fear of starvation; under communism, it is the fear of drastic police punishment. Neither is quite what the democratic socialist wants." — pg. 82
In this sense, Russell acts like a Pakistan Molawi Shaib or Allama Iqbal. They too vehemently criticise European ideas, but are unable to formulate a new theory out of their own meta-physics. Russell has the benefit of being a European, hence his criticism is on his own meta-physics rather than an alien meta-physics.

Science, for Russell, has become a tool for changing the conception of the world (pg. 98). The materialist world around us is a miracle of science. Nowadays, empiricism has become a touch-stone for identifying truths. A 100 years ago, no one would have heard about DNA being used as a tool for identifying the real parents of a baby. Centuries ago, there were strong tribal and family structures. Family identification was never a problem in these bygone societies. The DNA verification technique has allowed us to view the world through a totally different perspective. Now, it is not just through strict family hierarchies that a court might order a decision on a birth identification issue, the DNA report (simply a cluster of some amino acids) also holds the same validity as that of family hierarchies. This is how science has changed our conception of this world.

Russell also mentions the limits of science. Although, if he was living today he might have amended the following sentence:
"Science, while is has enormously accelerated outward change, has not yet found anyway of hastening psychological change, especially where the unconscious and sub-concious are concerned" — pg 134

Technology Exceeding Boundaries

A recent research in United States has allowed a paralysed woman to drink a cup of coffee with the help of a robotic arm. The arm is 'thought-controlled', i.e. it gets inputs from the thought process happening inside the human mind.

Scientists inserted a 96 hairpin electrode inside the motor cortex- a region inside the brain which deals with bodily movements. The electrode picks up neuron fluctuations which goes to the computer, which than translates these fluctuations into commands for the robotic arm. 

Scientists believe that in future they would be able to put the computer inside the patient's brain allowing all his limps to be connected without any exterior intervention.


Personally speaking, this technology is remarkable in all respects. The old proverb, 'Nobody knows what's going inside our mind', now needs to be amended. If feeling and emotions are regarded as chemical reactions,  than there are many reasons to conjecture that these areas can also be activated through external stimuli.

Thinking and feeling has always been an individual's private area having no connections with the outside world. It remained an encrypted world where great ideas come into existence, allowing man to change the world around him.

Not just ideas, brain is the centre of all the trivial actions we perform  in our daily lives. From boiling an egg to driving a car. It is here - inside the brain - where billions of neurons interact allowing us to perform our everyday tasks.

If scientists are able to control the motor cortex region of our brain, than -in my opinion- it's not  an overestimation to conjure that they will be able to control the psychological fluctuations going on inside us. This simply means that no intention or will would remain a private matter. A new discourse on ethic will be developed, trying to formulate limits on 'psychological freedom'. 

Imagine what might happen if 'psychological freedom' becomes a public issue. It will allow the people to read the mind of their politicians and judge their political alignments before-hand. At least in a country like Pakistan, this is really a big problem. Many politicians who now criticize the army while they themselves are their products. If the citizens are allowed to read the politicians' mind, it will be a touch-stone for recognising the fake ones amongst the real!

This technology might also create a 'multi-soul syndrome'. Multi-soul syndrome -a termed coined by me - is a problem in which a single human brain is in power to control the limbs of others. Neuron fluctuations, which controls the limbs of an individual, might be transferred (through wire-less technologies) to someone else's brain in order to replicate the actions of the prime mover. 
             This creates a moral dilemma. Will the prime mover be responsible for the actions of the secondary bodies? Let's suppose one of the secondary mover kills another secondary mover, both of whom were being controlled by the same prime mover. Will this be called a suicide or a murder? The prime mover actions were replicated by the secondary mover, but it was the secondary mover who got killed.

This technology is going to start a new philosophical discourse!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

جھنڈا اور افتخار

افتخار چار یا پانچ دنوں سے پاکستان کا جھنڈا آسمان پر لہرا رہا تھا۔ جھنڈا پورانا ہوچکا تھا اور کیونکہ بستی بہت غریب تھی اس لیے نیا خریدنا ممکن نہ تھا۔ بقول دادا جان کہ جھنڈا خریدنے سے تو بہتر ہے کسے غریب لڑکی کے جہیز کا انتظام کردو۔ "پاکستان کا جھنڈا ہو یا اسرائیل کا، جھنڈا تو جھنڈا ہوتا ہے، اپنا ہو یا پرایا"۔ دادا جان یہ جملہ ہنستے ہوئے کہتے تو بلوچستان کے وزیر اعلیٰ کی بات یاد آجاتی، جن کا کہنا تھا کہ "ڈگری تو ڈگری ہوتی ہے، اصلی ہو یا نقلی"۔ مجھے تو دونوں کی باتیں ہی درست لگتی ہیں۔

پر دادا جان کا پاکستان کے جھنڈے پر الگ ہی نقطہ نظر تھا۔ وہ کہتے کہ یہ تارہ اور چاند تو ترک غلامی کی نشانی معلوم ہوتی ہے۔ "دیکھو، جھوٹ کی بھی انتہاہ ہوتی ہے، غلامی آمریکہ کی اور نشانی ترکوں کی!"، دادا جان طنزیہ انداز میں کہتے۔

"لیکن تارے تو امریکہ کے جھنڈے پر بھی ہیں دادا جان؟"، سلمان، افتخار کا جھوٹا بھائی، نے دادا جان سے استفسار کیا۔

"سلمان صحیح کہا تم نے، تارے تو امریکہ کے جھنڈے پر بھی ہیں، لیکن وہ تارے غلامی کی نشانی نہیں، بلکہ امریکہ کی ہر ریاست تارے کے مانند ہے، وہ تارے استعارے کے طور پر ہیں، نہ کہ غلامی کی جھوٹی داستان"۔ 

کچھ غور کے بعد، سلمان بولا، "ہاں، ہمارا ملک تو، ایک ملک ہے نا، ہم پورے کے پورے ایک تارے کے مانند۔۔۔۔"
یہ جملہ سلمان بول ہی رہا تھا کہ ٹی-وی پر جناب عطا اللہ مینگل کا بیان آیا کہ، "ہم پر پنجابی فوج نے جو ظلم کیے ہیں، ان کا بدلہ صرف آزادی ہے"

سلمان اپنا جملہ مکمل نہ کرپایا۔ ایک ہی تارے کے اندر اتنی پھوٹ، کمال ہے!

دادا جان ہنسے اور بولے، "لال، سفید، پیلے تاروں سے قومیں ایک نہیں ہوتی، جب کسی گروہ کے معاشی مفادات اور سماج محفوظ نہ ہوں، تو تارے، بمبئی کے کسی ڈسکو میں تو اچھے لگیں گیں، جھنڈے پر نہیں۔"

افتخار جھنڈے کی حفاظت کسی مقدس اوراق کی طرح  کرتا۔ اس کے نزدیک چاند تارہ اسلام کی نشانی تھی۔  لیکن افتخار 'بدقسمتی' سے بنگلادیش کا جھنڈا بھی دیکھ چکا تھا۔ اب اگر یہ اسلام کی نشانی تھی، تو اس کا الہام صرف پاکستانیوں پر کیوں ہوا تھا، اور کیا پاکستانی نامی مخلوق دوسرے مسلم ملکوں سے زیادہ پرہیزگار ہیں؟ ساٹھ سال پہلے 'اسلام کا جھنڈا' کیسا تھا؟  اور اگر یہ 'اسلام کا جھنڈا' ہے تو بلوچی بھی تو مسلمان ہوتے ہیں، وہ کیوں نہیں لگا رہے۔

افتخار نے ایسا ہی'چاند تارہ چودھری رحمت علی کی ٹوپی پر بھی دیکھا تھا، پر وہ تو پاکستان میں رہنا درکنار، سپردِ خاک بھی کیمبرج میں ہوئے۔

"آخر یہ چاند تارہ، اتنا پیچیدہ مسئلہ کیوں ہیں"، افتخار حالتِ اضطراب میں ہم کلامی کرتے ہوئے بولا۔

" کبھی کبھار جب کوئی چیز بہت کھوکھلی ہوتی ہے، تو اس کو خواہ مخواہ پیچیدہ بنایا جاتا ہے، یہ بھی ایک فن ہے! کپڑے کا جھنڈا تو جب سمجھ میں آئے جب تن پر کپڑا ہو۔"، دادا جان ہم کلامی کے انداز میں بولے۔

یہ گفتگو چل ہی رہی تھی کے ایک لڑکا افتخار کے باغیچہ میں کودا اور افتخار کا جھنڈا لے کر بھاگا۔ 

"میرا جھنڈا مجھے واپس کرو!!"، افتخار زور سے چیخا ۔

"میری پتنگ بجلی کے کھمبے میں پھنس گئی ہے، پہلے پتنگ نکال لوں، پھر واپس کردوں گا۔"، یہ کہتا ہوا وہ کھمبے کی طرف بھاگا اور پتنگ باآسانی نکال لی۔  اس نے وہیں سےجھنڈے کوتیر کی طرح پکڑا اور افتخار کے باغیچہ کی طرف دے مارا۔ 

جھنڈا ہوا میں اڑتا اڑتا، افتخار کے باغیچہ میں آگرا اور نرم مٹی میں ایستادہ کھڑا ہوگیا۔

"اگر جھنڈا نہ ہوتا تو پتنگ کوئی اور چرا لیتا، پاکستان زندہ باد!"، یہ کہتے ہوئے وہ بچہ پتنگ اڑانے میں مشغول ہوگیا، جبکہ افتخار تقدس کا ہی سوچتا رہا۔۔۔۔۔۔