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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Muhtarma!!

By - Kashif Sarmad

I was thinking of Muhtarma Benazir Bhutto whole day. I reminded myself of her book which I read in December 2007, “The Daughter of East”. Most important person of my life gave that book. I read that book and couldn’t manage my sentiments after reading the most heartbreaking tale of Muhtarma’s life.

My emotions were at its highest culmination especially when I was reading her departure scene from her father’s. At that point, she knew that nothing can save her father (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto-the most popular Prime Minister of Pakistan) from gallows. The death sentence of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was judicial slay through military pressure in order to meet political interests of Zia-Ul-Haq (Military Dictator then supported by USA for Afghan War against USSR)

Benazir wrote that, “I tried to touch my father’s body through tiny bars but failed. I pleaded to the Jail Superintendent to let me meet my father for the last time but he didn’t allow me. I started crying and was continuously crying. Then, unexpectedly I heard a voice of my beloved father,”Good bye till we meet tomorrow again but alas! I wouldn’t be alive” I couldn’t look back and my feet were not supporting me. I felt that I am dead. “I still hear that sentence of my father and still it bother’s me a lot”, she wrote.

The burning question is I couldn’t envisage that, how most horrible the son or daughter will undergo that his/her adored father departing to die mercilessly within 5-6 hours and they can do nothing. Tomorrow, the most important person of one’s life will not be alive, that feeling should be alike sitting in darkroom and waiting for death penalty.

Martyr Benazir Bhutto countenanced so many destitutions in her life. Since the death of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, she had faced jails by Zia-Ul-Haq’s regime, self-exile due to threats from undemocratic governments and many other torments that were not perceptible to ordinary and non-political people.

She was a first woman Muslim Prime Minister and First Women prime minister of Pakistan. Her political and educational portfolio is too lengthy to describe in this article.

By any means till end she was fighting for the deprived people of Pakistan. She came back on 18 October 2008 and about 3 million Pakistani’s welcomed her with open arm. Which was largest ever welcome in the history of Pakistan.

She became Prime Minister twice but unfortunately, she was given handicap government in her both tenures as Prime Minister. The unremitting role of Military and law enforcement agencies always attempted to destabilize Benazir’s government. Surprisingly, in her 30 years political career her party won the elections twice and she was in government for just four years and eight months. In that term she and her political party (PPP) served solely for the welfare of ordinary people of Pakistan. Her achievements are as follows:

Benazir Bhutto’s first tenure as Prime Minister

Land Reforms

Distributed 35000 acres of land among the landless peasants. Each farmer was given 12.5 acres of land. The landlords challenged the land reforms in Supreme Court and because of court intervention the hand reforms were temporarily halted.

More than five hundred political workers, who were economically destroyed by the Zia regime because of their struggle for democracy, were given small residential plots on official rates.

Arrangements were made to build 2000 two-room small houses for homeless in every big city.
One thousand small houses were built in Karachi and handed over to homeless at a price of 30,000 each payable in small easy instalments.

Labour Reforms

Ban was immediately lifted on trade union activities.

Forty thousands industrial workers previously sacked were reinstated.

Labour wages were increased twice.

Labours were awarded share in the income of their enterprise.

Decision was taken to build labour colonies in every industrial city.

Labours were given the right of pension after retirement.


It was decided to establish government dispensaries in every Union Council.

Admission and bed fees forced upon during Zia’s regime were abolished.


For the very first time in the history of Pakistan, in the budget of 1989-90 the amount allocated for education was increased.

The education budget was again increased in 1990-91.

Fifty thousand new teachers were employed.

Education made compulsory upto 8th class.

Importance was given to technical and scientific education.

Youth Policy

Ban on students unions was lifted immediately so that the youth can get training and develop discipline and achieve organizational expertise during their college years.

To address the problems of youth a separate ministry for youth affairs was established.

80 thousands new literacy centers were set up throughout the country.

Women Affairs

Ten thousands young people were given loans of 50 thousands each to start their own businesses.

Very first time a separate ministry for women affairs was established to solve their problems.
Women Bank was established.

Women were given loan facility to start their own businesses.

Computer centers for women were started in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Water & Power

Electricity was supplied to 4 thousand Villages in twenty months, which is a record.

Electricity supplied to more than 1.2 million houses.

Private sector was encouraged and 1 billion $ investment from private sector was arranged for electric generation.

Ghazi Brotha and Neelam Jhelum projects (1 thousand Mega Watts) were initiated.

To overcome the energy problem an agreement was signed with China for the supply of a 300 MW nuclear Power Plant.

Communication & Production

Built a Satellite Station connecting Skardu, Gilgit and Gawadur with Islamabad.

Microwave channel was built to connect Karachi and Peshawar.

600 new post offices were opened.

Port Qasim was extended.

Pakistan Steel Mills was extended and its productivity increased.

Employment of 5000 workers was secured by restarting Baluchistan Textile Mills.

Millat Tractors was extended and its productivity increased from 12000 tractors per year to 18000 tractors per year.

A new plant of Suzuki Cars was constructed.

The lines for 1,50,000 new telephone connections were placed.

18 cities were connected via direct dialing system.

Oil & Gas

30% increase in production of oil and gas.

Work started to build a refinery.


Rupees 3.88 billion petrochemical project started.

An assembly plant of Toyota Hi Ace, Jeeps and Cars was started.

Loan facilities were extended for establishing small industrial units.

Limits for investment without government approval, was increased.


Two Frigates were handed over to Pakistan Navy.

Pakistan started indigenous aircraft production.

New sophisticated radar system started operation.

Acquired sixty F-16 Planes.

Freedom of Press & Expression

Press laws aimed at censorship lifted.

Journalists terminated from service during Martial Law regime were reinstated.

No objection certificate for journalists to travel abroad was abolished.

Employees of Radio and Television were reinstated.

Religious Services

An international Secret Conference was held.

The numbers of Pilgrims were increased in 1989.

The new Hajj Policy was adopted and over 0.1 million people were sent to perform Hajj in 1990.

2 Secret Conferences were held.

Hajj flights were initiated from Lahore and Islamabad.


Conference of the Heads of States of SAARC was held in Islamabad.

China announced to extend an interest free loan of 50 million dollars.

Pakistan rejoined the Common Wealth.

Relations with India normalised and an agreement of no attack on nuclear installations was signed.

Russia approved 1 billion dollar for extension of Karachi Steel Mills.

A separate ministry was established for eradication of drug smuggling.

Big drug traffickers were arrested and put behind bars.

South Asian Games were successfully held.

Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure as Prime Minister


Built 21,000 primary schools.

Provided 700,000 new telephone connections.

Electricity to 18,000 villages.

Airport at Sehwan Sharif.

Airport at Gawadur.

Work on Ketti Bandar Port started.

Construction of Akra Dam providing safe drinking water to the coastal regions of Mehran.

Foreign Policy

For the first time the OIC summit at Casablanca adopted a unanimous resolution asking for a solution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions.

Adoption of Brown Amendment, which partially released the military equipment and hardware, stuck up in the US since long due to Pressler Law.

Law & Order

Peace in Karachi. A near end to terrorism acknowledged by friends and foes alike.


Agosta submarines for the Pakistan Navy.

Tanks for the Army.

Missile capability developed which was to be announced as the Golden Jubilee gift to the Nation on August 14,1997.


An end to the load shedding by enlisting the private sector in power development sector through a uniform policy of tariffs and concessions hailed by the World Bank as a model for the developing countries.

Completion of the first private sector power plant, HUBCO.

Our 11000 kilometers of gas transmission line completed to provide gas to 240 new towns and villages.

Oil and gas exploration stepped up. As a result four new oil and gas wells discovered.


Laying of the optic fiber along with right bank of Indus.

Introduced cellular telephones, digital pager, satellite dish and FM Radio.

Social Sector

Countrywide Polio Vaccination Programme-Nearly 100 percent children under the age of five vaccinated against Polio in three years.

A large number of Computer Centers opened - Special centers for women
Recruitment of 33,000 Lady Health Visitors to reduce infant mortality.

Legislation/Northern Areas

Electoral reforms bill adopted for the first time.

For the first time people of Northern Areas given the right to vote.

Women Development

First time Women Police Stations set up, Women Bank opened and Women Judges appointed in superior judiciary.


Complete press freedom.

Sixth Wage Board award announced for the newspaper workers. The award was also implemented in the APP.


For the first time since independence, Cabinet members were forbidden to take loans from Pakistani Banks.

State Bank of Pakistan made an autonomous organisation.

For the first time one billion dollars of debt retired.

From a dismal growth rate of 2.3% in 1992-93, which it inherited, the PPP government raised the economic growth to 5.2% in 1995-96. The growth rate plunged to 3. I % in 1996-97 after the removal of PPP government, a figure further lowered to 1.3% in the budget.

Fiscal deficit in the last year of PPP government i.e.1995-96 brought down to 5%, from 8% of GDP, which it had inherited.

Tax revenue, which was only 7.2% of GDP in 92-93, was raised to 14. I % of GDP in 1995-96. Last year the tax to GDP ratio again fell to 10.2%.

Due to investment-oriented policies, more than 3 billion dollars of direct foreign investment flowed into the country. As against this the present government has scared away foreign investment through it’s mishandling of the IPP issue and freeze on foreign currency accounts.
A day before the PPP government was dismissal; the stock index was at 1500 points. It sank to 900 points in August 98.


Hajj flights from Multan and Sukkur.

Tens of thousands of jobs provided to the educated but unemployed youth in government departments, banks, corporations and autonomous bodies.

Anti Narcotics

Effective anti-narcotics measures and legislation adopted for the first time.
Half a dozen major drug barons extradited.

Death penalty and confiscation of property provided in the law for drug pushers.

The role of Benazir can be witness by this blue print of specifics. We, the People of Pakistan don’t require any day to remember Benazir but on her birthday I surely would like to salute her for all efforts she did for the underprivileged people of Pakistan. Sadly, her assassination had brought great deal of fretfulness, fright and rage to the people of Pakistan but nothing can be done now to fill her gap.

Mr. Zardari is doing well but changing the modus operandi and working structure of all institutions would be Herculean task for him. It is understood that these preposterous and corrupt institutions cannot be tainted overnight but we need to address the issues and we have got a kick-start.

As Benazir Bhutto said in her lecture at The World Political Forum on May 19, 2003 in Turin, Italy that “Ladies and Gentlemen: I believe a democratic Pakistan is the best guarantee of respect and dignity for the people of Pakistan. I believe that a democratic Pakistan living by the rule of law within and without is the best guarantee of the triumph of moderation and modernity amongst one billion Muslims at the crossroads of our history. We can remember that the future is in our hands. As the European philosopher Goethe once wrote, “Freedom must be reinvented in every generation.”
This is our turn to reinvent freedom.
And we shall prevail.”

The last but not least, Happy birthday Muhtarma! We will reinvent the freedom on your behalf and that will surely reflect your contribution cum hard work. We all thank you for being with us and we hope that coming generation will never forget your dedication for this country. We don’t vacillate to pronounce you the queen of democracy. We are proud of you, Pakistan is proud of you!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Suicide - What, If You Were Bushra Bibi !! ?

(By - Kashif Sarmad)

I was reading the news paper and suddenly I glimpsed over the nerve-racking news that one woman jumped before the fast train with her two child. She did suicide because of hunger and poverty crisis within her home boundaries. I was shocked to read the story and astonished that how she did it? Before that I tried to ferret out what actually suicide means?

Suicide (
Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, to kill oneself) is primarily the act of intentionally ending one's own life, though it is also used as a metaphor for the "willful destruction of one's self-interest" either as an individual or as a group. Suicide may occur for a number of reasons, including depression, shame, pain, financial difficulties, or other undesirable situations. Nearly one million people worldwide die by suicide annually. There are an estimated 10 to 20 million attempted suicides every year.

The History of suicide defines, in general the pagan world, both Roman and Greek, had a relaxed attitude towards the whole concept of suicide, a practice that was only finally outlawed with the advent of the Christians, who condemned it at the
Council of Arles in 452 as the work of the Devil. In the Middle Ages, the church had drawn-out discussions on the edge where the search for martyrdom was suicidal, as in the case of Martyrs of Cordoba. Despite these disputes and occasional official rulings, Catholic doctrine was not entirely settled on the subject of suicide until the later 17th century. For instance, John Donne's Thoughts on Emergent Occasions is a long argument in favor of suicide as divinely appointed opportunity.

There is some echo of later Christian hostility in ancient Greek thinkers.
Pythagoras, for example, was against the act, though more on mathematical than moral grounds, believing that there was only a finite number of souls for use in the world, and that the sudden and unexpected departure of one upset a delicate balance. Aristotle also condemned suicide, though for quite different, far more practical reasons, in that it robbed the community of the services of one of its members. A reading of Phaedo suggests that Plato was also against the practice, inasmuch as he allows Socrates to defend the teachings of the Orphics, who believed that the human body was the property of God, and thus self-harm was a direct offense against divine law. Yet, it's not quite so simple, because after Socrates says than no man has a right to suicide, this is then qualified by the statement "...unless God sends some necessity upon him, as has now been sent upon me."

In Rome suicide was never a general offence in law, though the whole approach to the question was essentially pragmatic. This is illustrated by the example given by
Titus Livy of the colony of Massalia (the present day Marseilles), where those who wanted to kill themselves merely applied to the senate, and if their reasons were judged sound they were then given hemlock free of charge. It was specifically forbidden in three cases: those accused of capital crimes, soldiers and slaves. The reason behind all three was the same - it was uneconomic for these people to die. If the accused killed themselves prior to trial and conviction then the state lost the right to seize their property, a loophole that was only closed by Domitian in the first century AD, who decreed that those who died prior to trial were without legal heirs. The suicide of a soldier was treated on the same basis as desertion. If a slave killed her or himself within six months of purchase, the master could claim a full refund from the former owner.

But the Romans fully approved of what might be termed "patriotic suicide"; death, in other words, as an alternative to dishonour. For the
Stoics, a philosophical sect which originated in Greece, death was a guarantee of personal freedom, a way out of an intolerable existence. And so it was for Cato the Younger, who killed himself after the Pompeian cause was defeated at the Battle of Thapsus. This was a 'virtuous death', one guided by reason and conscience. His example was later followed by Seneca, though under somewhat more straightened circumstances. A very definite line was drawn by the Romans between the virtuous suicide and suicide for entirely private reasons. They disapproved of Mark Antony not because he killed himself, but that he killed himself for love.

Islam, like other Abrahamic religions, views suicide as sinful and highly detrimental to one's spiritual journey. For those who formerly believed, but ultimately rejected belief in God, the result seems unambiguously negative.

A verse in the fourth chapter of the Quran, An-Nisaa (The Women) instructs; "And do not kill yourselves, surely Allah is most Merciful to you." (4:29)

The prohibition of suicide has also been recorded in authentic statements of
hadith. For example; "He who commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in the Hell-fire, and he who commits suicide by stabbing himself, he shall keep stabbing himself in the Hell-fire.

After reffering these papers I was wondering why Bushra Bibi committed suicide with her two innocent childern? Didn’t she know that committing suicide is prohabited in Islam and Law? She knew, I guess.

I thought as a Bushra Bibi who couldn’t feed her childern for many days, she couldn’t faced the worst financial hurdles, she was unable to buy medicines for her children, she was not capable to send her kids to school. She was not able to earn to meet her financial needs. These were enough reasons to commit suicide.

After one month government gave gant to Bushra Bibi’s husband as compensation. Was that really enough for her husband to forget his dead family? No!! Government should provide relief to those people who cannot afford to buy food for their family. Government should make turn Pakistan as welfare state where people can get better health facilities, cheap food and affordable shelter instead of giving them so called compensation.

I wonder what NGO’s and Societies are really doing to transport relief to needy people. There are thousands of NGO’s and other welfare societies are operating in Pakistan and very few of them are working up-to-mark. Most of them are used as political tools in the hands of most influencial political entities. Are NGO’s are only left to hold the banners before press clubs and doing fake workshops cum seminars in the five star hotels to get aids from donor agencies?

I request not only to government but also to civil society to prevent these sort of incidents instead of curing it through compensations. Its because any one can earn the money but its hard to bring back the dead family or loved ones. I am sure that no one wants to be Bushra Bibi who sacrificed her precious life for the sake of meal.