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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bulldozing of Heritage

Saudi Arabia Bulldozes Over Its Heritage also see CONSERVING HERITAGE
By Carla Power
TIME Magazine, Nov. 14, 2014
An aerial view shows the Clock Tower, the Grand Mosque, and surrounding constructions sites in the holy city of Mecca, in 2013.An aerial view shows the Clock Tower, the Grand Mosque, and surrounding constructions sites in the holy city of Mecca, in 2013. Fayez Nureldine—AFP/Getty Images
Over 98% of the Kingdom's historical and religious sites have been destroyed since 1985, according to the U.K.-based Islamic Heritage Research Foundation
For centuries the Kaaba, the black cube in the center of Mecca, Saudi Arabia that is Islam’s holiest point, has been encircled by arched porticos erected some three centuries ago by the Ottomans, above dozens of carved marble columns dating back to the 8th century. But earlier this month, any vestiges of the portico and columns were reduced to rubble, cleared to make way for the Saudi government’s expansion of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

The $21 billion project, launched in 2011, is designed to meet the challenges of accommodating the millions of pilgrims who visit Mecca and Medina every year. Around 2 million currently visit during Hajj alone, the annual pilgrimage that happens during the last month of the Islamic calendar. But activists charge that the recent destructions are part of a much wider government campaign to rub out historical and religious sites across the Kingdom.

Over the last few years, mosques and key sites dating from the time of Muhammad have been knocked down or destroyed, as have Ottoman-era mansions, ancient wells and stone bridges. Over 98% of the Kingdom’s historical and religious sites have been destroyed since 1985, estimates the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation in London. “It’s as if they wanted to wipe out history,” says Ali Al-Ahmed, of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Though the Saudi rulers have a long history of destroying historical sites, activists say the pace and range of destruction has recently increased. A few months ago, the house of Hamza, the Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, was flattened to make way for a Meccan hotel, according to Irfan Al Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation. There have even been rumored threats to Muhammad’s tomb in Medina and his birthplace in Mecca.

A 61-page report, published recently in Saudi Arabia’s Journal of the Royal Presidency, suggested separating the Prophet’s tomb from Medina’s mosque, a task “that would amount to its destruction,” Alawi says. “You can’t move it without destroying it.” Moreover, he alleges, plans for a new palace for King Abdullah threaten the library atop the site traditionally identified as the birthplace of Muhammad. Even now, signs in four languages warn visitors that there is no proof that the Prophet Muhammad was born there, “so it is forbidden to make this place specific for praying, supplicating or get [sic] blessing.”

Wahhabism, the prevailing Saudi strain of Islam, frowns on visits to shrines, tombs or religio-historical sites, on grounds that they might lead to Islam’s gravest sin: worshipping anyone other than God. In recent years, the twin forks of Wahhabi doctrine and urban development have speared most physical reminders of Islamic history in the heart of Mecca. The house of the Prophet’s first wife, Khadijah has made way for public toilets. A Hilton hotel stands on the site of the house of Islam’s first caliph, Abu Bakr. Famously, the Kaaba now stands in the shade of one of the world’s tallest buildings, the Mecca Royal Clock Tower, part of a complex built by the Bin Laden Group, boasting a 5-story shopping mall, luxury hotels and a parking garage.

Saudi officials did not respond to interview requests, but in the past, they have said that the expansion project is necessary to cater to the ever-growing number of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, a number forecast to reach 17 million by 2025. When it’s done, the expansion of the mataf, the area where the faithful circumambulate around the Kaaba, will treble its capacity, to 150,000 people; the Great Mosque will be able to hold 2.5 million.

Amir Pasic, of IRCICA, the culture organization of the 56-nation Organization of Islamic Conference, points out that the logistics for Hajj dwarf those required for a World Cup or Olympics. “Every time has the right to make changes on the existing urban set-up,” he said. “Every generation tries to develop something. The Kaaba is what’s important.”

If Mecca’s new skyline is impossible to ignore, what with 48 searchlights beaming from the top of the Clock Tower, other changes to the landscape are more insidious. “Everyone’s focused on [the two mosque expansion projects], but people are not focusing on what we’re losing in the meantime,” says Saudi activist, poet and photographer Nimah Ismail Nawwab. After blue markings appear on sites mentioned in Islamic histories, says Nawwab, then the bulldozers come–often in the dead of night. “Everything happens at night,” she told TIME by phone from Saudi Arabia. “By the next day in the morning, the monument is gone.”

It’s not just in Mecca, either. Over a year ago, the split in Mount Uhud, north of Medina, where Muhammad was said to have been carried after being wounded in the famous Battle of Uhud was filled with concrete. A fence went up at the base of the mountain, warning would-be visitors that it was just a mountain, like any other. Six small mosques in Medina where Muhammad is believed to have prayed have been locked. The seventh, belonging to Islam’s first caliph Abu Bakr, has been razed to make way for an ATM. Nawwab, along with a small group of historians and activists, has tried to raise awareness by photographing sites and starting a Twitter campaign, but says “it’s a losing battle, despite the fact that what’s being lost is not just Muslim history, but human history.”

When the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001, they were met with international condemnation. The response to the demolition activity in the Kingdom, by contrast, has been decidedly muted. “When it comes to Mecca, as far as we are concerned it’s a Saudi question,” says Roni Amelan, a spokesman for UNESCO, the United Nation’s cultural body. The Saudi government has never submitted Mecca for inclusion on the list of World Heritage Sites. As UNESCO’s mandate requires a respect for the sovereignty of individual countries, “we don’t have a legal basis to stake a position regarding it,” adds Amelan.

Muslim governments, perhaps mindful of the power of the Saudis to cut their quotas for how many pilgrims can attend Hajj, have been strikingly silent on the issue. The Organization of the Islamic Conference has also been noticeably quiet on the destruction of the Saudi campaign. One exception has been Turkey, whose Ottoman heritage has also long been under threat. In September, Mehmet Gormez, head of the Dinayet, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, told journalists that he told Saudi’s minister of Hajj that the skyscraper overshadowing the Kaaba “destroys history,” the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported. “History is being destroyed in the Holy Land each day,” he added.

For pilgrims old enough to remember the dangerous crush of crowds in the 1980s, the spate of new development may be welcome, offering a chance for comfort on their spiritual journey. For other Muslims, like Ziauddin Sardar, author of the recent Mecca: The Sacred City, the vigor of the Saudi campaign springs from financial jitters. “The Saudis know the oil is going to run out,” he said. “Hajj is already their second major source of income, after oil. They look at Dubai, and Qatar, and ask ‘what are we going to do?’ And they say, ‘We have Hajj, and we’re going to exploit it to the max.'”

Carla Power is the author of If the Oceans Were Ink: A Journey to the Heart of the Quran (Henry Holt: April, 2015

الله حافظ!
محمّد عبد الحمید
مصنف، "غربت  کیسے مٹ سکتی ہے" (کلاسیک پبلشرز، لاہور)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Jinnah as a Lawyer

Jinnah and Colonel Blimp
Khalid Hasan
The Friday Times,
May 16, 2005

Although everyone says what a superb lawyer Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
was, rarely does one get to read anything about the court appearances that
earned him that reputation.

I remember years ago in
Lahore, Safdar Mir, the great Zeno of Pakistan Times ,
telling me about the Quaid's contribution to the "Indianisation" of the
British-led and officered army. Though I never made the effort to look up how
and where the Quaid had made his contribution, what Safdar Mir has said remained
engraved in my memory.

The other day, while reading the autobiography of the late Maj. Gen. Ajit Anil
"Jik" Rudra, who originally came from Lahore, served in three armies, fought in
both World Wars and died in India in 1997 at the age of 93, I came upon an
episode that showed that the Quaid's reputation as a brilliant lawyer was not a
Pakistani myth but a fact.

The Government of India appointed a committee of the legislature - I am not
clear about the year - to study the question of Indianising the army. British
officers were unabashedly racist when it came to Indian officers being posted to
purely British officered units. Curiously, British officers invariably enjoyed
close relationships with the men and ORs (other ranks) who served under them.
The Subedar Major, for instance, used to be known as "Kala Karnail." But when it
came to officers serving with them as their equals, juniors and, especially, as
their seniors, or dining with them in their all British messes, or frequenting
their clubs, they found it unacceptable. Col. Ronny Datta, a retired Indian
officer, told me that he had seen a sign at the front door of the once
all-British Fort William Club in
Calcutta that said, 'Indians and Dogs not

The Committee appointed to study the sensitive Indianisation question included
Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Lt Rudra who had been commissioned in England during the
First War and who fought gallantly in the trenches in France during one of the
most brutal military campaigns of all times, was asked to appear before that
Committee. He was presented to the Committee that included Pandit Motilal Nehru
by one Gen. Skeen with the words, "Gentlemen, here you have a young Indian
King's Commissioned officer. He served in the ranks of the British Army during
the Great War and is now serving in an Indian regiment. You have just heard his
commanding officer's opinion of him. Please ask him any questions you may have
of him."

Rudra recalls that Mr Jinnah was the first member of the Committee to address
him. He began by asking a number of questions about his conditions of service,
including what commands and appointments he had held. Then he said in a "more
serious tone," "Mr Rudra, I must warn you that the proceedings from now till I
finish will be in camera. I want you to understand that clearly." Rudra writes
that although he did not have the foggiest idea what "in camera" meant, he
replied, "Yes, sir." Mr Jinnah then asked the Chairman of the Committee if he
could send for one Colonel Pope again, a British senior officer he had obviously
questioned before Rudra had been brought in. The Colonel was the commanding
officer of the 4th Hyderabad Regiment, an Indianised battalion in which Thimayya
(one day to become the commander-in-chief of independent
India's army) and some
other Indian officers had been serving for the past two or three years.

Mr Jinnah's opening question to Col. Pope was, "Col. Pope, in your evidence
earlier you said that in your opinion, no Indian is fit to take the place of a
British officer." "Yes," the British officer answered. The colonel then looked
Rudra "full in the face and repeated those very same words." Mr Jinnah's next
question was, "Colonel, could you please give us your reasons for holding such
an adverse opinion of Indians?" Pope hesitated for a while, then said, "Well,
er... for one thing Indians are not impartial in the matter of promotions. They
tend to favour their own kith and kin... and that would be disastrous. Secondly,
they can't be trusted in money matters. That's the general Indian weakness. In
fact, they are totally unfit to hold the King's Commission."

"Thank you, Col. Pope," Mr Jinnah said, "You have of course had instances where
your Indian officers have promoted their own kith and kin overlooking more
suitable personnel?" 
Col. Pope hesitated before replying, "Er... well, no. But I
know that that's what they would do if given half a chance." Mr Jinnah's
response was immediate, "So, it is just prejudice - you have no concrete fact,
no particular case to back up your statement." The trap that Mr Jinnah was
laying for Col. Blimp was exactly what he walked into. "I know I am right," he

Mr Jinnah then asked him calmly, "I see. Now, as regards money matters, how many
cases of mishandling money by Indian officers and untrustworthy behaviour in
financial dealings have you had to deal with?"
 Col. Pope was now fully trapped
but he remained arrogant, "Well, er... there have been no actual cases. They
wouldn't dare while I am their commanding officer. But if left to themselves,
they can't be trusted." Mr Jinnah's response was razor sharp: "But these are
merely opinions and prejudices. Can you not back them up with facts?"
Colonel remained silent and, as Rudra recalls, "he was beginning to turn a
little red in the face by then." Mr Jinnah now went for the coup de grace .
"Colonel, I must ask you to be more specific. Why have you formed these
opinions? You must have some reason." Col. Pope replied, "Well, my Subedar Major
holds these opinions too, He is quite definite about them."

At this point, Mr Jinnah went for the kill, "I see, so you are merely voicing
your Subedar Major's prejudices. In that case, we might be better off asking him
to appear before us instead of you. Thank you Colonel. I have nothing further to
ask you."

I suppose this was how the Quaid-i-Azam won the case for
Pakistan, though had he
known who was going to inherit his great legacy, he might have developed second

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Extracts from Raymond Baker's book Capitalism’s Achilles Heel - On Deeds of Present Day Rulers of Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto on pages 77-82:

Born in Karachi in 1953 and educated in private schools, Benazir Bhutto graduated from Radcliffe College at Harvard University in 1973. Going on to Oxford for a master’s degree, she displayed her budding political skills and was elected president of the Student Union in 1977. Meanwhile, her father had become prime minister of Pakistan in 1971, was ousted in a military coup in 1977, and was executed in 1979 on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. In and out of prison and house arrest, Benazir was not allowed to leave the country until 1984 but then returned to lead the democracy movement two years later. Her father’s usurper, General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, was killed in a mysterious plane crash in 1988, which also took the life of the U.S. ambassador Arnold Raphel, and the head of the U.S. military aid mission to Pakistan, General H.M. Wasson. Benazir was elected prime minister that year, served until her ouster in 1990 on charges of corruption and nepotism, was reelected in 1993, and ousted again in 1996, amidst more charges of corruption. During her two terms in office and since, what has come out portrays Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari as world-class thieves.

Upon taking office in 1988, Bhutto reportedly appointed 26,000 party hacks to state jobs, including positions in state-owned banks. An orgy of lending without proper collateral followed. Allegedly, Bhutto and Zardari “gave instructions for billions of rupees of unsecured government loans to be given to 50 large projects. The loans were sanctioned in the names of ‘front men’ but went to the ‘Bhutto-Zardari combine.’ ” Zardari suggested that such loans are “normal in the Third World to encourage industrialisation.” He used 421 million rupees (about £10 million) to acquire a major interest in three new sugar mills, all done through nominees acting on his behalf. In another deal he allegedly received a 40 million rupee kickback on a contract involving the Pakistan Steel Mill, handled by two of his cronies. Along the way Zardari acquired a succession of nicknames: Mr. 5 Percent, Mr. 10 Percent, Mr. 20 Percent, Mr. 30 Percent, and finally, in Bhutto’s second term when he was appointed “minister of investments,” Mr. 100 Percent.

The Pakistan government’s largest source of revenues is customs duties, and therefore evasion of duties is a national pastime. Isn’t there some way to tap into this major income stream, pretending to fight customs corruption and getting rich at the same time? Of course; we can hire a reputable (or disreputable, as the case may be) inspection company, have the government pay the company about a one percent fee to do price checking on imports, and get multimillion-dollar bribes paid to us upon award of the contracts. Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), headquartered in Switzerland, and its then subsidiary Cotecna, the biggest group in the inspection business, readily agreed to this subterfuge.

Letters in 1994 promised “consultancy fees,” meaning kickbacks, of 6 percent and 3 percent to two British Virgin Island (BVI) companies, Bomer Finances Inc. and Nassam Overseas Inc., controlled by Bhutto and Zardari. Payments of $12 million were made to Swiss bank accounts of the BVI companies. SGS allegedly has paid kickbacks on other inspection contracts around the world. Upon being accused in the inspection kickback scheme, Bhutto sniffed, “I ran the government to the best of my honest ability. And I did it for nothing but acknowledgment and love.”

Then there was the 1994 deal to import $83 million worth of tractors from Poland. Ursus Tractors allegedly paid a 7 percent commission to another of Zardari’s Caribbean companies, Dargal Associated. Bhutto waived import duties on the tractors, costing the Pakistani government some 1.7 billion rupees in lost revenues. Upon discovery of this scheme the Poles hastened to turn over 500 pages of documentation confirming the kickback.

The Polish tractor deal was just a warm-up for the French fighter jet deal. After the U.S. government cancelled a sale of two squadrons of F-16s, Bhutto dangled a $4 billion contract for Mirages in front of the French—Dassault Aviation; Snecma, the engine manufacturer; and Thomson-CSF, producer of aviation electronics. Without missing a beat they allegedly agreed to pay a “remuneration” of 5 percent to Marleton Business S.A., yet another of Zardari’s British Virgin Island companies. This would have generated a tidy $200 million for the Bhutto-Zardari couple, but unfortunately for them she was driven from office before they could collect.

Ah, but the gold deal gave some comfort to these aspiring kleptocrats. Gold is culturally important in the Asian subcontinent, in particular as a way for women to accumulate wealth. Upwards of $100 billion is invested in this unproductive asset in Pakistan, India, and surrounding countries. Smuggling is big business.

Ostensibly to regulate the trade, a Pakistani bullion dealer in Dubai, Abdul Razzak Yaqub, asked Bhutto for an exclusive import license. In 1994, yet another Zardari offshore company, M.S. Capricorn Trading, was created in the British Virgin Islands. Later in the year, Jens Schlegelmilch, “a Swiss lawyer who was the Bhutto family’s attorney in Europe and close personal friend for more than 20 years,” opened an account for Capricorn Trading at the Dubai branch of Citibank. According to a 1999 U.S. Senate report: “Mr. Schlegelmilch did not reveal to the Dubai banker that Mr. Zardari was the beneficial owner of the PIC [private investment company], and the account manager never asked him the identity of the beneficial owner of the account. . . . Shortly after opening the account in Dubai, Mr. Schlegelmilch signed a standard referral agreement with Citibank Switzerland private bank guaranteeing him 20 percent of the first three years of client net revenues earned by the bank from each client he referred to the private bank.” In other words, Citibank was contracting to pay a finder’s fee for millions brought in from dubious sources. Citibank went on to open three accounts in Switzerland for Zardari, with Schlegelmilch as the signatory.

In October 1994, Citibank records show that $10 million was deposited into Capricorn’s Dubai account by Razzak Yaqub’s company, A.R.Y. International Exchange. In December, Razzak Yaqub received an exclusive import license and proceeded over the next three years to ship more than $500 million in gold to Pakistan. Additional deposits flowed into the Dubai and Swiss Citibank accounts, and funds also were shifted to Citibank Channel Island subsidiaries. The original ceiling on the accounts of $40 million was reached quickly

Toward the end of her second term, the Bhutto case took a bizarre turn. Representatives of the Pakistan Muslim League, an opposition party, met in 1995 with private investigators in London who offered documentary proof from an unnamed source of Bhutto’s corruption, in return for a modest fee of $10 million. That deal was not consummated, but two years later, with Bhutto out of office and under investigation, the offer was reportedly concluded for $1 million. The documents “appeared to have been taken from the Geneva office of Jens Schlegelmilch.”

In 2000 Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau, with the thankless task of investigating corruption, drew upon these documents and other sources and released details of assets and accounts belonging to Bhutto and Zardari. Even to jaded observers, the scale of their holdings was stunning: hundreds of properties, dozens of companies, and dozens of bank accounts. A partial listing of only foreign holdings reported by the National Accountability Bureau is provided in Table 3.4.

Summarizing this and other documentation, the New York Times reported that the material included “. . . letters from executives promising payoffs, with details of the percentage payments to be made; memorandums detailing meetings at which these ‘commissions’ and ‘remunerations’ were agreed on, and certificates incorporating the offshore companies used as fronts in the deals. . . . The documents also revealed the crucial role played by Western institutions. Apart from the companies that made payoffs, and the network of banks that handled the money . . . the arrangements made by the Bhutto family for their wealth relied on Western property companies, Western lawyers and a network of Western friends.”

Even the Swiss finally had had enough. Seventeen bank accounts linked to Bhutto and Zardari were frozen. The two were charged with money laundering in connection with bribes received from the inspection company SGS and were convicted by a Swiss court in 2003, with fines and suspended prison sentences. This was short-lived; the decision was overturned and referred back to cantonal prosecutors upon appeal. Meanwhile, Zardari was in prison in Pakistan from 1996 to 2004 on assorted charges.

Bhutto, with her father executed, two brothers assassinated, her mother an amnesiac, her husband still troublesome, and she living in exile between London and Dubai, portrays herself as the victim: “I never asked for power. I think they [the Pakistani people] need me. I don’t think it’s addictive. You want to run away from it, but it doesn’t let you go. . . . I think the reason this happens is that we want to give love and we receive love.” Save your tears. In the global collection of displaced leaders, Benazir Bhutto may be the least sympathetic character of all.

Nawaz Sharif’s Corruption highlighted in Raymond Baker’s book on Dirty Money

Posted: 01 Apr 2012 08:12 AM PDT
Raymond Baker in his book Capitalism’s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System tried to understand the dynamics of how dirty money works, in his book he elboarately covers the Corruption in Pakistan and takes a swing at both Benazir Bhutto & Nawaz Sharif to say [Credit @Aleem_Ashraf]

Corruption and criminality run from the top down, with the political class constantly looting the national treasury and distorting economic policy for personal gain. Bank loans are granted largely on the basis of status and connections. The rich stash much of their money abroad in those willing western coffers, while exhibiting little inclination to repay their rupee borrowings. Pakistan’s recent history has been dominated by two families—the Bhuttos and the Sharifs—both merely tolerated by the military, the real power in the country. When it comes to economic destruction, there’s not a lot of difference among the three.
Pages 82-85 of the book cover the section on Nawaz Sharif:

While Benazir Bhutto hated the generals for executing her father, Nawaz Sharif early on figured out that they held the real power in Pakistan. His father had established a foundry in 1939 and, together with six brothers, had struggled for years only to see their business nationalized by Ali Bhutto’s regime in 1972. This sealed decades of enmity between the Bhuttos and the Sharifs. Following the military coup and General Zia’s assumption of power, the business—Ittefaq—was returned to family hands in 1980. Nawaz Sharif became a director and cultivated relations with senior military officers. This led to his appointment as finance minister of Punjab and then election as chief minister of this most populous province in 1985. During the 1980s and early 1990s, given Sharif ’s political control of Punjab and eventual prime ministership of the country, Ittefaq Industries grew from its original single foundry into 30 businesses producing steel, sugar, paper, and textiles, with combined revenues of $400 million, making it one of the biggest private conglomerates in the nation. As in many other countries, when you control the political realm, you can get anything you want in the economic realm.

With Lahore, the capital of Punjab, serving as the seat of the family’s power, one of the first things Sharif did upon becoming prime minister in 1990 was build his long-dreamed-of superhighway from there to the capital,Islamabad. Estimated to cost 8.5 billion rupees, the project went through two biddings. Daewoo of Korea, strengthening its proposals with midnight meetings, was the highest bidder both times, so obviously it won the contract and delivered the job at well over 20 billion rupees.

A new highway needs new cars. Sharif authorized importation of 50,000 vehicles duty free, reportedly costing the government $700 million in lost customs duties. Banks were forced to make loans for vehicle purchases to would-be taxi cab drivers upon receipt of a 10 percent deposit. Borrowers got their “Nawaz Sharif cabs,” and some 60 percent of them promptly defaulted. This left the banks with $500 million or so in unpaid loans. Vehicle dealers reportedly made a killing and expressed their appreciation in expected ways. Under Sharif, unpaid bank loans and massive tax evasion remained the favorite ways to get rich. Upon his loss of power the usurping government published a list of 322 of the largest loan defaulters, representing almost $3 billion out of $4 billion owed to banks. Sharif and his family were tagged for $60 million. The Ittefaq Group went bankrupt in 1993 when Sharif lost his premiership the first time. By then only three units in the group were operational, and loan defaults of the remaining companies totaled some 5.7 billion rupees, more than $100 million.

Like Bhutto, offshore companies have been linked to Sharif, three in the British Virgin Islands by the names of Nescoll, Nielson, and Shamrock and another in the Channel Islands known as Chandron Jersey Pvt. Ltd. Some of these entities allegedly were used to facilitate purchase of four rather grand flats on Park Lane in London, at various times occupied by Sharif family members. Reportedly, payment transfers were made to Banque Paribas en Suisse, which then instructed Sharif ’s offshore companies Nescoll and Nielson to purchase the four luxury suites.

In her second term, Benazir Bhutto had Pakistan’s Federal Investigating Agency begin a probe into the financial affairs of Nawaz Sharif and his family. The probe was headed by Rehman Malik, deputy director general of the agency. Malik had fortified his reputation earlier by aiding in the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. During Sharif ’s second term, the draft report of the investigation was suppressed, Malik was jailed for a year, and later reportedly survived an assassination attempt, after which he fled to London. The Malik report, five years in the making, was released in 1998, with explosive revelations:

The records, including government documents, signed affidavits from Pakistani officials, bank files and property records, detail deals that Mr. Malik says benefited Mr. Sharif, his family and his political associates:

• At least $160 million pocketed from a contract to build a highway from Lahore, his home town, to Islamabad, the nation’s capital.

• At least $140 million in unsecured loans from Pakistan’s state banks.

• More than $60 million generated from government rebates on sugar exported by mills controlled by Mr. Sharif and his business associates.

• At least $58 million skimmed from inflated prices paid for imported wheat from the United States and Canada. In the wheat deal, Mr. Sharif ’s government paid prices far above market value to a private company owned by a close associate of his in Washington, the records show. Falsely inflated invoices for the wheat generated tens of millions of dollars in cash.

The report went on to state that “The extent and magnitude of this corruption is so staggering that it has put the very integrity of the country at stake.” In an interview, Malik added: “No other leader of Pakistan has taken that much money from the banks. There is no rule of law in Pakistan. It doesn’t exist.”

What brought Sharif down in his second term was his attempt to acquire virtually dictatorial powers. In 1997 he rammed a bill through his compliant parliament requiring legislators to vote as their party leaders directed. In 1998 he introduced a bill to impose Sharia law (Muslim religious law) across Pakistan, with himself empowered to issue unilateral directives in the name of Islam. In 1999 he sought to sideline the army by replacing Chief of Staff Pervez Musharraf with a more pliable crony. He forgot the lessons he had learned in the 1980s: The army controls Pakistan and politicians are a nuisance. As Musharraf was returning from Sri Lanka, Sharif tried to sack him in midair and deny the Pakistan International Airways flight with 200 civilians on board landing rights in Karachi. Musharraf radioed from the aircraft through Dubai to his commander in Karachi, ordering him to seize the airport control tower, accomplished as the plane descended almost out of fuel. Musharraf turned the tables and completed his coup, and Sharif was jailed.

But Sharif had little to fear. This, after all, is Pakistan. Musharraf needed to consolidate his power with the generals, and Sharif knew details about the corruption of most of the brass. Obviously, it is better to tread lightly around the edges of your peer group’s own thievery. So Musharraf had Sharif probed, tried, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison, but then in 2000 exiled him to Saudi Arabia. Twenty-two containers of carpets and furniture followed, and, of course, his foreign accounts remained mostly intact. Ensconced in a glittering palace in Jeddah, he is described as looking “corpulent” amidst “opulent” surroundings. Reportedly, he and Benazir Bhutto even have an occasional telephone conversation, perhaps together lamenting how unfair life has become.

Saturday, September 20, 2014



Despite the negative impression of the government bureaucracy in Pakistan, I  am hopeful that God fearing officials can deliver to the people they are assigned to serve. With this hope I am sharing ZERO BUDGET proposals on HEALTH, EDUCATION and ENERGY for active participation by the District Government. "Idea Demonstration" projects are in operation in BALTIT HUNZA since September 2013 and the new DC in Hunza is welcome to get an on-site briefing any time convenient to him. Details can be viewed on the following links:
B.   ENERGY and Future Projects: 

Our education system is today antiquated and is not adequately preparing our students for the world into which they graduate. The Google+ community on "Education" serves as a communication hub for teachers, students, and parents to discuss all topics relevant to Education.
CONNECTED LEARNING is when you are pursuing expertise around something you care deeply about and you are supported by friends and institutions who share and recognise your passion. This vision of learning leverages the tools of the digital age to build on education basics while offering young people opportunities to develop skills and literacies needed to thrive in a new world.
SASLLC BALTIT is a ZERO BUDGET idea demonstration project working on TKN CONCEPT in BALTIT HUNZA and advocates replication in all regions where opportunities for WORLD CLASS QUALITY EDUCATION do not exist.
For details visit this link:

Opening of Aga Khan Museum in Toronto

 Opening of Aga Khan Museum in Toronto
Date: 17 September 2014 4:14:21 pm GMT+5
From the Prime Minister's Web Site (

PM joins His Highness the Aga Khan in the opening ceremony of the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum

September 12, 2014
Toronto, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today joined His Highness the Aga Khan in the official opening of the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum, situated in the Don Mills area of Toronto, Ontario. He was joined by Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.
While at the Ismaili Centre, the Prime Minister toured the complex which incorporates spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and reflection, as well as spiritual contemplation.
He then visited the Aga Khan Museum, which also held its inaugural ceremony on the same day. The Museum’s collection, which includes art and artefacts from the permanent collection of His Highness the Aga Khan and members of his family, is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage.
Across Canada, Canadian Ismailis joined together at mosques and gathering places to watch a livestream of the events with their communities.
Quick Facts
His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the world's 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims.
There are more than 100,000 Shia Ismaili Muslims in Canada.
Since taking on his role as Imam in 1957, His Highness the Aga Khan has been deeply engaged in improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations, while emphasizing the need to uphold human dignity as well as respect for tolerance and pluralism.
The first Canadian Ismaili Centre was opened in Burnaby, British Columbia, in 1985.
There are currently six Ismaili Centres globally, including the Centre in Toronto. The network of Ismaili Centres reflects and illustrates, through design and function, the Ismaili community’s intellectual and spiritual understanding of Islam, its social conscience and its tolerant attitude.
His Highness the Aga Khan was formally granted honorary citizenship in May 2010 during an official visit to Canada. During that visit, Prime Minister Harper and His Highness took part in the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Museum and Park.
The Museum is the first in North America dedicated exclusively to the arts and artefacts of the Islamic world.
On February 27, 2014, His Highness the Aga Khan became the first faith leader to address the Joint Session of Canada’s Parliament.
Our longstanding development partnership was evidenced this past May, as the Aga Khan attended Prime Minister Harper’s Saving Every Woman Every Child Summit, where His Highness made a keynote address.
“It is once more an honour to welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to Canada. Our country has a deep and longstanding partnership with the Imamat, as evidenced by his decision to establish the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. This partnership stems from our shared commitment to pluralism, civil society, human dignity, and peace and understanding.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
“I encourage Canadians from coast to coast to coast as well as international visitors to tour these architectural marvels. I am certain that the Centre and Museum will help to promote spirituality and deepen religious and cultural understanding and respect in Canada.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Posted by: Minhaj Qidwai <>

Secret Affidavit of Yahya Khan

Edited by: Abu Rushd
First Edition: February 2009
Published by: Bangladesh Defence Journal

"It was Bhutto, not Mujib, who broke Pakistan. Bhutto's stance in 1971 and his stubbornness harmed Pakistan's solidarity much more than Sheikh Mujib's six-point demand. It was his high ambitions and rigid stance that led to rebellion in East Pakistan. He riled up the Bengalis and brought an end to Pakistan's solidarity. East Pakistan broke away."

The above statement was made by former President of Pakistan General Aga Muhammed Yahya Khan (February 4, 1971 – August 10, 1980) in his secret Affidavit placed with the Lahore High Court. Twenty-seven years after his death, in December 2005 the Pakistan government released this document for public information. In this affidavit, Yahya Khan describes many sensational incidents that occurred before the 1971 war and after, during his rule. He writes of his role as President, his shortcomings, of how he was used like a pawn in a chess game. He speaks of traitors behind the scenes, of the roles played by Bhutto and Mujib, of how and why the Pakistan army cracked down on Bengalis, how far the Generals were responsible, who were behind the genocide and so on. Other than the Hamudur Rahman Commission Report of 1972, this is the only publication containing the statements of Yahya Khan, giving his version of the events of 1971.

Once the war ended, Bhutto immediately took over power and placed President Yahya Khan under house arrest. The Bhutto government treated Yahya Khan and his family ruthlessly. When General Ziaul Huq came to power in 1977, he released Yahya Khan. It was then that Yahya decided on this affidavit, to record his statements for posterity. He made this affidavit through Advocate Manzur Ahmed Rana of the Lahore High Court.

The affidavit consists of 57 pages. Before the affidavit was filed with the court, Yahya Khan carefully scrutinised each typed page in May 1978 at his house in Rawalpindi . He made a few amendments here and there and then signed the document, declaring it to be the truth.

After a long spell of illness, this military ruler finally breathed his last in August 1980 in the house of his brother Muhammed Ali in Lahore .

In his affidavit, Yahya Khan states how the government had been pushed back against the wall. Awami League President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gained immense power and Yahya Khan could not accept his attitude. He says that Mujib had brought the administration to a standstill. This was unacceptable, intolerable. This was a rebellion against the government. He says that there was no alternative to military action against this uprising. He says he did not launch Operation Searchlight on March 25, 1971 at the behest of Bhutto or anyone else. He issued these order in his capacity as President and Army Chief in order to quell the uprising.

Yahya Khan, in this document, is unwilling to accept that the cessation of East Pakistan and the surrender of the Pakistan army as a military defeat. He says this is was a naked conspiracy of India. He berates India and Russia for their role in this regard and has all gratitude for the United States and China for their support. He terms Mujib as a patriot, but says that Awami League had a section of radical leftists who were instigating him. They did not want to relinquish the opportunity to materialise India's long cherished dream of breaking up Pakistan.

According to Yahya Khan, it was Tikka Khan who issued the orders to capture Mujib dead or alive. Bhutto had wanted to hang Mujib. Mujib was prepared to change his six-point demand if necessary. The news of America's Seventh Fleet and China's involvement in the war were rumours. Yahya claims that in the end he wanted to leave East Pakistan's power in the hands of Awami League.

Abu Rushd, editor of the Secret Affidavit of Yahya Khan, is a journalist. He is the Editor of Bangladesh Defence Journal. His interest lies in investigative journalism, particularly in the fields of security and defence. He has dealt in this sector while working for various dailies in the past. It is his interest in this field that led him to publish this particular book and also to publish the Secret Affidavit of Yahya Khan in Bangladesh Defence Journal and in Amar Desh, a daily newspaper from Dhaka.

This 112-page book devotes 48 pages to the original text and 24 pages to some rare photographs. It also contains a life sketch of Yahya Khan as well as Rushd's comments on the affidavit.

The book has been dedicated to Bir Shrestha Ruhul Amin who gave his life for the country in 1971.

The book is undoubtedly of interest to those interested in the history of the Liberation War. Abu Rushd says, "Gen. Yahya is nothing but a villain in our history but his accounts on 1971 surely are valuable and matters of reference in pursuing historical evidences. I hope this affidavit will make us know Yahya's part of the quagmire imposed upon us forcibly and unjustly by the Pak military junta."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

In memoriam: Hermann Berger

German Researchers on Hunza:
Prof. Dr Hermann Kreutzmann
Chair of Cultural Geography and Director of the Geographical Institute University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Extended field research on cultural geography and development problems in Pakistan, China, Tajikistan, and Nepal as well as collaboration in multidisciplinary research programmes such as the "Culture Area Karakoram" project. Major fields of interest: high mountain agriculture, ethnicity and migration in the regional context of Central and South Asia.

Address: Geographisches Institut, Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg, Kochstr. 4/4, D-91054 Erlangen, FRG

Prof. Dr. Hermann Berger (†)

The Indologist and Linguist Hermann Berger, Emeritus Professor and former Head of the Department of Indology at the South Asia Institute, passed away on the 31st of January 2005 in Heidelberg.
Berger was born on the 17th of October 1926 in Koetzing (Bavaria). After school and military service he studied indology and comparative linguistics at the Munich where he also completed his doctorate(1953) and habilitation (1957). In the same year he became Asisstant Professor at the University of Münster. 1959 he was appointed a member of the German-Austrian Karakorum Expedition. It was the first time that he visited the Hunza valley which fascinated him all his life. From 1962 he spent a period of two years as Visiting Professor at the Sanskrit College in Calcutta, India. In 1964, he became Professor of Indology at the newly founded South Asia Institute of the University of Heidelberg and was active there till his retirement in 1993. He was the Director of the South Asia Institute in 1974/75, the Dean of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and Classics between 1979-81 and remained a member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences starting 1981.

Hermann Berger was a fine and learned scholar who devoted his life and his research to the study, in particular, of the endangered languages of South Asia. Most of his studies were published as small articles or miscellanea of linguistic problems. Many appeared in the Münchner Studien für Sprachwissenschaft. His extraordinary knowledge of Burushaski, one of the most complicated languages of North Pakistan, earned him international fame in the field of linguistics. His expertise and painstaking work in documenting Burushaski through many fieldtrips in the Karakorum region resulted among numerous report and articles in the three volume standard work on this language:Die Burushaski-Sprache von Hunza und Nager. I: Grammatik, II: Texte mit Übersetzung, III: Wörterbuch Burushaski-Deutsch /Deutsch- Burushaski (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1998).
Inspite of chronic health problems, the result of the war years, he engaged himself energetically and with great success in teaching, in building up the South Asia Institute and in encouraging research in the classical and modern languages of South Asia. He will be long and fondly remembered by the faculty of the South Asia Institute and his former students — some of them honoured him by the Festschrift Nanavidhaikata (ed. by Dieter B. Kapp, 1999) — for his excellent research, his commitment to teaching as well as his gentle sense of humour and humanity.
Axel Michaels, Heidelberg

E-Mail: Seitenbearbeiter, Studienberater

Im Neuenheimer Feld 330, D-69120 Heidelberg