Sunday, February 24, 2008


Would you believe the videos were removed last night? Then someone else uploaded them. Now PTCL has blocked Youtube in Pakistan. Then the person who had uploaded the videos, their ACCOUNT on Youtube was somehow terminated. The account was by the name Ikhtiar Baig - opposing the MQM candidate in that constituency, who you might have heard was fired on. There sadly remains only one more video now Only over a small rigging video, the MQM would have PTCL and other providers block Youtube in Pakistan...what kind of mafia is this?To think they can terminate accounts on an international websites like matter how powerful you consider them, it is underestimating.

MQM has pressured the PTA into banning YouTube... Further proof of this is that even the users who uploaded the videos have removed them from the site!

But we have managed to get one of the videos out.. you can watch it here!

A Letter to UQAAB by an Eyewitness to MQM Rigging in NA 250 and NA-242, please excuse the English but we wanted to present it to preserve its authenthicity

I was whole day on my field visits polling station of SM law coledge NA250 Presiding officer stamped 400 fake ballet paper in favour of MQM in front of our journalist team, we are enforced for shutting & closeing the eyes ohhhhhhhh dear......oh my goodnesswhen we approched NA 242 FB Area people said when they enter into poling booth to cast vote a person with a badge of MQM's Altaf block every one snached ballet paper & than voters were told by this person "to go back on their way so we count your vote but on according our will so thanks but no thanks ............ ....." Ahmed Mustafa, Karachi, Pakistan


MQM rigging in Karachi

The only channel brave enough to play these videos has been Dawn News in Pakistan.It would obviously be too much to ask that pro-MQM channels like Geo and ARY play, or even mention rigging by MQM. Turn the volume up. Open rigging. 8+ ballot papers being given to EACH MQM voter, all the votes having the same fingerprint on them!! to the part where the undercover woman says about ID card numbers, "ID card number koyi bhi daal dein, kis nay check kerna hai?", and the voting officer says, "Jo kerta hai ker lay check! Hehe!"


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pakistani Elections: New Slogans, Same Players - Same Games

By Adnan Gill

First time in Pakistan's history a democratically elected government finished its constitutionally mandated time of 5 years. First time in Pakistan's history people are about to elect a successive civilian government without the interruption from the military. For his part, President Musharraf has fulfilled his promise of bringing ‘true democracy’ to Pakistan, a self-professed 3-phase process he started after October 1999 coup. So would it seem that way! However, reality begs to differ with what Musharraf government would love everyone to believe.

President Musharraf, then the Army Chief, unconstitutionally mounted a military coup against a democratically elected Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. Angels of mercy smiled on the much castrated General and he became the poster boy of the Americans in a post 9/11 era. 9/11 which brought pain and sorrow to the Americans became a saving grace for the General.

Suddenly, every world leader wanted to pose for a picture with him and wanted to look away as General Musharraf changed the rules of game to consolidate his power. He tinkered with, ripped apart, trashed, bent, added, and slashed Pakistani constitution at will to disqualify any candidates of his disliking and to quantify candidates of his choosing for the 2002 elections.

As a result, he successfully broke Pakistan's two largest political parties, namely the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML). The opportunist party deserters formed their own government with the blessings of General Musharraf. This was also the first time in Pakistan's history that any religious party was able to secure enough seats to form their own governments in 2 of 4 Pakistani provinces.

It was a time when everyone wanted to scratch everyone else's back for their own selfish motives. General Musharraf saw a golden opportunity to legitimize his military rule. He pounced on the opportunity by securing a two thirds majority vote that legalized him as an elected President. Religious parties played a big role in legalizing his military rule in return for his promise to vacate the Chief of Army Staff office in 2004. The promise was effectively broken by the General in due time. Meanwhile, Musharraf's party, PML-Q became the king's party under the patronage of Chaudhry Brothers and in alliance with Pakistan's third largest political party, MQM.

General Musharraf did not need the alliance with the religious parties, as by that time, these parties managed to fall off the graces of the powers to be, Americans to be precise. But luck would have it; the General once again found himself alone at the crossroads and needed political allies to get him reelected for the second term. He knew certain factions in religious parties would not leave him high and dry, so he once again turned to his trusted ally Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Maulana, who was by then a member of All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM)/opposition, saw an opportunity for his own personal benefits and decided to backstab the APDM by giving an opportunity to get General Musharraf reelected.

By that time, only one hurdle remained in Musharraf's smooth sailing of rest of his second term. At the cost of General's popularity, the restored Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had gained a popular rock star status. Even worse, the Supreme Court was in the process of deliberating on the legality of General running for the office of the President. General Musharraf fearing an unfavorable verdict mounted a second military coup through a Legal Framework Order that effectively suspended the already disfigured Pakistani constitution. General Musharraf took that opportunity to settle political scores by gagging the free-media, by suspending country's highest judiciary, by arresting and jailing opposition party leaders, lawyers, human rights workers, and anyone else he deemed undesirable. At one time, there were approximately 4500 political prisoners rotting in the Pakistani jails.

At the same time, increasingly unpopular General was also coming under tremendous pressure from the West, UK and US in particular, to accommodate PPP's leader Benazir Bhutto in the Pakistani political system. The pressure was so tremendous that he publicly signed a "National Reconciliation Ordinance" with Ms. Bhutto, effectively forsaking and unforgiving any or all legal cases and investigations against her and other Pakistani elites. It was widely believed, that Ms. Bhutto had also struck a seat-adjustment deal with PML-N’s leader Nawaz Sharif. At the time, there was another rumor going around that together PPP and PML-N would sweep the Pakistani elections easily securing at least two third majority; which was the magic number required to remove President Musharraf.

But nature had other plans for Ms. Bhutto, who lost her life in a terrorist attack. Then and even now Ms. Bhutto’s party is widely believed to be in position to win the elections in a landslide. Even though, there are foreign observers, including 112 European Union observers present in Pakistan to monitor the elections, popular belief is 2008 elections are going to be anything but fair and transparent.

To give credence to the popular belief, just a few days ago, the Human Rights Watch released an audio recording allegedly of Pakistan's Attorney General Malik Qayyum in which he too admitted that there would be massive rigging of the elections.

Political pundits believe, virtually everyone up for reelection from King's party, the MQM, religious parties, and the President himself severely lack popular support to be reelected; so rigging the polls is their best chance to return to the government. President Musharraf knows if the opposition would happen to win with two third majority, his days of presidency will be numbered. For him, the best scenario would be a hung parliament.

When all is said and done, PPP along with PML-N, with or without sympathy vote for Ms. Bhutto, are at the verge of massive victory in the polls. But that would spell the end for the king's party, and most probably for the king himself too, which in its all likelihood they will not allow to happen; so what if it takes massive rigging to save one's own skin?

Most formidable political challenger is dead, while some are in jails. Opposition’s political rallies had been systematically bombed and sabotaged, while government machinery remained at king’s party’s disposal; who said, Pakistani elections are going to be anything but fair and transparent?

Friday, February 08, 2008

American healthcare system

By Adnan Gill

Each year the UN publishes a report known as the Human Development Index (HDI). It is a report card that grades the standards of life in 177 nations. Three dimensions are used to measure human development: life expectancy, education, and Purchasing Power Parity (PPP per capita)/income. The US is one of the richest nations that enjoys the PPP of US $ 41,890, only second to Luxembourg (PPP US $ 60,228). Despite its 13 plus trillion dollar economy, it is placed at the 12th place on the HDI.

One of the major reasons why the world’s largest economy was placed at the embarrassing 12th place was its commitment to health of its citizens: resources, access and services. According to the 2007/2008 HDI report, Iceland received the coveted first place on the HDI. Iceland, whose PPP is $ 36,510, spent 8.3 percent of its GDP on the healthcare whereas the US spent a meagre 6.9 percent of its GDP on healthcare. What really separated the two apart was the disproportional life expectancy rate at birth. In Iceland, the life expectancy at birth is 81.5 percent while the same in the US it is 77.9 percent. Paradoxically, a country that spends about 50 percent ($ 450 billion) of the world’s total military spending ($ 910.6 billion) is awarded a dismal 31st place, out of 177 nations, for the mortality rate.

The US is the only industrialised nation in the world that lacks some form of universal healthcare. Roughly 60 percent Americans have access to health insurance through employers and the workers’ contributions. An estimated, 47 million Americans remain uninsured. Health insurance in the US remains very expensive. The ever-increasing insurance premiums outpace the inflation rate, which is unduly burdening the employers and consumers.

According to a study on health, half of personal bankruptcies in the US involve medical bills.

The ominous condition of US healthcare system also stands out when compared to its northern neighbour — Canada. In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the American healthcare system’s performance at 72nd and Canadian’s at 35th place out of 191 member nations. In 2004, America spent double the amount ($ 6,096 per-capita) on its healthcare system than what Canada did ($ 3,038).

The jury is still out on whose system is better. But it will be hard to overlook certain undeniable facts, like health insurance and drugs, which are much more expensive in the US than in Canada. Supporters of the US healthcare system allege that Americans get bigger bang for their buck. In other words, the medical care in the US is superior to what is available in Canada.

However, the critics retort that what good is the superior medical care if it is not available to 47 million Americans, to begin with? Critics also allege that the American system favours the special interests of those quarters that are more interested in profits rather than the patients, such as pharmaceutical giants and health insurance companies.

Ironically, Americans find that it is much cheaper to re-import prescription drugs from Canada. On average, the Canadian drugs cost as low as one-eighth of the US prices. That is why, in an effort to reduce the healthcare costs, some of the US states are also contemplating on re-importing drugs from Canada. The burden of expensive drugs mostly falls on the elderly and the disabled, many of whom live on fixed incomes and are forced to choose between prescription drugs that can prolong their lives and the immediate necessities of life like rent, food, heat, electric power, telephone service, etc. Consequently, for the last one decade or more, the Americans have been crossing the Canadian border for getting lower-cost prescription drugs.

The mere fact that Americans are forced to travel to Canada in busloads to re-import prescription drugs is a sad commentary on the dysfunctional American healthcare system. It should raise red flags for the policymakers that the system is in dire need to be rescued lest every American have the same chances of surviving an ailment as the citizens of any other industrialized nation do.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Her march into history

By Adnan Gill

OPEN a newspaper or tune in a news channel and odds of Pakistan being in the headlines are at least 50-50. But Dec 27, 2007, would sadly be immortalised in the annals of history.

It is the day when the leader of Pakistan’s largest political party, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated. Despite the fact that Ms Bhutto was not a sitting prime minister, her assassination would be remembered as an event that shook the world, just like the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy did decades ago.

Who is to be blamed for her brutal assassination would be debated for a long time, but there is little doubt that her untimely death will shake the foundations of Pakistan. The gravity and the magnitude of the tragedy could be judged from the fact that virtually every single news media outlet was exclusively focused on her assassination. The news of her death triggered the sell offs on the Wall Street, dipping the stocks deep into negative territory. In impromptu press conferences world leaders like the US President Bush and UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon did not lose a moment in condemning her assassination.

It would be hard to imagine how the Musharraf government could have had any role in Ms Bhutto’s assassination; because even a person with marginal intelligence could foresee how even a hint of the government’s complicity in the crime would spell the end of Musharraf’s rule. And still, at minimum, Ms Bhutto’s assassination will write the final chapter of Musharraf’s rule.

Benazir Bhutto was the daughter of Pakistan’s first-elected Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Media savvy Ms Bhutto was considered to be a contemporary political genius rivalling the likes of President Bill Clinton. Outside the political arena, Ms Bhutto was widely believed to be a devout mother and a sincere wife. Regardless of one’s political differences, millions upon millions of Pakistanis revered the daughter of Pakistan for the distinction of becoming the first ever female prime minister of a male-dominated Muslim country. One can criticise her for the way she ran her governments in her two terms, but one cannot deny her invaluable services in strengthening the roots of democracy in Pakistan. She proved her resolve by courageously standing her ground in the face of not one but two military dictators. There is hardly any doubt that had she lived long enough, she would have swept the Pakistani elections, but her untimely exit at the verge of political victory over a military dictator will earn her political immortality. History will see to it that Benazir Bhutto’s name will be written alongside the names of political giants like Sir Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy.

I may add here on a personal note that I have been a hard-hitting critic of Benazir Bhutto’s party and her political career. But I believe in defeating or marginalising a politician through votes or arguments, and not through violence or the cowardly act of suicide bombing. The only time I spoke directly to her was on CNN’s Larry King Live show in the mid-90s. She was kind and courteous to address my concerns in detail. She left me impressed by the depth and clarity of her knowledge.

Rest well, rest well daughter of the east. May your ultimate sacrifice bring sanity and peace in the lives of tired and grieving Pakistanis.