Archive for the ‘Daily Tribune English Articles’ Tag

Fighting the sugar mafia – Javed Chaudhry   Leave a comment

JAVED-CHAUDHRY Every event that happens in our lives has various aspects to it. One aspect of the invasion of Muhammad Bin Qasim at Deebal (near present-day Bhambore) is that Hajjaz bin Yusuf had sent an army, under Qasim’s command, to help and free Muslim pilgrims captured in territory under Raja Dahir’s control. But there is another important aspect to all of this as well. Muslims were a rising power in those days and were trying to spread their influence to Asia, Africa and even Europe. However, in this they couldn’t afford to let even a small ruler like Raja Dahir plunder Muslim ships and enslave Muslim women and children because that would put the writ of the whole Muslim state at peril.

States rarely get the chance to fight big adversaries like Alexander the Great but small rulers like Raja Dahir provide them an easy opportunity to establish their writ. With this in mind, one should look at present day Pakistan and, in particular, the unfolding sugar crisis.

Some years ago, a situation arose whereby it became known that some federal ministers, including then federal minister for industries and production, had hoarded large amounts of sugar. As a result, the price of sugar began to rise. Eventually, the Supreme Court stepped in and ordered the government to ensure the supply of sugar at Rs40 per kilo. But the crisis didn’t end.

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Shaukat Aziz’s three predictions – Javed Chaudhry   Leave a comment

JAVED-CHAUDHRY Shaukat Aziz is no doubt a clever person. He was an ordinary employee in Citibank in Dubai where he made friends in the royal family. He went to America and became a banker to a group of global kingmakers. PML-N Senator (and then-finance minister) Ishaq Dar brought him to Pakistan where he started advising the government on economic issues. Mr Aziz’s aim was to become governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and Ishaq Dar was about to do just that when the PML-N government fell. 

However, Mr Aziz immediately contacted a relative of Pervez Musharraf and managed to speak to the army chief. The result was that he soon became finance minister and later prime minster. In fact, Mr Aziz played his cards so well that after Musharraf’s fall from power, he left the country and is now leading a lavish lifestyle abroad. People blame General Musharraf or the Chaudhry brothers for most of the ills of the previous government, conveniently forgetting Shaukat Aziz’s doings. And the irony is that he is still giving advice to poor countries on how to run and improve their economies.

Now, I have to say, I have seen a very different Shaukat Aziz in a meeting right before he left his post as prime minister.

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The life of a working woman – Javed Chaudhry   1 comment

JAVED-CHAUDHRY She had been calling for the last two days. She said that she had come from Karachi just to see me and that the meeting was very necessary. I finally agreed.

She was beautiful — like a perfect white marble Greek sculpture. And she was the most intelligent lady I have ever met. She had manners and she had read thousands of books. I was impressed. But as she disclosed her profession, I felt ashamed. However, she seemed not to care. She only wanted me to write my column on her life. A column to help other young girls of this country and their parents.

She belonged to a lower-middle class family of Karachi. Her family had descended from the Pathans, Kashmiris and Awans and she was an attractive and pretty girl. She was educated in good institutions and obtained an MBA from a reputed business college of Karachi, after which she began an internship in a bank.

A young man met her while she was working there. She said he was handsome, had a foreign degree and was rich. He lived alone in a large house in Defence, travelled in a car worth millions and his monthly credit card bill was between Rs200-300,000.She was impressed by his personality, wealth and lifestyle and soon they became close friends.

The man started spending a lot of money on her. This continued for two months. And then one day he gave her a CD that contained ‘horrible’ scenes of the two. She was shocked. The man told her that someone had shot their film and was now blackmailing him.

In a week’s time a third character appeared on the scene. He told her that she had been trapped by a gang — that the young man she had met and liked was part of the gang and that there was now no escape. She was offered ‘work’ in the profession she is currently involved in. She says she tried whatever she could to get out of it but in vain. Her parents have been told that she works in a large firm, from where she gets a salary every month.

She said that the gang was like a mafia with its headquarters in Karachi and young male and female ‘agents’ in many cities. They get beautiful girl agents admitted to colleges who make friends with pretty girls, take them to parties and introduce them to handsome boys who then trap the girls and make movies. Their agents are also active in banks, travel agencies and shopping plazas.

After I heard her story, I told her I would write my column on her. I came out to say bye to her and a seven-series BMW was waiting for her. I recognised the driver — he is the chauffeur of a VVIP.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2010.

In southern Punjab with no protocol – Javed Chaudhry   Leave a comment

JAVED-CHAUDHRY The city of Bhong is 20 minutes away from Rahimyar Khan. We were a few hundred feet above the land and the noise from the helicopter engines was very loud. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif looked out and with great sorrow and a deep sigh said, “Look at the devastation. It’s simply mindboggling. How many years will you need to rehabilitate these fields, farm houses, villages and houses?” 

He was here the very next day after the flood came. “By then the town of Bhong was under water, people had taken refuge on trees, mounds and roofs of houses. Land links, power supply and telephones were suspended; even the famous Bhong Mosque was inundated.” He and his team started the supply of food, clothes, water and tents to people by helicopters and boats. “I haven’t seen destruction on such a large scale in my life… these are the most horrifying days I have ever had. If I had to go to Lahore for an official engagement that could not be avoided, I would but then I would return to southern Punjab for relief work within half an hour.”

Shabaz Sharif said that he personally supplied food to people, crossing the Indus and Chenab rivers dozens of times. “Without this, I would not have grasped the situation properly.”

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Our elders need to come forward – Javed Chaudhry   Leave a comment

JAVED-CHAUDHRY We need to follow Nelson Mandela’s example. At 92 years of age, the man is a legend, respected worldwide both for his diligent struggle for democracy and all the hardships he suffered during his 27 years of imprisonment. But what Mandela is most respected for is his power to forgive. He forgave all those who were unjust to him and his people for over 350 years when he came into a position of power as president of South Africa. The second step that won him approval was his retirement from politics in 1994. Mandela, had he so chosen, could have stayed in power till his death but he wanted a democracy, not the rule of one individual.
In 2007, he celebrated his 89th birthday and surprised everyone by laying the foundation for ‘The Elders’ organisation, whose members were famous elderly personalities from across the globe. These included former US president Jimmy Carter, former secretary-general of the UN Kofi Annan and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Mandela had hoped the meeting of these greatly experienced, observant and wise people would help in analysing issues and finding solutions to carve paths to progress and peace. He strongly believed that if the elders did not play their role, the world would plunge into a major crisis.
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Democracy versus dictatorship – Javed Chaudhry   1 comment

JAVED-CHAUDHRY A woman called me and started crying over the phone. She said she had been collecting money for the last five years so that her mother could perform hajj but each time the government increased the cost; this year the increase was by Rs38,000. She said that this was her mother’s last wish but now it seems it would remain unrealised. “If my mother dies without performing hajj, I will send the money to the prime minister and ask him to spend it on his protocol instead.” 

I trembled with fear because I know Allah is very close to the hearts of the poor and He listens to the plight of the oppressed.

Another call I received was from Mansehra. Khalid Mehmood said he was a poor carpenter. However, his business was booming and prosperity knocked at his door during Pervez Musharraf’s days. Good food to eat and his children admitted to good schools. “Then I was told Musharraf is a dictator, an American agent and against Islam and Pakistan so I also shouted: ‘Go Musharraf, go’ with other people”. The democratic government came followed by slump and poverty. No money to pay the school fee, or for petrol or the utility bills. “The worst dictatorship is better than the best democracy. Please keep your democracy and return me the dictatorship.” Again I shuddered — since I like democracy but I could see that it had not delivered.

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