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’ذمہ دار فوجی اہلکاروں کو سزا دی جائے‘

محمد طاہر خان
بی بی سی، پاکستان

’میرا بھائی فوجیوں اور طالبان دونوں سے ڈرتا تھا اور مارے جانے سے چند دن پہلے ہی ساڑھے تین ماہ کے بعد پشاور میں پناہ گزین کی حیثیت سے رہنے کے بعد واپس سوات آیا تھا۔ سوات میں امن کی خاطر میرے بھائی کی المناک موت اگر کام آجائے تو کسی حد تک ہم مطمئن ہو جائیں گے۔ ہمارا فوجی سربراہ جنرل اشفاق پرویز کیانی سے مطالبہ ہے کہ میرے بھائی کو گھر کے باہر مارنے والے فوجیوں کو سزا دی جائے۔‘

یہ الفاظ مینگورہ کے علاقے رنگ محلہ میں کپڑے کا کاروبار کرنے والے رفیع اللہ کے بہنوئی فیاض خان کے تھے۔ رفیع اللہ کے ہی چھوٹے سے مکان کے ایک کمرے میں اس موقع پر مرحوم کے پانچ کم عمر بچے بھی موجود تھے۔

فیاض کے بھائی نے درد بھری آواز میں کہا کہ ان کے بھائی اگست کی ایک شام کپڑے کی دوکان بند کر کے گھر آ رہے تھے کہ سکیورٹی فورسز نے ان کو روک کر ان کی تلاشی لی اور بعد میں انہیں جانے کی اجازت دی۔ جونہی وہ روانہ ہوئے اور مڑ کر دیکھا تو ان پر ایک فوجی نے فائرنگ کر دی۔ ’چھ گولیاں ماریں انہوں نے اور اس نے وہیں گھر سے چند قدم کے فاصلے پر جان دے دی۔ چاہیے تھا کہ کوئی تنبیہ دیتا یا ہوائی فائر کرتا۔‘
فیاض نے، جو اس واقعے کے عینی شاہد تھے، گھر جانے والی تنگ سی گلی میں وہ مقام دکھایا جہاں گولیاں چلائی گئیں۔ انہوں نے ایک مکان کی دیوار پر گولیوں کے نشانات بھی دکھائے۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ واقعے کے وقت سکیورٹی فورسز قریبی علاقوں میں تلاشی لے رہے تھے اور علاقے میں کرفیو لگا ہوا تھا۔ لیکن ان کے بقول ان تنگ اور پیچیدہ گلیوں میں عموماً لوگوں کو آمدو رفت کی اجازت ہوتی تھی اور سکیورٹی فورسز نرمی کا مظاہرہ کرتے تھے۔
رفیع اللہ کے چھوٹے بھائی فرمان علی نے بتایا کہ انہوں نے حکومت کو اس بابت ایک درخواست بھی دی تھی لیکن اس کا کوئی جواب نہیں آیا۔ ’ایک وکیل سے مشورہ کیا تو اس نے بتایا کہ ہم فوج کے خلاف رپورٹ نہیں کٹوا سکتے۔‘
میرے بھائی کا تعلق طالبان یا کسی اور عسکریت پسند گروپ سے نہیں تھا اور علاقے کے لوگ بھی اس کے گواہ ہیں۔ وہ کئی سالوں سے رنگ محلہ میں کپڑے کی دوکان چلا رہے تھے۔ ان کی موت کے بعد گھر میں اور کوئی کاروبار چلانے کے لیے موجود نہیں۔ دیگر بھائی اپنا اپنا کاروبار کر رہے ہیں۔ ان کے بیوی بچوں کا اب کیا ہوگا۔ فوجی بعد میں معاوضہ تو درکنار پوچھنے بھی نہیں آئے۔‘
فیاض کا کہنا تھا کہ وہ بے بس ہیں اور صرف فوج کے سربراہ سے اپیل ہی کرسکتے ہیں کہ ان کے بھائی کی موت کی تحقیقات کر کے ذمہ دار فوجی اہلکاروں کو سزا دی جائے۔‘
سوات میں ایک بےگناہ اور پرامن شہری کے قتل کا پہلا واقعہ نہیں۔ مقامی طالبان پر بھی الزام ہے کہ انہوں نے بڑی تعداد میں عام شہریوں کو مختلف وجوہات کی بنیاد پر قتل کیا لیکن متاثرہ خاندان خوف اور غم کو دوبارہ تازہ نہ کرنے کی وجہ سے خاموش ہیں۔ آپریشن کے دوران فوج اور طالبان اپنے اپنے جانی نقصانات کا تو بار بار ذکر کرتے ہیں لیکن کسی نے بھی تشدد کے واقعات میں مارے جانے والے عام اور بے گناہ افراد کو کوئی اہمیت ہی نہیں دی ہے۔
فوجی حکام کا کہنا ہے کہ سوات آپریشن میں عام شہریوں کی جان و مال کے تحفظ کو یقینی بنانے کے لیے بھرپور کوشش کی گئی ہے۔
سرحد حکومت نے آپریشن کے دوران مارے جانے والے بے گناہ افراد کی تعداد اور ان کے لواحقین کی امداد کے لیے کسی پالیسی کا علان ابھی تک نہیں کیا ہے محض چند افراد کو چیک دیے گئے ہیں لیکن ان کی تعداد بھی بہت تھوڑی ہے۔ متاثرہ افراد کو شکایت ہے کہ صدر، وزیر اعظم اور سرحد کے وزیر اعلیٰ کے اعلانات صرف بیانات تک ہی محدود ہیں۔رفیع اللہ کے بچے
پاکستان فوجی کے ترجمان میجر جنرل اطہر عباس کا اس واقعے کے بارے میں کہنا تھا کہ سوات کے مختلف علاقوں میں کارروائی جاری ہے۔ ’مجھے نہیں معلوم یہ کب کا واقع ہے۔ میں وہاں کے متعلقہ کمانڈر سے تفصیل طلب کروں گا کہ کیا حقیقت ہے۔ یہ بڑی تحقیقات والا واقعہ ہے۔ جب تک اپنے ذرائع سے معلوم نہ کر لوں میں اس پر بات نہیں کر سکتا۔‘

Jinnah: Making of a Myth

Dr Mubarak Ali

Moreover, his image as a “Great Leader” (the Quaid-i-Azam) is presented in the textbooks to mould the mind of the young generation encouraging them to follow in his footstep. Scholars are eulogizing different aspects of his life. A film is screened to counter the film Gandhi in which Attenborough distorts the image of Jinnah. These efforts have made Jinnah sacrosanct. Any criticism of him is regarded a treason. He has become a paragon of super human virtues, beyond all weaknesses normal in human being.

And it is right in case of Dr Sb…

As on Monday, October 24, 2005 it is reported
Dr Mubarak Ali says police harassing and humiliating him“Although I am invited by world universities to deliver lectures on the history of Islam and the subcontinent, in my own country my family and I are harassed and humiliated and my house is raided by a Lahore Police Investigation Wing junior inspector, who is investigating to verify my learning,” internationally known Pakistani historian Dr Mubarak Ali told Daily Times on Sunday.

Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had all the qualities and characteristics in his personality which go into the making of a myth. He was reticent, reserved, kept his personal matters secret, behaved coolly and proudly and was not warm towards anybody. Thus he created a halo of awe and fear around himself.

Sri Prakash, the first Indian High Commissioner to Karachi, in his book Pakistan: birth and early years gives an account of a reception which was given by the Governor-General of Pakistan, just after Independence to the diplomatic corps. It was also attended by the party leaders and bureaucrats. According to his version, Mr Jinnah was sitting at a distance alone on a sofa and called one by one those he wanted to talk to. He exchanged notes with each one of them just for five minutes. To the High Commissioner, he appeared a lonely man, averse to people. His serious and sombre expression made all those who interacted with him uneasy in his company.

This conveyed the impression that he was the final authority in every matter. The Muslim League and its leaders were merely rubber stamps. His image of being the sole spokesman of his party and people created a number of myths. For instance, the myth about his serious illness which is recounted by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre in their book Freedom at midnight fascinates everybody and compels readers to take it seriously. The version of their story is:

“If Louis Mountbatten, Jawaharlal Nehru or Mahatma Gandhi had been aware in April 1947 of one extraordinary secret, the division threatening India might have been avoided. The secret was sealed onto the gray surface of a film, a film that could have upset the Indian political equation and would almost certainly have changed the course of Asian history. Yet, so precious was the secret that that film harboured that even the British CID, one of the most effective investigative agencies in the world, was ignorant of its existence.”

These were the X-rays of Jinnah diagnosed as a TB patient. The authors, after creating a suspense, further write that: “The damage was so extensive that the man whose lungs were on the film had barely two or three years to live. Sealed in an unmarked envelope, those X-rays were locked in the office safe of Dr J.A.L. Patel, a Bombay physician.”

On the basis of the story, Jinnah emerged as the one on whom depended the whole movement of Pakistan. The story further becomes interesting when a Hindu doctor kept the secret at the cost of Indian unity. His professional integrity was more important than his political inclinations.

In 1997, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of India-Pakistan Independence, Patrick French published a book, Liberty or death. After his own investigation, French refutes the whole story narrated by Collins and Lapierre. According to him: “The idea that Jinnah’s poor state of health was a closely guarded secret is absurd: it was referred to in the press at that time, and it is obvious from photographs taken in the mid-1940s that Jinnah was unwell.

Moreover, the reduction of the Muslim League’s wide popular backing to the whim of one man’s ‘rigid and inflexible’ attitude is indicative of the way that Pakistan history has been traduced. A second problem with Collins and Lapierre’s story is that it is not correct. Jinnah did not go to Bombay in May or June 1946, since he was busy in negotiating with Cripps in Simla and New Delhi. Nor did he have a doctor by the name of J.A.L. Patel. Although it is possible that Jinnah had tuberculosis in 1946, there is no evidence among his archive papers to support the theory.”

However, Jinnah himself on many occasions expressed the view that he was the sole creator of Pakistan. In one of his famous quotes, he said that he and his typewriter made Pakistan. The statement disregarded the efforts of his colleagues and the other Muslim League leaders in the Pakistan movement. It also downgraded the people’s participation in the struggle for a separate homeland.

There is evidence that he did not think highly of the leaders of the Muslim League. He found them mediocre and not capable of leading the nation. Perhaps, that was the reason that Jinnah, knowing his fatal illness, accepted ‘the moth eaten and truncated Pakistan’. The later history of Pakistan vindicates Jinnah’s assessment of the Muslim League leaders who miserably failed to solve the problems of a nascent nation.

The failure of these leaders has boosted Jinnah’s image as a superman. He overshadowed everybody. The nation also paid respect to him by naming universities, colleges, airports, roads, hospitals, and institutions of different kinds after him with the result that a citizen of Pakistan feels his presence every where in the country, wherever he goes.

Moreover, his image as a “Great Leader” (the Quaid-i-Azam) is presented in the textbooks to mould the mind of the young generation encouraging them to follow in his footstep. Scholars are eulogizing different aspects of his life. A film is screened to counter the film Gandhi in which Attenborough distorts the image of Jinnah. These efforts have made Jinnah sacrosanct. Any criticism of him is regarded a treason. He has become a paragon of super human virtues, beyond all weaknesses normal in human being.

The reverence accorded to him is such that mere association with him catapults a person from a humble position to the rank of freedom fighter. People take pride in their claim to have shaken hands with him (though he avoided shaking hands with people), or having seen him, talked to him, or merely attended his public meeting. The rulers of Pakistan, realizing the impact of his association, create myths of their links with him. Z.A. Bhutto claimed that as a student he wrote a letter to the Quaid – it is not known whether he replied to that letter or not, Zia’s sycophant bureaucrats discovered a diary of Jinnah (that was the time when Hitler’s diaries were discovered and later on proved false) which disappeared along with him.

Nawaz Sharif, assuming to follow in his footsteps, called himself ‘Quaid-i-Sani’ (the second leader). One such similar example is found in the history of France when Napoleon III made an attempt to revive the image of Napoleon I in order to legitimize his authority. Marx jokingly comments in The eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte that “Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” Nawaz Sharif’s self-given title proves it.

Jinnah has become such a symbol of wisdom in the Pakistani society that people visualize Pakistan with his reference. His vision, his agenda, his dream and his ideals, all remained unaccomplished because he died soon after Independence. It is commonly believed that had he lived some more years, the history of Pakistan would have been different. There are few nations which rely so heavily on one individual.

No doubt, Jinnah was a great leader of his people. He was a man of integrity and honesty, but to idealize him to such an extent as to preempt the emergence of another rank of leaders out of his shadow is strange. Every generation has its own dreams and vision which it wants to accomplish without interference. Not imitation but freedom is required to build a new world. Therefore, an attempt should not be made to repeat but to make new history. People should be liberated from the shadows and allowed to flourish in a free society. Great leaders should be respected but not worshipped.

Dr Shamsher Shaheed….

SWAT: The provincial assembly member belonged to Awami National Party (ANP) Dr. Shamsher and his brother killed in a suicide attack in Kabal area of Swat.

DIG Malakand has confirmed the killing of MPA and his brother. According to initial reports, large number of people was gathered at the house of Dr. Shamsher to exchange eid greetings when a suicide bomber blew up himself injuring Dr. Shamsher and his brother seriously. They were shifted to Syedo Sharif Hospital where both of them succumbed to injuries. Fifteen other persons also injured in the attack.

Curfew has been imposed in the area as wounded have been shifted to district headquarter hospital.

The area of Kabal is situated just one kilometer away from Imam Dehri area. a stronghold of Maulana Fazllulah.

"Jamhooriat Ki Razia" Ghairey mey....

World After The Fall Of Berlin Wall

(Courtesy : Dawn)

BERLIN: The United States should cede some of its powers to international organisations to create a ‘world order’, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday in an unusually sharp criticism of Washington before she led world leaders through the Brandenburg Gate — the climax of ceremonies marking 20 years since the Berlin Wall came crashing down in 1989.

‘We Europeans are used to this…. We have voluntarily given up many of our powers to Brussels and to the European Union,’ said the German chancellor.

‘But our American partners find it much more difficult to hand over powers to the International Monetary Fund or to any other international organisation,’ she said.Within the EU, Germany has become used to accepting the will of the majority, even if it does not agree, but this has not yet lodged itself in the American psyche, she added.‘What we need today is a much more multi-polar vision than that to which we have become accustomed,’ the chancellor said.’ This world will only be a peaceful and good world if we have more of a world order and more multilateral cooperation,’ she said.

On a recent trip to Washington, Angela Merkel received one of her greatest honours and biggest embarrassments in the space of a few hours.

She was the first German leader to address a joint session of Congress but, soon afterwards, she learned of an abrupt about-turn by car maker General Motors which was supposed to sell Germany’s Opel to her preferred bidder but decided to keep it instead.
Washington said the White House had played no part in the decision, but the German press described it as a bitter slap in the face for the chancellor.

Fall remembered

Ms Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, marched through the historic Brandenburg Gate with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives from across the European Union.

The leaders joined more than 100,000 revellers who thronged the monument despite a steady cold drizzle.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ex-Polish president Lech Walesa also appeared at the landmark, which now stands as the symbol of German unity.

‘It is not only a day of celebration for Germans,’ Ms Merkel said of the anniversary. ‘It is a day of celebration for the whole of Europe.’
In a surprise video address beamed into the ceremonies, US President Barack Obama said he still took inspiration from the courage of East Germans who stood up against their oppressive regime.

‘Few would have foreseen … that a united Germany would be led by a woman from (the east German state) Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent,’ he said.‘But human destiny is what human beings make of it.’

But Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sounded a sour note, saying the end of the Cold War did not justify any nation’s global dominance, in a clear swipe at the United States.‘The transition to a new multipolar world is today very important for most countries, for all the countries in Europe and the world,’ he said.

Medvedev said Russia had often felt on the back foot since the Wall fell, despite assurances at the time that NATO would not expand eastward, as it since has.

‘We were hoping the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact would be accompanied by a different degree of Russia’s integration into common European space,’ he added.‘What have we received as a result? Nato is still a bloc whose rockets are targeting the Russian territory.’

British prime Minister Gordon Brown called the unity of Berlin, Germany and Europe ‘majestic’ achievements.

The Wall ‘was swept away by the greatest force of all — the unbreakable spirit of men and women who dared to dream in the darkness,’ he said.

French President Nikolas Sarkozy said the global community still needed to live up to the promise of that euphoric night.

‘The fall of the Berlin Wall is an appeal, an appeal to all to vanquish oppression, to knock down the walls that throughout the world still divide towns, territories, peoples,’ he said.

Crowds surged to hear Berlin’s renowned State Opera orchestra play strains of Beethoven and Wagner and cheered the symbolic toppling of 1,000 giant styrofoam dominoes along two kilometres of the Wall’s former course, where border guards once had shoot-to-kill orders.

At least 136 people who tried to cross it were killed during the 28 years it stood. The Wall was raised in Aug 1961by the erstwhile East German government in an attempt to stop immigration to the West.

Following weeks of protests against the regime, East German authorities suddenly allowed people to travel to the West on the now epochal night of Nov 9, 1989.

After almost three decades as prisoners in their own country, stunned East Germans streamed to checkpoints and rushed past bewildered guards, many falling tearfully into the arms of West Germans on the other side.

Easterner Christel Schneider, now a 62-year-old bank employee, said the mood that night was electrifying.

‘I crossed the border into the West — it was madness,’ she said, still breathless from the memories. ‘There were so many people that we were driving at a snail’s pace.’

Eleven months later, in Oct 1990, East and West Germany unified.—Agencies

Iqbal : Everyone has his Own

By Aliarqam

Today when we are facing a devide at almost every aspect on almost everything from religious interpretations to political ideas, from personalities to  their concepts and thoughts, from hisrory to its interpretations and from educational policy to foriegn policy and from national issues to the Wars at our doorsteps.This devide is most of the times having extremes on every sides.

In our society  Qur’anic Ayaats, Ahadiths of the Prophet(saaw) and Iqbal verses are used as conclusive remarks most of the time crushing difference of opinion in every debates. When News Channels were condemning Jehadis and terrorists they were using Qura’nic Ayaats of  La Tufsidoo dil Arz  and a few days earlier At Talaat Husain Show Dr. Safdar(PML-N) was using Hadith in favour of his opinion and on objection from the host he said, “Musalman Ki tou siasat shuru hi Masjid se hoti hai”(politics of muslims start from the mosque) and in the same way  when the Nation was preached that Foriegn aid is a curse for them, famous Iqbal Verse are used “A Tair Lahotee Us Rizq Se Maut Achee Jis Rizq se Aati Ho Parvaz mey Kotahi”

Unfortunately as in Pakistan everyone has the right to quote and interpret Qura’n O Ahadiths for their own means and under their own slogan, in the same way whether its an honour or not but Iqbal Verse has the same status.

Interstingly Qazi Husain in every speech of him and every article appearing at the Newspapers has Verses of Iqbal Urdu and Persian quoted and interpreted and last week Hillary Clinton also praised Iqbal and visited his Tomb.

When we We as a nation has made everything disputed.In the same way personalities though respected but everyone has his own Context.

 

OIC : 40th Anniversary

10:0522/09/2009

Sergei Demidenko, an expert on Arab affairs at the Institute of Strategic Assessments and Analysis

(Courtesy ; Ria Novosti)

Question: What could you say about the work of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) 40 years after its inception?

Answer: I cannot say that the work done by OIC has been effective. Unfortunately, the Organization comprises countries with various political, cultural and economic interests. In effect, the OIC is a kind of discussion club, which does not adopt any decisions but creates a necessary platform and facilitates long-term decisions. On the whole, the OIC is more of a discussion club.

Q.: What, in your opinion, has the OIC accomplished in the past 40 years?

A.: The OIC is probably one of the few discussion platforms in the world that enables Islamic countries to discuss various important regional and civilizational issues now of concern to the Arab world and the Islamic world. We should keep in mind that the OIC is one of the few organizations dominated by former Third World countries. This is very important because it is probably the only platform where they can discuss their problems without the great powers, the United States, the European Union and their pressure, and tackle various issues together.

Q.: Do you think these countries and the world as a whole would not fare better without the OIC?

A.: It is not completely correct to pose the question this way. I believe this organization should be viewed in the long-term context. The OIC can play a constructive role in the future. But, in my opinion, this will happen after most Islamic countries achieve success, primarily in the economic and political spheres. Consequently, such countries will gain a voice among industrial states. Quite possibly, the OIC will then be able to draft more or less important decisions.

At present, the OIC is just a conglomerate of states that are multidirectional in all respects.

Q.: What could you say about specific contacts and cooperation between the OIC and Russia?

A.: Russia has observer status with the OIC and must retain its presence in this organization. Whether we like it or not, Russia is also part of the Islamic world because many of its citizens preach Islam. Russia must keep its eyes open and follow various political and economic trends in the Islamic world because this directly affects us.

Q.: What should the OIC do in order to increase its influence in the solution of regional and global problems?

A.: OIC leaders are unable to change anything in this respect. An evolutionary process is a top priority. The organization will change, depending on changes in the Islamic world’s socio-political situation. Its role will also change as a result.

Honour killing in Sindh

PPP and MQM Coalition Govt. should take Notice of the issue.

40 women killed during May

HYDERABAD, SINDH: [SindhWeek.Com Report] Abbas Kassar, Coordinator of Peace and Human Rights Trust, Sindh, have issued an alarming reports on situation of women in Sindh, province of Pakistan. The report says that in month of May 2009, in Sindh province, 40 women were killed under honor killing, 20 women were gang raped, 43 women were kidnapped and 3 women were buried without coffin. The report elaborates that 175 men were also killed including killed in honor. The PHRT is a London based human right organization have chapters in Pakistan to watch human right situation.

Mr Kassar, a senior journalist and Coordinator of PHRT term this report “The human rights situation in Sindh is very alarming. Peace and Human Rights Trust has made a report for the month of May while reports of June and July is also ready to release” This is meant to open the eyes of rulers that they have failed to protect human rights of people especially of women.

Pakistan Steel Mill : PM earned Kudos

The Steel Mills case

By Ayesha Siddiqa

(Courtesy Daily Dawn)

Interestingly, Moeen Aftab Sheikh was removed even before an inquiry was instituted or a report submitted about his supposed wrongdoings.

Legally, this hurried action would be considered mala fide since no charge-sheet was brought against the gentleman and the decision was taken before the inquiry report. The case raises two fundamental questions: first, does the decision indicate the government’s concern for accountability, or does it indicate its inability to run a business and appreciate the problems caused by economic recession?

Or perhaps the objective was merely to get rid of the chairman, an officer with an unblemished career in government for 35 years. Second, was the media fair in embarking upon a witch-hunt without ascertaining the facts of the case?

The government still does not know the exact losses, as there are varied figures. It’s the PSM management which estimated the concern’s losses at Rs21bn. However, the estimate given in the special report of the auditor-general gives a lower figure of Rs9bn. Also, why did Mr Gilani not wait for the report from the PSM’s auditors?

This was the prime minister’s opportunity to earn kudos from the public for taking someone out without taking the trouble to explain to the media that the huge loss was not caused by individual corruption but was a result of global economic recession.

This is not the first time that PSM has incurred huge losses. The organisation had run an accumulated loss of over Rs20bn for the period 1985-90 and 1993-99, which could have been paid off when the mill started making money from 2001-02 to 2008. Unfortunately, PSM fell on bad times again due to a slump in the international market after April 2008.

Another misfortune was the absence of a national steel policy, which meant that there was no plan to bail out the national steel-making concern. The government did not make any effort to stop the customs department from allowing private importers from importing secondary steel at the lower import price meant for primary steel. This scam meant that the private sector could undercut the PSM as they managed to import and sell low-grade steel at around Rs40,000 per tonne compared to the PSM’s Rs42,000 per tonne, thus earning a mark-up of at least Rs10,000-12,000.

An additional problem was caused by the dumping of 0.5 million tonnes of steel by the ship-breakers and electricity loadshedding, which forced numerous downstream industries dependent on PSM to close down. So, orders for about 300,000 tonnes of steel were cancelled. The Steel Mills’ management was stuck with an inventory of Rs9bn, which it tried to dispose of by altering the marketing strategy.

The decision was taken during a meeting attended by the chairman and members of the finance and accounts, commercial and marketing departments, the minutes of which were duly recorded. Instead of selling according to a quota system, a policy of open sales was introduced. This meant that major investors could pick up large quantities of steel and help PSM stay afloat.

The main beneficiaries of the new policy were five different concerns: Metropolitan, Amreli, Abbas Engineering, Al-Abbas Steel and Abbas Steel. Contrary to the belief that the lowering of prices was meant to benefit one of President Zardari’s close friends, there were a total of 232 beneficiaries. Interestingly, the friend (Riaz Lalji) continues to be a significant buyer even after Aftab Sheikh’s sacking due to his greater production capacity rather than anything else.

The decision to lower prices was meant to save the mill. Industrial experts are of the view that shutting PSM is not a possibility because restarting it would not only be technologically difficult but also cost approximately Rs20bn. Meanwhile, the government would have to foot the bill for PSM’s 17,000 employees, which stands at about Rs600m per month.

In any case, the open sale policy was meant to solve the liquidity problem for which the management also used workers’ gratuity. This is not odd since all public and private sector firms do so. The Karachi shipyard under the navy’s management had also done the same in the mid-1990s to stay afloat. Using funds like gratuity or the contractor’s seed money is a done thing for a business concern, especially for the PSM, which badly needs funds for its modernisation.

The Steel Mills is 25 years old with a limited production capacity of a million tonnes. Its British consultant Corus had advised its increasing capacity to about three million tonnes for the concern to become profitable. Resultantly, the management signed an MoU with the Chinese firm MCC which would not become binding unless approved by the ministry of industries and production. It is a misplaced accusation that the government was being forced to incur a debt of Rs2.2bn since no final agreement was signed and there was nothing binding on the government until MCC produced a feasibility study. Had the media seen the MoU, they would have found that the document was not binding on the government until certain conditions were met. In any case, investment for development purposes is not money lost.

Equally baseless is the accusation about the management making money from a contract with the Railways since nothing was signed.

There is also no evidence of corruption since all procurement was done in accordance with the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) regulations and implemented by the committee formed by the government. The accusation of higher prices being paid for raw material and freight is a fallacy since the price of coal, iron ore and coke varies in the international market and the management had to adapt to the changes, which it could not do all the time being a public-sector organisation.

Perhaps what is needed is an inquiry into what the government achieved with its sudden and artificial show of justice. More importantly, is the media above board and should it be allowed to lynch people without a proper hearing which is the norm in civilised societies?

The writer is an independent strategic and political analyst.

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