Watandost in Urdu, Turkish and Farsi means "friend of the nation or country". The blog contains news and views about Pakistan and broader South West Asia that are insightful but are often not part of the headlines. It also covers major debates in Muslim societies across the world.
Poor Policing Standards in South Asia
Poor investigation bedevils police in India, Pakistan
Both countries inherited the colonial system of using the police for suppressing dissent V. BALACHANDRAN, SUNDAY GUARDIAN, NOV 11, 2012 Prof Hassan Abbas of the US National Defense University, whose erudite writings on Pakistan police reforms have been discussed by me in these columns, has released a new report, "Stabilizing Pakistan through Police Reform" on behalf of Asia Society's "Independent Commission on Pakistan Police Reform", for which he was the project director. Nineteen chapters in this compendium discuss measures for improving police-public relations, upgrading professionalism in tackling crime and terrorism, effecting legal reforms, improving military-police relationship, organising a de-radicalisation programme, developing sensitivity to human rights and improving media relationship. Written by policemen, lawyers, academics and human rights activists, the report seeks to place police reform as a priority national agenda for stabilising and democratising Pakistan polity.
This is even more ambitious than the British Conservative government's August 2010 scheme of "reconnecting the police and the people", said to be "the most radical reforms of policing in 50 years". Prof Abbas justifies this by saying that "as the state's most visible representative, the police force faces the wrath of people who feel frustrated with the poor quality of governance". However, he adds that the police "appear to lack a sense of accountability to the public they are meant to serve. Moreover, the system simply is not structured to reward good behavior, as merit-based opportunities for professional advancement are scarce." There are parallels and variations between the Indian and Pakistan police systems. Both inherited the colonial system of using the police for suppressing dissent. While the Indian police is still organised in the same situation as in 1947, leaving the public order and police responsibility to the state politicians, Pakistan experimented with a federal police system also, which ensured some amount of Central control over growing turbulence. However, the process has been tortuous. The Federal Investigating Agency (FIA), created in 1975 for inter-state crime investigations, was misused by politicians and defanged in 1997 by the popular government, and by the military in 1999. Eventually it was re-entrusted with investigative powers in 2008. During these years it had 29 directors, compared to the six heads for the Australian Federal Police since 1979. Like our CBI, their FIA was an offshoot of the 1942 British Special Police Establishment to fight corruption. However, some other experiments in federal policing were successful. The National Highways and Motorways Police (NH&MP), created in 1997 for policing their 3,000 km of highways is said to be "one of the few non-corrupt public sector organisations in South Asia" by the Transparency International. They are better equipped and better funded than the state police, since they work under the Ministry of Communications.
Inside Story about Musharraf-Mahmood Tussle Hassan Abbas: September 24, 2006
General Pervez Musharraf’s memoir In the Line of Fire is expected to generate a lot of debate and discussion in the days to come. Except some western journalists and Musharraf’s close friends (three ghost writers) hardly anyone has had a chance yet to read the book from cover to cover. The excerpts of the book leaked through Indian media and General Musharraf’s statements to some American media outlets however have already created some controversies. In the United States, controversy is considered a positive thing, so the book is bound to become a bestseller here, but in Pakistan probably the opposite is true.
This article is not a review of the book (as I haven’t got hold of a copy yet), but it endeavors to throw some light on the widely reported Musharraf comment about the Armitage threat conveyed through Lieutenant General Mahmood Ahmed, the then Director General of the ISI. I had done research on this speci…
Confronting Extremism Through Building an Effective Counter-Narrative This article was originally published in the Development Advocate Pakistan on April 25, 2016.
While Pakistan is using kinetic means to push back terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and Tehrik-i-Taliban in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), it is still struggling to find an antidote to religious extremism and bigotry that provides space for extremist thinking and consequent violence across the country. The ideas of pluralism, religious harmony and openness to diverse political views have slowly given way to narrow mindedness, sectarianism and intolerance. The democratic experience is equipping Pakistan to revive its balance in the socio-political domain, but it is a fact that the social space in the country today is highly contested between extremist and progressive elements of society.
The blame for these trends within the media and policy circles of Pakistan is often directed towards regional confli…
The News, June 24, 2006 Saudi ban on umra visa Rahimullah Yusufzai
As expected, the government of Saudi Arabia has refused to lift the ban on Pakistanis below the age of 40 years from performing umra. It was futile on the part of federal religious affairs minister Mohammad Ejazul Haq to visit Riyadh to try and make the Saudis change their mind on the issue. The Saudis formulate their policies after much thinking and in line with their national interest and decisions once taken are rarely changed.
Back home, Ejazul Haq sounded defensive when he told reporters that the ban would stay because the Saudi government had complained that over 100,000 Pakistanis had overstayed in Saudi Arabia after reaching there on the pretext of performing umra. Before leaving for Saudi Arabia, he had expressed concern over the Pakistan-specific umra restriction and had promised to take up the matter with the Saudi authorities. One could understand that he was on a weak wicket and could only request the Saudis…