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June - July 2009

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From Far & Near: Topics of Interest

by Bhupendra Gandhi

When you live by the sword

Since the inauguration of Pakistan, the nation has lived by the sward. As if the displacement, forced migration, murder and slaughter of millions of people were not enough, Pakistan attacked Kashmir in the belief that the docile and ineffectual Congress leadership will let her walk into Kashmir without a fight and Nehru nearly obliged! But Sardar Vallabbhai Patel was made of a sterner stuff!

Pakistan provoked war four times and when it failed every time, Pakistan retorted to terrorism. In a way it is as much a ploy to attack and destabilize India as to keep Pakistan together, as various provinces of Pakistan have nothing in common except religion. Bangladesh which was artificially attached to West Pakistan did manage to separate and establish an independent state with the help of India. But like any Islamic state, Bangladesh is eager to bite the hand that feeds her, the country that liberated it from the clutches of Pakistani barbarism.

While the people of Sindh and Punjab are like Indians, hardworking, reasonably well educated and on most part peace loving and progressive, North West Frontier (NWF) is a completely different kettle of fish. Every adult carries a gun and religion rules the roots, where Taliban philosophy thrives, prevails over national law and order.

These are the Wild West frontier regions no one has managed to tame, to civilize, to rule in a civil and democratic way. The people of NWF are fiercely independent. Even Britain failed to conquer them during their quest for building an Empire; rule the world after it lost American colonies.

Pakistan is fast sliding into anarchy, a failed state in every front, in spite of billions of US dollar poured into the country which mainly goes straight into the pockets of Generals and Politicians and even to Taliban.

In a way the West, especially America and Britain should take the blame for insisting that Pakistan should have a democracy, a freely elected government when what Pakistan needs is a strong President, backed by the military who can take on Taliban and rule with iron fist. A democratically elected government, who have to please various factions, create a vote bank; can never rule with iron feast.

It seems the West never learn, that democracy is a luxury that Islamic states like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAR, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan and many more neither deserve nor could manage in a way that an European nation can.

It is the lack of democracy that makes China such a great and powerful nation. India would be right up there with China if it was not handicapped by the so called corrupt democracy when some one can fight an election from a jail while awaiting trial for murder?

Since the demise of General Musharaf, Pakistan has gone down-hill on law and order front and Taliban is in control of NWF provinces all but in name, where Osama bin Laden can live without fear of being captured.

The attack on Sri Lankan cricketers, the only team willing to tour Pakistan, should not surprise any one, as playing music, cricket, watching TV and even educating girls is a taboo, against Taliban philosophy.

The cricketer turn politician Imran Khan condemned India when they refused to play in Pakistan, saying that cricket mad Pakistanis would never attack visiting team. How naïve and wrong he has been proved! If they can attack a friendly nation like Sri Lanka, how hard they would try to attack Indian team?

It is time for ICC to come out of slumber and self inflicted wounds and ban the tour of Pakistan until the law and order situation improves, Pakistan becomes a civilized, peaceful and a progressive nation which may unfortunately take a long time. It will get much worse before it will get better. Pakistan’s exile from the world cricket could be ruinous for the nation. But it is a self inflicted wound, as thousands of Madressas teach hatred to youngsters who then join Taliban in their adulthood.

This goes against the dream of the founder of Pakistan, the great visionary Mohamed Ali Jinha who like Mahatma Gandhi was a Gujarati, from the province of Kutch.

As an optimistic person, I feel that cricket is more than a sport for the people of Pakistan. It may yet become a unifying force, influence, a national psyche that harbours hope and aspiration, but only if Pakistan stops teaching, spreading hatred against one and all.

It would indeed enhance world peace and prosperity if Pakistan can become a stable, free and progressive state like UAR, a totalitarian state but with a wise and progressive person at the helm.

Why do we pay our politicians peanuts?

First Jackie Smith and now Tony McNulty has created a storm in a tea cup by claiming thousands of pounds in allowances which may be legal but could not be justified morally, especially when ordinary people have to struggle to keep the roof over their heads.

An MP draws a basic annual salary of some £63,000 which is peanuts compared to what our corrupt, inefficient and greedy bankers and the so called financial experts command and are willingly paid, even by the banks where the Government is the majority share holders.

Yet these financial misfits, failed Gurus are rewarded with millions of pounds in bonuses, share options at knocked down price, severance pay and mind boggling pensions when they should be in jail for gross negligence, greed and dereliction of duty.

But as usual, this gutless government has neither the stomach, the willpower nor the appetite to take on these financial leaches that suck blood of innocent tax payers and heap misery upon ordinary, decent and hard working people of this country.

Even our Premiership footballers draw more pay in a week than an MP receives annually. Yet most of these footballers are young, illiterate, foul mouthed and binge drinking misfits no one would employ outside football which is no longer a sport but a tainted industry. Have we lost our values, sense of right and wrong just to make a fast buck by any means, fair of foul?

So why an annual pay of some £100,000 should be considered a king’s ransom as portrayed in most national newspapers when their editors are so well rewarded, especially as the average claim of an MP for expenses amount to £135,600 before the pay review. If the rise of £40,000 is approved, this would save a small fortune to the treasury.

It seems this is an open season to bash politicians, scrutinize their every claim and nail them at the first opportunity. It is a witch-hunt no politician would be subjected to in any European country.

I personally know few MPs who have given up their lucrative professions to enter Parliament and serve the people. It is high time that we recognize the sacrifice, the contribution of these dedicated politicians who are in any case one of the lowest paid parliamentarians in the European Union.

Some MPs go out of their way to help their constituents and my MP Shri Barry Gardiner is one such MP who would visit old and the infirm, sick and the disable constituents in their homes. He would even visit some long stay patients in hospital. This is devotion, dedication beyond call of duty which most of us appreciate and admire. I wonder whether there is any other country where politicians are so constituents friendly.

I came to this country some forty five years ago. The first MP I came across in the late sixties was Reg Prentice. (Labour, Newham North) He was one of the most friendly, helpful and easily approachable politician at the time. I did not come across another politician, an MP like him until Barry Gardiner became our MP (Brent North) in 1997.

These so called perks, allowances for second home, staffs, researchers and office expenses are too complicated, too tempting to be misused. It is time we pay either a living wage or a fixed allowance based on where they live, the distance from the Parliament without asking them to justify or to submit their claims, as every one would receive the same amount depending upon where their constituencies are, the distance between a constituency and the Parliament.

This would take the sting out of endless controversies over expenses that is diverting attention from the real and enormous problem this country is facing on the economic front that may give us an unenviable reputation of Europe’s one and only Banana Republic!

If and when MPs debate the pay rise, they should take into account these dire days of credit crunch, job loss and should set a commendable example by opting to freeze the pay at the new, higher level for a couple of years or until we come out of recession and the economy is once again on the right track.

Blame Tom, Dick and Harry, not Brown, Smith and Miliband

Yet again police have raided various addresses in the Manchester and Liverpool area and detained twelve alleged Al Qaeda cell suspects who were planning an Easter Bank Holiday massacre, one of the holiest days in the Christian calendar. Eleven are Pakistani students who were granted visas to enter Britain by our own High Commission in Islamabad.

Two of these alleged students even passed a stringent security checks that enable them to work in security industry, guarding airports, cargo terminals and driving buses and security vans, thus putting them in a prime position to attack a venerable and high profile target that would cause maximum loss of life and world wide impact, give them the publicity that they carve for. Could any country be so naïve, stupid and down right negligent or are we in a league of our own?

It is also mentioned that some of these alleged terrorists have link with the Mumbai attack and the ambush on the bus taking Sri Lankan cricketers from their hotel to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. It seems there is no difference the way the Indian and the British governments handle terrorists and terrorism within their own borders. We can understand that the Indian government, the Congress party is appeasing, bending towards their vote bank but what excuse the British government has?

Could any of these bogus students have been successful in entering United States! Not in a million years. Since 9/11 even well respected, law abiding and freely elected Muslim politicians, like our own Members of Parliament are denied entry, detained at American airports and sent back on the next plane, without valid reason. This is one step too far. But can any one point a finger at America?

Then again it is their country and they have the right to deny admission to any one they may feel be a security risk. After all, so many Islamic States deny visas to Americans, British, Indians and even to Israeli sportsmen and women taking part in various international tournaments which goes against the sporting spirit and harmony that binds all sport personals, besides being illegal.

As usual, PM Brown who has by now mastered the art of passing the buck, playing Musical Chair, blames Pakistani authority for not checking these applicants. Is it not the duty of the visa issuing office to vet these bogus applicants? Were these applicants interviewed and their paper work checked in detail, their background scrutinized and passports stamped “Not allowed to work” in Britain?

It has been pointed out that there are up to two thousand bogus colleges, gateway to Britain who assist these students to obtain visas, as they are only interested in collecting huge fees.

Can Mr. Brown tell us who issues licences, gives a clean bill of health to these colleges? Is it Pakistani government or Mr. Brown’s own administration? Let this embarrassing episode for Mr. Brown spur him into action, close down the loophole and make this terrorist friendly country safe for her law abiding citizens.

Why don’t our government restrict the right to take in foreign students to few respectable and renowned universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick, Ashton, St. Andrew and London School of Economics, a few among many world renowned learning institutions who will never abuse these privileges.

This will stop bogus students entering UK at a stroke. But then it may also restrict, limit the funds that many universities depend on for their survival and many crooks for their lavish lifestyle. We can not have it both ways, have our cake and eat it.

It is time the government stops blaming others, whether it is recession, credit crunch, crime, terrorism or immigration and admit their shortfalls, their mistakes and their sheer incompetence. It would be easier to get a blood out of a stone than an admission of guilt, negligence or to hear the word “sorry” from this self righteous government that is stumbling from one disaster to another.

It is a pity that this may affect many hard working, decent and honest Labour backbench MPs who are so popular and constituents friendly. I sincerely hope that the voters will be able to differentiate the stumbling government ministers from ordinary Labour MPs who deserve our support.

Mischief Making Western Media

Elections are the foundation of a democratic society. People’s mandate is the fuel that turns the wheels of a nation. When democracy goes wrong, is in the wrong hands, it destroys the nation from within. Zimbabwe is the prime example how a nation could be destroyed by corrupt democracy.

If one is to believe the Western controlled, Western monopolized Indian media, the Indian election is already over, handsomely won by the Congress led UPA alliance and Dr. Singh safely installed as the Prime Minister for the next five years with back seat driver Sonia Gandhi in control.

But reading local, provincial newspapers, one may wonder how we could ever trust Indian media. Even in the last election, they installed BJP led NDA government even before the election was declared. Was it to catch BJP off guard, make the party over confidence and lower their guard? If so, they succeeded beyond their wildest dream.

It is difficult to understand the mischief making role of the Indian media when they should be giving accurate information and their predictions should be as close to reality as possible. After all, they are doing a wonderful service here in the West where their predictions are, on most part accurate and truthful.

One may wonder how come BJP is tethering when it should be in a comfort zone, especially when Indian workers are losing their jobs in millions, economy more or less at a stand still and terrorism out of control. Do BJP lack charismatic leaders and present leaders, like Advani and his likes are too old, out of touch with the young population?

Indian voters are most volatile and may throw up the most unexpected result. India has the most enigmatic democracy in the world. Love it or hate it, no one can deny that Indian elections are unique in the world.

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