Volume 21 Issue 12 December 2017
 
 
 
By Dr. Huma Baqai

The term “technocracy” is derived from the Greek word “tekne”, meaning skill or craft, and “kratos”, meaning power. The term rose to prominence in the US when engineer Howard Scott formed a group of engineers in 1919 that later proposed a new form of economic management as a radical response to the Great Depression. It was a social movement of the 20th century, making a slow and steady comeback in the 21st century.

By Dr. Talat Wizarat

The roots of democracy go back many centuries to Greek city states where initially efforts were made to associate common people in the political process. Islam also tried to give common Muslims some role in legitimizing the selection of the ruler. Through a process of evolution spread over many centuries, the process has resulted in the emergence of two main models i.e. the parliamentary system and the presidential form.

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PRESIDENT & EDITOR IN CHIEF
Syed Jawaid Iqbal

MANAGING EDITOR
Zeba Jawaid

EDITOR
Javed Ansari

ASSISTANT EDITORS
Faizan Usmani
Khawaja Amer
Syeda Areeba Rasheed

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
S. G. Jilanee

CONTRIBUTORS
Sajjad Ahmad
Dr. Moonis Ahmar
Mirza Aqeel Baig
Mujtaba Baig
Dr. Huma Baqai
Huzaima Bukhari
Muhammad Ali Ehsan
S. M. Hali
Dr. Ikramul Haq
Muhammad Omar Iftikhar
S.G. Jilanee
Taha Kehar
Dr. Raza Khan
K. A. Naqshbandi
Dr. Hafiz A. Pasha
Vice Admiral (R) Iqbal.F. Quadir
Dr. Talat Wizarat

GRAPHICS & LAYOUT
Kamran Ghulam Nabi
Haroon Rasheed
Riaz Masih

GENERAL MANAGER
MARKETING & SALES

Syed Ovais Akhtar

BRAND MANAGER
Muhammad Aamir

CIRCULATION & COORDINATOR
Aqam-ud-Din Khan



SouthAsia is published every month by Syed Jawaid Iqbal for and on behalf of JAWZ Communications (Pvt.) Ltd.

Views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily shared by the editors.

Published since 1977 as Thirdworld, the magazine was re-launched in 1997 as SouthAsia.




ARCHIVE (PDF)

 
 
 

By Khawaja Amer

A look at the history of the ancient Roman Empire and the more recent Soviet Union shows that their fall was not simply due to external threats but because of internal weaknesses, rampant corruption, lust for power and failure to follow the values and ideals they championed. What is happening in Pakistan has not much to do with any ‘American conspiracy’ but the villain is within the country.


It is unfortunate that the use of the dharna (sit-in) as a political weapon is gaining ascendancy in South Asia. The recent dharna by the TLY (Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah - PBUH) in Islamabad, which lasted some three weeks, ended when the government of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi went down on its knees to accept all that the leadership of the TLY demanded. It was a complete capitulation of the government in power and showed what a few thousand clerics, duly playing on the religious sentiments of a section of the masses, could achieve. The manner in which the conditions laid down by the TLY were accepted almost in toto, was quite surprising as the Pakistan Interior Minister Ashan Iqbal said, this was done so that religious riots would not spread to encompass all of Pakistan. It is interesting that a government that claims to draw its power from the people and was brought to the fore on the shoulders of a very large mandate, behaved in this manner. In the presence of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, it was obvious that the real strings of the government team negotiating with the TLY were in the hands of the disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the original holder of the popular mandate. Though a seasoned politician himself and surrounded many men of wisdom, instead of making any strategic gains, he and the Abbasi government became a laughing stock and opened the way for more such one-sided occurrences in the future.

Before the TLY dharna, two other major sit-ins in Pakistan were those undertaken by the PTI, led by Imran Khan and the one by PAT, led by Tahirul Qadri. These sit-ins too made quite a bit of noise. While the PTI dharna almost led to the ouster of the Nawaz Sharif government, the one by PTI also made waves and the government of the PPP, in power then, had to negotiate with Tahirul Qadri and accept many of his demands. Until the dharna weapon came into vogue, it were political processions (jaloos) and large political meetings (jalsas) that were the tools in the hands of politicians but now it seems that these have become a thing of the past. All that any group or political leader needs to do is to find a spot where the dharna can block the flow of traffic and send the citizens into days and weeks (even months) of discomfort and inconvenience. In such circumstances, the government in power becomes helpless and bows to the demands (just or unjust) of those staging the sit-in. As demonstrated by the TLY, this can lead to a horrible outcome for the government, misery for the people and stoppage of daily life, while the perpetrators of the dharna go scot-free.

For one thing, the dharna in Islamabad showed the utter ineptness of the authorities who came out of the whole thing as helpless and impotent beings who simply did not have control on anything. They seemed to be, driven against the wall and it was not until the army intervened that the sit-in could be brought to a close. The ‘hostage’ situation that had been created for the people of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, could only be diffused after the agreement between the TLY leaders and the government.

The future implications of the whole episode could be very debilitating for the future of politics in Pakistan and as well as for the rest of South Asia. As it is, political leaders in this part of the world do not function purely on merit. They normally do not pursue the politics of issues and national or local concerns. If leaders in the past did raise issues and, as a result, were supported by the masses, they miserably failed to provide solutions to those issues when they themselves came into power and were sooner or later discredited and lost popular support. It would be wise for the politicians and the government to wake up from their slumber and devise ways and means by which they could counter these new political tools instead of simply caving in and giving a virtual walkover to the protestors.

2
Syed Jawaid Iqbal
Editor in Chief

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Damned Dam

Built on the Narmada River in the state of Gujarat in India, the Sardar Sarovar Dam is one of the largest dams in the world, supplying water and electricity to three other states including Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. It took more than 45 years to build the colossal dam, which was mired in controversy ever since it was announced because of its contentious location and owing to various environmental concerns. Though the Sardar Sarovar Dam has recently been inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is seen by the majority of state residents as a water infrastructure that caused a huge displacement of people in rural Gujarat and dislocated millions from their homes, occupations and livelihoods. Unfortunately, most of the displaced populations have yet to be completely resettled or rehabilitated, leaving another human tragedy behind.

Meher Aftab,
Chhattisgarh, India.


Economic Integration

It is generally perceived that economic integration between two countries leads to rapid economic development, an enhanced trade volume and more productivity. Economic integration often takes place in various shapes. However, some political factors do play a role in determining the integration of a particular economy. For instance, such South Asian countries as Pakistan and India have not integrated their economies with each other despite the phenomenal difference it can make to both nations. The same goes for such Middle Eastern states as Saudi Arabia and Iran. Economic integration is not an easy or effortless pursuit owing to many reasons which are again political in nature. But those countries that are not a part of a free trade agreement have to endure several trade barriers and, in many cases, reasonably higher tariffs with exorbitant import duties also being applied to such countries. Therefore, it is necessary for South Asian countries to sort out their political differences to integrate their economies for the long-term benefit.

Salman Ahmed,
Karachi, Pakistan.

 

 

Dynastic Politics

This is with reference to last month’s cover story on the deep-seated dynastic politics in South Asia. Though none of the countries in the region are ruled through monarchy or dynastic succession that passes down the line to the eldest son or daughter, it is a matter of shame that despite being governed through democratic means, dynastic politics still reign supreme in almost all South Asian countries. This also suggests the fact that people in the region are not attuned to democracy in which people are elected to public office on merit instead of their family ties. Unfortunately, on the one hand democracy remains the most preferred political system in South Asia but on the other the collective mindset of these nations could not get rid of an old-age monarchical system of administration which still rules the roost when it comes to nominating the next head of state and that too in the name of public representatives.

Danish A. Siddiqui,
Peshawar, Pakistan.


Political Prisoners

In Sri Lanka, the fate of Tamil political prisoners is hanging in the balance. Currently, some 200 to 300 political prisoners are in jail for no apparent reasons other than the fact that they were actively involved in campaigning for a separate homeland for Tamils from 1983 to 2009. Almost eight years have passed since the conclusion of the civil war. However, most prisoners are still behind bars. Some people express their fear that some inmates might have been died or were killed during their imprisonment but the government hesitates in giving the exact number of Tamil prisoners who are currently in jail. Since Maithripala Sirisena became Sri Lankan President in January 2015, some Tamil detainees were released, which was quite a positive development. But since then, there is complete silence over the matter which needs immediate state intervention.

S. V. K. Yadavesvara,
Killinochi, Sri Lanka.


Loya Jirga

In a tribal country like Afghanistan, a jirga tends to be an institution of high significance. A centuries-old Afghan tradition, Loya Jirga can be referred to as a grand assembly that is regularly held to discuss matters of national importance and plays a significant role in the peaceful settlement of various tribal disputes and provincial conflicts. Overall, the Loya Jirga happens to be an effective platform that brings together senior citizens, known political figures and community and tribal leaders from across the country. Because of the Jirga’s significance and its influence on local leaders, voices are being raised to engage the Loya Jirga in the resolution of the decades-long war as well as other law and order crises hitting Afghanistan. I think this is quite a good approach as the jirga has the power to convince the Taliban and other major stakeholders to sit together to work out a permanent solution peacefully.

Abdul Ghani,
Kabul, Afghanistan.

 
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