EDITORIAL: Mr Rahim needs to be bridled and ASAP
The Sindh chief minister, Arbab Ghulam Rahim, likes to stay in the news for all the wrong reasons. Recently, he accused senior police officers in Sindh of having links with the criminal underworld, going to the extent of sidelining the deputy inspector-general of police, Karachi, after specifically naming him as one such officer. Why the DIG has not been formally charged and arrested if the allegations against him are correct is anybody’s guess.
Now another report says Mr Rahim has asked the imam of a mosque in Sukkur to take under his wing 106 allegedly corrupt police officials who were earlier removed from service on charges of bribery. Apparently, the imam has to reform them through moral cleansing. These officials, we are told, are also obliged to participate in the annual Raiwind tablighee congregation which started yesterday. The government may reinstate them after the imam has submitted a report and certified that these officials have become morally sound.
We are hard pressed to decide whether to treat this as some kind of cruel joke or cry aloud on this state of affairs. Consider.
* When a police recruit blew himself up in an imambargah in Karachi earlier this year, investigations revealed that he had been influenced by the khateeb of a mosque in Lyari who belonged to the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, a Deobandi-sectarian group with links to terrorist Lashkar-e Jhangvi and Al Qaeda.
* When a police constable in Lahore killed a Christian wrongly accused of blasphemy after he (constable) had been deputed to protect the accused, it was found that the police official did it for religious reasons. Investigations by this newspaper revealed that police training does not have any proper and consistent component on human rights.
* In some attempts on General Pervez Musharraf’s life, the police, army and Rangers’ officials involved were found to be religiously motivated, most of them heavily influenced by the kind of creedal parochialism that has become the staple of most mosques in Pakistan.
* Police and intelligence records and investigations into hundreds of acts of sectarian and other terrorist attacks over the past decade-and-half indicate the mosque and the madrassa have become the breeding grounds for anti-social and anti-state behaviour.
But Mr Rahim probably thinks the mosque is where he has to send his corrupt police officers for moral rearmament. He does not have the conceptual sophistication to understand that work ethics, which is what these officials lack, is not a function of religion. Indeed, the Protestant work ethic Max Weber wrote about was the product of the breakdown of the church rather than through its perpetuation.
Mr Rahim’s approach is generally regressive. Under his charge the Sindh government has come up with a backdated ordinance called the “Sindh Amicable Settlement of Disputes Ordinance (SASDO) 2004” which seeks to legalise the anachronistic jirga system which the Sindh High Court’s Sukkur bench had declared totally illegal in April this year. The ordinance not only violates the order, its backdated operation is meant specifically to cock a snook at SHC’s enlightened verdict. The ordinance also rubbishes efforts by the federal government — feeble and half-baked as they are — to introduce women-friendly legislation.
We are surprised that the federal government should sit and watch this farce unfold in Karachi. Something is definitely very wrong with Mr Rahim and his government and he needs to be leashed ASAP. *
EDITORIAL #2: New allegations against Iran and the Khan connection
The National Council of Resistance, an Iranian opposition group, has accused Tehran of smuggling in weapons-grade uranium and bomb designs from the AQ Khan network and hiding a uranium enrichment facility. An NCR spokesperson said on November 17 that Dr Khan gave Iran a small quantity of highly enriched uranium (HEU) which was not enough to make a bomb but that between 1994 and 1996, Dr Khan also gave Iran a Chinese-developed warhead design. It seems like the ghost of Dr Khan refuses to be exorcised.
Iran has of course denied the transfers and that it has a secret facility not open to IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) inspectors. Pakistan, too, has pooh-poohed the claim. However, the Iranian resistance group has credibility since it first blew the whistle on the Natanz facility which led to revelations about Iran’s secret efforts to enrich uranium and also led to Dr Khan’s connection with Iran. The problem would have been Iran’s internal issue if it did not have consequences for Pakistan. Between Dr Khan’s ambitions and the internal political strife within Iran, Islamabad has been caught like a nut in a cracker. The hard-line ayatollahs who have ruled Iran without opening political space for other groups should have realised that they cannot embark on a nuclear-weapon programme without getting the dissidents to speak up about it. The internal political wrangling has now pushed Tehran in a corner. It is no coincidence that the latest revelation comes on the heels of Iran’s efforts to strike a deal with Euro-3 (Britain, France and Germany) to avoid the issue from being pushed in the direction of the United Nations Security Council where Washington wants to take it. It remains to be seen whether this revelation will have a fall-out on the ongoing negotiations. The outgoing US secretary of state, Colin Powell, has already said the US has evidence that Iran continues to develop a nuclear device. It seems like that country is headed for a showdown with the US in the UNSC.
The problem for us is the alleged Dr Khan-linkage. Islamabad had thought that it had put the issue behind it. But renewed allegations have kept it alive. The trouble also is that Pakistan has not come out with any clear policy on the Iranian nuclear programme. The logic of nuclear strategy demands that Pakistan should be wary of a putative Iranian capability. We do not know if the government has made this clear to the US and the Euro-3. If it hasn’t then we think it would be sensible to do so. In any case, some efforts must be expended in debating the issue of any Iranian capability. *