Pakistan, A State Run By Parasite Capitalism

The already bad reputation caused by corruption in Pakistan took a turn for the worse with the publication of an investigative report by Ahmed Noorani. The report revealed that Lt. Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa’s family was in possession of assets worth millions in Pakistan and abroad.

Asim Bajwa is the chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as the special assistant for information to Prime Minister Imran Khan, a portfolio that carries the protocol of a federal minister.

The report claims that Lt. Gen (r) Bajwa’s brothers, wife and two sons own a business empire, which has set up 99 companies in four countries including a pizza franchise with 133 restaurants worth an estimated USD 39.9 million. The revelation is disastrous for Imran Khan since he is desperately trying to garner international support among foreign investors and encouraging them to bring their capital to Pakistan.

But Pakistan is a state that is dying by a thousand cuts and the most recent cut, the revelations regarding Lt. Gen (r) Asim Bajwa’s assets in foreign lands, seems to have landed right on the jugular vein of Pakistan’s campaign to attract foreign investment. If the top ranking ex-military general turned bureaucrats do not trust their home economy to generate satisfactory profits, then why would one expect a foreigner to do so.

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That corruption is rampant in Pakistan is no more a hidden fact. During Gen Zia Ul Haq’s martial law (1977- 1988), it was common knowledge that one could get their sentence reduced by one year by bribing the military judge with one lakh rupees. The (bribe) monies were paid after the sentence was awarded and during the appeal process. The civil police who would normally escort the prisoner collected money before passing it on to the military judge.

Lashes were bought off the sentence for Rs 15,000 each. Hence there was frenzy among military courts to award long sentences and 10 to 15 lashes to each political activist that was apprehended under the martial law regulations.Today, corruption is rampant in Pakistan Army. A soldier bribes the subedar if he needs to visit his family in the village. From universities to science research labs, to electricity power companies to museums and parks, there is hardly any civil institution that is not headed by an ex-military officer.

It was during the Afghan war (1979-1989) that Pakistan military generals developed a fondness for sleazy money. Foreign aid arriving through western governments and consortiums plus the side business of cultivating and selling heroin brought a qualitative change in the manner Pakistan army business operated. Not only that it developed itself into a business conglomerate but also turned itself into a drug cartel that would supply heroin to the rest of the world.

Although the Pakistan Army’s involvement in the business is as old as the country itself, however, it was during the 1980s that its business empire expanded at a breathtaking rate reaching its zenith during General Musharraf’s tenure (1998-2008). In her book Military INC, Ayesha Saddiqa estimated the military business to be worth more than 10 billion euros in 2007, which was roughly four times the total of direct foreign investment in the same year. She claimed that 100 top military generals had a collective wealth of 3.5 billion euros.

Pakistan Army, Air Force and Navy each own the three largest conglomerates Fauji Foundation, Shaheen and Bahria Foundations. The Army Welfare Trust (established in 1971) runs the country’s largest lenders, the Askari Bank. The military National Logistic Cell (NLC) is Pakistan’s largest shipper and freight transporter. It was reported that on retirement a Maj. General can get 240 acres of prime farmland worth more than half a million pounds as well as an urban real estate plot of land worth 700,000 euros.

The rise of Pakistan Army as a usurper of the market economy has brought her into direct conflict with the local civilian investor and industrialist. It is in this background that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and military generals came to loggerhead on the issue of allocation of billions worth of contracts of the CPEC. The military would not allow the Nawaz Sharif or the parliament to be the sole in charge of this multi-billion-dollar project.

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Hence, they removed him through a controversial general election and brought in a political novice Imran Khan into power. Lt. Gen. (r) Bajwa was made Chairman of CPEC. But the military does not trust Imran Khan either and, therefore, a few months ago they forced him to sack Firdous Ashiq Awan, the special assistant to the Prime minister for information, and replaced her with the same guy (Asim Saleem Bajwa) who is the chairman of the CPEC.

Pakistan’s military has totally lost its credibility in the eyes of the common man and woman in the country. People despise the army and consider the plunder and perks awarded to the army as directly responsible for their sub-standard living conditions and general poverty in the country. The stubbornness, with which the Pakistan Army is stealing the natural resources of the provinces has brought them into direct-armed conflict with Baloch and Sindhi nationalists. Their demand for more autonomy has now converted into a demand for total independence from the federation.

Lack of a profitable small industrial base has led the Pakistan Army deeper into corruption and kickbacks. The recent revelations regarding Lt. Gen. (r) Bajwa do not come as a surprise but as a confirmation of the suspicion, the general public has held for decades about its army that Pakistan military no longer considers Pakistan a productive economy. The only way to generate profit for them is to strip Pakistan of all its natural resources and invest in foreign countries that can promise an uninterrupted flow of revenue.

None other than those who in the first place was supposed to protect it from the enemy is beating blow-by-blow Pakistan to the ground. The inability of a market economy has forced its men in uniform to consume whatever is left of the country’s resources. Hence, failing to become innovative entrepreneurs the Pakistan Army has become a parasite and Pakistan has turned into a state that is run by the rules of parasite capitalism.

The author is a human rights activist from Mirpur in PoK. He currently lives in exile in the UK. (ANI)

Enforced Disappearances Bleed Balochistan

There is a long history of enforced disappearances in Pakistan occupied Balochistan. While thousands of Balochs have been abducted and disappeared since its illegal occupation, hundreds of others have been eliminated in the line of Pakistan’s “kill and dump” policy. Thousands still remain unaccounted for.

Due to the silence and numbness of the civilized world and Human rights organizations and lack of the media or other means in Balochistan, this issue has been suppressed until this day.

Enforced Disappearance has been used as a tool by the Pakistani state to silence the oppressed people of Balochistan since the very first day of its occupation. While countless Abductees have been killed, many of them are still facing inhuman torture in army secrets cells. Humanity is bleeding at the hands of the Pakistani state. Baloch people have taken to the streets. Families of the disappeared people suffer significant harm, they live with continuous uncertainty about the fate or whereabouts of their loved ones, often utterly disrupted by the disappearances.

Some of these missing persons’ relatives have passed away with the pain and suffering in their chests but their loved ones have never returned back to them and they died waiting.

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United Nations, International Court of Justice, Human rights organizations may not be able to fathom the plight of the families of missing persons. Baloch mothers, sisters, widows and their children are suffering from severe spiritual mental distress.

Pakistan’s Inhuman atrocities in Balochistan are never exposed as there is a total media Blackout. Voice for Baloch missing persons or VBMP’s peaceful protest camp has been going on for more than 4050 days in Quetta, demanding Justice for Baloch missing persons. Thousands of people visit this camp on a daily basis. But the army state never understands and respects a democratic way of struggle for rights.

Enforced disappearances have been a long stain on Pakistan’s human rights record. Despite the pledges of successive governments to criminalize the practice, there has been a very slow movement on legislation which is equal to nothing, while people continue to be forcibly disappeared with impunity.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is now practising the method of enforced disappearance in abroad on the Baloch Diaspora as well. Recently, a prominent Baloch journalist and activist Sajid Hussain was disappeared from a European country Sweden on March 2, 2020. His body was later found in a river of Uppsala on May 1, 2020. Sajid Hussain was a significant voice of the Baloch in the diaspora. He used to work on Human rights issues happening in Balochistan, dedicated to documenting enforced disappearances by the Pakistani agencies.

According to a report issued by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in Sweden, they suspect that the Sajid Hussain might have been abducted by Pakistani ISI.

Previously, another Baloch Social activist Rashid Hussain was arrested and disappeared from Sharjah, by UAE secret agencies on 26 December 2018, Rashid had been living and working in UAE for several years.

Later on, news issued through Pakistani electronic media that Hussain was a suspect in the Chinese consulate attack in Karachi. After six months Rashid Hussain was illegally deported and handed over to Pakistani authorities by UAE.

This news was also published by Pakistani media houses, but since then Rashid has not been given access to any court. On the contrary, Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court has declared Rashid as a fugitive. Now his family is more concerned about his life. Pakistani agencies are trying to harm him in their custody.

According to a report released by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, there has been an increase in cases of Baloch women being targeted by security forces. Human rights observers have noted that the absence of explicit legislation criminalizing enforced disappearances in domestic law only aggravates the situation.

Baloch women and even children are being detained by forces in their local army camps, some of them get released after a few days, but before that, they are harassed and tortured. A 23 years old school teacher Zarina Marri was abducted by security forces from the Kohlu area of Balochistan, In December 2005, and her whereabouts are still unknown.

Hundreds of political leaders, activists, Engineers, doctors, lawyers are missing in Balochistan for years. Dr Deen Mohammad Baloch, an official doctor and dispenser at Ornach Khuzdar was abducted on June 28, 2009 and is still missing.

Zakir Majeed, a student leader was abducted on June 8, 2009 and still missing, While Zahid Baloch, Shabir Baloch and many such cases of disappearance are there to be practised and solved.

Baloch nation is facing the worst Human rights abuses by Pakistani forces and agencies in this modern era, where a plethora of human rights organisations exist.

World Human rights organisations and the International courts of justice must implement legislation criminalizing Pakistan over enforced disappearances without delay so that prosecutors have appropriate tools to prosecute those responsibly.

We request the civilised world, international community, international court of justice, the United Nations and other human rights organisations to take this as a matter of urgency, to end unlawful abductions and incommunicado detentions. Enforced disappearances are a tool of intimidation that grossly violates human rights laws. (ANI)