Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Poppy fields of Nazimabad

We are all familiar with MQM as a political party and we all know that it was encouraged by Zia as an opponent for then PPP of Bhutto, just like the Sharif brothers were in Punjab. I wanted to write today not about why MQM was created or how it operates but rather the damage this operation is going to cause us.

I grew up in the projects of Nazimabad and saw the MQM network too closely for anyone to question or doubt my impression of this organization. I have witnessed so much wrong this network does personally so before I begin lets keep the idea aside that people only try to tarnish this organization’s name because it represents the oppressed.

My argument is not over the wrong done but upon the manifestations if it continues doing it. We have all heard the Robin Hood explanation for this movement that it takes from the rich and gives it to the needy creating balance & harmony. If this would have worked in the real world what would happen when all the rich have been robbed?

Lets for instance say we all start growing marijuana and poppy, lets market it to the most lucrative buyers of North America and Europe. Build a logistics network across the country so we can effectively move the crop from the fields to the productions plants. Have policy reforms create incentives for farmers, make them the preferred crop, lets ensure the government sets a high floor price. With good packaging and attention to detail we can create a brand stronger than ecstasy.

In no time we will be making insane amounts of money which we can use to rebuild our nation. We will build roads, provide medical benefits to all citizens, Pakistanis will have social security cover, inflation would be controlled, fuel prices will be fixed the government will bear all the international market fluctuations. The Rupee will appreciate, the energy crises will be over we will build wind farms, coal projects and nuclear power plants. We will create massive water storage facilities and hundreds of small dams so our poppy fields will never run short of water.  We will keep increasing our production capacity providing the best quality product and one day we will achieve our dream.

This is the day that worries me, on this day we will have all the fortunes but our major workforce would only know how to grow poppy, how to market it, how to manage the operation, how to dodge the authorities on the destination ports, who to bribe and how much to offer. This is the time when our standard of living would have raised and we due to better education options available will increasingly not want our kids to work in the poppy industry. We would want to be respected globally, our conscious would be becoming clearer and we would want to be associated with more global socially accepted businesses, we would all become activists of change and say no to poppy. Mind you this is the time when the bulk of our GDP contribution would come from this business. What will we do?

Sadly massive build-ups of non-sustainable ideas like above are not new, during the crusades entire Europe was engulfed in creating soldiers to fight off the Muslims. When the war ended these returning knights did not know anything but war and resorted to ceremonial games. The Mujahidins were encouraged to fight the Russians in Afghanistan by the United States and they themselves have been fighting the same group to this day.

A more recent example is of Pakistani banks between 2002-2008 who hired and nurtured thugs and hoodlums as recovery agents for the booming consumer financing business of the time, people who would not pay instalments of cars and other capital items financed through bank agreements would get calls and visits from this special wing. When the consumer financing bubble burst in 2008 these groups were naturally asked to look for jobs elsewhere, this is when a very sharp rise in street crimes, robberies, kidnappings etc. was witnessed. Although many of these individuals already had political affiliations some who did not ended up joining parties since they promised a sanctuary for their kind.

My comparison of MQM or its leader here is not with mad men, I am not trying to equate Kony, Pol Pot, Ivan, Farah Aidid or Idi Amin with Altaf Hussain. The similarities stem from the flawed dream and the idea of empowerment through arms creating generations whose bread n butter is loot & plunder. Although if Mr. Hussain is ever presented before a court he can plea not guilty on an insanity cover, a bit of his singing will win the jury.  In the last decade MQM has been defended and protected by the military and later in the name of democracy, both forms have failed to curtail its wrong. As the operation grows nothing good is being cooked and the hurting bit is there is no light at the end of the tunnel, the tsunami has spared them or maybe it’s the other way around.

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