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Members Interview: Niaz

pakistani342

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I believe that each has his own story to share and teach. No doubt Niaz sahib is a level above many many posters here but in my personal view many posters hold their own expertise and knowledge and experience that others do not possess and together fill the gaps. For example @pakistani342 has amazing insight in afpak relations and he calls spade to spade highlighting the issues both nations have eith each other. He is another poster whose posts I always read.m bcz they carry great insight to the afpak problems and relations that many others lack.


There is not a word in that entire interview that I would disagree with. Everything is the blunt truth and he has very distinctly highlighted the two stages ( extremely different from each other) that Pakistan went through. The ore islamization period and post. Result is that the very same mullahs who hated Pakistan have hijacked it and I have seen islamists here stating that our founder wanted a no non Muslim land ignoring the speeches well recorded where he highlights minorities. Anyhow it was an amazing interview.


Can't disagree with that.

Completely disagreed.

Utterly disagreed. To make a rule where only Pakistani members are interviewed would blatantly and openly be akin to spiting on the efforts and knowledge shared here by our non Pakistani residents. An interview of esteemed members does not see distinction of countries.
Thank you for your kind words

I'm taking a hiatus from Afghanistan -- these days I kinda feel sorry for Afghanistan and Afghans

It looks like one round of the game has come to an end -- a new one seems about to begin :-/ -- more misery more misery
 

Nilgiri

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@WAJsal How about an interview with @Nilgiri , a very talented and bright individual indeed.Kudos
Wow excellent thread. Thanks for tagging me here, I am reading it slowly now heh. Lots of good stuff.

There are like dozens of members that should be interviewed like this before me I feel.

I would like to give a special thanks to @niaz for being so detailed in his responses, it felt like I am in a different era reading them. Also really excellent initiative by @WAJsal, @Zaki and whoever else involved and great question prep/flow!

I would like to see more of this kind of quality efforts on PDF to make a good counter-current from the usual threads that are populating the forum more and more it seems.
 
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unleashed

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What a great effort boys. I must say it was one of the best reads of PDF since i join this forum. I hope you guys will keep up the good work and interview some more PDF veteran. I am not a questionnaire expert, however, i would suggest you to include some more questions regarding contemporary issues/developments of Pakistan. As you did include question regarding CPEC.

@WAJsal , @Zaki
 

sarosh yakoob mehdi

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@Side-Winder , please share it on our social media pages, thank you.
Moderation team came up with an idea of interviewing prominent members of PDF, none better than @niaz bhai to start this initiative with. Before i post the interview i would like to thank @niaz bhai for finding the time for us. It has been an honour for me and @Zaki to have interviewed him. I would also like to thank the admins and moderation team for their efforts. I would also like to thank a group of members for their help and effort.
It is a long interview, i promise it's worth it.
Last comments: It is an effort on our part, it will absolutely not be perfect. Please overlook any mistakes from our part. Please share it with others, do try to share it with our younger generation i think everyone can learn a lot from this interview.
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The interview:

Question: Being an old member on PDF you are well-known and followed by many, can you give a small background about yourself for our new members or guests reading this interview?

Niaz: I was born in 1943. Had early schooling in Sialkot & Rawalpindi. Joined Gov’t College Sargodha for the F.Sc and then moved to Gov’t College Lahore.

After a B.Sc. Hons Chemical Technology. I got a job as Assistant Scientific Officer in Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and was sent to UK in 1962 where I studied for the D.I.C (Diploma Imperial College) in Nuclear Technology under Colombo Plan scholarship scheme and also obtained a M.Sc. Chemical Engineering from the University of London. After working for one year at National Engineering Laboratories, East Kilbride, Glasgow I returned to Pakistan in December 1966.

I had specialized in Nuclear Fuel Processing and at the time there was no work for me at the PAEC. I was therefore asked to go to Spain for ‘On the job’ training. Not being happy, I resigned from PAEC and joined Esso Eastern Inc. in 1967. In 1970, I was in USA working as Process Engineer. Esso Eastern Office relocated to Houston and I returned to Pakistan in the summer of 1971.

My progress at Esso was good and I was promoted to the manager level when I was barely 30. However, after Esso was sold out to the Pakistan government and became PSO in 1976; I experienced murder of merit & saw ‘Nepotism’ in action. I resigned and joined Kuwait National Petroleum Company in 1977.

Kuwaitis nationalized Amin Oil Refinery (Now Mina Abdulla Refinery) in 1979. I was then in the ‘black oils’ section and was transferred to the international marketing with the task of disposing off the surplus fuel oil from the Amin Oil plant. I managed to sell the fuel oil to the Italian refineries. Since then I have not looked back and have been working with the various International Oil refining & marketing companies in the UK and in UAE. My last job was with an Oil Trading company in Fujairah.

Since 2011, I am semi-retired and trying to eke out a living as Petroleum / Energy Consultant. My latest assignment is as an ‘Expert Witness’ in a dispute over the quality of oil tested at the discharge port.

Only professional organization I belong is the American Institute of Chemical Engineers of which I am a senior member. I have rowed during my Imperial College days and played squash on the side. I also play Bridge & Chess. I am an amateur star-gazer and have a couple of high powered telescopes and am also member of the West of London Astronomical Society (WOLAS).

My favorite subject is History but I also like Poetry. In addition to the Urdu & Punjabi poetry, I am an ardent fan of Omar Khayyam & Sheik Saadi. I like collecting books that interest me. My personal library has about 400 books on different subjects but mostly on the history & religions of the world.

Question: You have lived through the happiest and saddest times Pakistan has been through, from Ayub khan to Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq, Bhutto...how has your experience been through these times?

Niaz: I have nostalgic memories of Ayyub Khan’s era. Pakistan was a fast developing country with the 1st & 2nd 5 year plans. Maxipak Wheat, Irri Rice, Indus water treaty, Scarp (Salinity Control & Reclamation Project), PINSTECH, KANUP, Suparco, Karachi Shipyard, Pakistan Steel Mill, Pakistan Refinery limited, National refinery, Warsak Dam, Mangla Dam, Tarbela Dam, Quaid e Azam’s mausoleum and the PTV; all were completed or started during Ayyub era. I don’t remember any sad times from that period.

I was in UK during 1965 war which was a turning point. I found things changed drastically on my return to Pakistan in December 1966. I went thru the mayhem started by ZA Bhutto that after the ‘Decade of Development” celebrations and was in Pakistan during Yahya Khan’s martial law.

I was in USA when the military action started in East Pakistan in 1970 but returned to Pakistan during summer of 1971. I was witness to the drama played out in the UN when ZA Bhutto tore up the Polish resolution and ensured that there was no honorable way out for Pakistani troops fighting in East Pakistan. I suffered the worst & saddest moment of my life watching Gen. Niazi surrender at Paltan maidan, Dacca. Dec 16, 1971.

There have been quite a few bright moments in Pakistan’s short history.

First bright moment of Pakistan’s history occurred in 1952 when Sui gas was discovered. Then again in March 1956, when Pakistan became a Republic. Next bright moment was when the UN Tribunal awarded 10% of the disputed territory of the Rann of Kutch to Pakistan in Feb. 1968.

Another milestone event was the OIC conference in Lahore in Feb 1974. At that time Pakistan was truly in the forefront of the Islamic world.

Wining of Hockey Gold in 1960 Olympics was another happy moment for me along with 1992 Cricket world Cup. However, 1992 event shifted the emphasis away from Hockey which until that time had been our national sport.

In my opinion, most important event in Pakistan’s Science occurred when Dr Abdus Salam was appointed Scientific Advisor by Ayyub Khan in 1960. It was Dr Salam who, by enlarging the PAEC & setting up Suparco, started the process which culminated in Pakistan becoming a Nuclear Power. Dr Salam’s contacts and good offices resulted in a large number of scholarships made available to the Pakistani youth. My family could never afford to pay for my UK education and had it not been for Ayyub Khan & Dr Abdus Salam; I would have never managed to get to where I am today.

Conducting the nuclear test was not a bright moment but a necessity. India had exploded 5 nuclear bombs at Pokhran Test Range in May 11, 1998 under ‘Operation Shakti’ if we had missed that opportunity, the window would have been closed for ever.

After the initial pilot transmissions, Pakistan TV had been set up in 1964. The news coverage was highly biased and PTV used mostly for the purpose of enhancing image of the political party in power. In 2002 Musharraf government allowed private TV channels to operate in Pakistan. This gave rise to a freedom of expression scenario unheard of in Pakistan of pre-2002 period. I don’t exactly know how many, but there must be more than 50 Channels operating in Pakistan today. IMHO this event was the last bright moment in the history of Pakistan.


There have been too many sad moments in Pakistan’s history. I can only recount the ones that I think important.

First one was the “Doctrine of Necessity” invented by the then CJ of the Federal Court, Justice Mohammed Munir. Gov. Gen. Ghulam Mohammed unilaterally dissolved the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in 1954. Justice Munir upheld this decision because it was necessary. In his book ‘From Jinnah to Zia’ Justice Munir admitted that it was a grave mistake.

Second one was agitation by ZA Bhutto against Ayyub Khan. It was wrongly portrayed by ZAB that Pakistan had won the 1965 war and Ayyub had thrown way the advantage by signing Russian brokered Tashkent Agreement.

Realistically speaking; Pakistan started the war but failed to attain her objective of liberating Indian occupied Kashmir. However, we managed to fight vastly superior Indian force to a ‘Stalemate’. Hence portraying 1965 war as ‘Victory’ is gross exaggeration.

Nearly all of our military hardware was of the US origin. After USA imposed sanctions, we were running out of ammunition for guns and spare parts for the fighter planes. Pakistan was in no position to carry on the fight to finish. An honorable ceasefire was therefore the best option. Nevertheless ZA Bhutto managed to fool Pakistani public into thinking that Pakistan had won and started the agitation that resulted in the eventual takeover by Gen.Yahya Khan.

A very sad event was refusal of ZA Bhutto to accept the national mandate and his slogan “Uther tum ither hum” meaning ‘You there , we here’; which ultimately resulted in Pakistan’s defeat by India in 1971 and Pakistan cut in half.

4th bad moment was nationalization of industries including the banks by the PPP government under ZA Bhutto. It killed off the entrepreneurship and started the culture of over employment in the state owned industries resulting in PIA, PSM & the Railways turning into pit holes of the tax payer’s money.

5th bad event was when ZA Bhutto injected religion into Pakistani laws. Had it been done sincerely, it would have been okay, but ZA Bhutto did it to release the pressure of ‘Nizam-e-Mustafa’ movement. It was the classical ‘Too little too late’ action and ZAB was toppled a couple of years later.

6th and one of the worst moments of Pakistan’s history was the imposition of Martial law by Zia ul Haq. I personally heard Zia promising to hold elections within 90 days, but he carried on for 12 years. Most of the current ills of our society like drugs & Kalashnikov culture, sectarianism, Hudood Laws & the intolerance are his legacy.

I had many Palestinian colleagues during my employment for Kuwait National Petroleum Company. All of them loved ZA Bhutto and hated Zia ul Haq. My fellow members may not remember that despite being only a ‘Military Advisor' in Jordan; Brig Zia ul Haq took direct command of the Jordan’ Armored Div. and was the key figure in killing of nearly 5,000 Palestinians.

It was not Pakistan’s war? What business does a Pakistani Brigadier have to fight the Palestinians on the side of King of Jordan? JI & religious parties cry blue murder whenever there is talk of Pakistan recognizing Israel because of the Palestine question, but the same religious parties love Zia ul Haq, butcher of nearly 5000 Palestine Muslims.

Zia wanted to make us good Muslims, instead he turned us into a society of Muslims where some members sodomise young boys, make videos of the act and then blackmail the parents for money, as happened in Kasur and more recently in Islamabad.

Question: Having lived through the entire India-Pakistan conflict - was it inevitable? Could things have turned out differently? If so, when were the points in history you think an opportunity was lost?

Niaz: Looking back, 1947 partition was extremely bloody & momentous affair. It is estimated that about 2-million lost their lives and more than 10-million displaced. This left very deep scars which may never heal completely.

No matter what ‘lies’ the history text books written during Zia’s time try to portray; I would like to remind my fellow members that Muslim League was formed in 1906 in Dacca. In 1937 provincial election, Muslim League won 37 seats in Bengal out of 250. Whereas in Punjab only one seat (Raja Ghazanfar Ali Khan) out of 175.

Even UP delivered Muslim League 26 seats out of 228. In Sind & NWFP, Muslim League did not win a single seat whereas Congress got 7 out 60 in Sind and 19 out of 50 in NWFP.


Lahore Resolution of 23rd March was written by Zafarullah Khan (a Qadiani) and proposed by AK Fazlul Haq, then Chief Minister of Bengal. Bengalis & Qadianis were therefore supporter of Pakistan and of the Muslim League. On the other hand Jamaat Islami and religious parties were anti-Pakistani to core. Hence role of Bengali Muslims in the Pakistan movement was far greater than Muslims from Punjab, NWFP & Sind where a large number of political leaders remained against Pakistan until the very end.

East Pakistan separated primarily because ZA Bhutto realized that as long as Bengalis were Pakistanis, he could never attain power. Sadly the Army, officered largely by the Punjabis & the Pashtuns, went along with him and we lost half the country. Recent dharnas by Imran Khan remind me somewhat of agitation led by ZA Bhutto during 1969 which led to the second Martial Law and when Imran hinted ‘when finger of the umpire is raised’, he was obviously banking on Pak Army intervention.

Congress never wanted partition and even though Pakistan was not much more than a pinprick; after 1965 India was waiting for the opportunity to cut pinprick into half the pinprick. In 1971 the Bengali component of the security forces split from the Pak Army and became the core of Mukti Bahini. India supplied funds, arms and military training to the new recruits which enabled Mukti Bahini to launch an effective guerrilla campaign against Pakistan Army.

Atrocities were committed from both sides. Inspired by Sheikh Mujib ur Rahman, thousands of Biharis Muslims were brutally slaughtered by the Mukti Bahini. Atrocities committed by Pak Army were also horrendous. Bengali nationalists’ claim of some 3-million slaughtered is obviously exaggerated but even if a tenth of the number, that is 300,000 were killed; it is far too many and need to be unreservedly condemned.

Additionally, I have been told by my Bangladeshi friends that Pak Military had armed gangs of Jamaat Islami volunteers who went on rampage as death squads killing off the nationalists. It was then I realized that the Two Nation Theory had ceased to be of any relevance.

Just hammering the point that because people of both the wings were Muslims; they should remain united on account of Islam does not work. I had visited East Pakistan twice while working for Esso and felt that I had more in common with non- Muslim inhabitants of East Punjab, Haryana and Utter Pradesh than with the Bengali Muslims. I am sure East Pakistanis also felt that they were closer to the Hindus of West Bengal than the Muslims of West Pakistan. Eventual separation was therefore unavoidable but the bloodshed could have been avoided. This could have been thru a referendum in East Pakistan like the one held in Scotland.

However, I still maintain that decision to partition British India on religious lines was a correct one and proved to be good for the Muslims. Rise of staunchly anti-Muslim gov’t in India represented by the BJP under Modi leadership vindicates that decision. The problem occurred because even though Pakistan was conceived as a ‘Federation’ where residents of each unit were free to choose their destiny; Pakistan ended up as a highly centralized State. Anyone can see that it took 63 years before 18th amendment could be passed. Provincial governments, while claiming to be torch bearers of democracy, are still not prepared to hand over power to the district councils.

Question: You have lived through the 1965 war and 1971 war between Pakistan and India, what was your experience of those times? How was the political situation in those days? and what was the general atmosphere in Pakistan back then?

Niaz: I was not in Pakistan during 1965 war. But was very much in the 1971 war. Situation in 1971 was bad and every Bengali other than domestic servants were considered suspect.

I spent 10 days alternating between day & night shifts at the Esso Keamari storage terminal during the 13 day war. We were bombed at least twice every night. I was there when storage tanks at Keamari were bombed and caught fire. Morale of the public was down and everyone was is despair after the surrender of 90,000 soldiers.

In my opinion ZA Bhutto only did 3 worthwhile things for Pakistan. These being negotiating release of the POWs, holding of OIC conference and the Bhutto’s resolve that “Pakistanis would eat grass but we will make the nuclear bomb” after the Indian nuclear test of May 1974 at Pokhran.

Question: What is the biggest step forward that Pakistan can take for building good relations in South Asia?

Niaz: There would be no peace until Kashmir problem is resolved. Ground reality is that we cannot win IOK by military means and India is not going to hand it us either. Only possibility left to explore is “Out of the box” thinking and pursue the Musharraf idea of making travel between the AK & IOK so easy for the Kashmiris that the border becomes irrelevant. Something similar to the USA / Canada border.

Question: Why can't Pakistan get sincere leadership like the one of Quaid-e-Azam? And do you think the 'Pakistan dream' will ever come true? 'Pakistan dream being a great state our forefathers dreamt of'

Niaz: Main problem is that nearly all politico- religious parties such as Jamaat Islami, JUI, Majlis e Ahrar, were against Quaid-e-Azam and creation of Pakistan. The very same people hijacked Pakistan after the take over by the bigot Zia. This section of the society does not believe in the democratic process or in the national boundaries or in the ‘Pakistan Dream’. Instead they would like to turn Pakistan into a dark age Khilafat. Scholars who disagree with this interpretation of Islam are either killed or hounded out such as Allama Ghamdi.

Politicians on the other hand are in the political game for the sole purpose of attaining power and making money. Additionally, general public doesn’t think that corruption is bad thing and keeps on voting the same faces /names time & again.

For example, people’s party is the led by the most incompetent and corrupt leadership but they would always win in rural Sind. Despite being known thug and drunk, Altaf Hussein still has a strong following among the Urdu speakers of Karachi & Hyderabad. Voting is on the other hand solely on the basis of ‘Braderi’ in Punjab. Can any sane man justify Rana Sana Ullah’s killing of Minhaj supporters in Model Town Lahore? But you will see that PML-N as well as Rana Sana Ullah would be voted back in by the Punjabi voters.

Until such time that elections are won and / or lost on the ‘Issues’ such as economic welfare, health & education and crime; it is indeed difficult to envisage that Pakistan dream will ever come true. I had great hopes for Imran Khan but gave up on him because of his love of the Taliban cut-throats and because all he does is ‘disruptive’ politics. One can only hope that sooner or later a new Quaid will be born but probably not during my lifetime.

Question: How do you make political establishment of the country more accountable. What more political reforms do you feel are needed to accommodate aspirations and concerns of youth, who seem to be getting detached from current setup?

Niaz: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is not the answer because it will always be used selectively. Way to make politicians accountable is thru fear of the ballot box.

Based on the current rule, Nawaz Sharif can remain Prime Minister until he drops dead. Hence there is little chance of anyone else coming up. Leadership is also becoming hereditary in Pakistan. First thing is to make a law that no one can become Prime Minister or President or even a provincial minister or chief minister for more than two terms. Additionally there must be free and fair elections within the party as well and also no one to remain leader of the party for more than 3 terms. This is the only way that some top positions in the party will open up to the new cadre.

Young men in Pakistan after graduation and even higher qualification have little chance of finding gainful employment. No government can provide jobs to all the school leavers and college graduates. Majority of the jobs are generated by the private sector and private sector needed a safe and stable environment and progress friendly local laws.

I am no intellectual and thus not able to come up with any innovative solution. I can only quote from the criterion of self-reference. To me most important are the local council elections which give chance to the young & underprivileged to come up the political ladder. UK Mayor is son of a Pakistan immigrant whose father was a bus driver! On the other hand in Pakistan local bodies were dissolved by the political parties and even after 8 years are still not fully active.

Question: How do you see the change in next generation and possible way of teaching them as per our culture, society and values? Like parents and schooling responsibility?

Niaz: First we have to agree as to what is our culture and / or the inherited values. Pakistanis born before 1960 will remember that all provinces of Pakistan enjoy a rich & colorful heritage of poetry, food, dancing & music. The current puritanical culture imposed on us by the bigot Zia is not our culture nor our heritage but an alien import from Saudi Arabia. Pakistanis are not Arabs. Being Muslims does not imply that we forget our original roots.

Pakistan is a land of the Sufis. Majority of Punjabis & Sindhis converted to Islam not by force of arms but by means of love and compassion. Examine life of any of the Sufi Saints, no one preached jihad or killing of infidels.


Pakistan’s society is not going to change until there is better education and opportunities for betterment for the underprivileged. One cannot eliminate elitist schools primarily because no two students have the same ability and the very rich would always want to remain aloof from rest of the public.

In my time there were three classes of students. One who went to the elitist schools such as Aitchison College, the second went thru the Cambridge education system and the third who went to the Gov’t run or Urdu medium schools. Now there is a 4th kind of education as well, that is the madrassah.

I am not against the madrassah system per se. It provides education and takes care of thousands of children from very poor background. My problem is that young men completing the madrassah education do not learn any productive skill and hence find it hard to earn a decent living. Majority of such students therefore end up joining jihadi organizations and becoming terrorists.

My compatriots must realize that there are some eternal laws of nature and change / growth is one such law. A nation without the capacity to change with the times and adapting modern technology will be left behind. Unfortunately the religious lobby, especially the Al-Qaida / ISIS /Taliban type thinking, presumes that because we are Muslims, it is our right to be in the front. Regrettably reality is quite different.

Changez Khan killed nearly 40-million; majority being Muslims when there was still a Khalifa in Baghdad primarily because Mongols were better soldiers. Ranjit Singh hired French Generals to train the infantry and the cavalry with Col. Gardner to modernize the artillery. Even the English avoided confronting Khalsa Army while Ranjit Singh was alive. Whereas Muslims lost India to the English and the Ottoman Empire disappeared because the Muslim rulers were not able to sufficiently adapt to the changing times.


I don’t believe the in the notion that this world is nothing and one should only worry about after life where 72 houris eagerly await him. I consider myself an Allah fearing Muslim who believes that Allah desires Muslims to succeed in this life as well in the next for which Muslims must also make an effort.

To succeed in this life a sound education in the modern sciences and / or acquiring a productive skill is a must. It is my belief that religious education should complement the formal education and not replace it.

Madrassa curriculum should include vocational training and the science subjects and the students should also take the Matric examination. This way hundreds of thousands of young men would have the chance of some productive occupation after they finish the school. Rigorous religious education like all specialized subjects should start after F.A. / B.Sc. or at least after Matric.

Question: What in your opinion is wrong with our current education system? How do you propose to correct it?

Niaz: As nation we must realize that everybody cannot become doctor or engineer or a CSP officer. Simple BA education only produces clerks. Therefore in addition to the normal colleges & universities; we need a lot more vocation schools teaching practical skills i.e. plumbing, carpentry, tailoring, masonry & building trades, electric welding & operating machine tools and motor car mechanics etc. This would produce young men & women with some technical skill (Hunar) which will enable them to earn an honorable living.

What is also needed is change of the mind-set that job of an artisan such as an electrician or a plumber or a tailor is beneath a white collar job. Frankly, I don’t see an easy solution to this problem.

Question: How do we end ingrained extremism in our society without starting a civil war?

Niaz: You cannot eliminate extremism without changing the hearts & minds of the people. Extremism is not native to Pakistan. It was imported into KPK in the 1820’s by Syed Ahmed Braelvi. In Punjab & Sind it came with the Urdu speaking refugees of Deobandi affiliation and was propagated vigorously by the anti-Pakistan parties like Jamaat Islami and JUI faction of Sami ul Haq.

To get rid of this extremist streak requires strong political leaders; not the weak kneed Nawaz Sharif nor the Taliban Khan or Mr 10 percent Zardari. Military action alone is not enough and strong political will on the part of government is needed.

I repeat that I am not an innovative thinker and therefore can only quote try and tested example. In my view, Pakistan should adopt something on the Omani lines.

I have visited Sohar Refiney in Oman half a dozen times during my stay at Fujairah and have many Omani friends some of them quite bright and not afraid to discuss religious extremism.


Apart from the some minor residual tensions resulting from Wahhabi incursions into the coast of Oman around two centuries ago, Oman has not experienced any significant episode of sectarian conflict. Main reason being that Omani gov’t implemented policies for social integration and accommodation of different identities and religious sects rather than those for dissimulation propagated in Pakistan during the long era of the bigot Zia.

The most telling illustration of the lack of sectarianism in Oman came during the 2011 Arab Spring protests that occurred in different parts of the Sultanate from late January until late May 2011. In both the north in Sohar and in the south in Salalah, Omani protesters made no mention whatsoever of sectarianism. Demonstrators’ demands were focused on socio-economic and corruption-related issues. Also Omani government did not play the sectarian or regional card as a way to defuse the impetus of the protests.

Omani government does not keep official statistics on religious affiliation, however it is estimated that 75% of Omani nationals belong to the Ibadi / Kharji sect of Islam. The remaining 25% are either Sunni or Shia Muslims. There is also small community of ethnically Indian Hindus & Christians that have been naturalized.

The basic Law of Oman declares that Islam is the State religion and that Shari’a is the source of legislation. Law also prohibits discrimination based on religion and provides for the freedom to practice religious rites as long as doing so does not disrupt public order.

There is a prohibition on religious gatherings in locations other than government-approved houses of worship. All religious organizations must be registered and licensed by the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs (MERA). Religious leaders of all faiths and Muslim Imams must be licensed by the MERA. However unlicensed lay members are not prohibited from leading prayers in mosques.

Foreigners on tourist visas are prohibited from preaching, teaching, or leading worship. Article 209 of the Penal Code assigns a prison sentence and fine to anyone who publicly blasphemes Allah or His prophets, commits an affront to religions and faiths by spoken or written word, or breaches the peace of a lawful religious gathering.


I know that the above is easier said than done. However I for one can’t think of any effective cure for extremism. Even Civil war will not resolve it. There would be peace no doubt but it would be a harsh & suppressive peace like the silence in a grave yard as we saw in Afghanistan under Mulla Omer. How many Pakistanis will like to live under such a regime?

Question: Pakistan has vast mineral resources, a fertile land, and water resources, why can't we utilize these resources?

Niaz: Pakistan does not have vast mineral resources and whatever resources we have are bound up in rivalry hence we are unable to exploit this wealth. Take Reko dek as an example, the company who was ready to do the needful was kicked out 5 years ago. No progress since then. Lubricant of industrial progress is Energy and Pakistan is severely short in this department but still we don’t agree to build Kalabagh Dam.

Pakistan is short of water and the arable land is limited whereas the population growth goes on unchecked. There were 35-million West Pakistanis in 1951, now we are close to 200-million. At this rate and we would not have sufficient land to grow enough grain to feed all.

But the commodity that is most severely lacking is the ‘Human resource’ which is the most important element in economic progress. This is not because there are no bright Pakistani minds but because merit is discouraged and most of the competent Pakistanis are forced to immigrate due to the nepotism prevailing the society. Pakistan badly needs an Ataturk to pull Pakistan out of the Middle Age time warp.

Question: Do you think CPEC will benefit Pakistan and this region? How?

Niaz: Benefiting Pakistan is not the CPEC main agenda. CPEC investment is primarily to facilitate import & export of goods from the China’s Eastern half. Any benefit to Pakistan is therefore only a ‘Bye product’.

Inevitably there would be many economic benefits to Pakistan but IMHO, CPEC is not the panacea that it is made out to be. Only benefit that I can see at this point in time is improvement of the transport infrastructure and the power generation.

There are no ‘Free lunches’ in this world. Among the nations, there is always a ‘Quid pro quo’. What is the ‘Pro quo’ required of Pakistan, does anyone really know? Only time will tell how good CPEC is for Pakistan.

Question: After Jinnah who would say was the best leader Pakistan had?

Niaz: In my opinion, Ayyub Khan & Musharraf were the best and the worst was Gen Zia ul Haq.

Question: If you were to be given three wishes for your country by an all-powerful djinn, what would you wish for?

Niaz: I would want to revert to the Pakistan as it was during the 1960 – 1964 period. Second wish would be for Pakistan to be self-sufficient in Energy and third would be to have the Kalabagh Dam built.


Question: If you had your life to lead all over again, would you change it?

Niaz: I would not want to change anything. We were 8 brothers & sisters and more than two dozen first cousins. I had a happy childhood and I am thankful to Allah that he provided me with the opportunities that a middle class boy of average ability in today’s Pakistan can only dream of.
@WAJsal I and others on PDF would certainly appreciate interviews of erudite PDF bloggers like @Joe Shearer @blain2 @Xeric and @Kaptaan
I do not have words to appreciate such brutal but true writing. Thanks for taking us through the path of history in a sequential way. The impact is 4 folds. Leaves us in a deep thought as to what can we contribute now to save our dream, our Pakistan. You have beautifully stated the way ahead. Thanks
 

Zee-Gen

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I have read it 3x already and still desires to read it once more……..simply amazing and Niaz sir, I had great respect for you, but now it has increased many folds……and God bless you all involved in this process……lastly I will recommend @MastanKhan to be interviewed.
 

Shah01

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Thank you for pointing me to this thread @Wajsal. Excellent initiative by you and @Zaki.
Can I say thank you @niaz for taking the time to share this with us. If I may I would like a bit more information/view regarding the following:

In my opinion ZA Bhutto only did 3 worthwhile things for Pakistan. These being negotiating release of the POWs, holding of OIC conference and the Bhutto’s resolve that “Pakistanis would eat grass but we will make the nuclear bomb” after the Indian nuclear test of May 1974 at Pokhran.
I agree with OIC and "Pakistanis would eat grass but we will make the nuclear bomb".
But the first point was his own creation... ZAB created the problem when he walked away from the Polish resolution...

What is also needed is change of the mind-set that job of an artisan such as an electrician or a plumber or a tailor is beneath a white collar job
Sir couldn't agree more. I see lots of resistance in my own family when I try to tell cousins to go into a field other than becoming a doctor/engineer/teacher. The older generation just can't come to terms with professions like Pharmacist, Robotics, Dentistry etc let alone helping the young with jobs like plumber/tailor etc.

Niaz: In my opinion, Ayyub Khan & Musharraf were the best and the worst was Gen Zia ul Haq.
Sir ZAB and the bigot (as you put it) Zia were the main downfalls of the country. Maybe many ills would've avoided by taking these two guys out..... Furthermore who's idea was 1965 war?

and third would be to have the Kalabagh Dam built.
Sir I fail to understand why we haven't built other dams if we are unable to come to an agreement for Kalabagh... There are so many other sites for water reservoirs as well as for hydel power generation.
 

niaz

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Thank you for pointing me to this thread @Wajsal. Excellent initiative by you and @Zaki.
Can I say thank you @niaz for taking the time to share this with us. If I may I would like a bit more information/view regarding the following:


I agree with OIC and "Pakistanis would eat grass but we will make the nuclear bomb".
But the first point was his own creation... ZAB created the problem when he walked away from the Polish resolution...


Sir couldn't agree more. I see lots of resistance in my own family when I try to tell cousins to go into a field other than becoming a doctor/engineer/teacher. The older generation just can't come to terms with professions like Pharmacist, Robotics, Dentistry etc let alone helping the young with jobs like plumber/tailor etc.


Sir ZAB and the bigot (as you put it) Zia were the main downfalls of the country. Maybe many ills would've avoided by taking these two guys out..... Furthermore who's idea was 1965 war?


Sir I fail to understand why we haven't built other dams if we are unable to come to an agreement for Kalabagh... There are so many other sites for water reservoirs as well as for hydel power generation.
Thanks for all the accolade. But I had my say and let us leave it that. Without being modest, I can say with certainty that there are many extremely competent and knowledgeable members of this forum and I wait to hear their opinion..
 
May 7, 2012
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Thanks for all the accolade. But I had my say and let us leave it that. Without being modest, I can say with certainty that there are many extremely competent and knowledgeable members of this forum and I wait to hear their opinion..
I read your interview and I not only thoroughly enjoyed reading it but found it very insightful. It probably is one of the top posts I have read at PDF. I am surprised that I have (my loss) not had any engagement with yourself or at least to my recollection.

Most of the points you mention drawn from your long experiance tallied with what I have read and heard from from my dad who is only few years older than you. He also looks back at Ayub era as the golden period in Pakistan. Similar to you it was during his rule that he availed of certain grants toward higher education that led him to UK and ending up permanently settling there - My life is a product of that decision.

There are a few points that I would offer as part of critical analysis of your post when I get the time. It would be great to see more contribution from yourself around PDF. Once again thank you for a marvellous read.

And thanks also to the two gents @WAJsal @Zaki for making this possible
 

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