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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Meltdown Of Logic

It is rather disheartening to see the lack of objective analysis when it comes to the general population of Pakistan. Mostly people tend to think along the lines of religion or language and tend to hold their strong position irrespective of what facts are presented to them. Any person engaging in a meaningful dialogue is shunned by the usual and often debated conspiracy rhetoric.

Let’s take the event of 09/11 for an example. On the eve of 09/11, when I spoke with my Mother in Karachi, she was convinced by the Pakistani media that there was not a single Jew, who was murdered. All the Jews were informed a day in advance, not to show up to work, that ill fated Tuesday. When I informed her about the facts, it was hard for her to accept. I had a few discussions with my relatives, who were adamant about that. They were utterly convinced that it was an “inside job”, and the whole incident was a pathetic attempt by “Evil America” to malign the Muslims and to “conquer their lands.”

I have expressed my views regarding Bush era’s follies of ill planned and prepared invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Those were two very costly strategic mistakes. On the other hand, if measured, timely and effective strikes were done to dismantle the over zealous terror network, things perhaps would have been different.

The argument of 09/11 being an “inside job”, defies any logical intelligence. The Bush Administration in their cocky attitude needed no precursor to launch their ill conceived invasions. Yes the event of 09/11, provided the Bush Administration to sell a fairly weak argument to the nation to invade Iraq. The poor results of that poor plan based on a poor argument are in front of the entire world.

But our Muslim media had a field day, painting the picture of the hijackers as zionist agents. When Barbara Walters of either ABC or CBS did a special report and traveled to Saudi Arabia and Egypt to meet the families of those hijackers, which of course were not “paid actors”, no credible rebuttal came from the Muslim world. Lately, Ahmedinijad of Iran, eluded to the same thing at UN General Assembly that the entire event was concocted. No one ever asked Ahmedinijad, would he allow an American to present a dissenting opinion to the people of Iran on the National TV of Iran.

There were 3 Americans held by Iran recently and charge of spying was leveled against them. A female out of the 3 was released on humanitarian grounds, after the $500,000 bail. Iran’s hypocritical stance is quite evident to the rest of the world. How the Iranian regime kills dissent in Iran by violence is common knowledge. Yet the general Muslim world is fine with that, because after all Iranians are “Muslims.”

We have another example of the infamous Dr Aafia Siddiqui. Her conviction has sparked a lot of protest in Pakistan. The religious zealots who are out burning flags and effigees and causing destruction to vent their anger never ask the following questions:

A) According to her sister (please see story www.thenews.com.pk dated Sept 24, 2010), Dr. Siddiuqui was sold to Americans by then President Musharraf. Why there was no case filed by the family, the civil society and the politicians against the President? Why was no suo moto notice not taken against her absence by the apex court?

B) Why did the defendant take the stand in a supposedly “hostile court” in her personal defense and no proper legal representation was sought?

C) The Interior Minister Malik kept on harping after her conviction that, she will be brought back to Pakistan at any cost. What prevented him to do what he said? The religious fanatics should have garnered a movement to hire a legal team to challenge the so called “circumstantial evidence” in the court of law, prior to the sentencing phase. Next the defendant’s rhetoric about the verdict coming directly from Israel was not a logical statement to begin with. What benefit did state of Israel get from her conviction?

D) The media in Pakistan paints a picture of “heavy handedness” and atrocity by the US Justice system. Yet in all these years, why the TV channels have not gained access to her to broadcast her side of the story. All the unknowns about the case should be brought to the fore to prove her “innocence.”

The concept of illogical notion that US and Israel are out to destabilize Pakistan is quite farcical. If US had the agenda to get rid of Pakistan, it should have not opened the war theaters around Pakistan. It would have taken the fierce measures from the skies to cause destruction. For those who cry on drones, yes I am not in support of their blind usage. But measured drone usage has proven to be very effective.

Similarly, if US had the intention of destroying Pakistan, the US would have turned a blind eye towards aid after the devastating earthquake and floods. After all the nature took its course in favor of the US evil agenda, yet US has always been a great ally of Pakistan in tough situations. When the aid is needed we have no qualms, but when it comes to implicating US in any domestic issue, we never waist any time.

As a Pakistani American, I do not agree with a lot of policies of the US around the globe and voice my dissent, but by the same token cannot subscribe to the widely held argument that US wants to eliminate Pakistan. When it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the Pakistani media in specific and the Muslim media in general paints an illogical picture of religion being the main issue. It is more of a territorial dispute as there are Palestinians who are Christians as well. Amazingly in all these years, the Muslim nations have failed to gather on any unified plan to resolve the long standing dispute. It is mostly for lip service and political mileage, whenever Palestinian issue is revisited. On the other hand, as biased as US is towards Israel, it is the US diplomacy that always brings the two nations of Israel and Palestinians towards some negotiations and resolutions.

It is high time that Muslim world in general and Pakistan in specific develop objective and logical thinking. We should step out of the mentality of victomhood. We should put our interest and national perception to the fore front and become informed citizens of this world and the universe. The world needs to see the bright and positive side of our characters, intellect and the faith

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In Quest Of The Leader

Hats off to the Nation for completing 63 years of patience and perseverance. You have heard countless promises and utopian speeches about this great nation from various political and non political mouth pieces and sucked it all in like sponges. It is commendable that you have been stripped from your right of determination of your destiny for decades by usurpers, who derailed and fooled you by the phony “doctrine of necessity” excuse. You put up with the so called “guardians of the gates of heaven”, who are only worried about “your salvation.” So much so that these noble and righteous often tend to disregard their own final chapter. You give heed to people continents away, call them your “Brothers” and let them dictate the terms of your daily issues and problems.

You are “independent”, yet you are so dependent on so many around the globe. If independence means getting rid of the “gora sahib” and taking it from “the brown sahib”, then you have been doing a phenomenal job. Ironically, the brown sahib takes the curbing and often violating of your personal freedoms for granted. Unfortunately there is no dearth of such brown sahibs, who tend to creep up any and everywhere you look in the gifted land. They tend to think that independence really meant getting rid of the white skin, and now they can easily replace the firangi by creating their own little kingdom.

Aah, I wish if some one can teach these elites what freedom really means. It simply stands for personal rights of the citizenry, which in turn translate into collective rights and responsibilities of the entire nation. We switch channels on the tube and we find endless number of channels analyzing and over analyzing the issues that plague this magnificent nation. There are soul stirring patriotic songs which remind us of the sacrifices of millions for this precious mother land. Yet, no one really ponders on what the founding fathers really had envisioned for the Muslims of the Sub Continent. The founding fathers never crafted a thoecratic state. They wanted the Muslims to have the personal freedoms to excel in every walk of life, without being out numbered by the other majority. The Sohni dharti was created to take the Muslims back to their glorious days, where Muslims could become the Astronomers, Mathematicians, Scientists and the great leaders in every walk of life as Allama Sahib has expressed with great finesse in his poetry.

However, the reality turned out to be, quite the contrary. The Muslims who were supposed to be reaching to the stars in quest of uncovering this universe got tangled into this new slavery of sorts, where their personal rights were violated, day in and day out. Freedom and independence begins at a personal level. Then it progresses to the family, and then extended family and so on. The rights of a citizen of a free country are immense and the responsibilities are equally burdensome. However collectively both form such a powerful structure, which can withstand any upheavals.

Every individual has the potential of becoming a valuable citizen and there is no animosity towards the other based on socio economic conditions, geographical existence or linguistic ties. Each citizen has equal rights and there are no distinctions, what so ever. All citizens with all their differences, exist in harmony knowing that their freedoms are protected. The citizens can be their best in this frame work and the opportunities emerge to excel and prosper.

The prevailing despair, takes it roots in the gross violations which were committed subsequent to the independence and were repeated for last 63 years in various shape and forms, against the common man. It is high time for the common man to gain his independence, so he can see the entire glass being full. The common man should realize his potential and the first step, would be to step out of the abyss of ignorance. A nation with real education can understand and decipher its significance and present leaders who are objective.

Governance is a glorified form of Management. If the country is run with that mind set by its “informed” leadership, it will never be labeled as a failed state. Collectively, we have to reach to real goal of our founding fathers. We tend to criticize the “goras” for dividing us, yet we have divided and infinitely sub divided ourselves into so many factions that it is beyond any comprehension. Remember the real quest behind the independence was violation of the basic rights. The Quaid was never a bearded, turbaned, self proclaimed Messiah of the Muslim Ummah of the sub continent. He was a polished Indian Muslim , who was able to walk and talk like a Gora, who had high ideals for his fellow brethren.

The nation lacks that kind of a leader who wants to liberate the individual first, from the darkness of illiteracy, poverty and sub standard living conditions. Where is that leader, everybody is looking for. Look no further, that great leader is within you and me. We have to take charge of ourselves, educate and liberate ourselves from the darkness of ignorance. Be objective, be inclusive, be part of this world as the world is shrinking day by day. Are you ready to take the lead? What do you have to offer? The only thing in real demand is a positive mind and the ability to offer ever lasting solutions of peace and prosperity to this world. Can you deliver?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ready For Hollywood

Writer's Note and Disclaimer: The following piece can be injurious to your mental health and perhaps wealth (if you end up seeking medical attention). If your brain cells are not adequately designed to process political satire and humor, then the writer's warning is to stop reading. Jog, walk, run or go on the treadmill. Return when you have those cells in motion to bear the highly "inflammatory" material.

If you have the pre requisite cells to process the information, and do laugh occasionally and smile frequently, or vice versa, you may find the information some what useful. In the event that you do laugh after reading this and increase some blood in your body, don't forget to donate the extra blood to the Red Cross.

Ready For Hollywood

I read a news item in
thenews.com.pk dated September 19, 2010, where the beautiful Angelina Holy (by the way, this is how her name Jolie is read in Espanol) giving compliments to our own PM, Joseph Juliani (by the way this is how Yousuf Gilani is read in English) on his great looks and called him perfect Hollywood material. I am sure that PM Sahib was totally floored by the generous offer of the greatest seductress on the entire planet, but humbly declined the offer to see himself on the 70 mm screen in the multiplexes of Amreeka.

Our PM Sahib prefers to act in the
Assembly and tries very hard to demonstrate that he is the PM (read Part Time Minister). See every thing in our country is lop sided. We have a Parliamentary form of government, where the El Presidente is supposed to be just a figure head. El Presidente is supposed to be cutting ribbons, smiling for photo ops and making the speechless speeches. But in our nation, despite all the amendments we have the Almighty Presidente and a Part Time Minister. The Pharoahs are cringing in their mummies and want to offer their unconditional allegiance to the Pharoah of the Pharoah of all times.

Speaking of El Presidente, now if he is given a chance to demonstrate his charms in Hollywood, on and off screen he would not only send the Deniros, Stallones and Hoffmans of Hollywood to oblivion, but may very well include the Paramount and Fox in his portfolio of many ancillary businesses. The unparalleled entrepreneurial spirit that our Presidente demonstrates is actually going to become a case study for Harvard Business School.

What a "He Man", we have. He can turn any Palin red by giving her a look and a line. Now I am not sure, if Palin turned red in rage or that is just a staple for her party. You know R for red and R for Republican. But in any event, our most eligible Bachelor (read widower) of a President has the screen appeal, which is unmatched. He knows his dialogues very well and any time when he runs out of the lines, he always knows that "democracy is the sweetest revenge."

In the league of such high flying performers, we have some others as well. There is one in London, now he may be a misfit in Hollywood, but he can give some badly needed life to Lollywood. Only if he is allowed to make a triumphant return to now barren, Baari and Evernew Studios. He can give a new dimension to the Punjabi flicks, where tone, pitch, volume and passion is solid Punjabi, but the dialogues are in chaste "Laalu Khaiti Urdu." I am sure that many heroines would kill each other to be paired with the angry middle aged man. The only problem is that all the stables in Pakistan do not have a mustang ready to bear the weight of the Supremo.

Speaking of weight, the two brothers of impeccable reputation of weight (figuratively speaking) from Punjab have been throwing their weight behind the idea of "democracy." The elder one is waiting in wings to become the Ameer again of the Sultunate of Pakistan. As soon as he becomes the Ameer, he will make sure that all military generals will be retired. The ones who refuse to retire will never be sent to Sri Lanka. If they insist to go to Sri Lanka, they will never be allowed to board a commercial plane. The Army Generals will have to take a speed boat from Karachi to Lanka at their own risk.

Now if good looks were everything, we have a Khan, who can give all Khans of Bollywood combined, run for their money. But our Khan, got side tracked and got into the some other useless political game. I mean he still gives sleepless nights to many females around the globe, imagine him replacing Stallone in Rambo Part 22. He will definitely make the cash registers ring at multiplexes around the globe. Can some one please tell him that he got into the wrong line of work. At this rate, he can always win at least one seat in National Assembly till his last breath. With one seat, you know the only change you can bring is, in the color of your shlawar kameez.

So folks, if you think that we have dearth of talent, think again. All our leaders are solid screen material. They are crowd pullers and have the ability to connect with masses. Their appeal is second to none. As the saying goes, "the show must go on", they are able to put on a good one, till some villainous General decides to drop the curtain on them, and that too rather abruptly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

D Asghar's Political Prism: Follow Up To "Another Martial Law In Making"

D Asghar's Political Prism: Follow Up To "Another Martial Law In Making": "A few days ago, I wrote an Ilog on the rumors about 'Another Martial Law In Making.' The follow up piece was provided by today's www.thenews..."

Follow Up To "Another Martial Law In Making"

A few days ago, I wrote an Ilog on the rumors about "Another Martial Law In Making." The follow up piece was provided by today's www.thenews.com.pk, dated Sept. 14, 2010. Please further note that Jang Group has been on the forefront of this whole speculation through their various media.

Today's news piece not only brings in a sort of endorsement from the UK government, but again Altaf Bhai endless issuance of "revolutionary statements about a revolution" from London as well, seem to be inter related.

So folks another short circuit as widely speculated, after Eid may be in the offing. Perhaps on or before the anniversary of the last one just like this. What a shame.

Nazar aatey hain aasaar phir sey hum ko woh zara sey
Humkraan chahey dey leyn jitney bhi sub ko dilaasey
Hai sub khail to yeh haath main buss sirf unn key
Askari hain jo kehlaatey per dikhlaatey hain tamashey


Tweet UK fears coup in Pakistan, evacuation plan ready  LONDON: Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) on Monday admitted that it does have “a contingency plans for British staff and the UK nationals in Pakistan in case of an emergency or a military coup”.The FCO reacted after a tabloid in Britain claimed that amid fears of a military coup in Pakistan, Britain has put its elite Special Air Service (SAS) on a stand-by mode for an emergency evacuation of Britons from the country.Speaking to The News, an FCO spokesperson said: “All of our overseas Posts have contingency plans in place for staff and UK nationals. We do not comment on the nature of these contingency plans.”The spokesperson refused to answer further questions about the fears Britain has and its assessment of the Pakistan’s political instability. The Ministry of Defence also refused to answer questions and referred all queries to the FCO but the brisk reply confirms that the original report published in a paper, considered close to Britain’s armed forces, was not baseless and may have been published on the basis of a briefing from a senior military official.The displacement of more than 10 per cent of Pakistan’s population after the worst floods in modern Pakistan’s history has prompted multiple concerns over the stability of the country, including the fear that the nuclear-armed country could be taken over again by the powerful military. The military has been seen on the frontline of delivering aid and rehabilitation to the flood-affected population while the civilian government has been exposed as inefficient, rudderless and corrupt.Recently, some democratic politicians have openly called on the military to intervene and steer the people’s revolution in Pakistan by ousting the current democratically elected set-up. The Sunday Express newspaper reported that special forces regiment of the British Army in Afghanistan are drawing up plans to remove staff from the Islamabad embassy within four hours, if required. Britons working in the country have been put on a register and will be told to gather at an assembly point at a time of crisis. The plan, said the report, is a sign of Pakistan’s political fragility.The civilian government is having to field off questions of an imminent military coup. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani recently told journalists that Pakistan’s elected government would complete its tenure as there is no threat to democracy and the Army has no intention of coming to power. “The Army neither intends to come to power nor will it come to power. The judiciary is independent and pro-democratic,” he said.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

09/11 Anniversary And The Role Of Muslims In America

9 years ago, on September 11, 2001 the world changed for ever. Initially the disbelief and the sheer devastation caused by this horrific incident shook everyone in America to the core. Of course there were certain reactionary incidents targeting American Muslims and other minorities. These bigoted incidents targeting Muslims and other minorities were shameful and abhorrent. All of these incidents were totally against the core values of this great country.

American Muslims were in a quandary of identity, religious, national and regional affiliations. Initially, the denial of the whole episode by other Muslim nations planted the seeds of a skeptical view point in many minds. When the facts became apparently clear and the mystery started to unfold, American Muslims like their other fellow Americans felt betrayed by their co religionists. To add insult to the injury, the condemnations from the Muslim nations were slow and tepid. This lax attitude from Muslims around the globe gave the impression that over all Muslims in general, were indifferent and some how "America deserved it." The Islamic faith strongly condemns the act of suicide and of course the killing of innocent people.

This incident brought Islam to the forefront in America and certain groups and organizations demonstrated their evil agendas of smearing the entire faith, day in and day out. Those short sighted and ill informed organizations, along with certain media outlets have made Islam synonymous with terrorism. Needless to say, the "terrorist organizations" have done the biggest harm to Islam, by using the name of the religion to carry out their sinister acts. Of course American Muslims are extremely disgusted and enraged like many other sane Muslims around the world.

Subsequent to the this horrific incident, President Bush's "Global War on Terror" has given a totally different dimension to the terrorist outfits. Arguably, both Afghanistan and Iraq wars were not th roughly planned and their outcomes, to say the least, on an overall basis have been dismal. The terrorist organizations, if any thing have multiplied and are definitely beyond the boundaries of those two countries. This war on terror has been turned very tact fully by the terror outfits into "US vs. Islam."
If President Bush would have used some sound strategy and would have made surgical and measured strikes in the area of strongholds at the right time, things would have been perhaps different. The effort should have been combined with diplomacy and universal condemnation and support. More so the case of the actions, should have been sold to the Muslim nations. The wholesale invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq have exacerbated the situation and drained the precious human and economic resources.

The Muslim community by and large has been in the US for ages. The Muslims Americans are mostly law abiding and hard working people, who are part and parcel of the fabric of this great nation. They excel in all walks of life as Muslim family values stress on quality education and emphasize the significance of community service and greater responsibility towards the nation.
The Muslim image in America as a whole, did suffer from this horrible event. The emergence of some sleeper cells and the botched attempt of Faisal Shahzad earlier this year, raised the suspicions of their fellow citizens. Overall, if any one puts things in any reasonable perspective, all these characters are statistically insignificant, if you compare them to the millions of Muslims living in the US.

The way forward for Muslim Americans is to at least demonstrate to their fellow citizens that Muslim Americans are not "aliens" or "nomads" from some harsh desert of Middle East, but Americans, who love and adore America, its freedoms and values.
There is no denying that Anti Muslim organizations will be constantly busy in scheming things here and there. Muslim Americans have to use patience, as our faith teaches us, as our biggest line of defense. We are not reactionary and have the ability to initiate a dialogue, and present our beliefs in a rational manner.

The first step is of course reading the Holy Quran and be able to understand and explain to other Non Muslims about our point of view clearly and cohesively. The teachings of Holy Quran, condemn the senseless violence being perpetrated in the name of Holy War. American Muslims should affiliate with their Islamic Centers and Masajids, more than ever to learn and to enhance themselves. It is extremely important that Masajids organize an "Open House" for the members of the community, the local schools and colleges and the Press. It gives the Non Muslims the opportunity to see, what rituals Muslims follow and why. It is the person to person contact, which is very instrumental in building bridges.

Despite all the negative publicity about Islam, most Americans want to learn or at least know what Islam is about. Blogs, news paper columns, main stream media needs Islamic education to de mystify the unknowns. Similarly, Muslims Americans have an obligation to improve the perception of the often wrongly perceived "Evil America" in their homelands. Any conflict, no matter how enormous or tiny, eventually gets resolved by meaningful exchange of dialogue. We have a moral obligation to act now on behalf of our children, who will be the American Muslims of tomorrow.

Our children have to excel in every aspect of life to demonstrate to their fellow Americans that we are here to add value to the nation and will emerge as an extraordinary segment of this society. Above all, our children have to participate in politics on a local and national level so Muslims can make strides in the legislative and perhaps the executive branch of this country one day.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Zardari Pinata

Lately in many discussions, about various events which have unfolded in Pakistan, it appears that Pakistanis in or outside Pakistan, find only one person responsible, its President Asif Ali Zardari. To clarify, I reside in the US, have no affiliation with him or PPP. As a teenager, when I was in Pakistan, I admired ZAB, but according to my analysis, the ideals of PPP died along with ZAB on the ill fated day of, April 04, 1979. Even late BB, failed to impress me as she made some huge blunders, and used ZAB’s name to advance her political career. There is no denying of this fact, that till this day PPP, uses ZAB and now BB as well to tap into the vote banks. It is the sheer charisma of ZAB, which still resonates with the masses.

Getting back to our infamous President, the blogospheres are on fire chastising him for almost any and everything. Whether it is the bomb blasts, floods, mob lynching or cricket betting scandal, he seems to be the target of everyone’s scorn. Undoubtedly, AAZ has a questionable past and his actions subsequent to taking the oath are definitely worthy of criticism, but definitely not worthy of any military intervention.

We get to hear pleas emanating from London, to change the feudal culture and political landscape of Pakistan. This to me and many others, is quite troubling. Amazingly, the proponents of this sweeping change have always formed the convenient alliances with the feudals in the past. The print and electronic media is creating its own hysteria and it appears that talk show hosts on many popular channels have pretty much made it their source of livelihood to demean and berate AAZ.

The conditions and events in Pakistan become, a topic of heated discussions in the living rooms here in the US. Sadly, the overwhelming majority of educated, liberal and law abiding Pakistanis tilt towards a “quick fix” and want either the military to intervene or they want a “sweeping revolution.” Very few want the process of democracy to evolve and mature. The convenient reasons given to justify their rather illogical stance is, “Pakistan is not ready for democracy”, “Democracy has always failed”, “Politicians are corrupt”, “You think military was bad, see what worst is, GOD has brought HIS wrath in the form of AAZ.”

AAZ has made his share of follies, after replacing Musharraf. Arguably, he may be one of the most corrupt Executive of the country, but to replace him, Pakistanis need to exercise the legal and democratic means available to them. Having witnessed Clinton’s impeachment process, I can state that, it was an impressive demonstration of how mature institutions function. Similarly, as painful as 8 years of Bush Presidency were, the US citizens demonstrated their disdain on election day, and brought a rather inexperienced Obama to power.

The repeated argument presented by the military loyalists is the extent of corruption. In my opinion, the rampant corruption stems from two basic elements, an empty stomach with very limited source of income or too much on hand and the limitless greed. The history of corruption in Pakistan, predates many Zardaris. The set up of government institutions back in the 50′s with inherited British style of bureaucracy provided the foundations. In all these years, regardless of military or civilian governments, the government still functions on the same paradigm. To expect any miracles from the cancerous system, just because the in charge is a General, is quite a utopian hope in futility.

As it is quite obvious that, the elements behind the upheaval are the ones, who do not want the process of democracy to strengthen. Pakistanis want a messiah to come in and rid them from the myriad of the problems they face. Whether it is soaring inflation, unemployment, law and order, terrorism, corruption and poor governance. The argument presented by the critics of a civilian government is that politicians are there to fill their coffers and tend to play “musical chairs” with one another, but do not want to solve the problems of the masses.
The military has been a tested institution and brings “law and order” under control. This is quite lame of an argument, as Musharraf regime had a serious law and order issue. Then feudalism is considered a major impediment in the formation of the “will of people” by the military loyalists. The military and feudals have a lot in common. Both are authoritarian and many military people hail from feudal backgrounds. Many politicians welcoming the military are feudals. So rather than introducing a bill on the floor to end feudalism, we want the military to take reins and run a “national government” comprising of ”like minded” politicians, some if not many representing the feudal background.

No matter which way you cut or slice, no matter how many justifications of democracy and democratic process are presented, the people are unwilling to buy. It is ”Zardari bashing” which has become the favorite past time for Pakistanis in and out side of Pakistan. Beating the Zardari Pinata provides a psychological relief to many. What we fail to realize is, all means are available to us within the framework of a democratic process. Whether it is a no confidence motion for the PM, mid term elections or a potential impeachment of a President. It is high time that we start developing and fostering the democratic norms and stop relying on the short cuts, which have brought us to such a disastrous state.