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The Clarkson Lumber Company Case Analysis

June 30, 2011 Leave a comment

(Note: In retrospect we think that perhaps Clarkson should reduce its expenses and debt first before leveraging itself further. Exhibits not included here)

Written April 19, 2010

Finance 434

Overview

Clarkson Lumber Company is a classic example of a privately held company that has experienced a rapid growth in sales and has reached a point where it is facing a shortage of cash to sustain the expected growth in sales in the following years. The owner, Keith Clarkson, bought out his partner’s interest in the company in 1994 for $200,000. His partner, Henry Holtz, took a note for the $200,000 with an interest rate of 11% and was repayable in the semi-annual installments of $50,000 beginning June 30, 1995. The note was taken to give Mr. Clarkson time to arrange for the necessary financing. Mr. Clarkson seems to be running the company well, evident by the constant growth in sales year after year. However, the company is running low on cash on hand, and needs some form of financing to reach the expected sales of 5.5 Million in 1996.Moreover, the borrowing limit set by the Suburban Bank has been reached, prompting the bank to ask Mr. Clarkson to guarantee the loan personally. Mr. Clarkson has been in communication with another bank, Northrup Bank, which might be willing to extend a line of credit of up to $750,000.

Analysis

There are several reasons for Mr. Clarkson’s need to rely on borrowing despite good profits. Although the profits are good, they are not good enough in our view. The Net Profit Margin has been close to 2% since 1993 (Exhibit D).The cost of goods relative to the sales is high and is keeping the profit margin low. In other words, the costs have increased at a faster rate than sales. The Cost of Goods Sold is consistently around 75% of sales. Secondly, the Return on Assets is roughly 5% in 1995 (Exhibit D). This ratio is kept low due to a high total assets figure. Total assets are also inflated due to the liabilities taken in the form of trade credits by Mr. Clarkson The company is keeping a high volume of inventory in stock as shown by its Inventory Turnover ratio average of 6%. The Average Collection Period has jumped from 38 days to 48 days since 1993 (Exhibit B). Thus, the limited amount of cash inflow is largely tied in inventory, and payments on loans. Mr. Clarkson has been unable to take full advantage of the trade discounts (2% if paid with in 10 days) during the last two years ‘due to a shortage of funds arising from his purchase of Mr. Holtz’s (his partner) interest in the business and the additional investments in working capital associated with the company’s increasing sales volume’ (Case, Pg 2). And even though Mr. Clarkson has been able to use the credit from Suburban Bank of up to $400,000 to finance the increase in sales, the ceiling has also forced the company to use cash to fund itself and pay off loans. The current and quick ratios both support this fact (see Exhibit D). Based on the pro forma sheets there is an additional $251,000 needed to attain the goal of $5.5 million in sales. Also, since part of the agreement is to break off from Suburban National Bank, the line of credit has to cover the 399,000 covered by the loan. With about $650,000 line of credit used, the remaining $100,000 of the new loan could be used to pay off Mr. Holtz and enable Mr. Clarkson to take advantage of the trade discounts by paying his suppliers back in 10 days; thus achieving the sales target with lower cost.

Recommendations

We recommend Mr. Clarkson to seriously consider taking the new line of credit. The line of credit will enable the company to take advantage of the trade discounts and pay off previous debt. Lowering the costs should be a high priority and it might be worth while to consider holding less inventory (if it does not affect the service and quality clients expect). Mr. Clarkson should identify and prioritize the high profit margin products/services the company offers and focus on those. The company would also do well to try to reduce the Average Collection Period to with in 30 days. As far as Northrup Bank is concerned, we recommend that the bank extend the line of credit but makes sure that the company does not reach the ceiling again. A high proportion of the credit line would be used in the beginning but that is due to the line of credit covering the previous loan, Mr. Holtz interest and some immediate financing for inventory purchases. In the foreseeable future though, once the company sheds the loans it carried and get more streamlined, it will start increasing its cash gradually. Mr. Clarkson’s business references are excellent and the company has always paid its bills on time. Therefore, the company is not a risk and the line of credit should be approved.

The Clarkson case can be purchased at Harvard Business School’s Website http://hbr.org/product/clarkson-lumber-co/an/297028-PDF-ENG?Ntt=clarkson

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Categories: Finance & Economics

Siasat Ka Masala

June 25, 2011 Leave a comment

The ‘Siasat’ has begun. The die is cast. PML (N) and PPP are at each other’s throats again. The coming weeks and months promise to be lots of fun for spectators like me. With sufficient supply of assorted dried fruits and very aged drinks, I intend not to miss a moment. The preview of the up-coming show, starring none others than the leading gentlemen Messrs Sharif (NS) and Zardari (AZ), featured Oscar-worthy performances. Displaying the civility that is the famed hallmark of Pakistani politics, noble titles were bestowed upon each other.

I had feared that my pleasure cruise might be derailed by some downer ‘issue-based’ campaign. It is a testament to the political genius of NS and AZ who realized, in time, my vociferous need for ‘siasat-desi style’. Likewise, my fellow countrymen do not wish to be bored by debates about inflation, unemployment, terrorism etc. We expect and must get curry with full masala. No masala-less light sea-food for us.

I am also happy to recall that the bar for ‘siasat’ with masala has been set quite high by our poetic friends from MQM. It is an opportune time to drop ‘aap’ and commence with ‘tum’, or better yet, ‘tu’. NS in particular has to step up his game. He must rid himself of the pretentious ‘shaguftana’ Urdu and get real. This is a tough man’s sport and ‘Zardari Sahab (sahab-really??)main ye tawaqu nahi karta tha’ is just not going to cut it. He needs to be shown, repeatedly, the clips of the infamous ‘ganja’ episode by Mr. Wasim Akhtar. It is disappointing on NS’s part that while the normally sublime Urdu is used to its fullest by Mr. Akhtar and Co, Punjabi, NS’s provincial tongue, is increasingly being devoid of its very colorful use. Let the (attack) dogs out man!

The role played by our new media is exhilarating. The hosts of our current-affairs programs fail to disappoint. They know the exact amounts and correct combos of masalas a good curry requires. In this, they are helped by the leaders and semi-leaders of smaller parties. These parties have the added incentive to benefit from a process of ‘offers and bids’ called trading.

Another joyful aspect of this current campaign is the involvement of non-political entities (Army, America and Allah). We should expect a couple of NS scandals/cases dug up and produced/directed by the almighty ISI, which should add to our entertainment options. The Army should also be expected to entertain us with other mystery happenings. God bless Pak fauj!

As the all important factor in three A’s, America will be keen to ensure that the Pakistani people be kept fully entertained while the boring stuff takes place behind the scenes. For the better, I say. Better for the boring stuff of the economy, terrorism and governance be kept off prime time. No one wants to know beforehand about belt-tightening or call mujahid a terrorist. Like a good eastern daughter; we prefer our decisions be made FOR us. I certainly hope to see Ms. Clinton in Pakistan with her ‘the-world-is-ending’ (pushto-tanday racholay de) look that scares the hell out of the most macho of our civil and military leaders. And what fun would it be to lay the red carpet for the VIPs and to talk shit about them when they are gone.

As for the Taliban and other assorted hot blooded individuals, this will be a time when their stocks of munitions and suicide bombers could be put to good use. After all, with the party approaching climax in Afghanistan (10 years is about the max time for wars in Afghanistan), why not celebrate with some fireworks?

So my friends, sit back and relax. Let’s judge our leaders rightly by counting the number of ‘molvi’ or ‘ganja’ punches they can land. We are not here to watch a serious, independent film; we want some X-Men/Iron-man/Spiderman/Transformers action flick. Our votes are for those who bloody not for the bloodied. We ought to be thrilled that this show will reach its climax with General Elections, when I certainly hope to see a few cellular cameras capture the ultimate art of poll rigging.

Ultimate mazaa!!!

Categories: Pak Politics

Of the people, By the People, For the people??

May 19, 2011 1 comment

Although I am a great proponent of good relations with relevant countries, it is weired that an elected government of a country almost always play the role of a defender of all things unpopular. Naturally, responsible governments have to take unpopular stands on occasions but all the time???
Issues that affect people directly, such as taxes etc, attract real street protests. Foreign policy issues, such as relationship with India or U.S, either has not attracted popular protests or have been largely ignored. Why???
The deception in our politics run so deep that the public distrusts even a genuinely pro-people stand. How can we expect those consistently disowned trust something that they don’t think they have a stake in?

Categories: Pak Politics

New Pages

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I have added new pages.
The videos page is not organized properly yet but will be shortly. I plan to categorize videos section into politics and war, music videos, etc
The other pages include key economic data of Pakistan, India and Brazil. I included Brazil because it is somewhat comparable in population, resources (excluding the recent discovery of oil offshore) to Pakistan. But it is important to look at India’s economic stats as well.
If too many numbers overwhelm or some don’t make sense, plz refer to your Econ 101 book.
Keep in mind that some numbers such as Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) GDP or Budget ( Revenues and Expenses) are important indicators of the real wealth and health of the people and economy respectively. You should look at other figures as well to get a complete picture.
The source for the data is the CIA World Factbook. You can visit the website at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/
It is a rich source of information and a very credible one. If you are allergic to the word ‘CIA’, you can check sources such as the IMF, World Bank or Central Banks of relevant countries. The information in the CIA factbook is largely consistent with most other credible sources.

Enjoy!

Categories: Blog Update

Let Freedom Reign…

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Ali Khan

May 13, 2011

Governments that are afraid of their own people are not sustainable. It can be argued that the opposite is indeed true but I believe there should be a distinction drawn between fear and respect. Those who fear their people live in perpetual exiles (both inside and outside of their countries). They live in another world inside their countries and insignificant lives outside. The sting of conscience does not allow them to completely escape their past, just as it does not the perpetrators of other selfish crimes. And yes, their acts are ultimately selfish, no matter how draped their actions are in the shrouds of patriotism and national interest. For it is apparent and the verdict is given; 2 plus 2 almost always equals 4.

Easy as it is to exhaust all the frustration and anger on the common Joes of Pakistan for being almost criminally negligent in electing the same rulers again and again (and to tolerate unconstitutional takeovers by the military), it is with the leadership of the country the burden of progress must lie. Who are Mr. and Mrs. Joe supposed to vote for when the same crooks are on the ballot, and the same crooks may get one of their relatives become a burden on national treasury as the permanent employee of one of the state’s failing institutions? What are the economic alternatives?

On May 2, the same league was in power. Power is the correct word to describe their current stints inPakistan. In a civilized country, a president or prime minister would have come out immediately and addressed the citizens. ButPakistan is not a civilized country yet, and to expect even the mere basics from the rulers seem naïve. For them it is just another one of those hiccups that needs to be managed to stay in power. The President of the United States, on whose doorsteps petty dictators and, sadly, some elected rulers line up like a bunch of beggars for arms and cash, addresses the American people immediately at a time of peril or triumph.

The failures of Pakistani rulers are plenty, least of all the dismal performance on the security and economic fronts. But these failures point to a deeper decay of the Pakistani society. The current incident is certainly being blown out of proportion. Sovereignty is not really the problem for the ultra-nationalists of Pakistan; that has been violated many times over by the jihadis, Generals, Politicians and Americans alike for decades. The issue is a deep felt belief that something has gone terribly wrong with Pakistan. A country that had so much potential, so much promise, is now widely considered a failing state. There are constant stings of conscience that remind them the sins of their pasts. Why didn’t we think long-term since partition? Why didn’t we get to the bottom of Liaqat Ali Khan’s murder? Why did we tolerate, and even celebrate the first military takeover in 1958? Why didn’t we chart out a long-term economic policy and stick to it? Why didn’t we end the extravagant spending on toys and perks the Generals wanted? Why did we spend a shameful amount on the education of our kids? Why did we segregate and humiliate citizens of own country (Bengalis), and force them to free themselves from the masters? Why did we embark on an uneven and unwise foreign policy in the late 50’s? Why didn’t we do more to settle the issues between us and India?   etc etc etc…

America is a nation perfected by more than 200 years of sustained democracy and a marvelous system of checks and balances. Its hubris foreign adventures are certainly not what America’s founders would approve of and are not always acts of self-defense. But it is important to note that wars inAfghanistanorIraqare not as high an economic burden as some would like to think. The real costs for a war of choice, such as theIraqwar, may not be monitary in the end, significant as they seem, but a loss of respect globally and more security challenges ahead. America overcame the Vietnam trauma (that divided the country) but a few more of these would wound it from within.

Pakistan was always a proxy for the United States to fight wars. Americans may call Pakistanis their partners but proxies or tools they ultimately are. Why should it concern the U.S if a dictator is in charge in Pakistan? That’s not their problem, it is Pakistan’s. America uses these tools to achieve its objectives and the rulers keep power through thefriendship they enjoy with the Americans. Along the way, America drops a few cents and some gadgets in the beggar’s bowl. The sad part of this symbiotic relationship is that Pakistani rulers spit in the same bowl they eat from. They encourage anti-Americanism amongst the masses and rally them against India, the eternal enemy. This suits the rulers just fine. As long as the herds are kept pumped up against a foreign hand, the failures and decay of the state and society from within is ignored. Rulers of various Arab countries mastered this art of deception long ago, replacing India (in Pakistan’s case) with Israel.

That is not to say that anti-Americanism is not championed by the public at large. The reasons are many, from a sense of falling behind to an absence of much else to treasure. A glorious, real or perceived, Islamic past is all they have to treasure. That is why they tend to be overly sensitive and defensive of anything associated with Islam. Islam has also become the drug many have come to rely on to escape the decay in society. Words like ‘Allah karay gaa’ (God will do), ‘Allah ki marzi hai (it is God’s will)’, ‘Allah Emaan walo ka imtihaan laita hai’ (God tests the faithful), ‘Allah maalik hai’ (God, being the master will take care) etc have been substituted for taking an honest, clear-headed stock of our situation today. ‘When memories exceed dreams, the end is near’ (Thomas Friedman).

Thus, Pakistanis hate and/or dislike and/or object to the United States not because the U.S is the enemy, but because they are angry at their own failures. United States does not treat its enemies with much love, as is evident by its comprehensive defeats of Japan, Germany, Soviet Union and now the spectacular operation that killed Osama bin Laden. A Pakistani journalist who interviewed Mr. Bin Laden in November 2001 claims that OBL told him that if the United States were to use nuclear weapons in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda will retaliate with a nuclear strike of its own. It is clear that Bin Laden understood the significance of killing 3000 Americans. The last time that many Americans were killed in a surprise attack, the U.S nuked the enemy, twice, after it had destroyed much of its industrial centers. In that sense, America has been forgiving.

It is sufficiently clear that Mr. Bin Laden died a sad man. He and his followers are nowhere near evicting the U.S from Arabian Lands (indeed Americans invaded Iraq and have huge bases there), and the royals they so despised were only strengthened by presenting themselves as pro-west, moderate Muslims opposed to the radical takeover. Al Qaeda’s most significant achievement is the forcing of American and European societies to close a little. A whole new generation of Americans will grow up not knowing how open and free America used to be before 9/11. The airport security lines, full body scans, extra background checks, etc is all Al Qaeda can be proud of.  They can also take pride in tens of thousands of Muslim deaths.

As for Pakistan, Americans have exposed its people and it’s military for they are: a third world nation. The military has grown so much extra fat off the regular billions it receives that it has turned into an inefficient, obese entity with little or no capability to do its real job. Its economic tentacles and interests are so deeply entrenched in the general economy that it cannot possibly to counted on to defend the nation’s frontiers from enemies, foreign and domestic. The dismal performance of our larger than life military was evident in almost all the wars it fought. It may have achieved tactical victories but have almost always lost the strategic objectives. And like an obese person who can intimidate but does not have the stomach for a fight, our military men run for a civilian cover for rescue once a misguided adventure goes south. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave the military a lifeline after the 1971 War, and Nawaz Sharif was rushed to Washington to end the Kargil War. The same military stabbed the prime ministers in the back, killing one and sending the other (who won a two-thirds majority in the parliament) into exile. The military seems busy securing a public bailout again, in the garb of national unity. History shows that once they have managed this current episode, it will revert back to its old ways (blatant coups or pulling political strings behind the scenes).

Although our patience with the politicians always runs thin, Democracy must be given a chance to mature. Democracy is not just a word in fashion, used by every Tom, Dick and Harry to further their malicious goals; it is a cleansing process. Given a chance, the fruits of democracy are tasted by everyone, not just the top few. India stuck to democratic principles despite having problems many times Pakistan’s and the results are obvious. Those who think an honest and patriotic dictatorship (whatever that means!) can deliver quickly and efficiently conveniently ignore the price. China is often cited as an example of an authoritarian regime that has delivered for their people. But millions died in China in several experiments by their dictators till Deng Xiaoping gained prominence in late seventies (About 40 million died during Mao’s rule in China). Moreover, economic development is key but social development and progress must go hand in hand with economic growth. Democracy may be chaotic but its impact is grounded in all societal structures.

Samuel P. Huntington wrote about a cycle of violence nations go through on their way to modernity. But the cycle plaguingPakistantoday is not merely institutions fighting each other for supremacy. Pakistan is facing security threats far more severe and consequential than the predictable violence Mr. Huntington talked about. Ethnic and sectarian divisions, weak institutions and a corrupt elite (civil and military) is making Pakistan’s struggle against extremism harder still, especially given a hostile neighborhood (of our own making) and involvement of a super power.

The way forward for Pakistan is clear. The democratic dispensation, however incompetent and corrupt, must be allowed to sort itself out. There are glimmers of hope for the future but the short term will be painful. The pressure Pakistan is under is well deserved. Whether incompetent or complicit, Pakistan cannot expect a different response from the U.S and the world when Mr. Bin Laden is found just a mile from Pakistan Military Academy. The military must be shown its proper place as the gatekeepers-not masters. Politicians must respect the sacredness of the vote. They must become the guardians of the parliament, not blind followers of their party’s short-term interests. We must evaluate our status in the world today, end the useless conflict with India and allow a multi-ethnic set up in Afghanistan.

This is an opportunity for Pakistanis to correct the mistakes of the past. Religion must be gradually separated from the State and some form of secularism encouraged. We must start loving our children more than we hate others. What Thomas Friedman wrote about Arabs apply to us too, “In an age when others are making microchips, you are making potato chips”.

….Let Freedom Reign (MLK)

Categories: Current Affairs

No Victims!

May 16, 2011 Leave a comment

No Victims.

by Ali Khan on Saturday, September 4, 2010 at 2:24pm

We are a country full of victims. Everyone is innocent. This or that happened because someone, something, anything happened that was really not my fault. And when there is no someone or something, its divine will so no further debate there. So I learnt recently that there would be a munument built for Ms. Bhutto on one of the most expensive and desired properties of Islamabad, costing the country several hundred million dollars (Arbo rupay).  What?????

She died tragically. I admit. I’ll read two nafals  and pray for her.

But is it not the same Bhutto who was accused of massive corruption and complete mismanagement of government during her tenures?Didnt she appoint cronies to key governemnt positions who milked the state dry. Didnt she accumulate massive wealth through her position and transferred almost all of it abroad. Was she not responsible as the Prime Minister for all that?

No, comes the answer. She was completely innocent. All the allegations and cases were ‘politically motivated’. She was not allowed to govern. It was her corrupt husband, not her. blah blah   Ok. Some of those allegations and cases may have been politically motivated. She may not have been allowed to govern as much or the way she liked. It may even had been her husband charging people a certian percentage on state contracts, all the while she was kept completely in dark by him and her other aides.

I dont think so.

The point is that we have made a victim out of her and she played it very well, even in her death. These days I rarely see anyone, not even her opponents, recalling her corruption or mismanagement or incompetency. They call her ‘Muhtarma shaheed’ because they know that we, as a nation, throw all objectivity out the window when faced with even the slightest of tough (but right) choices. Do we vote for her party because we feel bad for her? Reminds me of an Indian movie (Hazaro Khwaheshain Aisee…great movie..highly recommend). In one scene the villagers are up in arms against their ‘vadaira’ or landlord and are about to beat the hell out of him (or kill him…I dont remember precisely).. Suddenly the vadaira gets a heart attack. The reaction and mood of the people who were seething with anger just moments ago, changes dramatically. They forget all and start praying or crying for him!

We are crying for the wrong people. Heck, PPP was given its eternal life because Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged. Even today, people vote for PPP in his name. I am one of Bhutto’s admirers but that does not make him a saint. He too did some terrible things.The government is not and should not be in the business of giving people ‘roti, kapra and makan’. The govt’s responsibilty is to provide security (from external and internal threats) and a stable environment(through tough and smart laws) where economic growth can take place and people earn their own roti, kapra and makan. Charity has never solved poverty. But again, our objectivity is lost.

We remember people like Bhutto (and his daughter) as victims of injustice, of barbarism and in time glorify them. The same has happened with some of our religious figures. Due to some current events it is perhaps best I dont go into it out of respect but let me just say that some unjust acts may have been committed on all sides.

Our beloved prophet died a normal death. He grew old and died. Yet, he is followed (well..not exactly followed but you know what I mean) by more than 1 billion souls. He traded, married, fought wars, and did most other things that we can comprehend despite the superstitious stories. He was no victim and luckily he did not create any.

In the United States too, people tend to loose objectivity about their leaders after a while (and esp after their deaths). Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan and even Richard Nixon are slowly being transformed into ‘great American Presidents’.

Unless and until we rid ourselves of these unpractical and useless emotional sentiments, we will continue to go in circles. And the irony that today , Zardari is ordering an inquiry into the cricketer’s alleged kickbacks, will continue. If we let people like Zardari be ousted through extra-legal means ( i know they will play the victim card no matter what happens), rest assured that they will be back in a few years, having convinced us of their victimization, throwing the same old ‘Bhutto’ name at us, this time with ‘Bilawal Bhutto’  pretending to carry the torch and declaring (once again) to take revenge for the many ‘injustices’ from vague nouns.

Replacing Jinnah with Bhuttos?
Categories: Pak Politics

Hold of the Past

May 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Hold of the Past

by Ali Khan on Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 8:44pm

On Tuesday, hope died in Pakistan. Salman Taseer, whatever his flaws, was a courageous progressive; a rare breed in the increasingly radical Pakistani society. While others minced words about the sheer hypocrisy and extremism in our society, Mr. Taseer openly criticized and condemned the convolution of dark forces plaguing Pakistan. And he complimented the province of his governorship, for Punjab deserves men like him who possess the lively charm the land of five rivers is famous for. Salman Taseer died a martyr, a true martyr unlike many, because he raised his voice for the helpless, and for reason.

Mr. Taseer’s murder has raised the existential question for Pakistan: What kind of nation is Pakistan supposed to be? Will we honor the founder of the nation at long last and create a more equitable and liberal one or slowly turn into a theocratic state directly or indirectly ruled by up-to-no-good Mullahs? The answer and subsequent actions supporting it will determine the fate of this cursed land.

The following is quoted from Mr. Jinnah’s address to the 1st constituent assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947:

“The first observation that I would like to make is this… the first duty of a Government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State. I cannot emphasize it too much…You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State”

History provides ample evidence that only progressive leaning societies and nations prosper.  It is interesting to note that in some instances clergy actually played a forward-looking role in advancing out-of-the-box thinking. Today’s clergy and their herds in the Muslim world in general and Pakistan in particular, by contrast, are striving to put a stop on any progress and turn back the clock of time. In doing so, they have suffocated people’s lives and aspirations for a better future. Any peace that follows the current war will be the ‘peace of a graveyard’ if these angels of darkness prevail.

It is tempting to blame politicians for the political point-scoring that followed Mr. Taseer’s death. But the hard fact remains that the large segments of the population (the constituencies) shamefully supports the murderer, with some clergymen even forbidding prayers for the dead man! It would be nice to see someone with the spine and leadership to stand up and be counted but is unlikely to happen.

The society must also re-evaluate its concept of heroes and villains. Success in business and other careers should be applauded. Pakistan is not a communist or socialist state and has a robust ownership society, with about 90% of national income coming from private ownerships. Granted, the income inequality plays a huge rule in the frustration felt by the have-nots but that is largely due to corruption and a legal system ( and poor enforcement of laws) that stifles growth and confidence. Those who take up arms in anger over real or perceived injustices and miraculously justify their actions by some very questionable theology are mere criminals, not robinhoods. The real heroes are the creators of businesses and opportunity and people like Imran Khan before his re-incarnation as a born-again agitator of everything.

In the absence of guts from politicians, would it be a ‘conspiracy against democracy’ to look to the ‘saviors of Pakistan’ with a plea? The army is the only institution with the strength and, hopefully, some spine, to take the lunatics head on.  Besides, the Army has unfinished business from Musharraf’s era.  Gen. Musharraf routinely claimed that ‘we have cleaned the terrorists from our cities and towns’, implying rather naively that the threat had been neutralized.

The real solution to the menace of terrorism and extremism is to strike at the heart of its ideology. If Mr. Taseer could face and answer some very tough (and sometimes personal) questions from the students of GC, Lahore, why can’t some Mullah be subjected to the same scrutiny? It is high time we honor Salman Taseer by initiating an open debate about the role of religion in the state. The unearned privileges of Mullahs and their kin must be questioned. They have turned the prophet into an antique that is popular to own but need not be examined critically. If they have their way, an idol of Muhammad (SA) will make its way in Kaaba in a few hundred years and turn into a Buddha or Ram in a thousand years.

Between 2007 and 2009, more than 5500 civilians have died in terrorist acts in Pakistan.There has been a constant rise in terrorism since 2001.Is this a new normal for Pakistan? It will be if Pakistanis continue to treat it as a foreign problem and blame everything on CIA, Mossad and RAW. To wait until every line is crossed by the lunatics is like waiting for a blast that takes the life of a beloved one.

Pakistanis are not bedouins by nature and do not need to involve themselves in never-ending conflicts that only keep them from realizing their full potential. In an era when younger population is considered an enormous asset, Pakistan, with its median age of 21, must shed the hold of the past and move forward. The unbaptized are happy living in a deficient form of heaven. The so-called silent majority has been silent too long, living on the shores on Acheron. Its time they answer the call of their conscience and honor Salman Taseer’s legacy.

Categories: Society and Religion