Good luck, General Kayani

Raza Rumi

In a hurried non-speech, the prime minister has confirmed that the incumbent army chief will stay on for three years. Unprecedented as the decision might be, it is perhaps the best option under the current circumstances. Pakistan is battling against domestic and external terrorism. Given how the army works, it is clear that the military establishment wants a continuation of national security policy.

Lack of policy continuity has been the hallmark of Pakistan’s governance.  At least with General Kayani’s extension, the military operations in the northwest and approach to the Afghanistan imbroglio will also remain unchanged. This is good for Pakistan for three reasons.

First, Pakistan desperately needs uninterrupted operations to counter militancy. This is no longer a ‘foreign war’ but very much our own. Second, past efforts to sensitise the west on Pakistan’s concerns in Afghanistan should not be squandered. Finally, General Kayani’s tightrope walk at home has worked well and the democratic system has not been truncated despite the frantic calls of several media-persons. One TV anchor before he left a popular channel, had appealed to Takht-e-Rawalpindi to intervene to save the country.

The troubled civil-military equation is not going to change overnight. Realism demands that we have to deal with the army’s ubiquitous role, at least in the medium term. Civilian supremacy is not guaranteed through the merely powers of appointing army chiefs. This erroneous view needs to be challenged. Parliament will only be supreme when it governs and with transparency and delivers the goods.  We also need to recognise that the dominance of the unelected institutions stunts the performance of the elected governments. How will this change? Not by manipulating service contracts but through continuation of the democratic system.

General Kayani so far has not been a party to any effort to destabilise the system. If anything, his public image is that of a moderate, professional and a no-nonsense soldier, not interested in political gerrymandering. For this very reason, the PPP government has made a calculated gamble. We are a land of constant melodrama, but instability is not written on the wall, at least for now.

The army’s interests require a stable economy and functional civilian governance. As a national institution, it should enable Pakistan’s transformation into a more manageable polity. More importantly, it ought to be aware of its limitations in governing this complex, and crumbling country. All indications so far suggest that the current military leadership is cognisant of such realities.

General Kayani has three hectic years ahead. Stabilising Pakistan’s northwest and getting Pakistan on the Afghanistan-table are already under way. However, its Balochistan and India strategies require creative reassessment; and the dated doctrines of ‘strategic depth’ need reconfiguration. Instead of civil-military power struggles, we need a broad consensus and workable formulae for effective cooperation to cleanse Pakistan’s proverbial stables.

For this reason, we wish General Kayani all the luck.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2010.


Filed under Afghanistan, Islamabad, Islamism, Kerry Lugar Bill, Pakistan, Politics, Power, public policy, secular Pakistan, Taliban, Terrorism, USA, violence, war, War On Terror

57 responses to “Good luck, General Kayani

  1. Naeem Sahibzada

    The right decision. It imposes a great burden of national responsibility and the security of Pakistan on his shoulders. It also offers us some much needed stability though Mr. Sharif, MQM and the likes of Imran may not be so happy.
    Any how wish him the best of luck and all the success.

  2. Nusrat Pasha

    I sincerely hope and pray that the blood of our 3000 fallen soldiers was not shed in vain. We as a nation, must either learn to courageously confront religious extremism head on, or be prepared to pay the price of cowardice. Let us remind ourselves of this unchangeable reality, each time a soldier falls.

  3. banjara286

    it was the best option under the circumstances? what – exactly – r u smoking? continuity could not be reasonably assured by giving him a one year extension and getting the new coas-designate to come up to speed in the meantime to seamlessly continue the campaign to fight insurgency?

    it all comes down to the infatuation with personalities, does it not? hell would not have broken loose if an entire new tenure was not given to kiyani, or if he had politely turned it down. so much for his professionalism and being not in interested in politics (read the hunger for power).

    this nation will continue to be a slave forever unless it comes out of this wretched mindset.

    tujhay ye kis ne kaha aye javaan-e kam imroz
    na’ee zameen naya aasman paeda kar?

  4. Anwar

    Whatever the circumstances, it sets a wrong precedent..

  5. karun1

    lot of people have been saying this for too long to deaf ears. time to wake up and smell the roses.

  6. libertarian

    If anything, his public image is that of a moderate, professional and a no-nonsense soldier, not interested in political gerrymandering.

    Eh? Really? What about slapping Gilani around when he promised General Pasha would visit Mumbai after 26/11? What about sending Zardari through the wringer for daring to put the ISI under civilian rule? What about embarrassing Gilani and Co about the Kerry-Lugar Bill?

    It was pathetic watching the whole drama of Gilani “offering” Kayani 3 more (unprecedented) years, Kayani “consulting” his corp commanders, and they “agreeing” that it was best he accepted this “offer”. Kayani gets to have his cake and eat it too. Gilani and Zardari have all the responsibility with none of the power, Kayani gets all the power with no responsibility.

    Realism you say? Realistically, expect the Army to stay front and center of Pak politics for the forseeable future. The state of civilian power in Pakistan is even worse than when Musharraf was in his hey-day.

    Backing him is short-sighted and repeats the same mistakes of expecting a messiah instead of allowing space for institution-building.

  7. nazir allahwalla

    good choice

  8. YLH

    banjara pai… eh tusi kehnday haigey? Tusi jeray maulvian dey sub tu wadday slave haigey?

    Wah bhai… jeevo fundocrats!

  9. YLH

    Btw FUNDOCRATS is copyright reserved usage by YLH only. Thank you.

  10. Farukh Sarwar

    It was an important decision that will certainly have its effect on the overall management of the matters pertaining to our national security.

  11. Midfield Dynamo

    There could be two theories to this:
    1. Kiyani wanted to remain in the driving seat and maneuvered his extension.
    2. The politicians (USA/PAK) were afraid of an adventuristic successor.

  12. banjara286

    ylh, did i ever tell u that i do not suffer fools gladly?

  13. shiv

    The Pakistan army is the only institution in Pakistan where status and caste are set aside and a person who joins can expect to rise through the ranks without being held back or promoted because of his caste/tribal background.

    But that stops at the top. Right at the top a few generals who are a few years away from retirement can never anticipate becoming the chief as soon as one of Pakistan’s “permanent Chiefs or Army staff” ascends the throne to become Caliph of Pakistan.

    Kayani is a Musharraf appointee and has been vetted because he toes the US line in keeping nuclear weapons under lock and key. The Taliban are secondary here, as is anti India terrorism. Pakistan army chiefs of staff have a history of proving their loyalty and credentials by supporting some action against India to show the symbolism that they are right up there fighting the good battle. Musharraf had his Kargil and Kayani his 26/11.

    The US can do little if Kayani fails to toe the US line about the Taliban. They can apply some pressure – but in the long term the US is looking at keeping Pakistan’s nukes safe in Pakistani custody. There is a belief that if the nukes are moved (as they would in case of war with India) some will get stolen. So Kayani is given his freedom by the US as long as he toes the nuclear line. It is cheaper for the US to fund the Pakistani army than fight it – so you have a nation that claims to be in dire financial straits being given US aid of which 50% is earmarked for the army.

    And, bang on time, Mullen visits Kayani and Pakistan will test a nuclear capable missile as if to prove to all Pakistanis that Pakistan is an independent nation that has its nuclear deterrent to keep the Yahood-Hanud forces shivering.

    Kayani’s 3 years extension has nothing accidental about it. It is a perpetuation of the same old relationships and games that no Pakistani outside the army can expect to exert any control whatsoever. The anti-Army islamist insurgencies of Pakistan (“bad taliban”) are the only ones who have challenged these old equations.

  14. YLH

    July 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm · Edit
    ylh, did i ever tell u that i do not suffer fools gladly?”

    Must be hard going to work without grooming yourself then…

  15. Tilsim

    @ Girish

    It reflects the amorphous nature (in a metaphorical sense) of Pakistani state institutions and the lack of balance of power as a consequence of it.

    These sort of decisions do have corrosive effects and in fact Pakistan’s history is replete with examples preventing a democratic culture from taking root. It also probably damages the army as an institution. Analysts in Pakistan are pointing this out too but most people are not protesting too loudly given the highly volatile domestic political and security situation.

  16. Midfield Dynamo

    Well played YLH, let the wise protect fools from the clever…

  17. Hassan Q

    Good Luck Dear Rumi!!

  18. Twilight_zone

    “With so much ambiguity in the minds of the liberals, it is no wonder that the liberal movement, such as it exists, has so little relevance in Pakistan.”

    The only time we hear a lot of “hai tauba” from liberals in Pakistan is when they abuse India, or Gandhi, or a combination of two. Witness how this site is quiet after the wikileaks. No words, none at all. I went through this site to see if there was any word of condemnation for Quershi’s behavior. Nope. Apart from a few mealy mouthed excuses, nothing at all. It’s said that people deserve the government they get. I guess it’s true with folks across the border as well. Why don’t we start negotiating with Kayani? Extend him an invitation to visit India. Who knows, things might change.

  19. banjara286

    i have not read the wikileaks report yet; but i did find the behavior of mr. qureshi quite immature and childish.

    i am not sure what is your point?

  20. Tilsim

    Pakistan has a democracy that is trying to make all the right moves since the last 2 years. There is a PML-N government in Punjab and a PPP government at the centre. In Sindh we have the PPP and MQM working together. This group has managed to eventually find the consensus to have the Chief Justice and many judges restored to the Supreme Court. An 18th amendment has passed after cross party consensus, restoring parliamentary democracy (stripping away Presidential powers put into place by past Generals). There have been important political agreements reached between the provinces as well as important shifts towards addressing Balochistan’s grievances. There have been problems too between the political parties and no shortage of brinkmanship as there would be in any nascent democracy. Civilian power has however demonstrated important achievements and if one stands back there are grounds to expect further consolidation of this change as the democrats want to diminish the power of the army and the extremists. It’s not a clean trajectory (and not irreversible). The performance on law and order and corruption is also not satisfactory, but if one looks at the solid developments, civil power is definitely making it’s presence felt in a short space of time. There are of course powerful forces from within Pakistan and externally that have a very different world view and see the strengthening of democracy as inimical to their aims.

    We can collectively either encourage this fairly strong democratic trend (as infact the US has realised late in the day) or force Pakistan into becoming a hard line Islamist dictatorship which will no doubt bring absolute disaster upon itself and it’s neighbours through further and extreme violence.

    The Wikileaks development has substance in it but only represents one side of the developing picture. The danger is that it will be seen and presented as the picture which will result in people cutting off their noses to spite their own faces.

  21. D_a_n

    @ Tilsim…

    ‘Pakistan has a democracy that is trying to make all the right moves since the last 2 years.’

    I believe that your praise is excessively generous on this count. For the most part it would appear that self de-legitimization is it’s only specialty.

    ‘This group has managed to eventually find the consensus to have the Chief Justice and many judges restored to the Supreme Court.’

    Unfortunately, a call from GHQ was what finally got the feudocrats to step back from the brink and play nice. No consensus contributed to this.

    ‘consolidation of this change as the democrats ‘

    I wish I saw things in as rosy a fashion as you but there are, probably apart from a few fringe players with no real influence, no democrats here. Only feudocrats that view the rest of us as an extension of their personal fiefdoms.

    I suppose if anything we should be grateful that a bill for Driot de Seigneur hasn’t been tabled! Yet.

    Don’t think we’ll see many of them miss that vote or nod off during deliberations.
    How can people inherently undemocratic be expected to behave in any manner that is a service to democracy.
    The concept that each democratic iteration is to yield better results makes sense and you see it work elsewhere. but.
    It is not something which is conjured up just by virtue of the iteration itself. The results provided by any iteration are dependent on the inputs to that process. Hence, if the inputs are undemocratic then what can one expect as an outcome of the process.

    This is not meant to be a ;democracy bad-dictatorship good’ spiel. Just an observation on what this particular brand of democracy has been looking like for some time now. As you said the democracy is nascent. I will concede that. These ‘democrats’ however, are not.

  22. I dont think the decision is right. Who knows what is sinister game behind this? May be tomorrow, the general is blamed is anything goes wrong and others go home clean and happy.

  23. Tilsim

    @ Dan

    I don’t dispute anything what you say about democracy being more akin to feudocracy in Pakistan. My view is that it’ from these barons that democracy will eventually emerge as they have in many other democracies if you study their development. However, the point of the comment is that there are two main sources of power in Pakistan but only one legal to my mind. The democrats, as they are, have shown the ability to come together and work in coalitions to achieve important changes. It’s far from rosy but I think sometimes Pakistanis and outsiders are also excessively critical and dismissive. They set high expectations (as they should) but don’t balance this with support for progress when it’s made. I think the narrative is unbalanced and creating further problems for Pakistan.

    If we don’t nurture and support this effort, then the alternative is strengthening the power of the security apparatus (which has not resulted in a stable polity).

  24. bciv


    As you said the democracy is nascent. I will concede that. These ‘democrats’ however, are not.

    if they can continue to rely on the general dictator to keep coming to their rescue every 10 years or so, why would they ever want to grow up? with the promise of perennial messiahs coming to sort out these pharaohs, why and how would the electorate ever grow up?

    only uninterrupted, perpetual civilian rule can ensure that the electorate grows up seeing these feudocrats utterly discredit themselves with neither hope nor possibility of any uniform-clad messiahs coming to save them from themselves. the feudocrats would have to either grow up with the electorate or be left behind and discarded by those who take into account the increasing awareness and maturity – no matter how little – of the electorate.

    Unfortunately, a call from GHQ was what finally got the feudocrats to step back from the brink and play nice.

    it was worse on part of the GHQ than just unfortunate. who asked the general to make the ‘call’ (with the photo op and all)? why must the GHQ poke its nose into civilian affairs? let them make their own mistakes, no matter how disastrous, and learn their own lessons. the GHQ should stick to its job of taking lawful orders from their civilian masters.

    funny that the GHQ wasn’t that worried about the lack of consensus on booking mush under article 6. btw, was the Corps Commanders’ ‘communique’ on Kerry-Lugar before or after the Long March?

  25. D_a_n

    @ Tilsim…

    your point about legality is an obvious one. Granted.

    However this does not seem to concern the feudocracy. Why should it?

    I for one have not seen any evidence of them coming together in any meaningful way. And no the 18th amendment does not count. They have yet to come together in any way that actually does anything to improve governance by any stretch of the imagination.
    The only way in which they have come together is for this ‘reconciliation’ business which is just a rouse to ensure snout space at the trough. This seems to be the only lesson that has been learnt.

    Expectations are not high. Infact, they are pathetically low. They are not being asked for much. Only an inkling that they are interested in any semblance of governance. A sign that something started now will bear fruit in a decade or two. That’s how low the bar is.
    We, the people gave them this legitimacy. Squandering it away willfully is just criminal.

    How can one nurture something that does not want to be nurtured?
    That being said, there is no alternative. This is the real tragedy here. And this lack of alternatives is being held like a gun to our collective heads in the name of democracy.

    I will not be pining for another knight in reasonably shining armour but my mind refuses to get high of this democratic opiate and pretend that a system run by thugs and people about as democratic as King Jon Ill will miraculously morph into a pot o’ gold at the end of this rainbow.

    If were driving off a cliff I’d appreciate it if the passengers know this so a seat belt may be tightened and a quite prayer can be said.

  26. D_a_n

    @ Bciv…

    here we go….again 🙂

    ‘it was worse on part of the GHQ than just unfortunate. who asked the general to make the ‘call’ (with the photo op and all)? why must the GHQ poke its nose into civilian affairs?’

    So ofcourse there is nooooooo questions asked from the feudocrats as to why such space was surrendered in the first place. You know the nature of the beast…and yet you tempt it?

    are we grown ups here or what?

    and It is mt personal opinion that the army being asked to come out into the street in support of the Government to crush a popular outpouring might be one of the reasons the call could have been prompted. Im sure feelers for such an action would have been sent to the army.
    So instead of chasing shadows lets put the blame where it really belongs.

    ‘btw, was the Corps Commanders’ ‘communique’ on Kerry-Lugar before or after the Long March?’

    fair point.
    but I keep making the point again and again and again that this space has to be won back.
    and that is only done by demonstrating a willingness to govern and in some way improve the lives of the serfs in even minuscule ways.
    I need not point out a better example than Turkey. Good governance and an open willingness to nurture democracy hand in hand with the people has all but eliminated any space for such maneuver that the Turkish military had.
    They started down the Turkish brass. The Turkish brass blinked. Publicly. QED.

    But of course this is a hard one to understand for our feudocrats and nigh impossible for them to even conceive acting upon.
    The nature of the ‘opponent’ here is known. His actions are known and he moves as per pattern. So whats the problem?

    The failure to assign blame of surrendering this space is, to my eyes, as criminal as anything else.

    I am a totally misunderstood bastard here on this issue. I am seen clamoring for dictatorship if I refuse to count myself as one of the serfs and demand that they actually use some of that legitimacy and start governing.

  27. Tilsim

    “And no the 18th amendment does not count. ”

    This is harsh. It’s easy to turn up our noses.

    We are also a part of the problem. We dislike all the ugliness of all these feudocrats but most Pakistanis I know (who are all ‘educated’) would not want to get in the cess pit. One can only change things a little from afar. The urban middle class do not have grass roots support. Will they build it by being prepared to accept all the mud that gets slung and be prepared to endure jail? The irony is that Pakistan is full of examples of the urban elite/middle class working with military dictators. Think of Shahid Javed Burki, Moeen Qureshi, Shaukat Aziz, Javed Jabbar and countless others.

    The electorate is not that stupid. It needs a connection to it’s electoral reps. It needs resilience from it’s electoral reps. Be honest, do the urban middle classes/elites provide that?

    The electorate does get some accountability from it’s elected reps.The feudocrats can no longer expect to have secure tenure – they need to show something for their constituency to win their seats again. This has been shown in election after election – think of the defeats of Abida Hussein, Fakhr Imam, Khuhros of Larkana, Tiwanas of Sargodha, Daulatanas of Vehari, the Qazi Fazlullah family of Sindh, the Gardezis of Multan, the Nawabs of Qasur and the Mamdots of Ferozpur/Lahore.

    I think a continued period of stable democracy will result in improved performance and new faces.

    See what the dawn editorial wrote about the NFC award on 27 Dec 2009:

    “The hammering out of a consensus among the centre and the provinces on the seventh National Finance Commission award is a major achievement and a positive event for those who believe that the future of a vibrant Pakistan lies in a democratic federation.

    The seventh NFC has established a number of milestones. For the division of resources among the provinces, the federation has moved away from the unsatisfactory single criterion of population to a multi-criteria award that includes poverty/backwardness, revenue collection and generation, and inverse population density. Moreover, the centre and the provinces have shown a spirit of fair play when addressing Balochistan and the NWFP. Balochistan has been guaranteed a minimum award, with the centre pledging to make up for any shortfall, while in a nod towards the NWFP’s extraordinary burden in the war against militancy, the province has been promised a special one per cent of the undivided federal pool.

    The centre too has shown flexibility. The old framework in which subventions, grants and other special awards by the centre took 10 per cent out of the total revenue pool has been dropped and the revenue collection charges pocketed by the centre have been slashed to one per cent. All of this increases transparency and takes some of the sting out of the charge that the centre is short-changing the provinces. Of course, the NFC has not addressed all complaints, and challenges remain in the years ahead. Foremost among the challenges are the revenue and expenditure projections. Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has said that the tax-to-GDP ratio will be increased to 13.9 per cent over the next five years — it currently hovers around 10 per cent — and that federal expenses will be reduced to 12 per cent of GDP at the end of that period, as compared to the present 14.6 per cent. But hiking tax collection/revenue and slashing expenditure is easier said than done — indeed, every government promises the same but few have been able to deliver.

    Nevertheless, while cautioning that the seventh NFC is not a panacea, we are indeed grateful that it appears to be a step in the right direction. In some quarters, such has been the dismay over the current phase in the transition to democracy that people could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps democracy can never work in Pakistan. But the consensus on the seventh NFC award is a sign that, political differences aside, not only do the provinces and the centre want to make democracy work, they in fact can do so when given the time and space to make difficult decisions.”

  28. bciv


    I am a totally misunderstood bastard here on this issue. I am seen clamoring for dictatorship if I refuse to count myself as one of the serfs and demand that they actually use some of that legitimacy and start governing.

    it is easier for the feudocrats to stay in power by appeasing the GHQ than to try and appease the electorate which 1) requires some real work (made even more difficult by the handiwork of the previous dictator) and 2) is, in the feudocrats myopic view, even less protection against being kicked out by the military. myopia rules.

    we are no singapore when we are a dictatorship and no turkey (yet) when democracy returns.

  29. Tilsim

    I think the other dynamic that is playing into this democracy/feudocracy trend is the rapid urbanisation of Pakistan. The feudocracy cannot hope to maintain it’s hold unless it adapts to this new dynamic.

    According to‘Life in the City: Pakistan in Focus’, released by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 2007 the forecast for 2009 was that a little over 40% of Pakistan’s population lived in the cities.

    The 50:50 point will be somewhere around 2030. This contrasts with 10% urban population in 1975. The population of Karachi increased 60 fold since partition (of course there was a massive influx at partition).

  30. bciv


    .. media too is free to be as biased and trash as it wants to be.


    the reasons for not taking off the gloves yet are similar to the ones that wrongly make you appear as pro-dictatorship rather than anti-feudocracy.

    a loose analogy would be the urge to stay away, as far as possible, from sharing the anti-mush/pro-judiciary platform with the mullahs for the simple reason that they had ulterior motives and can never be trusted. akram sheikh (and his clients) was always going to end up having more in common – in terms of vested interests – with abdul hafeez peerzada (and his client) than with aitezaz ahsan or kurd. neither of the former two were ever going to serve your cause and mine.

  31. Tilsim

    Let it me put it this way. If we accept the that PPP and PML-N are not fit to rule – what then? Are we not back to the Musharraf days?

    India should solely deal with GHQ – will that solve that issue?

    West should solely deal with GHQ -will that solve or exacerbate terrorism?

    GHQ cannot control Pakistan any longer by itself. It needs to work with politicians with grass root support – specially as a counter to the terror wave. Our duty is to raise electoral awareness such that the electorate brings about a change in the behaviour of these feudocrat parties.

    Look at the whole jali degree episode – some may see it as a national shame. However the shame is that Musharraf never followed through on his promises. It’s happening now because of the Supreme court as a result of the democratic dispensation. Sure there are conspiracy theories that this is a backdoor way to topple the government/ undermine the feudocrate parties. That may be the case but it’s raising a lot of electoral awareness. Nothing is perfect but let’s not see it all as c’appy either.

    The period since 2007 is a period where we have various pillars of the State vigorously engaged rather than one following the dictat of the other. It’s not pretty but it’s nascent democracy in action. That is the message that the world needs to also hear – not just the message of wikileaks – as they formulate their strategy towards this country.

  32. Tilsim


    Yes, I think this degree qualification for MNAs was a military man’s way of saying – we need to improve the quality of the politicians. I am not sure about other intentions- there may well have been those at play too. I think he was trying to develop a new political order ab initio.

    He was responding to populist disgust being voiced at the time after a decade of political and economic mismanagement by PML-N and PPP.

    I also personally thought his idea of devolution of power to the local level (Nazims) was a very good one but poorly executed in haste. On the whole, I still think it provided many positive aspects.

    Pakistanis are just disgusted that there was so much fraud – it’s not just a few bad eggs. The shaming is cathartic and strengthens democracy.

  33. Tilsim

    The other point that I would make is that this fake degree scandal has another aspect. This time the accountability is hitting both PML-N and PPP. These feudocrats can’t hide behind it being the political victimisation of one against the other. Their response of letting these fake degree holders contest bi-elections to get re-elected is abominable. It will be interesting to see how many get re-elected in the end.

    Ultimately the rejection of this corrupt conduct has to come from the electorate. Pakistanis often state they don’t have faith in the electorate but we need to watch closely to identify emerging trends rather than accept defeat in generalisations. Change is happening.

  34. shiv

    @Midfield Dynamo
    If he was not an adventurer like Ayub, Zia or Musharraf, Kiyani should have gone home and allowed a successor to take it on from here.

    I should be the last person supporting Kiyani on here, but I believe the situation is more complex than is indicated by your words. Kiyani is part of a system – not an independent actor – just like Ajmal Kasab of 26/11 was part of a system and not an individual actor.

    Since nobody is saying it loud other than speculation by gora “Sauth Asia” experts, let me say it. I think the Pakistan army is already split down the middle (or down some plane to one side of the middle) and all that is holding it together is tradition, discipline and focus of hating India and not allowing any problem to override the focus on the thing that unites the Army – the kafirs of India.

    The earliest commentaries after 9-11 indicated that the US felt it had erred in losing touch with he Pakistani army and that the middle ranks no longer enjoyed the luxurious and lovey-dovey relationship the earlier officers had with the US. From Musharraf’s days the US has re-dedicated itself to be closely associated with the Pakistan army. The whole idea is to keep the Pakistan army pro-West and pro-democracy and not go Islamist/Taliban. Kiyani is a US loyalist. The intstructions handed down to the civilian puppets all suggest that the “Keep US happy and hate India to be united” is being implemented by Kiyani.

    Pakistan foreign minister Qureshi is a great actor – who is able to enact his dramas on TV as per instructions from the army leadership. (As an aside I privately suspect he may be a moderate, even liberal, but he is a servant of the Pakistan army now). If you look back at the show he put up after the “Strategic dialog” with the US – he looked hilarious – locking his locks with Hilary Clinton and declaring “I am fully satisfied today”. Then, again on cue – during the foreign ministers meet with India – he had a rant about India, comparing an Indian bureaucrat (Pillai) to Pakistaniyat’s foremost jihadi – Hafiz Saeed (can a kafir really get that competent?). But Qureshis act has an army diktat behind them. Keep the US happy, and reassure those Pakistanis who need to be reassured (Army personnel) that we have not forgotten India and our “core issues”

    Kiyani cannot retire easily. He will have to appoint someone with view similar to his to keep the US happy, but in the long term the Pakistani army will have to be kept under control by a mix of threats and bribery to water down its political ambition and its military ambition with regard to India – both of which can bring Pakistan down, no matter who else goes down with Pakistan.

    In 20 years or so, Pakistan might stabilize.

  35. Tilsim


    “I think the Pakistan army is already split down the middle (or down some plane to one side of the middle) ”

    What are the two factions in your view?

  36. rationalist

    Are only degrees fake in Pakistan?

    The only non-fake thing in Pakistan is the hate (even disgust) towards hindus, hindu identity, hindu history, hindu happinesses and hindu existence. It is the essence of pakistan ideology. It is the only “elixir” in Pakistan’s despondent existence. A great catastrophe awaits us in the indian subcontinent. Make preparations. Kindly refrain from expressing delusional paranoia and that too without any substance.

  37. androidguy

    Your name is “rationalist” too, considering how rational you were with your previous post!

  38. rationalist

    There is no delusional paranoia. I have (it is my duty) to warn those who are ready to listen without ridiculing me. In the first place it is the pakistanis who will be affected most badly. Reason is: there is no one really trying to or be able to correct the situation. We have crossed the point of no return.

  39. androidguy

    @rationalist, can I help you along by banging the drums of doom? Or should I just stand by the curb holding a placard screaming out “the end is nigh”? Either I can do, because like you, I seem to have time on my hands today:)

  40. rationalist

    I am not a pessimist but have to warn so that we can reach more people.

  41. shiv

    @ Tilsim
    What are the two factions in your view?

    This is my take on the issue. The Pakistani army has been significantly “Islamized” (I will try and explain that below) and the two factions are the Islamists and the “moderate secular (sic) faction”

    Up until 1971 the Pakistan army was “moderate” and has been described by people such as Stephen Cohen as “secular”. It is not as though these “moderates” were not Islamic. Their outward behaviour displayed was more in the nature of modern “world citizens”. No beards and alcohol allowed in the mess, no demands of being able to recite Quranic teachings. This much is evident from autobiographical accounts such as that by Sajad Haider, a PAF hero of the 1965 war whose book I have reviewed, and other sources. But they were hardly unislamic. Even Haider describes how he boosted his men’s morale before a crucial (and successful) raid on the Indian air base in Pathankot by going through the ritual of anointing themselves with scent so that they would smell sweet for houris should any be martyred.

    The new breed (post-Zia) in the Pakistani armed forces are overtly Islamic. Islam is worn on the face and in other ways. No more alcohol. No girlfriends in the mess. And a host of other things.

    The moderate and Islamic factions of the Pakistan army are united in their enmity with India. That is the main glue. The biggest fissure is cooperation with the US and fighting the US’s war.

    The US buys cooperation from the Pakistan army by saying “We will keep you strong against India so you can fight our war”. With both factions sharing hatred for India this aid is very tempting, but it is still difficult to actually do the fighting as demanded by the Americans.

    The Pakistan army rank and file cannot be asked willy nilly to drop their loathing of India and start fighting people whom they see as their allies. After all the Taliban were allies and it was the US that allowed the airlift of Pakistan army personnel out of Kunduz just before the US began bombing what was left of the Taliban after 9-11. Any Pakistani army chief can have a revolt on his hands if he tries to pull out forces from the Indian border and tasks them with killing Pakistanis and Afghans bearing the name “Taliban”. So most of the forces remain on the Eastern border with India and the forces that are sent across to fight the Taliban are told that Indian agents are helping the Taliban with hundreds of Indian consulates in Afghanistan. Even using this excuse the fighting is half hearted. The Taliban are warned about incoming Pakistan forces so they can clear out before an “attack.”

    It is said that at least one attempt on Musharraf’s life was carried out by rebels within the Pakistan army. The Pakistan army remains united only because of the following reasons: (in my view)
    1) They hate India
    2) They are being paid by the US to feed that hate in the hope of cooperation in the US’s war
    3) Despite all the payments from the US, the Pakistani army is not putting its heart into the war against the Taliban – because that could be suicidal and lead to rebellion.

    A war with India would unite the army. It would “prove” that fears about an aggressive India were well founded. It would also absolve the Pakistan army from the need to do anything about the US war against the Taliban. For years the Pakistani army has calculated that a war with India would quickly be brought to a halt by international pressure. The Parliament attack in 2002 and 26/11 were probably both designed to provoke a war that would allow the Pakistan army to escape doing anything against their former allies the Taliban because they had to fight a war with India. Such a war could hasten a US pull out and show why Pakistan needs the Taliban and its strategic depth. A lot of Indians would welcome war with Pakistan and a chance to “punish” Pakistan. So we have entities on both sides who would welcome war for different reasons.

    This puts the US in an unenviable situation. On the one hand it is feeding the Pakistan army to remain strong in relation to India and fight its war, but actual war with India would upset its plans in Afghanistan. So the US now has to do something to pacify India. “Pacifying India” means convincing the Pakistani army and establishment to stop carrying out terrorist attacks against India and trying to mend relations.

    For the Pakistani army mending relations with India would be suicidal. Their weapons supply, their unity, their honor, their respect, their raison d’etre depends on continuing enmity with India. No enmity, no need for a rich and powerful army. So the Pakistani army is caught in a pincer. On the one hand their freedom to “fight India” is being curtailed. On the other hand they are accepting arms and money from the US while promising to help its war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. And they are not doing that as envisaged.

    The Pakistan army has been painted into a corner. It is likely to want to come out fighting as armies are wont to do. But this curious situation has made allies out of India and the US who in my view are likely to cooperate to keep the Pakistani army on a leash. An additional factor in this (as per US calculations) are the nuclear weapons – currently in safe custody. It is believed that war with India would cause those weapons to be moved for mating with warheads – a situation in which it is expected that a few could get “spirited away”, vastly increasing the blackmailing power of the Taliban/Al Qaeda.

    Pakistan is itself in a dangerous situation here. The US may pull out of Afghanistan, but not out of Pakistan. Holbrooke has spoken of splitting away the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan. Such a move would only unite those people with their brothers across the Durand line, making Pashtunistan reality, with Pakistan undergoing yet another de facto or real split. God only knows what will happen to Balochistan, where the Pakistan army has not exactly made itself very popular. War with India might only hasten this IMO as the Pakistani forces that nominally control these areas will get pulled out. Or else the areas will have to be controlled by brutality. Catch 22.

    Ultimately Pakistan could end up as a rump state of Punjab, Sindh and PoK that maintains diplomatic and economic relations with India while Pashtunistan is embroiled in continuing conflict that will need to be settled once for all.

    Just my speculation.

  42. Tilsim

    Thank you. I read it with interest.

    I have many member of my family in the Pakistan military in various regiments. One of whom was a POW in 1971. I know of their attitude towards India. It is far from hatred as you describe it. They are pragmatic and professional soldiers. They don’t have beards. Whilst the stereotypes that you suggest also exist, they do not represent the main body of the force. Paradoxically, I have heard some minor anti-US sentiment but I have not heard of the visceral anti-India sentiment as you suggest. There is rivalry (and respect) for Indian army but not hatred for Indians. A tremendous amount of propaganda is taken as received wisdom.

  43. shiv

    @ Tilsim
    Whilst the stereotypes that you suggest also exist, they do not represent the main body of the force.

    Fair enough. I will have to take your word for it.

    In fact there is an alternate view, and perhaps I need to be looking at that alternate view more seriously. Having said that, the views about India that you believe are “propaganda taken as received wisdom” may well be exactly that – but that “propaganda” comes mostly from Western “Pakistan experts” in their articles and books.

    There are only two reasons I can think of for Pakistani armed forces people expressing such opinions in interviews and interactions with Western “Pakistan experts”:
    1) They are telling it like it is (which you say is untrue)
    2) They are saying these things to Western interviewers because they feel this is what those people want to hear – and so much the better if the army is given “aid” against India.

    In fact if the latter is true then it is a perfectly “patriotic” thing to do. Ask for and accept aid to counter India in exchange for being able to “fight the good war alongside the US against the terrorists and Al Qaeda”

    Clearly there are many people who do not believe that the Pakistani army has been doing that – a feeling only reinforced by the Wikleaks revelations.

    That would mean that military aid is being accepted from the US while not doing the job of fighting “terrorists”. The ostensible excuse is that India is the main threat and that has been stated time and again – even by Kiyani himself.

    So if the “hate India” (or fear India) appearance is not indicative of real feelings in the Pakistani army, it is certainly being used as an excuse to accept US aid while not fighting the US’s war. Combine this with active denials about revelations made by Headley and statements made by captured terrorists in India (Dozens have been caught in Kashmir) – it is difficult to avoid the impression that there is some deep deception being played out by influential and powerful members of the Pakistan army and establishment. The reasons for that are speculative. It could be as simple as greed, or as sinister as deeply entrenched Islamic extremism or a desire to punish India. But I am not sure how Pakistan the nation benefits from this – only the army seems to benefit.

    There appear to me to be deep contradictions between what you assert and the information that appears from elsewhere so I will keep my eyes and ears open to all information including what you say.

  44. Bin Ismail

    @ shiv (July 31, 2010 at 8:41 am)

    “…..The Pakistan army rank and file cannot be asked willy nilly to drop their loathing of India and start fighting people whom they see as their allies…..”

    During the recent operations of the Pakistan Army against insurgents, the Army lost around 3000 of its men. These brave men died neither loathing nor fighting India. They died fighting a fire that is being persistently fueled by the extremist fanatical mullahs of Pakistan.

  45. Tilsim

    @ Shiv

    I said in earlier posts that there are powerful people in all organs of state (including the security establishment) and in the wider public that are pushing for an Islamist state. They need a power vacuum to come into power. A war with India would provide that. They are the ones that are acting as informers and handlers of terrorists. They are the ones who are dictating the terrorist acts. The Pakistani state is not talking about the struggle within it’s own ranks (to not undermine it’s authority) but it’s obvious to the US and that is why there is the huge embrace even whilst Cameron wrongly describes it as Pakistan looking both ways. And yes these things have come to pass because Pakistan has been playing the proxy war game. However so many people now are pointing out that these terrorists do not come in discrete bundles and it’s impossible for the state to control Jihadi ideologues; they need to be dismantled.

    People like Kiyani, I believe are shrewd and on the right side (and on top) but they understand that this internal struggle will not be over just because India and US order it. They need to find a way to neutralize these forces and it takes time to turn a tanker. They don’t have full freedom of maneuver. The establishment are under attack. They need to diminish the power of the Islamists by carrying public opinion which is heavily confused as even some of them are. Look at the recent pew survey which shows that a significant number of Pakistanis do not believe the Taliban to be a threat!! There is constant propaganda that the establishment is an arm of the US.

    It feels like a serpent holding itself tightly around the neck of the State and right minded people are trying to prise it away.

    Kashmir is indeed a core issue for the PA and many Pakistanis, specially in Punjab. Afghanistan posture is partly a result of this unsettled problem in the east. These are the policy considerations of the PA.

    I believe MMS is extremely shrewd too and that is why he is pushing talks. However I believe that he also has limited room for maneuvre. The Indian public are baying for blood and there seems to be a debate within the security establishment in india. Perhaps a majority of the latter are not cognisant of the actual picture in Pakistan. Why should they be when there is an iron curtain. That is perhaps why they believe that there is no distinction between Islamists and moderate forces. ‘Pakistan hates India- need we say more’ is the cry. That would be the effect of one’s own propaganda taken as received wisdom.

  46. shiv

    @Bin Ismail
    During the recent operations of the Pakistan Army against insurgents, the Army lost around 3000 of its men. These brave men died neither loathing nor fighting India. They died fighting a fire that is being persistently fueled by the extremist fanatical mullahs of Pakistan.

    I have heard this being quoted before. From an Indian viewpoint it is easy to be cynical about this for a multitude of reasons
    1) The Pakistan army completely disowned all the deaths of its own men from the Northern Light Infantry during the Kargil war. The number of deaths quoted by Nawaz Sharif was in excess of 1500 if I recall right. Clearly the Pakistan army has different standards for acknowledging the deatjs of its own. India was not paying Pakistan for Kargil and it was expedient to ignore the deaths. The US is promising to pay so it makes sense to claim huge casualties.

    2) The Pakistani army is a powerful fighting force. It is impossible for me to believe that their army cannot win over a ragtag militia in a land that they call their own. The excuse that this “ragtag militia” defeated the USSR and is about to defeat the US flies in the face of claims from Pakistan that they played a big role in helping to defeat the Soviet Union. So who defeated the USSR? Pakistanis? The Taliban? Or the US? If Pakistan played a big role in that defeat then the Taliban should be dead meat without Pakistani support.

    3) More than 2/3rds of the Pakistan army is sitting across the Indian border. If their comrades are dying in such large numbers on the Western front what does the Pakistani army hope to achieve by keeping most of its men parked on the Eastern front? If they are expecting war – they are not mobilized for it. The only action we have seen is 26/11 and support for infiltration across the Indian border.

  47. NSA

    shiv, look up Wiki for “Kargil War”. From there:

    “According to numbers stated by Nawaz Sharif there were over 4,000 fatalities. His PML (N) party in its “white paper” on the war mentioned that more than 3,000 Mujahideens, officers and soldiers were killed”

  48. Bin Ismail

    @ shiv (July 31, 2010 at 5:21 pm)

    I appreciate your viewpoint and line of argument both. In my opinion, however, the following points deserve closer consideration:

    1. The comparison between the Kargil episode and the ongoing war against insurgents may not exactly be a comparison of parallel situations.

    2. The figure of 3000 is quite realistic and quite verifiable.

    3. Anti-insurgency operations have a far greater risk factor than is ordinarily imagined.

    4. This “rag-tag militia” happen to be the very insurgents in question.

    @ rationalist (July 31, 2010 at 8:18 pm)

    There may be a lack of mutual trust, but I wouldn’t call it “India-hatred”. As for casualties of the top-brass connections, there were quite a few during the attack on the GHQ mosque. It’s not that this phenomenon is entirely unknown.

  49. Bin Ismail

    @rationalist (August 1, 2010 at 4:07 pm)

    1. “…..In one sense Kargil and this anti-taliban pseudo-fighting (or half-hearted fighting) has one thing common…..”

    Now that was perceptive. In case you didn’t notice there’s another thing common – both took place on planet earth.

    2. “…..then why were (are) you pakistanis ridiculing/vilifying the indian army’s performance and anger in Kashmir?…..”

    Nobody’s claiming that we’re angels and you’re demons. If civilians are attacked by any army – yours or ours – it’s wrong and condemnable.

    3. “…..then how can we trust you?…..”

    This is precisely the question people have for you on this side.

    No disrespect, but being juvenile and contentious, at the same time, requires an inexhaustible reservoir of energy – which could alternatively be put to better and more prudent use.

  50. rationalist

    bin ismail writes:

    “If civilians are attacked by any army – yours or ours – it’s wrong and condemnable.”

    But what when civilians attack the army or police? Put yourself in the situation of a major or captain or sergeant facing stone-throwing youth instigated by some guys from across the border or by a religion created in Arabia.

    “Nobody’s claiming that we’re angels and you’re demons.”
    Really Nobody? Pakistani children are being molested by their muslim teachers who are teaching them just this (that muslims are innocent noble men and hindus are guilty scoundrels).

    What have hindus done to earn a muslims distrust? Islam is alien to India and hence it is the muslim who has to prove his trustworthiness. It is the quisling who has to prove his being worthy of being called an equal co-citizen. The onus is entirely on the muslim.

  51. Bin Ismail

    @ rationalist (August 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm)

    “…..Islam is alien to India…..”

    Islam is a universal message, from Allah Rabbul aalamin (Lord of all worlds), sent through Muhammad Rahmatun lil aalamin (Mercy for all worlds), and addressed to an-Naas (humanity). Thus is not alien to any country or nation.

    By the way, what have you to say about the religion that came from Tibet, brought to India by the Rishis?

  52. androidguy

    @Bin Ismael,

    I do not for a moment want to bat for rationalist, but what he probably meant was that Islam is alien to India in the sense that its “imported” from outside, i.e., not indigenous to India, its locus is Arabia (hajj to Mecca, point towards the Kaaba, Koran in Arabic) and most importantly, some (significant & dangerous) portion of its adherents want to establish an Islamic suzerainty over this country, relegating the “kaffirs” to second class status and probably worse.

    This is not directed at you, but there are some A-grade hypocrites around in Pakistan who criticise US as “imperialists” but will be mighty fine with a Caliphate, which is nothing but also an empire.

  53. mubarak

    @ rationalist

    or the religion the aryans brought when they invaded the dravidians?

  54. Tilsim

    @ android

    “there are some A-grade hypocrites around in Pakistan who criticise US as “imperialists” but will be mighty fine with a Caliphate, which is nothing but also an empire.”

    You are absolutely right. Romantic delusions of grandeur are to blame – with some twisted narrative around justice and power. The hypocrisy is mostly sub-conscious but nevertheless amazing to see how it works.

    Thankfully, the Caliphate narrative is a fringe narrative propounded mainly by Hizb e Tahrir (although nawaz sharif flirted with it in the 90s – currently we want more and more democracy (but we don’t like our feudocrats!)).

  55. Midfield Dynamo

    To draw an anomaly between Kasaab and Kiyani is a wild stretch of imagination and honestly I fail to grasp the point. If the preamble is senseless obviously the rest is abracadabra. This is the reason why despite all of the riches amassed by the banian tricks at your disposal you have the fear of being brought down by such an inconsequential card in the deck. I really do not have a dog in the fight, should Pakistan and India destroy each other I will have nothing to gain or lose, but certainly it would be a pity if either were to knowingly jump into the fire and it will only sadden the onlooker. It is with this detached analysis that I try and inject some sanity into this forum so that you all are able to sift through the rubble and address the core issues. The more India has tried to extort form Pakistan unjust concessions the more severe have become the contentious issues, which threaten the foundations of not only India and Pakistan but the region at large.
    I fail to comprehend the basis of your prophecy that in thirty years the problem will be resolved, it might be true but the way things are going not in your favor. If the US and its allies are losing the war with all of their experience of the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Soviet Afghanistan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Iraq and others, you can do the math. If Pakistan has a score to settle with India or wants to protect itself from India, the Taliban detest Hinduism and thus by default India and are only awaiting an opportunity to vent their evangelical scourge upon the growing economical power house in the neighborhood. It would thus be in India’s interest to keep Pakistan strong and intact to be an effective buffer between itself and the Taliban and increase the projected time frame of resolution of its regional threats from thirty years to three hundred years.
    Taliban are beyond the control of the Pakistan Army, it is a convenient pretense on its part to suggest that the Taliban policy is formulated by the ISI, it is a grave threat to India and secures them some military hardware from the US. Some Taliban operations are facilitated by the ISI, which gains them some prestige amongst the regional power players and leverage with the tribals. Insurgencies have never been defeated, Chechnya, Central America, Eastern India and Kashmir, Malaysia and others will stay alive till such time a permanent solution is extended to the bereaved. Afghanistan or Pashtunistan as the case might come to be will remain a killing zone till these people are left to their own devices, contained within the confines of their territorial domain and some sort of clean break is achieved. By remaining there one is only providing them with an opportunity to kill and hone their skills in the art of clandestine warfare with modern weaponry.