Daily Archives: October 4, 2010

Addressing the challenges – a short term agenda

Raza Rumi

Strange things are happening. Two months after a natural disaster hit millions of people and created essential prerequisites for an economic meltdown, the focus of Pakistan’s ruling elite — elected and unelected — remains on power politics. As if the utter lack of preparedness to cope with a disaster was not enough, the response to the disaster and its monitoring by a holier than thou media is baffling.

The primal cause of the post floods mismanagement, if were to believe the analysts on prime time TV and opinion piece writers from the press, is the corrupt clique headed by Mr. Zardari. Those with the most religious bent of minds have cited a divine wrath as a cause of this calamity. A few right wing newspapers have even blamed the United States and India to have caused this natural disaster to punish Pakistan for its nuclear weapons. The genesis of such intellectual confusion and distortion of public debate lies in the way the Pakistani mind has evolved into a hydra-headed, paranoid and militarised being. This has been the greatest contribution of the Pakistani state to shape and craft a society that places a premium on nuclear weapons over citizen welfare and which demonises the political process and celebrates religious militancy as a just cause. This is why militarism of a softer variety is back in full force.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan army has done a tremendous job in rescuing people and ensuring that relief efforts are well-executed. However, this is neither unusual nor a matter of surprise as it happens to be an organised institution. But to apply this success in an emergency situation by a force trained to deal with urgent situations onto the domain of national governance brings back the central issue of Pakistan’s statehood: the unresolved and now perhaps a permanent civil-military imbalance. It started with the TV channels eulogising army efforts and creating a binary between the army and the civvies — a half truth and a rhetorical polemic with little substance. This was followed by calls for army intervention by the MQM and its nemesis, Mr Imran Khan. Luckily, for Pakistan the Generals appear to be in no mood to intervene and rock the applecart. Well, at least for now. Continue reading

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Afghanistan: Why Bangladesh needs to get engaged!

Air Cdre (Retd) Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury

Should Bangladesh send troops to Afghanistan or not is a question that has raised a controversy over the last few days. Since the news item appeared on 27 September 2010 of the US request for possible military assistance to the ongoing operations in Afghanistan, there has been a spate of comments from different quarters. From an outright ‘No’ to “limited engagement” in Afghanistan – the views have been diverse, and rightly so. I have often spoken in the past about getting engaged both in Iraq and Afghanistan. My view is that we need to get engaged in a substantive way in Afghanistan as soon as possible; indeed we should have been engaged years ago.

Afghanistan is a battle-ground today between the forces of democracy and modernism represented by the people and the Government of Afghanistan and the forces of Islamic extremism and obscurantism represented by the Taliban. In this battle, we must help the Afghan government in whatever way we can to express our solidarity with their struggle to build a better Afghanistan for the future. Our struggle in Bangladesh against the rise of religious extremism and all kinds of fanaticism and our aim to establish a secular, modern democratic polity is quite in line with the Afghan people’s struggle against the rise of the Taliban. The Afghan people, despite propaganda on the contrary, have shown over the years their dogged determination to fight the Islamic extremism in all its forms. Let us examine their achievements and failures since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.
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“Hello.. Its Me Again: Says Mush”

By D. Asghar

Approximately 11 years ago a flight from Colombo to Karachi brought a person, who decided to repeat the history of so called, “bloodless coups” in Pakistan. A person who trampled the law of the land under his boots and promised to start a “clean slate” by eliminating “corruption” and by putting “Pakistan first.”

11 years later, the same person has decided to repeat the same message. The only difference is, the venue is UK, 11 years have elapsed and people have seen, lived and experienced his “enlightened moderation.” Not to mention, even if he wants to, he cannot just land in Karachi as the circumstances are quite different. It is like “old wine in the same old bottle.” Amazingly, the gentlemen who had the least regard for democracy at one point, wants Pakistanis to believe that he will start a new chapter in Pakistan’s ill fated democracy.

It is no surprise that I am referring to none other than the General (Retd) Pervez Musharraf, former. President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Musharraf launched his much talked about, “All Pakistan Mush League” in London a few days back. According to http://www.thenews.com.pk, dated October 02, 2010,

“He said his party manifesto will be governed by three documents – the Holy Qura’an, Quaid’s 11 August 1947 Constituent Assembly address and 12 April 1949 Objective Resolution by Liaquat Ali Khan.”

Its comical to hear from him about what is plaguing the nation as he is responsible for 9 years of its malignancy. Although be blamed Dick Armitage for putting him directly “in the line of fire.” The reality is to the contrary. It is no secret that, under his watch, he sent many sons of the soil in the line of fire at Kargil. He demonstrated poor leadership skills, which turned that expedition into a major international fiasco. This was his worst executive decision, even prior to assuming the self created and self imagined role of the “Chief Executive” (read Chief Martial Law Administrator).

The next blunder of the Chief Executive was to sell a case of a frivolous hijack to the nation. Actually it was a hijack of an elected government by a former Commando. Amazingly, it defied any reasonable intellect. Needless to say, he set a unique example for the youth of the nation, that “might is always right” and not to refrain from violating any law of any land to save your position.

There were many promises made to eradicate corruption, to lay the foundation of good governance and have fearless accountability. 9 years and a few months under his belt, the great messiah left Pakistan with barely getting anything accomplished. The fact is that he left a country in shambles with rampant corruption and serious security and law and order situation.

The list of his failures as a leader is way too long. He demonstrated lack of proper tact and judgment when he handled the militants at the Red Mosque in Islamabad. For the first time, in the history of the country the capital became a war zone. Pakistan saw its political leaders killed in broad day light under his watch. His cronies and yes men ran their fiefdoms as their personal domains and brought the facade of development. The foundation of so called consumer economy was laid in a society where there is an utter disregard for appropriate checks and balances.

It is rather farcical to hear from him about the supremacy of the law, who violated the laws himself, that too multiple times. Who held a Chief Justice hostage and sent the bench packing by declaring a phony emergency. Who tortured the resolute legal community and crushed the media to save his own skin.

Now the same messiah, wants to make a comeback. He envisions a rather bizarre “constitutional role of the Military”, in the Government as well. His stooges have assured him a “hands down victory”, as according to his cronies, he is the most “trustworthy leader.” The answer to that question is in the hands of the millions of Pakistanis. Do they really trust a born again former dictator?

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