Category Archives: Army

The Nation has always been a bit of an oddity amongst the English language newspapers in Pakistan. A sister concern of the vehemently conservative Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt, The Nation has inherited the responsibility to play the custodian of the Two Nation Theory for the English paper readership in Pakistan. Apparently 1971 never happened in Nawa-e-Waqt’s version of history.

In the wake of slippery circumstances for the armed forces and the premier intelligence agency that unfolded since the May 2 raid on Abbotabad and the subsequent justifiable criticism at the Khakis has propelled their uber patriotic defenders to have their say. The critics are admonished for raising fingers at the top brass. Relying conveniently on narratives that have run past their expiry dates to the point of turning into a cringe worthy cliché’, the disapproval at the recent performance (or therefore lack of) of the armed forces is largely seen as yet another attempt by the heathen western powers that be to malign our proud and glimmering reputation.

Consider this article published in The Nation recently curiously titled Dreams of Colonels’ Coup!. The following article is dreamy in a bad way alright but not the way its writer may have intended it to be. Authored by Farooq Hameed Khan, the gentleman opines, “In the aftermath of the Abbottabad and Mehran fiascos, the American and British media spearheaded a well coordinated vilification campaign against the Pak Army and ISI. A wave of articles and reports from Washington, New York and London churn out plenty of disinformation against them almost on a daily basis.”

It is tempting to imagine that a considerable number of what constitutes the writer’s ilk is frozen in a time capsule where endless reruns of Alpha Bravo Charly (A recruitment drive by ISPR guised as a popular PTV drama serial in the mid 90s) and the macho sensational espionage fiction from Tariq Ismael Saghar informs the intellect. Pakistan is the last true bastion of Islam (no less with nuclear capabilities) and that invites the perpetual scheming and wrath of amreeka, yookay, israeel, dastardly turncoat afghans and our next door favorite neighbours with a penchant for haldeeram.

Now honestly, aren’t you fed up and don’t you get supremely riled up every time some genius starts blaming the foreign hand whenever there’s a disaster small or large, manmade or natural. Yet, all the frustration and anger amounts to little when considering a significant part of our populace, held captive by state mandated Pak Studies curriculum, does buy in to this insulting mentality.

In the same article the writer adds, “The Americans seem desperate to isolate and malign the Pak Army and ISI because these institutions stand as the biggest hurdles in the CIA’s evil designs against Pakistan’s nuclear programme; resist uncontrolled America’s penetration in the nation; fight Indo-US nexus aimed to create anarchy and lawlessness on our soil, and finally because Army Chief General Kayani and DG ISI General Pasha refused to bow to US dictates and appear determined not to compromise the country’s supreme interests. So, USA’s plan to destabilise the military and weaken Pakistan, in collusion with the international media and certain quarters of the Pakistani intelligentsia media and a few politicians, has manifested on multiple fronts.”

Had the biggest hurdles to CIA’s infernal designs been not busy with the property estate business, running housing societies and bakeries, making cereals and fertilizer, our Khakis would have had surely put up a formidable front and who knows they just might have had won us a war in our checkered past. As for the DG and the Chief not bowing down to US dictates it is clear that the writer and indeed The Nation have not heard of wikileaks and even if they have, it is most likely seen as Mussad’s public relation cell.

Saving the best for the last the article says, ” Another mischievous theme relates to the possibility of lower ranking officers, and men with pro-Islamic leanings within the army /ISI, gaining access to the nuclear arsenal. In this context, Fareed Zakaria, the sworn Pakistan hater, in his recent article, The radicalisation of Pakistan’s military, in The Washington Post on June 22, 2011 grossly lies: “But the evidence is now overwhelming that it (Pak Army) has been infiltrated at all levels by ‘violent’ Islamists, including Taliban and Al-Qaeda sympathisers.”

This piece was published on the 29th of June. Two days later all the leading papers including The Nation carried this little something about the naval authorities informing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence that the PNS Mehran attackers did indeed get help from the inside. Never mind that it took the concerned authorities more than a month to get to this obvious conclusion and that a Brigadier and other officials within the army ranks had been rounded up over the last couple of weeks, it would be interesting to hear the writer’s comments which I guess is asking for too much. In all probability this turn of event will also be seen as orchestrated by the CIA.

Link to The Nation post is http://nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opinions/Columns/29-Jun-2011/Dreams-of–colonels-coup

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Unpacking the governance debate

If the intent of the unregulated media and a recalcitrant establishment is to dismiss the government to achieve better governance then this is at best a delusional goal
Recent weeks have witnessed a supercilious debate on how the current government’s misgovernance is a potent reason to boot it out. Governance is about decisions, resources and management of public affairs. The sad reality is that Pakistan’s media now controls and spins the public discourse on these issues. The popular media never wanted this government to begin with. Since 2007, it sided with the ‘clean’ and morally correct lawyers’ movement that presented an alternative to the corrupt politicians and shunned the 2008 election. First, it vilified Benazir Bhutto for making a deal with the Generals on initiating a transition towards a power-sharing arrangement. This was a classic worldview of the urban middle class, which has never been a keen participant of the messy electoral politics that brings rural politicians with fake degrees at the helm of affairs.
The second critical moment was the election of the President, which sparked an unprecedented media trial with stories (mostly unsubstantiated) of Zardari’s corruption. There was a strong alliance between the local and the global media churning out a thousand stories highlighting his insanity, fallibility and venality. This happened despite the full confidence expressed by Zardari’s party and its allies. A rare federal consensus over the election of a President was undermined and the media perception intensified how all the crooks stand together to rob the country once again.
Now the third moment in the aftermath of the floods has arrived; and the high-pitched voices against the politicians have reached their peak. The charge-sheet is long but, in a nutshell, states that the feudal politicians were inept in handling the July-August 2010 disaster and harmed the poor to save their lands. This is a simplistic conclusion that has emerged without proper inquiry and mainly through anecdotes from the urban anchors visiting rural victims and interpreting their anguish as a condemnation of the politicos.
Discussions around regime change have strongly articulated the displeasure of the unelected institutions of the state on ‘governance’. The media has faithfully reported that the Army is unhappy about the corrupt ministers still in office and the looming economic crisis. The Judiciary is perturbed, as its judgement on NRO remains partially unimplemented and key appointments reek of illegality. The perennial power-seeker class of politicians has started to reconfigure the political landscape while fringe parties like Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf and the right wing Jamaat-e-Islami want to seize this opportunity for short term gains. The ever-ready crop of technocrats is also getting anxious due to the anonymous contacts being made by the invisible elements of the state.
This display of crass opportunism by Pakistan’s traditional elites is nothing new. Since 1947 (including that fateful year), they have cared little for the ordinary citizens. But the alarming aspect of our present dilemma is the way Pakistan’s much-touted free media has become an instrument in spurring political instability. The endemic problem with Pakistan’s governance is that regardless of the government in power, the state (if we were to include all the dominant classes in the wider definition) remains disconnected and disengaged with the citizens. What is more worrying is that the state no longer is a monolith as it has delegated the state’s monopoly powers to faith-based militant groups which are ready to exploit its increasing inability to ‘govern’.
With 20 million people still struggling to reclaim their livelihoods, entitlements (such as land), shelter and security, Pakistan’s establishment and its politicians are all but willing to do anything about it. It is therefore problematic to see a legitimately elected government preparing a summary on NRO cases for 34 out of 8,000 beneficiaries and the Supreme Court chiding it like an accused party. Or, to read about the panicky meetings of the PPP while the latter should be strategising about re-enacting the NDMA legislation or preparing a resource mobilisation strategy to rehabilitate the flood victims and reconstruct the damaged infrastructure.
Equally disturbing is to witness the saga of Courts in effect suspending new Constitutional provisions while they are expressly not mandated to do that; and placing abstract notions of people’s will above the Constitution. In a similar vein, the Army has a separate fund for flood relief and the elected Public Accounts Committee cannot be given the details of how and why a Rs 5 billion supplementary grant was given to the country’s premier intelligence agency.
The argument on misgovernance by a coalition government is bogus when unelected institutions of the state are unaccountable, non-transparent and unwilling to accept the oversight of public representatives. Until the Army budgets can be audited, and judges are appointed through parliamentary commissions and the bureaucracy is answerable to legislature, we will continue to swirl in a vicious cycle of political instability.
If the intent of the unregulated media and a recalcitrant establishment is to dismiss the government to achieve better governance, then this is at best a delusional goal. Pakistan cannot afford another upheaval and the recent signals by the Army that it wants stability are welcome. But then Pakistan is an unpredictable polity with a growing constituency for suicide missions. Strange times, indeed.
Raza Rumi is a writer and policy expert based in Lahore. He blogs at http://razarumi.com. Email: razarumi@gmail.com

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A Tale of Two Classes

This article was originally published in Dawn. It makes a very interesting read and makes some extremely incisive points.

By Muhammad Waseem

In Pakistan, two dominant classes compete with each other for influence and privilege. One is the middle class, which provides the catchment area for the civil bureaucracy, technocrats, the military’s officer cadre and the business community. The other can be called, for lack of a better term, the political class that includes political entrepreneurs of various kinds at various levels, led by the landed and tribal elite. Continue reading

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Filed under Army, civil service, Democracy, Identity, Religion, Society

The politics of ‘honour’ in Pakistan

by H Ahmad

Few days back, a Pakistani military delegation returned back home without going through with their US trip after they were ‘humiliated’ on the Washington Airport. According to the news reports, a brigadier was removed from the air flight while other members of his delegation were detained at the airport for some time. Dawn reported:

“United Airlines officials, however, told the US media that the brigadier, whose name was not disclosed, had misbehaved with a stewardess and told her that this would be her last mission.”
A Pakistani official commented: “This is a delegation of senior officials, led by a two-star officer, not unit captains and majors. Such responsible officers do not indulge in such behaviour.” Continue reading

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Floods and the Existential Threat

By Adnan Syed

 The existential threat comes from disowning the democratic structure, giving up on it and looking yet again for another instant messiah in face of tremendous adversity and hopelessness.

 We were wrong in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1990s when the elected governments were overthrown. And if we continue with our mindless obsession with artificial stability, we would be wrong in 2010 yet again.

 (AZW)

  Continue reading

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Filed under Army, baluchistan, Constitution, Democracy, Judiciary, Pak Tea House, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, public policy, Rights

Hafiz Gul Bahadur: A Profile of the Leader of the North Waziristan Taliban

Cross Post from  Terrorism Monitor

By Sadia Sulaiman

Perhaps no one has greater stature or importance in the Pakistani Taliban leadership than Hafiz Gul Bahadur, supreme commander of the North Waziristani Taliban. A direct descendant of Mirza Ali Khan, a legendary Waziristani freedom fighter who fought against the British Indian government and later against the newly established Pakistani State, Bahadur is known for hosting foreign militants, mainly al-Qaeda and other Arab groups, as well as Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani of the cross-border Haqqani network.

Hafiz Gul Bahadur is 48 years old and belongs to the Madda Khel clan of the Uthmanzai Wazir. He is a resident of Lwara, a region bordering Afghanistan and is reported to have received his religious education from a Deobandi madrassa (seminary) in Multan (The Post [Lahore], August 19). Bahadur subscribes to the Deobandi Islamic revivalist ideology and maintains a political affiliation with the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F), a Deobandi political party. Bahadur fought in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s and again during Taliban rule. Continue reading

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Acknowledging our mistakes; a step in the right direction

A small headline made its way to the newspaper today. Mian Nawaz Sharif admitted that the proxy policies that Pakistan pursued in Afghanistan during the 1990s were wrong and destructive for Afghanistan. He realizes that “’Our policy in the past has failed. Neither will such a policy work in future. We have a centuries-old relationship, and we can maintain this relationship only when we remain neutral and support the government elected there with the desire of the Afghan people.”

In between bleak and despondent atmosphere that comes from reading Pakistani news, we tend to forget our land is still governed by a working democracy, free press and free judiciary. While we never cease to malign the very leaders that we elect (and they do leave a lot to desire at times with their short sighted actions), we have two major parties that have worked together on charter of democracy, NFC accord, and are in general agreement against the scourge of religious based extremism that has morphed into a existential threat for Pakistan itself.

For the first sixty three years of our existence, we are still in the process of finding our footings. Our geographic location is a mixed blessing as we found ourselves right in the midst of the great conflict that raged between the Red Russia and the ascendant West. The Muslim nationalism that formed the basis of our existence did include our religion as one of the major influences. As the twentieth century rolled on and more Muslim countries gained independence from the colonial rules, Islam-as-a-political-system ideology started finding proponents in the Middle East and the Indian Sub Continent. Pakistan as a new state gained for Muslims fell progressively to the vague and undefined relationship that Muslim nationalism and Islamic theocracy engenders. In the absence of a prescient leadership, Pakistan never was able to segregate the role of religion from its political system. The confusion morphed into a full blown infection as decades rolled on.

Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Army, Islam, Islamabad, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Pakistan