Monthly Archives: June 2011


This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Sohaib Alvi

People, I have waited for some time to write my observations which I noted but gave myself time to rethink. This is because knee jerk reactions are often put down as conspiracy theories.


This is regarding the murder in cold blood of the young man Sarfraz by the Rangers group.


One, The man we now know as Afsar, who handed over Sarfraz to the Rangers was fully aware of the camera man. Still he did not let the man go in fear of being photographed and later become a victim of retribution (even if he was unaware of the fate awaiting Sarfraz).


Second, the cameraman is clearly close to Sarfraz as he is being pushed toward the Rangers. The height of the composition shows that it is at least chest level, clearly visible to the Rangers who are standing in front of him. Yet they take no action in stopping the man from recording.


Third, if they wanted to murder him without being caught, they could have arrested the man and taken him away and then shot him somewhere isolated, and maybe waited for darkness to fall. But they shot him in broad daylight, aware of people around them and having no way of knowing who was watching from a distance. They can be unafraid of the law, yes, but they would not like to be recorded still.


Fourth, After the young man is callously gunned down, the cameraman keeps recording, once again in full view of the Rangers. And if not in their view (which would be strange considering the closeness of the shot) they were aware of his presence when the young man was being brought towards them.


Fifth, the cameraman keeps recording instead of calling on his mobile for an Edhi/Aman/Chippa/Other ambulance. Or run out, call a taxi, lift the young man and take him to a hospital. Lucky for him and us that a cameraman from an unknown channel suddenly happens to be at the right place at the right time. But why is no one asking whether capturing the last moments of a dying man was more important than saving his life?


Sixth, it is strange that this cameraman has just recorded an ‘assassination’ event that ranks among the shots of Vietnam executions, as well as that of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. And yet this shot does not air till 11pm!! What was he or the editor waiting for considering this was breaking news? Was he not afraid that there may have been another recording which would air on another channel?


Seventh, The Assassination takes place in the area of Boat Basin, the police prescient that is most in control of the government, Federal as well as Provincial as well as City. This is where it can be 100% ensured that the ‘team’ of Rangers can be handpicked, and no one among them tries to stop the firing nor pick up the young man and take him to the hospital.


Eighth, Rangers & Police were the only one among the 4 security forces left to malign in the eyes of the nation. On May 2 in Abbotabad, the Air Force (whose radars ‘failed’ to spot the Black Hawks and whose F-16’s did not intercept on way back) and the Army couldn’t even fire at the Navy Seals though they were said to be there for 45 minutes.


Ninth, On May 21, The Pakistan Air Force again (as it was part of their security that was breached) & Pakistan Navy are maligned by the commando raid.


Tenth, on June 9, the Rangers (army men on deputation for civil policing) are the curse of the nation. The budget is halved and therefore less patrolling and stationing on sensitive areas of Karachi.


Now tell me, isn’t it convenient for the feudals that the Armed Forces who became the heroes of the nation in the way they sacrificed their lives, and faced near certain death, in rescuing the millions of flood affected people on their lands, and fed and clothed them while the feudal MPA’s/MNA’s did not even bother to visit them, have suddenly become the biggest criminals in the nation’s eyes?


Very convenient timing also that just when the people are fed up with the civilians in power and their manipulations and submission to IMF pressure to take more loans to make us go into so much debt that we become slaves of the bankers of the world, the only option to get rid of the criminals are exposed for incompetence, carelessness and brutality of civilians.


And who was in charge of ensuring a security system for at least two of those events? The provincial government and the interior ministry. And who is responsible for ensuring that the budgets are spent on our defenses like improvement of radars? The Defense Ministry.


Who let off Raymond Davis when the interrogators were being credited for getting information on espionage from him? The Punjab & Federal government.


The Federal and Provincial governments were never under so much pressure as in April, especially with the Arab Spring about to blow up in their faces also. Imran was getting popular to lead a revolution and there was even talk that Musharraf was better for the nation than these people.


And so, just as the pressure cooker was about to burst as summer was poised to bring more frustration with less energy for industrial and consumer sector, the budget for armed forces was coming up, all this happened.


So less money goes for security especially in Karachi. The city already vulnerable from the sea after the destroying of Orions (forget the Indians, look at the smuggling through the coastal belt and Balochistan border) is now internally at the mercy of the criminal gangs after the halving of Rangers budget.


Think people. Think. Yes there is incompetence involved in Mehran but Abbotabad raid was due to superior technology and permission required from PM to shoot back. The Benazir Park shooting was the act of 5-6 renegades. Yes the Armed Forces/Rangers/Police all show highhandedness, but go into the villages of the feudal lords and the areas of the urban gangs and see what happens. If the media were to post some cameramen there who could roam about secretly, the images would make you squirm.


The one institution that can (unconstitutionally, yes) forcibly remove this government has been tarnished in one sweep within 5 weeks. It cannot recover until this government completes its five years of unjustified borrowing, unjustifiable spending, rising prices and failing energy.


Please speed again trough the 10 points to ponder about the murder at Benazir Park and then the observation just above. Then ask yourself the following 10 questions (and maybe some more that will crop up.) But before you do let me assert that I am NOT for military dictatorships at any level, I am for cantonment areas out of city limits or in the suburbs, I am against hiring of defense personnel in government or semi government unless they are fully qualified and deserve the job on merit and I do not think that Army entering onto the corporate sector is a good idea and certainly against the constitution.


I am just a proud Pakistani who wants to live and die here, who wants to work for and chase our Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s creation and Allama Iqbal’s vision, and who wants people to not become emotional and to think through what is happening around them for the past 40 years before they condemn all and trigger anger.


Now, my 10 questions are


1. Who do the party heads and top cronies most fear for exposure of their corruption, being shot or jailed? (Try the Media, The Judiciary and Police and then think again)


2. Who has not been able to implement the resolution against Drones or follow up on Iran’s warning last week? Who are embarrassed and shown useless and helpless in front of the nation and want the attention away from their incompetence and powerlessness?


3. Between the leaders of political parties and the armed forces who are more likely to stand and fight when they are attacked internally and externally?


4. Which from among the leaders of these parties and armed forces have fled every time there has been a danger to their lives or when the tough decisions have to be made whether economic or setting Raymond Davis free?


5. Among these two institutions who can fly out and not be called a coward? And if so has not to face court martial or be called a deserter?


6. Among the two who has his investments (real estate, cars, etc) here and who has it all abroad?


7. Members of which institution, no matter how incompetent in the eyes of the nation, face a greater probability of being fired at, or bombed?


8. Why is it that when the world condemns Muslims we cry that just because of a few bad eggs, the entire Muslim community should not be condemned. But when a few officers in charge of security fail to perform their duty or one trigger happy Ranger murders in cold blood, we condemn the entire Armed Forces and Rangers?


9. Which institution has looted the most FROM THE PEOPLE in Pakistan’s last 40 years?


And after answering the first 9 questions, last but not least, answer:


10. Who has benefited most from the events from May 2 to June 9?


We have an option to condemn ALL and immediately or we have the option to count to ten, spit our anger, do not allow a few acts to fool us, talk to each other and look back at history and if nothing less, decide among the lesser of two evils. Perhaps now you know what the Sahabis faced when spreading Islam and what our grandparents went through in the years leading up to the creation of Pakistan.


Afraid to act? Then at least recognise the bravery of these people and be ready to look into the mirror and say: I know what you did for my soul Sahabis and what you did for my freedom Grandparents but I am throwing away all that you earned for me. I just hope I do not have to face you up there.

*The writer is Chairman & CEO of a Karchi-based company. He is a known cricket commentator & writer.


Dangerous Duffers

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

Editor’s Note: Pakpotpourri has on many occasions, introduced new writers.This is Talha Rehman’s first article being launched by Pakpotpourri2.

By: Talha Rehman  

The honourable lady who used these words for the individual members of Armed Forces or for the institution as a whole must be having enough proof to justify her outburst. The fact that our ever alert Honourable Courts did not take Suo Moto notice of the statement also indicates that there was nothing wrong, against the Constitution or unlawful about the episode. Our media in general was so busy in much more important issues that it could not give enough space and time to this minor cut on the minds and hearts of those, whose honour and dignity is otherwise being slaughtered by enemies and friends alike for a number of weeks now. The leadership of Armed Forces thought it was not their responsibility to get entangled in the war of words as it would only further aggravate the situation.So what could the soldiers and officers do who lost their limbs and lives for the sake of their Country , after observing such an apathy of the society at large? The parents of the shuhada must be thinking that the sacrifices of their sons had gone in vain.

After all Sepoy Fateh was getting about nine to ten thousand Rupees and free rations, and Capt Haroon was not getting less than thirty five thousand Rupees for defending their Motherland. Then what if Fateh is without his left leg and right arm because of the frost bite at Siachin and Haroon lost his life while valiantly fighting with terrorists in Swat. Men you are being paid for that. You are eating away major portion of the budget. What did you say ,it is not going in your pocket ? What about these so expensive tanks, guns and missiles that are your personal property and does not belong to this Nation ? If all this money was spent on the health , education and improving the law and order as honestly as the paltry amount being spent now by these institutions your Country would have been a developed and least corrupt in the comity of nations by now.

My dear Khakies, Blues and Whites, don’t be under any self illusion that you have ever given any extra ordinary sacrifices to defend your frontiers. The part of Kashmir that was taken by the volunteers with a bit of your help, expelled Indian Army from Rann of Kach , did not allow Indian Army to enter Lahore Gymkhana etc etc means nothing. The records and sacrifices of PAF pilots and madness to fight heavily outnumbered enemy is not appreciated in this land of the pure, after all you own forty year old F-16s , that as per the knowledge of our intelligentia are most modern and expensive aircrafts. Only a duffer would take his ship and submarine deep into enemy waters and fight them out there killing them and getting killed . Either you have no brains or you are doing it for money…. I don’t think higher ideals like self sacrifice, crave for shahadat or willingness to give your present to buy bright future for the grandchildren of Asma Jahangir, Chief Justices, Hamid Mir,Dadabhoys or choudrys, has anything to do with it.

So , now that you have been cautioned none other than the President of the Supreme Court Bar , and your actual face and mind has been very eloquently exposed, better mend your ways. What business you have to make best schools and colleges in the Country and why are you wasting your peanut minds in establishing best health facilities unnecessarily. Why do you keep your cantonments so clean and green and have flower competitions and maintain good traffic and other discipline out there ? Are you a special breed ? Can’t you live a simple,filthy , corrupt life just like your brethren elsewhre? Please join them immediately , otherwise you had it . Why did you show this nation that an organised living is possible by establishing Defence Housing Societies and why do you boast of Frontier Works Organisation that built KKH , Coastal and Highway and busy making roads in FATA? Anybody could have done it.

And your passion for takeovers is most disgusting. In the presence of so many brilliant minds and such a congenial democratic environment where the best are given the chance of leading their parties, you better mind your own business. What if huge amounts are being stashed in foreign countries, those are national reserves …duffer . If institutions are wrangling with each other and the poor masses seething under abject poverty, things will change soon, don’t worry. Then what If higher judiciary doesn’t know what is happening to the 500 apprehended terrorists who slaughtered the innocent people in Swat, how much time it takes for a woman to take her legitimate share of property, and what has happened to innumerable decoits,abductors and murderers who were caught redhanded or carried out their heinous crimes in broad daylights. Probably they have no time to think what is happening to 99 percent of the population, there are important constitutional matters to attend to.

So you with low IQs  ! don’t scratch your heads to discern whether Country, Constitution or Parliament is supreme ? Whether telling a lie regarding your qualification renders you disqualified for a public office? Whether it is the responsibility of media anchors to verify their facts and how much of speculation be allowed? Whether all corruption becomes legitimate if the poor downtrodden people vote you to the parliament?

And please don’t worry about the people of Pakistan..They do not matter except for the few days of elections. Media is powerful, wise politicians are efficiently running this Country, dispensation of justice specially for the poor is abundantly available. Fiscal and security policies are in able hands and our overall direction ….. Well please don’t tax your small minds, after all those who lay down their lives to defend all the muck described above and that too for a paltry few thousand rupees are naturally nothing but duffers no sir dangerous duffers.

*The writer is based in Karachi. He is a consultant in Human Resources.

Sensationalism: The unkindest cut of all

By:Brig. Samson Sharaf    

In the past two months the armed forces, ISI and law enforcement agencies have been a target of unprecedented bashing and criticism. If one were to believe the twitters and blogs, the entire security apparatus of Pakistan is discredited, disgraced and hanging by tenterhooks. Some private TV channels are playing both sides and keeping their bets hedged either way. The informal social media, a revolution of sorts, have become vitriolic. Even positives are being tainted with sarcasm and pun. A certain responsible journalist spewing venom each day finds ‘Fauji Fault’ with the rescue of the besieged crew of MV Suez. The entire drama is akin to a punching bag. The US stands tall to spar the face; our very own take on the proverbial ‘below the belt’.

The US is talking of the much expected withdrawal at the heels of three failing surges from Afghanistan with a new mission statement that replaces Afghanistan with Pakistan. As the events unfold, so does my thesis published in a national daily in 2007: “Pakistanis need to understand that in the US scheme of things, the degradation of the army is a key plank in the objective to rid Pakistan of its nuclear capability.” What could be a better shaped environment than a collapsed economy (the real GDP excluding inflation a lowly 1.3), energy shortages close to a blackout, discredited political institutions, rising poverty, and an army fighting the militancy and the media bashing.

The parallels with the Battle of Plassey, where men of elastic conscience abetted the mercantilism victory, are beyond symbolic. The puzzled crossword has reached a point where a sane normal Pakistani is bound to ask whom to trust and who not. More than the trust deficit that exists between the USA and Pakistan, I am worried at the direction in which the national debate on the credibility of the armed forces is headed. ‘Pakistan’s security apparatus is the worst thing that ever happened to Pakistan’ is the local informed war cry.

So let us begin where it all started.

The Kakul Operation to kill Osama bin Laden (OBL) had complicity from within. As events unfold and arrests of fifth columnists become public, there is much more than appears to the public eye. I may not be surprised if sooner or later, this complicity links to high quarters. Indiscriminate visas, container scandals, free movements of US operatives, and souring of the Army-State Department relationship in the past year are all indicators of a division within the establishment. Lack of assertiveness on part of the army also links to the extensions. The surprise and consequent paralysis put the armed forces on the defensive; an army not knowing how to duck, hook or evade this barrage of short pitched deliveries. It was a script it was never prepared for and a hypothesis it was always shy of discussing.

This was followed by the Mehran Air Base raid. As asserted by me, too little was known to the public; sensational investigative journalism added to the second barrage. As events are proving, new revelations will become public adding more twists to the theories.

Some are even inclined to link the murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad, an investigative journalist, to the Mehran issue. He was a lone ranger, who operated outside the domain of Pakistan’s media czars. The fact that his murder was brutal cannot be ignored and must be investigated to bring the culprits to the book. Having followed his reports on the web for the past 15 years, I found them sensational and repeatedly falsified by events. He was a young, ambitious and romantic journalist, who loved to link a known fact to his intertwined knowledge of the militant groups and Al-Qaeda, invariably giving a false sense of reality and inside knowledge. Much of what he reported can also be found on the Indian South Asian Analysis Group website that extensively reports on the terror trails, militant groups and ISI linkages with terrorists. Saleem Shahzad, despite his best intentions, had a shortcoming that sprang from his romanticism. He had built a cognitive construct of jungles, rugged mountainous HinduKush Range from where the phoenix of Al-Qaeda would ultimately rise to defeat USA. It was usually this construct that he fine-tuned with bits of authentic information and propaganda in vogue that served both the militancy exaggeration and US propaganda. He was always in quest for a new story with a new angle; sometimes he was also spot-on.

As early as March 25 this year, he reported that USA had finally traced the whereabouts and movements of OBL and some operations would follow. Unfortunately, amidst the many yarns that he spelled, this accurate information went unnoticed. Who knows what else he knew and what contacts on this subject he was making after the killing of OBL? Now that all intelligence agencies of Pakistan are on the trail of his killers, truth will come out. As an analyst, I find the motives of getting rid of him more on the OBL count, rather than the contacts of militants in the security establishment. The media showed no urge to investigate beyond the obvious.

The Rangers’ shooting is another case in point of unjustified military bashing. Rangers are a federal and civilian law enforcement agency under the Ministry of Interior. All military officials posted in Rangers are deputed to the Ministry of Interior and paid by them. Their services under the prevailing law can only be requisitioned by the nazims/administrators/DCOs functioning under the Chief Secretary and provincial home departments. Their deployments are to be covered by administrative representatives and the judiciary. They fire only on the orders of the civilian representatives. The chain of military command never comes in, except where these forces are put in the operational control of the army like in FATA. However, in this case, without resort to the legal and functional positions, the media chose to single out the military leadership on a gory incident for which it was never responsible.

This entire gossip is a start up to the vicious anti-military campaign. The readers must beware that many more stories, more sensationalism and events will take place with fingers apparently pointing at the army and ISI. Many Pakistanis considering themselves moderates will join the mill. The military will be demoralised. It will question its missions. A dissent that never existed could set in. At the same time the US psychological warfare and propaganda machinery will keep providing new leaks to its media. The objective will be to discredit the army and plummet it to its lowest morale levels. Combat stress and fatigue will set it. The final objective is to bring the organisation to its knees to achieve the ultimate objective; rid Pakistan of its nukes.

To avoid this, the military has to be more transparent. It has to become more proactive through the ISPR. It also has to become more assertive with the USA and make the government realise that it cannot fight a war in isolation. The politicians and civil society have to realise that a lopsided national power equation is doomed to fail. As poverty rises, so will the crime and militancy. Economic emergency has to be declared; and renewed effort launched to jump-start the economy. If this does not happen in a few months, it is they themselves (the military) to blame for the ugly turn of events that may ensue.

Amidst all this confusion, we must not ignore some good news. Another in a series of endemic attacks from Kunar has been beaten back. The Pakistan Navy, overruling the orders of the International Task Force in the Aden Corridor has rescued the besieged crew of MV Suez. The resilient Pakistani Captain of the ship, Syed Wasi, is proudly bringing his flock home. Can our leaders learn something from him?

Amidst all the disinformation, Pakistan has once again done it!

* The writer is a retired Brigadier and a Political Economist.


CIA instigating mutiny in the Pakistani army

By M K Bhadrakumar   

The unthinkable is happening. The United States is confronting the Pakistani military leadership of General Parvez Kayani. An extremely dangerous course to destabilise Pakistan is commencing. Can the outcome be any different than in Iran in 1979? But then, the Americans are like Bourbons; they never learn from their mistakes.

The NYT report today is unprecedented. The report quotes US officials not less than 7 times, which is extraordinary, including “an American military official involved with Pakistan for many years”; “a senior American official”, etc. The dispatch is cleverly drafted to convey the impression that a number of Pakistanis have been spoken to, but reading between the lines, conceivably, these could also probably have been indirect attribution by the American sources. A careful reading, in fact, suggests that the dispatch is almost entirely based on deep briefing by some top US intelligence official with great access to records relating to the most highly sensitive US interactions with the Pak army leadership and who was briefing on the basis of instructions from the highest level of the US intelligence apparatus.

The report no doubt underscores that the US intelligence penetration of the Pak defence forces goes very deep. It is no joke to get a Pakistani officer taking part in an exclusive briefing by Kayani at the National Defence University to share his notes with the US interlocutors – unless he is their “mole”. This is like a morality play for we Indians, too, where the US intelligence penetration is ever broadening and deepening. Quite obviously, the birds are coming to roost. Pakistani military is paying the price for the big access it provided to the US to interact with its officer corps within the framework of their so-called “strategic partnership”. The Americans are now literally holding the Pakistani army by its jugular veins. This should serve as a big warning for all militaries of developing countries like India (which is also developing intensive “mil-to-mil” ties with the US). In our country at least, it is even terribly unfashionable to speak anymore of CIA activities. The NYT story flags in no uncertain terms that although Cold War is over, history has not ended.

What are the objectives behind the NYT story? In sum, any whichever way we look at it, they all are highly diabolic. One, US is rubbishing army chief Parvez Kayani and ISI head Shuja Pasha who at one time were its own blue-eyed boys and whose successful careers and post-retirement extensions in service the Americans carefully choreographed fostered with a pliant civilian leadership in Islamabad, but now when the crunch time comes, the folks are not “delivering”. In American culture, as they say, there is nothing like free lunch. The Americans are livid that their hefty “investment” has turned out to be a waste in every sense. And. it was a very painstakingly arranged investment, too. In short, the Americans finally realise that they might have made a miscalculationabout Kayani when they promoted his career.

Two, US intelligence estimation is that things can only go from bad to worse in US-Pakistan relations from now onward. All that is possible to slavage the relationship has been attempted. John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Mike Mullen – the so-called “friends of Pakistan” in the Barack Obama administration – have all come to Islamabad and turned on the charm offensive. But nothing worked. Then came CIA boss Leon Panetta with a deal that like Marlon Brando said in the movie Godfather, Americans thought the Pakistanis cannot afford to say ‘No’ to, but to their utter dismay, Kayani showed him the door.

The Americans realise that Kayani is fighting for his own survival – and so is Pasha – and that makes him jettison his “pro-American” mindset and harmonise quickly with the overwhelming opinion within the army, which is that the Americans pose a danger to Pakistan’s national security and it is about time that the military leadership draws a red line. Put simply, Pakistan fears that the Americans are out to grab their nuclear stockpile. Pakistani people and the military expect Kayani to disengage from the US-led Afghan war and instead pursue an independent course in terms of the country’s perceived legitimate interests.

Three, there is a US attempt to exploit the growing indiscipline within the Pak army and, if possible, to trigger a mutiny, which will bog down the army leadership in a serious “domestic” crisis that leaves no time for them for the foreseeable future to play any forceful role in Afghanistan. In turn, it leaves the Americans a free hand to pursue their own agenda. Time is of the essence of the matter and the US desperately wants direct access to the Taliban leadership so as to strike a deal with them without the ISI or Hamid Karzai coming in between.

The prime US objective is that Taliban should somehow come to a compromise with them on the single most crucial issue of permanent US military bases in Afghanistan. The negotiations over the strategic partnership agreement with Karzai’s government are at a critical point. The Taliban leadership of Mullah Omar robustly opposes the US proposal to set up American and NATO bases on their country. The Americans are willing to take the Taliban off the UN’s sanctions list and allow them to be part of mainstream Afghan political life, including in the top echelons of leadership, provided Mullah Omar and the Quetta Shura agree to play ball.

The US tried its damnest to get Kayani to bring the Taliban to the reconciliation path. When these attempts failed, they tried to establish direct contact with the Taliban leadership. But ISI has been constantly frustrating the US intelligence activities in this direction and reminding the US to stick to earlier pledges that Pakistan would have a key role in the negotiations with the Taliban. The CIA and Pentagon have concluded that so long as the Pakistani military leadership remains stubborn, they cannot advance their agenda in Afghanistan.

Now, how do you get Kayani and the ISI to back off? The US knows the style of functioning of the Pakistani military. The army chief essentially works within a collegium of the 9 corps commanders. Thus, US has concluded that it also has to tackle the collegium. The only way is to set the army’s house on fire so that the generals get distracted by the fire-dousing and the massive repair work and housecleaning that they will be called upon to undertake as top priority for months if not years to come. To rebuild a national institution like the armed forces takes years and decades.

Four, the US won’t mind if Kayani is forced to step aside from his position and the Pakistani military leadership breaks up in disarray, as it opens up windows of opportunities to have Kayani and Pasha replaced by more “dependable” people – Uncle Sam’s own men. There is every possibility that the US has been grooming its favourites within the Pak army corps for all contingencies. Pakistan is too important as a “key non-NATO ally”. The CIA is greatly experienced in masterminding coup d-etat, including “in-house” coup d’etat. Almost all the best and the brightest Pak army officers have passed through the US military academies at one time or another. Given the sub-continent’s middle class mindset and post-modern cultural ethos, elites in civil or military life take it for granted that US backing is a useful asset for furthering career. The officers easily succumb to US intelligence entrapment. Many such “sleepers” should be existing there within the Pak army officer corps.

The big question remains: has someone in Washington thought through the game plan to tame the Pakistani military? The heart of the matter is that there is virulent “anti-Americanism” within the Pak armed forces. Very often it overlaps with Islamist sympathies. Old-style left wing “anti-Americanism” is almost non-existent in the Pakistani armed forces – as in Ayaz Amir’s time. These tendencies in the military are almost completely in sync with the overwhelming public opinion in the country as well.

Over the past 3 decades at least, Pakistani army officers have come to be recruited almost entirely from the lower middle class – as in our country – and not from the landed aristocracy as in the earlier decades up to the 1970s. These social strata are quintessentially right wing in their ideology, nationalistic, and steeped in religiosity that often becomes indistinguishable from militant religious faith.

Given the overall economic crisis in Pakistan and the utterly discredited Pakistani political class (as a whole) and countless other social inequities and tensions building up in an overall climate of cascading violence and great uncertainties about the future gnawing the mind of the average Pakistani today, a lurch toward extreme right wing Islamist path is quite possible. The ingredients in Pakistan are almost nearing those prevailing in Iran in the Shah’s era.

The major difference so far has been that Pakistan has an armed forces “rooted in the soil” as a national institution, which the public respected to the point of revering it, which on its part, sincerely or not, also claimed to be the Praetorian Guards of the Pakistani state. Now, in life, destroying comes very easy. Unless the Americans have some very bright ideas about how to go about nation-building in Pakistan, going by their track record in neighbouring Afghanistan, their present course to discredit the military and incite its disintegration or weakening at the present crisis point, is fraught with immense dangers.

The instability in the region may suit the US’ geo-strategy for consolidating its (and NATO’s) military presence in the region but it will be a highly self-centred, almost cynical, perspective to take on the problem, which has dangerous, almost explosive, potential for regional security. Also, who it is that is in charge of the Pakistan policy in Washington today, we do not know. To my mind, Obama administration doesn’t have a clue since Richard Holbrooke passed away as to how to handlePakistan. The disturbing news in recent weeks has been that all the old “Pakistan hands” in the USG have left the Obama administration. It seems there has been a steady exodus of officials who knew and understood how Pakistan works, and the depletion is almost one hundred percent. That leaves an open field for the CIA to set the policies.

The CIA boss Leon Panetta (who is tipped as defence secretary) is an experienced and ambitious politico who knows how to pull the wires in the Washington jungle – and, to boot it, he has an Italian name. He is unlikely to forgive and forget the humiliation he suffered in Rawalpindi last Friday. The NYT story suggests that it is not in his blood if he doesn’t settle scores with the Rawalpindi crowd. If Marlon Brando were around, he would agree.

*Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.



Waiting for the Command Decision


By: General Mirza Aslam Beg

Former Chief of Army Staff

On 17th August 1988, I didn’t consult any of my Corps Commanders or Principal Staff Officers (PSOs) and called-upon the Naval and Air Chiefs, discussed the matter briefly, and within three hours of General Ziaul Haq’s death, restored the Constitution and handed over power to Mr. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, It was an unprecedented decision in favour of democracy and rule of law. Similarly General Kiani, took the ‘command decision’ of keeping the army out of the election process of 18th February 2008, defeated Musharraf’s sinister design of repeat of 2002 elections and put democracy on the right course. 

      In May 1990, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan gave me a ‘non-paper’, listing serious lapses on part of the Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. I made the mistake of discussing this matter with the Corps Commanders and the PSOs. The ‘consensus decision’ was conveyed to the President, that “remaining within the constitutional limits, the President may take action as deemed necessary.” Benazir Bhutto’s government was soon dismissed and a care-taker government was formed to hold elections in 90 days, thus setting the bad precedence of ‘Presidential Coup’, during the period 1990-1998. In the retrospective, I regret having consulted the senior military commanders on such a vital issue. My ‘command decision’ would have been very different. 

      Similarly, General Kiani’s recent decision to consult the Corps Commanders and the PSOs, on the present critical national issues, and the declaration of 10th June 2011, carries all the weaknesses of a ‘consensus decision’ as it has failed to address the main issues, which matter to the people of Pakistan and the country, as highlighted in my recent article, titled “Our Wuthering Sovereignty” published on 15th May 2011. I said: “The Pakistani nation has had such high expectations from the democratic government to deliver a sovereign parliament, an independent judiciary and an above board accountability, which are the pillars of national sovereignty, but unfortunately these institutions have been so methodically suppressed to render them ineffective. In fact, our national sovereignty has been debased and humiliated by one and all who mattered in Pakistan.”

      The GHQ Declaration of 10th June, 2011, has passed-on the entire responsibility of correcting the course, to the government, which itself is responsible for creating this calamity. This declaration won’t help establish the civilian supremacy over the military. Rather it shirks responsibility, to support the state institutions to perform. In fact, it is a repeat of General Jehangir Karamat’s action of 1997, who failed to respond to the call of the Supreme Court, that led to the assault on the Supreme Court and the political turmoil, thus paving the way for Musharraf’s take over. And if past declarations of this kind are any guide, this declaration also falls short of achieving the main objective, that is, establishing the supremacy of the civil authority over the military. Let us re-count a few episodes, preceding Gen Zia’s coup of 1977:

    • In 1976, Prime Minister Bhutto was visiting Multan. The then Corps Commander Lt Gen Ziaul Haq called-on him and pledged loyalty to Mr. Bhutto, on the Holy Book. Mr. Bhutto was so impressed that he appointed General Zia, as his COAS.
    • In 1977, Mr. Bhutto was visiting Murree. Commander 12 Division Maj Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman lined-up his officers and their wives, on the reception-line and in an exclusive meeting he also pledged loyalty to Mr. Bhutto on the Holy Book, establishing the nexus with General Zia.
    • In 1977, when the political agitation against Mr. Bhutto’s government had reached a dangerous level, the top military commanders, such as the Chairman JCSC and the three service Chiefs, pledged to the nation, their loyalty and unflinching support for the government, but, within days, Gen Zia struck and dismissed the government.


      General Kiani has time to correct the course. Civilian supremacy over the military can be established only by a sovereign parliament and an independent judiciary as we witness today in Turkey – the example to follow. General Kiani should support the Parliament’s resolution demanding cessation of drone attacks, which the American flouted and the parliament was helpless, while the Pakistani armed forces have full capability to deter and defeat such violations of our sovereignty. The will to use this capability is ‘a function of command decision, of the person in authority’ as demonstrated in 1990, by the then Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. She sent the foreign minister to Delhi, with a strong message, and ordered a squadron of F-16s fully armed, ready to strike targets deep in the South of India. This bold command decision, deterred the enemy. Then, we had the F-16s and now we have the submarines, missiles and guns, which can engage targets upto a range of 30 KMs to 3000 KMs. Whereas we enjoy distinct superiority on ground, i.e., the men and missiles and the conventional weapons support. Our men belong to one of the best fighting machine of the world, supported by the hard core tribal fighters of our border regions. Based on Men and Missile, we can effectively deter and defeat aggression directed against Pakistan from Afghan territory. Let there be no ambiguity about it. 

      The Armed Forces must support the ‘Supreme Court of Pakistan, to ensure that the judgments passed by the apex court are implemented, which is the constitutional responsibility of the armed forces and there is no going back on it. The armed forces must also help re-establish, above board accountability, to punish the corrupt and the unscrupulous. The political parties also have the shared responsibility to help the military, establish the supremacy of the civilian rule and also have to remain mindful of the bloatings and blusterings of the opposition leaders, against the military, which is counter-productive. They better draw on the political wisdom of Mr. Erbogan of Turkey, who has achieved harmony between the seculars/liberals and the Islamists, has established the supremacy of the civilian rule over the military and has taken the country to unprecedented economic heights.


      If the military high command remains content with the 10th June declaration, that would mean waiting for the collapse of the system and military take-over. It is the time now to act, remaining within the framework of the Constitution, and support the present government, to build a sovereign parliament, an independent judiciary and the institution to deliver above board accountability. This would be the greatest gift, the armed forces could offer to the nation – an unprecedented move, “to willingly accept the supremacy of the civilian rule.” 

      This is our rendezvous with history. And to make history, one has to rise above the level of the ordinary.

US: Wining Hearts and Minds or capturing it?

This is a PAKPOTPOURRI EXCLUSIVE                                                                                              (The Battle for Blogosphere)

Jawad Raza Khan

Capturing lands has been a hallmark in the history of mankind for the lust of individual power, whirling into covetousness of resources as a nation. In wake of the statement above,planet earth has witnessed Hot and Cold Wars, turning into LICs (Low Intensity Conflicts). The myth of conquering lands shaped into conquering minds especially after US failures in global war on terror.

Advent of CNN during the First Gulf War was a trend setter in the history of warfare and electronic media emerged as a sole dynamic entity, but when state run televisions couldn’t provide space for the vested interests later, the emerged solution for the western powers was scientific use of Social Media Networks (Facebook Twitter You Tube) as their primary weapons for enticing friendly opinion making all around the globe. The regime change is now an easy game to play, no need to put billions of dollars by invading the point of interest.THE BLOGO WAR is on and forthrightly speaking, we living with old mindsets and antique tools are now turned into mere spectators as far as the opinion making is concerned. The Arab revolutions will bear the testament of the mentioned circumstance. Just to crystallize the evidence in this regard, readers are here given an opportunity to learn about some hard hitting facts about the very recent Syrian Revolution……..

She moved thousands of Syrians to roads and became the symbol of an uprising: Amina Aballah Arraf, a 35-year old Syrian-American lesbian, detained in Damascus because of her open criticism of the regime. When Syrians got out of the spell they realized that Arraf wasn’t quite who she said she was. In realism, the person behind the “A Gay Girl in Damascus” blog was really a 40-year-old American man from Georgia. Tom MacMaster, the actual author of the blog, posted apologies admitting to the hoax. “I sort of by accident… created something that had a lot more interest than I had ever possibly expected and then when I tried to shut it down it just kept getting bigger,” he told the New York Times. By then game was on for Syrian government…………………………….. That’s how blogospheres are fired up and hearts and minds are captured and occupied. On the other hand, Americans have done PHD in apologizing on any matter, from WMDs of Iraq to Arab revolution.

Same kind of a Blog-oblast occurred here in Pakistan; it was after the killing of a young man in Karachi by Sind Rangers that a Facebook page was developed for Mr Sarfraz (the one who was killed). Can somebody imagine that the said page had 3000 likes click within 15 minutes of its creation, thanks to Pakistani blogosphere, who came out intelligently by exposing the creator of the page who was an Indian national sitting in New Delhi.

This single event is just an example to quote that what we are facing now? One cannot deny use of electronic/social media networks from the so called judicial revolution of Pakistan till an unstoppable roar against Pakistan after the dreadful events of May 2011. 

Interestingly, a seminar was arranged by US consulate in Karachi on 11 june 2011, where top bloggers, tweeters and Facebook users of Pakistan were invited. Approximately more than 300 individuals attended the seminar with approx. tweeter following of 400,000 educated middle and upper class Pakistanis. According to some buzzing tweets, the Americans are now giving some final touches for a dreadful advance in this battle of Blogosphere. During the said seminar participants from outside Pakistan delivered lectures and conducted interactive Q&A sessions in person as well as through Skype, surprisingly, there was no government participation in the said event.

Point here to contemplate is not in contradiction to such events but happenings around the globe through social media (with US involvements in each of them), certainly has the potential to raise a Pakistani eyebrow. With Government institutions in deep slumber of intellectual sleep, will indeed pave the way for others to occupy the space of the state.

Situation in Baluchistan cannot be countered without serious monitoring and effective measures especially on social media networks. Banning 40 or 50 websites by PTA will not do the trick for the state as hundreds of pages on Facebook and twitter along with intelligent use of YouTube and Flickr is worthwhile to have a specific issue oriented strategy for SMN (Social Media Networks). Firefighting policy here and there on daily basis can only end up in confusion and that’s what is utterly prevailing in Pakistan.  

The sequence of events around the globe after 9/11 have been so obvious and expected that sometimes when tends to feel as an extremely intelligent personality with optimized visionary capability. On the other hand, close observation reveals that the same sequence is known to every commoner in the common streets of a country like Pakistan with explicit details and Nitti gritty. What is missing is evolvement of a concrete strategy for perception management especially on SMN. It is usually said and believed in Pakistan that SMN is a news dissemination tool only, unfortunately; this thought prevails in most of the antique minds of the Government sector. Pakistan’s perception managers need to understand and educate their selves, if they truly want to contribute towards the progress of Pakistan.                                                                                                                                                              *The writer is a political analyst based in Islamabad.

Targeting Pak Nukes !

Farooq Hameed Khan  

Pak- Iran relations may not be at their very best, yet Iranian President  Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s startling disclosure that  Iran has precise information  about American plans to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear installations, should be an eye opener for Pakistan’s security establishment . The Iranian President further warned that the United States would then use the UN Security Council  and other international agencies as levers to prepare the grounds for a massive presence ( in Pakistan)  to weaken Pakistan’s sovereignty.

President Ahmedenijad must surely have credible evidence of the US conspiracy . His remarks  reinforced  Pakistani  fears  that targeting Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal  remains the ultimate objective of US policy. For Iran, the horrifying scenario of a ‘denuclearized and weakened Pakistan under US domination’ , would  heighten  Iran’s insecurity and make its nuclear program more vulnerable to US and Israeli aggression.

The US has made deliberate efforts to gain intelligence  and access to our nuclear program under various pretexts.  Intelligence gathering, monitoring and surveillance of  Pakistani nuclear sites , missile test firings and  movement of  launch platforms,   through  spy or commercial satellites is routinely resorted to, though senior US Defence  officials admitted that complete information of our strategic installations is yet not available.

During Gen Musharraf’s rule, the US was reportedly engaged in a US $ 30 million project to  streamline  nuclear  safety , command and control procedures.  Better sense prevailed at our Strategic Plans Division  and  the US role was restricted to training our experts in USA,  the program was non intrusive and was  based on  our right to ‘pick and choose’ from the US offered checklist of cooperation.

In 2007, then Member Science and Technology  of the Planning Commission of Pakistan recalled  rejecting a US offer for aerial mapping including application of ‘magnetic  anomaly techniques’ for supposedly sub surface mineral survey in Pakistan. Suspicions were raised when it transpired that out of 100 US personnel in this program, only around five  were technical experts, remaining being US marines. Moreover the US side declined to share the original raw data and offered to provide the processed results instead which was unacceptable to us.

However the  biggest US  breakthrough  may have  been made through the  CIA intelligence network created  in Pakistan  in the last few years under cover of  anti terrorism training and  tracking militants in our towns . With the help of well paid local recruits, vital intelligence about the location and security  arrangements  around our strategic installations may have been acquired.

Many will recall the transfer of a US  training team from Police Training College Sihala, that is located few kilometers from Kahuta nuclear facility, near Islamabad, after the establishment’s Commandant reported undesirable activities of these foreigners.

Western  media  reports have repeatedly suggested in the past that  United States has contingency plans to send in Special Forces to help ‘secure the Pakistani nuclear arsenal’. On 31 December 2007, ‘The Herald’, UK reported that US Special Forces snatch squads were on standby including neighboring Afghanistan to seize or disable Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.  These troops, augmented by volunteer scientists from America’s Nuclear Emergency Search Team organization, were under orders to take control of an estimated 60 warheads dispersed around six to 10 high-security Pakistani military bases.

A ‘Sunday Telegraph’ report dated 15 May 2011 revealed  the Obama administration plans to deploy US troops in Pakistan in case the country’s nuclear installations come under threat from terrorists, who have warned to avenge the killing of  Osama bin Laden. The report adds that US President  Obama  would order troops to ‘parachute’ in to protect key nuclear missile sites- including the Pakistan Air Force’s Central Sargodha Headquarters, home base for nuclear-capable F-16 combat aircraft aircraft.

Pakistan should not also ignore the UAE government’s decision to hire  former  Blackwater Chief’s  new Company  ‘Reflex Responses’,  to set up an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for the United Arab Emirates to thwart internal revolt  and conduct ‘special operations’ . Like the Shamsi airbase that UAE handed over to US for drone/military operations, is this elite mercenary force a standby arrangement  for  any US misadventure in Pakistan?

Would the US  launch a pre emptive strike against our nuclear sites? The US is known to war game various contingencies to capture or cripple Pakistan’s nuclear weapons including a surprise air/missile strike from Arabian sea based aircraft carriers to neutralize  PAF  bases,  air defence, command and  communications network. This would be followed by  moving in Special forces like the top secret Task Force 373, a joint militarycommando unit based in Afghanistan involved  in clandestine operations,  to capture key nuclear installations.

Given the multi  tiered  all round security of our strategic installations, it  would be unwise for US to attempt  an Abbottabad style( Osama operation) strike  against  our  strategic sites. Unlike Abbottabad compound  that was  unprotected  and provided a free run to US Seals,  US troops would  have to overcome resistance by  almost 18000 Pakistani soldiers armed with light and heavy weapons, backed up by elaborate air defence network,  that  guard these sites . With Pakistan’s nuclear assets widely dispersed  , disassembled  and their mobile launch platforms ever on the move, the US should expect lot of surprises .

In my opinion the US  ‘Get Pak Nukes’ Strategy envisions   a ‘false flag’  attack by  CIA supported local militants  on  a nuclear installation including a  power plant.  Any such terrorist attack , even a failed one  would be sufficient to trigger an international uproar specially in the western and Indian media , calling for a UN backed  US led intervention to  takeover   Pakistan’s nuclear assets . Such a move at the UN  is not likely to succeed since  Chinese support  is highly unlikely.

An essential prerequisite of any US foreign intervention plan envisages deep  psychological operations against the target country.  The deliberate and well orchestrated campaign by the western and Indian media supported by vested domestic forces to malign , demoralize and weaken  Pak Army which is the custodian of the nuclear arsenal and create doubts about its ability to defend the strategic assets, is  becoming strikingly visible.

The international  media ‘s recent  hype terming  Pakistan’s nuclear weapons as the fastest  growing,   and   its arsenal increasing  to around 100, almost comparable to India’s nuclear strength, is noteworthy.  This coincided with Pakistan’s  latest test firing of a nuclear-capable, surface-to-surface missile “Nasr” that can hit targets at  60 kilometers and is Pakistan’s answer to India’s Cold Start Doctrine. ‘Nasr’ adds deterrence value to Pakistan’s strategic weapons development program at shorter ranges and demonstrates that Pakistan’s capability to deploy  low yield, tactical nuclear warheads.

Pakistani defence strategists   regularly war game  responses to  possible threat scenarios should the US  alone or in league with India decide to take advantage of Pakistan’s misperceived vulnerability, specially after Abbottabad  incursion by US Special Forces.  A massive Pakistani retaliation  remains  guaranteed , that could even spark  a nuclear conflict beyond anyone’s control in the region.

Pakistanis would rather pay heed to  the Iranian President’s warning, than  accepting  Senator Kerry’s  assurance  who vowed  to write with his blood that the US was not eyeing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Make no mistake, targeting Pak nukes may be the mother of all blunders!

The writer is a retired Brigadier of Pakistan Army and a defence analyst.

NOTE :This is a cross post from THE NATION

America: Once the Most Respected Nation in the World; What Happened?

We might call what happened to America “the good cop, bad cop” syndrome.


The skies are full of our air power; the seas teeming with our fleets; and a large part of the world is garrisoned with our military installations and troops. The America of today is largely being viewed as the bad cop after its invasions and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan over the past decade.


by Michael Payne

What happened? Well, that’s really not difficult to explain. America once was the most respected, and admired, nation in the world. But then, suddenly, things began to change quite radically and, over a period of several decades, America went from being the most respected nation in the world to the most feared. Going from the most respected to the most feared is quite a feat, so how did such a transformation evolve?

We might call what happened to America “the good cop, bad cop” syndrome. After World War II, the U.S. was highly respected and thought of as that good cop that had led the efforts to defeat the primary Axis powers of Germany and Japan. After that war, it had, more or less, assumed the role of protector of the world.

America is no longer viewed as a protector of the world but, rather, a mighty military force that is protecting its own national interests. Quite a reversal of roles, is it not? The skies are full of our air power; the seas teeming with our fleets; and a large part of the world is garrisoned with our military installations and troops. The America of today is largely being viewed as the bad cop after its invasions and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan over the past decade.

If I had to come up with one word to describe the dramatic change that has come over America during the last half of the 20th century and thus far in the 21st, it would be – rampant Militarism. It’s as if an obsessive-compulsive behavioral disorder had entered the body of America, one that is totally resistant to any known treatment. It’s a condition that is not improving over time but is continuing to grow with ever more intensity.

But let’s get back to determining why America has largely lost the respect of the world. When did all this unrestrained militarism really take shape? We could say it began when, in 1950, U.S. forces were deployed in South Korea to help that nation fend off the threats of invasion by North Korea’s armies. The stated reason for our involvement in that war that ended in 1953 was, supposedly, to stop the spread of communism. So let’s call that the beginning.

However, I believe that the large growth of U.S. militarism began after several hundred thousand of our troops were deployed in Vietnam, beginning in 1965 during the era of the Cold War. That horrific military conflict lasted until the U.S. was forced to exit that country in 1975, but not before we had lost the astounding number of 58,000 troops and more than 2 million Vietnamese had been killed. During that war the U.S. used napalm, white phosphorus, and Agent Orange toxic chemicals to subdue the enemy and that country; it didn’t work.

That was the point, in my estimation, at which the respect for America among the nations of the world began to erode. Sure there was a communist threat during that era, and it certainly had to be addressed, but the question was — did it necessitate such a massive, long war to deal with the threat, or was it one of the greatest military blunders in history? We will let historians make that judgment, but this we know: from that time on the U.S. went on to involve itself in a succession of military conflicts against supposed enemies, mostly in very small nations, all over the world. And, unfortunately, the trend continues to this day.

If Korea was the beginning of our militaristic machine, and Vietnam greatly escalated its scope, then the terrorist attack on 9/11 can be considered as the event that capped the entire process and locked America into its current agenda of perpetual war.

Our government always needs some kind of bogeymen in order to justify its wars; during World War II the bogeymen were Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo — and, yes, they were that and a whole lot more. More recently it was Saddam Hussein, then Osama Bin Laden, and now it’s Libya’s Gadhafi. Which country and which designated bogeyman within it will be the next target? Stay tuned because it could be Yemen, Syria, Iran or any nation in the Middle East, Central Asia or who knows where.

Currently the U.S. and NATO have about 150,000 troops caught up in a large quagmire in Afghanistan and Pakistan while, at the same time, the U.S. is trying to make deals with the governments of both Afghanistan and Iraq to maintain a military presence in those nations for many decades to come. We continue to spend massive amounts of taxpayer money on our military empire while these same taxpayers would like that money spent on domestic needs, including the repair of our rapidly deteriorating national infrastructure.

I think the nations of the world are looking at America and what it is doing and just shaking their heads in utter disbelief — and in fear. Is this the very same country for which they formerly had such great respect and admiration? They wonder how much longer all this aggressive U.S. military action will continue around the world, and if they could be next target on the list.

Remember when the “Acting” President Ronald Reagan said, ” America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.” Does anyone still think that this is the way that the world views America today?

A further question might be to ask: does America even care whether it is respected by the other nations of the world? Do we really care what they may think about us? Well, I’d answer that in two ways: I’d say that the majority of Americans would like to regain the respect of the world that this nation once had and that they don’t particularly like being viewed as hostile and belligerent.

In the case of our government that’s an entirely different matter. By all its aggressive military actions around the world it appears that it is not concerned about having the respect of the world; it has a set agenda that involves military control over specific regions of the world, and it simply wants the nations of the world to accept that fact and not to interfere with how its being carried out.

The leadership of our government may not be the least concerned about respect because, in this highly dangerous world, power is what counts and that it has. Respect, therefore, is not an important issue to our leaders. But things have a way of changing quite dramatically, as history tells us. The day is fast approaching when America’s vast military empire will have to be drastically scaled back because our failing economy and our financial instability will no longer be able to sustain it. All the meaningful indicators are telling us that a huge financial crisis is imminent.

When that happens we might just be looking for a few friends in the world to help us in our time of crisis, and the respect of other nations will, without a doubt, become extremely important. The question is; at that time, when we’re looking for and needing those friends and their respect and support, will America get it; will it even deserve it?

Michael Payne is an independent progressive who writes articles about domestic social and political matters as well as American foreign policy. He is a U.S. Army veteran. His major goal is to convince Americans that our perpetual wars must end.

NOTE :This is a cross post from VETERANS TODAY.Original publishing link:

What the corps commanders’ conference did not say

By Shaukat Qadir                                                                                                                                                           

Before assessing what the press release issued after the 139th corps commanders’ conference on June 9 said or did not say, it is essential to review the backdrop in which this conference took place and the impact of the events of the past six weeks on the people of Pakistan.

In all fairness, I am compelled to precede the foregoing by narrating a few facts of significance. In November 2007, General Kayani inherited a demoralised and dysfunctional army; one that was viewed with disrespect by the Pakistani people. Within a year, he had turned it on its head, recreating the efficient fighting force that it used to be, restoring, not only the soldiers’ self-respect but also their respect in the eyes of ordinary citizens: No mean achievement.

By 2009, the nation stood united behind the military, enabling it to undertake two remarkably successful operations to reclaim Swat and South Waziristan Agency. Kayani was on top of the army’s pinnacle. Even the Raymond Davis affair reflected creditably on the army/ISI who had successfully got rid of ‘rogue CIA’ elements walking our streets and killing at will.

The problem with riding a pinnacle that high is that if you fall, the fall is long and very hard.

On May 2, Navy SEALs violated our territorial sovereignty, penetrated as deep as Abbottabad and reportedly killed Osama bin Laden, who had been in hiding in a house a couple of kilometres from the Pakistan Military Academy, and escaped unchallenged. The real truth of this event is irrelevant; the act is what matters.

As soon as the Pakistani public recovered from this stunning piece of information, their first response was a sense of outrage. Outrage that the US could carry out such an attack unchallenged and without the knowledge of the military/ISI; outrage that Osama could have been housed in a cantonment like Abbottabad, without the knowledge of the army/ISI, accusations of complicity/incompetence flew as wildly domestically as they were being raised abroad. But, most of all, a feeling of deep agony and betrayal, that the military they had held in such esteem was not even capable of discovering and responding to such a raid. Had PAF planes taken to the air in time, even if only to be shot down; had the army reacted in time, even if only to be killed, the agony would have been less.

As if that wasn’t enough, within days, suicidal attacks avenging Osama’s death started and, exactly three weeks later, PNS Mehran was attacked; a naval base housing extremely valuable assets which were destroyed. The naval chief informed the public that it “was not a security lapse”! How gullible he must think us to be? But the people received another message: ‘Your armed forces cannot even guard their own precious assets’.

Once again the question of the safety of our nuclear assets is under debate: Abroad, and in every drawing room in Pakistan!

To add slime to the mud was the foul murder of Saleem Shahzad. Personally, I don’t think it was committed by the ISI merely because, given the intense pressure that it currently is under, it would be stupid of it to do so and to leave the body to be found; and General Pasha is anything but stupid! However, my view is irrelevant; public perception isn’t.

It is in this backdrop that the press release has to be viewed.

Clarifying the question of how much US aid has been received and how much has gone to the military was important. And the suggestion that funds intended for the military be diverted to improve the lot of the people is a good gesture, but the most significant comment was the concluding one; “Pakistan’s internal situation is the most important factor and it cannot be relegated in priority. Army leadership reaffirmed its resolve to continue supporting the democratic system without any preference to any particular political party. It is also determined to lead the fight on terror in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and in line with the Constitution”.

It was important that support to democracy be restated and that this support was not to the exclusion of any political party. It was also important to reaffirm the resolve to fight the scourge of terrorism.

The earlier comment in the press release, implying the military’s acceptance of the supremacy of elected leaders, might be superfluous and, given the state of our democratic environment, difficult to swallow.

However, this press release was, quite obviously, addressed to the public; and in that respect, woefully inadequate. That military to military relations (with the US) will have to be reassessed; or an appeal to the public to refrain from maligning the armed forces is not reassuring, nor is it likely to have a visible impact. Nor is it sufficient to restate the opposition to drone strikes.

The people needed to hear a more positive, confident response; one that openly acknowledges errors, even if without detailed explanation, and one that offers reassurances for the future and promise of action.

Implying that the government will formulate a policy on drone attacks is almost laughable. It is an open secret that governmental response to US demands is never negative; if there is any resistance to the US, as CIA Director Leon Panetta’s most recent visit again reminded us, it comes from the GHQ/ISI. If drone attacks are to be permitted only to ‘take out’ high value targets, with permission of the GHQ/ISI, the PAF should be visible, patrolling the skies.

The military’s image has again hit an all-time low. If it is to be rebuilt, the GHQ will need to speak confidently to reassure the people and demonstrate its will by following words with action. Palliatives will not suffice; it is time to stand tall; respond openly to questions being raised on the military’s ability to deliver; and, most importantly, to deliver.

This nation stood united behind the military, leading to its success; it must be won over again. This is doable, but not through such press releases.

The writer is a retired brigadier and a former president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute.




“Do More, Do More”…….or else!

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

Restraint on Counter Insurgency Funds….a Blessing In Disguise?


The statement of the Secretary of State for US has become a joke in Pakistani drawing rooms.

“Pakistan must Do more”.

The 9/11 attacks resulted in 2,996 deaths. Out of this, 246 on the planes,2606 in towers and on ground, 126 at the Pentagon. The attack justified invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq & attacks on the “ally on war of terror”, Pakistan.  USA has come a long way since. The policy of extrajudicial killings survived the Bush era in post 9/11 and has intensified from an estimated 45 attacks to 200 under Obama. Few killed in these attacks have been militants, mostly civil casualties. According to the New American Foundation only 2% of deaths have been of the militants. But that’s ok. That’s why the term “collateral damage” was coined, no?

Pakistan Army has been engaged in a non conventional war since then. Fighting against an enemy within. Parts of Pakistan lies destructed, millions displaced, civil amenities destroyed with increasing pressure on Pakistan to now target North Waziristan.

However, Pakistan needs to “Do More”. Or else!

In an article carried by Pakhtoonistan Gazette on 10th April 2011, Muhammad Tahir comments on the White House Report claiming that Pakistan has no “clear path” to defeat militants on it’s soil.

My humble submission, dear readers, is, neither does USA.

However, Pakistan needs to “Do More”. Or else!

To ensure Pakistan does”do-more”, US lawmakers approved tougher scrutiny over the $1.1 billion counterinsurgency funds for Pakistan. Congress will have 30 days to review administration spending plans before 75% of the funds can be released.

Democratic Representative Norman Dicks is bull’s eye when he says that a choice must be made where to spend the funds. On American people. Or on foreign wars. “I think that is a choice we are all going to have to consider in the days ahead,” he said. True! However, the “ally on war of terror” has no such right to prioritize the needs of their country!

Pakistan must “Do More” or else!

The Kerry Lugar Bill, already stipulated that for the   fiscal years 2011 through 2014, no security-related assistance may be provided to Pakistan in a fiscal year until the Secretary of State, under the direction of the President, makes the certification required under the bill provision, for such fiscal year.

However, Pakistan must “Do More”, or else!

A friend wrote,” Pakistan has been relegated to the level of a “tea boy” working in the street restaurant for it’s master. The tea boy must do to his master’s bidding……or else….!”

What must Pakistan do?

For starters, try developing some dignity and stop being so damn apologetic. After that, strengthening her position in the South West Asia Region. Developing trade and other treaties with countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh & China. Of course any closeness with China will be frowned upon by the restaurant owner, who may decide to deduct the tea-boy’s pay on some pretext at the end of the month. A risk worth taking?

Should Pakistan look towards Germany for arms sales? Germany is a rising power in the arms trade business. A study by the U.S. Congressional Research Service puts Germany, with an 8 percent share of the global market, at No. 3 behind the United States (41 percent) and Russia (10.5 percent).

One thing Pakistan needs to do pronto: stop expecting others to look after HER national interests. This is the task of Pakistan herself. Not others! Unless, she wants to remain the “tea-boy” for the rest of the “war on terror?”

Yes Pakistan must “Do More”. However, not by anyone else’s definition but by her own!

(The writer is a lawyer based in Lahore, Pakistan. She teaches in a University and  can be reached at