Monthly Archives: November 2014

Musharraf, Modi, India and Pakistan

Yasmeen Aftab Ali

ArticleYAAThis is a cross post from Weekly Pulse

“Former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf said on Wednesday that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an enemy of Pakistan and Muslims, urging the Indian premier to change his anti-Pakistan attitude… Speaking to an Indian news channel, the former president said that Pakistan would never neglect the defence of its eastern borders and added that the country would not hesitate in using the nuclear bomb against India if the need arose.”(Dawn Oct 22, 2014)

Talking about Prime Minister Modi in an interview, the former President of Pakistan stated, “We know his anti-Pakistan credentials. Now, it may be a red line for you that people of Pakistan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, or the Foreign Secretary must not meet the APHC. That is not our red line. We do not follow your red line. They must meet. I would say that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, when, he went to India, should have met the APHC leaders. Why is that a red line? There is dispute, internationally recognized, recognized by the UN, and we myself, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vajpayee were discussing Kashmir. I used to meet the APHC leaders every time. So why is there a change of heart? That itself shows and proves the anti-Pakistan credentials of Prime Minister Modi. Now, if that be so, so certainly it’s a confrontationist course. He is taking a confrontationist course with Pakistan. So, this red line that he has declared is confrontationist certainly. It is not peaceful. And when you say he had invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited him to Pakistan and he didn’t come.” (India Today October 22, 2014)

Though Musharraf may be factually correct, it never fails to surprise me why our leaders feel other countries and leaders of other countries owe an obligation to Pakistan to resolve our problems.

I had stated my reservations about Prime Minister Modi’s foreign policy vis a vis Pakistan and that I would like to share here in light of Musharraf’s interview:

‘BJP carries a heavy Hindutva baggage. So much so that the BJP manifesto states, “India shall remain a natural home for persecuted Hindus and they shall be welcome to seek refuge here.” A narrow based party representing one religious group can afford to keep narrow minded clauses in its manifesto, but can a party leading a nation of 1.3 billion, calling itself a secular state?

Modi has a very limited experience of foreign policy. His appointment as the national security advisor has been Ajit Doval. Looking into Ajit Doval’s past and thought process is interesting as it reflects upon the shape of foreign policy India would like to map out with Pakistan. Let’s be very clear. The position Ajit Doval holds is not a ceremonial one. It’s a powerful seat that has a strong place in the nuclear line of command. Ajit Doval holds sway over Indian intelligence agencies. His predecessors hailed from the diplomatic core; not Ajit Doval. He is from the intelligence operations. He has been part of a think tank with expertise in Pakistan and China affairs. The second he steps out of this ambit, he will have to heavily lean on others for expert advice. To say that Ajit Doval’s background is interesting is an understatement. He had infiltrated the Golden Temple reportedly in the uniform of an ISI officer, he was involved in negotiating the release of hijacked prisoners of the Indian Airlines Flight 814 in Kandahar in 1999 and “handed over insurgents” from Kashmir and Mizoram. Quoting The Hindu, “Mr Doval has talked of the importance of covert action. In a 2012 article, he defines these as “a low cost sustainable offensive with high deniability aimed to bleed the enemy to submission.” In his view, “the most effective way of dealing with terrorism would be to identify boys who have got the courage of conviction to match that of the fidayeens and who are capable of taking risks. Identify them and put them in action.” He notes, ominously, that “Pakistan has its own vulnerabilities many times higher than India.” (Published June 23, 1014)

Are we talking of an increased degree of Indian supported proxy war or/and terrorism in Pakistan in light of Ajit Doval’s preferred mode of combat? The reason why it’s important to know key players of Modi’s team is because policies depend upon their preferences. India’s hold over the Ayni Air Basealso called as ‘Gissar Air Base’ located 10km west of the capital of Tajikistan-Dushanbe and the Farkhor Air Base; a military air base located near the town of Farkhor in Tajikistan, 130 kilometers south east of the capital Dushanbe — can lead to worrisome results for Pakistan. Sudha Ramachandran writing for The Diplomat says, “While agreeing that Modi will appear tough with Pakistan, TP Sreenivasan, a former diplomat who spent 37 years with the Indian Foreign Service, argues that “this toughness will not go beyond a point” as he will realise soon that with “war not an option anymore, a tough approach will go only so far.” (Published May 6, 2014) This more or less supports Ajit Doval’s thought process.’

To a certain given degree, states can be friendly. However, this ‘friendship’ is strictly of a utilitarian nature. It may be in form of two unequal states providing service to one another, or two more equal or less equal states facing a common threat or a common interest that draws them together in a bond. It makes taking joint steps a lot of sense.

Gadi Heimann, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem when discussing this Aristotelian concept of friendship between states gives an apt example in his paper, “Saudi Arabia is not the United States’ client but its friend, and this makes it easier for both countries to continue to enjoy the reciprocal ties that benefit them. Even the relationships between an empire and its colonial protégé usually merit a façade of friendship. It may be remembered that Poland was called the “friend” and even “sister” of the USSR. during the Cold War.”

The perception of ‘friendship’ may therefore not be strictly true. Lord Palmerston was very correct when he stated, “states have neither eternal friends nor enemies, just eternal interests.”

To think that India will willingly give up occupied Kashmir is like living in a fool’s paradise. Why should India do what Pakistan asks her to do? What is the advantage that India reaps? Answer:  None. In the particular context of moving towards resolving the issue of occupied Kashmir, Modi is going to do what every Prime Minister has done earlier: nothing.

On the contrary, in order to further consolidate Indian hold on Kashmir under their control there were plans by India to build a wall to separate the southwestern part from India Occupied Kashmir. “According to Indian officials, the wall would pass through 118 villages within the three districts of disputed Kashmir and would be 41 meters wide and 10 meters high to accommodate bunkers and check posts.” (Al-Jazeera 21 Dec 2013) In furtherance of its belligerent tone, the Indian foreign ministry had asked UN Military Observers Group on India and Pakistan (UNMogip) to hand over the Delhi premises from where it was running a liaison office for more than four decades reported the Dawn on Jul 08, 2014. “New Delhi considers the whole of disputed Kashmir as an integral part of the country and has bristled against external involvement in the region including the UNMogip that was set up under the Karachi agreement in 1949 after the first war between the two countries.”

The question therefore Mr Musharraf is not what Modi thinks or does, because he is India’s Prime Minister and must do and act in the interest of his own country after all, but rather, what our leaders say or act which must be in the interest of Pakistan. What they intend to do to resolve existing multifaceted issues.

The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media and Media Laws in Pakistan.’ Her mail ID is yasmeenali62@gmail.com and tweets at @yasmeen_9

Mixing the old with old?

Mixing the old with old?

ArticleYAAYasmeen Aftab Ali

This is a cross post from Weekly Pulse

Amir Dogar pulled no punches about being supported by PTI- scion of a family that has supported PPP for three generations, himself having served as the PPP South Punjab general secretary, his win over Javed Hashmi may be viewed by some as maintenance of the status quo rather than promotion of a break from it. But wait, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What exactly is happening in Pakistan today?

On the ‘dharna politics front’ huge crowds attracted by PTI earlier have been petering thin. They have been huge; no question about that. They are exuberant people who want to see a change. The red and green supporters look for dynamism in leadership, end to corruption, and ease in the lives of millions of Pakistanis. This is the ‘Naya Pakistan’ they are looking eagerly forward to. PTI failed to strike a deal with the beleaguered Federal Government on any front; the well organized crowds notwithstanding. It was not successful in bringing the government to its knees and bringing about its ouster. Tahir-ul-Qadri having thrown in his lot with PTI- following the Model Town tragedy brought out students from Minhaj-ul-Quran International.  He with is supporters was part of a ‘dharna’ since August 2014, camping outside of Pakistan’s Parliament building having recently announced taking the ‘dharna’ to different cities of Pakistan.

However, PTI is determined to stay put at the Constitution Avenue until the PM quits office. Khan’s  party has already held huge rallies in Multan, Lahore as well as in Karachi.  The steam has however obviously let off….. the steak is no longer sizzling. The aroma has escaped the dish, which has turned cold.

The government was in a classic catch 22 situation. Upon PTI demanding investigating alleged irregularities in four constituencies, PML N turned around and demanded investigation of same number of constituencies where seats were won by PTI. Had PML N agreed without this clause to PTI’s demand and had irregularities showed up, this would have brought the entire election process in question.  Therefore, they did the predictable; they did nothing.  Imran needs to realize something in his act has to change in order to get some mileage from the long drawn out campaign. The Model Town PAT workers’ killings had placed both PTI and PAT on the same boat. However, the present following of different policies by both parties will strengthen the hand of the present political dispensation.

Looking beyond the dharna politics, once again we see that MQM has fallen out with PPP. May one dare add; once again? Bilawal, tipped to be the new face of his party, in a rally in Karachi, recently, organized to launch him, he stood atop a bus at the spot his mother; Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. To his credit, young Bhutto did not mince words when he condemned harshly not only the Pakistan Taliban but also similar other outfits. The 26 year old scion of the Bhutto family according to a leading English daily, “warned Altaf Hussain to control his “Namaloom Afraad,” saying that “Uncle Altaf if my workers get a scratch, forget London police I (Bilawal) will make your life miserable.” According to the Economic Times, “The PPP, claimed that nearly one million people showed up for the rally the figures given by the security agencies and Sindh police differed drastically. The Sindh police put the attendance at 120,000 while the security agencies and home department put the figure at 100,000.The rally is also seen as significant as for years now the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) which represents the Urdu speaking population has held massive rallies that other parties have not been able to match in numbers.” (October 18, 2014)

MQM reacted as it was expected to react under the given circumstances. MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi in a press conference along with other members of the Rabitta Committee said, “ “MQM considers Bilawal’s statement a preplanned policy, as PPP patron-in-chief was reading his written speech.” (October 06, 2014) The advisors and ministers of MQM who had joined the PPP coalition government at the provincial level; resigned.  Apparently Bilawal’s comment was not the only thing that led to this development, it was also Khursheed Shah’s comment that in his opinion the term ‘Mohajir’ is an insult. Action begets reaction. A report in a daily says, “But the choice of words Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui used while announcing his party’s decision to quit the provincial government tends to suggest that from now on their mismatching political aspirations are going to escalate and acquire ideological struggles. For one, instead of division of Sindh into ‘administrative units’, earlier proposed by MQM chief Atlaf Hussain and sharply contested by the PPP leadership – Bilawal had reacted to it by asserting ‘marvesoon marvesoon Sindh na desoon’ – he further upped the ante asking for more provinces for ‘better administration and more resources’.” Though Shah withdrew his comment, MQM’s reaction to Bilawal’s comment needs a closer look. Is this because MQM feels it should join PTI on a common platform? PTI’s popularity wave across the country may have warranted such a turn. Is there a smell of elections in the next year? Imran has created some momentum in his favor –the wind is giving him a push, if the elections are held sooner, he can surprise many but if held on schedule his party may not be able to gain dividends from the present momentum. The wind may well be taken out of its sails. Also, PTI’s performance at Khyber Paktoonkhwa will be brought sharply in focus in case of elections held per schedule.

MQM has held sway over Hyderabad ad Karachi for decades now. Antagonizing MQM at a juncture where not only political parties have joined hands to overthrow the coalition government with the future of the parties in power, tenuous at the best in the next elections is not exactly great timing. Further, many feel, that Bilawal’s assertion of ‘marvesoon marvesoon Sindh na desoon’ was too local, his speech revolved more around Sindh, Karachi and MQM. PPP however has always been a national party and more focus should have been awarded to national issues. What is however clear is that the PPP’s young Chairman’s speech is a sharp turn-around from the politics of reconciliation pursued by PPP.  Or, was the speech meant to jolt the Pakistani political world? It certainly got the attention with a reaction that was unexpected. If this was the reason, it has set off a chain of reaction that may not be either ell timed or welcome for PPP. The fact that Nahid Abbasi with Dr Safdar Abbasi has launched a new PPP faction is not welcome news for PPP. Mr Abbasi elected President of the new faction is reported to have said, “Since the PPP had stopped following the vision of Z.A Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, it lost the last election badlly.” Sajida Mir, Sardar Hur Bokkhari, Gen (retired) Ahsan Ahmed, Nasir Khatak, Waqas Ahmed, Ibn-e-Rizvi and Fayaz Khan also spoke. A large number of workers from Kashmir and Gilgit Biltistan also attended the convention.” (The Dawn October 23, 2014)

The political cauldron is cooking. Time will tell which hand holds the till.

The writer is  a political analyst and Author of, “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.” She may be reached at yasmeenali62@gmail.com and  tweets at: @yasmeen_9