The self-centred beggar

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

It is only in the Pakistani media that violation of sovereignty is the focus of discussion rather than Osama’s comfortable living arrangement near an elite military academy. The rest of the world is focusing on Osama rather than the legality of the American operation in Abbottabad.

Probably it is a matter of taste that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani wanted to hear the same translated lecture from Chinese leaders that Senator John Kerry had given in Islamabad. Maybe it was easier in Beijing because Chinese lectures were (hopefully) directly translated into Urdu or Seraiki. President Asif Ali Zardari may have been given a similar dose in Moscow though the details of his achievements have yet to come out. Both had rushed to the Chinese and Russian capitals to prove their utility to the military brass after the embarrassing US operation in Abbottabad.

It is clear from the published reports that China has flatly told PM Gilani that it does not give budgetary support or cash transfers to countries. They promised some loans on favourable conditions, but this was then sent for approval to the Politburo of the Communist Party. This is an atypical Chinese diplomatic way of saying ‘no’ because such a loan could have been cleared quickly if need be. This simply shows that salvaging Pakistan’s economy is not a Chinese priority or that they take it as a waste of money.

The plan to rush to Beijing was as sane as not knowing that Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad near a military academy for the last five years. Probably, there is no method in Pakistan’s madness of decision-making processes. Idealising Pakistan’s strategic worth in global politics, Pakistan’s ruling elite is bereft of common sense. They thought once they announce to the Chinese and Russians that they are getting a legal divorce from the US, Beijing and Moscow would jump all around and shower Yuan and Roubles upon them. No one paused for a moment to think that both China and Russia, victims of jihadi terrorism, agree with the US on the point that terrorist networks must be rooted out of Pakistan. But we have become like street-beggars who develop a habit of asking every passerby for money.

Before PM Gilani had reached Beijing, a senior leader of the Chinese military had declared that his country will not confront the US over Pakistan. And why would China confront the US over Pakistan while its economic interests are heavily vested in the US? Moreover, has China ever confronted the US on any policy other than American policy regarding Taiwan? China has proved to be the wisest nation when it comes to its economic interests. They have economic interests in Pakistan as well but cannot lose the US market, which is their bread and butter. In addition, why would China confront the US for something which, ultimately, safeguards al Qaeda, the Taliban and other jihadi terrorist groups? It is only in the Pakistani media that violation of sovereignty is the focus of discussion rather than Osama’s comfortable living arrangement near an elite military academy. The rest of the world is focusing on Osama rather than the legality of the American operation in Abbottabad.

The Chinese know what the world is saying and are afraid to run into an embarrassing position if the US decides to bring its case against Pakistan harbouring terrorists to the UN. This is the reason that they told Mr Gilani:

One: Pakistan should normalise its relations with India, the US and the rest of the world. The Chinese were telling Pakistan that it is awfully lonely and cannot be supported just by Beijing if the rest of the world stands against it.

Two: the Chinese subtly chided Pakistan for not eliminating the madrassa networks that are producing terrorists. Privately, China has been asking Pakistan to take action against jihadi nurseries but this time they went public on this point.

Three: the Chinese told Gilani that the situation in Afghanistan is improving and Pakistan should not do anything that can stall it.

The Chinese have told Pakistan that they are on the same page as the US as far as the issue of terrorism is concerned and Pakistan should lower its obsession with India. Furthermore, the Chinese have advised that the US is going to be the only source of funds needed for budgetary support for Pakistan. China can invest in infrastructure projects but no cash transfers. Recent assignment of hydro projects to Chinese companies show that China is using its leverage to get better deals from Pakistan than it could if international bids were invited.

Continue reading The self-centred beggar

CARTE BLANCHE: Horror, of which I am dying – Mehmal Sarfraz

Excerpt:

It would not be wrong to say that the military is holding our nation hostage to its vested interests. Our country’s survival is at stake but there seems to be no visible shift in the military’s posture. ….

…. There are many reasons why most people in Pakistan continue to live in denial but the main one is our security paradigm. For decades we have been fed lies by our military. The military has overtly and covertly supported terrorist networks. A large chunk of our budget goes to defence without anyone questioning our armed forces on where it is spent. Between loan repayments and the defence budget, hardly any money is left to be spent on education, healthcare, development, etc. India is made out to be enemy number one. To counter the ‘Indian threat’, we need the vile Taliban on our side in Afghanistan since they are our “strategic assets”; we nurture terrorist organisations like the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) to carry out militant jihad in Indian Kashmir and cross-border attacks inside India; we are soon going to be “the world’s fifth largest nuclear weapons power” as per some reports. Lest we forget, we have lost all official and unofficial wars against India (most of which, by the way, were started by Pakistan). An atomic bomb and stockpiles of nuclear weapons is no guarantee that we can win in the unlikely event of another war. The only reason why our military has kept this threat perception alive is because it is hard for them to part with the moolah that keeps coming their way and the power they wield over this country. It would not be wrong to say that the military is holding our nation hostage to its vested interests. Our country’s survival is at stake but there seems to be no visible shift in the military’s posture.

The Pakistan military’s double game in the war on terror was never a secret yet the US kept pouring in billions of dollars in military aid to secure our help in the war on terror. Young soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives in combat and terrorist attacks because of the flawed policies of the military establishment.

The day Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad by the US, the world’s suspicions were confirmed. Our intelligence agencies claimed incompetence, but not many buy this excuse, given how bin Laden was living in such close proximity to the Pakistan Military Academy. The world turned on our military and intelligence agencies but our government chose to give them a clean chit. Mian Nawaz Sharif, for whatever reasons, was the only one who took a principled stance as far as civil-military relations were concerned but he found no takers in the current democratic set-up who stood by him. After decades our civilian leadership had a golden opportunity to take the military to task but in order to pursue their political interests, the government and its allies let them off scot-free.

The problem is that, however much we try to hide our flaws, the world is not blind. Our security establishment cannot keep on harbouring terrorists. It is time to wake up to the reality that we cannot go on like this forever because it is a sure-shot recipe for self-destruction.

Pakistan’s name has been tarnished by those who claim to be our ‘guardians’ and ‘protectors’. As Pakistanis, we must vow not to let anyone wreak havoc in the name of ‘strategic depth’. Victor Jara, a Chilean political activist and revolutionary poet, was arrested and taken to the Chile Stadium in September 1973 following a military coup. He wrote a poem — ‘Estadio Chile’ — which spoke of the horror in front of him. His words, though written in a different context, haunt me every time a terrorist attack takes place:

“How hard it is to sing,

When I must sing of horror.

Horror which I am living,

Horror which I am dying.”

Pakistanis are living and dying a horror of which we must all sing. Let’s stop this horror now. It may take years but we must break our silence and speak the truth for once.

To read complete article: Daily Times

via Wichaar

Deep state – the history of the double game

The language of the talk show is urdu (Hindi).

Courtesy: Geo TV (Aapas ki Baat with Najam Sethi and Muneeb Farooq, 24th may 2011)

via ZemTV, YouTube

Focus should be Pakistan not Afghanistan, Sen. Lugar

US senators see Afghan hope, Pakistan fears

by Shaun Tandon

Excerpt:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Leading US senators on Tuesday saw momentum for political reconciliation in Afghanistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death and urged a greater shift in focus to fighting extremism in Pakistan. …

…. Senator Richard Lugar, the top Republican on the same committee, questioned why the United States was spending some $120 billion a year in Afghanistan, where some 100,000 US troops are deployed.

The question before us is whether Afghanistan is strategically important enough to justify the lives and massive resources that we are spending there, especially given that few terrorists in Afghanistan have global designs or reach,” the Indiana lawmaker said.

“To the extent that our purpose is to confront the global terrorist threat, we should be refocusing resources on Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, parts of North Africa and other locations,” Lugar said.

Senators voiced concern about what they saw as support from Pakistan for the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba, ….

Read more : Yahoo News

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US-Pakistan relations and bin Laden’s demise

Bin Laden’s capture has not told us anything new about the dysfunctional US-Pakistan relationship.

by Robert Grenier

The past three weeks have not been easy for a self-professed – one might say “confessed” – friend of Pakistan, at least not for one who makes his address in Washington, DC.

No sooner had President Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden in a covert raid by US commandos on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, home of the Pakistan Military Academy, than a monumental media firestorm was set loose, making rational dialogue concerning the situation next to impossible. All manner of ill-informed stories shot up like high-order detonations, quickly accompanied by dubious “expert commentary”, much of which was highly misleading.

Just to cite one of the more unfortunate examples, initial, breathless accounts of the bin Laden compound described it as a huge mansion, heavily fortified with 18-foot (5.5m) walls – some eight times bigger than anything surrounding it – thus conveying the mental picture of a cross between the Taj Mahal and the US gold vault at Fort Knox. Pakistani officials, it was alleged, “had” to have known that this was an extraordinary location. Not to have investigated it was the equivalent of willful ignorance, it was said, if not a clear indication of outright official collusion with bin Laden and his hosts. ….

Read more: Aljazeera

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Pakistan media ridicules military after attack

By Chris Allbritton

ISLAMABAD: (Reuters) – Pakistan’s military was ridiculed and accused of complicity in the media on Tuesday after a small group of militants laid siege to a naval air base, holding out for 16 hours against about 100 commandos and rangers.

As few as six militants infiltrated the PNS Mehran naval base in Karachi, the headquarters of Pakistan’s naval air wing, on Sunday night, killing 10 security forces and wounding 20.

“Our mujahideen who conducted this operation were equipped with faith as well as with sophisticated weapons and that’s why they fought with hundreds of security forces and inflicted heavy losses on them,” Pakistan Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters from an undisclosed location. …

Read more : Reuters

Pakistan nuclear security ‘of concern’: NATO

KABUL: The head of Nato said Tuesday he was confident Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe, but admitted it was a matter of concern, the day after the worst assault on a Pakistani military base in two years.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen was in Afghanistan on a one-day visit and met President Hamid Karzai to discuss the transition of security from Nato-led troops to Afghan security forces, which is due to begin in July.

Rasmussen was asked if Nato was concerned about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons after it took Pakistani forces 17 hours to reclaim control of a naval air base from Taliban attackers and following the death of Osama bin Laden.

“I feel confident that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is safe and well protected,” said Rasmussen. “But of course it is a matter of concern and we follow the situation closely.”

The attack in Karachi, the worst on a base since the army headquarters was besieged in October 2009, piled further embarrassment on Pakistan three weeks after the al Qaeda leader was found living in the city of Abbottabad, close to the country’s military academy.

Rasmussen was scheduled to wind up his Afghan visit on Tuesday after spending a night and a full day in Afghanistan.

Courtesy: DAWN

President Asif Zardari’s father passes away

KARACHI: Hakim Ali Zardari, the father of President Asif Ali Zardari, passed away on Tuesday, DawnNews reported. He died of multiple organ failure and was under treatment at Islamabad’s PIMS Hospital, reports said. Mr. Zardari was born in Nawabshah in 1930. He started his political career in 1970 and became member of Parliament for three times. …

Read more : DAWN

Nationalism or national policy?

by Shahab Usto

We lost half the state territory in 1971 and the other half is threatened by varied internal and external threats. But our state policy continues to reflect the same old duality: employing the security apparatus and building the artefacts of nationalism.

Though our economic team is busy mending the torn deal with the IMF and the military and political leaderships are busy with their US counterparts to reset the button of the Pak-US cooperation shut by the Abbottabad operation, a well-calibrated nationalist fever has touched new heights. The joint parliamentary resolution talks of cutting off NATO/ISAF supplies; the Punjab government has denounced foreign aid, of course without explaining how it would run the foreign-funded projects given the poor health of its finances; the ‘patriotic’ brigade is calling for ending relations with the US and opting for China; and Imran Khan is out staging dharnas (sit-in protests) against the Pak-US alliance on the war on terror.

Yet no one has come up with a blueprint of our national policy dealing with the war on terror and the myriad socio-political crises, using the ‘rare’ national unity that has come about in the wake of the US Abbottabad operation. The same old trick is being played upon us that the monarchs, generals and populists have played in history: using nationalist sentiments to hide rather than resolve national crises. We must avoid this trap because nationalism could be both a reality and an artefact. Let us pick up a few lessons of history to make this point.

Read more : Daily Times