Tag Archives: Americanism

Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

By Najam Sethi

The Pakistan army’s vaulting mission to remain the most powerful actor in Pakistani politics has received irreparable setbacks in the last few years.

On the one hand, this is due to the onset of several new factors in the body politic determining the direction of political change in the future.

On the other, it reflects poorly on the ability and willingness of the army’s leadership to understand the far-reaching nature of this change and adapt to it seamlessly.

Pakistan’s future as a viable nation-state now depends on how the generals read the writing on the wall and quickly come to terms with it. Here is a checklist of recent failures that have downgraded the Pak army’s rating with Pakistanis.

(1) The army’s policy of nurturing anti- Americanism in Pakistan for leveraging its strategic relationship with the US has backfired and left it stranded in no-man’s land. It can’t let go of the US privately for purposes of economic rent and military aid extraction but it can’t embrace it publicly because of the rampant ‘Ghairat’ brigade of extremist Islamic nationalists that it has brainwashed.

(2) The army’s policy of nurturing the Afghan Taliban in private while appeasing the Pakistan Taliban in public has also backfired.

The Afghan Taliban are now negotiating directly with America while the Pakistan Taliban are waging an ‘existential’ war against the Pak army and civil society. PAK army’s relationship with the government, opposition, and media is at an all-time low.

The government has meekly folded before the army on every issue; but the army’s arrogant, intrusive and relentlessly anti government propaganda and behaviour is deeply resented.

The media is also wiser and critical about its manipulation by the army and ISI viz its Drone policy, the Raymond Davis affair and Memogate.

Question marks remain over its incompetence or complicity in the OBL affair, especially following recent revelations by former DG-ISI Ziauddin Butt that General Pervez Musharraf ‘hid’ Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad.

The murder of journalist Saleem Shahzad, followed by running threats to a clutch of independent journalists, is laid at the ISI’s door.

The ease with which terrorists have breached military security, as in the attacks on GHQ, ISI offices, military Messes, Mehran Naval Base, etc also rankle deeply.

Finally, the media is now speaking up and asking disturbing questions about the role of MI in the disappearances and torture of Baloch activists. Consequently, the media is loath to blindly follow the army’s ‘line’ on any issue any more. The PMLN, meanwhile, has gone the whole hog, openly demanding that the intrusion of the military in politics must be curtailed and the army’s overweening power cut to size.

If its ratings are falling, the army’s ability to manipulate politics to its ends is also diminishing. In the old days, the army chief was the most powerful member of the ruling troika that included the president and prime minister. Now the office of the president has lost its clout and there are two new and powerful contenders for say.

The first is the judiciary under Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry that has unprecedentedly pushed politicians into a corner for corrupt practices and the military on the defensive for being unaccountable (the Mehrangate affair of 1990, disappearances and murder of Baloch and Taliban extremists in captivity).

The second is the electronic media that is reaching tens of millions of Pakistanis and courageously raising their consciousness. Neither will countenance any direct or indirect military intervention in politics. Recently, in a bid to salvage some wounded pride, the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that defense expenditure is a mere 18 per cent of the budget and not over 50 per cent as alleged by critics like Maulana Fazlur Rahman. But the truth is that defense expenditure is about 25 per cent of the budget after hidden ‘defense’ items in government expenditures like the military’s salaries and pensions, special project allocations, etc are unveiled and supplementary grants in any budgetary year are accounted for.

More to the point, it is about 50 per cent of all tax revenues in any year, which puts a big burden on the fiscal deficit. Gen Kayani also insists that the army is not involved in quelling unrest in Balochistan. But the fact remains that the Rangers and Frontier Corps who are in charge of ‘law and order’ in the province are directly commanded by army officers who report to GHQ even though they are formally under the interior ministry.

Continue reading Pakistan’s army should go back to the barracks

Zakaria: Pakistan – friends without benefits

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

You wouldn’t have thought anti-Americanism in Pakistan could get any worse, but last week NATO attacked a Pakistani army post, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Even before this episode, for which NATO expressed deep regret, it would be difficult to find a country on the planet that was more anti-American than Pakistan. In a Pew survey this year, only 12% of Pakistanis expressed a favorable view of the United States. Populist rage and official duplicity have built up even though Washington has lavished Islamabad with aid totaling $20 billion over the last decade.

I think it’s time to recognize that the America’s Pakistan policy is just not working. I write this as someone who has consistently supported engaging with the Pakistani government as the best of bad options. But the evidence that this engagement is working is thin – and gets thinner with every passing month.

Supporting Islamabad has been premised on two arguments. The first is that if we don’t, the Pakistani government could collapse and the country’s nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands, perhaps even ending up with al Qaeda. This misunderstands the problem. Pakistan is not Somalia. It has been ruled by a professional military for most of its independent existence, even when there has been a nominally civilian government in charge – as there is today. There have been no Gaddafiesque colonels’ coups in Pakistan; instead, the entire military, with its command chain intact, has moved to replace the civilian government.

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The cost of Pakistan’s double game

By Daud Khattak

Excerpt:

…. Yet even after militants were allowed to settle in the tribal areas with little resistance from the Pakistani state, the tribesmen were (and are still) told that it was because of U.S. drone strikes that these “holy warriors” fled to their areas. Hence, each missile against foreign militants or their Pakistani counterparts increased the potential number of militants flowing in and fueled rising anti-Americanism in Pakistan, serving the short-term political interests of pro-Taliban elements in the country’s security establishment, while allowing the army to play on anti-American sentiment domestically while still occasionally offering militants to the United States, either for arrest or targeting by drones, as a sign of good faith and in order to maintain a steady flow of military aid.

Recent history provides ample room for suspicion that the relationship between militants and the Pakistani military or intelligence agencies continues. Some key points should lead informed observers, for instance, to suspect some knowledge of slain al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s presence in the highly-secured cantonment town of Abbottabad among Pakistani intelligence officials. For instance, the structure of the house is very different from the rest of the buildings in the area, and that plus the barbed wires atop its 18 to 20 feet high boundary walls would have likely drawn some suspicion to the compound’s residents.

The compound is located less than a kilometer from Pakistan’s Kakul Military Academy. Security officials, who keep a strict watch on anyone entering and living in a cantonment zone, somehow managed to miss the compound, which sticks out from the others around it. The Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani even visited the Kakul Academy less than 10 days before the May 2 raid, something that was undoubtedly preceded by security officials combing the nearby areas for any suspicious people or activities, as is the standard practice for such visits. Additionally, locals told the writer that three gas connections were provided to the house within a few days after its construction, which otherwise takes weeks if not months. But again, no alarm was raised.

Additionally, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Sipah-e-Sihaba Pakistan (SSP) continue to operate openly despite being nominally banned. Indeed, locals I have spoken with in Kurram agency blame Pakistani intelligence for bringing the Sunnis against the Shi’a there, simply to show the world that Pakistan is heading towards de-stabilization and only U.S. and international support can save the society from becoming radical (not to mention the benefit accrued by the Haqqani network, who now have space to operate if their North Waziristan sanctuary is compromised). And a brief look at some of the militants operating in Pakistan currently raises questions about how they have been able to implant themselves and continue operating.

For instance, is it believable that Khyber agency-based militant and former bus driver Mangal Bagh, a warlord with no more than 500 volunteers, can operate just 15 kilometers away from Pakistan’s 11 Corps headquarters in the town of Bara, kidnapping people from Peshawar and other parts of the country, attacking powerful tribal elders, ministers, and journalists from Khyber agency, attacking NATO supply convoys, and carrying out public attacks and executions? Maulana Fazlullah, a leading warlord in the Swat Valley, a man who was once a chair-lift operator on the Swat River, became the most powerful commander in the area in a span of two years, with little government opposition. When the military conducted an operation in Swat upon the request of the secular Pashtun nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) government in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, Fazlullah somehow managed to break a cordon of 20,000 soldiers backed by helicopters and jets to escape. And in Bajaur, Taliban commander Faqir Muhammad’s forces were “cleared” in 2008, but though hundreds of thousands of locals were displaced, their houses destroyed, their crops burnt and their cattle killed, Faqir Muhammad continues to leave peacefully in the agency.

And those who rose up to confront the Taliban received little protection from the government. When the ANP, after coming into power in Khyber-Puktunkhwa, raised its voice against the Taliban, party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan was attacked by a suicide bomber inside his house in his hometown of Charsadda. Since then, the party leadership has lived in Islamabad. The party’s spokesman and Information Minister Mian Iftikhar’s son was killed by armed men close to his house last July. Mian Iftikhar and another outspoken minister of the KP government, Bashir Bilour, escaped several attempts on their lives; Asfandyar Wali Khan’s sister Dr. Gulalay, who is not involved with party politics, was attacked in Peshawar, and ANP lawmaker Alam Zeb Khan was killed in a bomb attack in the same city, before finally the party leadership and members were forced to stop their vocal opposition to the militants.

To read complete article: Foreign Policy

via Wichaar

With bin Laden gone, now’s the time to push Pakistan

By Fareed Zakaria

The killing of Osama bin Laden has produced new waves of commentary on the problem of Pakistan. We could all discuss again its selective policy toward terrorists, its complicated relationship with the United States and its mounting dysfunctions. But there is more to this opportunity than an opening for analysis. This is a time for action, to finally push the country toward moderation and genuine democracy.

So far, Pakistan’s military has approached this crisis as it has every one in the past, using its old tricks and hoping to ride out the storm. It is leaking stories to favored journalists, unleashing activists and politicians, all with the aim of stoking anti-Americanism. Having been caught in a situation that suggests either complicity with al-Qaeda or gross incompetence — and the reality is probably a bit of both — it is furiously trying to change the subject. Senior generals angrily denounce America for entering the country. “It’s like a person, caught in bed with another man’s wife, who is indignant that someone entered his house,” one Pakistani scholar, who preferred not to be named for fear of repercussions, told me.

This strategy has worked in the past. In 2009, the Obama administration joined forces with Sens. Richard Lugar and John Kerry to triple American aid to Pakistan’s civilian government and civil society — to $7.5 billion over five years — but with measures designed to strengthen democracy and civilian control over the military. The military reacted by unleashing an anti-American campaign, using its proxies in the media and parliament to denounce “violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty” — the same phrase that’s being hurled about now. The result was that the United States backed off and has conceded that, in practice, none of the strictures in the Lugar-Kerry bill will be implemented.

The military has also, once again, been able to cow the civilian government. According to Pakistani sources, the speech that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani gave at a recent news conference was drafted by the military. President Asif Ali Zardari continues to appease the military rather than confront the generals. Having come to power hoping to clip the military’s wings, Pakistan’s democratically elected government has been reduced to mouthing talking points written for it by the intelligence services.

There have been almost no marches to protest bin Laden’s death or the American operation, although one 500-person march in Lahore was replayed endlessly on television. The fundamental issue for Pakistan is surely not how America entered the country. The United States has been involved in counterterrorism operations in Pakistan for years, using drones and people. Rather, the fundamental question is, how was it that the world’s leading terrorist was living in Pakistan, with some kind of support network that must have included elements of the Pakistani government? How is it that every major al-Qaeda official who has been captured since 2002 has been comfortably ensconced in a Pakistani city? And how is it that any time these issues are raised, they get drowned out by an organized campaign of anti-Americanism or religious fanaticism?

Washington has given in to the Pakistani military time and again, on the theory that we need the generals badly and that they could go elsewhere for support — to the Chinese, for instance. In fact, the United States has considerable leverage with Islamabad. The Pakistanis need American aid, arms and training to sustain their army. If they are going to receive those benefits, they must become part of Pakistan’s solution and not its problem. With some urgency, Washington should:

l Demand a major national commission in Pakistan — headed by a Supreme Court justice, not an army apparatchik — to investigate whether bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders have been supported and sustained by elements of the Pakistani state.

l Demand that the provisions of the Lugar-Kerry bill on civilian control of the military be strictly followed or aid will be withheld.

l Develop a plan to go after the major untouched terror networks in Pakistan, such as the Haqqani faction, the Quetta Shura and Lashkar-i-Taiba.

In the longer run, as the United States scales back its military presence in Afghanistan, it will need the Pakistani military less and less to supply its troops in theater.

Pakistan’s civilian government, business class and intellectuals have an ever-larger role in this struggle. They should not get distracted by empty anti-American slogans or hypernationalism. This is Pakistan’s moment of truth, its chance to break with its dysfunctions and become a normal, modern country. The opportunity might not come again.

Courtesy: The Washington Post

Anti-Americanism & Contradictory US Foreign Policy

Written by Muhammad Aamir Mughal

Quite amazing isn’t it that the American Vice President Joe Biden is “Worried about Pakistan” and even if that was not enough he is worried about the Non Functioning Democracy in Pakistan. After all those years of Strong US Support to several Pakistani [and elsewhere as well] Military Dicatators {General Ayub Khan 1958 – 1969}, General Yahya Khan {1969 – 1971}, General Zia {1977 – 1988} and latest General Musharraf {1999 – 2008} the US Vice President has the audacity to lecture Pakistan about Non-Functioning Democracy ….

Read more : Oye! Times