Tag Archives: crossroad

In Defense of Pakistan’s democracy – Zardari-Gilani government must be allowed to complete its five-year term

Pakistan at a Crossroads, Again

For democracy to take root, the Zardari government must be allowed to complete its five-year term.

BY SADANAND DHUME

Who gets to decide when a democratically elected government’s time is up? To the average Japanese, Indian or American, the answer is obvious: the same people who voted it into office in the first place. Not so for the average Pakistani.

In the country’s 64-year history, power has never changed hands purely by the ballot. The army, working alone or in tandem with sympathetic civilians, hasn’t let any elected leader finish his term, thanks to which democracy has failed to seep into the country’s foundations. Now, if a loose grouping of generals, judges and opposition politicians gets its way, this

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Cry baby commanders!

The long sulk – by Ayaz Amir

Corps commanders? Our guardians seem more like cry commanders these days, wearing their anger and hurt on their sleeves and refusing to come out of the sulk into which they went after Abbottabad…a place destined from now on to be less associated with Major Abbott and more with that warrior of Islam from whose parting kick we have yet to recover, Osama bin Laden.

True, May has been a cruel month for the army and Pakistan, with troubles coming not in single spies but entire battalions: the Mehran attack, Frontier Corps marksmanship in Quetta, Sindh Rangers zeal in Karachi, and the death by torture of the journalist Saleem Shahzad… this last bearing all the hallmarks of insanity tipping over the edge.

Which raw nerves had his reporting touched? Who could have kidnapped him on a stretch of road probably the securest in Islamabad? Mossad, RAW, the CIA, the Taliban? Definite proof we don’t have but circumstances point in an uncomfortable direction. If this is another conspiracy against Pakistan we ourselves have written its script.

Still, since when was sulking an answer to anything? It may suit kids and pretty girls but it makes an army command look silly, especially one prone to take itself so seriously.

Terseness should be a quality of military writing: that and precision. The rambling nature of the statement issued after last week’s corps commanders’ conference is likely to leave one baffled. It rails against the “perceptual biases” of elements out to drive a wedge between the army and the nation; contains such bromides as the need for national unity; and in part reads like a thesis on Pak-US relations, which it should not have been for the corps commanders to delineate in public.

The army has “perceptual biases” of its own. It should keep them to itself.

The National Defence University, one of the biggest white elephants in a city dedicated to this species, seems to be an idea ahead of its time. Pakistani generals putting on intellectual airs is no laughing matter. Half our troubles can be traced to ‘intellectual’ generals.

Admittedly, these are troubling times for Pakistan and the army command post-Osama is under a great deal of pressure. But the answer to this should be grace under pressure, coolness under fire, rather than desperation and hurt pride.

There are legitimate questions arising from the discovery of Bin Laden’s hideaway in Abbottabad. We should answer them without losing our cool. And, preferably, we should avoid the temptation of climbing the rooftops and beating the drums of national pride and dignity. Why is it so difficult for us to understand that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have compromised our sovereignty more than all the drones fired by the CIA?

And, please, let’s get rid of the notion that Islamist militancy is a response to the American presence in this region. Uncomfortable as this truth may be, Pakistan had become the crossroads of international jihad much before 9/11 and the subsequent American invasion of Afghanistan. The ISI was up to its neck with Afghan and Kashmir jihad much before these events. It won’t do to hide our heads in the sand and pretend that none of this happened or that the world is responsible for our woes.

In fact it is the other way round. The CIA footprint in Pakistan is a response to the jihadi footprint in this country. The Raymond Davises came afterwards. The flaming warriors of Al-Qaeda and its local affiliates, many of them trained and nurtured by the army and its subordinate agencies, came earlier. And if we are to be honest with ourselves, the CIA footprint, unconscionably large as it may be, could never come close to the enormous dimensions of the jihadi footprint on the variegated landscape of the Islamic Republic.

If half the passion the army is now showing in defence of national sovereignty in the wake of the Abbottabad embarrassment, had been displayed against Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadism we wouldn’t have been in the mess we are in now.

The world has moved on, other concerns have risen to the fore and no one, anywhere, has any patience for these games any more. They just don’t fit into the framework of present-day events. Why can’t we move on?

Let’s disabuse ourselves of another notion. There is no international conspiracy against Pakistan. We are not that important an international player to merit that kind of attention. No one is eyeing the nebulous frontiers of our sovereignty. We are the authors of our own troubles and the sooner the army command starts accepting the truth of this the sooner can begin the task of rectification.

Continue reading Cry baby commanders!

Facelift or overhaul? by Babar Sattar

Excerpt:

…. The Bin Laden incident has placed us at the crossroads yet again. We can respond with denial and jingoism and consequently dig deeper the hole we find ourselves in. Or we can stop lying to each other and ourselves, disclose all related facts leading up to the May 2 incident with candour and responsibility, let individuals be held to account for their failings, and use the opportunity to revisit our security mind-set, overhaul our security policy and policy making mechanism. In this context, a non-partisan commission revealing the truth can serve as a necessary first step. But offering policy advice on national security, counter terrorism and foreign policy would fall beyond the mandate and expertise of a judicial commission. Once the facts are out, we will still need a high-powered bipartisan policy commission to review and overhaul our security mind-set, policy and policy-making mechanisms that caused the Bin Laden debacle and the many before it.

Let us get the nonsense about patriotism and ‘sticking by our institutions’ out of the way first. Is sticking by a corrupt government patriotic? Should we have celebrated the Dogar court or Musharraf’s rubber-stamp parliament as our token of love for Pakistan? How would unquestioning and unconditional support for everything the khaki leadership does promote Pakistan’s national interest? Are these not mortal men capable of making mistakes? Should they have a monopoly over the definition of national interest and patriotism? And how does holding the khaki high command to account for its acts, omissions and choices translate into lack of gratitude for the soldiers who stake and lose their lives in the line of duty and are the frontline victims of bad policy choices?

Was it not the self-serving use of the term patriotism that Samuel Johnson described as the “last refuge of the scoundrel”? Does our national security doctrine not affect the rest of us on an everyday basis and impinge on the most fundamental of our constitutionally guaranteed rights? Does it not impact everyone wearing a Pakistani identity for becoming an object of suspicion around the globe? The definition of patriotism that confers on our khaki high command the status of a holy cow is also a product of the same mindset that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan, contrived the jihadi project, manufactured the doctrine of strategic depth, gave us Kargil and is still at ease with preserving militants as strategic assets. Clemenceau was probably not being facetious when he declared that, “war was too important to be left to generals.”

We need a new concept of national security that focuses on maximising the security of Pakistani citizens. This will not happen by laying bare the facts of the Bin Laden incident alone. We will also need to review Pakistan’s counter-terrorism policy, security and foreign policy especially vis-à-vis Afghanistan and India, and Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. Can we preach respect for sovereignty if we are unable to account for who lives in Pakistan, control cross-border movement of men, arms and money or ensure that our territory is not used as sanctuary to plot attacks on other nations? After being in the throes of violence for over a decade now, why do we still lack a comprehensive counter-terrorism policy? Why is being a proscribed militant organisation in Pakistan of no legal consequence? Why is our criminal justice system failing to prosecute and convict terrorists? …

… Are we unaware of militant organisations flourishing in Pakistan, or are we being coy? Will we view the Osama bin Laden incident as another minor blow to the jihadi project or are we going to realise that the use of jihadis as strategic assets is history and it is time to liquidate them? Has anyone calculated the intangible cost of this misconceived project and the damage inflicted on the country and its citizens through the spread of intolerance, bigotry, arms and violence? Are we cognisant of the disastrous consequences that another Mumbai could inflict on the interests of Pakistan and its citizens? Will we have a stronger bargaining position in resolving our disputes with India if we have a strong polity, a stable economy, credibility and international support or if we possess surreptitious jihadis as strategic weapons?…

Neither hypocrisy nor a facelift will redeem Pakistan after the Osama fiasco. We need to come clean and use this as an opportunity to overhaul our security policy and policy-making mechanism. We have skeletons in our closet. It is time to drag them out, confront them and bury them for good.

Courtesy: The News

Pakistan : Will The Political Establishment Wake Up?

Will The Political Establishment Wake Up?

By: Agha Haider Raza

Our country is at a crossroad. Pakistan has come to a point where thousands believe they are righteous and have divine authority to carry out God’s acts on this earth. …

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