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For Pakistan to change, army must change

– by Ayaz Amir

Decades of misadventure have distorted and even corrupted the Pakistani mind. We do not live in the real world. Our foreign policy notions, our list of assets and threats, have but a remote relation to reality. We must look to first causes. How did we create these bonfires for ourselves? How did we become prisoners of our misconceptions? Liberating the Pakistani mind from the shackles of these self-imposed errors must be the first of our tasks if, with luck, we are to become a normal nation.

The army and its strategic adventures have brought Pakistan to its present pass. The footprints of the terrorism now haunting the country go back to the first Afghan ‘jihad’, the one army-inspired event which pushed Pakistan to the frontiers of insanity. The phoenix won’t rise from its ashes, and there will be no return to sanity, unless the army can bring itself to change its outlook and reinvent some of its mental apparatus.

Civilians have been poor administrators, in no position to escape their share of the blame for the mess the Fortress of Islam is in. But in the driving seat of Pakistan’s steady march to the brink have been our holy guardians. There is little room for quibbling on this point.

Even so, despite the mounting evidence of disorder, the army refuses to change, still obsessed with the threat from the east, still caught up with the quixotic notion of exercising influence in Afghanistan. God in heaven, why should it matter to us if a president of Afghanistan is a Tajik, an Uzbek or a Pathan? Can’t we keep our eyes focused on our own problems? The threat we face lies squarely within but our strategic grandmasters insist on being foreign policy specialists.

If a Stalin were around, although fat chance of that occurring, he would lay his hands first not on militants and assorted terrorists but on the foreign policy experts who infest our television studios.

Is Mossad pulling the strings of terrorism in Karachi? Was the CIA behind the attack on Shia pilgrims in Mastung? Was RAW behind the attempt on the life of the Karachi special investigator, Chaudhry Aslam?

By any reasonable computation we have enough of a nuclear arsenal. By any yardstick of common sense, a commodity often in short supply in the conference rooms of national security, we have as much of a deterrent as we need to counter the real or imagined threat from India. This being the case, we should be directing what energies we have to the threat from within: that posed by militancy marching under the banner of Islam.

As part of this undertaking, we need to advertise for a Hakim Luqman who could cure our general staff and the ISI of their preoccupation with the future of Afghanistan. We have been burnt by Afghanistan. We don’t need any further burning. For the sake of Pakistan’s future we need to distance ourselves from Afghanistan’s problems, dire as they are.

Continue reading For Pakistan to change, army must change

Let us call a spade a spade by Special Correspondent

Though there was nothing against him in the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report, Mr Bhutto preferred to keep it firmly under lock and key. Reason: He did not want the report, a comprehensive and devastating indictment of the Pakistan’s armed forces, to come in the way of his grandiose plans to rehabilitate and revive on a grander scale the demoralised and defeated institution. But then, in a matter of five years, he was made to pay with his life for setting up the commission of enquiry.

Next, when Mohammad Khan Junejo set up a commission to enquire into the Ojhri camp scandal, it did not take long for General Ziaul Haq, the then army chief and country’s all-powerful president, to send him home most unceremoniously.

And when, after the Kargil debacle, the talk of subjecting General Musharraf to a court martial started making the rounds in the corridors of power, Musharraf hit back by ousting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a manner most unbecoming of a soldier.

So, perhaps the present coalition government has advisedly agreed to let the Army conduct its own investigation into the failure of the ISI to track down Osama bin Laden and the violation, for more than an hour, of our air space by US helicopters on May 1-2.  One does not know if this seemingly astute approach of the elected government would in the final analysis save it from meeting the fate of its predecessors who acted otherwise.  And what was Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Kayani trying to achieve by going on a lecture tour of three garrisons on the same day the prime minister was making a supposed policy speech in the NA? Was he trying to upstage the PM? Was he trying to tell the nation that his institution is a separate entity from the govt? Why did he do it when the need of the hour is to speak with one voice? He should have been there in the parliament galleries listening to the PM’s speech (most probably the handiwork of an ISPR copy writer rather than that of a political speech writer) to convey the impression that everyone in the country is on the same page.

But then, strangely enough, while the chief seemingly tried to distance himself from the government, he sought the help of parliament – help to save the institution from the wrath of the people at large who, no matter what spin one gave to the May 1-2 incidents, have been persuaded by the media that Osama was living untraced right under the nose of our security agencies and that US helicopters violated our airspace undetected and unchallenged. …

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BIN LADEN – PAKISTAN LOSES A STRATEGIC ASSET

The curious case of Osama bin Laden

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Excerpt:

….. But then it turned out bin Laden was not hiding in some dark mountain cave in Waziristan. Instead, probably for at least some years, he had lived comfortably smack inside the modern, peaceful, and extraordinarily secure city of Abbottabad. Using Google Earth, one sees that the deceased was within easy walking distance of the famed Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul. It is here where General Kayani had declared on April 23 that “the terrorist’s backbone has been broken and inshallah we will soon prevail”. Kayani has released no statement after the killing.

Still more intriguing are pictures and descriptions of bin Laden’s fortress house. Custom-designed, it was constructed on a plot of land roughly eight times larger than the other homes in the area. Television images show that it has high walls, barbed wire and two security gates. Who approved the construction and paid for it? Why was it allowed to be away from the prying eyes of the secret agencies?

Even the famous and ferocious General Hamid Gul (retd) — a bin Laden sympathiser who advocates war with America — cannot buy into the claim that the military was unaware of bin Laden’s whereabouts. In a recorded interview, he remarked that bin Laden being in Abbottabad unknown to authorities “is a bit amazing”. Aside from the military, he said “there is the local police, the Intelligence Bureau, the Military Intelligence, the ISI — they all had a presence there”. Pakistanis familiar with the intrusive nature of the multiple intelligence agencies will surely agree; to sniff out foreigners is a pushover.

So why was bin Laden sheltered in the army’s backyard? General Pervez Musharraf, who was army chief when bin Laden’s house in Abbottabad was being constructed in 2005, unwittingly gives us the clearest and most cogent explanation. The back cover of his celebrated book, In The Line Of Fire, written in 2006, reads:

“Since shortly after 9/11 — when many al Qaeda leaders fled Afghanistan and crossed the border into Pakistan — we have played multiple games of cat and mouse with them. The biggest of them all, Osama bin Laden, is still at large at the time of this writing but we have caught many, many others. We have captured 672 and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Here, I will tell the story of just a few of the most significant manhunts”.

So, at the end of the day, it was precisely that: A cat and mouse game. Bin Laden was the ‘Golden Goose’ that the army had kept under its watch but which, to its chagrin, has now been stolen from under its nose. Until then, the thinking had been to trade in the Goose at the right time for the right price, either in the form of dollars or political concessions. While bin Laden in virtual captivity had little operational value for al Qaeda, he still had enormous iconic value for the Americans. It was therefore expected that kudos would come just as in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Kuwaiti-born senior al Qaeda leader who was arrested in Rawalpindi, or Mullah Baradar, the Taliban leader arrested from Karachi.

Events, however, have turned a potential asset into a serious liability. Osama’s killing is now a bone stuck in the throat of Pakistan’s establishment that can neither be swallowed nor spat out. To appear joyful would infuriate the Islamists who are already fighting the state. On the other hand, to deprecate the killing would suggest that Pakistan had knowingly hosted the king of terrorists.

Now, with bin Laden gone, the military has two remaining major strategic assets: America’s weakness in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. But moving these chess pieces around will not assure the peace and prosperity that we so desperately need. They will not solve our electricity or water crises, move us out of dire economic straits, or protect us from suicide bombers.

Bin Laden’s death should be regarded as a transformational moment by Pakistan and its military. It is time to dispense with the Musharraf-era cat and mouse games. We must repudiate the current policy of verbally condemning jihadism — and actually fighting it in some places — but secretly supporting it in other places. Until the establishment firmly resolves that it shall not support armed and violent non-state actors of any persuasion — including the Lashkar-e-Taiba — Pakistan will remain in interminable conflict both with itself and with the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2011.

To read complete article : The Express Tribune

Waris Shah on Mullah .. Background

by Manzur Ejaz

Besides possessing a mastery of the Punjabi language and comprehensive knowledge of all aspects of life, Waris Shah’s greatness lies in his philosophical discourse. He understood the role of the different institutions of 18th century of Punjab (and India) and used the epic Heer Ranjha story to debate and expose them.

His technique, as shown by Najm Husain Syed, is to show an institution from a distance and then take you inside. From a distance every institution looks perfect but from inside it is dirty and rotten. In the process, Waris Shah exposed the institution of property, qaza (judiciary), religion (through mullah and qazi), capitalism (mallah), and feudalism (Heer’s father, Jog and the crown (raja) …

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