Tag Archives: Pervez Hoodbhoy

Can Pakistan’s F-16s fight terror?

Religiously motivated terrorism threatens Pakis­tan’s existence. We have entered a state of permanent conflict where victory may not be possible even in 100 years. Drones or F-16s are not a solution.

By PERVEZ HOODBHOY

Pakistan says it desperately wants Lockheed-Martin Block-V F-16 fighter-bombers at $87 million apiece for fighting terrorists in tribal badlands such as North Waziristan. An order for eight jets has already been placed. The US Senate is sympathetic; a move to ban the sale was massively rejected by majority vote. Lockheed-Martin, which peddles its deadly wares to all who can pay, has already sold 4,500 F-16s to 25 countries. It must be pleased at this small, but tidy, deal of $700m.

But thoughtful Pakistanis should be worried. Wag­ing an aerial war against your own population is not a good idea. Even if you have to, shouldn’t much cheaper weaponised drones be preferred over advanced fighter aircraft whose real job is to shoot down other planes? A drone, technically known as UAV, is far more precise than any fighter because it can loiter undetected over a target, capture and collect information better, and reduce — though never eliminate — damage to innocents. India is currently negotiating with the US for buying 40 Predator drones.

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Siege of Islamabad: what next?

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THOUSANDS of fanatical followers, led by the cleric-cricketer combination of Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan, hold Islamabad hostage. A year ago such a possibility seemed remote. What of the future? In the years ahead, this pair may become irrelevant.

But with the dangerous precedent they have established, hard-line clerics disaffected with the army’s betrayal, and operations such as Zarb-i-Azb, may give the call to occupy. The marching orders could also come from Caliph Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi of ISIS or some other radical leader; their literature is already being circulated around. Thereafter, from the hundreds of madressahs in and around the city, charged mobs armed to the teeth will pour out to fulfil their holy duty. Nuclear Pakistan would have the world sitting on edge.

Speculation? Perhaps, but not without cause. Islamabad’s vulnerability now stands twice exposed. The first time was in 2007 when the Lal Masjid clerics went on a rampage, declared rebellion against the state, and imposed their brand of Sharia on Islamabad. It took the lives of a dozen Pakistan Army commandos to defeat them. Hundreds, including children, died. More significantly, it began a new era of suicide attacks on marketplaces, public squares, police stations, and army installations. Since the time, around 30,000 lives have been lost.

People have wisely refused to support the violent destruction of the government.

Back to the present: the Khan-Qadri duo has brought a new level of instability to Pakistan. Hapless citizens, glued to their television sets, watched Pakistan’s heavily fortified capital fall to protesters. Privately hired cranes tossed aside concrete barriers and shipping containers, while razor wire was cut through by professionals. A demoralised police was initially too afraid to follow attack orders.

From the shadows, the Pakistan Army — an institution known all too well to the Baloch and Bengalis — has, with uncharacteristic calm, watched Pakistan’s state institutions taken over by violent thugs. But rather than restore law and order, it chose to confer legitimacy on the insurgents by advocating negotiations. The brief takeover of Pakistan Television by PAT/PTI agitators did not result in any subsequent punitive action; the occupiers left shouting “Pak fauj zindabad”.

What’s the game plan here? Cricketer Khan’s is clear enough: create enough chaos so that the elected government can be forcibly overthrown. Subsequently, it will not be difficult to find a pliant Supreme Court judge who would favour mid-term elections. Then, perhaps with a little reverse rigging, he would be hurled towards what he sees as his rightful destiny — becoming the prime minister of Pakistan. The goals of the mercurial Holy Man from Canada are less clear; keeping the pot vigorously stirred is all that we’ve seen so far.

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Top Pak scientist warns of extremist threat to n-weapons

By Hasan Suroor

Pakistani nuclear scientist Pervez Hoodbhoy has spoken of growing fears in Pakistan that its nuclear arsenal could be “hijacked” by extremists as a result of “increasing radicalisation” of the Army.

He said such fears were initially expressed mostly in the west but were now widely shared within Pakistan after “repeated” extremist attacks on Army installations, including the ISI headquarters in Lahore. These could not have taken place without “some sort of inside information”.

“There’s a fair degree of concern that because of increasing radicalisation of Pakistani Army, the country’s nuclear weapons could be hijacked by extremists,” he said speaking to a group of Indian journalists at the launch of his book, Confronting the Bomb: Pakistani & Indian Scientists Speak Out, a collection of essays by Indian and Pakistani scientists who believe that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the two countries was “undesirable” and had put the entire subcontinent in danger.

Mr. Hoodbhoy, who has often been a target of the Pakistani establishment, said Pakistan’s nuclear capability had given a new dimension to its campaign against India. Islamabad saw it as a “counter-force” to overcome India’s military superiority and was providing a “nuclear umbrella” to jihadis engaged in anti-India activities.

Pervez Hoodbhoy interview: The Mumbai massacres and Pakistan’s new nightmares

“If Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons, Kargil would not have happened. My contention is that it was the first instance that nuclear weapons actually caused a war, ‘’ he said.

Warning of continued jihadi threat to India, he said: “Today India is faced with a very difficult situation because jihadis are still operating in Pakistan with the sanction of the state and they are provided cover by the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons.”

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Whither Pakistan? A five-year forecast

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

Courtesy: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

First, the bottom line: Pakistan will not break up; there will not be another military coup; the Taliban will not seize the presidency; Pakistan’s nuclear weapons will not go astray; and the Islamic sharia will not become the law of the land.

That’s the good news. It conflicts with opinions in the mainstream U.S. press, as well as with some in the Obama administration. For example, in March, David Kilcullen, a top adviser to Gen. David Petraeus, declared that state collapse could occur within six months. This is highly improbable.

Now, the bad news: The clouds hanging over the future of Pakistan’s state and society are getting darker. Collapse isn’t impending, but there is a slow-burning fuse. While timescales cannot be mathematically forecast, the speed of societal decline has surprised many who have long warned that religious extremism is devouring Pakistan.

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