Tag Archives: possible

Zardari and the Generals’ consensus

By Praveen Swami

Pakistan’s civilian rulers seem to have averted a possible coup with a little help from inside the army itself.

Eight weeks ago, as rumours of an imminent coup swirled around Islamabad, few seemed to doubt democratic rule in Pakistan would soon be marched before a firing squad.

Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States, had been recalled to face charges of conspiring to sack top military officials. There was even talk of a treason trial targeting President Asif Ali Zardari himself — with Mr. Haqqani as the Army’s star witness.

Events since, however, haven’t quite panned out as hardline Pakistani generals might have anticipated: instead of capturing power, the army has found itself in retreat.

Mr. Zardari, Pakistani media have reported, is almost certain to deny the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, an extension to serve until 2013 — a blow directed at Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and a sign of civilian confidence.

In November, Pakistan’s military had shut down the Shamsi airbase, used to stage United States drone attacks against Islamist insurgents: actions intended to distinguish them from political rulers too-willing to please the United States. Last month, though, drone strikes resumed — directed by United States intelligence officers located at the Shahbaz airbase near Abbottabad.

Politicians have become increasingly defiant of ISI authority: even Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who has long shied away from controversy, warned against efforts to run “a state within a state”.

The Generals’ consensus

LONG held together by a Generals’ consensus on the direction Pakistan ought to head in, the army now seems divided as never before. Last month, at a January 13 meeting of the corps commanders conference, where Gen. Kayani briefed generals on the evolving political crisis , he ran into unexpected in-house resistance, leading to a 10-hour debate.

The toughest questioning, a Pakistani government source privy to the discussions told The Hindu, came from Lieutenant-General Tariq Khan — the commander of the Mangla-based 1 corps, and a veteran of counter-insurgency operations who is considered among the most competent of the army’s commanders

Gen. Khan, the source said, made clear the army was unprepared to take power, and demanded to know how the army chief intended to resolve the still-unfolding showdown with the civilian governments. He noted that the army had no coherent plan to address its increasingly-fragile relationship with the United States, too. Backed by other key officers, like Gujaranwala-based XXX corps commander Raheel Sharif, Gen. Khan pushed for the army to pull back from the brink.

Ever since the killing of military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in 1998, the corps commanders conference has been a key instrument of what Mr. Haqqani once described as “military rule by other means”. The resistance faced by Gen. Kayani within the institution is, therefore, of great significance.

Ever since he took office, Pakistan’s army chief had worked to rebuild the army’s relationship with the jihadist groups it had patronised for decades. Terrorism in Pakistan, he argued, had come about because the country had become enmeshed in the United States’ war against jihadists in Afghanistan. Building peace, he argued, necessitated reviving this relationship — even at the cost of ties with the United States.

In 2008, Gen. Pasha delivered an off-the-record briefing to journalists, where he described Tehreek-e-Taliban commanders Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Muhammad Fazlullah — responsible for hundreds of killings in Pakistanas “patriots”.

Following the raid that claimed Osama bin Laden last year, Mr. Pasha put the case for an aggressive anti-United States line to Pakistani legislators: “At every difficult moment in our history”, he said “the United States has let us down. This fear that we can’t live without the United States is wrong.

Gen. Kayani’s line, the government’s decision not to allow his spymaster to serve on suggests, no longer represents the army’s institutional consensus.

The path to peace he envisaged involved costs the army isn’t willing to pay.

Political resurgence?

Continue reading Zardari and the Generals’ consensus

Memogate – WHEN reality is so distorted, how does the record get set straight?

A sceptic’s guide to memogate

By Cyril Almeida

Excerpt;

WHEN reality is so distorted, how does the record get set straight?

Memogate — the alleged plea by Husain Haqqani/Asif Zardari to save the civilian government from an army coup after May 2 in return for sacking military principals and disbanding a shadowy cell of the ISI that manages links to militant groups — was less startling than preposterous.

While this is Pakistan and anything is possible, some things are still more possible than others. …

… Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of memogate is Mike Mullen`s denial and then clarification of his denial and an outright admission.

We`re talking here about an administration that doesn`t officially acknowledge drone strikes or the 14-page memo Kayani handed Obama. That a recently retired top-ranking officer will through a spokesperson speak on the record to a reporter about such stuff is, quite frankly, astonishing.

Sure, Mullen denied he acted on the memo or that he took it seriously, but this two-term chairman of the joints chiefs of staff knows the media worldwide, even the Pakistani media, enough to be aware of his statement`s implications for Haqqani and the media pressure it would pile on Zardari in an already lopsided civil-military relationship that the Americans presumably have some interest in rectifying.

So yes, memogate is finally genuinely intriguing. Not because it implies games are afoot inside Pakistan, which they always are, but because Mullen has seen it fit to throw Haqqani, and possibly Zardari, under the bus.

It`s a tantalising question, based admittedly on flimsy evidence, but have the Americans soured on Zardari?

Read more » DAWN.COM

The unspeakable horrors of Delhi, 1947

by Sohail Hashmi

Excerpt;

…. Read this book if you want to understand where we went wrong and to see the fault lines, to see how we need a secular state and not sarv dharm sambhav. Read this book also if you want to understand the falsity of the self image that we have created of ourselves and of our nation, but read it most importantly to understand the fragility of the premise upon which is built the idea of India and the need to protect and nurture this premise and to make it real. Because this premise is India and it is people like Anis Kidwai that made it possible.

(First published in The Book Review, Vol XXXV, Number 8-9 August September 2011.)

To read compete article » KAFILA

No justification for military takeover, says Asma Jehangir, the president of Supreme Court Bar Association

– No justification for military takeover, says Asma

By Nasir Iqbal

ISLAMABAD, Sept 23: One of the country`s most prominent human rights activists has expressed her serious concern on the poor performance of the federal and provincial governments, but has warned against this being used as a pretext by the extra-constitutional forces to derail the democratic process.

Asma Jehangir, who is also the president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), told Dawn that under no circumstances issues like the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi or elsewhere could provide justification for any kind of military intervention. However, her fear was that “if civilian governments do not put their house in order, they would soon be sent packing”. In any case, she said, such a move would be disastrous for the country, and could result in more bloodshed and anarchy.

Commenting on a recent media report of possible differences among the top military commanders, with some suggesting a possible take-over, ….

Read more → DAWN.COM

The arrest of Dr Fai, may appear as isolated legal action of the US government but the scratch below the surface is just the beginning of the US retribution against Pakistani actions

On the course of retributions

By Dr. Manzur Ejaz | DAWN.COM

The arrest of Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, and arrest warrant of a Pakistani national, Zaheer Ahmad, may appear as isolated legal actions of the US government against its citizens for unauthorised lobbying for Pakistan. However, scratch below the surface and it becomes clear that this is just the beginning of the US retribution against Pakistani actions.

The matter has been brewing and coming to the boiling point since Raymond Davis’ arrest and then jailing of those who helped the US in nabbing Osama bin Laden. In recent days, the US media has been reporting that the US is pressuring Pakistan for the releasing of Dr Shakil Afridi who was reported to be arrested for undertaking a fake vaccination campaign to get blood samples of bin Laden’s kids for DNA match.

Every Washington circle that had anything to do with Pak-American-Kashmir affairs was well aware of Dr Fai’s activities in the community, think tanks and on lobbying with Congress and Senate members. Most activists among the Pakistani-American community have been speculating about Dr Fai’s connection with Pakistani government and/or Inter Services Agency (ISI). Therefore, the allegation of having received about four million dollars from Pakistan and making over four thousand phone calls to his alleged handlers from ISI will not be totally perceived as concocted charges even among Pakistani expatriates. Pakistan embassy’s claim that Dr Fai is not a Pakistani citizen—he came from India and sought amnesty in the US—is not going to lessen the impact of such a damaging development.

Dr Fai’s activities on the Capital Hill and his arrangements of large and expensive conferences involving key people from Pakistan and India were quite open. It can be safely assumed that he was giving heart burns to Indian diplomats and lobbyists and they must have been pressurising the US government to rein him in. However, the US had chosen to look the other way for a decade and never bothered with his activities. But, now the parameters have changed. Probably because the US wants to send the message that it has some options to retaliate in Pakistani style as well.

It is well known that Pakistan has its own human intelligence assets in the US. Of course such assets must be a fraction of what a sole world superpower, the US, would have in Pakistan. The US financial power to buy human assets in Pakistan, Europe and from the rest of the world cannot be matched by a poor developing country. Nonetheless, the party with meager resources gets hurt more when mutual retributions occur.

Before Dr Fai’s arrest Washington’s diplomatic circles were subtly pointing out for such retribution. According to very reliable sources, the US side was arguing with Pakistani diplomats that millions of Pakistani-Americans live in America—some of them are Green Card Holders and technically, Pakistani nationals—and the US issues hundreds of thousands of student, visiting, business and work visas to Pakistanis while Pakistan is raising questions about a few hundred visas.

A thinly veiled threat is that if Pakistan continues restricting movements of its diplomats and citizens, the US can do the same putting Pakistani diplomats’ work in jeopardy and creating problems for visitors. Technically, the US can cancel Green Cards on very flimsy grounds, through finding any trivial fault with application process, and send thousands of Pakistanis back home. It is not very likely to happen but if things get too far it is not out of question either.

If the US expands the scope of retributions the diplomatic make-up of staff at Pakistani embassy may change as well. Pakistan may not be able to appoint ranking officials from intelligence agencies as ‘head of community affairs’ or under other such covers. The set of military mission in the embassy may be realigned as well. Most of all, the US agencies, particularly tax authorities, can be used to scare prosperous Pakistanis, mostly physicians, who hold fund raisers for the US lawmakers and arrange their meeting with Pakistani diplomats and incoming Pakistani officials. Such moves will certainly hamper little efforts Pakistani-Americans make to provide bridge between the two countries.

If the negative perception of Pakistan further deepens, the US may not be able to use drones in Pak-Afghan border areas but it will hit Pakistan’s financial system with stealth bombers. Besides stopping the financial aid, the US can harm Pakistan’s foreign currency earnings by creating difficulties for transmitting the remittances of Pakistani expatriates. Presently, Pakistani expatriates contribute a significant portion of foreign remittances of Pakistan. Furthermore, it can issue guidance to donor agencies, European partners and other private financial institution to hold back on financial transfers to Pakistan.

A sketch of broad possible scenarios of US retribution–been started with Dr Fai’s arrest–is not to scare the new found patriotism in Islamabad. Patriotic feelings are very noble, worthy and respectable but one should know the cost as well. Before throwing stones at others while sitting in the glass houses, one should have thick tall walls to protect oneself. Are Islamabad and GHQ ready to build such walls if the US process of retributions expands? Does not seem like it.

Courtesy: → DAWN.COM