Tag Archives: supremacy

PM Sharif’s convoy stopped to let Army chief pass

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan witnessed a historic democratic transition, many in the county have started to believe that the days of military supremacy are over. But not on the roads, at least not yet.

As Nawaz Sharif, along with his family, left for the Presidency to take oath as prime minister for a record third time on Wednesday, he struck reality on the streets of Islamabad.

The question is: who is the real power wielder in Pakistan? The prime minister or the Army chief? Theoretically, the army chief is answerable to a grade-22 civil bureaucrat. Practically, he is mightier than any elected or non-elected individual in the country.

One such demonstration of this reality was witnessed Wednesday soon after Mian Nawaz Sharif’s election as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

After securing more than two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, the premier reached Punjab House to freshen up.

The prime minister was supposed to reach the Presidency before 4:00 pm to take oath from President Asif Ali Zardari.

At the oath-taking ceremony, services chiefs, political leaders, diplomats and senior civil and military officials had been invited.

PML-N sources and eyewitnesses said first to come out of Punjab House was the SUV carrying first lady Kulsoom Nawaz and her daughter Mariam Safdar. Just behind them were the vehicles of Hamza Shahbaz and Hassan Nawaz.

The convoy of the prime minister was standing at close distance from the cars of his family members. As soon as they reached the outer barrier of Punjab House adjacent to Margallah Road, an alter commando blew the whistle with full force ordering the driver to stop the vehicle.

Consequently, the prime minister’s convoy had to stop as well. The pause remained for two to three minutes.

The commando was there to make sure nothing should obstruct the route of the Army chief’s convoy, only allowing vehicles from Punjab House to pass after the entire convoy of the army chief drove away.

Continue reading PM Sharif’s convoy stopped to let Army chief pass

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When is the full coup? – by Mazhar Arif

The decision is being seen as the ‘decision by the Punjabi court’. The disqualification was celebrated and sweets were distributed only in Punjab

At last, the judicial coup!

Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani has finally been toppled. By whom? By the opposition parties with the support of ‘independent’ judiciary or by the ‘Supreme Judicial Party’ with the facilitation of opposition parties which challenged the National Assembly Speaker’s ruling through petitions? This is still under discussion. Some people say the court had the blessing of the army to do the task which the army itself could not do, though it has much experience of the sort, because of perhaps unfavourable strategic and geo-political conditions.

Others, however, are of the opinion that the apex court is a crucial part of the Pakistani establishment, which hardly believes in the supremacy of the parliament, and the verdict is outcome of its own loyalty towards the ideology of the state and the establishment. In this regard, they quote a recent observation made by Mr. Justice Jawad S Khwaja while hearing the contempt of court case against Mr. Gilani. Justice Khwaja remarked: “the judiciary was an independent organ of the state and was answerable to the people not the parliament.” This is, however, not clear how the judges are answerable to the people when they are not elected by them. People hardly know how and by whom they are chosen, selected and nominated.

The disqualification of the prime minister by the apex court is under criticism by a part of the lawyers’ community and a section of the media. The Express Tribune in its editorial under the headline “A Judicial Coup?” on June 20 says, “The Supreme Court, in claiming to represent the will of the people, has removed from power the people’s representative saying that he stood disqualified from being a member of parliament and hence the office of the prime minister since April 26 — the day he was found guilty of contempt. Support for the decision may not be unanimous mainly because of recent developments, especially where the Honourable Court was dragged into the Arsalan Iftikhar matter

Continue reading When is the full coup? – by Mazhar Arif

Has Pakistan gone fascist?

Go figure!

By: Nadeem F. Paracha

There is a genuine fear among some (yes, just some) Pakistanis that their society and state is headed straight to becoming a 21st century model of fascism.

I say the fear is being noted and felt by just some Pakistanis because it seems to most of their compatriots – especially those squirming within the growing, agitated and uptight urban middle-classes – the emergence of such a state and society is actually something to do with abstract concepts like ‘national sovereignty,’ ‘honour’ (ghairat), ‘revolution’ and a ‘positive Pakistan!’

It’s like saying chronic neurosis is a pretty positive thing to have.

Recently in a sharp and pointed article, author and scientist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, clearly alluded to how the Pakistani society and state are showing signs of the kind of myopic mindset that the German society plunged into in the 1920s and 1930s, setting the scene for Hitler and his fascist outfit and mentality to become Germany’s overlords – eventually taking the nation over the brink and towards widespread destruction.

So is the Pakistani society headed in the same direction?

A number of experts and sociologists have drawn some prominent symptoms to look for in figuring out if a particular society is drifting into the clutches of fascism.

Let’s discuss a few in Pakistan’s context:

• Symptom 1: Powerful and Continuing Nationalism

Fascist societies/cultures tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

In Pakistan patriotism has been intertwined with the belief in a divine monolithic deity. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a person is singing praises of God or the state. It’s as if both are one and the same. Thus, if you are not all that enthusiastic about singing loud patriotic songs or displaying 50X10 Pakistani flags over your 5X2 office cubical, you are a traitor and/or/thus a kafir.

Continue reading Has Pakistan gone fascist?

Court Challenges Put Unusual Spotlight on Pakistani Spy Agency

By DECLAN WALSH

LAHORE, Pakistan — Long unchallenged, Pakistan’s top spy agency faces a flurry of court actions that subject its darkest operations to unusual scrutiny, amid growing calls for new restrictions on its largely untrammeled powers.

The cases against the agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, have uncertain chances of success, analysts say, and few believe that they can immediately hobble it. But they do represent a rare challenge to a feared institution that is a cornerstone of military supremacy in Pakistan.

In the first case, due for a hearing on Wednesday, the Supreme Court has ordered the ISI to produce in court seven suspected militants it has been holding since 2010 — and to explain how four other detainees from the same group died in mysterious circumstances over the past six months.

The second challenge, due for a hearing on Feb. 29, revives a long-dormant vote-rigging scandal, which focuses on illegal donations of $6.5 million as part of a covert, and ultimately successful, operation to influence the 1990 election.

The cases go to the heart of the powers that have given the ISI such an ominous reputation among Pakistanis: its ability to detain civilians at will, and its freedom to meddle in electoral politics. They come at the end of a difficult 12 months for the spy service, which has faced sharp criticism over the killing of Osama bin Laden by American commandos inside Pakistan and, in recent weeks, its role in a murky political scandal that stoked rumors of a military coup.

Now its authority is being challenged from an unexpected quarter: the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Only weeks ago, Justice Chaudhry, an idiosyncratic judge, faced accusations of being soft on the military when he inserted the courts into a bruising battle between the government and army.

Now Justice Chaudhry seems determined to prove that he can take on the army, too.

“This is a reaction to public opinion,” said Ayaz Amir, an opposition politician from Punjab. “The court wants to be seen to represent the popular mood.”

The court’s daring move has found broad political support. Last Friday, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the leader of the opposition in Parliament, compared the military to a “mafia” during a National Assembly debate about the plight of the four detainees who died in ISI custody.

Continue reading Court Challenges Put Unusual Spotlight on Pakistani Spy Agency

Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?

By Shuja Nawaz

Internal militancy and insurgency are the immediate threats to Pakistan’s security.

Pakistan’s polity is fractured and dysfunctional, allowing the military to assert greater control over Pakistan’s response to this growing internal threat.

Civilian authorities have missed numerous opportunities to assert control over security matters. Miscalculation by the current civilian government in its attempt in 2008 to exert control over the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate soured civil-military relations at a time when the new army chief favored keeping the army out of politics.

The military’s interests are expanding to newer sectors, including economic policymaking, since a shrinking economy could hurt military interests and lifestyles.

An opportunity to improve security sector governance exists in the proposed National Counter Terrorism Authority, which the government has unduly delayed.

This report reflects the views expressed during a conference entitled “Who Controls Pakistan’s Security Forces?” hosted by the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Security Sector Governance Center on April 19, 2011. Speakers at the event included the author, Professor Hassan Abbas of Columbia University, and Moeed Yusuf of the U.S. Institute of Peace. The report discusses the complex political landscape in which Pakistan’s civilian and military authorities operate, often vying for power and supremacy; identifies the challenges facing Pakistan’s civilian government in the face of the military’s expanding role; and suggests a realignment of roles, increased expertise for civilian officials in security matters, and better civilian-military coordination. …

Read more » U.S. Institute of Peace

ISI memogate

Pakistan: Between Memo And Military
By Mohammad Taqi
Excerpt;
Was it the alleged memo or was it the consistent advocacy of civilian supremacy, first as a scholar and then as an envoy, which earned Haqqani the junta’s wrath and cost him his job?

“In the foreseeable future, Islam will remain a factor in Pakistan’s politics. Musharraf and his likely successors from the ranks of the military, promising reform, will continue to seek U.S. economic and military assistance; yet the power of such promises is tempered by the strong links between Pakistan’s military-intelligence apparatus and extremist Islamists”.

Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military— Husain Haqqani

As Ambassador Husain Haqqani landed in a Pakistan caught between the notorious memo and an army posturing for a kill, one felt that there was more to the Memogate than meets the eye. Was it the alleged memo or was it the consistent advocacy of civilian supremacy, first as a scholar and then as an envoy, which earned Haqqani the junta’s wrath and cost him his job? ….
…. Post Script: Ms Sherry Rehman has just been appointed as the new Pakistani ambassador to the US. Her known views on Afghanistan mirror that of the Pakistan Army, especially regarding giving a prominent role to Siraj Haqqani network and Mullah Omar in any future Afghan settlement. The military establishment has clearly prevailed over Asif Zardari in this round. What remains to be seen is whether he will still be around for next .
To read complete article » OUT LOOK » Daily Times (DT)

Civilian supremacy over military: a process, not a transaction – Dr Mohammad Taqi

In post-bin Laden Pakistan, a unique prospect exists for the civilian leadership to neutralise the establishment and literally reverse the power equation. Such a constellation of events does not happen often and the agents of the status quo are hard at work to quickly close this small window of opportunity

Wherever and whenever nation-states make the transition towards a democratic form of government, the question about civilian supremacy over the military is bound to come up. In stable western democracies, such as the US and Japan, both convention and the constitution provide well-established safeguards against the military’s encroachment on the civilian power to oversee and control it. But in budding democracies, and especially countries like Pakistan that go through praetorian autocracy and democracy in a cyclical fashion, the issue of civil-military balance of power remains highly complex, unresolved and pernicious.

It was this struggle for power that Samuel Adams — one of the US’s founding fathers — had warned against, in a letter to James Warren: “A standing army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the liberties of the people. Soldiers are apt to consider themselves as a body distinct from the rest of the citizens. They have their arms always in their hands…Such a power should be watched with a jealous eye.”

Standing armies have nonetheless become a norm and the citizens’ militias, looked upon favourably by Adams and the legendary Baloch leader Sher Muhammad Marri, as a bulwark against martial law, have survived just in theory. Since the Portuguese Carnation revolution of 1974, ironically led by the military, a series of new democratic dispensations — the so-called third wave democracies — have continued to grapple with the issue of consolidating civilian control over the military, as part of the overall cementing of democratic change. The quest for fledgling democracies has been not only to oust the military from power but also to prevent it from staging another outright coup d’état as well as an indirect intervention in or competition with civilian power.

In the political scenario evolving in Pakistan after the US took out Osama bin Laden, the security establishment has found its chokehold on power to be in mortal danger. The façade of the military’s organisation and invincibility, nay infallibility, has been lifted, tilting the balance of power against it internationally, but more importantly, domestically. It is this exposed domestic flank that is really worrisome for the establishment, as a potential civilian compact could emerge and dislodge it from the direct and indirect role of control over the state that it is accustomed to exercising. The Latin American and Southeast Asian models of the juntas defanged and sent packing by the united political elite are not completely lost on the Pakistani deep state. …

Read more: Daily Times

Accountability of Military Inc

by Najam Sethi

The terrorist attacks on GHQ last year and the Mehran Naval Base last month were outrageous examples of terrorist efficiency and motivation as opposed to ISI incompetence and military ill-preparedness. The US Navy Seal raid to extract Osama bin Laden from a compound in Abbottabad was deeply humiliating as well. Heads should have rolled. But the military will not even consider an independent commission of inquiry to unearth the facts. No wonder its credibility and sacred-cow status have taken a mighty hit. Within the armed forces, officers are standing up to question and confront their superiors. Outside, an angry public wants to know why we are spending half our tax resources on equipping the military with F-16s and BMWs when it can’t even protect itself, let alone defend the nation. This questioning of Military Incorporated is unprecedented.

More significantly, the civilian opposition is up in arms. It is demanding an informed debate over the military’s national security doctrines – particularly with reference to the obsession with, and fear of, “arch-enemy India” – that have spawned such self-serving budgetary outlays and an arms race at the expense of the social welfare of Pakistanis for six decades. The indignant argument that criticism of the military is “unpatriotic” or serves the interests of the “enemy” doesn’t wash any more. Indeed, the term “establishment”, used hitherto to refer obliquely to the military so as not to offend it, is rapidly going out of fashion. People are not afraid to call a spade a spade.

Ominously, the ISI’s mythology of power is now being deconstructed and exposed as being undeserved. The “agencies” are out of fashion, the ISI is squarely in the spotlight. The premeditated abduction and torture of journalist Saleem Shehzad, which led to his death, has been bravely laid by the media and opposition at the door of the ISI and not some invisible “agency”. The government’s silence – in not establishing a credible commission of inquiry – has also compromised the ISI’s position. This is remarkable, not because of the pathetic response in self-defense elicited from unnamed spokesmen of the ISI but because a conviction has now taken root in the public imagination that the ISI should not be beyond the pale of the law and accountability. The opposition has gone so far in parliament as to demand an oversight of its functions, duties, responsibilities and budgets. This is a far cry from a demand by the media and opposition not so long ago to shield and protect the ISI and its DG from the “conspiratorial” tentacles of the PPP government and its ubiquitous interior minister, Rehman Malik, who sought to bring the ISI’s internal political wing dedicated to political machinations under civilian control.

All this has happened because of two new factors that are not sufficiently imagined or understood by the military and ISI. One is the rise of a fiercely competitive and free media that is rapidly coming of age and will not allow itself to be manipulated wholesale in the “patriotic national interest”, a term that is constantly being re-evaluated in light of changing realities. The other is the revival of a chief justice and supreme court that are acutely aware of the civil burden imposed by their historic and popular enthronement. Neither will countenance any political or military oversight of their own sense of freedom and function. So if the military cannot rely on the troika of army chief, president and prime minister for political leverage of government – because the president and prime minister are one now – it is even more problematic to try and manipulate the media and SC merely on the yardstick of “patriotism” and “national interest”. The military’s woes are compounded by the fact that, for the first time in history, a popular Punjabi “son of the soil” like Nawaz Sharif, whose PML is a veritable creature of the predominantly Punjabi-origin military itself, has turned around and openly challenged its supremacy, arrogance and lack of accountability. The “Punjabi establishment” – meaning the civil-military power combine that has ruled Pakistan since independence — is therefore openly divided. The irony of history is that it is a Sindhi politician (Asif Zardari) who is opportunistically lending his shoulder to the military as it braces for fresh buffetings at home.

But that is just the beginning of a new story. The international establishment – principally the USA and EU – that has nurtured and molly-coddled the Pakistani military for six decades with money and weapons is also at the end of its tether. The “strategic partnership” mantra is dead. Washington, like Islamabad, doesn’t trust Rawalpindi either as long-term partner or ally. It is only a matter of time before the civilians in Pakistan and those in DC or Brussels make common cause for mutual benefit. Indeed, if the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill were to be floated anew with clauses enjoining civilian supremacy over the military, there would not even be conscientious objectors today.

The Pakistan military should see the writing on the wall. It must hunker down and become subservient to civilian rule and persuasion instead of embarking on new misadventures in the region like the proverbial Pied Piper. The road to hell is always paved with self-serving intentions.

Courtesy: Friday Times

via Wichaar

Arshad Sharif discusses issues highlighted by the Corps Commanders

As Pakistan’s military commanders speak out about revisiting Pakistan-US relations, the internal and external factors are rapidly threatening the very fabric of the state. In this episode of Reporter, Arshad Sharif discusses with the panelists issues highlighted by the Corps Commanders and the steps being taken by the government to address national security issues.

Courtesy: DAWN News (Program Reporter with Arshad Sharif – Dangers Facing Pakistan – Ep 195 – Part 4), YouTube

What is wrong with the military?

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

Feeling the political heat from the public and some politicians, Pakistan’s military chief, Pervaiz Kiyani, has hit back accusing that this is an effort “to drive a wedge between the army, different organs of the state and, more seriously, the people of Pakistan, whose support the army has always considered vital for its operations against terrorists.” Translation: To ask for the civilian control over the military and to scrutinize its mammoth secrete budget is creating a wedge between state institutions. Naturally, if the absolute supremacy of the military institution—a taken for granted privilege—is challenged it will create a wedge in the existing institutional alignment.

Gen. Kiyani’s statement makes it clear that the military is in mode to introspect, reform and help Pakistan by stepping back from national politics. Instead Gen. Kiayni is combinative, using the same old clichés and employing slick political strategies. The military does not want to or is not getting it as to what is wrong.

What is wrong with Pakistan military? Fundamental blunder of the military is to establish a monopoly over defining Pakistani nation and its interests. It is not the military that defines the nation and its interests in any civilized country. It is the duty and task of the political forces to do so and the military follows the dictates of the civilian government’s defined objectives.

In Pakistan’s history from Gen. Ayub Khan to Gen. Kiayni, military chiefs take it upon themselves to define the Pakistani nation and its interests. In the rest of the world the dictum is that ‘war is too serious a matter to be left to the generals’ but in Pakistan it is just the opposite ‘war and national interests are too serious matters to be left to the civilians.’

Pakistan military defined Pakistan as a religious state from the very beginning but the trend accentuated after losing war in East Bengal. The logical lesson from losing East Pakistan should have been that a country cannot be united on the basis of the religion. Bengali Muslims rebellion should have been an eye opener for the military. However, it embraced the most illogical conclusion and embarked upon a course to turn Pakistan into an Islamic theocratic state. Military reached this conclusion just because it was only Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) that was its partner in butchering the East Bengali Muslims. Post 1971 war nexus between military and religious parties, specifically JI, always played the major part in shaping Pakistan of today.

Without getting into details of how the military-mullah alliance created religious bigotry, theocratic laws and, ultimately, proliferation of jihadi producing madrassas, we should look at the final outcome. Jihadi producing madrassas were abetted, encouraged and financed by the military. If it was not so let us assume that somehow such schools were being established by the Marxist or Maoists? Would military allow it and watch from the sidelines or destroy them? Let us assume that instead of Muslim jihadis, India like Maoist movement had started a guerrilla war against the state what would be military’s response? They would have been crushed ruthlessly. Therefore, there should be no doubt that proliferation of armed bands of jihadis is the outcome of military’s ideology imposed on that society. It is the military’s nation defining monopoly that has created the present disastrous situation.

The irony is that military is not willing to recognize the mess they have created. They are not prepared to back off from nation defining and hand over this function to civilians. May be civilians will not be very successful in this venture but they have yet to prove. On the contrary, military prescriptions are well tested in the last 60 years and we know that they have created havoc in Pakistan. They should look at Pakistan and see the ruins created by them. But will they? It does not seem likely because monopoly over ideological discourse is closely linked to their institutional and personal interests (perks).

Courtesy: Wichaar

Pakistan’s Faustian Parliament – by Wajid Ali Syed

It was embarrassing enough for the people of Pakistan to find out that Osama bin Laden was living in their midst for years. Even more shameful was the realization that their politicians are incapable of questioning the security apparatus of the country. The masses rallied and protested and faced hardships for months to kick General Pervez Musharraf out of power. They voted the Pakistan People’s Party, the most widely-based and allegedly liberal party to power, believing that democracy has been restored.

Though the leader of the government, President Asif Ali Zardari has been blamed for everything going wrong in the country and is regarded as a corrupt individual, until now there has been a perceived upside that Pakistan is being led by an elected government and not a military dictatorship.

This illusion of so-called civilian supremacy silently burst like a bubble when the head of the ISI, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, and the Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani were called before the parliament to answer for their incompetence related to the May 2 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. The agenda was to inquire about the U.S. attack and why the state security apparatus was unaware of Osama bin Laden’s presence.

But what happened during the closed door meeting revealed once again that the real power in Pakistan still lies with the army and the ISI, not the politicians.

It had been suggested that heads would roll, the foreign aid and the big chunk of national budget that the army receives would be scrutinized. The parliamentarians dropped the ball again and lost another opportunity to exert their authority over other institutions of the state. Once again it became clear who really runs Pakistan.

The last time a civilian government had an opportunity to put the army in its place was in 1971, following the Pakistan army’s defeat in the war that led to the loss of East Pakistan, which became Bangladesh. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s then-president and founder of the Pakistan People’s Party, got off to a promising start by placing former dictator General Yahya Khan under house arrest. He re-organized the Pakistan Armed Forces and boosted the military’s morale. But Bhutto also restored their hubris. Years later, his own appointed Army Chief, General Zia ul-Haq, would overthrow Bhutto’s government and send him to the gallows.

During Zia’s 11 year rule, the Russians invaded Afghanistan and withdrew. The army grew so strong that even after Zia’s death in a plane crash, the new chief of the military did not allow the democratically elected Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, to tour the country’s nuclear facility. She was labelled anti-Pakistan and an American agent.

It is ironic to witness that the opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), which was created with the support of the army to counter the PPP’s popularity, is now asking the tough questions about covert operations and the finances of the military.

By snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, Pakistan’s ruling party, Bhutto’s PPP, is losing its chance to demonstrate leadership and moral authority. They failed to hold the army accountable for the thousands of civilians and security officers killed in the war on terror in Pakistan. They did not press the chief of the generously-funded army to explain how OBL could have lived in a military garrison town for six years.

These are the same parliamentarians who extended General Kiyani’s tenure. The same parliamentarians who extended ISI Chief General Pasha’s tenure. The boastful parliamentarians who had promised to leave no stone unturned roared like lions for the cameras but behaved like lambs behind closed doors.

It was reported that opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar tried to deliver a speech during the question and answer session, only to be snubbed by General Pasha in front of a full house. Pasha claimed that he ‘knew’ why he was being targeted by the opposition leader, alleging that Nisar had asked him for a personal favor, which he, as DG ISI, refused to extend. An embarrassed Chaudhry Nisar was said to have been taken aback as Pasha continued with his ‘counter-attack’.

Then the tail furiously wagged the dog. General Pasha reportedly offered to resign. Rather than demanding that the ISI chief step down immediately, apparently the parliamentarians did not accept his resignation.

The state run television channel could have returned to its heyday of running prime time programming that kept the country glued to their sets by recording that “closed door” meeting to broadcast later as a drama — or farce.

Some idealistic Pakistanis hoped that the U.S. would finally question the secretly played “double game.” After all, the U.S. supported extensions of Kiyani’s and Pasha’s tenures, claiming that keeping the chiefs in their positions would help to continue the war on terror in an orderly fashion. The U.S. abandoned the people of Pakistan by siding with the army once again, pledging support and failing to attach any strings or conditions to the military aid it provides.

Cowed by Kiyani’s and Pasha’s brazen displays, Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution that drone attacks should be stopped and that the operations like the one carried out on May 2nd won’t be tolerated in future.

The parliament has an obligation to explain to the public not only how and why Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad, but why the Taliban continues to carry out its bloody operations, and why al Qaeda leaders have been given safe haven. The risk of allowing these questions to remain unanswered is that the military will gain more strength over the civilian government.

The parliamentarians who are supposed to represent the people of Pakistan abrogated their responsibility for the sake of staying in office for few more months, while at the same time making it clear who the country’s rulers truly are.

Courtesy: Wichaar

Pakistan is entering another dark stage of history

Another dark period – by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Jamaat-i-Islami is holding rallies to condemn Osama’s death in the name of Pakistan’s sovereignty as if al Qaeda and the Taliban are not violating it.

Before Osama Bin Laden’s death in Abbottabad, Islamabad’s political orientation had shifted further to the right on every level. In retrospect, it is becoming clearer that the newfound unity between Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) had been forged with the military’s tacit support. No wonder that Prime Minister Gilani’s responses after the Abbottabad debacle were totally in sync with the military’s public face, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR). By now all the primitive forces of Pakistan have forged an opportunistic unity barring any enlightened solution to the country’s internal and external problems.

After the Jamiat-i-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had left the government of their own will or on someone’s prompting, the PPP was in a very precarious position. It had no solution other than bowing to the military and seeking its help. PML-Q, not a political party as such, but an ensemble of electable Pakistani aristocrats always finding it abhorrent to sit on the opposition benches, were keen to come back to the ruling group. PML-Q had served in the military-managed government of General Musharraf and got on board once they received signals from the right quarters.

Pakistan’s military had hardly any choice but to support the PPP government after exacting the maximum concessions from it. It has been reported by many insiders that the military hates to see a federal government run by Mian Nawaz Sharif and his party PML-N. The military is fearful of his independent approach and his strong belief in civilian supremacy over the armed forces. His firing of two army chiefs during his last stint as prime minster was more than the military could swallow. The military is said to believe that though the PPP government is inept and corrupt, it still listens to them and dares not challenge its will, while Mian Nawaz Sharif is going to do what he likes and may try to exert control over the ‘untouchable’ mighty institution.

A few months back the military was seemingly trying to corner the PPP and replace it with some other combination of political groupings including MQM. Mian Nawaz Sharif was being encouraged to play a role to destabilise the PPP government but, apparently, he did not oblige. Somehow, he seems to be wedded to the concept of not throwing out the democratically elected government when there is direct or indirect danger of military intervention. Since he did not take the military’s bait, the military had no choice but to work with the PPP.

A weakened PPP government due to lack of governance, incompetence and perceived corruption, had changed its patron from the US to the military. After the PPP-PML-Q alliance was put in place, Prime Minister Gilani has been issuing strong pro-military/ISI statements, owning up to all the mess that Pakistan is accused of creating.

PM Gilani’s reported suggestion to Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karazai to tilt away from the US and embrace China was also in accordance with the military’s cat and mouse play with the Americans. His out-of-place statement that the military’s intelligence agencies are following the civilian government was also an attempt at mollycoddling the GHQ. His statements after the US operation in Abbottabad followed the same pattern. In essence, the military has recreated a Musharraf-like civilian set-up, which will allow it to do whatever it likes in dealings with the US, Afghanistan, India, China and other key external partners. It also gives them a free hand to play duplicitous policy games if they like to.

Presently, the PPP is trying to outdo Imran Khan, religious parties and all other anti-US political formations in standing behind the military. Jamaat-i-Islami is holding rallies to condemn Osama’s death in the name of Pakistan’s sovereignty as if al Qaeda and the Taliban are not violating it. Some religious leaders are blaming the Yahood-o-Hunood (Jews and Hindus) for hatching a conspiracy against the Pakistan military as if Osama bin Laden had been planted by them in Abbottabad. Other random groups are even holding rallies in support of the military. This is happening at a time when the civilians, specifically the governing party, should have been asking some tough questions from the military. Instead, the political groups are competing with each other to win the trophy for being the ‘Best Military Apologist’.

Whether Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad with or without the military’s knowledge is a question haunting Pakistan. The world is asking if it should be considered a case of incompetence or mischief on the part of Pakistan. The PPP and all other apologists can woo the military in pursuit of their own agendas but they can neither satisfy the world (not just the US) nor force the military establishment to initiate a corrective mechanism so that, in future, Osama bin Ladens are kept away from Pakistan. In fact, the political environment has been so ‘militarised’ that the Abbottabad operation has turned out to be a blessing for the military. Now the military has proved that it is beyond scrutiny and will be more encouraged to do whatever it wishes. This simply means that the Pakistani state is going to deteriorate further with no self-correcting mechanism in sight.

The conditions in Pakistan were already bad but with the PPP-PML-Q alliance combined with pro-military noises indicate that Pakistan is entering another dark stage of history.

The writer can be reached at manzurejaz@yahoo.com

Courtesy: Wichaar

Mujib’s 6 points

1. The constitution should provide for a Federation of Pakistan in its true sense on the 1940 Lahore Resolution and the parliamentary form of government with supremacy of a legislature directly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.

2. The federal government should deal with only two subjects: defence and foreign affairs, and all other residuary subjects shall be vested in the federating states.

3. Two separate, but freely convertible currencies for two wings should be introduced; or if this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the whole country, but effective constitutional provisions should be introduced to stop the flight of capital from East to West Pakistan. Furthermore, a separate banking reserve should be established and separate fiscal and monetary policy be adopted for East Pakistan.

4. The power of taxation and revenue collection shall be vested in the federating units and the federal centre will have no such power. The federation will be entitled to a share in the state taxes to meet its expenditures.

5. There should be two separate accounts for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings; the foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met by the two wings equally or in a ratio to be fixed; indigenous products should move free of duty between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.

6. East Pakistan should have a separate militia or paramilitary forces.

Source – Sindhi e-lists/ e-groups, April 21, 2011.