Monday, December 26, 2011

Punjab’s Folly—Changing Mature Minds For Immature

Pakistan’s most populous province Punjab is home to the country’s armed forces, civilian bureaucrats, media and everything that you need for development and prosperity in present Pakistan. It has a major role in defining Pakistani politics and enjoys a king maker role in power politics since 1947, the year Pakistan came into existence.  For its ‘king maker’ role, Punjan remains the major battlefield for political parties and security establishment. Unlike the other three provinces, Punjab has developed a sort of two-party system since late 1980s with people following either PPP or PML. Both parties have produced a number of politicians and technocrats in Punjab since then though PML takes the credit for also producing a first time Punjabi mainstream politician in Mian Nawaz Sharif.  
However, the deeply rooted two parties system in Punjab seems to be no more serving the interests of the establishment if it is truly behind the emerging Imran Khan-led PTI. The reports of alleged pampering of PTI suggest a repetition of Gen Musharraf’s creation of the then king party PML (Q) in Punjab. Instead of investing on tested leadership, ISI’s political military officials, as reported in a section of media, are calling on Punjab’s ‘beradari-based politicians’ and voters to go for a totally new try---Imran Khan’s PTI. If succeeded, it would hunt down two birds with one shot. An unfriendly Nawaz Sharif will lose turf to PTI and PPP will emerge with few seats from Punjab, if at all the nation goes for election. The generals on extensions are also betting on a favorable Supreme Court verdict, as a second card, against PPP government in the memo case. Anonymous top military officials already claimed to a credible foreign news agency Reuters last week that military would seek court decision against president Zardari in the memo case. The honorable judges have yet to consider the reported claims of the anonymous military officials in memo hearings.
While it is still not clear how a court of law will prove Mansoor Ijaz allegations that Pakistan’s sacked ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani dictated him a memo on the telephone, the dent in Nawaz Sharif’s PML and PPP had gotten a momentum in Punjab province. The chances are that both parties would lose a majority in parliament and Punjab assembly due to mass defections to PTI while their leaders would be watching it helplessly from Islamabad and Lahore before a verdict comes from the Supreme Court.
The defections’ rate in PML (N) or PPP shows the local leaders and voters in Punjab are committing a serious political folly. They hardly with their collective efforts nourished their own leader/s in the last 24 years and now when they grew up to the level of delivering services, turning backs on them will benefit the security establishment and its political immature babies.
Compared with the Imran Khan’s PTI, stuffed with the known turncoats of Pakistan, PPP and PML (N) have strong political muscles. The leadership of the two parties has passed through a series of tough ordeals and tense moments—the list includes challenging the country’s most powerful military generals, made-in GHQ foreign policy failures, poor economy, war on terror, non-cooperative military, self-imposed Kargal and mid-night jackal adventures, false cases of corruption, daily media trials with the help of Kamran Khan types on controlled media outlets, imprisonment, assassinations and executions. Both parties—PPP to a larger extent and PML (N) to some level, fought for empowerment of the elected governments and masses and have preferred ruling the country per constitution than surrendering to the military generals.
Imran Khan’s PTI has tested none of it. Being an ambitious cricket player, he grew up playing ONLY on favorable wickets. Right now he is batting and bowling on military pitch. He tells his audience that US had failed in Afghanistan and US can’t win in Afghanistan without Pakistan. That is what Gen Pasha told Pakistani envoys at a conference in Islamabad this month per media reports. He is against anti-terrorists drones and so is GHQ apparently (though wikileaks says the opposite) and considers it dangerous for Pakistan’s sovereignty. He is for the release of Aafia (NOT Aasia) Siddiqui and calls her daughter of the nation. On Taliban, he accepts them as a force and urges for negotiations with them. Mr Khan is hero of Pakistan’s radical right; has never condemned Taliban’s suicide attacks or destruction of schools and openly plays politics of anti-Americanism—a weapon of the establishment. His interests are more aligned with the secret Pakistan than with the aspiring youth and civil society of Pakistan.
Unlike PML (N) and PPP, PTI has no sense of economics. Its main economic slogan is Pakistan’s undefined wealth and resources and that a new Pakistan will be a prosperous nation. No solid plan in 1, 2, 3 is so far unveiled for dealing with the unemployment, energy deficiency, low income, low GDP, high inflation, increasing defense costs, huge standing army, sick sectors and narrow tax net. The other two major parties are tested gurus in Pakistan’s context. For Kamran Khan types TV anchors, PPP specially and PML (N) to some extent, are economic catastrophes of Pakistan. However, the biased anchors just ignore the facts that US or West will not invest in Pakistan when Osama bin Laden is hiding in Abbottabad, Taliban Shura operating in Quetta and Aiman al Zawahiri sending terror videos from hidden bases in Pak/Afghan border regions.
Empowering PTI and rejecting the established parties will delay at least for five more years the journey towards the ultimate goal, that is, empowering men and women of Pakistan civil society. The security establishment will feel more comfortable playing hide and seek on power share, funds allocations, foreign policy choices, development projects and domestic polity with its political babies of PTI, if it comes in power. The nation is witness to that exercise between Gen Musharraf-led military and Chodhris of Gujrat-led PML (    Q) government before 2008. Everyone knows how far the then government of PML (Q) was powerful in setting government agenda, foreign policy and appointments to major positions such as prime minister, chairman senate, cabinet members, heads of civilian institutes such as NHA, PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills--all major public sectors including Pakistan Cricket Board . The civilian façade of PML (Q) only gave extensions to the real military rule in Pakistan in the 1st decade of the 21st century.
Looking from the window of a win/lose scenario, empowering PTI renders the masses as losers and the establishment is seen as a winner along with a handful of turncoats led by Imran Khan. PTI, being a wrong choice for Punjab and (of course other provinces too), will not deliver a revolution but voters there will end up with the hollow slogans and immature leadership.  The other three provinces are not gonna benefit from Imran Khan’s tsunami as Sindh will not accept him and Pakhtunkhwa will be abandoned to ‘good’ Taliban. Baluchistan will be out of Imran Khan’s control, especially when he has this big black stigma of ‘establishment man’ on his forehead.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Imran Khan’s PTI Trick—A Rebranding of Rightists

In Imran Khan’s PTI, a major shift in Pakistan’s rightists’ polity is clearly visible. As the TTP’s suicide attacks, barbaric self-defined Sharia of terrorists and Islam of the former dictator Gen Zia ul Haq have disillusioned everyone in Pakistan, the rightists and their ‘creators’ are testing new tools and tactics to inundate the country’s streets with its forthcoming 'tsunami'. The party, its leaders and ‘string pullers’ are using new tricks to win support in Pakistan’s right, moderate and left circles.
The trick #1 is the selling out of its leaders to the masses and the world. PTI’s leaders, in the first place, are clean-shaven men widely seen in 3-piece suites, well-versed in English, and perfectly looking modern liberals in appearances. However, their beards are hidden in their tummies—look at Imran Khan. He is a former sportsman, a London playboy, western educated and hot among youth in appearances. His politics and rhetorics are, however, only benefiting Pakistan’s bad guys. He is a great supporter of Taliban, Pakistan’s top protester against drones, admirer of Pakistan’s hate promoting religious clerics and a baby of the security establishment that faces serious accusations of plotting coup against the elected civilian government, sheltering Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and cleansing the country of liberals and dissidents.
The second heavy weight is Shah Mehmood Qurishi—a former foreign minister of PPP, wearing 1st class black suites, design ties and an ambitious young politician. Ideologically, he never moved from his fixed rung but his ambitions or ‘error of judgment’ forced him and his family back and forth, defecting here and there. He is a true son of General Zia’s religious ‘pragmatic’ system. His credentials couldn’t make him PPP’s prime minister and ended up as a dissident foreign minister of Pakistan. However, on Raymand Davis issue, he rejoined the forces from where he got his genes—that was very much natural. His joining of PTI is yet another example, showing him where he comes from.
Javed Hashmi, PML (N) starlet—imagine him in a beard and he will not fall short of his 1st time political comrades—Jama’at-e-Islami activists. His political choices are throughout ‘right’. A Jama’ati by origin, follower of Gen Zia, leader among the ‘made in establishment’ Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) in late 80s, and his years with PML, are clearly visible on his resume. A known politician for his tirades against generals in the last few years but his sayings didn’t match with what he did by joining the PTI.
PTI’s trick #2 is its slogans. Though riding on a green right horse under the green right flag, its political slogans are not religious based. Vague slogans such as ‘new Pakistan’, ‘no landlordism’, ‘justice’, “no drones’, and in Karachi rally they said: “Aafia is Pakistan’s daughter and US should return her”-- (the nation is however not told how deep she was involved with terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of 9/11). The party avoids using slogans of Sharia, Islam and Khilafat as those are no more selling chants for rallying general masses at public places. The choice of slogans is deliberate and the aim is to make it acceptable to voters across the board.
Music is PTI's trick #3---that is the item girl of the PTI’s rallies. The rightists, specially religious rightists, abhor music on TV, Radio or in PPP rallies. However, Imran Khan is using it for a ‘good cause’ and seems it has been approved and accepted for his rallies. It serves both purposes—plasters PTI as a ‘roshan fikar’ party and attracts teens.
The coming weeks and months will show how far the three major tricks will deliver a revolution or what Imran Khan calls it tsunami. One thing is, however, sure that PTI is Pakistan’s another IJI or PML (Qaaf) of 2012. A visit of ISI’s colonel or brigadier is enough to force or convince a politician for joining the 2012 PML (Q), renamed as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by a clean-shaven Mullah. This time, again, the aim is very gentle--to save Pakistan.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blasphemous Memo Threatens Pak Democracy

That media is not asking WHY Mansoor Ijaz, the steno and bearer of the ‘blasphemous’ memo, took a u--turn at a critical juncture of military-civilian and US-Pakistan relations is raising questions in Pakistan’s logical minds. That the chief of ISI general Shuja Pasha personally visits Mr Ijaz in London in the last week of October 2011to collect the evidence regarding the memo--shows the urgency of the matter. That the chief of the powerful military General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani holds two meetings in two consecutive days with the President Asif Ali Zardari on the issue--speaks of the rage and revenge in the GHQ.
The guy is gone and Islamabad lost an elegant lobbyist for Pakistan’s democracy in the world powerful capital Washington DC. Hussain Haqqani, the vocal ambassador Pakistan ever had in DC, was forced to resign for his smartness after his interrogation session with the military chief General Kayani, ISI chief General Pasha, and attended by President Zardari and Premier Gilani on November 23, 2011.
The memo saga, the killing of al-Qededa chief Osama bin Laden (OBL) in Pakistan’s garrison city Abbottabad and finding out the terribly tortured dead body of journalist Saleem Shehzad one day in a small river near Islamabad are the latest eye-openers to ‘non-believers’ in military might of Pakistan. It showed how powerful the few civilian leaders are when it comes to confront the interests of the GHQ.
The four star generals’ agility and their personal brisk movements in dealing with the blasphemous memo are unique in its nature. The military urgency in question was not visible in other high profile international level nasty surprises. 
Pakistanis have unfortunately didn’t read a ticker nor viewed a footage on their TV screens showing the ISI chief visiting OBL compound in Abbottabad to collect the evidence how the top terrorist managed a mansion at a stone throw distance from the state of the art military academy despite international pressure. The four star generals didn’t feel the need responding to questions on the brutal killing of late Shehzad, author of the book “Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11”.
On the assassination of the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, the army chief General Kayani declined to publicly condemn Taseer’s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He was quoted telling the Western ambassadors in January 2011 in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathize with the killer, and showed them a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer’s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. He thought a public statement could endanger the army’s unity. (The then governor of Punjab was for amending the controversial blasphemy law and was gunned down by his bodyguard in Islamabad).
With this mindset in the GHQ, supported by mainstream right-wing media and political leaders of the likes of Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qurish (no need to mention all factions of the Muslim League, Jama’t-e-Islami and scores of Jehadi organizations), the content of the memo can hardly be questioned. While the intentions of Mansoor Ijaz, who accuses the ambassador Haqqani for dictating him the script, are not yet clear, the whole narrative proves in practice what the memo tries to explain in words.
Probing the ambassador for his alleged involvement in the ‘memogate’ is perhaps not the right course, as said by the federal minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour. The powerful military, rather, needs to satisfy the nation that it has no intention of derailing the current democratic system. In Pakistan, it is always the civilian governments and leaders that face the military coups and kangaroo courts. The fears of democratic forces are, therefore, real and expression of those qualms should not be treated as sacrilegious nor as an excuse for showing exit to the civilian leaders.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Is Memo another Kargal for Civilian Government?

Pakistan’s ‘memo’ scandal puts the civilian leadership on the defense. The military and media, through their direct and indirect interlocutors, are presenting it a case for treason. The ambitious generals may even go further, exploiting it to the extent of Kargal scandal. The whole issue is told and retold in Pakistan without doubting the intentions of the possible beneficiaries of the scandal.
At first, it should never be used as an excuse for dislodging or discrediting a civilian façade of the powerful military. Second, the military must surrender its power in handling War on Terror, relations with the US, Afghanistan, India and nuclear security issues to the elected governments to avoid room for possible counter-manuring  against the highly unpopular political agenda of the GHQ. Third, if the memo is a case for treason, the Wikileaks revelation of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s plot of dismissing the elected president Asif Ali Zardari should also be treated as a treason case. 
Selling former cricket star Imran Khan as recipe to Pakistan’s solution and his emergence on the political scene, out of the blue, speak volumes of the GHQ-made plots in Pakistan. Silencing voices on what Osama bin Laden, the founder of the terrorist al-Qaeda, was doing in Abbottabad and how he managed a safe haven over there for more than five years are questions that need to be answered by the sitting generals led by General Kayani. Under what circumstances they got the extensions? And can anyone in Pakistan dare to fight a treason case against the sitting or retired generals who aborted the constitution, dislodged the elected governments, imprisoned the political leaders, showed them to the world and public as corrupt, incompetent and anti-state elements and if possible executed them (Gen Zia got death sentence for Pakistan’s popular leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) or killed them in dubious circumstances (Benazir Bhutto and Nawab Akbar Bugti are the latest examples).
Washington is a place for lobbying for good causes. Thousands of lobbyists on the K street are there to win the US government support in fight against hunger, AIDS, pollution, illiteracy, dictatorship, autocracy, unconstitutional moves and corruption. Pakistan’s military and civil governments are no exceptions. The military leadership has always discredited Pakistan’s political leaders in talks with the US officials. The last military dictator (retd) General Pervez Musharraf has on more than one occasion presented Pakistan’s civilian leaders as corrupt and incompetent at all western capitals, including Washington DC throughout his more than nine years military rule. The civilian government too has the right to expose the enemies of democracy and friends of chaos to its allies and peace loving nations of the world.
The post-May 2nd Pakistan was full of rumors. It exposed the vulnerability of the country’s most powerful military—US forces gunned down the world’s most wanted man Osama bin Laden at his spacious mansion just close to a military base in garrison city Abbottabad. The legend in Pakistan is that military generals have always attacked democracy whenever it has tried to hide its moments of fall and embarrassment.
As the memo was delivered to one of the high ranking US military officials soon after the killing of Osama bin Laden, it basically conveyed the threats to democracy in Pakistan’s political circles. It was in the hindsight of everyone that probably the civilian leaders would be ‘national interested’ to cover up the huge embarrassment at the international arena. Those fears were well-placed in weeks after the May 2nd raid. That a Pakistani diplomat conveyed those fears via an interlocutor, Mansoor Ijaz, are unconvincing claims. The disclosure of the memo, one thing is sure, is not serving the already weak democratic set-up. Its beneficiaries are, rather, men in uniform.  It becomes more convincing as the ISI chief general Shuja Pasha called on the Pakistani American news breaker Mansoor Ijaz in London to collect the evidences from him (as claimed by Mr Ijaz). Isn’t a plot hatched against the civilian elected government irrespective of the fact that the Pakistani diplomat was involved in it or not?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Taseers kidnapping and Qadris Winning


The message in Shahbaz Taseer’s kidnapping is clear and loud—Qadris are winning in Pakistan. Nobody has claimed responsibility yet but that crazy ‘Qadri’ mindset is a handy tool to eliminate a dissident. Kill a political rival, shut up a logical voice, disappear a ‘security threat’ and ‘brothers’ fanatics are there to cover it up.
Right—none has accepted responsibility and hence none can be blamed for the kidnapping of Shahbaz Taseer. However, it doesn’t mean the civilized Pakistan shall wait and watch till the ‘competent’ authorities produce him in a crowded press conference. The Taseers’ history and disappearance of a family member on a street of a comparatively ‘liberal’ Lahore raises several questions.
At the first place it questions whether the ‘Qadris at large’ are strong enough to call shots. They killed one Taseer for not committing blasphemy but for he wanted to add logic per religious teachings to the country’s controversial laws on blasphemy. Did they kidnap the other--younger Taseer, to secure the release of the assassin Qadri? You never know as it may unfold in that direction. The term ‘never know’ fits in very much in current Pakistan. The country’s powerful military always denied presence of Terror Khalifa Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and as ‘we never knew’, US forces took him out on May 2nd 2011 from a fortified compound in the garrison city Abbottabad, at a stone throw distance from a military base.
While everyone in Pakistan knew the sensitivities attached to Taseers family, the second question is why Sharifs-led Punjab failed in protecting members of the family. Sharifs, law minister Rana Sanaullah, some other cabinet members and their ‘rightist’ politics are ideologically don’t seem sincere in providing security to each and every citizen of Punjab. Its short history in power proved that minorities are vulnerable to the worst-ever atrocities, political rivals are discriminated and Islamists are flourishing. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s message of ‘brotherhood’ to Taliban is on record. Law Minister Rana Sanaullah’s relations with the militant groups are undeniable. Sharifs’ friendship with Wahabi-based rule of Saud royal family of Saudi Arabia is a known fact. These are more than enough reasons for making Punjab a comfortable home for the Qadris and their likes. And there comes the question: Is Sharifs-led Punjab sincere and capable of bringing home the kidnapped Taseer?
The third question is will Pakistan beat the theory that the crazy ‘Qadri mindset’ be not used as an excuse for killing political rivals, hushing religious tolerance and draining the country out of the logical mind? The current course of action is turning this theory into a faith, unfortunately. The majority in Pakistan, however, seem determined to resist it. That is perhaps the encouraging   side of the status quo as the forces of the crazy theories with all weapons, resources and local media support at hand couldn’t win a majority for their nasty designs. They are few monsters and as said by Shehrbano Taseer, sister of Shahbaz Taseer, in one of her latest tweets: “Lets not spew hate against a nation of 180 million people because of cruelty of a few. We love Pakistan. Inshallah my brave beloved brother will be home and safe.” 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Pakistan Military: Generals or Smugglers?

Pakistan lives by the spirit of denial. And the litany of denials goes like this: The ‘good’ Taleban are not conducting attacks in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda leader and terror caliph Osama bin Laden was not hiding in Pakistan before May 2, 2011 when he was found and killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan’s most secured garrison city. Al-Qaeda’s No. 2 Aiman al-Zawahiri and Taliban’s leader and the then caliph of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s military Mullah Muhammad Omar are not inside Pakistan. Renowned journalist and author of the ‘Inside al-Qaeda’ Saleem Shehzad was not tortured and killed by the country’s notorious spy agency the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The military has no relations with the anti-U.S. al-Qaeda affiliate the Haqqani Network. Mumbai attacks were not conducted by elements in the ISI. The spy agency has no relations with militants. Military didn’t sabotage the democratic set-ups of the country. Dhaka didn’t fall rather its command was shared with Indian forces (General Yahya Khan, 1971).
It was also not a surprise to hear that the then chief of army staff General Jehangir Karamat didn’t take three million dollars in return for smuggling out the newly successfully tested nuclear know-how of the country to the rogue state of North Korea in July 1998. Nor the other general Zulfiqar Khan got half a million dollars and some jewelry for being an accomplice in the deal.
Plain denials of the misdeeds are, however, no more sellable in international relations business. Pakistanis and their powerful allies know for facts that a bird will not fly close to their country’s top secret assets—nuclear arsenal, nuclear scientists and nuclear know-how (in any shape and form) unless and until its flight is not approved by higher authorities.
The military ‘national interested’ the country’s top scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan by getting a confession from him that he single-handedly led the world’s largest nuclear black market. However, few believed in the ‘made in military’ narration from day one. Nobody would absolve Dr Khan from being involved in selling out the country’s know-how to foreign states but none is ready to accept that he was the lone wolf.
Dr Khan was not smuggling turnips or onions from Islamabad to Pyongyang. The whole deal literally involved loading and unloading of  heavy material in a military airbase, nuclear hardware & software, confidential documents, military airplane, top security chiefs, pilots and a ‘nod’ from the all time powerful man in Pakistan. At the time of the deal, it was the country’s Chief of the Army Staff General Karamat, the almighty in Pakistan’s context, who has always been referred to as the most ‘professional soldier’ of the country. He won that title because he didn’t go for a military coup when he was forced to resign in 1999 and probably opted for living with the $3 million in Lahore. The man later served Pakistan as ambassador to the U.S. when his successor General Musharraf recompensed him after toppling the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif.
The retired general and the state of Pakistan denied the generals’ alleged involvement in nukes trafficking to North Korea as a first step of defense. However, plain denials in such sensitive issues wouldn’t work. It is neither acceptable to the outside smart world nor to the ‘bloody civilians’ in Pakistan though the right wing pro-military media has already declared it a ‘conspiracy’ against Pakistan and, perhaps, Islam too. The generals involved in the smuggling of nukes can better exonerate themselves from the charges via declaring their assets to the public. They should prove that their assets are clean from the North Korean dollars. If true, it will boost national and international trust in the already ‘demoralized’ Pak military. If that is not possible, the military should then add some spices to its current story--that Dr Khan used to keep the centrifuges and nuclear hardware & software in suitcases at his official residence and one night North Korea’s Navy Seal commandos raided the mansion and fled away with the nuclear assets of the country. The commission later found it as an inside job and Dr Khan was found as the main culprit.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Death-mongers in uniform

Pakistan’s military establishment is emerging as the most feared organization, in every sense of the word. The Generals Kayani and Pasha-led military is not al-Qaeda or Taliban in the U.N.’s official documents yet but the military’s actions bracket them with the world’s top terrorist organizations. Its armed men wander in the streets with a license to kill, the mid-level military leadership has the authority to shut up voices that criticize it and the top generals are there to define the good and bad guys for Pakistani society as defenders of the state.
Per that definition, Osama bin Laden, the slain leader of the global terrorists, lived in a ‘protected compound’ in a garrison city of Pakistan at a stone’s throw from an elite military academy. If not taken out by the CIA on May 2, the man would have been garlanded as ‘Commander of Muslims’ after the withdrawal of U.S. and Nato troops from Afghanistan. Mullah Omar, the one-eyed religious crook, is the aspirant for that position provided ISI’s protection gives him life beyond the planned Nato troops’ withdrawal.
Expose this relationship of Pakistan’s military with its self-defined good guys and you risk opening the doors of a hell upon you. The men in control of the country’s security apparatus eliminated journalist Saleem Shehzad after breaking his ribs and damaging fatally his lever. They killed him with kicks of boots on every inch of his body, made of flesh, bones and blood. Nobody knows how long was the ordeal the hapless Shehzad went through but those who have survived the military’s grilling have spoken of its brutal nature.
It involves incessant shouting in the ears of the victim—‘you mother fucker; fuck your mother’; taking off clothes of the victim; hanging the victim from ceiling upside down; cigarette burns on sensitive body organs; shaving off head, beard and mustaches; beating the victim in ribs, head and face; kicking in the stomach; breaking hands and legs; and forcing the victim to drink pee of the men in uniform.
No human can survive after this brutal treatment and so was Saleem Shehzad. His killing was condemned worldwide but none has seen the way he was tortured to death. Late Shehzad went through a long brutal ordeal during his days of custody. His ribs and lever were found broken. That is possible only after excessive kicking and beating. His body carried signs of burns, wounds, fists, boots, proving the terror and frustration of the security apparatus of Pakistan. Baloch nationalists too have the same story while collecting their comrades’ bodies on streets in the mornings.
A practical visual demo of this frustration was given on June 8, when men in uniform were beating and finally killing an unarmed citizen in Karachi. The shocking footage showed to the world how brutal are the armed forces of Pakistan vis-à-vis its own citizens, dissidents, and critics.
Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, on the other hand, would not kill their victim with first breaking the ribs and lever or electrocute the victim nor do they shout in the victim’s ears ‘you mother fucker’. They would rather go for a summary execution and would shout ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ before the sword cuts the victim’s throat or the bullet pierces the victim’s head.
Through its actions and policies, the generals and their foot soldiers are distancing themselves from their own countrymen and the civilized world. They are seen as friends of the bad guys on the national and international levels. No smoke-screen of the 21st century can cover up their tolerance of militancy nor can statements of denials exonerate military from what it does on the ground. The 10-year old tactics are no more workable and sticking to it has the risk of Pakistani generals ending up in the dock at the Hague. Serbian generals too believed they were in control when they resorted to elimination of their opponents.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sino-Pak ties: a reality check


Islamabad’s betting on Beijing is a trademark of its foreign policy, especially when Washington tightens screws or catches Pakistan red-handed in its anti-US moves. The latest example is Osama Bin Laden’s years long hiding in a purposely-built mansion in the garrison city of Abbottabad. However, on the calculus of common sense, relations between Pakistan and China are far lower in essence than what Islamabad defines it as ‘higher than the Himalayas’.
To prove it at a common sense level, at the top of the list comes the LANGUAGE barrier. Out of the 180 million population of Pakistan less than a 1000 Pakistanis can speak Chinese. Going by the official literacy rate (57 percent) in Pakistan, over 85 million Pakistanis—a population equivalent to that of Egypt— can speak or understand basic English, a language spoken in the U.S., UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and several former British colonies including India. Language matters and it transcends communication barriers. Despite claims of ‘time tested relations’, excluding a few lucky Chinese-understanding Pakistanis, not a single Pakistani knows what is the Chinese substitute for “Welcome”. Pakistanis’ general knowledge about China is hardly above zero. They know a lot about the U.S., for example. The U.S.’s power, its major cities, politicians, Hollywood, the Facebook, twitter and media are popular topics among politicians, academics and youth in Pakistan.
China has never been a destination for EDUCATION among Pakistanis. Universities in the U.S., UK, Australia and Europe are the most desired education centers for Pakistani youth, irrespective of their social or financial class. Pakistani politicians and generals play a foul game with their nation while betting on China’s power as none of their sons or daughters are graduates from a Chinese university. They send them to Washington and London for higher education and use their influence to find internships for their kids in the US and Europe. The irony is that even the son of a Pakistani politician, who runs a Pak-China think tank in Islamabad, is also studying in the U.S. On TV screens, the same politician advises Pakistanis that US is defaulting and China is the real super power. Just recently, some Pakistani students have got admissions to medical colleges in China as they couldn’t meet the merit criteria of local medical colleges.
Though it is not taught in Pakistan’s text books but individual experiences have proved Chinese TECHNOLOGY as Nr.2—poor in quality, in Pakistan. The Chinese fighter jets are referred to as flying coffins by Pakistani pilots and fit for a suicide sortie, though its presence in the air force is good for a numbers game with India in peace time. The Chinese armored vehicles are like low quality armed tractors and its Kalashnikov is not reliable for a second magazine to fire. The ‘Made in China’ label on products other than weapons is hardly sellable.  It will injure the ego of a Pakistani if someone gifts him or her a ‘Made in China’ product. Pakistanis may buy it themselves but will not accept it in gifts as they look down upon Chinese products from day one. They are just not in love with the Chinese technology, come what may. Yes, disposable Chinese products—paper, latex, under wears, braws, clay made products have a good local market. For other products, they will go for Western brands. A General in Pakistan, for instance, may love ‘Made in Italy’ ties just like a poor daily wager prefers a ‘Made in Germany’ knife. The same is the case with Chinese products in Pakistan’s fruit and vegetable markets. They may look beautiful in shape and packing, but people hardly buy them for the second time due to its low quality, with the exception of Chinese green tea.
Dollar too is much charmer than yen, comparing Pakistan’s ECONOMIC INTERESTS. The War on Terror, despite Pakistan’s duplicity, gives Pakistan military an average of (unaccountable) $ 1.5 billion a year since 9/11. The money comes mainly from Washington and Europe. Before 9/11, Pakistan’s military was a US mercenary against the former USSR in Afghanistan in 1980s. The generals and their institute received huge amounts in dollars in return then, enabling their sons and front men as future leaders of Pakistan. Contrary to it, China has never been a financial reliever for Pakistan on its economic canvass. It’s rather Pakistan’s dependence on Washington financial assistance, IMF and World Bank tranches that give bail-outs to moribund Pak economy every now and then.
China is a great POWER, no doubt. However, assuming Beijing will stand by Islamabad for its misadventures, ill-judgment and miscalculations is a self-deceiving theory. China has limitations and that is why it couldn’t annex the tiny Taiwan to the mainland China despite the passage of over 60 years nor it has resolved its border dispute with India. The separatist movements in Tibet, Xingjian and pro-democracy movements are its few other headaches. Pakistan military’s tacit support for al-Qaeda, the Taliban and misadventures in Afghanistan or Kashmir will not bring China to Pakistan’s camp. On top of that, China has suspicions that Islamabad provides ideological support and sanctuaries to separatist Uyghur Muslims of China. The leaders of Eastern Turkestan Movement (ETM) are freely moving around in Islamabad, using their offices and facilities for training radical Uyghurs in Waziristan and Afghanistan.
The Sino-Pak relations have mainly benefited the Pak military and undemocratic forces in Pakistan, speaking from a DEMOCRATE’S PERSPECTIVE. China has always been a source of inspiration for one-party rule for its friends and allies. The Kims of North Korea, the Ayatullahs of Iran and the generals of Burma and Pakistan are bent upon following the Chinese model of government. Pakistani generals have given that demo for more than 30 years of the over 60 years history of the country. For the other 30 years, they pulled the strings from behind. The military deals between the two nations carry a badge of corruption and kickbacks as parties in power in both countries are accountable to none.
The CHINESE INVESTMENT in energy, communication and port (Gawadar) is of more worth for China than for Pakistan. China feels comfortable in its relations with India, having Pakistan as its reliable satellite state on India’s western and north-western wing. The post-9/11 US involvement in the region and Pakistan in particular is more beneficial for the general masses of Pakistan than the defense deals between General Headquarters (GHQ) Pakistan and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. The billions of dollars worth defense deals are not gonna defend Pakistan if it opts for a war with India or the U.S. as we have seen it in Iraq and Libya—the air force of the two countries couldn’t move a muscle when stronger forces started strikes. The US dollar after 9/11 also didn’t go to civilians but Washington’s strong stand against terrorism and an equally forceful discourse on terrorists is what Pakistan needs amid pro-extremist media, military and apologetic politicians. That slogan of “ bin Laden was a mass murderer” coming from Washington (and not from Beijing) is a huge relief for the peace-loving citizens of Pakistan at a time when the right wing media, military and politicians are labeling him as a hero of Islam.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

ISI woos Parliament; MPs disappoint their voters

Pakistan’s outrageous behavior after the killing of the ‘protected’ al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden clearly underlines the fact that Islamabad is fighting a high speed proxy war against everyone who challenges terror and builds Afghanistan. The appalling side of this self-defeating and funds-constrained policy is the response of Pakistan parliament to the military-led ‘misadventures’ in the country’s western courtyard and beyond the Durand Line on Afghan soil.
The anti-terror Pakistanis thought the members of parliament (MPs) would question military’s possible collaboration in hiding bin Laden in a plain sight in the garrison city of Abbottabad. The MPs, rather, chose playing on the turf of the military and extremists during the May 13 in-camera joint session of the parliament. They demanded ‘no repeat’ of the Abbottabad-style raid and called for an end to drone strikes ‘against terrorists’ on Pakistan’s soil in a resolution passed by the joint session.
Ask top militants in Pakistan what they would demand from the international community if they were asked for presenting their wish list. And imagine their demands—they would not seek support for enforcing Sharia nor would they demand money, logistics or weapons. They will rather follow the parliament, demanding an immediate end to their most effective and number one enemy—drone attacks and ‘no repeat’ of Abbottabad-style raids.
Pakistanis are shocked that the elected Parliament has not represented their views on terrorism. The 400 plus MPs in the joint session didn’t note that scores of terrorist groups and hundreds of militants were killing Pakistanis on almost daily basis in suicide attacks and destroying the infra-structure of education and health in Pakhtunkhwa and FATA. They didn’t come out with Made -in-Pakistan solution for combating terror while rejecting the Made-in-USA strategy of surgical strikes against bin Laden and his men. They also failed to ask what Pakistan has done so far against militants who have been arrested and have not yet been presented in the courts.
The resolution, instead, demands protection of the high value terrorists and their blood hungry affiliates hiding in Pakistan by opposing drone attacks. Under the spell of top military generals behind the  closed doors of Parliament, they were seeking protection  for the  terrorists on a day when militants blew up at least 89 border security militiamen in the volatile Pakhtunkhwa province in a bid to, what militants called as, ‘revenge of Osama bin Laden’.
The famous slogan of deceit, disloyalty and treachery—“You too Brutus”—comes to one’s mind the way Parliament chose standing in line with the military, extremists and propagators of hate and anti-Americanism.
Seeking no action against the religious monsters and on top of that demanding ‘no repeat of Abbottabad-style raid’ and ‘end to drone attacks’ are not what civilized Pakistanis want. They interpret this approach as giving up to terrorists, their masters and their handlers.
The demands of the Parliament also underline the divisions within Pakistan. The country’s security apparatus, led by the largest ethnic group Punjabis, damn cares as long as terrorism is blowing up men and women, school and hospital, and mosque and markets far away from the economic and political centers of the country. Today it is Punjab-led military, Punjab-dominated Parliament and its media that oppose the drone attacks against terrorists. The civilized Pakistanis welcome the use of all available tools against terrorists as gifts for their soil to purge it off the rotten eggs, hatched by the believers in the ‘strategic depth’, sitting in GHQ, Rawalpindi. The sooner it happens the better it is.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Set a thief to catch a thief!

The killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad by the U.S. navy SEALS in a Hollywood movie-style sting operation was awesome for many and awful for some. For the U.S., it was a 'justice is done' moment; for the military and its intelligence outfits in Pakistan, it was a double loss of face: One, the mole was found and done to death not in a remote hole but in a made-to-order compound near Kakul Academy. Two, they were found snoring while the U.S. special  troops completed its operation with a bang, literally.  The ruling clique in Pakistan was blushed and nonplussed at its best; incoherent and gibberish at its worst. Even the ghairat brigade was numbed as if struck by the hand of the death. 
To add more to the comedy of error and terror, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced  in Parliament that a lieutenant general, Javed Iqbal, would head an inquiry “to get to the bottom of how, when and why” bin Laden had been hiding in Abbottabad. Who doesn't know answers to these three simple questions? Let's begin our inquiry with the first question: "How bin laden had been hiding in Abbottabad?" Someone (or some organization) who could afford demarcated a plot in the shades of Kakul and built a compound as secure as they could. They brought bin Laden and his bevy to live there without fear and feast on rich food like steaks of rabbit. 
Now the second question: When? Poor Mr. Prime Minister, five years back! This is what one of bin Laden's widows told the all-knowing ISI. However, answer to the third question of why is not that simple. It needs a bit of introspection which our former Commando President Pervez Musharraf did for us just yesterday. He says some rogue elements within the ISI and military might be involved in hiding the terror master in cool shades of Abbottabad. 
Armies in Third World Countries function like a tribe; they don't let their ilks down especially in front of 'bloody civilians'. But when it gets tough to hide skeletons in their cupboards, they blame low-rank persons in their ranks. Going by Musharraf's account low-rank persons in the ISI and the military are powerful enough to further their own agenda at the cost of the country and its people. The last time I checked the armed forces are known for being organized with an efficient chain-of-command. Either the 'chain' has broken or the 'command' is doing doublespeak. 
That a lieutenant general would conduct the inquiry is akin to task a thief to probe a theft. Mr. Prime Minister, you roar in the east and the rot lies in the west. There are no rogue elements; the whole institution has become rogue.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Osama's deep roots in Pakistan

That Osama bin Laden (OBL) was got in Pakistan’s garrison city Abbottabad is not surprising. The decade long speculations that his powerful Pakistani hosts must have hidden him under their nose were always there. The most wanted man enjoyed deep roots within the military and right wing civilian power corridors of Pakistan, making him the most popular warrior and icon of anti-Americanism. Not in his countries of origin--Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or Yemen, for that matter, but again in Pakistan his followers and al-Qaeda have called for revenge against Pakistan’s civilian leadership and purposely spare his ‘uniformed’ hosts.
The most wanted man was brought from Sudan to Afghanistan in 1996 in a Pakistani military transport aircraft by the then ISI official Khalid Khwaja, a squadron leader in Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Mr Khwaja was later killed by Punjabi Taliban in Pakistan’s tribal area in 2010 due to the increasing mistrust between him and Taliban. Mr Khwaja, an ideological disciple of the al-Qaeda leader repeatedly claimed after 9/11 that he flew OBL from Sudan to Afghanistan. So far none has challenged his claim. Nor ISI has denied it.
Mr Khwaja also claimed that he had arranged at least five meetings of OBL with Pakistan’s current opposition leader and two times former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, leader of the ruling right wing PML (Nawaz) in Punjab province. The Pakistani media reported that OBL had financed a ‘no confidence’ move led by Mr Sharif against the then prime minister Benazir Bhutto (BB) in 1993. Mr Sharif and his party have condemned the US raid on the OBL compound, terming it a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. The PML (N) leadership can hardly defend its links with OBL.
The military-OBL relations were always received with an approving nod within Pakistan establishment and intelligence services before the 9/11. Military officials ranking from Major to General were on OBL’s list of friends. Among them the former ISI chief and ex-general Hamid Gul and former ISI spy in Afghanistan Brigadier Sultan Amir Tarar, also known as Col. Imam, were considered OBL’s aides. Col.  Imam too was executed by the Taliban in 2011, again due to mistrust between the erstwhile friends.
Soon after 9/11, while the US was negotiating a peaceful surrender of OBL with Taliban leader Mullah Omar, the then ISI chief Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad opposed the idea. Afghan Taliban and a leading Pakistani cleric Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai later said the Pakistani General advised Mullah Omar not to hand over OBL to the Americans. They had been sent to Kandahar by military ruler Pervez Musharraf to convince the Taliban to hand over OBL to the US. The General was later dismissed from the service, mainly due to US pressure. Gen. Mahmoud was the only top Pakistani official who watched the 9/11 destruction from the Capitol Hill on that devastating morning in the US. He is alleged to have provided $100,000 to Omar Saeed Sheikh to transfer it to the 9/11 chief hijacker Muhammad Atta. 
OBL’s charisma also attracted Pakistan’s nuclear mind. Two prominent Pakistani nuclear scientists Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood and Chaudhry Abdul Majeed were detained at the request of the US on October 23, 2001 for their alleged meetings with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. After retiring from their active services, the two scientists established relations with OBL and floated the idea of manufacturing a dirty bomb. They covered their activities via running an NGO called Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTN), Reconstruction of the Muslim Ummah, in Afghanistan.
OBL ran several Jehadi training camps for the ISI-sponsored radical groups. These camps were located in Afghanistan’s Khost, Kabul and Nangrahar provinces. The recruits belonged to the Jehadi groups lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), a Jehadi wing of Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam (JUI-F) of Pakistan. In return, LeT built brick villas for Arab friends of OBL at Muridke near Lahore,  HuM was running the media campaign for OBL and provided foot soldiers for fighting against Taliban’s rival Northern Alliance and manning security check posts near OBL-run training facilities in Afghanistan. Many journalists who have visited the facilities have later wrote down stories of Pakistanis exercising war games in the camps.
Both LeT and HuM were also responsible for providing food rations and logistic support to the Jehadi training camps in Afghanistan. They also played the role of couriers between OBL and Pakistan’s influential circles. Between 1996 and 2001, HuM arranged OBL’s meetings with journalists. The then leader of HuM Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil established a sort of hot line with OBL in early 1998 in a bid to closely monitor their interests in the region.
OBL enjoyed close relations with leaders of religious parties in Pakistan and prominent clerics. In his Khost press conference in May 1998, while announcing his Islamic International Front (IIF), OBL clearly said that Maulana Samiul Haq, patron-in-chief of Madrassa Haqqania near Peshawar and leader of his own faction of JUI, Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai (late), patron-in-chief of Madrassa Banuria in Karachi, Maulana Asad Amir and clerics of Madrassa Farooqia were supporting his cause. Similarly Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chairman National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Kashmir and leader of the JUI (F) have a history of meetings with OBL. The latter also held a three-day huge rally in early 2001 in Peshawar and read out OBL’s letter to the audience.
The OBL’s admirers in military, Jehadi organizations, radical religious parties, right wing parties like PML (N) and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Justice Movement (PTI), and right wing media made him a household name in Pakistan. They have propagated OBL’s anti-Americanism in planted media stories and public gatherings to a level that impressed many in Pakistan. Today in every class room in a Pakistani school you will come upon youngsters with their names as Osama. After OBL’s killing in Abbottabad on May 2, again it is the military, Pakistan’s ‘Jehadi’ groups declared as terrorist organizations, religious parties  and mediamen of the sort of Hamid Mirs and Ansar Abbassis who are lamenting the most his killing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tucking tail between the legs and chewing dignity

Just two days after Pakistan’s chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani harangued the nation on ‘dignity and prosperity,’ the US Navy SEALs got Geronimo (code name for Osama bin Laden) in a military backyard (or courtyard) in Abbottabad. The COAS concluded his speech on the ‘Yaum-i-Shuhada’ (Day of the Martyrs’) with these words: “We cannot sacrifice Pakistan’s dignity for prosperity’s sake."
His remarks followed by Geronimo’s killing right under his nose are worth examining. By coughing up such pearls of wisdom one day and tucking his tail between the legs the next day the General and his chief spy Shuja Pasha have set a new precedent for the stigmatized nation. A ‘bloody civilian’ is waiting for the occasion to still uncertain whether the generals are incompetent or they are the ‘uniformed’ and ‘clean shaved’ affiliates of the global terror network al-Qaeda.
The chain of events since OBL’s killing gives a message to the nation that the General was telling lies on Day of the Martyrs’ or he was drunk enough that didn’t mean what he was stating.
Out of the two baits, dignity and prosperity, the top generals so far are chewing the ‘prosperity’ by kicking out ‘dignity’. The post-OBL saga and the circumstantial evidences, as many in Pakistan describe it, have exposed the butts of the generals’ with their paints on their shoulders, but they are shamelessly sticking to the mantra of ‘prosperity’. Instead of deciding who should go home in the post-OBL corps commanders’ meetings, the general and the only unaccountable group of 11 or so on the Earth warned they would not tolerate another such a daredevil operation on its soil. The US and bloody civilians of Pakistan are interpreting this warning as if the generals will fight unto death to protect the remaining most wanted men of al-Qaeda and the Taliban hiding in Pakistan’s military backyards.
The post-OBL Pakistan presents a perfect contrast to the Arab nations fighting for dignity on the streets. They rejected Ben Ladenism and opted for securing self-respect and prosperity. In Pakistan, the generals, media and the whole lot of right-wingers are asking questions how US dared violating their sovereignty on May 2, the day the monster was killed. The reaction of military, media and right wingers shows the three forces want Pakistan to be seen as an affiliate and sympathizer of the global terrorist networks and thereby humiliate its citizens in the comity of nations.
The post-OBL Pakistan has one revolutionary mark, however—educated Pakistanis have started criticizing their military’s dirty games despite full speed propaganda to protect the generals’ follies and felonies.  This single episode of killing OBL in a military backyard has a message for them: The military is neither giving dignity nor prosperity to the bloody civilians.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The OBL saga and a facts-sheet

The killing of Osama bin Laden (OBL) has proved five things—1) Bin Laden lived like a state guest, 2) Pakistan’s military is either involved or incompetent in protecting its guest, 3) CIA out-smarted the ISI in the spy war, 4) Pakistan’s determination to never come out of its typical state of denial, and 5) Pashtuns were wrongly labeled as bin Laden’s hosts in mountainous tribal regions.
That bin Laden was a state guest is clear from his life style. Few Pakistanis can afford accommodations in Pakistan’s summer stations like Abbottabad or Murree with a troupe of wives, children, couriers, servants, and SUVs. No one of his stature on this planet can afford a secret life for 10 long years without leaving traces until and unless state provides that privacy. In this age of technology, many would agree that none can afford covering asses under the naughty radars. Access to organic veges, chickens, home grown rabbits, fresh olives, Arabian dates, milk of goats and cows and a life full of sex—imagine it. Only a state guest and not the guest of an illiterate Pashtun tribesman can enjoy such a hospitality.
OBL’s raided accommodation is at a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s military academy at Kakul which provides training to commissioned officers, in a town known as military city. It has two regiments and one medical corps. It’s the only city where uniformed men are clearly visible in civilian markets, transport, on roads and streets. They no more roam on the streets of Lahore, Peshawar or Multan. While many question why OBL would have opted for living in Abbottabad, the hosts’ decision of providing him a house there was perfect. Its residents are often non-locals and have lesser level of socialization. The language, ethnic background and class association are major barriers that keep the residents away from one another. In a street of seven houses, the possibility is that one resident may be a local, the second from Kohistan, third from Peshawar, fourth from Lahore, and the next neighbor can be a rich Afghan refugee or a tribal elder. It’s again very much possible that one neighbor might have a military background, the other a businessman, a professor and yet another might be one making money in real estate. They would also speak different languages ranging from Hindko, Urdu, Pashto, Punjabi, to Kohistani and even Dari (Afghan version of Farsi). A state-run institute can easily monitor streets and markets of such a diverse town as compared to a city of identical backgrounds.
Bringing OBL from his last reported location, Tora Bora in Afghanistan in 2001, to Abbottabad is a task that can hardly be attributed to an individual or a tribe or a group. In a country like Pakistan where military is the first, last and the lonely force visible on a security gallery, no one else can dare getting close to OBL and his associates. His life style, sense of confidence, proximity with military bases, and living without armed guards—all show that OBL believed he was in safe hands.
The nature of operation is a shame for ISI and Pakistan’s security mechanism. First, the ISI didn’t prove its trustworthiness among its American counterparts. CIA chief Leon Panetta said Pakistan would have jeopardized the raid and were therefore kept in the dark.  Second, it was considered as an ally of the terrorists and hence CIA made efforts to keep it secret from the ISI. The winner of the spy war was no doubt CIA and not the ISI. Its head General Shuja Pasha should resign to reduce the level of ‘embarrassment’ and acknowledge his failure. Third, the operation has clearly passed on a message to Pakistanis that their spy agency had juxtaposed its interests with those of the bad guys on the Earth. Those who have still doubts they need to wait when Mullah Omar, after a bit of ferreting, is recovered from Quetta cantonment and OBL’s lieutenant Aiman al-Zawahiri from some cool summer station near a military base in coming months or years.
Living in a ‘state of denial’ is epidemic in Pakistan. Its leaders, military and civilian, mediamen, and representatives of state have a big ‘no’ for facts. Ask them Pakistan has become a terror hub, and they will say it is a safe place for investment. Chief of Army Staff General Kayani announced in Abbottabad eight days before OBL’s killing that Pakistan armed forces had broken the back of militants. He was calling the shots just 800 yards away from OBL’s complex.
While the world was questioning ISI’s role, doubting it as a protector of OBL, Prime Minister Gilani was telling in Paris, “world shares blame for failure on bin Laden.
The whole world, including mainstream Muslim Umma and religious clerics, call OBL a terrorist but attorneys in Peshawar and Abbottabad, columnists, TV show hosts and guests praise him as a hero and consider the raid on OBL’s house was violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Like Americans, Pashtuns in general and tribals in particular, came out victorious in the OBL saga. He was not killed in the mountains of Pashtuns but in a place controlled and administered by Pakistan military. Islamabad did its best telling the world OBL is the guest of conservative, hard fighting Pashtuns in their tough terrain all these years. Never in history, military of a country stigmatized its own co-citizens but in Pakistan, the smaller nations--Pashtun, Sindhi and Baloch are being presented as bad guys in the country’s Punjab-dominated security apparatus. A huge relief for Pashtuns and shame for those who think OBL’s agenda will make the country prosperous. Pashtuns were pleading from day one that they were being used in the War on Terror. OBL’s presence in a military city of Pakistan also lent weight to Kabul’s calls that terrorists were across the border in their safe havens—or ‘hands’?—in main cities.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A tale of two Pakistans!

Can a professional soldier of the like of Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani afford telling lies to his young cadets while the country is in an active state of war? The answer should be no but with due respect to all chauvinist nationalist Pakistanis the general was misleading his young soldiers at Kakul during the passing-out parade by telling them that army has broken the back of militants in Pakistan.
A bloody civilian thinks it the other way round--militants have rather broken the state’s structure during the last 10 years. Today, observers see two Pakistans—one under the direct or indirect control of the Taliban and the other is shared by pro-Taliban military, right-wingers and those who are termed as ‘secular’ forces.
In Pakistan-I, FATA, parts of Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan have been left to the Taliban and their ideological allies. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the name of the game in villages and towns in FATA ranging from South Waziristan in the south to Bajaur in the north. The TTP has successfully closed down hundreds of schools in FATA, depriving thousands of youth from education where dropout rate at primary level has been recorded at 69 per cent during the last six years. The militancy has dropped the literacy level from 29 percent to 17.42 percent in FATA, rendering tribal youth vulnerable to terrorist activities.
The Taliban have their own police/patrol system in Pakistan-I.  They behead the dissidents on charges of spying, run suicide bomber training schools, target peaceful civilians and satiate their Jehadist hunger by launching attacks against US-led forces in Afghanistan in a bid to restore the former Taliban regime and thereby install a government friendly to Islamabad.
The continuous anti-US activities in Pakistan-I is making it a dollar charmer for Pakistan-II. The latter received over US $15 billion so far from Washington only for carrying out inconclusive, non-delivering and unmonitored military operations against militants in Pakistan-I. The Taliban forced the industrial, educational, cultural, political and economic exit from Pakistan-I via attacking all forms of civilization--markets, hospitals, schools, mosques, women, political activists, teachers, artists, cultural centers, Pashtunwali, hujras, banks, police stations, and transport system.
In Baluchistan too, Jamiat-e-Ulama-i-Islam (F), the leading pro-Taliban religious party, has full control of the crucial regions bordering Afghanistan.  The Quetta Shura, medical assistance facilities for the wounded Taliban, resting camps for fighting Taliban in Afghanistan and increasing support for the Taliban are the trademarks of Quetta, Chaman, Zhob, Qilla Saifullah and Toba Kakari. Its remoteness from the international watchdogs makes the region the most suitable ground for extremism.
The other hemisphere, Pakistan-II, includes the Rawalpindi GHQ, central and urban centers of Punjab, Sindh province, and the not so far Taliban-affected areas elsewhere. The literacy rate here stands at around 79 percent as per Unecif and other organizations’ surveys. The extremist ideology in Pakistan-II is not out of the question but its ugly face is not visible to an ordinary patriotic Pakistani and international terror watchdogs. The scenes of children going to schools in the morning, liberals’ gatherings in the evenings, throngs in front of theatres and cinemas, women movement, economic activities, the revolving industrial wheel, political and rights’ groups activism, however, give a shining layer to the hidden Talib and extremism in Pakistan-II.
The military, civilian establishment and media of Pakistan-II are the ones who believe a strong Pakistan is possible with a strategic depth in Afghanistan. They are the ones who believe drones against the hiding terrorists on Pakistani soil is a violation of sovereignty but abandoning its writ to non-state actors is defined as national interests.
The people of Pakistan-I are, therefore, not convinced when they hear the COAS general Kayani of Pakistan-II that army has broken militants’ back. They laugh in their sleeves when a Lahore-based politician a la Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of PML (N) and Imran Khan of PTI oppose drone attacks against terrorists in FATA. Their silence on beheading of the peace loving tribal elders, suicide attacks, destruction of schools and other civic amenities question the sincerity of Pakistan-II.