Web Log: Talk-Talk, War-War: October 11, 2013 Silicon Valley, CA
Before the election 2013 in Pakistan it was widely believed that ..... Read More
Web Log: Pakistan's War with Itself: August 29, 2013 Silicon Valley, CA
Recently, a prominent columnist, political and Foreign Policy analyst, Dr. Moeed Yusaf ... Read More
Web Log: The Art of Possible: August 02, 2013 Silicon Valley, CA
In his interview in 1867, with St. Petersburgische ZeitungIt, the German ..... Read More
Pakistan: After 13 Years: July 3, 2013 Beijing, China
“Ladies and gentlemen the Captain has turned on ..... Read More
The Labyrinth and Birds’ Eye View – Web Log May 24, 2013
The word “Labyrinth” came from the Greek mythology. As ........ Read More
No Delay in Elections should be Acceptable: Blog: April 27, 2013
Every day when I open my facebook, my News ......... Read More....
Challenging Musharraf’s Economic Legacy
People often consider that General Musharraf’s brilliant ....... Read More
Blog 02/09/2013 : Talks with TTP
In the Editorial of Feb. 9, 2013, “Talks with TTP”, Daily Dawn write, “The timing was likely a ... Read More View in Daily Dawn 12/28/2012: Bilour’s murder and desensitization....Read More
Blog 12/23/2012 : Attack on Bashir Khan Bilour
Brutal assassination of Awami National Party (ANP) leader Bashir Ahmed Khan Bilour, “a steadfast campaigner against terrorism” ........ Read More
View in Daily Dawn 12/03/2012: Talibans: Some Wrong Assumptions
Blog 11/08/2012 : Re-election of President Barak Obama
Although most of the senior analysts and political pundits in US and pragmatic analysts and journalists in Pakistan ........Read More
Blog 11/03/2012 : What Imran Believes about TTP
Recently, Babar Ssttar asked the question in an article published in The News, (Our Crumbling State),
“Does our political and military leadership not realize that everything.........Read More
Should Dual Nationality Holders Allowed to be the Members of Parliament
As an expatriate, I do agree to have a right of vote because due to the media revolution we -- sitting in abroad -- know the situation in Pakistan and I personally like to be the part of decision during the election that who should be coming at the helm of affairs, who will be -- at least in my opinion -- is more trustworthy whom I can take risk of money I earn.
However, I am very much against this idea that just because I send money to Pakistan I should be allowed to sit in parliament and make the decisions about the future of millions. I am supportive of having a constitutional amendment which will
1) bar the dual nationals and the nationals of other countries to get the right to be a parliament member or even the bureaucrat
2) to be the parliamentarian the person's spouse (wife or husband) must also have only Pakistan nationality
3) If any foreigner likes to be the parliamentarian or a bureaucrat, they must surrender the other nationality and wait for 2 years before contest the election.
Politicians Must Assert Themselves:
As General Mullen revealed in an interview to the Wall Street Journal, reviving strategic ties between Pakistan and the US appears a difficult proposition at the present juncture. Unfortunately, crucial matters in both the countries are in the hands of the generals and intelligence agencies. The US, as a nation, is not quite ready for any president who is other than the mainstream stereotype.........Read More
What ails the PTI
IT was believed that the PTI might be a viable third force, a catalyst for change in the country’s politics and young people like Marvi Memon, Fawad Chohdry, Shekh Waqas Akram and Saad Rafiq would make a difference. However, as time passes, Imran Khan is proving it otherwise. Here are some observations............Read More
Re-election of Barak Obama
Although most of the senior analysts and political pundits in US and pragmatic analysts and journalists in Pakistan believed that President Barak Obama would win his reelection, but it will not be incorrect to say that the history was made on November 6 when the American people reelected Obama for four more years, because after he won the office in 2008, the strong conservative lobbies did not leave any rock unturned to make sure that Obama would not get his reelections.
In US usually the first four years of the Presidency are tough because all the powerful lobbies try to pressure the President to get what they want. However, during the second term the President is more confident and usually takes difficult decisions in his domestic and foreign policies. Being an African American and his family connections with Muslims, Obama was -- from the day one -- an underdog. The neo-conservatives in the GOP not only refused to work with him but also made sure to keep sustained pressure on the moderate Republican Party members to try to prevent them working closely with Obama. The conservative media channels ran very well organized anti-Obama campaign. Some of the radio talk show hosts even said that they want Obama to be a failure as a President. However, since Obama is reelected to the office for four more years so, it is clear that people do not put too much weight on what the anti-Obama campaign are preaching them.
Media pundits and political wizards in Pakistan gave very mixed opinions on the US elections. Those, about whom the perception is that they are supported and installed by the Pakistani security establishment are found arguing on TV and in their articles in the news papers in favor of Governor Mitt Romney and very naively reminding people of Pakistan about the “glory days” when there were the Republican President in US and his love for Pakistani governments. Ironically they forgot to remember that most of those governments were the worst dictatorships. Some other ones demonstrated strong ignorance about the dynamics of US politics. Their analyses show that they are looking the situation only at the surface. They must understand that President Obama's re-elections not only welcoming to the world peace but also it will be very positive development for democracy in Pakistan. The statement by the military chief on the day of US elections should not be seen just as a simple statement, it was an open warning to the civilian setup in Pakistan. After the Obama's re-elections it will not be easy for the security establishment of Pakistan to get into any adventurism which Aslam Beg was referring to. Nusrat Javed, Kamran Khan and Najam Sethi may be among very rear voices in Pakistani print and electronic media who went deep down to analyze the ground reality about what is happening in US political scene.
Now the elections are over and President Obama is not under any pressure from the fellow Republicans and other lobbyists so he must consider the policy change. Like President Bill Clinton, he should work with the moderate Republicans to fix the economy and foreign issues. He must work with Afghanistan and Pakistan closely to reduce the tension in Afghanistan and the growing terrorism in Pakistan. He must hear the concerns and limitations of Pakistan and address those during the policy formulations. At the other hand, Pakistan must also not get into the irrelevant conspiracy theories about Obama’s “plans”. The political government in Pakistan should take the responsibility of fighting against terrorism. Current government should go for the elections and get reelected if they believe they are very popular among the masses. Once reelected they can make tough decisions for the future of people. There is a window of opportunity for both US and Pakistan which must be availed.
After 9/11, the leadership with extreme world views brought the world to the verge of total disaster. Obama was seen trying to turn the wheels of history back to its peaceful course during his early days in office but due to the reelection pressure we saw him retreating from what he pledged to do. Now after the land slide victory, he must understand that even after so much negative propaganda, after so bad economic situation in the country with rampantly rising deficits, the American people are still hopeful about him that he has a courage and will to fulfill his promise which he made in his first ever speech as President of United States in Chicago, “The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there”.
Quaid`s vision of Pakistan
EVEN after 62 years of Pakistan`s inception, the government, the establishment, the political forces and the media are still locked in the debate whether the Quaid-i-Azam wanted Pakistan to be governed under the system of Islamic Shariah or whether it should be a secular state.......Read More
NY bomb plot and `conspiracies`
DURING a debate on the media about the recent car bomb incident in New York, some retired generals and politicians, as expected, began spreading conspiracy theories to prove that the whole world had turned against Pakistan.
It was disappointing that a number of analysts and anchors of high credibility also demonstrated the same `victimhood syndrome`..........Read More
Pakistan : Islamic or Secular State
On the 62nd anniversary of independence, the government, political forces, media and the people at large, are still locked in the debate of whether the Quaid-i-Azam wanted to run Pakistan under the Shariah or desired it to be a secular state. To answer this question one may recount historical events since 1906, the year when the All-India Muslim League was founded............Read More
What Imran Believes about TTP
Recently, Babar Ssttar asked the question in an article published in The News, (Our Crumbling State),
“Does our political and military leadership not realize that everything that TTP and its allies stand for poses an existential threat to our state and society? And yet they are more consumed by extraneous considerations such as whether uprooting TTP from North Waziristan might incidentally benefit the Americans or if denying TTP the sanctuary from where it plans and launches human bombs and beheading squads might be a ploy to delay elections. Is it not obvious to thinking minds in khakis and civvies that we are witnessing a crumbling of the state itself? Is this one of those nightmares where your body freezes in horror when danger approaches? Why are we not waking up from his horrid dream”?
On Sunday, October 28th, PTI Chairman Imran Khan gave a talk in front of almost 500 people in Silicon Valley, CA and he gave his views about the Talibans. According to the reports by the attendees and local media, in so many words he virtually condoned Talibans atrocities and even the sectarian killings in Pakistan because of the US unmanned air attacks on the tribal areas of Pakistan is the reason these killings are going on in his view. He believes that Pakistan should be talking to those who are involved in the terrorist activities and he usually gives three main reasons for this argument. He argues that a) Brits also talked to the IRA terrorists so why we cannot talk, b) since US is opening dialogs with the Afghan Talibans so why Pakistan should not do that and c) why there was no suicide attacks before 9/11.
His first argument was challenged more than once (unfortunately never by the Pakistani media) that the dialogs with IRA were only initiated after IRA agreed to lay their weapons, his second argument is rather naïve because one must not compare US – which is an occupying force – with Pakistan Army – which is trying to punish the outlaws who like to take over the whole Pakistan. Everywhere in the world the occupiers open dialogs with insurgents si if US is doing so there is not anything new about it. To some extent, I do agree, however, with Imran’s argument that eventually Pakistan will have to initiate the dialog process but I strongly believe that as long as TTP is carrying weapons and murdering people in the markets and on the roads, there must not be any dialog. Imran’s third argument – unfortunately -- is equally based on the very weak foundations. Before 9/11, Pakistani security agencies and religio-political parties were supporting them and allowing them to use Pakistani soil to get trained and join the "struggles" in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Central Asia and even as far as Arakan. Even today, if Pakistani government would allow Talibans to get trained and send the “mujahids” all over the world from Pakistani soil there will be no suicide bombing. However, then Pakistan must not expect any mercy from outside countries – even from its allies like China.
The PTI’s stance on TTP is rather confusing I must say. I do not know from where they come up with statistics that how many are the good Taliban’s and how many are the bad ones and PTI can make headways if they ll talk to TTP thugs. I am not sure on which information they believe that after PTI will talk to TTP, PTI will convince them to throw arms and start farming and cultivation! The TTP is very entrenched and getting organized every day basis not only in the tribal areas. It is now time for the Pakistani government to move ahead and launch a massive military operation against the TTP to destroy their “destructive power” but it will not be as easy task as it seems. Without mentioning about the lack of will among the Generals; at one hand the political parties who – like PML (N) – believe that the military operation may delay the general elections and at the other hand PTI whose leadership comes up with questionable arguments to defend the TTP. The government, is so incompetent that it was not able to bring the public opinion focused against the TTP even after the brutal beheading incidents and after the cold blooded murder attempt on a child activist Malalai Yusafzai. Let’s not even discuss the religio-political parties who defend the killings of Pakistani soldiers and civilians by TTP, and large section of mass media; whose sympathies are well known.
In this situation, I believe that Pakistan has to tolerate the threats from TTP at least until the next elections. This time the government must be pressurized to hold the general elections at least on time. Once the new government will take the office, I believe that situation will change.
Attack on Bashir Khan Bilour
Brutal assassination of Awami National Party (ANP) leader Bashir Ahmed Khan Bilour, “a steadfast campaigner against terrorism” – who, according to the media report was the only minister who did not accept salary or privileges and refunded to the national exchequer -- by the hands of TTP/Al-Qaida, is another clear signal to the institution of Pakistan that the terrorists can reach whenever and wherever they want. Over the years these terrorists become so confident that they announce their plan before even executing it. Unfortunately the security and law enforcement agencies seem completely helpless in front of them.
So far there seems to be no consensus among the top political leadership about how Pakistan should deal with terrorism. Religio-political parties openly defend these acts by putting criminal spins on the terror attacks and blame America, India and Israel, even when their own leadership is attacked. There is nothing surprising about right-wing religio-political parties because they are the one who not only protected these elements during MMA’s government and let the terrorists take complete control of Swat valley but they let these organizations grow and flourish. Other major political forces are no better. The PPP policy against the terrorists is marred by their political implications because their top leadership is completely failed to create consensus among the masses against the terrorism. The PPP seems very reluctant to take any significant action against the terrorists so close to the elections and lose the public support. As per PML(N), some among their top leadership talk about the military action against the TTP without mincing words but significant number of their senior leadership still argue that fighting the terrorists is American war. Their arguments and media statements clearly demonstrate their fear from the PTI who – in some way, has very soft corner for the terrorists -- could get the public support and at the time close to the general elections, PML(N) does not want to take chances. The PTI stance towards the terrorism is full of innuendo and complete misreading of the situation. They argue that they will isolate the warriors and talk with those who are willing to listen to PTI. However, they never said how they will isolate these groups. In the regions where civilian cannot even enter who will be Mr. Khan;s volunteer(s) or pawn(s) who dare to take chance on his/her life by going in. When PTI rally reached the South Waziristan borders one of PTI top leader, who may be the contestant of Foreign Minister position in the potential PTI government – according to media accounts -- refused to come out from his car.
For the larger interest of Pakistan, the PPP government, the PML(N), ANP, MQM, the Pakistan military and may be the PTI, must sit together and form the surgical strategy to deal with this menace. It is now too late for further negotiations and reinventing the wheel altogether because giving more time to terrorists will further provide them opportunity to get organized. The military must launch massive operation to break the core of TTP/Al-Qaida and the political leadership of at least PPP, PML(N), ANP and MQM must stand behind the military and form the public opinion in favor of this operation without the fear of the backlash from the religio-political parties and/or PTI. They will be on board if they realize that public opinion is supporting such military action. Once the terrorism nest is broken and the foreign elements are nabbed or wiped out then there may be a chance for political negotiations by the political leadership. Anyone who believes that they can “isolate” bad and “mild” terrorists and open dialogs with mild ones is simply naïve and simpleton.
Cold blooded murder of Bashir Bilour should be an eye opener for Pakistan because it is “now or never” situation and this incident must go in the history as watershed event when democratic forces of Pakistan had decided that they would have the “zero tolerance” for the terrorist acts.
Talks with TTP
In the Editorial of Feb. 9, 2013, “Talks with TTP”, Daily Dawn write, “The timing was likely a coincidence, but the stark contrast in the comments made on Thursday by Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Nawaz Sharif says much about the confused response of the state to the threat from militancy. In a meeting with outgoing ISAF commander in Afghanistan Gen John Allen, the Pakistan army chief is quoted in an ISAF press release as having acknowledged that “there is more to do”. Yes, there is more to do, Mr Sharif echoed in a statement of his own, but it is for the government to better negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban. What is particularly striking about Mr Sharif’s statement is how it contained not a word of condemnation of the TTP’s violence or its agenda. Instead, the PML-N supremo saw fit to throw in several digs at the government for its “track record” of unreliability”.
Then, the Editor goes into the analysis and reminders about the TTP’s past history of negotiations and agreements. The Editorial also raised a million dollar question which must be asked by every writer and TV anchors that “who will guarantee that the TTP will abide by the terms of an acceptable peace deal, and how?”
I can never be disagreed with all the valid points raised in the editorial. In my view, the offer for peace talks by TTP is nothing but a hoax and there cannot be any dialog with TTP before their destructive power is severely damaged or destroyed. Any dialogs will be capitulation by the government if the TTP’s core is sustaining. However, I respectfully and regretfully disagree with the Editor’s singling and criticizing Nawaz Sharif on his statement about the dialog offer by TTP. There are some ground realities which must be considered and understood:
1)This is an election year and Nawaz is trying to woo some parties which may be less relevant as far as the seats in parliaments are concerned, but they can deliver significant street power behind PML (N). Some of those parties are known Taliban apologists and believe in giving TTP everything what they demand. 2)The Imran Khan factor is another reality. He is arguing for years that Pakistan should sever its alliance with US and talk to TTP unconditionally. He also blames the government and military for breaking all the agreements with Taliban. He enjoys significant support in the public which can damage the chances of PML (N) to get in the power corridor. Nawaz can never ignore this factor. 3)The government itself is not accepting or rejecting such offer categorically. In a statement Interior Minister Rehman Malik cautiously signaled that the government may be ready to engage the TTP in peace talks. 4)Even the Awami National Party, which has been bearing the brunt of militancy, wants the federal government to take Taliban’s talks offer seriously for the sake of “much-needed peace” in the country. “It was our initiative to hold talks with Taliban. Our party has been urging for dialogue with Taliban to pave the way for peaceful general election,” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told Daily Dawn. 5)Last but not least some experts on Taliban and credible voices in the media also argue that the dialog process with TTP should be initiated. May be they like to call TTP’s bluff which TTP is using to divide the opinion among the political parties.
With such divisions among the political forces I do not understand how Nawaz Sharif – on the eve of general elections – can stand on the “principles” which may cost him the next elections! There are some credible and liberal voices in Pakistan media which believe that if and when Nawaz Sharif will be in power he will not let the TTP have upper hand. He will deal the situation in more pragmatic way than what he is saying now. Only time will tell if this argument will be transformed in reality.
Challenging Musharraf’s Economic Legacy
People often consider that General Musharraf’s brilliant legacy was Pakistan’s booming economy. During his military tenure, most felt that our standards of living had improved: mobile phones in the hand of street vendors, multiplication of cars in every household, value of property tripling — made us all feel wealthier. The belief was further cemented by growth figures stated in the Economic Survey of Pakistan (2007-2008) that showed the economy grew by 7 percent per anum. These figures would suggest a vast improvement in standards of living, falling poverty ratios, stronger core economic sectors and a build up foreign reserves. However, post-Musharraf, the Pakistani economy is in an appalling state. The new government faces a totally opposite condition of the economy than would have been expected after a decade of 7 percent growth.
So, where is the brilliant economic legacy quoted by General Musharraf?
Many economists actually doubt the authenticity of these growth figures. Herald magazine (December 2008 issue) reports that Karamat Ali, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, ‘believes that the official growth figures were often met with skepticism.’ With regards to the poverty level figures, Karamat Ali states, ‘In 2007, the Planning Commission’s chief economist was transferred when he refused to approve government’s claim that poverty level had been reduced by 10 percent from 33 to 23 percent. These figures were clear manipulation as according to the latest UN assessments, poverty has intensified to the extent that in over half the country, hunger stalks one-fifth of the population and malnutrition about two-fifths. In Dawn this month, Kaiser Bengali, reported, ‘The years 2000-2007 … composition of growth brought little solace to half the population and, in fact, misery for the bottom quarter.’
The current government was more upfront regarding the figures and blamed the previous government for not accounting for them appropriately. Ex-finance minister Naveed Qamar (PPP) accused them of not including the interest cost on government borrowing in the budget of 2007-2008. Furthermore, Rs 138 billion subsidies on petroleum products, Rs70 billion on account of non-payment to Wapda, and Rs 45 billion incurred on importing wheat, were all excluded from the budget 2007-2008. This meant that, in the budget 2007-2008, Pakistan understated its liabilities by more than Rs 253 billion and presented a better picture than actually was the case. Moreover, the impact of these omissions was felt in the following year budget 2008-2009, causing the haphazard finance ministry of the current government to frantically triple the electricity and oil prices to make ends meet.
Moreover, contrary to general perception, economic policies did not bring about any remarkable benefits for the whole economy; instead these policies were detrimental for long term economic growth.
To begin with, development and growth in an economy results in falling unemployment level. However, in Pakistan, this was not the case. Unemployment levels actually rose in some sectors. In the industrial sector, for example, unfavorable economic policies led to the closure of mills and subsequently high unemployment. Furthermore, reported Kaiser Bengali, “in the period when the agriculture sector grew by 1.5 percent and the banking sector grew by 30 percent ….. this was jobless growth. It was profit-centered and not wage-centered. It ensured that stock market indexes and corporate profits boomed but was meaningless for the people, who are now faced with the stark reality of unemployment and declining real wages. Of course, official labor force statistics have reported a decline in unemployment. That, however, is a product of blatant data manipulation that the previous regime had come to specialize in.”
With an expanding economy and money flowing in, following sensible economic policies result in building up reserves and decreasing a country’s debt level. In Pakistan, our debt levels rose dramatically between 1999 and 2008. If you sift through history, debt levels between 1947 and 1999 was Rs 2,946 billion. Conversely, if you look at the trend in the past ten years, the government borrowed so heavily that our debt level increased by Rs 2,749 billion to Rs 5,695 billion. Ultimately, it took the previous government eight years to bring up the debt to what was accumulated in over 50 years. Ishaq Dar (the first Finance Minister under the current regime) said in Nation that “those who claim to have broken the begging bowl have actually enlarged it…” High level of debt is not conducive for sustainable development as debt is a burden and has to be paid off. It suggests that Pakistan was living way beyond its means and needs to either expand its economy (which it was unable to do) or contract in future to bridge the gap (which is currently happening).
For sustainable economic growth, unless a country doesn’t have absolute advantage (a country has an absolute advantage over another country in the production of a good if it can produce that good more efficiently/cheaply) in a sector, policies should target all sectors. In Pakistan, we did not have an absolute advantage in the service sector as we were entering an internationally mature market. Also, the service sector boom was a consumer boom and it would not continue indefinitely. Hence, the approach of spuriously strengthening our service sector while neglecting other sectors was not a beneficial policy as it would not bring in long term benefits.
Moreover, if we look at the breakdown of real GDP by sector for the fiscal year 2007-2008— agriculture grew by 1.5 percent while the service sector grew by whopping 8.2 percent. Finance & Insurance, part of the service sector, grew by a massive 17 percent. The small growth in agriculture sector shows that hardly any policies were implemented to make the sector more competitive. Agriculture and manufacturing sectors employ a large amount of people. If strategic uncompetitive sectors are not improved through the right incentives and care, it can lead to massive closure of businesses and rise in unemployment within that sector. For instance, we have witnessed our neglected knitting and weaving industries collapse, resulting in the rise in unemployment within the lower income bracket.
The government’s blatant disregard of other sectors emphasize that contrary to popular belief, economic policies pursued were neither broad based nor sustainable. And the impact of growth was for a few, not for the masses as often implied.
Economists further argue that even with the world being in recession, if our agriculture and manufacturing sectors hadn’t been left in a dismal state, our economy would not have been in such a wretched condition. For example, although the economies of India and China have declined, they have done so at a lesser rate because local demand is fueling growth.
Finally, the policies pursued by Musharraf’s were free market and Pakistan rapidly liberalized its economy without protecting its core sectors. Although everyone advocates for the removal of barriers to trade (tariffs, quotas, etc.), in reality, countries protect their core industry. For example, the United States provides subsidies to its agricultural and steel industry, while Europe subsidizes its agricultural sector. India and China were protectionist economies for the longest time and only after building a strong base did they liberalize. Unfortunately, the previous government did not strengthen core economic sectors. By liberalizing the economy, we inherently subjected our incompetent yet crucial sectors to failure. This again highlights that prudent and long-term policies were not pursued. Instead, these policies have exacerbated economic conditions and our industries witnessed a massive collapse.
Therefore, as evidence reveals, rather than implementing beneficial economic policies, it was obvious data manipulation and hullabaloo of executing good policies that built up the perception of a brilliant legacy. In reality, only the rich got richer while the poor got poorer.
No Delay in Elections should be Acceptable: Blog: April 27, 2013
Every day when I open my facebook, my News Feed is full of Imran Khan’s and General Musharraf’s fans’ postings. Besides some rear intellectual arguments in their favor, these postings are predominantly full of hate, ignominious satire and derogatory remarks for those who are their critics or competitors. Unfortunately, those comments are not only posted by maverick and gung ho revolutionary young men and women but also from those who experienced their lives and one expects them to be little more mature and responsible when they support or oppose any politician and social views. Interesting paradox is that same voices also argue that the solution of all the current problems of law and order, economy, poverty, terrorism, load shedding, ethnic violence, separatists insurgencies etc, in Pakistan is simply the imposition of a “strict” Marshal Law and delay the political process for years so that military will “clean up” the system. They argue that if there will be an election now, the right wing parties will win and they will turn the country to the theocratic state and Talibans-like government will come in power.
It is so ironic that significant number of people who are the believers of this rhetoric live and flourish in the civilized Western societies where they enjoy democracy, freedom of speech, freedom to move around and all types of freedoms but they argue to have dictatorship in their own home land. They argue the “great” economy, wonderful law and order system and the “corruption free” society are only possible during the Martial Laws. They justify their view by arguing that:
a)If there will be an election, the right wing parties will win and they will turn the country to the theocratic state and Talibans-like government will be in power. b)All the Judges are corrupt and Taliban supporters. They releases terrorists. Expecting any justice from their pens is simply a pipe dream of a lunatic. c)Nawaz Sharif – who is possibly going to win the general elections -- is at the lowest of the moral level. Whatever he says is full of lie. He is the ally of terrorists. When he ll get in the power he will be a “Mulla Omar of Pakistan”. He is worst than Zardari and it will be better to have Zardari government back instead of PML(N) comes in power. Imran khan – on the other hand -- is at the zenith of morality. Although he says that he will negotiate with TTP but still he is condoned because – as the argument goes -- although Imran Khan says it but “actually” he is turning to be more “liberal” and if he gets the power he will deal with terrorism “correctly”. However, since he cannot get the absolute control on power by contesting the general elections, there should be a “strict Martial Law” to “cleanse” the country from Talibans, the Judges and all the “right wing” politicians – Imran Khan exclusive – from the political scene and jump start the country.
These views seem very one sided and demonstrate lack of understanding of situation if these come from common people and full of intellectual dishonesty and looking at the picture only from one angle if these are argued by those who are well read and supporters of liberal world views. Let’s analyze all these points one by one:
a)Compared to dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies and aristocracies, in which the people have little or no say in who is elected and how the government is run – which are the forms of governments in Pakistan for most of its life -- a democracy is often said to be the most challenging form of government, as input from those representing citizens determines the direction of the country. If people like to vote right wing or left wing parties, their mandate must be accepted and respected. Question is if we agree with Martial Law supporters at this time and cancel the elections to “save” the country from getting in the hands of so called “right wing” elements then what should be done if in the future there will be a wave of left wing parties? Would we allow the right wing people then to beat on the same rhetoric to “save” the country from becoming “secular”. This is a recipe of disaster. In reality, Pakistan does not have left wing or right wing, or liberal and conservative parties. On Taliban issue, all the parties – PPP, PML(N), ANP, MQM, JI, JUI etc. – sat together and came up with strong conditions to accept the offer of talks from the Talibans. Imran Khan’s PTI is the only party which rejected the conference invitation and emphasized on “unconditional” dialogs with terrorists. b)One can disagree and argue the procedure to nominate Judges which is provided in the constitution of Pakistan. However, if the law cannot provide the answer to some question one cannot be allowed to break it. It can be changed and better system can be introduced – by the way it is only democratic system where this procedure can be reformed not Martial Law. Judicial activism is not something new to the democratic world. Whenever governments are weak the other powerful institutions like military and Judiciary fill the power vacuum. Professor S. P. Sathe in his book “Judicial Activism in India”, explained that the Court India refused to give Parliament carte blanche power to pass whatever it deemed appropriate. For example, in the famous 1967 case of Golaknath v. Punjab, the Court ruled that Parliament could not curtail any of the Fundamental Rights in the Constitution. With Indira Gandhi’s imposition of Emergency Rule between 1975 and 1977, many observers believed that the Court’s independence and legitimacy would be suppressed. As Sathe argued, that during this period the Supreme Court refused to relinquish its institutional obligation to protect the Constitution. In Pakistan however, this power vacuum was mostly filled by military, which is supported by bureaucracy and turncoat politicians. After General Musharraf’s 9 years, military decided to go to back foot because of free media and lack of opportunist politicians’ availability so the Judiciary filled this gap. The release of terrorists was going on from Musharraf’s time. Just before the 2008 elections, group of terrorists – some were even convicted – were released by the Army as a ransom for the 25 kidnapped soldiers. The younger brother of Lal Masjid’s Imam, Ghazi Abdur Rashid was released by Musharraf and his Religious Affairs minister Ijazul Haq after Ghazi was caught driving a car with full of illegal fire arms. This incident was confessed by Ijaz on private TV channel in 2007. To convict terrorists, Judiciary requires strong case from the prosecution. It is a duty of governments to make strong case against the suspect before going to courts, else Judge cannot convict them. After 9/11, President George Bush signed a Patriot Act which significantly reduced restrictions in law enforcement agencies' gathering of intelligence within the United States; expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, particularly those involving foreign individuals and entities; and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The act also expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the Act’s expanded law enforcement powers can be applied. One may agree or disagree with those legislations but one reason for it was to make sure that terrorists cannot walk away. c)If one compares Imran Khan with Nawaz Sharif objectively, one thing will be very clear. Imran Khan believes in the zero sum game. He categorically states that if he is brought to power, he will sever the alliance with US, shoot down drones and “negotiate” with Talibans unconditionally. At the other hand he promises big economic gains to Pakistan. He is either naïve of simply playing political gimmicks. Question is, would the military allow him to go that far? At the other hand, Nawaz Sharif talks about more practical solutions for this problem. He categorically opposes the drone attacks but he emphasizes on talks with Americans, Afghans and even those Talibans who accept Pakistan sovereignty and constitution. If Nawaz Sharif makes deals with those who murder 10,000 people to bring some of them in the main stream and make them the political stakeholder – for which he may be regretting by now – he is criticized but when Imran pledges to talk to terrorists who murdered 40,000 and beheaded 100’s, unconditionally, he is called as a person with clear “plans” to deal with terrorism.
All those who are dreaming to have another Martial Law in Pakistan totally ignore the fact that if the politicians are incompetent they were all brought by the dictators, if Judges are corrupt and so called “right wing”, they were brought by the dictators, if the Taliban flourished it was because the dictators’ utopian world view in which they want to create group of ideologues to make sure the “strategic depth” by controlling Afghanistan or began “Ghazwa-i-Hind” in India using these elements. It seems that after so much exposure and media freedom, people of Pakistan still did not learn and they are still waiting for Messiah to come and use his magic wand to solve all the problems. Since Imran Khan always talks what the common people like to hear and since he is never tested, people start looking at him as new “avatar” from skies. Instead of just supporting him politically, most of his supporters start worshiping him. If he will not proven to be what people would like to believe about him, it will be another shock for them.
Time has arrived that we should learn that it is a right to support any political party and its views however, when we start bringing people to the levels of gods and devils and start worshiping and hating them, we sure have to face painful disappointment.
The Labyrinth and Birds’ Eye View – Web Log May 24, 2013
The word “Labyrinth” came from the Greek mythology. As per the myth, the elaborate structure of Labyrinth was designed and later built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for the King Minos of Crete at Knossos. The reason to build it – as the myth goes – was to hold Minotuar – a mythical creature that was half man and half bull. Daedalus had so cunningly made the Labyrinth that he could barely able to escape it after he built it. An Athenian hero Theseus, who eventually killed the Minotaur, got a skein of thread, which was literally used as "clue", by Theseus, so he could find his way out again.
When inside the labyrinth, one gets the tunnel vision and can only see in one direction. People of Pakistan are inside a labyrinth which was created around them by their incompetent and corrupt leadership and bureaucracy which was predominantly created by the Generals and feudal class, who are controlling their lives for decades. Now, the masses are desperately looking for a way to come out. They are ready to believe and accept anyone who convinces them that they have Theseus' skein of thread and they can drive them out from this maze. So far these so called, self-declared messiahs failed them in every wake.
Pakistani society came from the centuries old monarchies and the tribal systems. Even its contemporary history is full of Martial Laws, bureaucratic and feudal/family oligarchies. As a consequence, masses still have propensity to look for messiahs who -- in their beliefs -- will drive them and provide antidote for their ailments. Even after the globalization and free media access they show the proneness of adoring and hating their leaders and demanding the zero sum game in favor of what they believe is right. This behavior was clearly observed during last decade when the masses -- especially the young generation -- behaved as if the democracy is a war between the forces of Christ and the anti-Christ. When the election 2013 results were announced, large number of people refused to accept these results because these were against their beliefs. They argued that by "history's worst rigging" their leaders' mandates were stolen. IThis behavior was seen very rampant among the supporters of PTI but the supporters of other parties also demonstrated the similar attitudes. Although, national and international institutes all agreed that though, there was some rigging and mismanagement on some individual basis, large part of the election did not have problem, especially when these are compared with the previous elections when the elections were systematically rigged by country's President with the help of Generals or the Generals themselves. Dr. Moeed Yusaf, a credible and cautious expert and analyst on Pakistan, gave 8/10 to the elections during my personal communication with him.
A prominent journalist, political analyst and anchorperson Ejaz Haider recently very rightly described the politics in one of his TV talk show. He said that the politics is a "written script" instead of a ”poetry" ( سیاست نثر ہے شاعری نہیں). Ejaz was referring to the required pragmatism, ability to compromises and tolerance in the leadership. It is very important that people must not raise the political leadership to the level of prophet-hood or waist them away to the lowest levels of devil-hood – they are just human beings who are capable of taking good and bad decisions and one must try to find the best in them even if they are against their views.
For decades, the common people did observe lots of changes in their lives but with dwindling trends. Due to the incompetency among the leadership, they did not see any serious efforts by them to fix the problems. Media tried to be objective but when it also got convinced that governments are just there to have good time its objectivity got vanished within no time. A common person – who do not have a financial/intellectual bandwidth or have some other family commitments and constraints in moving to abroad – is frustrated and feels that there is no way to come out from this situation.
Time has arrived that we should move on from the elections, and the political leadership -- instead of focusing on 25-30 constituencies where they "unexpectedly" lost, which anyway would not make any difference in the overall results even if they would have won -- should work hard to build public focus on real issues and ailments of the country so that the new government will get pressurized and deliver on the common people issues. Those who still longing for the Military intervention must understand that the political class who are failing them time and again were all brought and handpicked by the military Generals. Over time going through tough experiences these politicians have learned and got maturity. There is no replacement of experience. Throwing them again and restart everything from the scratch will not help. People and the political leadership must understand that bringing military in the democratic process by asking them to conduct elections, deploy them inside and outside the polling stations and handing over the control of the constituencies, would not be fruitful to democracy and even to the military as an institute. The flaws in the election process can be resolved to large extent if the political parties and the public through the media will debate. For example, one flaw is that the ballot papers are printed on plain paper, instead, there could be a special paper, like a currency bill, with an embossed stamp or some other mark so that no one can go out to any press and print the paper and stuff the ballot box. Also, the electronic voting system can be brought which will be totally independent of papers votes.
Once, people will stop running behind the slogan mongers who create false dreams in their eyes – the dreams which may be far from the realities – only then people will know that actually the democracy is the "clue" to come out from the maze. All they have to do as a nation to trust on the system instead of expecting individuals to drive them out. We as a nation, already faced and came out from the revolutions and no new revolution is required because we came to the stage where the people will be empowered to form government systems, and now we have to refine it and that will be the solution of all the ills we are facing.
Pakistan: After 13 Years: July 3, 2013 Beijing, China
“Ladies and gentlemen the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. Please fasten your seat belts and make sure that your seat backs and tray table are in up-right and lock positions. We will be landing at Qaid-i-Azam International Airport, Karachi shortly. The current time is 3:50pm and the temperature is 35C. Have a nice stay in Karachi”
I was landing at Karachi Airport after thirteen years to attend the wedding ceremony of my nephew Sarim -- who actually lives in Houston, TX with my sister and brother-in-law, but the girl's family lives in Karachi. In these years all I heard about Karachi were high level crimes, target killings, bomb blasts, car-jacking, load shedding, gang wars, political parties' feuds, day light murders etc. My heart was pounding -- not out of excitement but out of fear. I was keep on asking question to myself, "was it the good decision to come to Pakistan", "would I be able to go back to my kids in one piece" etc. etc. I came out from the airport and my brother-in-law came to airport and picked me up.
During 1980s, when I was a student of NED University, this city was much safer and easy to move around. I could go to different places in the city from my dorms and come back, even at the late nights on public transport or with some friend on their motorcycles without any fear. This time, during the wedding related invitations and gatherings I observed and talked to people belong to different walks of life and I observed a clear sense of fear among them.
I saw fortified houses, barricaded with barbed wires and solid metal railings with trained gunmen standing in front of their main gates. People are very careful what to say in the public places. On Sarim's wedding day, when I was talking to one of my cousin about the law and order situation in Karachi and discussing about who should be responsible for that, one of my auntie whispered in my ears and warned me to stop the conversation, because -- in her understanding -- one middle aged man standing near us seemed taking too much interest in over hearing our conversation. I observed that the rent-a-car drivers were extra cautious and used to change lanes no matter how dangerous maneuver they have to make, whenever they feel that some motorcyclist was approaching their cars. The famous hotels like Pearl Continental, Sheraton, Marriott etc. are heavily fortified with extra ordinary and multilevel security details. I had very detailed conversations about the existing issues with some of my very old friends and some of them told me the frustrations they have to go through on daily basis. Some of them confessed that they would leave the country but due to some of the family and/or business reasons they cannot execute their plans. When I went to Karachi in the year 2000, I sensed strong support for the MQM but this time almost everyone I met and heard, even those who used to be staunchest supporters of MQM, were very angry and frustrated with them and they wanted to have different people in the government. Some of the laborers I talked were specifically frustrated by MQM's chain of strikes and shutting down the city. One of the shopkeeper told that his cousin has to come everyday to city to get the labor work by spending almost Rs. 50.00 one way and if he doesn't get the work all day, he has to not only pay another Rs. 50.00 to go back, but also spend money to have lunch and tea etc. I have observed a very significant frustration among people from all the levels of society towards MQM/ANP/PPP and towards growing religious extremism.
I had to visit my uncle as well in Lahore. When I came out from the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore, I was amazed to see the wide clean roads, orderly traffic, people walking on the roads, shopping and going to restaurants without any significant fear. However, when I talk to a common person they show their frustrations about the electric power load shedding and uncontrolled price hikes. The shoppers also complained about the GST increase but overall, large part of people on the street, shopkeepers, shoppers and others are willing to give at least some time to the new government.
When I asked some people on the streets if they can compare Lahore and Karachi, one of the shop sales person said, "if I compare Karachi with Lahore, I ll say living in Lahore is like living in heaven". City of Lahore has significantly improved since I last time visited in the year 2000. The beautiful Ring Road and the Metro Bus gave a new and modern look to this metropolitan. Common people in Lahore feel much safer than people in Karachi. People on street -- even some of PMLN critiques -- do give some credit to Shahbaz government for the situation in Lahore.
Religious extremism was another factor which is a concern for the people. Even in just seven days I witnessed a demonstration of this scourge. In my way to Beijing from Karachi, one group of Maulanas started fighting and arguing with the airline staff that they require a place in the plane where they can pray in "Jam'at". It was single aisle small plane and it was completely full. The staff tried to explain about the lack of space but they teamed together and forcing and warning the staff to comply on their demand. I was waiting to see Sri Lankan Air Force planes surrounding our plane but luckily, we were not very far from Colombo where they had connection to some other place, so they decided to sit back and have Jama'at at Columbo airport.
In general, people seems very confused about the how to deal with Talibans. The religious groups, some media sections and the Imran Khan's rhetoric seem the visible reason for such confusion. The PTI supporters support the "talks with Taliban" and argue by providing self-contradictory arguments but large number of people I met and talked are not sure about the way to deal with the religious extremism. However, some people are concerned that once the US will pull out from Afghanistan the left over ammunition will spill over to Pakistan and street situation will further deteriorate, especially in Karachi, Khaber Pakhtoonkhwa and Baluchistan. One of the PML (N) supporter argued that Nawaz Sharif will not go for the open ended negotiations with Talibans and before going for decisive operation he talks about negotiations with terrorists to serve -- in his opinion -- large part of the people's demand.
With all the issues and problems on the streets of Karachi, I must admire all Karachiates. The ground reality could not hinder them to change their life styles, although one can observe the significant modification in their daily life style. People still are having very late night parties. I saw crowded restaurants at night time. I saw crowded buses on the streets. Virtually, people of Karachi are saying no to the forces of terror and religious extremism -- and this is a very hopeful sign.
When I was driving around The Mall Lahore, I was thinking that if Lahore can be made so nice and beautiful, sure Karachi can be made in a same way. The only problem is that the leadership in Sind and Federal governments must have the political will to do that. Parties who get the mandate in Karachi and others, must come together and think at least for some time about the common people instead of political scoring and scores settling. During my flight to Lahore from Karachi, two young women were sitting next to me, one was a Lawyer and other one was a Gynecologist. I talked to them about the current situation in Karachi and in Pakistan in general. The hopelessness was very clear from their conversation. Both argued that new government would not be able to deliver because in their opinion, even the previous Punjab government's priorities were not correct and the new Federal Government is nothing but an extension of last Punjab Government. They both supported PTI not because they were impressed with Imran Khan or his message but they hope to get rid of current political dispensation with strong families' monopoly on the political system. They had no clear answer other than expression of more concern when I reminded and argued with them that the same people who are the custodians of this very system which Imran Khan claims to abolish, actually running the PTI. The Gynecologist's siblings live in Chicago and she told me that her husband wants her family to move there as well but she said that she is not willing to do that because she is hopeful that situation will turn better eventually.
I observed some very positive changes in the over all society. I saw lots of women joined the work force in the country. My nieces who were babies, toddlers or Elementary School students when I saw them 13 years ago, now, either they have started their carriers after completing their education or if they are still in schools they have very clear plans about their carriers. This trend I saw very wide spread. The most encouraging change I observed that predominantly, people want the democracy and I did not hear anyone -- even those who are very critical to the Zardari government and disappointed with PTI performance -- said that they need Martial Law to solve their day-to-day life problems.
The argument, that Nawaz Sharif likes to give a chance to negotiations before a decisive operation, does not make too much sense. Nawaz government must be showing leadership and take the decisions which are necessary for the country and for the people, no matter how unpopular that decision may be. Now, the general elections are over and governments are formed, the new government must be devising clear policy about how to deal with the terrorism, the crippling economy, power generation and supply problems, Foreign Policy and the Local Body elections. These could be the initial but important steps to achieve significant changes in overall picture of Pakistan.
The Art of Possible: August 02, 2013 Silicon Valley, CA
In his interview in 1867, with St. Petersburgische ZeitungIt, the German aristocrat and statesman, Prime Minister of Prussia and first Chancellor of Germany, Otto Von Bismark described the politics as "an art of possible". However, famous Canadian -- and later US -- economist, public official, the diplomat, and a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism, John Kenneth Galbraith disagreed. He wrote to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 that he believes that the, "politics is not the art of possible, it consists of choosing between the disastrous and unpalatable". In the Election 2013 in Pakistan, like all over the world, the choice was the same -- the choice between the "disastrous" and "unpalatable" and time will tell which one the Pakistani voters chose. However, the situation in Pakistan demonstrates that most of the sections of the society believe in messiahs with their magic wands. When Ayub Khan snatched power illegally, the common people on the streets believed that there prayers are heard by the heavenly forces and these "Marshal Law bhayyas" will provide them everything which they were deprived of. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto brought new hopes to the people but just in six years when he was thrown out and later hanged by Ziaul Haq -- another "messiah" -- common people hardly made any noise in protest. When General Musharraf took over the power, media reports suggest that people distributed sweets in the markets to celebrate the arrival of new "healer". Lots of hopes were put on PPP government in 2008 as well.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chodhry was portrayed as "the savior" after the lawyers' movement as long as his decisions didn't affect the political elites. As soon as he began to meddle into the elites, all the enthusiasm of media and politicians went south. Now, on a daily basis people hear his character assassination on electronic and print media. Characters who do not have any control on their speech are invited time and again on the live shows where they sit and throw as much dirt on the Judiciary as they want. After this episode, there is another "God send" -- Imran Khan -- began taking the headlines. His supporters are ready to cross all the limits of objectivity and constructive dialogues to defend him. When Tahirul Qadri came to bring about the "revolution" even some very senior analysts, media people and political elites -- who have a reputation of being very liberal and democratic -- got enchanted by his slogans.
The million dollar question is that, are all these leaders which people put their trust on really disappoint their supporters or it is simply that, the common people expect too much from an individual or party to change everything without, understanding the ground reality. The intellectual community somewhat agree that the military regimes, bureaucratic control and oligarchies in Pakistan created a generations of politicians who are incompetent and incapable of making tough decisions and deliver on the peoples' demands but large section of people is also very vulnerable and insecure. Because of their historical background they get attached to individuals or the parties and expect much more than those individuals can deliver.
Over the history, it is observed that the attitudes of the societies alter as time progresses and people learn and change for the good. However, it is also a question how an individual will grow and learn about the realities of the world. The mass media is usually a tool to alter and build the opinion on different issues. If the media starts taking sides then it is very difficult to educate the common information hungry people. Media can train people about the sanctity of institutions and the ways around in the constitution if there are any complain about the manifesto of the institute or the action of any individual belongs to it.
Constructive criticism is very much necessary. Unfortunately, in last 3-4 years other than Babar Sattar, Asma Jahangir, Athar Minallah, Justice Tariq Mehmood, Nusrat Javed and some more, most of the critics of Judiciary seemed like maligners of whole institute. There are constitutional ways to slow down and check the activism of any institution. What Lahore Bar Association decides to follow is one of the right way. Instead of going to public and sloganeering they adopted a resolution demanding presidential references against three top Judges for their alleged violation of the constitution in their judgment on the Presidential Elections. The others could follow the suit instead of going to TV on daily basis and using inappropriate language against the whole Judiciary and unleashing their "foot soldiers" on the social media who cross all the limits of decency when they comment about anyone who disagrees with their views.
Once the institution becomes resilient it controls the unpalatable individuals and prevents them from exceeding their authorities. The key to the success of the West is that they have strong law of Justice, everyone who wants to invest or travel there is very sure that their money and life is safe because of strong Judicial system. For the country to grow and progress, the Judiciary must be respected at all cost, Judges are individuals who can do mistakes, but instead of ridiculing them the constitutional provisions must be exploited. With demoralized and pliant Judicial system Pakistan will never progress.
Web Log: Pakistan's War with Itself: August 29, 2013 Silicon Valley, CA
Recently, a prominent columnist, political and Foreign Policy analyst, Dr. Moeed Yusaf, while talking in the private TV talk show, very rightly suggested five steps to control the rampant terrorism
1) Clear and categorical direction in anti-terrorism policy, and full responsibility and ownership from the top leadership inside the government.
2) De-politicizing the police force, where -- according to Moeed -- most of the hiring from the SHO and below are decided by the politicians and other political parties' functionaries and political cronies.
3) Deprive the terrorists from getting financed and fund raising.
4) Bringing new legislations which can deal with the terrorism. Under the current laws, almost 70% terrorists are acquitted. People like Adnan Rasheed and the Marriott bomber were initially released.
5) Deprive terrorists the easy internet communications benefits so that they will be unable to glut the Cyber space with their world view and propaganda.
The debate about how to deal with the terrorism can be found on both print and electronic media. So far the government is very clearly inclined towards the dialogue options to begin the process. The new Interior Minister, while interviewed by Salim Safi on a GEO TV, supported the dialogue options. He said that if there are 40,000 deaths on "this side", there are deaths at "other side" as well and the reaction should be expected. This is somewhat very unfair and out of place statement. Honorable Minister of Interior must have forgotten that the deaths at the "other side" are due to the fact that the other side is inflicting deaths and miseries on innocent people at "this side". He failed to clearly mention that when the government will open talks with the "other side" what they are planning to offer in return of "moratorium" on murders. Mr. Minister was insisting Salim Safi that he likes to "talk, talk and talk" with the miscreants. That raises a question that is PML(N) government also planning to negotiate with the target killers, land and drug mafias, and "Bhatta" mafias of Karachi as well?
There is a common argument which comes from the PTI and other supporters of Taliban that
1) So far we only fought with Taliban and we are unsuccessful in controlling the terrorism, so now we should talk.
2) Why those who oppose negotiation with Taliban, support the dialogues with Baluch insurgents. Because if Taliban deny the constitution of Pakistan, so do the Baluch insurgents.
3) The government should only negotiate with those Taliban who accept the constitution of Pakistan and should not invite any group which deny the constitution.
The first argument is rather based on the false propaganda. Brigadier Asad Munir, former ISI functionary, argues that during 2002-03, if the government would have taken the path of focused operations in Waziristan against the terrorists, they could have eliminated the menace of terrorism but unfortunately, the ill advised and over confident military regime of Musharraf, decided to take the course of negotiations. The terrorists took full advantage of these so called peace agreements, increased their strength and spread their organization to other parts of FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). By 2007, they were completely or partially ruling about 17 administrative units of FATA and K-P. The Pakistan Army has managed to evict them from about 15 administrative units using the force not by negotiating with them. Swat is another example where the terror forces are purged by the use of full military assault, not by negotiated settlements. Unfortunately, the North Waziristan is still under their control and it cannot be evacuated without the use of decisive military power.
Second argument is equally flawed. Some political leadership try to draw parallels with IRA, Vietnam, and Afghanistan, where the super power negotiated with the locals. The Baluch insurgency can be compared with the IRA situation, because in both cases the group of nationalists run the separatist movement against the so called excesses of the State. However, the Taliban do not murder thousands to protest the excesses of the state, they have their own agenda which they are trying to pursue ruthlessly. In the ideological perspective of Al-Qaida, which is the umbrella organization of TTP, the attacks on the US and India were the preparation for the "End of Time" battles. Khurasan -- which comprises a vast territory now lying in northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, and northern Afghanistan -- was to be the first battleground for the "End of Time" battles before the decisive confrontation against the West and the last battle being fought in the Middle East for the liberation of Palestine and all occupied Muslim land.
The TTP wants to assimilate the whole Pakistani society, impose their version of rule, make Pakistan – with vast nuclear arsenal – their base to create the grounds for uniting the so called Great Khurasan . The negotiated settlement with TTP is nothing but a pipe dream of a lunatic. Any political or the other, who try to present TTP as some grieved faction, are either support their views and want them to take control of Pakistan or they are simply naive.
The last argument is somewhat self-contradictory. The Taliban who accept the constitution of Pakistan and have some minor grievances are anyway not the one who are murdering thousands on the streets, so negotiating with them anyway would not help at all. The real criminals are the one who have totally different agenda and they must be dealt with the strong and decisive force.
Some media reports, however, suggest that in principle the decision is made in Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) that there is no other choice but to fight with Taliban and destroy their organization. But before that for the public consumption government wants to initiate some dialogue process before any decisive military actions against them. If this scenario is true then Imran Khan's insistence to meet PM and Gen. Kyani makes some sense. Imran Khan may like to exploit this opportunity for the face saving before he would pull back from his strong rhetoric in support for Taliban.
The intellectual community and senior analysts have consensus that the policy of appeasement towards terrorists would not work! Nawaz Sharif must be showing the leadership as Moeed Yusaf very rightly pointed out. The government shouldn't take pressure from PTI, JI, JUI-F and other religio-political groups and go for the decisive actions against the terrorist -- no matter they are LeJ, LeT, TTP or any other group without the fear of backlash from their apologists in the political parties and religious groups, and also in the section of media which is glorifying terror organizations on both electronic and print media. Once their destructive power is abolished, then open the dialogue with them from the position of strength and convey them the message that they have to live under the supremacy of the constitution of Pakistan. If the government keep on delaying the stringent action against terrorists then there will never be any peace and these forces will one day nibble the whole country away.
Web Log: Talk-Talk, War-War: October 11, 2013 Silicon Valley, CA
Before the election 2013 in Pakistan it was widely believed that there are two major political forces on the ground -- the PML (N) and PTI -- while the PPP would be to large extent confined in the Sind province. However, the election results demonstrated that although the predictions about PPP was correct but about PTI it was correct only partially. Although PTI did demonstrate its strong presence in Punjab and Khayber Pakhtoon-Khwa but the prediction about a PTI tsunami turned out to be a total myth. Nawaz Sharif -- at the other hand portrayed himself as a statesman during the last 5 years. Large number of people believed that he will be the better choice because he demonstrated more vision than Imran Khan -- who was predominantly relying on the negative propaganda and promises which -- in common people's view -- were unrealistic. However, the senior analysts and the intellectual community -- inside Pakistan and abroad -- were keep on warning the incoming leadership that the problem of economy, law and order, and other issues cannot be tackled unless the terrorism is dealt properly.
After the elections, when the governments were formed, initially, the federal and provincial governments did not demonstrate any resolve to tackle the issue of terrorism. Nawaz Sharif didn't seem to have solution or even a will to take the responsibility and show leadership against the terrorism, but when the pressure on his government was increased, he called the All Parties Conference (APC), where he tried to share the burden with everyone instead of taking the lead and responsibility. He had to deal with PTI's chairman, Imran Khan, who has strange but naive worldview about the terror forces and his rhetoric in support of Taliban became even more stronger after he joined hands with Jamat-i-Islami in the K-P. The PTI leadership -- along with religious political parties and some loud supporting voices in media -- is enticing millions of their supporters with their harebrained ideas. Every now and then Imran Khan comes up with new statement which goes in favor of terrorists and then his party leaders start defending him at all cost, even some time with misleading incorrect statements. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is -- so far -- manipulated the indecision and polarization in the public and the institutions of Pakistan on the terrorism issue. To get their demands accepted by the government, they started showing their "good side". They gave interview to foreign media, and glut the media with propaganda video in which they show that their leaders are engaged in frolic with smiling faces and having tea and refreshments with friends. Not only that, they began to deny the responsibility of attacks on the public places -- for which they had before taken the responsibilities. To make the deals even further "attractive" they launched symbolic murder attacks on the provincial capitals just the day after Hakeemullah Mehsood's interview to international news agency. The PTI came out and tried to strengthen TTP's propaganda by admiring Hakeemullah Mehsood, as if they are TTP's political wing. It is very obvious that the TTP is doing all that to further confuse the public opinion which will for sure go in their favor and it is attempting to get the public support to pressure the government and the military to pull back the troops from the FATA. Army Chief,'s recent statement seems that he is responding to the rhetoric of Taliban apologist political parties and characters in the media -- which is becoming a cliche now -- that for 10 years we are fighting and "did not achieve" anything so let's talk now.
The PTI leadership rightly argue that the people gave them a mandate to bring peace in the country, and being a Provincial Government who is responsible to maintain the law and order in the province as per the 18th Constitutional amendment they have responsibility to assure the peace and security to the people of Khaber Pakhtoon Khwa. However, one way to achieve peace is to surrender or accept to become a client of powerful. Sure people did not give the mandate to PTI to surrender and transfer the authority to those who already murdered 40,000 people of Pakistan. The federal government should also understand that if they want to talk to terrorists, they should go ahead but they must not become their apologists and admirers.
It is interesting to observe that the whole society in Pakistan is turning into severe mental chaos. Taliban -- after butchering and massacring thousands -- enjoy significant support among political parties, media, military, even Judiciary and common people. Raaz Allahabadi may have wrote the following verses for this situation:
اتنے مانوس سییاد سے ہو گے
اب رہائی ملی بھی تو مر جائیںگے
(I have become so much used to live in the captivity in the cage that I don't know if I ever be free I may die)
I had another intriguing observation in my recent visit to Pakistan is that there is a general perception among the common people that all the West, India, Afghanistan and Israel have nothing to do other than conspiring against Pakistan and to do every effort to destabilize it. Once Pakistan is destabilized and terror forces would become more powerful then it would be easier to convince the world community to support a Security Council Resolution to dismantle Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and the entire program. This theory may carry some weight and I am not sure about India and Israel, but in the West, although one can hear lots of aggressive views from the speakers belong to the conservative class, but the policy making is usually done after more discussions and thoughts. The risk factor and consequences of failure is very important part of the discussion. World recently observed the Obama administration's retreat or at least temporary delay of military action in Syria. On the Malala Yusafzai, the common argument in Pakistan is that Malala represents only a small part of Pakistan where these problems were quite significant. They argue that in Pakistan the girls' school destructions and restrictions on women education may not be as rampant, because the women in Pakistan are studying in best universities of the world. All the universities the gender ratio is close to 50-50. In many medical colleges there are more women than men, but the West is posing Malala as the only hope for the women education in Pakistan. Although, this argument carried lot of weight, especially in the urban areas, however, there must be an understanding that if one lives in the West, interact with ordinary people on daily basis, meet with Western anthropologists and political figures, personalities who make the public opinion, it will be clear that this fact is appreciated and understood in the intellectual community of the West as well. Malala has become a symbol of defiance to the terror forces, in a very similar way in which the picture of a young Afghan woman, appeared on the June 1985 issue of National Geographic after the USSR invasion. Western public opinion was heavily moved because of the helplessness and fear they observed in her eyes. Malala gave them the similar wake up call and they once again moved by the incident.
The girl put a face to refugees
Most of us clearly observe that in Pakistan, Generals and mullahs can get away from any crime they commit. Gen. Musharraf is rearrested in the Red Mosque case from where -- according to the senior analysts in Pakistan and abroad -- he will walk away in coming days. Musharraf, at one hand, will never be tried for the real crime he committed -- abrogating Pakistan's constitution. At the other hand, Abdul Aziz who is responsible for the deaths of 14 brave soldiers of Pakistan, making the mosque and the library as a base for terrorist training and stockpile of illegal weapons, seducing poor children for violence and encouraging them to break the law, is not only walking free but also invited on TV talk shows like a civilized peace loving citizen of the country. Abdul Aziz should be roting in jail for his crimes. It is a common observation that if the Pakistan based anthropologists, analysts and other people from the intellectual community living in the West point out issues which Pakistan is facing, they are labeled as the outsiders who are seduced and biased by the Western propaganda. When Pakistan based independent thinkers like Ejaz Haider, Farrukh Pitafi, Raza Rumi, Murtaza Solangi, Zahid Hussain and more, point the problems out, they are blamed to be on the parole of Western agencies. However, the irony is that when terrorists -- even after murdering thousands, severing the heads of Pakistan's elite soldiers and making videos to accept responsibilities and boast about their power, try to change their stances for their political gains, our political leadership -- PTI leadership on top -- come out in their defense.
Even if the argument that so far situation is not as prevalent as it seems, is accepted, we must understand that we have problem, and only we can fix it. We must get out of appeasement policy even if we decide to engage the terrorists in dialogues. This policy is only making the terrorists more and more stronger every day. When the politicians have to choose between supporting the rhetoric of their leaders and something which is the truth, they should choose the truth, because if they worry more about their personal political future instead of nation's interest, for which people gave them a mandate, they will be flushed out in the gutters of history and coming generations will only curse them for their opportunism. Winston Churchill said, "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last".