Suffering under our proxy imperialists
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
By by Shireen M Mazari
We are certainly overdosing on the US these days. As if their increased drone attacks against Pakistani civilians were not bad enough, we have had to suffer the excess of the Pakistani media's coverage of the US elections – which in the end will really not alter our fate vis a vis US policies and may make it worse. Now, in a most nauseating fashion, we have had to suffer Boucher once again and this time he has been accompanied by the new US Centcom commander, General Petreaus. We already know that the Zardari regime is in no mood to respect the parliamentary resolution demanding action against US attacks against our sovereignty, so what more can this hapless nation do for imperial US? Kill all our citizens who may have a resemblance to Taliban or may simply be guilty of living in the FATA region? This American duo's latest visit just before the US elections looks suspiciously like a visit aimed at providing a boost to McCain by some large scale attack which will unearth a big Al Qaeda or Taliban fish! Be that as it may, when will it become clear to our ruling elite that the US is a hostile, if not an enemy state? And simple issuing verbal warnings which continue to be ignored only undermine our ability to actually act on these warnings.
So what can be done against the mighty US? Very simply, there is a small window of opportunity and the following actions can be taken: Suspending logistics supply route for NATO/US forces; leaving the trilateral commission, at least temporarily, given that our requests are never respected; reclaiming our bases from the US and removing US undercover and military personnel from Pakistan.
In a worst case scenario, we could also think of some non-lethal military responses. And what more the US can do against us if we stand our ground? Well, politically they have already pushed our leaders into an IMF option that was certainly not the only option despite the surfeit of histrionic articles by retired IMF Gurkhas some of whom are also desperately seeking to re-access the Pakistani economic bureaucracy? At worse, the US can also send in ground troops accompanied by air attacks but given that they are presently in a state of transition such an expansion of their military operations in the region does not seem possible,. But if it did come to that, given how they are stretched, they would be entering a suicidal minefield because then the Pakistani military would have to be drawn in. We may fear such scenarios, but at the end of the day the US at present is not in a position to expand its military commitments especially against a state without whose support NATO would be suffocated in terms of logistics support. In fact, it is the incremental US destruction being waged on us that is more lethal for Pakistan. Given how Pakistanis are being killed to assuage US anger at 9/11, it is insufferable to have former US Secretary of State, Albright, refer to Pakistan as an "international migraine". Even if this was so, and we were to ignore the rogue state the US is fast becoming, what is the source of the migraine? The US itself. So, Ms Albright, when we rid ourselves of the cause for our "migraine", the healing will take place. Amid all this
killing of our citizens by the US, I was sent an email by Saud Khan, which should distress all those who still believe in the goodness of the US people. He sent me a copy of a news release by Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, some of which is blasphemous against the Prophet (PBUH) and cannot be cited here, but what can be cited is the following:
"God Hates Pakistan. Thank God for killer earthquakes that visit Pakistan often: Last Wed.-160 dead;1935 – 30,000 dead; 2005 – 86,000 dead. WBC prays for many more dead. Yes. Pakistan is an evil and dangerous country and is a huge part of the World of Islam." Such is the humanity of the US Baptist Church! Interestingly the news release talks of Pakistan's killing of Christians but the Baptists seem to have turned a blind eye to the mass killings of Christians still going on in India!
However, in the final analysis, we must take the blame for where we are – especially our elite and the rulers that come from within them. There is a total indifference to the plight of the state and the nation since simply leaving the country with their wealth is such a viable option for this class. They have enjoyed the privileges this country has offered them and then left with the wealth they made as a result of these privileges. When the country is in financial straits, none of them think of bringing back their foreign stashed wealth back for the salvation of this country. And when they rule, they rule through guile and hypocrisy with generous promises that come cheap and remain unfulfilled.
The present set of rulers is no different. Cronyism is rife – from the Abraaj scam (and it is not just Zardari family connections that are involved; according to the Abraaj response given to The News there are names that link up to Shaukat Tareen also) at KESC, to all over the country in the form of advisers, assistants and so on. Special titles, special deals – with scant regard for even the most basic of qualifications! Perhaps the biggest slap in the face of the nation has been the 55-member cabinet – which will require a plethora of more assistants, staff and so on, all from the public exchequer – at a time of dire financial straits. To the further shame of the present government, the man who sought to justify the killing of Baloch women has also been given a ministerial slot. But then why not, given how there is no system or law that functions here. Look what happened to the doctors at the poly clinic only recently. And this is just one such story doing the rounds these days – just as other stories abounded in the previous regimes also.
As for respecting the bounds of the law, look at the scandal of the Gilani offspring wedding at the presidency. Even if one were to forget the morality at stake in such an event, surely the brazen violation of the laws of the land cannot be so easily cast aside? I am referring to the use of official state property, but, most important, to the use of the president and the country's flags/emblems right behind the married couple's seating. Even according to the Blue Book of Protocol this is not permissible – but is anyone bothered? Of course, us ordinary citizens cannot fly the national flag on our residences or anywhere else – except on August 14 ( a rather silly restriction that needs to be done away with) – but how can the prime minister and the president allow private citizens to use official protocol and official flags for a private wedding function?
With all these shenanigans of the ruling elite, it is no wonder we are continuing to cling to the hope the lawyers' movement still brings for justice to eventually reign strong and supreme in this land of ours. When we greeted the lawyers' rally at the Islamabad parade ground on Monday evening, we felt compelled to rejuvenate our hope even though the fervour of this summer's long march was not all there. But then I saw the determination of the missing persons' protestors still continuing to fight an uphill battle for justice. The group followed the lawyers' leaders, a little distance away, looking weary and, in contrast to the lawyers and other members of civil society, surrounded by a heavy silence. A small band of mothers, wives and relatives, they are still battling against all odds, especially since the democratic government has chosen to adopt a telling silence now that they are in power. I realised then that we, the citizens, have no choice but to keep our faith and hope in movements such as the lawyers' movement because in the end it is a strong and independent judiciary that will bring peace and resolution to these distressed Pakistanis as well as security to the nation as a whole. Otherwise we may as well resign ourselves to a life of subjugation and fear under our own breed of proxy imperialists. (Oh Gramsci, if you were only alive today!)
The writer is a defence analyst. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: Why is Shireen Mazari upset with the PPP Government?
ISSI DG Shireen Mazari removed
ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday removed Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) Director General Dr Shireen Mazari ahead of the end of her contract in August 2009.
According to sources, former foreign secretary Tanvir Ahmad Khan may replace her.
Talking to Daily Times, Khan said the government had offered him four positions including Dr Mazari’s post. He said if formally asked to run the ISSI he would make it a think tank. Dr Mazari likened her removal to the sacking of former Foreign secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan. She claimed the United States government had influenced her removal as she was writing hard-hitting articles highlighting US intervention in internal Pakistani affairs. staff report (Daily Times, 15 May 2008).
With the change in the government, the head of govt institutes are also changed. Dr Shireen Mazari's ouster is a case in point
By Nadeem Iqbal
It looks like a revenge scene from a movie but it has actually happened. After eight long years, Dr Tanvir Ahmed Khan, a former foreign secretary, reclaimed the title of Director General Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), a post he lost to Dr Shireen Mazari in August 2002.
Despite the fact that Dr Shireen has been unceremoniously removed from the post at least 15 months before the expiry of her contract in August 2009, she has earned the distinction of being the longest serving DG of the Foreign Office-controlled think tank.
Dr Tanvir's held the post between 1998-2000. He was appointed around the time of the May 1998 nuclear detonation, and was in the lead of the pro-bomb lobby in Pakistan. However, after Gen Musharraf took over he lost favour with the military and was replaced by the hawkish Shireen Mazari.
Shireen Mazari reacted angrily on the termination of her contract on May 14. She told the media that the news of her removal was conveyed to her by the new foreign secretary Salman Bashir. She likened her removal to the sacking of former foreign secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan. She claimed the United States government had influenced her removal as she was writing hard-hitting articles highlighting US intervention in internal Pakistani affairs.
Riaz Mohammad Khan who took over as the Foreign Secretary in Feb 2005 was sacked by the PPP government last month. His term in office was due to end on Oct 1, 2008
Mazari also claimed that on May 15 she was ordered to leave the office in 15 minutes as the new DG was to take over.
Clarifying, a foreign office spokesman said: "Dr Shireen Mazari had been Director General of ISSI since August 2000. She has been the longest serving Director General of the Institute. There is no particular reason to replace Dr Mazari. Dr Mazari was a contract employee and had served with great distinction. All her contract terms will be honoured. Dr Tanvir Ahmed Khan, who is a distinguished scholar and former Foreign Secretary, will take over as the new Director General (ISSI)."
During her stint in ISSI, Mazari was more recognised for her hard-hitting views reflecting some portions of the establishment.
She has close relations with Mushahid Husain Syed, PML-Q secretary general and his wife Dushka Syed, a professor in Quaid-e-Azam university. Mushahid, a confidante of Nawaz Sharif was briefly detained after Sharif's removal but later he became an ardent supporter of Musharaf's regime.
Along with Dushka Syed, Shireen was also seen leading civil society protests in 2006 against conversion of a public park into a mini-golf court by the Capital Development Authority and in 2007 against Jamia Hafza dubbing it 'MullaGardi'. Recently she was seen openly criticising US policies and visits of PPP co-chairperson to the residence of the American ambassador.
Dr Tanvir, who had served in Benazir Bhutto's first government as foreign secretary in the late 1980s, has gradually shifted from his PTV-friendly hawkish views to a more diversified outlook on security issues. In fact after his removal as DG ISSI he gradually became a leading critic of the military-led government.
Last year he was present at the launch of Ayesha Siddiqa Agha's controversial book Military Inc. at a time when the government forbade all hotels and clubs not to give a place for the function.
In December last year, while opposing the Musharraf emergency, he was part of 20 former ambassadors and foreign secretaries who called upon Musharraf to restore the rule of law and reinstate senior judges.
Later, he also supported the PPP position that Benazir Bhutto's murder investigations should be done under UN.
Dr Khan said the government had offered him four positions including that of DG ISSI. Out of those, he must have preferred going back to his old job.
Islamabad has three think tanks -- Institute of Regional Studies (IRS), ISSI and Islamabad Policy Research Institute. Their functions are not much different from each other. Over the years these think tanks have failed to produce any original work that could influence or change the country's regional or domestic policy. Most of the research done by these institutes is based on secondary sources. They are mainly following the official line on controversial issues.
ISSI is mainly seen as a think tank made for retired foreign secretaries who are accommodated as its DGs and Chairmen. During Dr Tanvir's first stint, there was no chairman but later Aga Shahi became its chairman. After his demise now former foreign secretary and minister Inamul Haq has been serving as its chairman. ISSI has two directors and seventeen research fellows.
IRS, controlled by federal information ministry, is considered a post-retirement place for military officers. Since its inception in 1982, many retired military men have served it as its president. Many of them developed the required academic credential while on the job.
The incumbent president Maj Gen. (Retd.) Jamshed Ayaz Khan took over in April 2002. Before joining the Institute, he served as Additional Secretary Defense Production (DP) Division of the Ministry of Defense from 1999-2001.
The nascent IPRI was established by a group including Shireen Mazari, Mushahid Husain and Gen Syed Rafaqat, who was also the founder president of the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). But soon controversy struck and the president was replaced by Brig (Ret) Sahukat Qadir who was also forced to resign.
Since Oct 2000, Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, a academician who previously served as the Chairman of International Relation's Department as well as Defence and Strategic Studies Department of Quaid-e-Azam University, has been working as IPRI's President.
It has been a tradition that with the change in the government the head of these institutes are also changed. No wonder Shireen's ouster was seen as the first in line. (The News on Sunday, 25 May 2008)