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Monday, 31 August 2009

Compared to what awaits the Pakistan Army in Waziristan, the Swat operation was a skirmish.

What lies in Waziristan
Monday, August 31, 2009
Zafar Hilaly

Compared to what awaits the Pakistan Army in Waziristan, the Swat operation was a skirmish. There 30,000 Taliban wait to give battle. As fighters, they are matchless and have few equals in the art of mobile warfare. Their fanaticism, ruthlessness, ability to withstand huge losses conjoined with their familiarity of terrain, and mastery of the tactics and weapons of guerrilla warfare make them a formidable enemy.

It is a small wonder that the Pakistan Army is apprehensive about taking on the Taliban in Waziristan until all preparations have been made. It is equally wondrous that the Americans, having had the bitter experience of charging into situations, ill-prepared to deal with them, would have the Pakistan Army rush in where, what to speak of fools, even angels fear to tread.

The Army should take its time. All preparations should be made; every strategy examined and re-examined and all possible forces mustered. The possibility of defeat should be eliminated. The Taliban are going nowhere; nor are we, unlike the Americans. Nor do we have a time-line to meet, like Obama, if his party is to stand a chance in the mid-term Congressional elections in 2010. The American idea that the current divisions within the Taliban should be exploited by a quick push is just wishful thinking. Nothing will unite the Taliban more than danger from an outside force. Till then, they will squabble and even kill each other periodically just as surely as they will come together when the call for battle is made. History, rather than military text books, is a better guide when it comes to devising strategy or predicting the behaviour of the Masud Taliban.

The stakes are high, inestimably so. Victory and the pacification of the tribal areas will end for a generation, if not more, any meaningful challenge to the authority of the state from extremists, irredentists and Kabul provided if success on the battlefield is followed by investment in education, job opportunities, political empowerment and the provision of speedy justice. Such steps will detoxify the tribal areas of the extremist poison that they presently exude. On the other hand, defeat will metamorphose the extremist cancer. Its growth will be exponentially rapid and assuredly end all prospects of Pakistan becoming what most strive for, a democratic, modern, progressive and tolerant Islamic polity.

There are many who feel that such a battle is needless, just as they stubbornly insist that Swat was unnecessary or indeed any operation targeting fellow Muslims unwarranted. And that peace can be achieved through arrangements and understandings reached as a result of parleys at jirgas and by prayers, homilies, appeals to Islamic solidarity, etc. They are equally wrong in thinking that battle can be avoided as the Americans are in rushing into it. They misread the adversary and his intentions.

The Taliban are no longer the well meaning, albeit naïve, rustic fundamentalists or the popular expression of Pashtun nationalism in Afghanistan. Their nature, character and goals have evolved considerably over the past decade. They are not any more mere tribals rebelling against foreign occupation, poor governance, savage repression, persecution, militarism and endemic corruption. If that were so, theirs would be a common struggle. Their credo and motives are different. They now believe that “The Kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Corinthians 4:20). They view themselves as God’s agents, the true inheritor’s of the Prophet’s (PBUH) mantle. Their mission, along with that of their ally Al Qaeda, is to cleanse the ummah and then humanity, beginning with Afghanistan and Pakistan, of imperfections by force and wanton killing, if necessary, and by guile, lies or any stratagem that works. In other words, for them the end justifies the means — any means. None of which, of course, would make them as rare a historical phenomena as they appear. What gives them this status is the extent of their following, the viciousness of their tactics and insistence that their law is His; and hence opposing them is akin to waging war on Him.

The Taliban/Al Qaeda combine have been spurred on by the disastrous performance of the regime in Kabul and because Karzai has acted like a degenerate Durrani aristocrat rather than a genuine reformist. By befriending war lords and drug barons, partaking of loot while failing to provide his wretched fellow citizens with basic amenities or a semblance of security, what to speak of justice, Karzai has immeasurably strengthened the appeal of the Taliban.

No less an encouragement for the Taliban has been the disarray of policy, thought and tactics of the Americans. They do not seem to know what they want or how to go about achieving their goals. They profess a desire to negotiate with the Taliban but fight shy of approaching them with a plan in hand. They wish to prevail over the enemy but are unwilling to commit the forces or accept the casualties that may enable them to win. They promised to deliver basic amenities, allocated vast sums, raised expectations but failed miserably to live up to the hype they generated. They swore to fight corruption and improve governance but turned a blind eye to acts of gross corruption at all levels of government and ended up being accused of colluding with the likes of Fahim and Dostum who are not only corrupt but have overtaken corruption. They proclaimed their desire to end poppy cultivation but passively surveyed vast plains of poppy fields from their armed redoubts. And while America did know why she was in Afghanistan, her leaders have no idea whether to stay or when to leave.

If Bush was incompetent and a dissembler, Obama’s mediocrity is concealed behind the majesty of his language. America, alas, is being set up for a fall by her own gaffes and miscalculations rather than the shrewdness of her adversary. If the truth be told, America cannot match the challenge that Afghanistan poses.

Pakistan should not be distracted by the real possibility of an American denouement in Afghanistan. Our course is clear, so is our objective. We wish to reclaim our territories and their population that have been lost to the Taliban. Admittedly, recapturing Waziristan will be a prolonged and deadly affair. The repercussions will impact all aspects of Pakistani life and the economy. Terrorism may touch every home in Pakistan by the time it ends. But that the attempt has to be made and Pakistan saved is beyond question. We cannot parley a shameful peace with a medieval order led by deluded warrior Muslim monks. Appeasement of the Taliban has never worked; nor will hand-wringing and blaming America suffice. Far from dousing the current flames of war, appeasement will ignite a firestorm as bigots, encouraged by signs of weakness and irresolution, step up their drive for the control of Pakistan. “Fight them,” is what polls say Pakistanis want, which is just as well because a more sinister chant emanating from a terrified world is what we will hear if we do not, or if we lose. Already a dim refrain of that is audible as India, Israel, America and the western alliance ponder plans to avert the Armageddon.

Once again, the Pakistan Army is being called upon to deliver this country from the hands of those who wish to impose their way of life on us. This time, the numerical odds may favour the army but the terrain and ferocity of the enemy makes up in spades for the adversary’s inferior numbers. Waziristan is a completely different war and the Taliban/Al Qaeda combine a vastly contrasting foe to the adversary our forces have been trained and equipped to fight. The outcome will depend not only on the bravery of our forces but also crucially on their resourcefulness and their battlefield skills. On the outcome will hinge the fate of Pakistan and perhaps beyond.

The writer is a former ambassador. Email: charles123it@hotmail.com


BB was no security risk: Beg

What an irony! Those who are the biggest threat to the national security of Pakistan (i.e. corrupt Generals of Pakistan Army) are issuing certificates about who was secruity risk and who was not.

BB was no security risk: Beg

* She told PAF to target Indian N-sites if Pakistan attacked
* Saudis funded IJI
* Blames Abida for Sharif-Asif Nawaz rift

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Former premier Benazir Bhutto was no threat to national security, former chief of army staff Mirza Aslam Beg told Daily Times Editor-in-chief Najam Sethi on Dunya TV on Sunday.

Beg said that Benazir remained “rock solid” in 1990 amid reports of conspiracy against Pakistan.

Attacks: He said when reports surfaced in 1990 that the US, the Israelis and Indians were planning to attack Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, then PM Benazir had asked Pakistan Air Force to be ready to attack India’s nuclear facilities in case Pakistan was attacked.

Money: The former army chief said Saudis had given bags full of money to Mahmood Haroon to woo politicians to join the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), which was constituted to ensure that Benazir did not return to power, and fund IJI’s election campaign.

He said Haroon had claimed that the ‘money-bags’ were so heavy that his “shoulders hurt for days”.

Rift: Beg also said former army chief Asif Nawaz and former PM Nawaz Sharif had been at odds because of former ambassador to US Abida Husssain.

He said Abida had complained to Nawaz that Asif had met some American leaders during his US visit, but had not included her in those meetings.

She had told Nawaz that Asif was conspiring against him with the US leadership. (Daily Times)


PTI demands treason case against Nawaz

Monday, August 31, 2009
By By our correspondent

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Sindh (PTI) has demanded that a treason case be registered against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for killing 15,000 people in Karachi in a military operation launched in 1992 in Sindh, especially in Karachi.

The demand was made by the provincial PTI leader Ashraf Qureshi, who stated that the disclosure of Brig Imtiaz, ex-Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief, regarding the military operation in Sindh in Nawaz Sharif’s government exposed the actual plan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, which he started in 1990 when he was chief minister Punjab.

Qureshi said that a treason case should be registered not only against Brig (retd) Imtiaz but also against Sharif who approved the military operation in Sindh.

Qureshi said that the aim of the military operation in Sindh particularly in Karachi was to destroy Sindh and its economy and the PML-N government attempted to pressurise the investors into shifting their capital to Mian Channo and other areas in Punjab for investment.

The PTI leader also urged the party chief Imran Khan to distance himself from Sharif because the aim of his politics is to damage democracy and unity among the four federating units of the country.



Brigadier Imtiaz ‘Billa’ causes predictable dissension

War of words and lack of action
In the national interest

Monday, August 31, 2009
Kamal Siddiqi

The writer is editor reporting, The News

This week was dedicated to political statements and the fact that nothing ever gets done if you leave it to our present band of leaders. When her government was attacked for not being able to ensure the supply of wheat at the price it had announced only the previous day, Sindh information minister Shazia Marri retorted that the cheap wheat was not for the middle class – “only for the poor.”

But it is another set of statements that keeps us amused. This is the proxy war of our politicians being fought through the media. On one side is Mian Nawaz Sharif and on the other are the president and the MQM and other coalition partners. In the middle stands the ex-president, retired general Perwez Musharraf. In all this, Prime Minister Gilani stands nowhere.

The week started with Brig (retired) Imtiaz “Billah” (does he have a surname?) informing us that the map of Jinnahpur was a “drama” and its publication was meant to malign a democratic party. This disclosure took place in a TV programme, and it came out of the blue. Not so say some who saw it on TV screens installed conveniently in the streets of Azizabad.

Gen Naseer Akhtar, who was corps commander at the time of the operation, also candidly admitted in the same TV programme that he had no knowledge of the Jinnahpur map, and that is why it was withdrawn by the ISPR two days after its release. This is possibly the first time such an admission has been made.

The Jinnahpur map and the “revelations” around it led to the bloody operation in Karachi, which was inherited by then-general Naseerullah Babar. Hundreds of people died in it on both sides. The MQM was declared anti-Pakistan and this was enough to justify the strong-arm tactics that were used against the party and its supporters.

But what about those soldiers and officers who did all this in the genuine belief that they were saving Pakistan from disintegration? In the words of Brig Imtiaz, “people are used on and off – and they don’t even know when and why.”

The same scene is now being played out in Balochistan. Various Baloch outfits are being declared anti-Pakistan and the whole Baloch anger against the Centre is seen in this context. There is no talk of addressing the issues of the Baloch people. Only that such moves need to be put down with a strong hand. Possibly it is this strong hand that weakens Pakistan the most.

But why has Brig Imtiaz suddenly woken up? It would be interesting to find out why Brig Imtiaz and Gen Akhtar came on TV and made this statement and who asked them to. And why should we believe them?

As if on cue, the PML-N’s information secretary, Ahsan Iqbal (once known as Mister 2010), stated that the military had initiated the operation in 1992 without taking the government of the time into confidence. The plot thickens. If such an operation could have been started without the knowledge of the prime minister of the country, something must definitely be wrong somewhere.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif claims to this day that he was not aware of the details of the army’s Kargil operation in 1999 in Kargil, and that Gen Musharraf did not fully brief him on its extent.

In response to this media offensive, Mian Nawaz Sharif opened up the gates on Balochistan. The troubles in the province are seen as a result of misrule by Gen Musharraf, and the lowest point was the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti. Bugti has become a hero for the Baloch people and his death anniversary this week led to renewed calls for the trial of Gen Musharraf for his murder.

In this, Mian Nawaz Sharif invited Bugti’s grandson, Shazain Bugti, to Lahore where he was given an unusually warm reception. In a telling speech, Mian Nawaz Sharif said that Bugti’s death was one of the most brutal acts of the dictatorship, and that exemplary punishment should be given to those responsible for his murder. In other words: get Musharraf.

However, before this could sink in, another salvo was fired — this time by retired Justice Saeeduz Zaman Siddiqui. He said in a TV programme that money was given to persuade politicians to join the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), including Mian Nawaz Sharif. The allegations by the former chief justice were substantiated by retired ISI chief Asad Durrani, who confirmed that the payments had been made. Syeda Abida Hussain, who was then a member of the PML-N, publicly acknowleged that she had received the political bribe. Now Ms Abida Hussain is with the PPP.

To be fair, this is not new information. The Mehran-gate scam, as it was known then, has been in the news in the past and all that Justice Siddiqui said was public knowledge. Again, the choice of messenger and the timing of the story was telling.

Gen Aslam Beg, the former COAS, told GEO TV that all the details of the case were public knowledge and candidly commented that the statement had been made to embarrass Mian Nawaz Sharif. It may be recalled that Justice Siddiqui played an important role in the judicial crisis that eventually led to the ouster of Justice Sajjad Ali Shah. Without going into the details of his role, as told by Justice Shah in his book Law Courts in a Glass House, we can safely assume that Justice Siddiqui is no supporter of the PPP. So why make a statement at this time?

While this test of wills and war of words continue, President Zardari trots around the globe with some of his closest advisers while Prime Minister Gilani spends time in Multan. The Zardari-Altaf Hussain meeting in London may lead to delay in the sacking of the local bodies. But it is a tough decision to take – since, besides the MQM, the other beneficiary of this move would be the PML-Q. Both PPP and PML-N members want the local bodies system to be done away with for the time being.

Amidst all this, there are also rumours that President Zardari may be meeting his predecessor as well in his tour abroad. This meeting comes at a time when the heat is being turned to bring him to book. Gen Musharraf also has some powerful allies and well wishers within and outside Pakistan. They have advised that it is not conducive for him to return to Pakistan. So far, Gen Musharraf has listened, but he is also convinced that nothing would happen to him if he were to return. However, his return would put the government in a fix.

With donors unhappy with the pace of government reforms and our prime minister insisting that the government will do its own accountability, we are unsure how we are to move ahead. Prime Minister Gilani promises that his government will set the example for good governance. What we see instead is exactly the opposite.

Why do we all talk so much – that too at the same time? On-ground realities do not seem to be on the radar of our politicians. We are more interested in showing the other person down than to work towards the uplift of Pakistan and its people. We will spend hours on TV to talk about issues that are done with and settled. But won’t have time to actually make a difference in the everyday lives of people? Will this ever change?

Email: kamal.siddiqi@thenews.com.pk (The News)


‘Billa’ causes predictable dissension

The PMLN Information Secretary, Ahsan Iqbal, has swallowed the bait and interpreted the “multi-directional” attacks made by ex-ISI and ex-IB officer Brigadier (Retd) Imtiaz Ahmad alias Billa and accused President Asif Ali Zardari of running a Dirty Tricks Special Cell in the Presidency to slander Nawaz Sharif and other PMLN leaders. But all is not what it seems to the PMLN.

What is the objective of this “slander unit”? To cut down Nawaz Sharif’s massive popularity, says Mr Iqbal. He added to the conspiracy one more unnamed element scared of “the impending two-thirds majority that the PMLN chief would get in the next parliamentary polls”. Other gains from this evil machination are: “distraction of public attention from the huge corruption in the rental power projects and demands for Musharraf’s trial on high treason charges and undoing of the 17th Amendment”. For good measure he has added to the uncanny Army-Zardari combine inside the Presidency a third party of conspirators: the PMLQ as the front for General Musharraf who wants to avoid being punished and may want to stage a comeback by maligning the PMLN. Mr Iqbal has also claimed that his party had “hundred times more” scandals of the PPP up its sleeve, “but it followed principled politics”.

But the fact is that Brigadier Billa has squirted his allegations around indiscriminately and his victims are an all-parties affair. The PMLN should have kept quiet as it did when Rehmat Shah Afridi was allowed his moment in the sun. The TV channels are trotting Billa around to sell their time, but the man will get nowhere in the end. Mr Iqbal should have listened to Prime Minister Gilani when he said Billa was out to discredit all politicians.

The unwitting distraction offered by Billa is from the “national consensus” on hanging Musharraf. But hanging Musharraf may not be the top priority all over the world. For instance, the Friends of Democratic Pakistan, who keep us economically alive, think that the demand to “hang Musharraf” is a distraction from the more urgent task of fighting terrorism. (Daily Times)


Sunday, 30 August 2009

PML-N wants Musharraf, Kayani tried under Article 6

PML-N wants Musharraf, Kayani tried under Article 6

LAHORE: The PML-N wants the trial of former president Pervez Musharraf and all his abettors, including then ISI DG and present COAS Gen Ashfaq Kayani, under Article 6 of the constitution, a private TV channel reported. Talking to the channel, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif’s spokesman Zaeem Qadri said the PML-N wanted the trial of Musharraf’s aides for abetting his unconstitutional actions. Asked if that meant trying Gen Kayani as well, Qadri said Kayani fell under the category of Musharraf’s aides as he had also seconded Musharraf’s actions in his capacity as the ISI chief. daily times monitor


The ISI-Nawaz Sharif alliance: Too old to remember?

Reinventing history —Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

The current debate in the electronic and print media on the 1992 security operation, first in rural Sindh and the then in Karachi, is not a non-partisan, fact-based study. The debate is highly polemical and divisive, which could undermine interactions among the political parties

Political developments in Pakistan over the last couple of weeks show that there is a deliberate attempt to reinvent history regarding the 1992 security operation in Karachi, ISI funding to anti-PPP political leaders in 1990, and Pervez Musharraf’s trial for high treason. This is being done against the backdrop of the “minus one, two or all” formulas and the stories about dubious American presence in and around Islamabad.

The key issue is why these stories are being re-told. Is the aim to search for the truth or are these narratives meant to demonstrate how the army/intelligence agencies can manipulate and buy off politicians?

Perhaps some retired officers want their role as history-makers acknowledged, as none of them seems to regret the fact that they helped undermine democracy and caused distortions in politics and society. These stories may also aim to divide political leaders and parties by reminding them of their ‘free-for-all’ struggle for power during the 1990s civilian interlude between the Zia and Musharraf military governments.

The past is relevant to the present and the future if history is examined in a dispassionate, comprehensive and non-partisan manner to understand historical processes in their proper contexts.

Many political groups adopt the ‘pick and chose’ approach towards history to justify the on-going political expediency. Those wanting to dominate the present and the future often want to control the past in order to justify their current agendas.

The current debate in the electronic and print media on the 1992 security operation, first in rural Sindh and the then in Karachi, is not a non-partisan, fact-based study. The debate is highly polemical and divisive, which could undermine interactions among the political parties whose role is crucial to the smooth functioning of the on-going political order.

There is nothing new in the information on the ISI funding some anti-PPP political leaders prior to the 1990 general elections. Its details are on record at least since June 1996, when the then Director General ISI submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court. This issue is being revived thirteen years later ostensibly to add to the current political controversies. Most political leaders denied accepting any money from the ISI when their names became public in 1996. They are not expected to change their position now. However, the revival of the issue engages the attention of political leaders of all kinds.

The third issue dominating the current political discourse is the prosecution of General Pervez Musharraf for high treason under Article 6 of the constitution in light of the Supreme Court judgement of July 31, 2009. The PMLN is spearheading the campaign for the trial of Musharraf, although it is clear to its leadership that they are not going to succeed. The Jama’at-e Islami is also championing this cause. The Jamiat-e Ahle-e Hadees (another Islamic party) and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf are also supporting a trial of Musharraf.

This issue has polarised the political forces. The PMLN and the JI are using this issue to build pressure on the PPP-led government at the federal level. The PMLN and the MQM are engaging in polemical exchanges on the issue as well, because the MQM is opposed to the PMLN proposal for the trial of Musharraf.

The ‘minus one, two or all’ formulas for removal of top people in the government have evoked interest in political quarters. Some would like to see Asif Ali Zardari removed from power, while others would prefer the entire PPP government to be removed. This is being coupled with a propaganda campaign about increased corruption in various government agencies; and some are going to the extent of accusing people in and around the presidency of involvement in shady financial deals.

It would be interesting to track the source of these ‘minus’ proposals. If they were floated by some political circles opposed to President Zardari, there is not much to worry about; they can be described as part of the polemical debate between the government and some elements in the opposition. However, it becomes a serious matter if some elements in the ISI or the MI have directly floated the proposal or encouraged some political elements to do so. That could have serious implications for the future of the political system.

On top of all this is the issue of expansion of the American embassy in Islamabad, including the presence of some American troops. A section of the media, along with Islamic political parties and circles, has described this as the setting up of an American military outpost that would be a challenge to Pakistan’s sovereignty. This debate, based less on facts and more on emotions, deflects attention away from Pakistan’s current acute problems and increases political pressure on the government.

The simultaneous surfacing of these five issues does not appear to be accidental. It is a planned effort to divide and fragment political forces. The underlying idea is to divide them so sharply that they are no longer in a position to work together.

The major political parties have shown much restraint in their interactions after the February 2008 elections. Despite their differences and complaints against each other, they have not resorted to free-for-all war against each other because they now recognise that unrestrained competition would uproot the democratic experiment, and all of them would lose to religious extremists and the military-bureaucratic elite.

If the dynamics of the current effort to reinvent the conflicts of the 1990s is not fully appreciated by the political forces, they will fall into the trap of those who have no stake in the present system or want to weaken it to wrest the political initiative. It is interesting that the 1990 ISI funding and the 1992 episode are being reinvented though retired army/intelligence officers who could hardly be sympathetic to the present-day political leadership.

The experience of the 1990s suggests that all minus-prime minister formulas were implemented with the blessings of the army chief, and prior to the removal, stories of corruption and mismanagement appeared in the press.

If the minus one or all formula does not have the blessing of the army/intelligence agencies, there is nothing to worry about, because such formulas cannot be implemented without their support. If the formulas have the blessings of some elements in the army and its intelligence agencies, this reflects a shift in the orientation of the top brass from professionalism to cautious dabbling in politics. It would be unfortunate if some elements have started toying with such an idea because, under the present circumstances, the military will be confronted with a more complex situation, compromising its capacity to counter terrorism.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst


Saturday, 29 August 2009

Province-like admin structure approved for NAs. Thank you, PPP.

Long live democracy, long live PPP. Historical reforms for the Northern Areas of Pakistan approved by the PPP Government.

Province-like admin structure approved for NAs

ISLAMABAD: The province-like administration structure has been approved in federal cabinet with Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani in chair, Geo News reported Saturday.

Addressing a press conference flanked by Federal Information Minister Qamaruz Zaman Kaira, he said 15-member administrative council will see about the matters of Northern Areas; the council will choose the chief minister.

The PM said a committee has been constituted for the Northern Areas, adding all the stakeholders have been taken in confidence on Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment Act.

Previously, it was Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) that worked for Northern Areas, the PM said.

The Northern Areas, renamed in cabinet meeting as Gilgit-Baltistan will have a Chief Minister and six ministers along with three technocrat seats and two women seats, he informed.

The cabinet of Gilgit-Baltistan will approve their budget; however, the federation will appoint the governor.

He said Auditor General and election Commissioner would be appointed in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Commenting on secrets unfolded by former military officers, he said these statements should lead us to question why these today’s speakers kept silent for that long period, adding, ‘We want to abolish 17th amendment and 58-2B.’

‘We want harmony in powers of President and Prime Minister..and all the national institutions including military are working in their deputed jurisdiction,’ he added.

Cabinet approves self-rule for NAs

* Northern Areas to be named Gilgit-Baltistan
* Governor to be appointed by president, CM to be elected by legislative assembly
* Kaira to act as governor until elections in region

By Irfan Ghauri

ISLAMABAD: In its special meeting on Saturday, the federal cabinet approved the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order 2009, which would be implemented through a presidential ordinance to be promulgated shortly.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who chaired the meeting, later told reporters that replacing the Northern Areas Governance Order 1994, Gilgit-Baltistan had been proposed as the new official name of the Northern Areas where a governor would be appointed by the president to represent the federation.

Kaira: Until elections for the legislative assembly take place, Federal Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas Qamar Zaman Kaira would act as governor.

The new order also proposed that the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly – whose elections are likely to be held by the end of the year – should elect a chief minister.

The legislative assembly would consist of 30 members, 24 to be elected directly and six on reserved seats for women and technocrats. The chief minister would be assisted by six ministers and would be authorised to appoint two additional advisers. The Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly would have powers to make laws on 61 subjects while the council would deal with 55 subjects.

To empower the council and the assembly on financial matters, there would be a council-consolidated fund under Article 54, and the Gilgit-Baltistan Consolidated Fund under Article 55 of the 2009 law. The annual budget would be presented before the Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly as is the practice in the provinces.

The chief judge of the Supreme Appellate Court would be appointed by the chairman of the council on the advice of the governor. The number of judges would be increased from three to five and the tenure of the present judges of the superior judiciary would be protected under the new order. (Daily Times).

Rescuing the Northern Areas

Some people think that the self-governance reforms package for the Northern Areas announced on Saturday is already too little too late. But given how many things are nowhere near solution in the country, the PPP government has taken the right step. The Northern Areas will be Gilgit-Baltistan from now on, with its own elected Assembly, albeit in parallel to an independent Council working under a centre-appointed governor.

The PMLN could have opposed it simply because the change will favour the PPP, but it hasn’t, which is a sign of maturity. In its earlier tenure in power, the PPP had allowed party politics in the region, which had immediately led to the dominance of the party there. But in democracy, some things done for short term political gain finally turn out to be good for everyone in the long run. The important thing for this increasingly disturbed border region is that it has got self-rule.

The PMLN has welcomed the big change of status. It is quite clear why it has done so. During its rule it had discovered that the Northern Areas were ruled entirely from the point of view of “national security” and there was little that the central government could do — despite the political parties’ activities there — because the locus of power in Gilgit was firmly in the hands of the army.

The Northern Areas’ nationalism has developed in opposition to the constitutional limbo in the region. It was accepted by the state as a part of Kashmir in international treaties. Azad Kashmir claimed it for that reason and challenged an early law of 1949 that had separated it “administratively”. The people of Gilgit-Baltistan claim they had liberated themselves from Kashmir at Partition and want the status of a separate province. Like Balochistan and the NWFP, this nationalism too is focusing on the possession of natural resources and water and energy assets. Because they were representationally suppressed, a fringe began to call for “Free Balawaristan”.

Representation and freedom of party politics will undo some more serious damage done by two military rulers. General Zia-ul Haq, fighting a relocated Iran-Saudi sectarian war, allowed Sunni lashkars into the region in 1988 to cut the Shia majority down to size. This was a useless bloodletting in an area where the people were generally peace-loving. The Ismaili ethos of tolerance and tranquility represented by Hunza prevailed even among the Twelver Shia.

The tragedy of Gilgit-Baltistan sprang from its designation as an area of “strategic importance”. It faces Ladakh across the border in Indian-administered Kashmir. For countless years, the Pakistan Army eyed Ladakh for a set-piece battle with India, and each army chief was presented with a scenario of victory. Then General Musharraf came along and thought he could pull it off. In the process, the people of Gilgit-Baltistan went into another phase of sectarian massacres.

General Musharraf did not care that some of the “non-state actors” he was using at Kargil were savagely anti-Shia. After the fiasco of Kargil, sectarianism has never stopped raising its ugly head in the region and will take the salve of democracy now to heal. Religious leaders were killed under General Musharraf. Textbooks prescribed by bureaucrats were rejected. People arose against choices made in Islamabad of fundamentalist commissioners at Gilgit. And the local military commanders applied the iron fist indiscriminately.

If there is extremism in Gilgit-Baltistan today it should not surprise us. But the process of election, good governance and sense of participation will gradually lead to acceptance. The Karakoram Highway has opened up the region economically; the construction of Basha Dam will bring wealth and prosperity. Above all, the opening up of this heretofore “strategic” area to the media will tell the people of Pakistan for the first time what has been going on there and what should be done to bind the old wounds.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) has opposed the self-governance package because it hopes to liberate Jammu & Kashmir from both India and Pakistan and give it the status of a sovereign state. But anyone who has taken a close look at the people of Gilgit-Baltistan knows that their demand has been for a separate province within Pakistan, based on their belief that they are not Kashmiris. The JKLF can fight the next Gilgit-Baltistan election and see where it stands with the people. That is its right. (Daily Times)

A step in the right direction —Rasul Bakhsh Rais

Since Gilgit-Baltistan was part of the Jammu and Kashmir state, its fate became linked to which way the disputed state would go. This was implicitly the reason for the six-decades-long delay in restructuring the governance of the region

Granting a sort of autonomy, or self-rule, to the Gilgit-Baltistan region is the first critical step in the right direction. This is something that the people of the region have been demanding for a very long time.

But is the proposed structure of self-governance that is going to be implemented through a presidential ordinance enough, or do we need more in terms of autonomy from the outset of reforms than wait for further political demands? Have we, in this sense, neglected Gilgit-Baltistan?

The people of this rugged and difficult region have their own individuality and a sense of ethnic identity that has been shaped by history and geography over a long period of time. There is no doubt that this sparsely populated, vast region has diverse communities within it, but at the same time there are overlapping bonds of religion, language and social networks.

Parallel to unifying themes, there are also distinctive feelings among communities at the local level, a pattern similar to the social patchwork that we see in mountain communities.

Unlike tribal communities, the social networks that we have observed in Gilgit-Baltistan are essentially non-feudal, less hierarchical and more open to social change and development than even mainstream areas in the rest of Pakistan. One is greatly impressed by how local communities have embraced the idea of education, community organisation and development, often in competition to outdo others in achieving social and developmental objectives.

The people of Gilgit-Baltistan rightly take pride in liberating themselves from the Raja of Kashmir in 1947 and unconditionally acceding to Pakistan. This region like many others in the subcontinent had changed hands among local and foreign rulers before the Raja of Jammu and Kashmir annexed it in his ambitious quest of empire building.

Since Gilgit-Baltistan was part of the Jammu and Kashmir state, its final fate became linked to which way the disputed state would go. This was implicitly the reason for the six-decades-long delay in restructuring the governance of the region. In fact, equally crucial was the act in 1948 to separate Gilgit-Baltistan from what became known as Azad Kashmir or the Pakistani part of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir state.

It is interesting that Kashmiri nationalists on both sides of the Line of Control claim Gilgit-Baltistan as an inherent part of the Jammu and Kashmir state. The Indian government also took a similar position when it raised questions about Pakistan’s border demarcation agreement with China in 1963. In fact, Pakistan and China while signing the border agreement added a proviso that it was subject to the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

In the coming weeks and months, we will see a storm of protest from Kashmiri nationalists and even mainstream Kashmiri leaders over granting self-rule to Gilgit-Baltistan. One of the fundamental reasons Gilgit-Baltistan couldn’t get the status of a province was our interest in placating Kashmiris’ feelings.

There are two important issues that we need to discuss in this regard. First, who should really determine who the people of Gilgit-Baltistan are? No external power and group can fix the identity of any community. What is important in this case and universally acknowledged is how the people define themselves and the identity they give to themselves.

In our part, there are two sides to such identities, territorial and linguist-ethnic. The latter is much fuzzier because the territorial units we have evolved over centuries are not ethnically exclusive but contain other ethnic and linguistic groups. Gilgit-Baltistan has a territorial identity and a deep sense of historicity. But its linguistic particularities that are natural features of mountain communities living in isolated valleys are not too sharp to divide them into smaller identities.

How do the people of Gilgit-Baltistan define themselves? They may have petty regional differences, and sub-regional identities like Hunza and Nagar, but they don’t refer to themselves as Kashmiris. The only thing apparently common with the state of Jammu and Kashmir is their being subject to foreign rule against their will, and against which they rebelled and secured their freedom. But their freedom from the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir was unfortunately followed by direct federal rule from Islamabad in an independent Pakistan. But then the complex triangle of Kashmir, India and Pakistan and the sensitivities of the Kashmiri leaders that we have supported unconditionally at a great cost and may continue to do so were resistant in recognising the historic name and character of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The name sounds so natural and comes so easy on tongue than the bureaucratic characterisation of this historic people as the “Northern Areas of Pakistan”. The title Islamabad gave to this region and its people was devoid of human touch, as if territory mattered more than the people who have lived there for thousands of years.

The people in fact matter when they are granted the identity they wish to adopt, freedoms, and autonomy within a national framework of the state. There is no conflict and cannot be conflict between a national government and a region and province when powers are adequately devolved to the units to their satisfaction. This kind of federalism is a necessity in ethnically diverse countries like Pakistan.

Recognising self-rule for Gilgit-Baltistan should be considered a first instalment of governance reform with the objective of giving it the full status of province. The region has all the essential features, strengths, resources and more importantly political aspirations to become a province. The size of population should never matter in recognising such an historical realities; just cast a look at the variations in the sizes of American states: what matters is history for Rhode Island, Delaware and New Hampshire and not their demographic strength compared to California and New York.

The decision that the PPP and its coalition partners have taken in recognising rights of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan is courageous and politically mature. More than that it will pull the people of this region out of administrative mumbo-jumbo and set them on a clear path of political evolution to a province. It would be better and more far reaching if provincial status for Gilgit-Baltistan is settled in the constitutional reform package now, than to leave it for future political dispensations.

Finally, Kashmiri nationalists lack sound reasons for tagging Gilgit-Baltistan to Jammu and Kashmir. In their own struggle, what matters is their sense of identity, constitutive elements of community and historical facts that they believe separate them from the rest. Why then do they deny the same right to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan to define who they are and what type of political arrangements they want for themselves?

Dr Rasul Bakhsh Rais is author of Recovering the Frontier State: War, Ethnicity and State in Afghanistan (Oxford University Press, 2008) and a professor of Political Science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He can be reached at rasul@lums.edu.pk (Daily Times)

گلگت بلتستان: اصلاحات پر تحفظات

بلستان، فائل فوٹو

ہنزہ کو ایک سے زائد نشستیں دینے کے مطالبے کے لیے تمام جماعتوں نے بدھ کو ہنزہ میں ہڑتال اور احتجاجی جلسہ بھی کیا: مقامی صحافی

چھ اضلاع پر مشتمل پاکستان کے شمالی علاقہ جات کو’گلگت بلتستان‘ کے نام سے نئی انتظامی حیثیت دینے کے بارے میں جاری کردہ صدارتی آرڈیننس پر متعلقہ علاقوں کے زیادہ تر لوگ تو خوش ہیں لیکن اب بھی کچھ معاملات کے بارے میں جہاں گلگت اور بلتستان کے لوگوں کو تحفظات ہیں وہاں بیشتر کشمیری رہنماؤں کو بھی سخت اعتراضات ہیں۔

بیس لاکھ سے زیادہ آبادی اور اور تقریباً تہتر ہزار مربع کلومیٹر کے رقبے پر پھیلے’گلگت بلتستان‘ کے بعض فریقین کا مطالبہ ہے کہ سابق فوجی حکمران پرویز مشرف کے دور میں ہنزہ اور نگر کو ملا کر ’ہنزہ نگر‘ کے نام سے جو ساتواں ضلع بنانے کا وعدہ کیا گیا تھا وہ صدر آصف علی زرداری کی جاری کردہ اصلاحات کا حصہ نہیں ہے۔

بعض مقامی صحافیوں کا کہنا ہے کہ سب سے زیادہ اعتراض ہنزہ کو قانون ساز اسمبلی میں صرف ایک سیٹ دینے پر ہے۔ ان کا کہنا ہے کہ حکمران پیپلز پارٹی سے لے کر مذہبی جماعتوں تک سب اس بارے میں متفق ہیں کہ ہنزہ کی ایک سیٹ بڑھائی جائے کیونکہ ہنزہ کی آبادی اب سوا لاکھ سے بھی زیادہ ہے اور محض ایک سیٹ کافی نہیں۔

ان کا یہ بھی کہنا ہے کہ جب ہنزہ سے ملحقہ علاقے نگر کو قانون ساز اسمبلی میں دو نشستیں ہیں تو ہنزہ کی کیوں نہیں؟۔ تمام جماعتوں نے اپنا مطالبہ منوانے کے لیے بدھ کو ہنزہ میں ہڑتال اور احتجاجی جلسہ بھی کیا۔ لیکن تاحال پاکستان کی حکومت نے اس بارے میں کوئی ردِ عمل ظاہر نہیں کیا۔

’گلگت بلتستان‘ کے نام سے صوبے نما انتظامی حیثیت سے نئی بننے والی اس اِکائی کے متعلق کشمیر کی بیشتر سیاسی جماعتوں کے اعتراضات متعلقہ علاقے کے لوگوں سے یکسر مختلف ہیں۔ علیحدگی پسند کشمیری رہنما امان اللہ خان سے لے کر جماعت اسلامی کے عبدالرشید ترابی سمیت اکثر کو اعتراض گلگت اور بلتستان کو پاکستان کے زیر انتظام کشمیر سے جدا کر کے علیحدہ انتظامی حیثیت دینے پر ہے۔

’گلگت بلتستان‘ کے نام سے صوبہ نما انتظامی حیثیت سے نئی بننے والی اس اِکائی کے متعلق کشمیر کی بیشتر سیاسی جماعتوں کے اعتراضات متعلقہ علاقے کے لوگوں سے یکسر مختلف ہیں۔ علیحدگی پسند کشمیری رہنما امان اللہ خان سے لے کر جماعت اسلامی کے عبدالرشید ترابی سمیت اکثر کو اعتراض گلگت اور بلتستان کو پاکستان کے زیر انتظام کشمیر سے جدا کر کے علیحدہ انتظامی حیثیت دینے پر ہے۔

یہ اعتراض کرنے والے کشمیری رہنماؤں نے خدشہ ظاہر کیا ہے کہ اصل میں بیرونی دباؤ کی وجہ سے پاکستان کی حکومت نے یہ فیصلہ کیا ہے۔ ان کے مطابق اس سے ایک تو کشمیر کی تقسیم کی راہ ہموار ہوجائے گی اور بھارت کو موقع مل جائے گا کہ وہ کنٹرول لائن کو عالمی سرحد تسلیم کرانے کے لیے پاکستان پر دباؤ بڑھا سکے۔

جبکہ حکومت ان کے خدشات کو مسترد کرتے ہوئے کہتی ہے کہ پیپلز پارٹی نے شمالی علاقہ جات کے عوام کو سیاسی، انتظامی، مالی اور عدالتی طور پر خودمختار کرنے کا وعدہ پورا کیا ہے۔ صدر کے ترجمان فرحت اللہ بابر کے مطابق گلگت اور بلتستان کے متعلق پہلی بار ذوالفقار علی بھٹو نے انیس سو پچہتر میں اصلاحات کیں، بعد میں انیس سو چورانوے میں بینظیر بھٹو نے اور اب صدر آصف علی زرداری نے خودمختاری دی ہے۔

حکومتی اصلاحات کے مطابق ’گلگت بلتستان‘ کے لیے بالغ رائے دہی کی بنا پر چوبیس اراکین پر مشتمل قانون ساز اسمبلی ہوگی، ان کا اپنا وزیراعلٰی اور گورنر ہوگا۔ نئی انتظامی اِکائی کی اپنی سپریم کورٹ، الیکشن کمیشن، آڈیٹر جنرل اور دیگر اعلیٰ انتظامی افسران ہوں گے۔ اسمبلی کو اکسٹھ معاملات کے بارے میں قانون سازی کا اختیار ہوگا، وغیرہ وغیرہ۔

’گلگت بلتستان‘ کو آزاد حیثیت دینے کا حکومتی دعوٰی اپنی جگہ لیکن بعض ماہرین کا کہنا ہے کہ ان کی تمام تر آزادیاں اب بھی اسلام آباد کے ایک حکم کی غلام رہیں گی۔ لیکن اس میں کوئی شبہہ نہیں کہ اس طرح کی ملنے والی خودمختاری پر بھی بیشتر مقامی لوگ خوش ہیں اور مقامی صحافیوں کے مطابق ہزاروں شہریوں نے سڑکوں پر نکل اپنی خوشی کا اظہار بھی کیا۔

اگر تاریخی حقائق کو دیکھا جائے تو گلگت اور بلتستان کے لوگوں کی اس خوشی کے پیچھے ان کی ایک صدی سے بھی زیادہ عرصہ کی وہ محرومیاں ہیں جو ان کی کئی نسلیں بھگتتی رہی ہیں۔ سولہ مارچ اٹھارہ سو چھیالیس کو جب سکھوں کو شکست دے کر انگریزوں نے امرتسر میں گلاب سنگھ سے ایک معاہدے کے تحت کشمیر کی حکمرانی پچہتر لاکھ روپوں کے عوض گلاب سنگھ کے حوالے کی تو اس وقت گلگت اور بلتستان کشمیر کا حصہ نہیں تھا۔

ہنزہ، فائل فوٹو

پاکستان نے کشمیر کو جب ’آزاد درجہ‘ دیا تو کئی دہائیوں تک کشمیر کا دم چھلا بنے ہوئے شمالی علاقہ جات کو ’آزاد کشمیر‘ میں بھی کوئی مقام نہیں ملا

ڈوگرہ راج دریائے سندھ تک تو تھا لیکن بعد میں جب گلاب رائے کے صاحبزادے رنبیر سنگھ بادشاہ بنے تو ان کی افواج نے گلگت اور بلتستان کو فتح کرکے کشمیر کا حصہ بنا لیا۔ لیکن بعد میں ان کی گرفت کمزور پڑی اور حالات بدلتے رہے لیکن انیس سو سینتالیس کو جب پاکستان بنا تو سنہ اڑتالیس کی پہلی پاک، بھارت جنگ کی اقوام متحدہ نے فائر بندی کروائی اور کنٹرول لائن پر دونوں ممالک میں اتفاق ہوا تو پاکستان کے زیر انتظام آنے والے کشمیر کے ساتھ گلگت اور بلتستان کو بھی شامل رکھا گیا۔

جس کی بڑی وجہ بھارت اور پاکستان کے درمیان منقسم کشمیر کے متلعق اقوام متحدہ کی اکیس اپریل انیس سو اڑتالیس کو منظور کردہ وہ قرارداد تھی جس میں کہا گیا تھا کہ منقسم کشمیر کا حتمی فیصلہ حقِ رائے دہی کی بنا پر کیا جائے گا۔

پاکستان نے اپنے زیر انتظام کشمیر کو جب ’آزاد درجہ‘ دیا تو کئی دہائیوں تک شمالی علاقہ جات کو ’آزاد کشمیر‘ میں بھی کوئی مقام نہیں ملا۔ اس پورے عرصہ میں شمالی علاقہ جات حقِ رائے دہی کے چکر میں برائے نام تو کشمیر کا حصہ رہا لیکن وہاں کے شہریوں کو بہت سے معاملات میں پاکستانی شہریوں جیسے حقوق یا درجہ بھی نہیں دیا گیا۔ لیکن اس کے باوجود بھی اس علاقے کے لوگوں نے کارگل کی جنگ میں پاکستان کی لاج رکھی اور لالک نامی سپاہی نے پاکستان کا سب سے بڑا فوجی اعزاز نشانِ حیدر حاصل کیا۔

انیس سو تریسٹھ میں جب اس وقت کے وزیر خارجہ ذوالفقار علی بھٹو نے اپنے چینی ہم منصب کے ساتھ سرحدوں کے متعلق ایک معاہدے پر دستخط کیے توگلگت اور بلتستان سے متصل پانچ ہزار ایک سو اسی مربع کلومیٹر کا علاقہ چین کے حوالے کیا گیا۔ اس معاہدے کے مطابق چین اور پاکستان نے طے کیا کہ جب مسئلہ کشمیر کا معاملات حل ہوجائے گا تو دونوں ممالک اس علاقے اور سرحدی حد بندیوں کے بارے میں دوبارہ مزاکرات سے معاملات طے کریں گے۔

انیس سو تریسٹھ میں جب اس وقت کے وزیر خارجہ ذوالفقار علی بھٹو نے اپنے چینی ہم منصب کے ساتھ سرحدوں کے متعلق ایک معاہدے پر دستخط کیے توگلگت اور بلتستان سے متصل پانچ ہزار ایک سو اسی مربع کلومیٹر کا علاقہ چین کے حوالے کیا گیا۔ اس معاہدے کے مطابق چین اور پاکستان نے طے کیا کہ جب مسئلہ کشمیر کا معاملہ حل ہوجائے گا تو دونوں ممالک اس علاقے اور سرحدی حد بندیوں کے بارے میں دوبارہ مذاکرات سے معاملات طے کریں گے۔

چار صفحات اور سات شقوں پر مشتل انیس سو تریسٹھ کے پاک، چین معاہدے میں یہ کہیں نہیں لکھا کہ چین کو دیے گیے علاقے میں آباد لوگ بھی کشمیر کی رائے دہی میں حصہ لیں گے۔ لیکن پاکستان کے زیر انتظام کشمیر کے ایک سیاسی رہنما سردار خالد ابراہیم کا دعویٰ ہے کہ اس معاہدے کی رو سے چین کے حوالے کردہ علاقے کے لوگ بھی حق رائے دہی میں حصہ لینے کے حقدار ہیں


Go America Go, Jamaat-e-Islmai, General Zia-ul-Haq and the enemy within

Mullah Munawar Hassan's column in today's Jang for an anti-USA alliance in Pakistan:

Contrast the above column with Nadeem Paracha's critique a few weeks ago:

Gone fishing

Looking at one of the many anti-US banners put up by the Jamat Islami before their June 28 rally, (saying ‘Go America Go,’ and ‘We hate America’), instantly reminded me of a rather ironic episode many years ago.

While studying as a Graduate student at a local college in Karachi in the mid and late 1980s, I was a member of a progressive student organisation.

In early 1987, the organisation at the collage decided to hold a rally against the United States government that was aiding the Ziaul Haq dictatorship and the so-called anti-Soviet Jihad in Afghanistan.

A hundred or so students gathered outside the college’s recreational hall and canteen, chanting anti-Zia, anti-US and pro-democracy slogans.

Then a few of us also made some fiery speeches denouncing the US government of Ronald Reagan whom we blamed for financing an authoritarian regime and its manufactured jihad.

I remember, as soon as one of my colleagues finished his speech and we started chanting slogans again - mostly in an attempt to provoke the police contingents stationed just outside the college premises – one hot-headed student activist suddenly whipped out an American flag from the back-pocket of his jeans.

There was a sudden hush for a second or two, before my colleague asked me for a lighter. Instead, I offered him a cigarette, thinking he wanted to smoke.

‘Nai, nai, comrade, lighter dey, lighter!’ (No, comrade, give me the lighter).

After lighting a cigarette for myself, and still not sure what he wanted to do with my lighter, I handed it over to him.

He ran towards the guy with the American flag whom I now saw desperately trying to light a match, as the flag lay on the ground in front of him.

Ah, I thought. Today we’ll be burning the American flag.

Suddenly, anticipating what was about to happen, we started to chant anti-Zia and anti-US slogans even louder, all the while gathering stones, rocks and pebbles, so when the expected assault from the cops came, we’ll be prepared.

Some of us even went inside the canteen to fill empty soft-drink bottles with petrol and stuff their tops with pieces of thin cloth, turning them into Molotov Cocktails.

We hurried back outside so not to miss the flag-burning spectacle and the glory of confronting ‘Zia’s tyrannical thugs’ (the police)!

But what I saw wasn’t what we had anticipated.

Forty or so members of the Islami Jamiat Taleba (IJT) – the Jamat Islami’s student-wing – had gate-crashed the rally. And guess they were asking us not to do? Burn the US flag.

I moved towards the site of the bickering, emptying my Molotov Cocktail, but retaining the bottle.

‘Kyoon? (Why?),’ I shouted. ‘Why shouldn’t we put the flag on fire? Kya Reagan tera chacha lagta hai!’ (Is Regan your paternal uncle)?”

A ripple of laughter and nervous giggles cut across the gathering.

‘Haan, (yes),’ the IJT leader screamed back. ‘Jiss taraan Marx tera mamu lagta hai! (Just like [Karl] Marx is your maternal uncle).’

Smiling, my colleague threw the lighter to the guy with the flag that had already been drenched with petrol.

‘You guys have been burning our flags, for too long now,’ he told the IJT activist. ‘Ab hum tumarey baap ka jhandah jalian gey (Now we will put your dad’s flag on fire).’

‘We won’t let you,’ the IJT guy insisted. ‘America is helping us fight kafirs (read: the Soviets). Reagan is an ally of Pakistan (and thus, Islam), and we will not tolerate any disrespect against our allies in this war!’

But before he could add more to his typical Cold-War-speak, the flag went up in flames.

Chaos followed. Dozens more IJT members barged into the college, and the rally turned into a free-for-all.

Fists, knuckle-dusters, knives, stones and empty soft-drink bottles were used by both parties in the eruptive rumble.

As we gave one another broken jaws, split lips, bashed heads, stab wounds, the cops remained unmoved.

After about twenty minutes of fighting, the IJT members finally moved off the campus, carrying their wounded, while we carried ours into the canteen.

The fight ended when some students resorted to aerial firing. I’m not sure from whose side the shots came.

I am not proud of this episode, as such. In fact, I kind of feel silly about it now; about breaking heads to allow (or not allow) a small symbolic gesture that wouldn’t have made the slightest of dent on the flow of history.

But I couldn’t resist relating this event here after seeing that ‘Go America, Go,’ banner of the Jamat Islami.

The banner at best amused me, as I also recalled the interviews given by JI founder, Abul Ala Maududi’s son, Haider Maududi, who is himself a well-known scholar.

Talking to Pakistan’s English Daily, The Nation, in 1999, Haider said: ‘My father would not allow his children to go near Jihad, but would sell this idea to millions of others …’ [1]; [2]

In another interview, Haider accused the JI of hypocrisy, saying that most of the children of leading JI figures are leading comfortable lives in the United States while the JI is asking the Pakistanis to shun the US. [3]

Each one of us who ever pretended to hold and propagate a lofty ideology at some point in time is guilty of being a hypocrite of some sort. It’s hard not to be one with an holier than thou attitude that is almost impossible in the modern world to live by.

But history most certainly is the cruellest to JI when it comes to counting contradictions and episodes of sheer political charlatan-ism.

These negative episodes of double-speak and action quite easily outweigh JI’s positive undertakings, leaving the party hanging in the air, usually advocating action that the party itself had either denounced in the past, or its leaders are contradicting in the present - perhaps thinking that Pakistanis are too naïve to notice?

It is this attitude and history of the Jamat that has rendered the organisation to become only a pale reflection of what it was some twenty-five years ago.

Theirs is a history of contradiction and desperate pragmatism; a desperation and maybe a case of ideological bankruptcy that was so well encapsulated by that rhetorical ‘Go America Go’ banner.

One of the IJT guys who didn’t want us to burn the US flag eventually became a colleague of mine at a daily newspaper that we joined in 1991. He is now settled in the US. I emailed him the picture of the banner that I took with my mobile phone.

His reply to my email was short but potent: ‘Yes,’ he wrote. ‘Most probably the Jamat guy who made this banner, already has his passport sent to the US Embassy for a visa.’

Finally, this revelation in Tanvir Qaiser Shahdi's article about General Zia's role during the USA-sponsored Jihad (Fasad) days:


Can we have dialogue with these cirminals (as per the wishes of Imran Khan, Dr Israr Ahmed and Mullah Munawar Hasan)?

At Least 22 Dead in Pakistan Bombing

Ali Imam/Reuters

A border guard injured in a suicide bombing that killed at least 22 people was brought into a hospital on Thursday in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Published: August 27, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide attacker pretending to offer food to a group of tribal police officers detonated his explosives among them on Thursday, killing at least 22 people as they gathered to break the Ramadan fast on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, officials and witnesses said.

The attack in Torkham, a post on the main route for moving supplies to NATO and American forces in Afghanistan, took place just before dusk, as the men prepared to eat on the lawn outside their barracks. Because the attacker offered food, he was welcomed to join the gathering in accordance with local tradition during Ramadan, said Sajid Khan, a policeman who witnessed the attack.

A militant group affiliated with the Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack, and a spokesman for the group called a local reporter to warn of further strikes against security forces if Pakistan did not stop NATO supplies from passing through its territory.

Medical workers described a chaotic scene at the local hospital and the blast site.

“So far, we have 22 bodies brought here, but there are many others, so we don’t know the exact casualty figures,” said Zar Alam Shinwari, a local doctor. “We have asked for ambulances from other towns. The situation is bad.”

It was unclear how many of the dead were police officers.

The group that claimed responsibility, the Dr. Abdullah Azzam Brigade, is based in the Orakzai tribal region and is named after a fiery Palestinian scholar who was a mentor toOsama bin Laden and was killed in a car bomb in Peshawar in 1989.

Earlier on Thursday, at least six people were killed in the South Waziristan tribal region in a missile strike by a remotely controlled United States aircraft aimed at a meeting of local Taliban militants, according to security officials in the area.

The attack took place in the town of Kanigurram, in an area considered to be a stronghold of Waliur Rehman, the man the Taliban chose as its regional leader after Baitullah Mehsud, the head of the Pakistani Taliban, died from injuries suffered in a drone attackearly this month.

A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the number of dead from the strike could rise and that it could include some foreign militants.

Ismail Khan reported from Peshawar, and Pir Zubair Shah from Islamabad. Salman Masood and Lydia Polgreen contributed reporting from Islamabad. (The New York Times)


Dr A Q Khan, yet another case of plagiarisation after "the Holland copy paste"?

Careless neglect?
Monday, August 24, 2009
This is with reference to Dr A Q Khan’s column “Science of computers — part I” which appeared in your pages on Aug 19.

1. Dr Khan writes: “The computer is an essential part of 21st century life. Computer science is a fast-moving subject that gives rise to a range of interesting and often challenging problems. The implementation of today’s complex computer systems requires the skills of a knowledgeable and versatile computer scientist. Artificial intelligence — the study of intelligent behaviour — is having an increasing reference on computer system design. Distributed systems, networks and the internet are now central to the study of computing, presenting both technical and social challenges.”

Now compare this to the first paragraph of Undergraduate Prospectus 2009, University of Sussex(www.sussex.ac.uk/units/publications/ugrad2009/subjects/computing):

“Computing is an essential part of 21st-century life, and is an exceptionally fast-moving subject that gives rise to a range of interesting and challenging problems. The implementation of today’s complex computing systems, networks and multimedia systems requires the skills of knowledgeable and versatile computer scientists. Computer networks and the internet are now central to the study of computing and information technology, presenting both technical and social challenges. Artificial intelligence (AI) — the study of intelligent behaviour — is having an increasing influence on computer system design.”

2. Dr Khan writes: “How do we understand, reason, plan, cooperate, converse, read and communicate? What are the roles of language and logic? What is the structure of the brain? How does vision work? These are all questions as fundamental as the sub-atomic structure of matter. These are also questions where the science of computing plays an important role in our attempts to provide answers. The computer scientist can expect to come face-to-face with problems of great depth and complexity and, together with scientists, engineers and experts in other fields, may help to solve them. Computing is not just about the big questions; it is also about engineering-making things work. Computing is unique in offering both the challenge of science and the satisfaction of engineering.”

Now compare this to the first paragraph of Imperial College London website (www3.imperial.ac.uk/engineering/teaching/exploringengineering/computing): “How do we understand, reason, plan, cooperate, converse, read and communicate? What are the roles of language and logic? What is the structure of the brain? How does vision work? These are questions as fundamental, in their own way, as questions about the sub-atomic structure of matter. They are also questions where the science of computing plays an important role in our attempts to provide answers. The computer scientist can expect to come face-to-face with problems of great depth and complexity and, together with scientists, engineers and experts in other fields, may help to disentangle them. But computing is not just about the big questions it is also about engineering-making things work. Computing is unique in offering both the challenge of a science and the satisfaction of engineering.”

3. Furthermore, Dr Khan writes: “Computer science is an inter-disciplinary subject. It is firmly rooted in engineering and mathematics, with links to linguistics, psychology and other fields. Computer science is concerned with constructing hardware and software systems, digital electronics, compiler design, programming languages, operation systems, networks and graphics. Theoretical computer science addresses fundamental issues: the motion of computable function, proving the correctness of hardware and software and the theory of communicating system.

Again the University of Cambridge website (www.cam.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/courses/compsci) contains the following text: (First paragraph) “Computer science is interdisciplinary. It is firmly rooted in engineering and mathematics, with links to linguistics, psychology and other fields. [...] (Second paragraph) Practical computer science is concerned with constructing hardware and software systems: digital electronics, compiler design, programming languages, operating systems, networks and graphics. Theoretical computer science addresses fundamental issues: the notion of computable function, proving the correctness of hardware and software, the theory of communicating systems.”

4. The second half of Dr Khan’s article (paragraph 7 onwards) can be found in ACM’s Computing Curricula 2009. Although he credits ACM but doesn’t clarify that he is directly copying sentences from a document. Also, in the beginning of his piece he does acknowledge one of his former colleagues, an Engineer Nasim Khan, for input for the article — however, it is not clear whether this input is the reason for the apparent plagiarism.

Fahad Rafique Dogar

PhD student, Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA, US (The News)

THE OTHER COLUMN: 22-22 —Ejaz Haider

I know it is difficult to acknowledge one green entry in a dossier full of red entries, but that is the real test of objectivity. In doing unto Khan what the rightwing has done to Salam, we join the ranks of the Right

I assume most of us know about cervical dilation, including men, who are not supposed to have a cervix. Even so, let me aim for the guy in the corner who might not. Cervix, thou innocent one, is the opening to the uterus and is supposed to dilate during childbirth. It can also dilate during miscarriage or made to in an induced abortion procedure.

In other words, unbeknown to you my dear, you couldn’t have been in that corner without uterine contractions and cervical dilation.

Rest assured though that this is not a lesson in gynaecology. This is about Dr AQ Khan, our hero. The moment the government tries to keep him in, the nation’s uterus goes into spasms and the cervix dilates, threatening to push him out.

Here’s the irony of the situation. The government doesn’t want him to pop out because the womb is not just going to push him out but also secrets that are best kept hidden. Khan, on the other hand, has threatened that if he is not allowed to slip out he shall start singing from within the womb itself. I don’t envy the government.

One thing I must grant Khan, though. He is sui generis, which is a difficult Neo-Latin term for of its/his own kind; unique in characteristic. Consider.

He is supposed to be the father of our bomb, or as some wits put it, “bum”. That aside, while he mayn’t have fathered anything except his children, he did make an important, basic contribution to Pakistan’s nuclear programme. He is not a physicist, though for long this misconception held in popular circles and he didn’t bother to correct it. He is not even a top metallurgist. But he did get Pakistan gas centrifuge technology without which we could not build the bomb. To say that he stole it is to look a gift horse in the mouth. And one is not supposed to do that.

As for those who don’t like the bomb, the place of domicile is UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s “We Must Disarm” Twitter page. These are tweets best suited to Twitter.

The other day a friend of a friend noted in a Facebook comment that Pakistan’s real hero was Dr Abdus Salam; that Khan is a fake hero. There is no doubt about the standing of Salam. It is to our eternal shame how we treated him and continue to. But there is tedium in this kind of argument, compare as it does wrong entities or persons and/or rely on total rejection of one to put the other on a pedestal.

What the obnoxious Right has done to Salam, the equally misplaced English-speaking class has to Khan.

Having stuck my neck out, let me explain.

Khan’s contribution is not owed to his ability to create something or push the frontiers of knowledge beyond the known. He is singularly incapable to doing that as should be obvious from his petty act of plagiarism in his newspaper column. In fact, I read carefully the plagiarised paragraphs and realised that Khan needs a crash course in the language.

Exhibit A: Khan begins the first sentence thus: “The computer is an essential part of 21st century life.” The Sussex website from where he picked it up talked about “computing” which is a broader concept and involves using and developing computer technology, computer hardware and software. So there are the theoretical and the practical aspects of the activity.

Exhibit B: Khan’s lines: “Artificial intelligence — the study of intelligent behaviour — is having an increasing reference [sic] on computer system design. Distributed systems, networks and the internet are now central to the study of computing, presenting both technical and social challenges.” Sussex website: “Computer networks and the internet are now central to the study of computing and information technology, presenting both technical and social challenges. Artificial intelligence (AI) — the study of intelligent behaviour — is having an increasing influence on computer system design.”

[For these quotes I rely on the letter by Mr Dogar, a student at Carnegie Mellon University.]

So, yes, this is not a man one can compare with Salam. Yet, does the fact that we are talking mediocrity at its most mediocre, in and of itself, take away from his contribution, original or stolen? I don’t think so. I know it is difficult to acknowledge one green entry in a dossier full of red ones, but that is the real test of objectivity. In doing unto Khan what the Right has done to Salam, we join the ranks of the Right.

Just to clarify, this is not to say that Khan may not be dealt with for his acts of omission and commission. He should be. In fact, much of the opprobrium he has attracted is owed to his own grandstanding. In thinking that he could use his contribution to demand eternal homage from the nation, he was and is wrong. But the challenge of getting the perspective correct always attends things, issues and peoples that are complex in some ways.

Take a man who has killed someone; if he also saves someone, what would our verdict be? Fifty percent bad; fifty percent good? I can keep adding to the difficulty and the corresponding challenge of categorisation but I hope the point is obvious.

It is easy to judge and praise someone like Salam. Khan offers a greater degree of difficulty. That’s the time when we generally fail the test.

Tailpiece: The other day Chaudhry Qasim saw 22-22 written on the backsad of a rickshaw. He couldn’t resist asking the rickshaw driver what it signified. The driver said, Sirji, o Inglush vich kehnday naiN na baai-baai, good-baai! Now that definitely is more original than Khan’s column!

Ejaz Haider is op-ed editor of Daily Times, consulting editor of The Friday Times and host of Samaa TV's programme “Siyasiyat”. He can be reached at sapper@dailytimes.com.pk (Daily Times)


There is far more to be lost than gained by any action against Gen Musharraf, says Ayesha Siddiqa.

Capital games
By Ayesha Siddiqa
Friday, 28 Aug, 2009

The present PPP leadership understands the cost of exposing Musharraf who will certainly be protected by his own institution, a facility that others in this polity do not have. –File Photo

People wonder why the present government is not trying Gen Musharraf. Is it just due to its goodness of heart or is there something else that might be the cause of this apparently cautious behaviour?

Actually, there are two issues at hand here. First is the evasiveness of the prime minister. While not making any move to bring a case in court against the former general, Mr Gilani appears to be raising hopes by giving the impression to the people and various political parties that the former dictator may actually be tried in a court of law.

Second, perhaps the prime minister is not pursuing the case because he understands that there is far more to be lost than gained by any action against Gen Musharraf. We always tend to forget that there were actually three parties to the deal that allowed Benazir Bhutto and her spouse to return to Pakistan: (a) the Bhutto family and party, (b) the US and British negotiators and (c) the Pakistan Army which was ruling the country through its chief.

The former general left the seat of power with great reluctance and later the country as a free man — surely there must have been some guarantees allowing him to do that. The role played by his organisation in providing him an easy passage cannot be ruled out. Unfortunately, whenever democracy passes through a transition period we tend to forget, at least in Pakistan, that the army is a powerful force and negotiating power in the long term is not an easy task.

The organisation would certainly not want one of its own maligned and castigated publicly. After all, a public trial of one of its members is an embarrassment that no general who might consider taking over the state in the future would want. An institution which believes that it alone knows how to rule and has the best interest of the state at heart will never give up the option to return to power directly.

For all of us, who are constantly unhappy with the president, perhaps he is far more intelligent in understanding the power of the army and the wrath that the mention of Musharraf’s trial might invoke. One has to behave sensibly especially when there are skeletons in the cupboard that could be discovered. It takes only a few disclosures or controversies to malign a politician.

Just take the example of matters that are being brought up on the media in the past couple of weeks. First there was the controversy relating to the 1992 army operation. Why worry about Kargil when stakeholders are also accusing Nawaz Sharif of his involvement in the 1992 cleanup operation in Karachi? Has the MQM leadership brought this up so that the May 12, 2007 killings in the metropolis are disregarded, even though at this point there weren’t too many people questioning the MQM?

Perhaps, the idea was not so much about obfuscating its alleged wrongdoings as highlighting what could be questioned about Nawaz Sharif’s political behaviour.
The PML-N leader has the option of going public with what exactly happened in Karachi and disclosing the extent of the army’s involvement. However, he could also get bogged down in further controversy. In any case, the Karachi story is not the only one. There are others which involve financial scandals as the list of politicians, some of them very high-profile, who allegedly received funds from the ISI indicates.

Although this list has been published a number of times before, the issue here is why it has been brought up at this point. Interestingly, a revelation made more than a year ago by the US-based Pakistani author Shuja Nawaz in his book Crossed Swords that included names like Hafeez Pirzada did not get much publicity.

This is not to argue that politicians are not corrupt. In fact, the problem is that politicians in this country, like the military leadership, have engaged in questionable and compromising behaviour. However, the point being raised here is that it is only the stories of unfriendly politicians that are leaked or brought up again from time to time and then built upon in the media. So, the present PPP leadership understands the cost of exposing Musharraf who will certainly be protected by his own institution, a facility that others in this polity do not have.

A better option would be to get all politicians to clean up their act. For instance, the MMA government in the Frontier province used religion as a ploy against the federal government every time it had to bail itself out of a tough corner.

Clearly, there is always a list of favourite versus not-so-favourite politicians. The list, which is pulled out for the public eye, depends on who is not in favour with the establishment at a given time. This is a sad state of affairs where neither the establishment nor the politicians can be said to be above board. All that is left is for the stakeholders to play the game of survival.

The writer is an independent strategic and political analyst.
ayesha.ibd@gmail.com (Dawn)

Two trucks and a jeep
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Taj M Khattak

In the aftermath of last month's Supreme Court decision invalidating Musharraf's actions of Nov 3, 2007, the debate has warmed up once again as to whether doors for martial laws have been shut for ever. While the judgment has been hailed by some as landmark and historic, one experienced politicians observed that all it takes to show the door to the present civilian regime is two trucks and a jeep.

The country is on a crossroads and it would be useful to rewind our collective memory and review where we made a hash of opportunities in the past.

After the 1971 fiasco the military was totally demoralised, with over 93,000 PoWs were languishing in India. It was time for some delicate and deft handling in Pakistan to resurrect its bruised armed forces into a credible fighting machine once again. It was the need of the hour to give it both a sense of ownership and a stern stewardship to confine it to barracks under the civilian authority.

One would have thought that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had, emphatically and authoritatively, stamped civilian authority over the military when, in one sweep, he retired nearly two dozens general-rank officers of the three services on Dec 18, 1971.

Had Bhutto paused there and initiated the now much talked about "truth and reconciliation" exercise, he might have been hugely successful in removing the civilian-military distrust. Quite to the contrary, when he assumed the title of civilian chief martial law administrator, he unwittingly dignified the concept of military rule over the civilians.

His sacking of the Army and Air Force chiefs caused a minor stir, but he could still have had the confidence of the country's soldiers to look up to him for redemption of their lost honour and dignity.

But when he decided to show the Pakistani Army's surrender ceremony at Dhaka on the TV, he went too far. The soldiers, already smarting under the ignominy of the surrender at Paltan Maidan in Dhaka, were immensely disillusioned.

Bhutto, the political master of the country that he was at the time, could have emulated the circus ring master, who after getting the tame lion perform its entertaining act for the audience, "walks back" the lion to its cage, and once inside, slams the door shut on the animal.

As Zia appeared for his "My dear countrymen" speech in 1977, the nation hardly remembered that only six years ago, Bhutto had pronounced an end to all military takeovers.

The next opportunity for the political leaders to regain what was theirs came in 1985. Zia, after a lot of dithering, had handpicked Muhammad Khan Junejo as his prime minister, and he surprised his mentor, in his very first speech from the floor of the Parliament, when he bravely, and to the applause of all members, announced that democracy and martial could not go together.

He had thrown the gauntlet to Zia and in retrospect that should have been enough. Zia was at the end of his rope from God, Junejo could just have bided his time and the history of this country might have been different. But he also probably wanted to make history when he announced that he will put the generals in a Suzuki car.

The Suzuki was quite a comfortable vehicle to begin with, and most people saw no issue getting into it. But when the tone and tenure of Junejo's statement of "putting the generals in Suzuki" (like Zardari rolled the word Musharraaf in his press conference before forcing him to resign), echoed from the cantonments across the country, the Suzuki, suddenly looked an alien vehicle.

Junejo's obsession with the Ojri Camp disaster's investigations, as we all know, was the last straw on the camel's back, and thus another opportunity was squandered. In the immortal words of Munir Niazi, kuj shehr de log ve zaalim san, kuj sanu maran da shouq ve see. ( Niazi's poetry defies translation, but a bad and a loose one might go like this: They, at the township were no angles, but in no small measure did I too contribute to my own undoing.)

Come Benazir Bhutto and she put up quiet gracefully with her COAS, a disciplined soldier otherwise, who would just never appear with headgear in her vicinity, which said it all, as to where the civil-military relations rested.

She yet tested the waters futilely, after the Zarb-e-Momin exercise, in trying to place the then Corps Commander 4 Corps (largely seen as a dove) as deputy chief of the Army

Staff at the GHQ after granting him an extension, which was seen as a sinister plan. His retirement put an end to any strategy she might have had in mind about civilian supremacy over the military, till the country entered Nawaz Sharif's era.

Nawaz began with sacking the then CNS, but soon stumbled on something quite unnecessary when he overreacted to a statement on national security from Gen Jahangir Karamat. Gen Karamat was as level-headed a general as they come, and an odd statement need not have alarmed Nawaz to an extent which ended up in such a severe reaction.

Having seen the back of Gen Karamat, Nawaz could not resist the idea of putting his own man in the GHQ, without realising that the ground under his feet was slipping very fast. Just as Bhutto had reached the edge with a series of actions seen by the military as hostile, and Junejo after him, Nawaz had reached the danger zone with the sacking of Gen Karamat, and the rest, as they say is history, when the military, to the misfortune of the nation, once again moved to centre-stage.

An idea being floated these days about "one more term to the army" is patently naïve, to say the least. What did not work for Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz is unlikely to work for President Zardari.

The July judgment is an important one, no doubt, but that in itself is unlikely to shut the doors permanently on martial laws. The rulers could do with a little more surplus of credibility, rather than the present deficit of trust.

In August 1991, Boris Yelsten climbed atop a Soviet Army tank on the roll in a coup attempt against Gorbachev. Yelsten had no love for Gorbachev, nor was he such a popular democrat, but his climb on the tank signified a big "No" to the Soviet military, and that alone which made a huge difference.

Invest in the people of Pakistan. Give them good governance, give them their hopes in the future of their land for which their forefathers sacrificed so much and they too will stop the two trucks and the jeep dead in their tracks the next time they venture out of 111 Brigade headquarters.

If not, and with utmost deference to their Lordships, the landmark and historic judgments and Musharraf's trial proceedings, if any, will, sooner than later, form part of the archives in bar rooms for the well heeled lawyers for hair splitting arguments in the future.

The write is a retired vice admiral and former vice-chief of the naval staff. Email: tajkhattak@ymail.com (The News)