INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

October 24, 2020

INTERESTING TIMES MR. PRIME MINISTER!

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 9:24 am
Empties of ammunition fired at PTI

For Pakistan, the “Living in Interesting Times” curse does not seem ending.  Twelve years hence, what began as National Reconciliation in 2007-8 has moved beyond politics to haunt the military establishment in a series of events orchestrated by the Sharif Family? The reconciliation had guarantors.  President Musharraf became collateral casualty. The other casualty was the Daughter of the East, who once back home abhorred such an arrangement.

Unlike 2007-8, there is no national urge to restore the NRO equilibrium. Rather, it is the desire of corrupt elements to evade accountability and become relevant to national politics. The objectives of outside actors who facilitated this process create uncertainty and instability. Their utmost desire is restoration of equilibrium.

The Musharraf-BB nexus was short lived and smashed rather easily. The roles have now reversed.

Civil-Military Cooperation and Civil Ascendency is counter to the narrative building of Civil-Military relations, a hybrid of campaign against an institution by corrupt, desi liberals and 5th columnists. No wonder then, that the present Civil-Military Cooperation is being dubbed by opposition with acronyms such as Selected, Incompetent and Ladla etc. Opposition wants strife at its own terms. The government must not aggravate it.

With the government backing military and vice versa, the turnaround this time is ugly in which national interests and security considerations are held in contempt. The focus is to break this equation through rapid fires of slurs and accusations. Institutional confrontation is the norm. It is this glamour, that MNS sees his future in politics aptly portrayed by his daughter; a revolutionary in exile. The desired effect is weakening the government in which the knight would return in shiny armour?

Why does Nawaz Sharif feel betrayed and abandoned? For him malingering and dodging on way to London was not a favour. It was something his prowess deserved.  His megalomania exhibiting delusions of grandeur, exaggerated sense of personal worth, power and greatness inhibits his ability to look down his neck. Typically, he has built a team of courtiers who keep such illusions alive. So as long as he is out of the reach of law, he will continue to challenge everything that challenges his self-delusions.

In his Mafioso Perception, a quid pro quo should have come in his favour. For what or why is not known. His avenues asking reconciliation failed because he wanted it on his terms. Now, the Sicilian Empire is striking back in cooperation with major opposition parties, segments of media, outside actors with India acting as the teeth arm of aggression. For as long as he sits in London or abroad, and for as long the courts give relief to his daughter, the slurs and attacks will continue.

PPPP could limit itself to own specific objectives. Their own uninterrupted government in Sindh for over twelve years and ideological cadres in the fold are a limiting factor. But this is only an assumption. Much more has been sacrificed in the past that is precedence. So no hold bars.

Institution confrontation is now public and the opposition holds a carte blanche. The institution has limitations. Because the opposition narrative has to be defeated, the major onus falls on the government. How the government will assert this control is for it to craft. The response is not simple and must be crafted in entirety. Subtleness has a finesse that must be exercised.  

It does not imply sword for a sword. Rhetoric cannot defeat rhetoric. An eye for an eye will not work. Imran Khan must fight the battle on his own turf. The most potent part of this turf is the people who elected him to power. He must touch their hearts and synergise them into an effective counter punch. His governance model is neither IMF conditions nor the FATF regulations. Logically, he must use both to improve his cost effective governance model based on deliverance. He must prepare this wicket forthwith and then ask them to play on it.

Good governance is the most lethal counter attack and the government must deliver. It is not cost intensive. The federal government and governments in Punjab, KPK and Balochistan have to work in unison to put some basics right. They must focus on police and lower judiciary in cooperation with the high courts. District administrations must start delivering through monitoring and enforcement.

The three provinces must kick start the agriculture development.  

Grassroots economy has to be agitated while middlemen and black marketers have to be taken to task. Price hike in basic commodities and medicines must be brought under check.

It high time government starts concentrating on National Power. Then no one will listen to self-proclaimed spiritualists and heroes.  That’s the time Imran Khan must revert to people.

Mr. Prime Minister, do it and fight another battle on your terms. Don’t and you live to regret.

Samson Simon Sharaf

October 9, 2020

NAGORNO-KARABAKH: THE FLASHPOINT WITHIN DEVIL’S TRIANGLE

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:44 am

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is heating up very much the way it did in Syria. Sworn enemies are allies and friends at the same time. Who is who, who supports who and who fights who is a mind boggling question. It is an affray and Royal Rumble to say the least.

Ethnicity, religion, sectarianism, geopolitics, economics, terrorism and leverages are inter-connected. According to Henry Kamens, an expert on Central Asia and Caucuses, “different actors have different reasons for wanting this conflict to either remain frozen or escalate, and what happens will be governed by how much these actors respect each other, or don’t”. Certainly thus, this conflict has not suddenly escalated due to the over blown will of the people. It is orchestrated.

Turkey and Israel are supporting Azerbaijan politically, logistically and physically despite being daggers drawn over questions of Palestine. Turkey keeps criticising Israel for its annexation policy while it also gets support from Israel to dampen allegations of Armenian Genocide between 1915-1923.

Azerbaijan never existed till 1918 when USSR created it. In 1921 Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and Bolsheviks used ‘divide and rule’ to place Armenian Artsakh inside Azerbaijan, even though Armenians constituted 95% of the population. He also put the Armenian territory of Nakhichevan under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction. In 1988, Artsakh democratically voted to secede from Azerbaijan in accordance with Soviet law.  In 1991, when Soviet Union disintegrated, Artsakh voted for independence. Now Russia supports Armenia while through Georgia tacitly permits weapons to be slipped into Azerbaijan from Russia.

Turkey and Russia locked horns in Syria and Libya and may do the same in Nagorno-Karabakh. Surprisingly, Armenia also has US and Iranian support. The subject is hardy mentioned in presidential debates in USA implying that both Republicans and Democrats tacitly approve what Israel and Turkey are doing against Armenians. USA probably wants the same equilibrium that Stalin imposed in 1921. Armenia is also a NATO ally.

Zbigniew Brzezinski’s thesis ‘A Geostrategy for Eurasia’ described the region as ‘Axial Eurasia’. Back in 1997, the world was unipolar and he emphasized it was time USA made an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia. The message was well taken by Capitol Hill, Pentagon and Western Europe. Former Eastern European countries were integrated into European Union and some also became part of NATO. Eastwards expansion of NATO under the soft Russian under belly began. Countries held captive under Warsaw pact and authoritarian communist regimes were more than happy to do so. Finally, Russia check mated these expansions by taking control of Crimea. This is the European leg of the messy geostrategic tripod I call the Devil’s Triangle. The other two legs are Middle East and South West Asia (Pakistan-Afghanistan).

But Central Asian Republics did not enjoy the luxury of Eastern Europe. They are sandwiched between a resurgent Russia, a rising China whose major preoccupation is trade power, a resurgent Turkey reviving the Ottoman dreams, a politically divorced Iran and an unstable Afghanistan. They are landlocked geographically, isolated politically, pawns strategically and poor economically. By Brzezinski’s own admission, Eurasia accounts for 75 percent of the world’s population, 60 percent of its GNP, and 75 percent of its energy resources. His assessment was bloated because he was presenting a case against the rising Chinese, Indian and Russian domination.

This now transforms to BRI and CPEC. Inasmuch as China, Russia, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan are crucial to rapturing this containment ring, their own interests are often diabolically opposite within the Devil’s Triangle.  Nagorno-Karabakh Is a case in point.

Pakistan should rather concentrate on the Afghan Dialogue, CPEC, Kashmir and socio economic reforms. Like Armenia, USA may be too keen to pull back Pakistan into the old equilibrium. There are no heroes or villains in international politics. Interests and interests alone decide where to tick.

Samson Simon Sharaf

October 3, 2020

HURLY BURLY: THE NEED FOR THREAT AND RISK ASSESSMENT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 10:25 am

Everything has lit up suddenly. Seems multiple tripwires are alight. It began with the Indian act of changing international boundaries in Indian held Kashmir and descended into the defiance by Mian Nawaz Sharif and other opposition parties. International and trans-boundary events resulted in policy shifts that directly affected the interests of political parties, especially those under the sharp eye of accountability and FAFT legislations. It has all become a mix and could spell dangers ahead. There a dire need of immediate Threat and Risk Assessment.

Why this assessment is essential; simply to ascertain in degrees of probability; for whom the bell tolls?

Pakistan may be going down a road whence cognitive perception could be distorted within the Corridors of Power by the twin factors of Power and Grandeur.

During crises, caught between the notions of indispensability and vulnerability, statesmen tend to miscalculate at their own peril; Grandeur, because the perceptions are continuously fed by patrimonial courtiers creating a grandiose aura that filters out stark realities. Conclusions and inferences derived may be far from realities leading to unexpected consequences springing surprises. Internalisation of indispensability gives rise to feelings of being attacked from multiple fronts. This in result affects decision making.

In game theory, an important aspect of politics, realistic cognition as also cognitive control is essential to positive decision making. Miss a note and the entire symphony becomes a comedy of errors.

This is exactly what happened to President Musharraf from 2006 to 2008. He was led to believe he was indispensable to the future of Pakistan irking in him a sense of vulnerability where he failed to perceive the game against him. The fall from grace was swift accounted by his actions and patrimonial courtiers who played both sides of the wicket. He was left alone on a dirt track that had no exit. For any statesman, it is important to factorise distortions created by Power and Grandeur.

In a worse case dangerous and least likely scenario, the ring of pervert politicians, outside powers and rising poverty inside Pakistan could accidently or manipulatively coalesce to create instability as stepping stone to a meltdown. This could create political unrest, agitations, and law & order situations all over Pakistan. The precursor could roll down from Balochistan into other provinces.

The language particularly against the military is explicit and aggressive. When it does, Pakistan may be caught napping with no contingency plans further aggravated by absence of leadership that is up to it.

The recent APC in Army House is overtaken by events not factorised. JUI, PKMAP, PMLN and BNP are coalescing in Balochistan. Punjab would be next. This is the game plan to power Pakistan into a nosedive of instability.  

Reverse engineering of Tom Hawk has already become a joke, but it is a serious matter. It will be followed by information on Pakistan’s top secret advance weapon’s programs. India will go aggressive on Line of Control. I reckon PPP will at some point side step this anti-Pakistan coalition. As a political party, their contributions to Pakistan’s Defensive Deterrence are stellar and they will not be part of it.

The recent clashes in Caucasus Region fracture the anti-containment ring from Turkey to Pakistan. Turkey, Iran and Russia are at odds. So far, Pakistan has shown political inadequacy in encashing its power potential and leverages linked to its National Power.

So the game is on. Not just the government but also the judiciary, NAB, patriotic political parties, the military and people of Pakistan have to counter this emerging threat.

President Musharraf failed to read the script because he was blinded by his advisors and courtiers. Once again the same regiment surrounds Imran Khan. If past is precedence, he should expect no good. He must dominate the situation.

The witch dance is gaining frenzy and the Shakespearean Hurly Burly with local clowns must be denied.

Samson Simon Sharaf

September 18, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: MARIA RASHID

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 11:29 am

DYING TO SERVE: MILITARISM, AFFECT, AND THE POLITICS OF SACRIFICE IN THE PAKISTAN ARMY

It was a rude shock for the Indo-Western world when Pakistan’s Law Enforcement Agencies successfully defeated the terrorism insurgency meant to make Pakistan unstable to a point that UN intervention would become mandatory. Peace and development was brought to these unsettled areas in double quick time. Political reforms were executed, bringing frontier regions into the mainstream. This does not augur well for the instability trajectories crafted by the West to see Pakistan go down timidly. This hard reality pinches decision makers from Paris to London, Washington and Delhi and therefore Pakistan’s success must be demonised. The book I review demonises the spirit of nationalism cum sacrifice as a tool to tighten grip of Pakistan army on society and country. It connotes that the high level of killed was a deliberately enacted policy to meet political ends.

‘Dying to Serve: Militarism, Affect, and the Politics of Sacrifice in the Pakistan Army’ is such an attempt by Maria Rashid in her book published by Stanford University Press, California. The familiar route she took to demonise the armed forces of Pakistan is all too clear. The book was her PhD dissertation at School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) University of London, a notably leftist turned liberal institution notorious for its anti-Pakistan propaganda.  In the process, she has exploited her military linkages, demonised the country, its armed forces and even religion to appease her western institution, anti-Pakistan supervisors and play to the tunes of liberal left of Pakistan.

By all standards, Pakistan’s war against terrorism matched the ferocity of wars that defeated Soviet Union and USA in Pakistan. In large proportions, the foreign funded non state actors were the same. This outcome though least expected from resource starved Pakistan with superior execution of counter plans. This was despite the reality that Pakistan was contending with tens of hostile intelligence agencies.

Soviet, NATO and American assaults were by fire. Freedom fighters melted away to reappear at the time and place of their own choosing. These campaigns despite use of air power, missiles, daisy cutters and leading edge technologies without ‘Boots on Ground’ stalled into defeats. The picture of Mike Pompeo, U. S. Secretary of State with Taliban leaders some of who had undergone the torturous and inhuman incarceration at Guantanamo Bay amplifies it never worked. However accomplished it may seem, and however successful President Trump’s Peace Policy be, it remains a defeat.  

But Pakistan’s operational strategy was different. It involved encirclements (cutting off escape routes), fixations through fire, fire assaults and finally assaults with boots on ground. Thus Pakistan was able to dominate heights and spaces as a permanent feature while sweeping through hostile zones with observations, surveillance, fire and physical movements. Had Law Enforcement Agencies not taken such risks of casualties, with Officer to Sepoy Ratio less than 1:5, the outcome would have been no different than Soviet Union, USA and its Allies in NATO. Inability to hold ground over prolonged periods, followed by imposition of a credible political consensus remain the two major causes of failure for Soviet Union and the West. It is this victory that a recently qualified psychologist with no field and clinical experience and in complete disregard to Military Sociology is trying to willify.

Her entire context of reasoning is flawed and violated the basic premise of cause and effect, an essential ingredient of any scholarly work. Instead of being value-neutral, her arguments are biased based on fictitious interviews her supervisors had no means of authenticating.  Let’s analyse her first argument.

She argues that Pakistan military has used death in combat, particularly the Islamic concept of martyrdom, as a tool to extend its domination over the country’s political and civil society. But in her thesis, she evades the question about who imposed war of terror on Pakistan. With this flawed reasoning, she is singularly targeting the Pakistan Army and citizens who have stood like a wall against destabilisation.

She reasons that, “To understand the Pakistani military’s hold over the imagination and loyalty of the Pakistan society requires changing our focus from the coercive power of the military that’s on display every time a military regime takes over to its ability to shape sympathy and opinion during as well after military regimes leave”.

This is a sweeping generalisation as Pakistan has evolved uninterrupted in democracy since 2002, 10 of them shared by parties in opposition. Civilian leaders have appointed five successive military chiefs including extensions. Martial Laws in Pakistan as accepted by many military sociologists like Samuel Huntington, Stephen P Cohen, Morris Janowitz and Amos Perlmutter in the nature of political crises and national development. Pakistan Army by any sense of the word is not praetorian.

Had she read Military Sociology, her quest to foray into this field from a funnelled window of infant psychology would have resulted in different conclusions. As regards the WOT, she should have been astute to read and consult Bruce Riedal who has written extensively on the mock Afghan Jihad, US war in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s WOT. Nowhere in her book does she condemn CIA’s effort at revising the Islamic Syllabus at Nebraska and imposing it on Madrassas in Pakistan to fuel the fires of the mock Afghan Jihad.

Which country in the world does not have a monument for its martyrs? Graves of unknown soldiers’ world over are national monuments dignitaries visit. World over these are honoured with the Last Post and flag hoisting. Pakistan is doing nothing different. So why ridicule Pakistan’s honouring its martyrs.

Military ceremonies world over are the hallmark of military precision in drill square. Narrating how Shuhada ceremonies are coordinated, fine-tuned and staged should not have become a bone of contention for the author who has a military background and studied in military cantonments.  

On the sociology of military recruitment, she singled out one district in the Pathowar Plateau that was a recruiting ground during British Colonialism. This was true during British Raj. Pakistan has a national professional army. No one’s poverty is exploited. Recruitments are voluntary and more than 30% manpower comes from Sindh and Balochistan. About 10% soldiers volunteer from urban areas. Most it is a multi-religious army with Christian, Parsee, Hindu and Sikh combatants. No wonder that Bruce Riedal commented that Pakistan does not fail because it is one family and the armed forces are at the heart of it.

The author ignored that national character of the armed forces ‘in parenthesis’ to qualify her sacrilegious notions to please her masters at SOAS and Stanford. She has bitten the hands that fed her.

It seems that elements hostile to Pakistan have a penchant for picking young Pakistani ladies from military backgrounds and promoting them as academicians, scholars and opinion makers. This young author is another one in this long list of pseudo leftist liberals with assumed insights, spewing venom against the armed forces she saw from a distance.

Such propaganda is an aspersion on the academic credential of institutions like SOAS University of London and Stanford University. They have become part of the Hybrid Campaign against Pakistan.

August 12, 2020

CHRISTIAN IDPS OF PAKISTAN: A BLOT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:24 am

Anthropology, genealogy and history suggest

they are the original and oldest people of the land

From time to time, I have highlighted the role of Christians to emphasise the inclusiveness of Pakistan. Christians joined Pakistan by choice and some also migrated from India. This decision was taken on behalf of over 500,000 Punjabi Christians by Christian leaders of the League. The Christian Speaker of the Punjab Assembly, SP Singha, Mrs. Ralia Ram and Mr. Fazal Elahi represented Christians before Radcliffe’s Boundary Awards in June 1947.

Ayesha Jalal, in her book ‘Self and Sovereignty’, writes that the practice of untouchability and the “Muslimised” culture of the Christians also played an important role in their support of Pakistan. She quoted SP Singha, “They (the Christians) trust the Muslim more. In their dress, poor economic status and religious beliefs, Christians in the Punjab were closer to the Muslims. The widespread practice of chhut or untouchability against Christians was ‘a great sore in their hearts’ and they had ‘suffered a lot from social prejudices’.” Had this not been the case, the division of Punjab would have tilted grossly in favour of India. This was the biggest contribution of Christians to Pakistan.

Other contributions include legislation, national development, foreign policy, education, health and defence services. The role of Samuel Martin Burke as election petitions magistrate in 1945 to raising of Pakistan’s foreign office and acquisition of nuclear reactor from Canada has no parallel. C E Gibbons as the Deputy Speaker of the Constituent Assembly vociferously presented Pakistan’s Kashmir case in United Nations. The contributions of the Christians of Karachi in setting up and administering this once beautiful port city also called Uroos ul Bilaad, the ‘bride of cities’ will never be rivalled. Post partition, along with Parsees, they set up refugee centers and education institutions. The scores of each instrument played in Pakistan’s national Anthem in a blend of Waltz and eastern music written by Tollentine a bandmaster in the Pakistan Navy. The gallantry of Christian officers and soldiers in the defence services are etched in gold in the military archives. The first Pakistani soldier to die at Pandu in Kashmir War 1948 was Lance Naik Yaqoob Masih. The first PAF Officer to die for the country was Pilot Officer Novan Theodore Fazal Elahi. Christian jurists like Cornelius, Constantine, PN Joshua and Mr. Gill are legendary.

But this story of unrecognized devotion, repeatedly written by writers and historians but eclipsed in Pakistani textbooks and official history does not reflect the isolation Christians faced in a Post Jinnah Pakistan for exercising their choice. Though ironic, the dilapidated condition of United Christian Hospital in Lahore set up in recognition of Christian services to Muslim refugees in 1947 represents the condition of the Christian people. They carry this stigma because they chose to become part of the Muslim Identity. In 1947, these 400,000 became the first group of internally displaced Pakistanis. The numbers of these homeless originals now swells to over 1.4 million. Most bonded labour in Punjab are Christians.

As events unfolded, Christians became the biggest losers in bargain for an elusive movement they thought would usher a classless society. Qaid e Azam’s 11 August speech to create this society evaporated in thin air. Cultural discriminations inherited from history were reinforced by religion and political exploitations to exclusion of Christians who genealogically are the original people of the land. The liberation from a Chhut stigma rather than bring relief made them homeless, menials and paleed. Christian’s liberation became an albatross that shamelessly hangs around their necks. This is despite Pakistan being signatory to numerous international conventions, agreements and treaties forbidding discrimination on ethnic, religious and other lines. Sometimes not by law but by convention and practice, this discrimination becomes a serious affront to human dignity. Pakistan stated in the United Nations in 2008 that it has no concept of Dalit and that it is free from such kind of prejudices, and the existing norms do not contain discrimination on the basis of caste or creed. However, in practice, Pakistan has pursued a discriminatory policy towards these displaced Punjabi Christians. CDA Islamabad in its report to Supreme Court shamelessly asserted that Christians in Islamabad pose a threat to Muslim majority in the capital.

Though Christianity in South Asia has historic roots via Central Asia, Taxila and Gilgit-Baltistan, they were too few before the British colonization of territories comprising Pakistan. According to Asif Aqeel a historian, “The 1855 census shows there were no native Christians in Punjab. With the efforts of missionaries, by 1881 there were only 3,912 native Christians who had come from various religious, social, economic and urban backgrounds… The landscape of Christianity in Punjab changed to homogenous and rural after a man from an ‘untouchable’ background, identified only by a single name, Ditt, converted in the village of Shahabdike in Narowal in 1873. Ditt invited others to convert to Christianity to get rid of untouchability and caste disabilities. Ditt’s people rapidly responded to the call and the number of Christians dramatically swelled in Central Punjab from 3,912 in 1881 to 511,299 by 1941.” These new converts were landless tillers of Sikh landlords.

Unfortunately, following the partition, the lands evacuated by Sikhs were allotted to Muslim migrants from India who with the help of the government started evicting these Christians from their ancestral homes. Mr. Singha protested in the Punjab Assembly that the ministers for refugee settlement and the revenue had approved three to four acres of land for each homeless Christian family of these villages. It was frustrating to know that these state documents had mysteriously gone missing from the secretariat. By 1951 the issue had assumed grave dimensions. In April 1952, C.E. Gibbon, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly stated, “I beg to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the grave situation arising out of the policy of the government in respect of the wholesale eviction of Christian Sepis, Athirst (atharhis) and tenants from their home holdings, thus rendering nearly 300,000 Christians homeless and on the verge of starvation, the consequences of which are too horrible to imagine.”

Tragically, these horrible consequences are being faced by Punjabi Christians through cultural influences and discriminatory state policies. Above speeches form part of parliamentary records, but no Pakistani government has shown the urgency to redress the wrongs.

The tragedy of the Christian landless is that they have endured multiple evictions. Initially, they travelled to deserts. When deserts became green, they were evicted.  Then they occupied government lands along filth drains. When cities expanded, they were evicted.  The exodus of Hindus in 1948, doing menial jobs in Sindh resulted in landless Christians taking over these jobs. The government rather than address the tragedy created conditions in which only Christians were recruited. According to Asif Aqeel, “the ruling Muslim League found Punjabi Christians a useful substitute for filling jobs left by fleeing Hindus.” The federal education secretary in 1980 was alarmed at the rising literacy rate amongst Christians for fear that ‘who would do the menial jobs’. The government hid land allocation files and uprooted hundreds of thousands of Christians from villages in the Central Punjab despite hue and cry by Christian legislators.  It is important to note that that most slums in Pakistan’s major cities are occupied by Christians of Central Punjab.

Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments need to dig out the parliamentary records and address the situation. Political parties and human rights organisations have to make this redressal a part of their manifestos. The media has to begin a national debate on this great wrong of history that stigmatises Pakistan Movement. New villages have to be raised for people who put their trust in Pakistan.

Samson Simon Sharaf

August 8, 2020

THE DEVIL AND DETAIL

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:03 pm

West, South and Central Asia have become a cobweb, intertwined with strings. These strings push and pull, prod and nod. Technology has shrunk distances. A flutter in one area generates reverberations everywhere. Every event anywhere in connected to power centers everywhere.

Major actors of the Great Game have not changed, the direction has. Minion nations have endured self-styled revolutions, civil wars, burnouts and clientele status. Most still remain ready at beck and call. Two secular countries in Middle East i.e. Iraq and Syria lie in ruins due to advent of democracy and Arab Springs. Post revolution Iran has not had respite since. Pakistan having endured the leadership of a Mock Jihad and then an insurgency of its own has also not had respite either. Like an angle that lost its wings, it keeps biting at itself. Home grown economic and political anarchists are its biggest tormentors. It is like a tiger trapped in a pit, fighting frantically with front paws whilst it hind legs are entangled in the cobweb.

Over the past century, the confluence of Three Asias has become one perforated cesspool of blood spilled in quest for dominance and high politics. In the past two decades wars in the misnomer of democracy are perennial. Because of the location, Pakistan dominates the access to Central Asia, its domestic and international politics are connected to the strands.

The bloodletting began with foreign sponsored coups in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Somehow, Pakistan managed to deter and dismember the forces of destruction. The springs never came. There has been no respite since.

British while leaving the subcontinent callously plunged it into the biggest genocide and trans migration of the world. They deliberately left a sore and bleeding wound of Kashmir as a plank of military imperialism. India and Pakistan have fought and are destined to do so in the foreseeable future. In the process, they will keep filling coffers of the military-industrial complexes. Both countries are in a melee of frenzies, one for its existence and the other for its global ambitions.

In the past three decades, both have reversed roles. Pakistan, once an ally of substance is now a frenemy. India, the midwife of non-alignment is now the staunchest ally of the Containment Bloc, once considered anathema.

Much of the future of the Containment Ring in Middle East depends on the trio of Israel, Saudi Arabia and UAE. USA and its allies bet that this combination of military and economic clout provide it a stable platform to coerce and punish countries that defy its politics. While Iraq, Syria and Iran can be punished physically, Pakistan can be discredited and forced to aqusiese due to its economic and governance trajectories.

But there is a counter development in which Pakistan could play a major role. China’s CPEC offers it a role much beyond a transit facility. Yet being a frontline state in this rapture of the ring, Chinese investments in Iran outweigh Pakistan. The major reason is that Pakistan’s weak spots hold it hostage to the old order where countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE act as bullies. Pakistan calling out Saudi Arabia over Kashmir is a step in the right direction. Is this step sustainable? Only time will tell.

Pakistan needs to make its hind legs as strong as a zebra that can smash the skull of a lion. It has to start kicking with its own prowess to breakout of the shell. Only then would the Chinese breakout of defiance become fruitful.

Building national power is the call of the moment. It is only when Pakistan undertakes this challenge that the realization of it being facile will prevail. You cannot fight like a tiger if you are trained like a goat; you cannot fly like an eagle if you live amongst turkeys. National pride demands the last sinew to hold and the last drop to bleed. This is the gauntlet. Zabardast Pakistan needs a leap of faith and plunge into the unknown.

Governance, politics and statecraft are not a simple man’s tools. The devil is in the details. Once this is taken into contention, cognition alters plans. I hope Pakistanis have read the devil’s script and show the desire and determination to challenge it.

Samson Simon Sharaf

August 3, 2020

KASHMIR II: EVERY SINEW BLEEDS, EVERY HEART BEATS

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:34 am

Samson Simon Sharaf

Abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A open legitimate options for China and Pakistan. But in a Realist Paradigm, it is only the stronger who exercises legality. With support from the North and West, India calculated it enjoyed overwhelming support and embarked on the Kashmir II adventure.

As if its defeat at hands of China in Eastern Ladakh is no lesson, India will not resist going the edge. Intransigence is an oft repeated lesson about the rise and falls of empires.

The story of Kashmir is a tragedy in bloodshed for over a century; an endless tale of betrayals, British merchantilism, geo strategic intrigues and elastic ethics. Kashmir proves on a time scale that no military force or technology can subdue hearts and minds.

Kashmir dispute involves eighteen million people in a time warp for over a century. It is surrounded by four countries three of which are nuclear. It is larger than 103 and more populous than 129 countries. Since 1947 over 500,000 Kashmiris have died at the hand of the Dogra and Indian occupation. The killing fields are still live.

Kashmir is a leftover of the British Colonial legacy of 19th century. The state of Jammu and Kashmir came into being on 16 March 1846 when the TREATY OF AMRITSAR was signed between Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu and East India Company to settle a territorial dispute arising from the First Anglo-Sikh War. People were traded off as slaves. Prior to Partition, Britain allowed the Congress politicians to tamper with the partition plans and 1935 Act to facilitate occupation of Kashmir and other princely states.

But history as it reveals itself tells another story. The Cabinet Mission Plan of 1945.

“In agreeing to Jinnah’s project, the British also managed to whittle down Jinnah’s territorial demands to the minimum required for Britain to safeguard its defence requirements. Plan for smaller Pakistan was not worked out by Mountbatten in 1947 as generally believed but by Lord Wavell in 1945”

Narendra Singh Sarila ex ADC to Lord Mountbatten

Post-World War II, Pakistan was seen an important western ally in the evolving Cold War against Russia. India was drafted to contain China. As the geopolitics shifted, Kashmir was forgotten by the international conscience as it affected their global outreach.

Historians cite that Nehru’s agreement for the exercise of the right of self-determination was malafide and conniving. He was convinced Pakistan would fail in ten years. Plebiscite option was influenced by British. He failed to economically quarantine Pakistan. It is no coincidence that Nehru went back on his words in 1957 and then illegal legislations began. British archives made public indicate, that boundary lines were not drawn by Mountbatten but by Sir Frank Wavell. Britain therefore has a legal, moral and ethical responsibility.

Legally, the Indian argument can be challenged on many counts.

The amended Government of India Act of 1935 provided in Section 6 that “a princely Indian state shall be deemed to have acceded to either of the dominion on the acceptance of the Instrument of Accession executed by the Ruler thereof” as a logical heir to the British Crown was illegal. India excluded the phrase “will of the people”.

In the Madhav Rao case, the Supreme Court of India found it strange that India inherited any aspects of the paramountcy exercised by the British Crown.

Indian Supreme Court in Premnath Kaul and the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, in Magher Singh, observed that with the lapse of the British paramountcy, the princely Indian state of Kashmir became independent and sovereign in the fullest sense of international law a stand also taken by Pakistan.

It was Mountbatten’s responsibility as Governor General to ensure that clauses of the Legislative Act 1935 and Independence Act of 1947 should not have been tampered by India. He should have challenged the Indian claim of paramountcy and declared the Instrument of Accession illegal.

After amending the 1935 Act, India prepared the Instrument of Accession.  Manekshaw’s memoirs contradict the Indian assertion that the Maharaja wrote a letter on 26 October 1947 to the Government of India, incidentally the same day that Menon and Manekshaw landed at Srinagar. He also narrates that the entire entourage of Kashmiri Leaders led by Mr. Abdullah (allegedly threatening the Maharaja) India were present at the Srinagar Airport lighting the runway with pine torches to see off Menon. I will read an excerpt from Field Marshall Manekshaw’s memoirs:

“We went to the palace. I have never seen such disorganisation in my life. The Maharaja was running about from one room to the other. I have never seen so much jewelry in my life – pearl necklaces, ruby things, lying in one room; packing here, there, everywhere. There was a convoy of vehicles. The Maharaja was coming out of one room….Eventually the Maharaja signed the accession papers and we flew back in the Dakota late at night”.

It is pertinent to mention the congruency in the amendments to 1935 Act, Instrument of Accession and Indian constitutional legislation on Kashmir over a time line. Intention was to extend control of Kashmir to India.

Article 370 was inserted to support the idea of plebiscite. This made bulk of the Indian Constitution inapplicable to Kashmir and other princely states against the will of the people/rulers.

In 1964, India extended Articles 356 and 357 of the Indian Constitution to Kashmir to dismiss elected governments and impose central rule eroding Article 370. On 30 July 1986 India extended Article 249 to Kashmir. Now the Indian Parliament could enact laws on State list subjects. On 22 February 1994 Lok Sabha declared Kashmir an integral part of India. Finally on 05 August 2020, India annexed Kashmir.

These legislations were made in contempt to UNSC Resolution 91 and 122 that said that such acts do not make for a final settlement of Kashmir.

Since 1948, there are 10 UNSC resolutions specifically on plebiscite, negotiations and non-applicability of Indian sponsored legislations. There are four other UNSC resolutions that deal with UN observers. United Nation’s position is that UN resolutions can only be terminated through UN Security Council.

Led by the United States and Britain, UNSC adopted a resolution on 21 April 1948 which noted with satisfaction that both India and Pakistan desire that the question of accession should be decided through an appointed Commission of the United Nations, of which the United States became a member, to work out a plan for the demilitarization of Kashmir prior to the plebiscite.

UNCIP proposals led to resolutions that constituted an international agreement upon being accepted in writing by both governments. Part III of the Commission’s resolution of 13 August 1948, agreed by India and Pakistan, states:

“The governments of India and Pakistan reaffirm their wish that the future status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir shall be determined in accordance with the will of the people and, to that end, upon acceptance of their truce agreement, both governments agree to enter into consultations with the Commission to determine fair and equitable conditions whereby such free expression will be assured.”

The United States, Britain and France were committed supporters. America’s President Truman and Britain’s Prime Minister Clement Atlee appealed that differences over demilitarization be submitted to arbitration by the Plebiscite Administrator, a distinguished American Admiral Chester Nimitz.

The American position was maintained equally by Republicans and Democrats. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles stated on 5 February 1957 that,

“We continue to believe that unless the parties are able to agree upon some other solution, the solution which was recommended by the Security Council should prevail, which is that there should be a plebiscite.”

In Britain, both Labor and Conservative governments consistently upheld the position that a plebiscite was the only way the dispute over Kashmir could be democratically and peacefully settled. Clement Atlee launched a conciliatory effort and conveyed to the Pakistani Prime Minister the assurance of the Indian Prime Minister that India would allow Kashmir’s status to be determined by the people’s vote.

Two years later, the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth informally proposed alternative arrangements for the demilitarization of Kashmir prior to the plebiscite. They suggested that a neutral peacekeeping force comprising either contingents from the Commonwealth countries or local troops from both sides under the control of the Plebiscite Administrator could be stationed to safeguard the state’s security. India rejected these suggestions.

On 15 June 1962, the American representative to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson, stated that:

“The best approach is to take for a point of departure the area of common ground which exists between the parties. I refer of course to the resolutions which were accepted by both parties and which in essence provide for demilitarization of the territory and a plebiscite whereby the population may freely decide the future status of Jammu and Kashmir. This is in full conformity with the principle of the self determination of people which is enshrined in Article I of the Charter as one of the key purpose for which the United Nations exists.

Sir Owen Dixon, an eminent jurist from Australia reported to the Security Council on 15 September 1950 that:

“In the end I became convinced that India’s agreement would never be obtained to demilitarization in any form or to the provisions governing the period of plebiscite of any such character, as would in my opinion, permit the plebiscite being conducted in conditions sufficiently guarding against intimidation and other forms of influence and abuse by which the freedom and fairness of the plebiscite might be imperiled.”

During his visit to India in 2010, President Obama said, “Kashmir is a disputed territory and its resolution is in the interest of India, Pakistan and the region and the United States of America.’

The crises of Kashmir is best summed up by Professor Josef Korbel, Former Chairman of UNCIP – Father of Madeline Albright, Former US Secretary of State:

“The accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India cannot be considered as valid by canons of international law… The history of the case has made it clear that time has only aggravated, not healed the conflict; that neither the Pakistanis nor the Kashmiris will accept the status quo as solution… No high hopes should be entertained that bilateral negotiations will lead to a settlement… The United Nations has a principal responsibility to seek a solution.”

As noted by Sir Owen Dixon and Professor Josef Korbel, bilateralism is not a solution. If India is not ready to listen to the world, how will it to listen to Pakistan?

The UN Charter, International Law, Article 370 of the Indian constitution, judgements of Indian and IHK courts on Paramountcy and fourteen UNSC Resolutions provide sound reasons to the International community to force India to abide by its commitment to a plebiscite. Till such time India abides, its ambitions of a UNSC seat and prestigious international forums like NSG should be put on hold.

Crimes committed by India in the past 70 years should be brought before international courts.

In the interim, Pakistan’s should: –

Continue the political and moral support of the Kashmir cause.

Fast Track Socio-economic development that attracts trade and socio-economic linkages across the Line of Control.

Support a sincere and fresh blood leadership in Kashmir.

Address international sensitivities that give space to India to isolate Pakistan.

Through mobilizing international seminars, lectures and social media, organise the Kashmiri Diaspora world over into effective pressure groups.

Open a Kashmir Desk in every embassy of Pakistan.

Hold virtual real time plebiscites.

Synergise with Kashmiri politicians in western countries.

Coordinate all operation in Kashmir with China and its allies

August 1, 2020

ONLY IF RAFALE

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:09 am

There is a difference between an illusion of victory and an actual victory. While an illusion is euphoric and misleading in many contexts, a victory is victory; confirmed and stamped. Great nations are not built on foundations of lies; fascist like Hitler’s Germany are. Why India continues to do so will have its limits. Indian illusion of victories over China and Pakistan shall fall flat.

On 26 February 2019, India despatched a flight of Mirage 2000 supported by Israeli AWACS, jammers, drones and interceptors challenged by Pakistan Air Force. The incursion was supported by diversions in Punjab and Sindh. The armada of RUKMA VIMANA then conducted an exit loop violating Pakistan’s airspace and hastily dropping their payload in a forest.

Later, foreign media in Pakistan toured the bombed sites and confirmed there were no targets in the area. What happened to this armada of Indian greatness is now history. The aircrafts lost communications and control, were blinded, jettisoned payloads and exited Pakistan in haste. Neither the diversion nor the punishment had the desired effects.

To understand RUKMA VIMANA, it is important to comprehend the ingredients of this motivation. In pre historic Baghavad Gita, this is how such an armada is described in an assumed destruction of Mohenjo-Daro and Harrapa.  

“We beheld in the sky what appeared to us to be a mass of scarlet cloud resembling the fierce flames of a blazing fire. From that mass many blazing missiles flashed, and tremendous roars, like the noise of a thousand drums beaten at once. And from it fell many weapons winged with gold and thousands of thunderbolts, with loud explosions, and many hundreds of fiery wheel.”

Vaimānika Śāstra

Pakistan retaliated shattering the myth of Indian surveillance and electronic warfare and blinding it for as long as Pakistan’s retaliation was in execution. The Indian military chief was deliberately spared his life. Two Indian aircrafts were shot including a pilot captured. In a state of confusion, Indian missile defence shot down its own chopper.

On 27/28 February, India locked six sites in Pakistan with surface to surface missiles while its nuclear powered Arihant-class submarine stealthily crept into Pakistan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. This submarine was forced to surface by Pakistan navy and escorted out of Pakistani waters.  UN Security Council members were engaged and told that Pakistan would respond the moment Indian missiles are fired. Modi, the self- incarnated Arjuna of Baghavad Gita blinked?

In a fourth incident of being blinded, India did not have the time to blink. Chinese domination in East Ladakh was effective to a point that it happened even before India realised what hit them.

In all four incidents the Indian response was, “What if we had Rafale Fighters”. Great nations do not exist and become great on borrowed prowess. They have to have it within themselves.

How can five Rafales, most of them trainers become game changers? The game changer is not superior aircrafts and technology but the ability to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace. Pakistanis thrice and Chinese once demonstrated this capability against India. Few days ago USAF suffered a similar attack in South China Sea.

Not known to most, Pakistani pilots have an expertise on Rafale, perhaps amongst best in the world.

Rafale or F 35, the end result will always be similar. This is why I call it the Sixth Generation Warfare.

Samson Simon Sharaf

July 11, 2020

BREAKOUT TO ZABARDAST PAKISTAN

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:29 am

Samson Simon Sharaf
11 July 2020

Though many may not realise, the strategic plates in West, South and Central Asia are undergoing a tectonic shift. I had written frequently about the End of Geostrategy (Containment of Eurasia) during and post-Cold War. In my hypothesis, the seeds of this shift lay in the Devil’s Triangle comprising West Asia (Syria, Iraq and Iran), Crimea and South-Central Asia. Herein also the roots of Zabardast (powerful) Pakistan.

To explain the end of geostrategy, I concluded that China’s breakout from this military containment ring would not be military but more in nature of economics, technology and logistics. China played it cool for over a century of humiliation and believes that 21st Century belongs to rise of Asia.

Having captured markets world over, China strived to get balance of trade in its favour with lower prices, ever improving quality and forcing competitive industries in host countries to shut down. How dependent the world was on China was witnessed in the beginning of Covid-19 crises when Europe and Americas found themselves short of essential and basic PPE equipment. I also concluded that all conflicts in these regions will spurt from the objectives of containment versus breakout. This factor alone would override all other determinants of policy making for every country of the region. This means shifting gears and resetting sails.

Just like 9/11 gave a time jump to USA to pursue broad spectrum dominance of the world, Prime Minister Modi’s Kashmir policy, abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A and redrawing of maps provided China an opportunity to fast track its breakout policy. Much to disdain of policy ends India framed, Pakistan has emerged stronger.

Though the Karakorum Highway is safely tucked away more than 300 KMs West of Eastern Ladakh, China in order to secure its laterals, occupied Indian claim lines at four strategic points. It has thus pre-empted the remotest possibility of any interference with the CPEC artery through Pakistan, secured its lateral and opened a corridor of joint Sino-Pakistan military operations. To add insult, India has been humiliated.

At the same time China challenged Indian policy of US sponsored containment, violation of international law and UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir, illegitimacy of abrogating Articles 370 and 35A and chinks in its largely dependent military force structure. Gripped with Covid-19 crisis, India and the world were surprised. For India, disconnect between policy and military capability is a bleeding sore.

Modi’s ill-fated decision may have had many motivations.

Modi, RSS, its Sang Parivar and BJP live the dream of Bharat Versha. To become a reincarnation, he wants this dream fulfilled in his lifetime. India must become a policeman of the region and disrupt Chinese plans acting as a vanguard of Indo-Pacific Command. It is possible he took this initiative without taking his allies into confidence; a pound of flesh he wanted to extract as retribution for his cooperation.

Having invested billions in Afghanistan under the shadow of CENTCOM, the rewards dwindled away on the eve of US withdrawal from Afghanistan. He and his Sang calculated that by destabilising Sino-Pakistan nexus, he could delay US pull-out from Afghanistan and gain time for its policy implementations. With Chinese reaction, US may be double minded on Afghanistan but it matters little.

Post Balakot, the world certainly pondered over Pakistan’s ability to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum and hit India inside IOK. They must have also analysed how Pakistan was able to track an Indian nuclear submarine in its territorial waters, force it to surface and then escort it out. Sino-Pakistan technological cooperation must have been the obvious suspicion.

But as a consequence, Pakistan has gained far more than it stands to lose with continued US and Indian presence in Afghanistan. India’s ‘two front war’ it drummed for over six decades has morphed into a singular front providing converging axis to China and Pakistan in Ladakh.

On the nuclear front, India’s dream of fighting a conventional limited conflict with Pakistan under a superior Indian nuclear shadow is now a relic. Singular front means the overwhelming nuclear and cyberspace superiority of China and Pakistan. Modi’s Rukma Vimana (Chariots of Fire) published in Nation on 02 March 2019 will have to wait.

India’s initiative also meant that Pakistan would be forced to show its hands. To the contrary, despite all the gains, Pakistan continues to hold its cards close to the chest. This makes Pakistan’s policy and strategic capabilities ambivalent, something most desirable to impose checks on a hot line of control and a boiling freedom struggle in IOK. Yet, Pakistan accrues all advantages from its friendship with China.

Most importantly, the escalation has provided Pakistan an open cheque to break out of the Cold War Syndrome and thinking. Pakistan now has a new security paradigm and must grab the opportunity. Pakistan for its own survival and development has to ensure that while China breaks out of the Containment Ring, in tandem, it grows out of the US shadows. Already in many ways, the balance is shifting in favour of China.

As events unfold in Turkey (consider French strike on Turkish base in Libya), Israeli strikes against Iran, Chinese reiteration of massive investments in Iran, Russia’s cold shoulder to India and the restive periphery of India’s neighbours, the heat and game is on. Pakistan has to “make ready its strength to the utmost of its power, including steeds of war” to assist China in this breakout. Thereafter, Russia, Iran and Turkey would follow.

But my most pressing concern is about Pakistan’s readiness. There are many inhibitors Pakistan will have to overcome.
Most important is governance in a tattered political system made worse by the 18th amendment. Entrenchment of elites and corruption pose the biggest challenge to good governance, the most vulnerable trajectory in instability. One has only to read volumes on Pakistan’s Instability Trajectories written in USA and the West.

We must also grasp Surah Al-Anfal 8:60 from the Holy Quran regarding ‘Utmost of Power’. This means consolidating National Power as the prime mover of national interests and policies. This is a vocation Pakistan has neglected far too long.

Pakistan is a country of contrasts and paradoxes. It appears at the top or rock bottom of various indices indicating the idiosyncratic nature of the collect. Few flashes of brilliance are punctuated with pathetic lows and a yawning national disconnect; a nuclear state with a begging bowl and lowest of low human development indices.

A lethal brew of self-serving politicians, absence of an informed political discourse, moral bankruptcy and corruption put the security of citizens at risk. Yet resilient working classes sustain themselves despite a politically franchised black economy that sucks blood from stones. Missing is a vision backed by an imaginative and workable national framework based on Pakistan’s short, mid and long term architecture of National Power. The absence of balanced national interests reduces the lofty objectives of the constitution to jargon.

I have been watching Pakistani webinars on Ladakh and Pakistan’s security. It seems that our western educated elites and thinkers are still stuck in the past of Cold War. They have not been able to adjust sails to new realities. There is too much of the old school whose historic predispositions deter them from shifting gears.

If we superimpose the rise of China with Post Covid-19 and Ladakh environments, the world is changing. Pakistan has no option but to readjust its sails. Elites, politicians, civil servants, opinion makers, thinkers and universities have to awaken from slumber and marshal to become part of a Zabardast Pakistan.

Naya Pakistan was a dream coined by me in 2012. Zabardast Pakistan is a reality.

March 28, 2020

THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CORONA

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:19 am

Oh God! Let the Sun Shine

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Yesterday, Pakistan reached the 4th week and most critical phase of the Corona Virus Pandemic. It is a race against time to deploy critical medical supplies from abroad and provide safe conditions to medical staff.

Prime Minister Imran Khan insists that taking precautions and staying indoors is the best measure; denying the virus space to conflagrate. After decades of loot and plunder and an otherwise rich and resourceful country sucked blue, passive measures are our only line of defence. With a confused economic policy, failure at enforcement in broad range of issues and the deficient health system, everything could choke. There is no other option. All we can do is back him, lock ourselves indoors and pray.

On 26 February, Pakistan confirmed the first two cases of the virus. Both patients had returned from Iran. Next week three more cases were confirmed. By the third week, the confirmed cases were 53. Then the spike began. Within the next 11 days till yesterday, the total cases exceed 1,200. Most of the infected case came from abroad but local infections are catching on.

At least three provinces, Sindh (in lead), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are more assertive. Punjab, the most populous is not far behind. Kashmir so far is most satisfactory. Gilgit-Baltistan has witnessed a spike. Thankfully, the mortality i.e. conversion of infection to death is very low. Four out of nine fatalities had multiple causes.

Some virology experts term the next two weeks as critical. The virus could spike exponentially as it did in China, Italy, Spain, France, USA and Iran; and within days choke the frail, ill equipped and neglected health care system of Pakistan. If this tragedy takes place, the projections are grim.

Contrarians cite the low mortality rate and argue that there exists some unexplained immunity that shall ultimately flatten the spike till it is over, maybe by mid-April this yearUltra Violet rich sunlight kills infections in the atmosphere.

Pakistan short of announcing a total shutdown is in a lockdown. Prime Minister argues he does not want panic to take over. Certainly the working classes and poor who are his caucus belli have not panicked.

A day to day existence for the poor is itself a challenge. There are the good Samaritans everywhere and take care of the less privileged. Like always, the philanthropic nature of the people will come to fore and provide despite the proliferation of hoarders, speculators and elitist classes well entrenched in the system. These classes will exploit this pandemic to make quick money.

Geographically, India is located in the same latitude zones as Pakistan. Genetically and ethnically there is a similarity in major populations. In sharp contrast, India despite lesser incidents and low casualty ratio is taking no chances and gone into a shutdown with brute force. Indian punishing nature of lockdown helps the government to dilute the street agitations against the citizenship laws.

Why India went for such drastic measures is a case study that shall unfold in the next few weeks. I pray the immunity theory proves correct not because Pakistan benefits but for the reason it saves precious human lives.

In defence of the Herd Immunity School that predicts no spikes in same proportion as Europe and Iran, nature could possibly intervene? On this Blessed Friday, while the country argues whether to pray in mosques and churches, clouds have suddenly swarmed in. In Pakistan rains and reduction in pollution due to lockdown are Godsend. We do not have many options other than divine intervention.

Watching daily press briefings by the federal and provincial governments reflects many aspects of national life. Well dispersed government officials underline the importance of social distancing. The Prime Minster, Advisor Health and Chairman NDMA put up brave defiant faces. Body language of every other member of the official entourage betrays the facts. They know they got it wrong with a bent conscience. Economic managers know that they have run the ship aground and that from hereon, every economic decision however positive will have negative consequences. At some stage will prime minister will have to jettison this overload is as relevant as ridding Covid-19.

The brave faces understand the odds but show grit and courage. When they talk of imminent supplies arriving even on personal contacts; rushing supplies to Gilgit-Baltistan through one time opening of Pak-China Border; they admit that the health system was resigned to corrupt abandon and that whatever existed has been smuggled and hoarded. How helpless that despite being powerful, that they are darning worn out rags.

It is painful to see the Prime minister defending the wrongs of economic managers. Either-way, negative effects of high interest rates are visible. Pakistan has reached a stage that even reducing them is a nightmare. In 24 hours Rupee shed off 10 against the US $. Speculators within the interbank went on a buying spree and hot money quickies under pressure from their borrowers walked away with their treasures. This has resulted in a flight of over $ 1.5 Billion in an instance. It proved the destructive nature of IMF imposed policies and Hot Money.

Given the spoils earned by elites, Pakistan is in fact a rich country. These elites are using the corona crises to hedge their interests and holding the country hostage. Downstream agriculture industries and cartels are focussed on the 200 Billion reliefs to agriculture and SMEs. The government has no idea how to use it. Most likely it will waste away in subsidies to these industries. APTMA rather than act like Bangladesh has already started asking for loan waivers and subsistence. The fact is that all these industries and many others owe hundreds of billions to the government and labour of Pakistan. Unlike India, these parasitic mafia and cartels lack a sense of sacrifice.

According to Dr. Ikram Ul Haq, the long-delayed and much-needed financial relief and stimulus package of Rs 1.3 trillion is found “satisfactory” though “insufficient” by majority of the people. Experts question whether Rs. 3000 per month for daily wagers is realistic for an average family size of five? The government can do much more than this cosmetic Rs. 3,000 per labour.

Labour and daily wagers form the moot point of Prime Minister’s argument for resisting a shutdown. Yet the economic team fails to inform the Prime Ministers that hundreds of billions in Worker Welfare Fund have piled with business houses since 2006, they are constitutionally liable to pay. Business houses and industries are liable to remit 2% profits to Workers Welfare Fund. Amendments to Sections 2 and 4 of the Workers Welfare Ordinance, 1971 were declared ultra vires in 2012 and endorsed by the Supreme Court in 2016. Consequently all donors are liable to pay billions in arrears since 2006, not pursued by any government in the past eight years. The prime minister needs to take affirmative action and curative amendment rather than writing off loans and providing subsidies to business houses that mint money in every crisis. The government should force them to come good on their legal commitments. This act alone will address plights of the labour classes.

So as this week ends, let us pray for; the medical supplies to be deployed; our ill equipped doctors and vulnerable medical staff who brave odds on the frontline; the janitorial staff in hospitals who work with no protective gear; herd immunity theory to come true and that the ultra violet rich sun shines brightly.

Till the storm is over, every Pakistani must share with the neighbour and remain indoors. Let us pray in earnest.

Samson Simon Sharaf

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