November 28, 2008

Bombay Pakistan and the World

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 2:55 pm
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In my assessment, this incident could involve individuals from diverse nationalities. If incidents of the past are to be considered, them even a remote Pakistani connection is but obvious.

Having been put into the box, Pakistan after this Bombay incident could be forced into the corner of the box.

If Kiani and Co complies further, we head for a Place de la Bastille.

There are parallels to the attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. If there is mobilisation by India to exert pressure on Pakistan, the consequences for Pakistan without ever going to war would still be far worse than 2001. Pakistan would be forced to pull troops from the western front to the east as it did in 2001. Even then, I was the sole voice pleading that we should call the bluff and not unhinge. This unhinging allowed the entire backwash of Afghanistan violence to flow into Pakistan and hence the FATA situation.

This time round, it may result into militant control of NWFP and far worse. Karachi may follow on lines of MQM-Pashtun divide resulting in the port city blocked. Supplies from Iran could easily be cut off by the BLA.

From the point of view of National Power, Pakistan is in no position to call the bluff other than showing desperation to the extent of an unambiguous nuclear statement. However, seeing the entire matrix, this may not happen unless the people of Pakistan revolt and there is a real revolution. But all revolutions have a history of being hijacked.

Realistically, Pakistan is in an ‘all loose situation’. Our national leadership including the Army Chief do not measure up to it. Then what? Pakistan will remain a rudderless derelict ship loaded with a nuclear cargo complying to every crest and wave till something happens.

Perhaps the biggest hope will be providence. In that case, the backwash will flow into India and that must be realised by both India and USA. Then the war would have just begun. 9/11 and Bombay would just seem to be  preliminaries.

Brigadier Retired Samson Simon Sharaf


November 26, 2008

The Taliban and Our National Interest!

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:26 am
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Afghanistan does not have any economic base to survive


The Pakistan government on many occasions has stated that it would talk to the extremists only after they lay down their arms. After a long in-camera presentation, debate, and arguments in the Parliament, it seems that the Pakistan government intends to take a firm line against the extremists in FATA.

However, the PPP government has still not been able to convince a good number of politicians, intellectuals, and general public that a strong action in FATA is the best way to go.

A healthy but emotions packed debate of the Law Makers in the parliament as well as the Opinion Makers in the media is a tremendously welcome sign for the democracy. Pakistan has been trying to shed the stigma of secretive closed door decisions of a few, for the last many years. This debate would enormously help build confidence in democracy. The patience shown by the ruling party on this issue is commendable and the extensive input of the Pakistanis at home or abroad through the media has given people a strong sense of participation in the national affairs.

There is an elementary principle of reasoning: it’s known as making distinctions. The Government is facing a rough and highly charged resistance on this issue because the ruling party has not been able to frame the issue in the right context. Majority of Pakistanis absolutely would not connect with the global war on terror and the trepidations are not unreasonable. The issue really is not whether this is Pakistan’s war or it is being forced on Pakistan. The subject of the discussion should be: what our national interests’ demand? As long as the government persists with framing the issue in the context of the global war on terror, the issue would remain divisive. People all over the world are distancing from the GWOT. The current US administration’s abuse of the term GWOT has made it synonymous with the cultural war against the Muslims. The repeated mention of the clash of civilization, the crude invocation of the crusades, calling Iraqi resistance–terrorism, and the hounding and bullying of the Muslims in the Western media over the last seven years has toughened resistance to the idea of participating in a cause that is so heavily tied with the US aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan. The decline of U.S. credibility is hampering the progress on the FATA issue in Pakistan.

The government would have a hard time overcoming both emotional or realist objections, unless it is able to effectively demonstrate to the people that there are many distinctions between the situation in FATA and some other places.

Making this case is not all that hard. The Pakistanis have learned many things over the last several years. They have seen the humiliations of the nation, they have seen the falling opinions about Pakistan throughout the world and they are now more conscious of the enormous mistakes made in the past. The previous regime and the way it operated have given people a strong sense of right and wrong. The reaction to the dismissal of the Chief Justice finally proved once and for all that Pakistanis are looking for justice and are ready to stand up for the truth. While the PPP government vacillated on the Chief Justice issue, transparency on FATA is vital. Rationalizing and leveling with the people are the keys to garner support.

There is no ambiguity now about the fact that the Pakistani decision to interfere in Afghanistan after the leftists’ takeover in 1978 deeply impacted subsequent events in the area. The ideology and the influx of the refugees in Pakistan were the prime reasons. However, what aced all other reasons was the doctrine of Strategic Depth. The doctrine placed against the ground realities in Pakistan, appears to have more holes than Swiss cheese. A good faith discussion on the doctrine would benefit the people. An unconfirmed availability of fissionable material in Afghanistan might also be a factor in the decision. The implausible shortsightedness at the top in 1978 to a great deal hurt Pakistani national interests. A course correction was needed after the Soviets left Afghanistan but the involvement intensified even further. However, there is more in the history then just the Pakistani mistakes.

Afghanistan never in the history had and still does not have any economic base to survive on its own. As long as the Achaemenids and the Greeks controlled large areas, the Ghaznavids, the Ghorids, and the Durranis kept on plundering and conquering the neighboring territories, the current Afghanistan survived economically and was relatively peaceful.

From the Mid 19th century on, the Afghan State was kept afloat by the British subsidies.

When the Indian independence struggle intensified, Afghanistan stepped up efforts to reclaim NWFP, FATA and parts of Balochistan lost to the Sikhs and the British in the 19th century principally for the economic survival. The relatively well off, fertile, and arable NWFP offered a hope to replace the British subsidies for the economic survival of the Afghan state. Afghanistan actively supported Faqir Ipi in FATA and political groups in both NWFP and Balochistan to position itself favorably with the Pushtoons. The persistent refusal by the successive afghan governments to accept Durand Line as the permanent borders should be looked at in the right background. Ignore these facts at your own peril. Analysts would fail to highlight Pakistan’s national interests, if they do not account for these realities.

In the recent history, the drought and the famine in 1972-73 brought King Zahir Shah down. The drought in 1997-2001 forced the Taliban to ignore the poppy crop and when they tried to control it, they lost support–one of the main reasons of fast retreat in 2001.

The dwindling support of Karzai and the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan now are directly related with the international pressure to curtail the poppy crop. The poppy crop is a major source of reliable income for the Afghanistan peasantry. Any afghan government that would attempt to curtail that would lose support instantly.

The constant changes in the strategies, the rivalries between the players in the Capital, and the domestic politics exigencies make the US policies in Afghanistan perceptibly overweening. However, a deep analysis would reveal and reinforce the American Vertigo scenarios. Still, the elephant in the room has to be accounted for. US may be weary of fighting in Afghanistan but it would continue to maintain its presence in the area by forging new alliances with different groups. Its new ally could very well be some breakaway Taliban group.

The continued insurgency in FATA, now extended to parts of NWFP creates conditions that would allow some groups to strengthen their positions for a future unification of the Pushtoon speaking areas. With NWFP and FATA joining in, the chances of economic viability of any such area would increase manifold. That is where the Taliban role in the area is of prime concern.

FATA has been in a state of semi-war for the last thirty years. Especially the last seven years of intense war like conditions in the area have contributed to the collapse the traditional cultural, tribal, and familial relations. The tribal areas lack any infrastructure for remedies. Residents have abandoned their fields; number of jobless is on the rise. Many villages have already been abandoned by its residents; some residents are in the process of moving from the vulnerable areas. The increasing numbers of jobless youth provide perfect environments for the Taliban recruitment. This is a replica of South American guerrilla movements where uneducated and unemployed youth from the countryside joined the insurgencies for obscure reasons they did not understand. The Taliban make the religious pitch; provide opportunities to youth to assert power, and promise financial rewards to help out the already strapped parents, brothers and sisters. In a collapsing social structure militants’ numbers swell up fast.

The Pakistani Taliban is not an ideological but an opportunistic anarchic group. Unlike the afghan Taliban, Pakistani Taliban do not have a country to fight for nor do they have deep ideological roots and a history of struggle to qualify as legitimate holy warriors. The farrago of Sharia is just a cover to step up recruitment to create anarchy in FATA and NWFP. The FATA is already conservative and deeply religious. The Taliban Sharia just means removal of all schools and entertainment outlets in favor of Madrassah and Jihad.

The Taliban like groups can be easily manipulated by many interested parties. The most likely manipulators could be the Afghan Taliban and some foreign groups. They encourage insurgency in Pakistan to loosen the state structure by spreading lawlessness. With the anarchy spreading to the settled areas, state would lose the apparatus to maintain the physical integrity of the country. The Taliban appears to be a classical separatist group!

With international forces on Pakistani borders, Pakistan needs to manage the area to safeguard its legitimate borders. The Taliban has become a vehicle for the disruptive forces that intend to break up the country. How is it not in our National Interest to deal with the Taliban effectively?

November 21, 2008

A Tribute to a Senior

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 3:37 pm


Brigadier (r) Samson Simon Sharaf

It is the destiny of every professional soldier to lie in wait for a day that may never come and yet be prepared if it does even at the peril of his life. Soldiering for me and my friends like Alvi, spans those romantic expanses of military life through all its peaks and valleys, which none other than soldiers grasp; and always leading towards a horizon of ideals that no other profession can rival.

The honour of the country is paramount; that of the men one commands the next; and self, the last

It is only this profession that reaches the closest zeniths of ideals, as its brave soldiers are expected to sacrifice their today for the tomorrow of others; the ultimate destiny for a professional soldier whenever the need so arises.

Such are the rallying points to build courage when valour seems to fail; to regain faith when despair abounds; and to create hope when it is forlorn. It is the integration and internalising of this code that arouses a sense of pride and yet of humility which was and will be, with me always

We belong to the breed of officers that volunteered for the Army after the tragedy of 1971. These 36 years have taught us to be proud as well as be unbending in honest failure. It opened vistas of true wisdom and meekness of strength. Our emotions were not ours alone but also shared by every individual of the armed forces. There was therefore always, a temperate will, a quality of imagination, vigour of the emotions, an appetite for adventure and the resolve to win back the lost honour.

The day I joined Pakistan Military Academy, a group of seniors especially came to see me. Though I spoke lucid English, they were all amused to hear me speak urdu in typical Lahori dialect. A just for fun ragging was followed by a visit to the cafeteria, where we chanced to talk of our linkages with Pakistanis in Kenya, my sister being one. I was impressed the way he talked of Pakistan and the army. It was later I learnt that he had renounced his British moorings only to join the army.

Alvi loved to flirt with danger. In boxing he took on Talat, a cadet twice his weight and danced around him. In assault course, he set a record and jumped obstacles so reminiscent of the safari land he came from. He ran like a true Kenyan marathon runner and would always lead in the grueling nine miles run

In 1973, we did our adventure parachuting course together. We were instructors together in School of Infantry and Tactics and did our Staff course in Quetta in 1985 in the same batch. That’s when we both got our second daughters.

We had frequent contacts in 1999-2000 when he commanded the SSG and I was in Military Operations. Then again when he was a Major General, we worked together on the Heliborne Rapid Reaction Force.

After our retirements, we usually brushed shoulders at Tai Pan Restaurant of PC Rawalpindi. Despite the unceremonious exit, he had not lost his bubbling demeanor and confidence. He was just the same.

To me he remains a living memory of a young teenager shouting ‘four men left door’ as we prepared to jump from the 34 feet tower. He was so full of life, vigor and energy

November 7, 2008

‘Give us the Pakistani Passport, at Least’

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 1:04 pm

By: Amjad Malik


The respect Pakistani rulers have created for the Green passport abroad is visible from the treatment they get at the USA airport when they had to take off their shoes and belts. However this same travel document is a passport to heaven to some 8 million Pakistanis who have families back home and their desire to keep in touch with their families and the country of origin is an unannounced ‘unstinted support’ towards Pakistan. However Pakistani bureaucracy and successive regimes have always preferred to give the basic rights of their citizens as favors which is a near curse to any nation. I will be unfortunately highlighting about a minor hardship towards obtaining new or renewed passports at missions abroad especially in UK which is causing havoc in Pakistani lower threshold circles i.e. students, spouses visa holders, work permit holders and all others who are temporarily resident in UK, of course, those have no ‘sifarish’ or ‘goose’ to give and they are here in the system for years. Asylum seekers from UK have the privilege to be directly promoted to the posts of chief Ministers, Governors, Ministers, Ambassadors and even advisors but common Pakistanis are still queuing up for their basic rights outside these missions. Recently Government of Pakistan has introduced a policy or practice whereby no passport will be issued and or renewed on the basis of old identity card. One will have to have a new computerized identity card in order to enjoy that facility, I feel that may be justified in limited circumstances to collect data and to combat terrorism & illegal immigration, however it must be coupled with arrangements whereby such identity cards are issued within a time frame to access to facilities.

Now lately there has been a shift in the way passport is issued whereby upon expiry of any passport Pakistani citizens are demanded a ‘home office document’ or ‘sticker’ confirming that they require a passport for necessary visa endorsement. Pakistanis struggle and run around the missions to obtain passport and are in a catch 22 position. Home office asks for an original passport as they do not entertain application(s) for further, indefinite leave to remain unless supported with original unexpired passport, and Pakistani mission asks for home office letter requiring a passport. We feel when over estimated one million illegal immigrants in UK from all nationalities are stuck and wish to regularize their stay, our calls for amnesty are frustrated when citizens are denied their basic right to hold a travel document (passport) of their country of origin.

We supported, when Mz. Benazir Bhutto had to knock the door of Supreme Court under case ref: Constitution Petition 45/2007realising that some 20 million voters were missing from the lists for not having NADRA computerized cards, which in return was allowed by Supreme Court. We also supported individually in July 2005 when Mian Nawaz Sharif was struggling to obtain Pakistani passport from missions in Saudi Arabia to visit his ailing son in UK

This refusal of grant of passport without lawful reasons If Pakistani citizens’ last passport was neither cancelled, impounded and or confiscated under s.8 of the Passport Act 1974, amounts to an unlawful policy and ultra vires decision. Passport Act 1974 of Pakistan under s.3 it says,  “No Citizens of Pakistan shall

(a)  depart from Pakistan by any means whatever unless he is in possession of a passport, nor otherwise than from such port or place, by such route and in accordance with such conditions, as may be prescribed; or

(b) visit a foreign country unless his passport is valid for such country.”

Pakistani missions abroad have no legal power to refuse a legal documentation for which one is entitled because of his nationality by birth (subject to all legal requirements are met). We feel demanding home office document prior to passport application is ultra vires and at best mal practice.  If we study the renewed guidelines as advertised at Pakistan High Commission (London) Web page: , they state as following;

·         Personal appearance of the applicant(s)

·         Fill in application form completely.

·         Provide three recent identical passport size photographs, either coloured or black and white.

·         Expired/old Pakistani passport. In case it has been sent to the British Home Office, a letter from them containing particulars of the passport.

·         Original Pakistani National Identity Card/NICOP along with its photocopy. If you don’t have National Identity Card but have applied for one, you can be issued a limited validity passport. Validity will be extended to five years with new Identity Card.

·         Urgent passport is issued on the same day. The fee* is £ 46 + 2 (Bank Charges)

·         If pages of your passport are exhausted, the procedure is same as explained before.

·         Incomplete applications will be returned without action .”

Looking at the guidelines, Pakistanis here in UK mostly meet all the criteria and are being refused unreasonably the facility on a demand which is not only unreasonable but also cause to restrict the liberty of citizens. They are asked to submit status documents in advance of the application, especially if they have entered UK lawfully on general category other than asylum. (However case studies prove otherwise). This new practice will promote nepotism, sifarish culture; unnecessary delays and hardships thus in return will tarnish the image of the country in the eyes of the hard working overseas citizens.  

From these guidelines there is no mention of a policy which is in fact, heavily in practice. The rights of a citizen to hold his country’s travel document is a fundamental one. That right is also identical which is guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 under Article 9 which says that ‘No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law.’ Furthermore, art. 14, 15, and 25 of the Constitution clarifies ‘The dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable.’ Art.15 also certifies that ‘Every citizen shall have the right to remain in, and, subject to any reasonable restriction imposed by law in the public interest, enter and move freely throughout Pakistan and to reside and settle in any part thereof..’ and Art.25 which is parallel to art.14 of the ECHR guarantees that ‘(1) All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.’

If we look at the case law, in the case of Government of Pakistan v Dada Amir Hyder Khan PLD [1987] s.c.504 the court held that where applicant for grant of passport is neither heard before refusing the issuance of passport nor any ground communicated to him for not doing so nor even told that the reason for not issuing it are of such sensitivity that their disclosure is not in the public interest, refusal to issue a passport to the applicant is without lawful authority and of no legal effect.  In the instant cases, refusal of passport(s) potentially on flawed blanket policy & practice are unlawful and has the potential to be challenged in the court of law.

This is a public interest matter and Government of Pakistan is requested to review this unannounced blanket policy immediately. Most of the machinery in Pakistan is aware of the problems faced abroad by us as they have been abroad mostly so kindly allow and ensure that if an applicant meets all the standard requirements of an application for passport, and has a valid identity document (i.e. computerized identity card), they be facilitated to have a passport facility at one, of course by way of right, not as a favor. Overseas Pakistanis contribute heavily through billions of foreign remittances in Pakistani economy unconditionally unlike our ally USA whose shopping list never ends. The least, they deserve, is a befitting treatment. That’s at least Government of Pakistan can do, to give them their passport without obstruction, if they are listening.

Amjad Malik is a Solicitor-Advocate of the Supreme Court (England) and a Vice chair of Association of Pakistani Lawyers (UK)

November 1, 2008

Lt. General (Retired) Jamshed Gulzar Kayani RIP

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 9:33 am
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Lt. Gen  (r) Jamshed Gulzar Kayani  ex Commander 10 Corps and Chairman Public Service Commission, passed away today at around 11 am during an unsuccessful intestinal operation in the Military Hospital of Rawalpindi.

He was from 38th PMA long course and got commissioned in the Baloch Regiment in 1968. A St. Marian by schooling, he came to media galore when he challenged his removal as Chairman of the Public Service Commission by Musharraf in the Civil Courts. Then he gave a series of interview to private channels exposing the misdemeanors of Pervez Musharraf.  

He was an active member of Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association and carried the National Flag on the PESA float during the Long March to Islamabad against Musharraf and reinstatement of the Chief Justice. He was one of the most vocal of our members, as if he was in a hurry to complete his agenda. Indeed he was.

His family had a long history of Cardiac Issues. For the past 15 years, he had worked on his fitness to shed extra ounces and looked visibly frail.  I used to tell him that he was starving himself to sickness. Though he suffered cardiac issues, he was taken away from us due to intestinal sickness.


Ironically, he was determined and succeeded in not being brought down by a heart attack.


We pray for his soul and join the family in condoling and sharing the grief of a great soldier who just faded away.


Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf

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