INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

September 26, 2010

REGIME CHANGE: REAL OR COSMETIC SURGERY

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:39 am

When we as Pakistanis discuss the partition of the sub continent and creation of Pakistan, we usually refer to the freedom movement led by both Congress and Muslim League in the backdrop of events within the united India and the Jinnah-Nehru rivalry. We also ignore to shut our eyes to the reality that despite a sustained freedom struggle, Jinnah’s Pakistan has remained elusive due to the instability created by various power houses within and outside Pakistan’s politic body.

By 1951, most of the die hard and ideological supporters of Jinnah had become back benchers, others left for India and those who dared became traitors or got the lead clad in copper. The entire construct of Pakistan as an equal opportunity and democratic republic evaporated in the heat of political machinations exploited by elites and zealots who themselves were never the vanguard of Jinnah’s movement. By 1956, the army as the strongest institution was hobnobbing with USA and in 1958 in full grip of political power. This political seesaw has continued without addressing the factors of perennial political instability; except that all interventions notwithstanding military or political have served to secure great power interests while compromising Pakistan’s strategic equilibrium and political institutions.

Though most Pakistanis recognize and acknowledge the foreign intervention factor, none dilate that this same factor could have had an effect on the creation and future of Pakistan, evidently so because such research does not help our process of inventive nationalism and distortion of history. Had the bull be taken by the horns then, our generation of Pakistanis and the one before us would have evolved a modern and prosperous Pakistan.

History suggests that at the end of WW II, USA having emerged as the greatest military, economic and maritime power was not interested in dividing India. However due to relentless pressure of Jinnah and Nehru’s rejection of the Cabinet Mission Plan, it was not possible for Britain to deny freedom to India through partition. It was also in their interests to create a Muslim buffer between the godless communism and rapidly growing relations between the congress, USSR and China. Hence Pakistan was given freedom with a bleeding Kashmir wound and the containing Radcliffe Award drawn not by Mountbatten as the common perception is but by Frank Wavell who handed him a map cutting across the Indus River System. The controversies thus created would ensure that Pakistan does not grow beyond a certain point and coalesce with other Muslim neighbors to challenge imperial interests. Britain’s Afghan Policy with obsession of CARS could be pursued through a containment front that ultimately served the British and US interests in the 80s.  This remains the constant road map; and hence the interchangeability of military interventions and political instability.

Ayub Khan’s intimate relations with USA not only allowed him to modernize the armed forces but also urged him to become the first military dictator of Pakistan. Yet when he began to say, ‘Friend not Masters’ it needed a price hike in sugar to remove him through another military man who presided over the partition of Pakistan.

When Bhutto coalesced too close to the Saudis and Iranians to make an Islamic Union, challenge the world through an oil embargo, settle Durand Line with Afghanistan and nuclearise Pakistan, he was sent to the gallows by another military man harvested in the killing fields of Jordan.

The man who served US interests so well in the Mock Afghan Jihad was blown up in air because he too had begun to harbor notions of a greater Ummah and Islamic Bomb.

Benazir was thrown out twice not because she was corrupt but for supporting Pakistan’s Nuclear Development much beyond the point her father had envisioned and bringing political stability to a war torn Afghanistan by cajoling Mullah Umar and Taliban. She was murdered because it was impossible to kill the Bhutto in her.

General Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign not because he wanted but because he was accused of playing a double game by USA. He was guilty of not doing enough.

If this be the precedence, empirically what is next?

The print and electronic media is rife with conspiracy theories about the winds of change. There are at least five lists being circulated by aspirants, technocrats and fly by night reformers. Most pundits due to obvious reasons rule out a conventional military intervention. Some theorists are pointing towards a military backed political change with the objective to eradicate corruption and usher good governance. There are still others who pray that the change takes place constitutionally in light of various Supreme Court Judgments and their defiance by the government. Yet there are diverse dreamers who wish to re revamp the entire system through a revolution and either return to Jinnah’s Dream or a Talibanised Emirate.

Having been a keen and critical student of Pakistan’s political sociology, allow me to comment that that if a change does take place, it shall only be cosmetic. In view of many skeletons in the cupboard, only the pawns will perish and Pakistan will continue to serve other’s interests but its own.

As ever, I also pray that if a constitutional change does take place, it pursues the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. This wish is not asking the moon.

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/Opinions/Columns/26-Sep-2010/Regime-change-cosmetic-surgery

September 13, 2010

PAKISTAN’S FLOODS: DARNING THE SHREDS

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:25 am

Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf

This year’s floods besides bringing destruction and misery to Pakistanis have also raised many questions about the ability and intent of the government to manage crises, avert failures and reconstruct. In case these questions are not addressed, then the ability of the government to rebuild and create an opportunity out of a challenge is also questionable. This implies a very pathetic socio economic equation as an ends means relationship; something a country torn by strife, dysfunctionalism, corruption, economic meltdown and terrorism can least afford.

The flood and its aftermath have raised many technical questions that that need to be addressed lest they become folklore of exploitation, corruption and deprivation for the most fertile areas of Pakistan and its people rendered hapless by the cruel force of nature.

The flood is now over a month old and has yet to debouche into the Arabian Sea. Rather it continues to move at a snail’s pace whilst challenging the Southern areas of Pakistan, intercepting highways, inundating oil/gas fields and naval garrisons. Now as more rains fall in upper Pakistan and Kirthar Range, the menace will prolong miseries inasmuch as the political spinoffs of poverty.

All pondage areas of Pakistan to divert floodwaters to create wetlands are practically dry. The excess flow of Chenab rather than be diverted to the East was diverted to the West where it inundated huge tracts of prime agriculture lands and town. Similarly, the dykes and levees on Indus and its drainage system were breached to the East, flooding a vast tract between Indus and Chenab. Indus in this area also created a new course and debouched into Chenab North West of Multan. In contrast the pondage areas of South Punjab and Sindh maintained as reserves for the Shikari Elites remained dry.

A satellite photo of the flood water taken on 15 August 2010 at a time when Punjab had been ravaged and Indus was just being diverted near Jacabobad. Note how Indus had joined Chenab North West of Multan at multiple points.  All pondage areas East of Chenab are dry.

For quite some time the water levels at Guddu and Sukker Barrage were over 1,000,000 cusecs. The arrival at Kotri was much below expected. Despite the havoc it has now wreaked in Thatta, Sajawal and Johi, the discharge still does not match the initial thrust at the two major barrages upstream. This means that the flows recorded at the two barrages were minus the diverted flows that hit Balochistan and Upper Sindh. Where has all this water gone and when will it recede is a big concern?

In this NASA photo of 7 September 2010, notice the new Course of River Indus created by diverting the flood waters to the North. The water has inundated parts of Balochistan and Upper Sindh. According to experts, the darker parallel Indus to the left suggest depth or a greater sediment load. In my view it also indicates more static nature ie huge lagoons in making and hence a thin stream flows into the Manchar Lake.

There is no doubt now that the entire dyke and levee management was done arbitrarily by non technical people sans intervention of geologists, hydrologist and hydro-archeologists with historical knowledge of the river system behavior. The result is a complete breach of national interests and security tantamount to treachery.

For a long time our water managers have talked of the structural insecurity to Pakistan through Indian Water Management Schemes. Yet the biggest cut of them all has been inflicted by our very own. Indian release of water at Ravi, Sutlej, Beas and through Hanumangarh has been controlled and minimal following the perennial pattern. No doubt that the floods have been massive, but the damages could have been limited through professionalism and scientific knowledge.

So what are the challenges ahead and how we must face them?

The first process of darning the shreds is to carryout both damage limitation and rehabilitation simultaneously. This will particularly be a daunting task in areas that are likely to remain submerged for prolonged periods. The entire Dera Allah Yar, Manchar, Juhi Complex overhangs like a daemon that will take its toll before the exorcism is complete incurring socio economic and political scars for a long time to come.

Secondly, the prime lands of Southern Punjab are destroyed. Misery is likely to coalesce with the political notion of devolving Punjab and breeding grounds of militancy. The scale of disaster and its political economy cannot be offset even by the best of rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. There always will remain a window of exploitation and vested interests will not relent.

Thirdly, the urbanization and migration of rural populations to the cities? If unplanned, it will create law and order issues endemic to migration trends. The biggest problems in the long term will be faced by Hyderabad and Karachi that are already vulnerable to ethnic conflicts.

Fourthly, the trends to convert a tragedy to money making opportunities are already visible. This lack of transparency is already holding back donors. The NGO-Public Development debate is becoming ugly. A public-private sector transparent mechanism is a need of the hour to ensure that even trivial projects are not monetarily sexed up to divert profits.

Lastly, barring the KPK, none of the governments both at provincial and federal level appear to be delivering. The challenge is made even more difficult by political intent and enormity of the tasks; Hence, a need for political transparency beyond party lines. If this is not done, situational dynamics will throw up a GODOT and the entire political fabric will be consumed in fits of public rage.

But this GODOT must come riding the wave of public aspirations. As in the past, doctored institutionalism will not work.

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist.

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