INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

August 14, 2012

INNAH’S PAKISTAN

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:08 am

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Happy Independence Day Pakistan!

You have survived 65 eventful years despite numerous odds. There were sceptics like Schuman who gave you less than 50 years and statesmen like Nehru and Patel who were convinced that Pakistan would fall back to the Indian Union within a decade. You survived the unkindest cut of butchers within, who time and again put you on a dissecting table for constitutional and reformative procedures. You also survived the thugs, opportunists and traitors who drained you of blood and decimated every sinew of your body. Most, you survived the crossroads and cross hairs of international intrigues endemic to your geo strategic location endeared by your parasitic elites. You somehow kept your own.

Gleaming through the prism of optimism I see that as twilight gives way to a new dawn, you are destined to shine defiantly like the jaded green encapsulated in the morning dew, each drop adding to the vigour of the Pakistani nationhood. Some may criticise that these shiny droplets would soon fade away before a rising sun; that dreams within will remain dreams. To them I say, yes they will fade away to rise into the sky and fill the oceans with fury and force. The tide will retract and then rise again taking with it the debris and backwash of yester. It is for us to regulate this energy and sea of emotions. This is what the Charismatic Imran Khan calls his Tsunami.

Why do I have such hope, the temperate will and the vigour of emotions? I am also one of your excluded and exploited people. They are awakening from a slumber induced by expediency.  You do not need an externally sponsored Arab Spring. The dawn is already within you. You saw it when Jinnah was your leader. Your people like Rip Van Winkle went into a deep sleep. They are now awake and look to a Pied Piper who will lead them to Jinnah’s Pakistan.

Pakistan’s long journey to freedom betrayed its Founding Father Qaid E Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Creation of Pakistan coincided with the Post World War New World Order. Freedom was a mirage and we changed one master for another. Pre 1947 Colonialism morphed into the post 1947 Neo Colonialism and Neo Imperialism. Soon after Jinnah’s demise, these forces unleashed themselves on Pakistan with full fury to create a security state that willingly met the ends of imperialist policies. Like the Mir Jaffers of Bengal, Pakistan was never short on turncoats ready to sell anything for gains. They willingly disrobed the entire mantle of what we romantically and nostalgically call Jinnah’s Pakistan.

As I wrote on Jinnah’s Birthday in 2010, those who ran the last lap for Pakistan ultimately sacrificed the most. The progressive leaguers were called traitors by the new elites, imprisoned, banished and tortured. Foot sloggers of the movement migrated from far afar on carts, trains and foot. They were not just Muslims but also Schedule Caste Hindus and Christians from West Bengal, South India and Delhi. Majority as events proved tragically, left one ghetto, to create another. They still ask, ‘Has Pakistan come’? Yet, Pakistan will come.

Within the construct of the Two Nation Theory and Lahore Resolution, Jinnah’s Pakistan  was an inclusive country with a Muslim majority that would ensure equal treatment; a modern nation-state where people from all walks, ethnicities and beliefs were equal citizens.  Constitutionalism and socio-religious fabric thus evolved has ignored the precedence set by Jinnah in appointing Jogendra Nath Mandal and ZafarUllah Khan as ministers with S. M. Burke the most trusted diplomat.  As time has passed, the domination of the right over the state leaves no space for interpretation. Scholars and social scientists have failed to dissect Jinnah’s politic body with reference to history, his speeches and decisions.

But this trend is not exclusive to non Muslims. Progressive Leaguers like Faiz, M D Taseer and Mian Ifthikhar (the architects of the Kashmir Resistance) also met the same exclusion. Disillusioned, many gradually moved to the pro Soviet left. As Marxism faded away, rather than readapt the ideology of Jinnah, a host of ex-leftists abandoned ‘utopian’ ideas to join the emerging consensus on liberalism and were heavily rewarded for this switch through lucrative NGOs, think tanks, government positions, and talk shows, writes Ammar Jan. In awe of the rising ultra right, they have distanced themselves from the vision of Jinnah’s Pakistan and look forward to a spring through the framework of US global interests. Rather than the people of Pakistan, this is where they hedge their bets.

Theoretically and constitutionally, Pakistan has embraced the Ideological narrative. In reality, this embrace is cosmetic and exploited to meet the end of exclusion. Rather than Jinnah’s Pakistan, it promotes global political and economic interests. Over half a century ago, anticipating lucrative burses, embracing elites of all segments of Pakistan abandoned Jinnah’s Construct in favour of a liberal capitalist world of free market economy, the mock Afghan Jihad and WOT. None has pursued it more fervently than the current purported leftist governments of PPP/ANP and the right defined by JUIF. This political waltz goes to prove that within the ruling agglomerate of Pakistan, there is no left or right. These elites of elastic conscience never made a choice for Pakistan. What remains are people in a very wide space, awakening from a slumber hounded by ultra rightist whose power flows from the barrel of a gun.

Tragically, Pakistani media has also avoided an objective debate on the real issues. Vitriolic political mudslinging and personal allegations are the norm. Good governance and economics means corruption, kickbacks and laundering. Democracy and rule of law is submerged into an otherwise opaque electoral process. Consequently, the media itself often accused of receiving gratifications has failed to stimulate any informed discourse that reaches into the hearts and minds of the people. Intellectualism is conspicuous by absence.

Pakistan’s universities are also complicit. Despite churning out thousands of research papers and theses annually, none has taken pains to research Jinnah’s Vision of Pakistan and how to meet it. The debate has never moved beyond the tailored scripts of the higher secondary school textbooks. Intellectuals and scholars seldom take pains to reach out to the masses and provide the intellectualism and enlightenment crucial to affecting change. Overawed by their own insecurities and fears, they have joined the status quo ignoring their prime responsibility.

If Pakistan has to become free, reliant and credible in the comity of nations, there is only one choice. The cream of its social capital has to move away from the current themes of fear, short sighted expediency and international political economy. In view of the international linkages, this may be a tall but not an impossible order. A realisation that present narratives in no way improve the life of a common Pakistan is the cornerstone on which this new paradigm can be built. The precursor to a modern Pakistan is reformation from within.

As Pakistan moves into the 66th year of its existence, the way forward ought to be true independence. It is the duty of every Pakistani to move in this direction and forge a new and original social contract for Jinnah’s Pakistan. Only then would we succeed in warding external pressures and intrigues and deny space to the extreme right.

We have a new leader and with it a new hope and resolve. But beware, the forces I described above are working over time to eclipse you.

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist. E Mail: Samson.sharaf@gmail.com

August 13, 2012

Islami Falahi Riasat

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:28 am

Islami Falahi Riasat

THE LAST WALTZ

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:11 am

A central theme of a series of articles written by me from 2008 onwards has been ‘why since 1973 onwards, Pakistan has failed to ensure stability in Afghanistan despite repeated diplomatic interventions and Taliban Government pre 9/11’. The conclusion: Instability in Afghanistan and some parts of Pakistan is essential to the calculus of checkmating Pakistan’s rise as a nuclear power. Bad governance is a catalyst to instability.

My assessments were the same in the 90’s when a conflict appeared imminent within a decade.  Pakistan continued to be sucked into a conflict in denial; and failed to contain the runaway factions of militants that it had created. It also chose to become an ally in the WOT without taking cognisance of the societal spin offs.  The lethal brew is now on the boil.

The time from 2000-2007 was crucial to building Pakistan’s image as a responsible country at peace within itself and all its neighbours. 9/11 came and passed but Pakistan’s policy planners failed to read the dynamics and rode gallantly into the trap. Somewhere, there remained a historical predisposition regarding Afghanistan being the graveyard of invading armies? This wait and see has not worked hastening instability.

Post 2007, Pakistan’s national power that strengthens national interests is drained of blood barring few ounces needed to sustain on a ventilator through dollars. Pakistan appears too frail to wait out the crises or stare in the face. Lack of attention to socio economic factors means proliferation of a new genre of organised violence that can take anyone by the throat. The violent cycle in Karachi occurs with alacrity; the targeting of Pathan and Punjabi workforce spreading ethno nationalism and so forth.

As reiterated, Pakistan’s security managers have walked wilfully into a minefield amidst a pack of hounds and a maze of conflict, they know little about. Our own, in blinded ignorance, short-sighted and narrow interests have worked feverishly to subvert national interests. Those who sponsored the NRO, the NRO sponsored politicians and their governments, pseudo liberals funded from overseas, majority of NGO’s operating with foreign funding with dubious connections; and most importantly militants waging a war against the state with terrorism, sectarianism and beheadings.

In my past articles I have deliberated on the wilfully faulty precepts of Pakistan’s political economy, making it impossible to become self reliant with dignity. Poverty breeds crime and militancy. Working on diverse perspectives, these elites, pseudo reformist and minimalists’ combine eat into the state like moths and maggots. As the space for good governance diminishes and compromises become endemic, crises intensify. Each is a hostage to a vested interest or captive to some Cassius Ambition within. As Clausewitz said, ‘in a state torn by insurrections, the centre of gravity lies in its capital’, in this case Punjab. Dissection of Punjab, the romantic notion of Pashtun & Baloch nationalism, the competing gangs in Karachi and barbaric militants are most likely to snowball this mushroom of internal instability.  This is Pakistan’s existential internal threat.

The way this environment shapes coincides with the US intention of withdrawing from Afghanistan.  This could be a token gesture as mixed signals emanating from Washington and gunboat diplomacy suggest otherwise. Nowhere do US statements indicate an end to hostilities and transition to peace. To ensure that this withdrawal takes place quickly, Pakistan has to rethink and reframe its Afghan Policy and create a pause to set its house in order. Delay implies more problems.

If Pakistan can effectively exert its influence on Afghan Taliban in moderating attitudes and pliability to forge stability, the process would speed up. Benazir Bhutto’s accord of 1996 which the Taliban negotiated and the US rejected could provide the blue print for a jump start. Though unlikely in the fog of conflict, US could shift to a primary objective of support missions by 2014 i.e. completing the first phase of its exit. However despite this relief, nothing would change for Pakistan if internal issues will continue to destabilise the state.

This means that despite bringing Taliban to the table, Pakistan will be left with no choice but to use an iron fist against its home grown centres of violence while aggressively addressing the internal causes of instability. This is a very tall and demanding order, beyond the capability of the present government and the timeframe of next elections.  This dilemma is the biggest challenge to Pakistan.

There is something very wicked in these timings. Events prove that as the time for new elections draws near and the present political dispensation plays its last waltz, the instability and anarchy will increase.  Will the upcoming elections be fair, civil and devoid of violence? What political rhetoric will be unleashed by competing parties? Will emotionalism and mutual hate eclipse sanity and wisdom? Will the party coming to power be capable to deliver on emotive electioneering slogans? Or what if in reaction to present rigours, a rightist anti US government comes to power?

These issues are beyond the present Parliament to evaluate or resolve. The powers of party heads conferred by constitutional amendments form a party dictatorship. Interventions by judiciary like stamping a mouse whilst there is a tiger at the door, for the past five years have not improved the situation. So where is the redemption if the interim government for elections is also constituted by these butchers implying more instability?

Hasn’t Pakistan had enough of ‘democracy the best revenge’? It needs more than an election to undo the damage and get Pakistan back to the road of stability. Perhaps a government beyond a caretaker set up that stabilises the internal situation and ensures fair, free and non violent elections. It is time for Pakistan to ensure peace within.

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist. E Mail: Samson.sharaf@gmail.com

 

 

 

ISLAMIC WELFARE STATE

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:07 am

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In the study and commentary of Arthashastra written by Vinshnugupta Kautilya Chanakya, I learned that the sub continent had a formative influence on the Arab World of antiquity in arts, governance and sciences. Later, through trade and warfare, this knowledge fused with the Persian and Chinese schools of thought transferred to Europe in the times of Hazrat Omar Bin Abdul Aziz, Muslim rule of Spain and the Abbasside Khilafat. The Asian Civilisation Episodes and their effect on renaissance by the Discovery Channel have refocused this obscure development. Imran Khan’s referral to Omar’s Law is an indirect reference to this transitional fact.

From antiquity to middle ages, the Arabian Peninsula remained the commercial and educational hub of the world. Caravans used the traditional silk routes to debouch from as far afar as Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Sub Continent and China transferring goods and with it politics and knowledge. Arab sailors dominated all sea fares in the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean till the arrival of the Portuguese. Philosophy with its diverse schools ultimately became the common language. Though the world assumes that it were the Greek Philosophers like Aristotle and Plato who provided the framework for modern philosophy, it ignores history.

There were two landmark developments prior and during the Arab influence and Muslim rule of Europe. First, the Arab monks of Christian denominations began the translation of Greek scripts into Arabic and Hebrew. When Abbasides established the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, they ordered all philosophies to be translated into Arabic. While Europe fought wars and plummeted into darkness, the Arabs, Persians and Nestorian Christians were busy in preserving and documenting these great works with accuracy. Writing in his well-known book “The Making of Humanity” Robert Briffault admits: `The incorruptible treasures and delights of intellectual culture were accounted by the princes of Baghdad, Shiraz and Cordova, the truest and proudest pomp of their courts…. Caravans laden with manuscripts and Botanical specimens plied from Bukhara to Tigris, from Egypt to Andulusia; embassies were sent to Constantinople and to India for the purpose of obtaining books and teachers; a collection of Greek authors or a distinguished mathematician was as eagerly demanded as the ransom of an Empire.’

Later, when the search for origins and authenticity of Greek scripts began, the Baghdad translations assumed cardinal importance. Thus began a discourse between the Islamic and European worlds that included Al-Kindi (Alkindus), Al-Farabi (Abunaser), Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Ibn Bajjah (Avempace), Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and Ibn Khaldun. Their works and commentaries influenced middle age European and Catholic scholars and helped them retranslate the treatises into European languages.

Modern western philosophy considers Ibn Rushd as the greatest commentator and exponent of Aristotelian philosophy, surpassing Ibn Sina by correcting his misconceptions on rational philosophy. He and Ghazali represented two diverse schools in which he prevailed. Many of his invaluable works were lost when the Christian conquerors set fire to the intellectual treasures of the Moors (Spanish Muslims). His treatises had a permanent impact on Christian Europe and he still continues to be the most popular Muslim philosopher in the West. He was also an astronomer and wrote a treatise dealing with the motion of the sphere and credited with the discovery of sunspots. He also summarized the “Almagest” of Ptolemy which was translated into Hebrew by Jacob Anatoli in 1231.

According to George Sarton, ‘he (Ibn Rushd) deeply influenced Jewish philosophy’ and ‘Jewish Averroism reached its zenith under Levi ben Gershon in the fourteenth century, and continued to prosper until the end of the fifteenth century’. Alfred Gillaume in his article Legacy of Islam writes: `Ibn Rushd belongs to Europe and European thought rather than to the east … Averroism continued to be a living factor in European thought until the birth of modern experimental science’. He goes on to write, `We may be sure that those who accuse the Muslim scholars of lack of originality and of intellectual decadence have never read Averroes or looked into Algazel but have adopted second hand judgements. The presence of doctrines of Islamic origin in the very citadel of Western Christianity, the `Summa’ of Aquinas, is a sufficient refutation of the charge of lack of originality and sterility.’  According to Phillip K. Hitti, `the last of the great Arabic writing philosophers, Ibn Rushd belonged more to Christian Europe than to Muslim Asia or Africa’.

In a painting placed in Vatican (circled in red) Ibn Rushd appears the only Muslim scholar in the historic School of Athens

In statecraft Ibn Rushd himself of Maliki tradition considered the Pious Caliphate as the model republic in which the dreams of Plato’s Republic were realized. The later revival of the Caliphate tradition under Hazrat Omar Bin Abdul Aziz (also acclaimed as the fifth Pious Caliph) and the relentless pursuit with which the concept of a welfare state took shape also influenced his writings.   So what was this realisation of Plato’s Republic?

The Caliphate of Hazrat Omar Farooq was the consolidation of a model republic with a philosopher head. The state was built around virtues such as honesty, truthfulness, integrity, fairness, equality, compliance and observance. He assisted the Holy Prophet in stamping the Treaty of St. Catherine giving equal rights to Christians and refused to pray in churches and synagogues lest someone may make it a precedence to convert them to mosques. The Caliph lived a simple life as a servant of the people. He established the Diwan with a central treasury called Baitul Mal whose main responsibility was distribution rather than accumulation of wealth, insurance and pensions. He abolished landed aristocracies. He declared that every man including him were equal before law. His regimentation of the army into different arms and services made it the most agile, hard hitting and logistically self contained fighting machine. These monumental developments were eclipsed and abused during the Umayyad rule.

His great grandson Omar bin Abdul Aziz (Al-Khalifat-us-Saleh) emerged as the first revivalist in Islamic history. This philosopher and scholar Caliph sacrificed his lavish life style as governor of Madina for an ascetic and humble life of abstinence and poverty. He reformed the entire political, social and cultural landscape to Hazrat Omar’s Model State. In his historic address to the people he said, “Brothers! I have been burdened with the responsibilities of the Caliphate against my will. You are at liberty to elect anyone whom you like.” He allowed them to break their allegiance to him, if he wavered from the path of God.  Islam’s democratic spirit was the outstanding feature of his rule.

As a welfare state, he abolished slavery, undertook extensive public reforms and works in Persia, Khorasan and North Africa removing the distinctions of Arab and non Arab Muslims. Dignity and honour were restored to minorities. He was the first Caliph to commission a translation of the Holy Qur’an from Arabic into the ancient Sindhi language and order the compilation of Hadith. He was the Caliph who began a serious reconciliation of political and religious differences amongst Muslims i.e. Bani Hashim, Shi’as and Kharijites. To sustain prolonged peace for development, he recalled his armies from the borders of France, India and the outskirts of Constantinople.

These reforms were not taken well by the Umayyad who got him murdered; the dynasty crumbled. Abbasides and the rulers of Spain continued the traditions of the model republic with greater focus on development and education.  The rise of Muslim philosophers, scientists and inventors were their link with Europe.

If dignity, respect for life, tolerance, good governance, justice and austerity are a measure of a welfare state led by a philosopher, the States established by Hazrat Omar Farooq and persevered by Omar Bin Abdul Aziz, fit the definition of Plato’s Philosopher Kings and that of a modern welfare state. Ibn Rusd establishes an intrinsic link between the two that precipitated into the European welfare states post Industrial Revolution. 

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist. E Mail: Samson.sharaf@gmail.com

INTELLIGENCE WARS AND OVERSIGHT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:02 am

Recently, two judicial events have aspersed on the intelligence and counter intelligence efforts of Pakistan despite the fact that the issue at hand is the failure or complicity of the executive to prosecute criminals with credible evidence. Thousands of accused including hardened criminals charged with offences against the state were released by a Provincial Court. The Supreme Court of Pakistan remarked on Balochistan that the entire state machinery including the Executive, Frontier Corp and Intelligence had failed and that there was a constitutional breakdown in the province. True, because if the legislature cannot enact appropriate laws and the executive is inefficient or fallible, breakdown of the rule of law is a foregone conclusion.

These judgements and remarks demonstrate the transparency of Pakistani jurisprudence to uphold human and fundamental rights. It can be argued that this is a serious blow to the intelligence and counter intelligence efforts operating in most hostile and opaque environments. It is a tragedy that the lack of political will and abundance of expediency renders the unnoticed effort counterproductive. With relation to the closed world of intelligence operations, it also challenges the inherent extra-constitutional sovereign authority under a higher law of self-preservation not subject to normal judicial review.  Most, it exposes the vulnerability and efficiency of the investigators and prosecution.

These events do not indicate outlawry, yet create a perception that  the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of Pakistan are not subject to laws and authority of judges; and that sinister intelligence and enforcement officials operate beyond the law’s reach within a space of an operational extra judicial mechanism. Most governments around the world invoke special legislations to deal with the issue ensuring that there remains in place credible legislative and judicial oversight.

The confluence of three Asias in the North and North West as a aggressively contested hub makes Pakistan vulnerable to intense and hostile intelligence activities. US and NATO occupation of the soft Russian and Chinese underbelly, the Saudi-Iranian proxies resulting in sectarianism, the US-Israel efforts to checkmate Iran, the Afghan Taliban, emergence of foreign funded TTP, US-Israel-Indian and ex KGB involvement in destabilising Balochistan through sub nationalist militancy and ethnic cleansing are some of the effects of these undercurrents and cause of Pakistan’s rapid descent to anarchy. In this maze of intertwined riddles and hostility, Pakistan’s intelligence and enforcement agencies toil to track, trail and uncover the enemies. In face of these hostile covert operations, Pakistan’s counter intelligence operations need unstinted support from the state legislature and executive. The courts can only do as much as what is brought before them under the law.

For a common man, such operations are shrouded in mystery and therefore speculative and fanciful.

Pakistan’s intelligence operations can be categorised as, first, intelligence and information relating to the capabilities, intentions, or activities of foreign governments or elements, foreign organizations, foreign persons and their trail inside Pakistan. These are conducted and coordinated at the highest levels of the government, involving the Foreign Office, Ministry of Interior, Provincial Home Departments and the intelligence community under parliamentary oversight.

This leads to the second i.e. counterintelligence and information collected and collated to protect against espionage, hostile intelligence activities, sabotage, assassinations conducted by or on behalf of foreign governments or elements, foreign organizations like security services, foreign funded NGO’s, and terrorist activities through local militias influenced as such.

With relation to militancy inside Pakistan, separatist sentiments in Balochistan and undercover efforts to spread ethno nationalism is a nightmarish function of the intelligence and enforcement arms. The manifestation of this war in public eye is missing persons, extra judicial killings, body bags, corpses with torture marks, abductions, shooting sprees, ethnic and sectarian cleansing and selective/targeted assassinations of leadership. Gone unnoticed are hundreds of national, provincial and nationalist leaders who have been assassinated including Mohatrma Benazir Bhutto. Many times, despite compelling circumstantial evidence, the inability of the investigators to make a credible case allows these criminals to go scot free and resume anti state activities.

Covert action in Pakistan is also a function of intelligence most notably carried out by USA, UK, India, Mossad, European Union, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and even Oman. A hostile activity to influence political, economic, or military conditions and to shape the environment for political objectives. This is a covert war and a conflict of varying intensity that Pakistan faces each day. Counter Intelligence, counter insurgency, counter terrorism and selective raids through law enforcement are the means to combat this menace.

As the instances above indicate, there remains wanting an element of oversight to secure Pakistan’s interests. This means, a system of inherent accountability of the executive to have their actions reviewed, sometimes in advance, by an impartial group. In democracy, the legislature is the classic model that enforces its unlimited writ (policy related) through parliamentary committees. Judicial oversight limits itself to legal questions. In developed democracies, a selected judicial cadre is co-opted with twin objectives to deal with questions of law related to security and surrogates for public. Under the ‘political question doctrine’, judges invariably avoid jurisdiction over intelligence controversies, allowing resolution of national security disputes to the government.

In Pakistan, the continuing standoff between the Judiciary and the so called Parliamentary Democracy (Executive and Legislature overlap) is taking its toll on the counter intelligence, counter insurgency and counter terrorism operations. Under the NRO dispensation, the government is hell bent in running the affairs of the state as minions to shaping the environment, while the Judiciary in the absence of checks and balances, is ever active to overarch beyond the ‘question of law’ and ‘political question doctrine’. The situation is bad news for the security concerns of Pakistan fighting a war on multiple fronts. These fronts like terrorism, sectarianism, sub nationalism, economic, socio-economic, systemic corruption, bankruptcy of state institutions, law and order, and energy crises are over and above the oversight disconnect described in this article.

This is a lamentable tale of how a state in crises must not handle its affairs. Political jugglery retorted by judgements, judicial statements and constitutional failure reinforce the international perception of Pakistan being a failing state; a country where laws can be circumvented through deficient prosecution; where hardened criminals can go free with impunity; and where ruling politicians are involved in extortion, murder and ransom. This also provides juicy fodder to a lobby of US Congressmen to argue that Balochistan is a victim of extreme atrocities and human right violations, the most serious challenge to the federation.

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist. E Mail: Samson.sharaf@gmail.com

 

APOLOGY: TO BE OR NOT TO BE

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:01 am

October 1972. We were the first batch of cadets that had voluntarily joined the Pakistan Military Academy after the surrender of 1971. Rather than a profession, we were on a spiritual vocation. We sat in Ingle Hall waiting for our Term commander to deliver his lecture, there it was! “The honour of the country is paramount; that of the men one commands the next; and self, the last”. Soldiering is the only profession where men and women are expected to sacrifice their today for the tomorrow of others. Then he came, greeted us and began with a soliloquy of William Shakespeare’s Play Hamlet:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:

Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,

Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep

 

Such were the rallying points to build courage when valour seemed to fail; to regain faith when despair abounded; and to create hope when it was forlorn. On every face, there was that temperate will, a quality of imagination, vigour of the emotions, an appetite for adventure and the resolve to win back the lost honour. So motivating was his speech that it stuck in our minds throughout our military career. Yet as a student of Shakespeare I often contemplated over the relevance of this soliloquy to suicide and chivalry.

 

As I witness Pakistan’s drift into chaos through self inflicted injuries, I conjecture the dramatic irony and the suicidal path Pakistan’s security managers chose for themselves and the country. Playing second fiddle to US Imperialism far too long, we have adorned the king’s proverbial invisible robe with complete disregard to our vulnerability. There is a total disconnect between the compulsions of Pakistan’s security paradigm and the capability of the country to sustain this juggernaut. Not because the potential is nonexistent, but because it never was the intention to attain it. Singular focus on security through the over bearing instrument of military power has got us nowhere. In concert, our Harvard trained economic czars have led us nowhere either.

 

The latest episode of a mutely murmured and indirect apology; and the aptness with which Pakistan responded is a National Shame. It appears that at the heels of continuous US interventions in Pakistan, gun boat diplomacy, Henry Kissinger satirically hearing ‘the war drums’, Christine Fair sending a rejoinder to Pakistan through the erstwhile Foreign Policy and re opening of the Bombay bombing accusations, Pakistan blinked with a bi focal vision. Though the military was keen in resolving the issue quickly, it was caught off guard by what transpired between Hilary and Khar over telephone. The quickness of response by Pakistan suggests that the entire farce was prepared well in advance and was to be made public on the American Declaration of Independence Day. In our eagerness to mend the fences, we have owned a part of the blame and become both co accused and co apologists.

 

Does it mean that the acceptance of the apology by the DCC and the quick government reaction is a collusion of sorts? Or has the security establishment been taken for a ride? Whatever the conjecture, it is clear that Pakistan is once again on a Shakespearian suicidal path and that, there is a smile on the face of the tiger after devouring the proverbial lady who went on it for a ride.

 

If the credibility of the Apology as Ms Khar suggests is indeed indisputable, it means that there has been a serious review of the circumstances that caused Salala and convinced USA to apologise.  Logically, this should now be followed by affirmative punitive action against the planners of this operation that put USA’s relations with Pakistan in jeopardy. The fact that this will never happen goes to prove the point that it never was an Apology, a, observation brought out by a Pakistani journalist based in Washington and Wall Street Journal of 5 July 2012 by writing that ‘the final language was far less than what Pakistani officials initially sought. Mrs. Clinton stopped short of taking responsibility for the deaths. The Pentagon says Pakistan was partly to blame for the incident’.

 

In my past writings, I had questioned the strategy of an Apology. What Pakistan should have demanded was a neutral joint investigation followed by an explanation. The military missed this subtle point and actually got nothing to boost its morale. It is without doubt that this incident will play on the minds of servicemen for a long time. Security analysts and the next of kin will continue to question whether it was ever worth it.

 

But then it can be argued that Pakistan’s establishment led by the military volunteered for this conflict and in the bargain also fight the very monsters it helped create for USA and later use as game changers. The paradigm shift should have been affected in the mid nineties when the world was morphing to a uni-polar system with Transylvanian non state actors as the emerging threat. After Kargil, everything had run amock.

 

Yet I maintain what I wrote in my previous article that,

 

“The government’s intransigence in not opening NATO land routes has relevance to the theory of uncontrolled demolition, which neither suits government nor USA. Knowing that in diplomacy, the secretaries and under secretaries draft and finalise agreements well in advance of the political ceremonies, this political bravery deflects all the effects of this stubbornness on the people and armed forces. Any haste may lead to a popular reaction within and upset the US scheme of sequential events in Pakistan focused exclusively on the army and the nuclear capability”.

 

So what next?

 

For far too long, Pakistani opposition has singularly criticized the NRO on the premise of corruption. What preceded the NRO is a development in the eclipsed ranches of Camp David. The purpose of this unknown agreement was an enduring framework of cooperation between USA and Pakistan in Central and South Asia. To ensure that the ends of this agreement were met, both parties agreed to put in place a dispensation that shall deliver. Pakistani leaders and critics need to realize that the NRO is much beyond what they criticize.

 

As a follow up, we may now witness a package of constitutional amendments curtailing the power of the judiciary, nationality issues related to transplantation of western educated and enlightened liberals, and procedures related to the stratification of armed forces albeit how Pakistan’s most envied assets can be managed.

 

This could all be part of what cynics term the ‘New American Century’ as Pakistan goes chanting,  ‘and by opposing end them: to die, to sleep’

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist. E Mail: Samson.sharaf@gmail.com

 

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