INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

September 28, 2013

PESHAWAR: TRAGEDY AND PEACE

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:38 am

13878_10151850288978290_842795980_n
This is a summary of how the issue of terrorism and engaging pliable groups can become the framework of peace negotiations. The policy aims at isolating grain from chaff, engagement, dissuasion, coercion and use of force. All this must form part of the National Counter Terrorism Policy approved by the Parliament. The policy must have special laws, Parliamentary and Judicial oversight, reorganised civilian LEAs and an Internal Security Organisation. It is through this framework that a mission oriented carrot and stick policy would become effective. Pakistan must resist pressures to coopt Saudi Arabia in these negotiations or use Riyadh as a venue.

The opinion, ‘Nowhere to Peace’ (Nation 21 September 2013) could not have appeared at a more opportune time. The amusement of a miracle round the corner swiftly came to an end the next day. Twin blasts at All Saints Church in Peshawar, targeting peaceful worshippers awoke the national conscience from slumber.

Earlier, Christians all over the world dedicated 7 September as a day of fasting and joined Pope Francis to pray for Peace in Syria, Middle East, Pakistan and the world. Churches in Pakistan were full to capacity. For militants this was an aspersion. They waited next Sunday to reassert their intolerance on people the Holy Prophet had affirmed his own. Stamping the seal with his hand at the Monastery of St Catherine in Sinai the Holy Prophet decreed: –

“Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them, nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)”. (Nation, Tradition of St. Catherine’s Monastery, 23 November 2012)

As a student of conflict studies, the writer had no doubt that the next escalation would be religious minorities to a fire break point. The opinion in Nation had pleaded to build Inter Faith CBMs in line with the Holy Covenant. Nothing affirmative happened.

A militant group with a new name took responsibility later denied by TTP albeit on advice of their sympathisers in mainstream. But why did they do this to peace loving Pakistanis?

As Afghan Taliban, Haqqani Group and Gulbadin Hikmatyar inch closer to a Peace formula in Afghanistan, the TTP and its umbrella groups realise their ultimate isolation. If Afghan negotiations are successful, TTP would lose its save havens and sanctuaries in Afghanistan. With SWS, Orakzai, Khyber and Malakand Agencies firmly in control of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), there are sandwiched in some pockets in NWS. LEAs have effectively driven them out of Tirah with blocking positions in Orakzai and Khurram. To their chagrin, NWS is dominated by militant groups closer to Mullah Omar (now seen as a challenge in a post US withdrawal scenario). TTP led by Hakeem Ullah Mehsud with the active assistance of Punjabi Taliban (sectarian outfits) now contemplate to spread the menace in the heartland including Punjab, Balochistan and Karachi. This explains the rising levels of violence, sectarian and religious killings.

Twin blasts at All Saints Church are a rung of this escalatory trajectory. This is to firewall the Afghan Negotiations and prevent groups of NWS to engage with the Pakistani establishment. (Nation, The Doha Initiative 22 June 2013, & Firewalls to Peace 13 July 2013). Seen in this context, peace negotiations with militant groups that are likely to ally with Pakistan become a corner stone of counter terrorism strategy. Is Pakistani establishment succumbing to some unfriendly friends?

All Pakistanis, opinion makers and media need to realise that peace is part of pacification to isolate the most hard-core elements within militant groups. 12 groups operate in tandem with Afghan Taliban and act as facilitators in the Afghan Peace negotiations. In a post withdrawal scenario these must be insulated from TTP.

There are 9 localised defensive outfits that operate against sectarian outfits of TTP. Two militant wings of political parties are localised to Karachi not part of the TTP. 10 Separatist movements in Balochistan have a loose alliance with TTP and are confined to nuisance. This leaves TTP with a gang of 25 banned outfits with supporters in political parties hardest to crack. The spate of violence in the past two weeks explains this frustration. Yesterday, a bus was targeted in Peshawar. TTP will suffer political attrition when peace negotiations become substantive.

As a first step to negotiations there are 34 non suicide bomber groups that can be engaged and pacified. By engaging them through their office in Pakistan, negotiations for peace are half done. The other half will be based on persuasion, coercion and limited use of LEAs. The strategy also has the reward of facilitating the US retrograde from Afghanistan. It is the responsibility of the federal and provincial government to consider this road map and ward off challenges to peace.

Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association through its member security companies has already taken the initiative of protecting maximum churches in Pakistan. Gradually, this facility will be extended to other minority groups.

Concurrently each government in its jurisdiction needs to provide security to all vulnerable groups including Shias, religious minorities and those susceptible to extortion, kidnappings and assassinations. It is their responsibility to impose vigilance on Afghans and other unregistered foreigners living in Pakistan through surveys, surveillance, registration and enforcement. Afghan slums around major urban centres need to be shifted to proper refugee camps. Nothing will succeed in FATA and PATA if the government does not give an impetus to pacification operations through local administration, tribal elders, LEAs and groups loyal to Pakistan. These operations include socio-economic development, infrastructure development, empowerment of Tribal Maliks and law enforcement.

Simultaneously, the government will have to take concrete measures to empower non-Muslims through application of Article 226 of the Constitution, restoration of Ministry of Minority Affairs to the Federal List and amendments in the Blasphemy Law. Already, the President of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Mr. Javed Hashmi has spoken logically and emphatically against this law in the National Assembly.

With the arguments and empiricism above, it is evident that the counter terrorism policy of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf is a well-articulated, incremental, egalitarian and communitarian initiative to bring a graduated end to religiously inspired violence in Pakistan. There is no confusion in this road map.

It is said ‘it is hard to accept the truth when lies are exactly what you wanted to hear’. In politics divided by narrow agendas, short term advantages and talk shows based on flimsy ratings, Imran Khan has the courage and conviction to invite flak on his chest to pursue peace. It is the obligation of every law abiding citizen to own this road map and become a viable member of conflict resolution.

As for the federal government, the confusion that persists will remain ‘Nowhere to Peace’, till such time it does not offer its own chest to formulate a comprehensive national counter terrorism policy. Appointment of a new COAS will have an impact on this policy, lest the nation is amused once again to new wine in old pots.

The writer is Secretary Defence Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf and a political economist. Email & twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/columns/28-Sep-2013/peshawar-tragedy-and-peace

Advertisements

NOWHERE TO PEACE

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:35 am

All Parties Conference (APC) on terrorism is the buzzword keeping the media bumblebee busy churning out half cooked ideas with a lethal mix of disinformation and de-education. Public, through talk shows is being amused to a miracle round the corner. Commentators representing political parties are fervently competing with the proliferation of vague ideas. The military, busy in its lonely war of fighting the monsters it helped create also has to parry a barrage of volleys from its media. Within this deafening noise, there is also muted criticism of the hasty manner in which political parties reached a broad based consensus on negotiations with militants. Insubstantial discourses and unaddressed blank spaces create enough doubts to term this initiative a false start.
Slaughtering of soldiers on the day that APC was convened followed by the martyrdom of a serving Major General, a Lieutenant Colonel and a soldier indicate that the urgency for dialogue could be a priority of political parties not shared by militants. Notwithstanding what Javed Ibrahim Paracha of Colonel Imam Notoriety claims or what TTP refutes, the interior minister calling the ‘Peace Dialogue at a standstill’ minces no words. So what was the urgency that resulted in proclamation of an APC communiqué in haste when the issue is beyond ‘it takes two to tango’? In this case there are scores.
The ill prepared dialogue initiative was a rebuttal to the stated mission of the COAS to symbolise civilian supremacy. Without a concrete plan, it has become contentious. The COAS, after the tragedy in Upper Dir has reiterated his position, even if it turns out to be a face-saving hollow. It started when General Kayani in his annual speech on Martyr’s Day explicitly suggested a consensus based national counter terrorism policy within the Constitutional framework, providing a realistic space for a negotiated settlement. He took ownership of the conflict and set conditions for reconciliation. He appealed to all segments of Pakistan to back the armed forces implying that militants would be persuaded, coerced and defeated with collective national resolve. The APC communiqué does not reinforce this. It only talks of peace with no backup plan.
Writing in these columns, ‘Whose War’ the scribe had opined, “The final decision to adopt these suggestions (General Kayani) will rest with the future parliament and government. In one scenario, it may be seen as an intrusion of the army in domain of civilian leadership and the resultant resolve to harness the armed forces under civilian control”. It appears that with a fading COAS, the civilian establishment has taken the responsibility to define the higher direction of conflict. Unfortunately, there are no measures to ensure that this new found resolve is backed by concrete action plans.
The government and its allies are wanting in formulating a cohesive National Counter Terrorism Policy. If this situation persists, anarchy will follow. Peshawar High Court through its recent ruling concerning the absence of purposeful legislation and disposal of prisoners etc has served an indictment that the Federal and KPK governments have obligations to fulfil before they begin to withdraw army from the conflict zones; not the usual spanner thrown by the judiciary but a legal requirement to ensure that all loose ends before a contemplated withdrawal are tied. Till such time these constitutional gaps are not covered, the government will be constrained in making a template of objective oriented graduated negotiations and concessions. Cognisant of the enormity, the government is looking for expediencies and postponing the logical.
Pakistan cannot have a withdrawal from its own territories just because USA is contemplating one in 2014. Terrorism is not merely linked to US presence in Afghanistan but also to proliferation of militant organisations and sectarian outfits created to meet the ends of short term appeasement policies for military and economic gratifications. This malaise spreads beyond the usual anti US rhetoric to sectarian hate, intolerance, crime and foreign control. As written in ‘Indecision in Conflict’ handling of over 69 militant organisations with more than half with foreign connections will not be easy. The narratives based on divisions within Islam reinforced by geopolitics, traditional Arab-Persian rivalry and historical overhang of competing caliphates and monarchies are being superimposed on Pakistan inasmuch they are in Iraq, Egypt and Syria. While the whole world looks at Pakistan to provide a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan, the government of Pakistan is seeking the intervention of the Saudi King to help facilitate the internal peace initiative. KSA is not the only country that exercises influence over militants in Pakistan. Besides the usual western punching bags, countries like Qatar, Kuwait, Iran, Oman, India and Afghanistan also have their hands full. It cannot get worse.
There is an urgent requirement to study the profiles of these 69 groups, their organisations, domestic support, foreign linkages, sources of funding and sanctuaries inside/outside Pakistan. This may take months before a working negotiation strategy can be formulated. A half blank template will serve no meaningful purpose till such time its framework and modalities are not legislated and approved by the Parliament. The legal implications of this policy will thenceforth not remain confined to TTP organisations but also similar outfits that perpetuate violence with diverse objectives. If not politically, legal jurisprudence will demand that all organisations and non-state actors are treated even handed. After each amnesty the government’s constitutional obligation to protect the lives of its citizen’s will weigh heavier.
At the same time, the chosen conflict zone seems to be shifting to Karachi, a metropolitan city under siege of terrorists, extortionists, mafias, armed wings of political parties, sectarian killers and criminals of every description. Though these operations are being conducted by civilian LEAs, a time may come when military intervention will be inevitable. Isolating Karachi from the larger context of terrorism will be counterproductive and yield negative results. Would an armistice with TTP also apply to the cities and urban centres of Pakistan and restrain the LEAs from entering No Go Areas. If it does, then the entire Karachi operation will be in a limbo. Come winters in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s urban centres could witness a renewed surge in violence.
It is precisely these reasons that the government is avoiding a counter terrorism policy. It has side stepped the issue by reconstituting the Defence Committee of the Cabinet and convening an APC. This policy will not work, till the direction of conflict management does not flow from the top. The existing arrangement of holding the thread mid-way neither here nor there will lead to nowhere. In the same logic, it will be nowhere to peace.
The writer is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist. Email: samson.sharaf@gmail.com
http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/columns/21-Sep-2013/nowhere-to-peace

September 14, 2013

ENGAGING SYRIA

Syria

Policy is about cost-benefit analysis and trade-offs. In international relations, countries trade choices across the entire spectrum of policy beginning from engagement to disengagement to armed conflict. These involve cooperation, persuasion, dissuasion, threat, sanctions, UN interventions, military diplomacy, force projection, blockades and strikes. In the entire matrix, diplomacy does not cease and must lead to limited successes to avoid a conflict and restore the peace that is equilibrium.

Within the comity of nations, each country has its own matrix of stability and likely to clash with neighbours and global powers over it. In a unipolar world driven by a 21st Century American activism, countries at the receiving end enjoy limited options to exercise real sovereignty. This is the realistic choice Hans Morgenthau terms, ‘smaller powers working within the dynamics of bigger powers’ is further curtailed by unipolarity, globalisation, transcending economies and floating nature of militant threats. Till such time the world does not revert to a multi polar system, nation-states inimical to US policies will continue to face the types of pressures Syria is passing through. The purpose of this statement is not to defend or praise the autocratic regime in Syria, but rather to underline the need of a more equitable equilibrium in international politics.

Democratic revenge what Capitol Hill calls ‘bringing democracy to the world’ on the heels of a crumbling communist philosophy has been a dream gone sour. It provided USA the option of projecting its global reach powered by its Mahan Doctrine. Many larger countries in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe broke into new nation states on ethnic and religious bases. It has resulted in American global reach into every sinew of the target countries. Those that showed some degree of flair and resistance were flattened by regime change operations. Behind these operations were teams of intelligence operatives, tied aid and trade, non-governmental organisations, special purpose think tanks and select expatriates. In countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, Africa and Pakistan, military and intelligence diplomacy play a parallel role in achieving objectives.

USA lacks similar paraphernalia in Syria. So the support of expatriates, dissidents and Sunni militants mixed with enlightened moderates form the major pincer to bring down Assad. Backing of any country that has an issue with Syria is the ‘name of the game’.

USA has not exhausted all available options in engaging Syria. For regime change in Syria, time is of essence to USA. Buoyed by regime changes in Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Africa, Syria is refusing to succumb and time is running out for USA and its proxies.

It follows that the issue for USA is of a political and not moral nature. USA’s full support to oligarchies in Saudi Arabia and Gulf States deprives it of the high moral pedestal to rub Assad’s nose in the hot sand. Neither is it a case of human rights, equality and liberty. Had it been so, then USA is morally compelled to pressurise oligarchies that are its allies. These regimes have poor human right records, impose draconian laws and exploit imported manpower akin to bonded labour. Their economic success is managed by western multinationals and corporations which mean that USA will exercise a flexible conscience. As written earlier, political economy in the region has been played in a manner that any downfall would create international economic crises. So it is only the lesser ones on whom the axe must fall.

The case of Syria is different.

Syria under a dictatorship had maintained its distance from the forces of modernity whilst strengthening relations with Russia, Iran and factions in Lebanon and Palestine. At the same time, it provided a social welfare programme to its people that provided them world class education, health care and freedom of religious practice. The regime used its cultural and religious heritage to connect with people world over including Hezbollah and Shite connections. In the nature of politics and state preservation, Syria is within its right and options to hedge its defences against Israel and the militant Sunni onslaught being perpetuated by Saudi Arabia and Gulf States.

Consequently, with limited options available to both sides, building bridges of engagement assumes more importance. Diplomacy working towards peace must be given a chance.

A few days ago when the war drums were getting louder with each statement of US Secretary of State John Kerry, the author had opined on twitter that the most honourable and win-win option for all belligerents could be an initiative seized by President Assad. First, the Syrian President will have to hold an inquiry, fix blame and punish those in his regime who could have used chemical weapons at their own initiative. Thereafter he should follow it up by his announcement to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention. It was also recommended that Israel and Egypt should also be persuaded to do likewise. Within 24 hours came the Russian intervention followed by President Assad’s announcement to comply. Consequently, the entire scenario and dynamics have changed.

With these developments in full fury, President Obama appeared out of sorts trying to justify punitive strikes in Syria through remote control. What would he target? Hit chemical weapon stockpiles that on destruction would wreak havoc and bring human misery; bomb all presidential palaces and offices to Stone Age; or destroy some significant military installations? His urgency sounded like a pleading and a confession that US State Department, Pentagon and CIA had lost its plot in midst of un-challenged global domination. It betrayed the reality that US political thought was self-centred and therefore vulnerable to self-destruction. The only allies who support these strikes are equally self-destructive Islamic monarchies.

Given the latest events, the initiative has been seized by Russia and Syria. Military strikes will be counterproductive and trigger a wave of anti-Saudi and anti-Gulf sentiments in the entire Muslim world. International economics could go through a tail spin and so could the big oil companies, finance houses, multinationals and bourses. The reaction may not be immediate but will gradually come under its own dynamics. USA’s construct of Syria will be temporary.

While there is no doubt that Syria repeatedly called the US Bluffs and crossed the Red Lines, USA may have  also gone beyond a point of restoring international equilibrium. The best option is to give international diplomacy a chance and build relations with Syria on its strengths.

The writer is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a political economist. Email: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/columns/14-Sep-2013/engaging-syria

PAKIATN’S NATIONAL DEFENCE & DEVELOPMENT

Defence

1947 Partition divided British India with latent unresolved issues. The creation of Radcliffe Award ensured that enough flash points remained to prevent evolution of a post-colonial juggernaut. Psychological scars resigned India and Pakistan to the extremes of a divide aggravated by mistrust and suspicion that persists six decades. The two are involved in a nuclear armed race with no capabilities of crisis management of routine natural calamities. As classified information now becomes available, the post-World War II West had decided and later succeeded to use the newly crafted Pakistan as a buffer between USSR-India and an Islamic containment shield. Nothing has changed.

Unlike India, Pakistan inherited two-pence in resources but a vibrant low middle /middle class, to play a dominant role in the socio-economic development of the new country. Railway system left by the British was quickly made efficient, police made effective, hospitals set up and a network of schools laid by the government and civil society. The battle hardy formations inherited from the British Indian Army were quickly reorganised and a military system put in place. Pakistan Air Force and Navy with little at disposal started from a scratch. After the migration of Polish servicemen and their families to Pakistan, a new class of air and naval combaters was created that proved its mettle in the successive crises Pakistan faced till 1971. Pakistani Christians in foreign office, railways, police, armed forces, hospitals and educational institutions played a role much beyond their representation to give Pakistan a jump start in infancy.

First challenge was the geographical separation of East and West Pakistan. East Pakistan, rich in jute, rice, paper and fruits lacked a commercial port and depended on Calcutta through smuggling. Following the anti-Hindu riots in 50s, Pakistan’s armed forces sealed the East Pakistan border with India, brought smuggling to a halt and played their role in development of a new alternate port at Chittagong. Today Chittagong challenges Calcutta.

After India blocked the flow of Rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej the two countries nearly went to war. The military Corps of Engineers in partnership with WAPDA and Plans Division got involved in building of small and large dams including Mangla, Rawal and Khanpur. Many new link canals pending the IBWT were constructed and water diverted to starved areas. Quetta having become the major training centre of army and PAF had significant water shortfalls. The Military Corps of Engineers completed the task of building water reservoirs around the provincial capital that even today cater for the needs of the residents. Kuchlak, Hanna, Spin Lake, Urak and Pishin Lake are the creation of Pakistan Army which not only supply water to the entire area but also recharge underground karezez. Islamabad, the new modern capital was planned on military drawing boards.

When the high tides of the Arabian Sea began eroding agricultural land at Thatta, the military formations at Karachi and Hyderabad on the beck and call of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali, with minimum earth moving equipment created an outfall drain with picks and shovels in a record time of six months. This drain still holds its own.

In far flung areas with little development, military formations took over the responsibility of running schools and hospitals by extending services to the civilians of the area. Some of the major cities of Pakistan like Rawalpindi, New Lahore, Sargodha, Abbotabad, Kakul and Quetta were in fact garrisons that attracted civilian colonies around them.  Wherever a new cantonment like Samungli, Mangla, Kharian, Okara, Panu Aqil, Sibi, Shah Kot, Malir, Bahawalpur, Chorr and Petaro came up, it was followed by civilian urban development. Retired servicemen also become the biggest tillers of reclaimed wastelands.

In 1948-49, the armed forced participated and consolidated the gains of the freedom struggle in Kashmir. Over the past six decades, the military and CAF are deployed in the area ensuring the sanctity of the Ceasefire Line and Line of Control with their sweat and blood.

PAF through its manpower is also the pioneer of PIA. Once upon a time PIA was the leading airline of the world and helped establish civil aviation in many countries including Singapore and Malaysia.

It goes to the credit of our Military Corps of Engineers to carve a wondrous road through the granite of the Himalayan and Karakorum and establish a land link with China. They also linked the land Locked Chitral with Dir and weaved a network of all-weather roads in Northern Areas and Kashmir. Gawadar was linked through a road with Karachi constructed by military men.

Unfortunately, economic hit men, corporatocracy and corruption (Pakistan’s Achilles Heels) managed to undo this brief socio-economic miracle. This corporatocracy has also held back the exploitation of dual use defence technologies capable of making Pakistan a frontline technological state.

In 1965, the armed forces of Pakistan gave a good account of their Offensive-Defence Doctrine and held an enemy many times their size. The conduct of war by the general staff and some generals lacked the mettle to match the tenacious ‘Men of Steel’. The war ended in a stalemate due to faulty national planning and international pressures. It is now known that USA had defined Redlines in various sectors as No Go Areas.

Modern wars in an interdependent world cannot be fought in isolation without allies. In 1965, 1971 and Kargil, Pakistan had to pay a heavy price for strategic miscalculations and faulty higher direction. The spirit of the citizen combater soldiers, airmen and sailors fully backed by an emotive nation cannot be eclipsed. It is this sea of emotions that binds Pakistanis despite all odds and forms the fourth indomitable dimension of strategy and national power.

Pakistan Army, CAF and LEAs are fighting a protracted internal militancy for over a decade without a National Security and Counter Terrorism Policy. Yet each reveille, they rise to the call of duty with sweat and blood. Unless these soldiers are not backed by a meaningful policy, Parliament and the people, success will remain a mirage. Despite negotiations and political concessions, one essential element to end militancy in Pakistan will remain the iron hand of the writ of law. The armed forces, CAF and LEAs will remain an essential element of this policy.

If Pakistan has to replicate the decades of 50s and early 60s, the armed forces of Pakistan will have to be engaged in national development while nipping the Achilles Heels forever. This is only possible if a broad based National Security Policy ensures safeguards against all forms of national attrition.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson.

Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/columns/07-Sep-2013/national-defence-and-development

September 7, 2013

WHERE IS THE PAISA?

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:24 am

An Appraisal of Pakistan’s Declining Economy

Co-30Somehow, I live with the hypothesis that Pakistan’s bureaucracy, technocrats and the military operate in exclusive hard shelled bubbles in chagrin to long term strategic and economic interests of Pakistan. The imperatives of a broad policy spectrum with synergised instrumentalism never formed the basis of any brainstorming or analysis. Inevitably, the bubbles burst compromising Pakistan’s national security.

In quest for short term advantages and strings tied with international financial institutions, the bureaucracy and technocrats have remained content in putting the national interests on the back burner. Due to absence of operational research and system analysis including SWOT, the end results were never their consideration. Application of Harvard and Westminster Models theorised on western political economy divorced them from the compulsions of ground realities are Pakistan’s nightmare.

Despite the fact the military has repeatedly intervened in politics, it lacked the capacity to impact on long term sustainable development. Its perspective was always India centric. It relegated the responsibility of economic development to bureaucrats and technocrats, more interested in showing short term indices. Hobnobbing with international financial institutions, tours and studies was their major pre occupation. There was unawareness that what could not be lost on the battlefield could be easily conceded through bad planning? An indicator to describe this meltdown is the fact that the rupee-dollar parity of 3.30 in 1955 now stands as 104 a 31.5 fold slump. For those who lived in 1955, life is now 31 fold more expensive. Pakistan is in serious crises and the Prime Minister despite two tenures in the past has no hesitation in admitting that his election manifesto was a wishful dream.

After the coup of 1999, I was charged with the responsibility to monitor the entire government from GHQ. One of my biggest concerns was Pakistan’s spiralling debt with a declared foreign component of 32 billion dollars. Yet no one in the Ministry of Finance or State Bank could confidently tell the volume and breakdown of this debt with relation to country-country borrowing, multi-lateral loans, bonds and encashment to provinces and autonomous bodies.  Having encountered blank faces, we decided to get reports from all ministries, provinces and autonomous bodies to determine the correct volumes. As reports and files continued to pour in, the figures collected cross checked and verified were startling. Pakistan’s debt was over 38 Billion US Dollars and continued to grow through the IMF borrowing and the sinking Rupee.

The single biggest recipient of loans was the water and power sector, accounting for approximately 70% of the loan component. The shocker was that 60% of it was spent on feasibilities most of which never translated into development. Approximately, half of Pakistan’s foreign debt has been gulped on drawing boards, visits, lodgings and expert studies. Result is that Pakistan has the world’s worst record in water management, conservation and power generation. Despite this huge wastage of expensive loans, Pakistan relies for the bulk of its power production on independent power producers.

It was a very incisive study that left everyone in the Musharraf Cabinet stunned and aghast, but this is where this revealing study ended. There was no follow up. Gradually, patriotic and concerned officials were shown the door. The study got lost in the sea of bureaucracy and thereafter it was business as usual. Pakistan was destined to sink deeper into the financial quagmire and by consequence the lowest human resource indices of the world.

I was convinced then and sure now that these economic managers and experts are all part of an international cartel that controls financial institutions and hence destinies of misgoverned countries like Pakistan. The study vindicated international political economists who viewed IMF and World Bank as exploitative instruments of neo-imperialism and masters of creating bubbles. Non-state corporatists who transcend international borders and whose loyalties lie with their pay masters rather than their moorings are Pakistan’s biggest threat; more than India or militants. Some of the biggest effects of this economic manipulation and mismanagement are appended below and will form the subject of subsequent articles.

  1. The water and power managers of Pakistan despite being the biggest recipients of foreign loans have not exercised vigilance on Indian water development projects mainly because they were guilty of corruption, negligence and technical insufficiency.
  1. These water managers have remained stuck in the politics of mega projects and failed to exercise imagination in creation of alternate water reservoirs and hydro power generation in Pakistan.
  2. The seizure of FCAs in 1997 however negative proved that a weak rupee was not a pre requisite to boost exports. After 9/11, despite 13 Billion Dollars in the system and an appreciating rupee, the Central Bank ignored the lesson of WEAK RUPEE VERSUS EXPORTS and devalued the national currency. Successive governments should have made efforts towards restoring rupee dollar parity and controlled devaluations.
  3. Under the pricing mechanism of 1994, IPPs with tax exemptions had recovered investments and begun remitting profits and outsourcing costs abroad. They were the new energy manipulators destined to earn windfalls. Reorganisation of PSO in 2004 facilitated the IPPS, creating a new goliath and nourishing conditions for the circular debt crises.
  4. The imposition of GST as a VAT was abandoned by CBR in 2000-1 converting it into an easy to collect levy. The incomplete GST regime did not help in documentation of the economy, served to boost inflationary trends, encourage consumerism and discourage small sector domestic production.
  5. Agriculture growth and pricing mechanism in Pakistan is deliberately manipulated by inelastic forces and cartels.
  6. The circular debt issue in the energy sector is an inbuilt mechanism with the potential to trigger a meltdown. This cannot be resolved unless monopoly of PSO is not challenged.

With such a bleak depiction of Pakistan’s economic performance, the effects of which are visible in every nook and corner of Pakistan something has direly gone wrong. This is not the fate this country deserves with one of the steepest water gradients of the world, four seasons, diversity of flora and fauna, abundant natural resources, skilled and semi-skilled manpower and best philanthropy record in the world.

The response is reflected in the fact that Pakistan hopelessly lacks a War Front on its political economy. Its economic statisticians and managers need to concentrate on economic policies rich in socio-political thought. Pakistan needs a paradigm shift in which a strong, robust and sustainable economy becomes the basic template of its national security. Unless economic policies built around a re definition of Pakistan’s currency are not implemented, the Paisa and Anna will never regain its value.

To be continued………..

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson.

Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

Written for Economic Affairs

Blog at WordPress.com.