INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

May 31, 2014

IS MODI THE GAME CHANGER?

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The media on either side hyped the presence of Pakistan’s Prime Minister at the oath taking ceremony of Mr. Narendra  Damodardas Modi. Pakistanis must evaluate beyond gobbledygook and read his intentions with political realism. The game that may unfold is beyond party lines and impacts Pakistan permanently. Modi, chastised by many is a man at the helm. Going or not going is not an issue. Failing to read the script is unpardonable. Every right or wrong step bears enduring significance.

Modi served as the Chief Minister of Gujarat from 2001 to 2014 despite strong opposition from Congress and his own party. In relentless judicial inquiries pursued both by BJP and Congress, he was exonerated. His woman minister Maya Kodnani, was pronounced guilty, sentenced to death but later pardoned to life term. In retrospect, Modi regretted he handled the media badly.

In his second term Modi deviated from Hindutva towards the economic development of Gujarat by limiting the influence of the Sangh Parivar. His decision to demolish 200 illegal temples in Gandhinagar put him at odds with Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), an unpublicised aspect of his personality.

His 3rd and 4th term are a fairy tale of narrow vertical pockets of development. Critics blame him for neglecting human development. Yet he did enough to convert a semi-arid desert to Bharat’s largest cotton producing area, recharging depleting water aquifers and claiming the lion’s share in Bahart’s GDP. His industrialisation and reforms continued during his 4th term till he resigned to contest the recent elections. Being an outcast for Delhi, West and USA, he cozied up to Russia, China, South Korea and Japan inviting investments. After acrimony of over 50 years, he will improve Sino-Indian relations.

Prime Minister Modi’s objectives are Terrorism, Kashmir and building a necklace of allies around India for security and development. He has shown pragmatism in concealing the ideology of the RSS. With his immense energy and motivation he is someone India needed after successive weak central governments. While, Pakistan’s political parties are handicapped by sycophants, BJP comes to power with one of the world’s best Think Tank, on the principal of ‘Bharat First’. Given his record, he is likely to hang around. Pakistanis would do well to widen their focus beyond the Muslim massacre in Gujarat and look to work with a man who means business.

On the issue of Kashmir, Bharat has exploited the non-binding nature of UN Resolution No. 47 on Kashmir to nibble into the State of Kashmir. This was despite UNSC Resolution No. 91 of 30 March 1951 that reiterated that elections in IHK do not do away with the need for a plebiscite. UNSC Resolution No. 98 of 23 December 1952 urged Bharat and Pakistan to mutually agree on troops each will have on their side of the ceasefire line in Kashmir for plebiscite. UNSC Resolution of 24 January 1957 stated that such acts (the new J&K Constitution) do not make for a final settlement of Kashmir. This marks the point when India gave up pretending it was interested in the plebiscite and began calling Kashmir an Atoot Ang.

In 1974, Sheik Abdullah unilaterally gave up the right for a plebiscite. 1986 onwards, there have been significant steps Bharat has taken to absorb IOK and also lay claims on Azad Jammu & Kashmir-Gilgit-Baltistan. These are The Armed Forces (Jammu & Kashmir) Special Power Act, 1990 No. 21 of 1990 and 22 February 1994 Lok Sabha resolution that calls J&K an integral part of India and demands Azad Kashmir back.

During this period, Pakistan argued the Kashmir Issue through diplomacy and violence but seldom resorted to jurists to fight the case on legal grounds. This has led to a situation wherein, despite UN and UNSC resolutions, Pakistan has lost international sympathy. The same also applies to the Indus Basin Water Treaty exploited by Bharat due to Pakistani neglect.

Modi will exercise a choice through constitutional resolutions in the State Assembly and Central legislature to absorb Kashmir and also demand vacation of Azad Kashmir-Gilgit-Baltistan, or use a live line of control through limited escalations to subdue Pakistan, or as a diplomatic tool, isolate Pakistan regionally, or placate Pakistan, postpone the issue, pending the rise of India as an undisputed hegemon.

The slogan of Counter Terrorism empathises with international perceptions including China. The game is beyond a point of mutual accusations. Pakistan’s only option viz a viz India is to come out with definite information that it did not plan or abet 26/11 (conflicting statements of Headly, him being a triple agent, accounts of Indian security officials and fact that Ajmal Kasab was a duplicate and had to be hurriedly executed are holes in Indian accusations); or expose double/triple agents at play. It also has to reveal the extent of Indian culpability in Balochistan and other non-state actors carrying out acts of terrorism with irrefutable evidence.  Finally it is in Pakistan’s interests to end militancy within its borders.

The manifesto of BJP mentions formation of web of allies through multilateral diplomacy to further Bharat’s best national interests. It implies that Bharat could steers away from a western tilt. This is of concern for the West.

China stood by Modi when he was an international outcast and these relations will get a boost when Modi visits China, the elder brother in eastern culture. Indian Foreign office has made no bones about it. 

USA, NATO and EU have violated understandings with Russia through eastward expansion of NATO and undermining of Ukraine. The unrest in Kiev makes Putin’s reassertion emphatic. Election trends in EU indicate a visible tilt to extreme right but are in fact the protest of the people against Europe as one country comprising states. Events in Ukraine have precipitated this. The vacuum thus created will be exploited by Putin beyond Europe to Asia. This makes Shanghai-5 and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (Eurasian Organisation) relevant. Iran, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Bharat and Pakistan enjoy observer status. Pakistan is keen to become a full member while Bharat has been invited by Russia and China as a strategic partner. In the void indicated by President Obama’s latest policy statement, Eurasia is likely to reconfigure itself. Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan, Iran and India will be crucial. Coming from a Chinese publication, the passage below is a measure of events to follow: –

“West is afraid that a strongman like Russian President Vladimir Putin will make India really strong and build the country into a challenger to the West economically and politically. The US is particularly upset with the enhanced strategic cooperation among China, Russia and India.”

Liu Zongyi of Global Times 5 May 2014

It is therefore not surprising that Modi invited all SARC countries as a hegemon. Pakistan obliged and paid the cost of not reading the script. To convert these challenges into opportunities is a question successive governments in Pakistan have to address because governments in the past and present neglected the importance of prepositioning and opening negotiation options.

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/columns/31-May-2014/is-modi-the-game-changer

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May 28, 2014

WAS PAKISTAN READY ON 12 MAY 1998?

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When Narasimha Rao, the Indian National Congress Prime Minister called for snap elections in 1996, it was time for Pakistan to brace itself for the events particularly if BJP came to power. BJP had posed serious challenges to the INC coalition on charges of corruption and was poised to electioneer on issues that were most endearing to the philosophy of BHARAT VERSHA.   Pre election opinion polls indicated that BJP was most likely to emerge as the single largest party. The most challenging question for Pakistan’s security planners was; would BJP follow its rhetoric of nuclear testing if it came to power?

As destiny would have it, I was the only officer in the General Staff with sound academic credentials in Nuclear Proliferation and Strategy. Though the study was simultaneously being carried out by many concerned branches, the ultimate responsibility of carrying out the final analysis for the General Staff in GHQ fell on my shoulders. Destiny placed me in the footsteps of a great Pakistani diplomat, Mr. S M Burke, who had been most instrumental in procuring Pakistan’s first nuclear reactor from Canada.

To carry out an accurate study, it was time for an in depth appraisal of known Indian nuclear capabilities and development. The first step in the study was to pin point the deficiencies in India’s technical nuclear capabilities and what were they most likely to do to address them. Within a week, my team had read through and sifted extremely important findings about the Indian Nuclear and Space Development Program.

  1. We knew that the explosion in 1974 was a conventional 1950 design and needed to be fine tuned for confirmation and miniaturisation.
  2. We knew that based on decay rates, India needed further data not only to confirm its previous testing but also calculate the life of the war heads.
  3. We knew that though India was already refining plutonium, the fissile material had never been tested in an explosion and the subsequent data crucial to war head designs.
  4. We knew that the war head designs had to be compact so as to be placed in the tips of the delivery systems. Boosted weapons and miniaturisation were therefore a necessity.
  5. We understood that the quest for Bharat Versha would be incomplete without India boasting thermo nuclear devices.

Simultaneously, through the recently introduced internet, we got a special connection and hooked on to a satellite that transmitted pictures of Pokhran with a 48 hours delay. Initially there was no activity but by February 1998, we began noticing track marks and considerable activity. We estimated three months before India could resume nuclear testing.

At the same time we continued receiving inputs from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, diplomatic chatter and the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. These bits and pieces were accurately fitting into our knowledge base and the photography. By mid February, the analysis was ready and subjected to an in house discussion in the General Staff Branch after which it was put before the COAS, General Jehanghir Karamat. The preparations in Pakistan began.

Due to India’s limited capability in enriching uranium and processing plutonium, we had reached the conclusion that India will conduct the following explosions.

  1. A repeat of 1974 design for confirmation.
  2. A boosted weapon system based on a plutonium design.
  3. A two stage thermo nuclear testing with the first stage based on a conventional design or a boosted weapon to produce the heat necessary for a nuclear fusion.
  4. We were of the opinion that cognisant of depleting fissile material stockpiles, India would not carry out more than three tests but at the same time test warhead designs without the fissile material.

I was on a physical workout on 12Th May 1998 when Director General Military Operations Major General Tauqir Zia called me to inform that India had carried out some nuclear explosions. Glued to the ZEE News, we saw the breaking news. There was no surprise and we worked for the next 48 hours. These 48 hours in the planning room were the best I had amongst senior officers. There was indeed urgency but no air of typical military seniority. We were all one, taking turns and handing out refreshments to each other irrespective of our ranks.

In days to come, the accuracy of our study was vindicated. The graphs of our monitoring stations indicated three major bangs, the last one flattening out. The first was a fission reaction of considerable yield. The second indicated a smaller yield confirming it was plutonium based boosted weapon. But the flattening out of the third explosion indicated that the second phase of the thermo nuclear device had fizzled out.

For my team, it was a moment of extreme satisfaction, pride and humility.  Based on research, conclusions drawn through empiricism and important intelligence gathering, we had ensured that Pakistan was not caught napping. We had given enough lead time to our scientists to prepare and conduct a series of nuclear testing as a credible and befitting response. All this would never have been possible without the confidence that senior officers reposed in us and the guidance of Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, the Chairman of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Qaid e Azam University Islamabad.

With technical issues left to our scientists, engineers and logisticians, it was now time to carry out an in depth appraisal of the international reaction and budgetary consequences for Pakistan. It was also time to lay the foundations of a Nuclear Policy and Doctrine that would ensure a durable peace in the region and foresee a negotiated settlement of all disputes with India.

One of the most important conclusions of our study was that the post nuclear Pakistan had to be more responsible. The message went unnoticed by the political establishment.  General Jehanghir Karamat had proposed a Committee of Defence and National Security (CDNS) as the single competent forum to pull Pakistan out of its political and economic crises. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif saw it as an affront to the political establishment and a precursor to praetorianism. Being a gentleman that he was, General Karamat resigned and with him the vision of a peaceful, self reliant and strong Pakistan.

With the new COAS, Pakistan soon changed course and the coterie plunged Pakistan into its deepest crises one after the other. I wonder if it would ever be possible to put back the clock.

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

Email: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/28-May-2011/Was-Pakistan-ready-to-respond

 

 

May 27, 2014

GOVERNANCE NOT GOVERNMENT

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:24 pm

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A Provincial Government cannot be as helpless as was seen in the press conference by CM Khattak, also attended by Imran Khan. With the concurrent lists revised, Provinces are far more autonomous and powerful.They can invite investments in various forms and if needed get sovereign guarantees through the federal government. It is only after the federal government refuses that they qualify to cry foul.  

Having been at the helm of Gen Musharraf’s first 100 days and the positive feedback we got and how Forex built up within two years, I am convinced there are many avenues the party has not explored. Even PTI die hard members ran into firewalls and threw their projects in Punjab’s lap.  

PTI’s Core committee and those who run KPK are missing many points.  

I was a guest on TimesNow, an Indian channel and had to make commentaries as events unfolded. If the prime purpose of the PM’s visit was seeking investments in the energy sector, then he has failed his home work. 

Energy sector now manipulates Pakistan. More FDI with similar concessions will make Pakistan a bigger hostage. We cannot have a situation where a circular debt of Rs 1 Trillion, half of it owed to Indian energy giants in Suratgarh bleed the country blue. There could be more indigenous plans. 

What about the daily slippages of Rs. 12 Billion. Taking a 300 working days calendar year, this comes to a staggering 3.6 Trillion or 36 Billion $. Pakistan can put up 10 Suratgarh projects as also buy off most IPPS.  

Reinvest 100 Billion dollars stashed abroad in communication infrastructure, Steel Mill, Oil and Gas and you are over the moon within a year.  

Stop the hassle of GM seeds in lowly self interest and turn to indigenous varieties of cotton developed by Tarnab/NARC and you increase your cotton production 10 times over with no environmental hazards. A massive surplus that shall crash international markets. With better agriculture management, a jump start to GDP by 3-5 is practical. 

Reclaim your indigenous Canola seed program and save forex on soya meals and palm oil imports. I know the idiots and traitors who sabotaged this project. 

So what is all the hassle about? A good team can turn around Pakistan within a year and I have the honour of having tasted this blood. There are many who remain in awe of me for just this reason.  

Within three years Pakistan could have a walloping growh of 15%. In five years, we will be in a position to invest in India. Remember Modi produced 10% of this model in Gujrat and accounted for 15% of India’s growth. 

We need Governance and not Government. A unifocal doer is all we need.  

Pakistan tere Janisar, Beshamar Beshamar.

 

May 26, 2014

The Corporate War: Escalations Within

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As a security analyst I felt that not only Jang Group but certain anchors from other channels were also crossing an unwritten Red Line in propaganda against the security establishment. Take for example the unrest in Balochistan and its effect on the Economic Corridor. It was high time that Pakistan’s Civil Society and Political parties stepped in to arrest the Invisible Invasion. This script was made in London in 2012-13.

Yesterday’s disclosures by Ex Additional Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Mr. Afzal Khan are disturbing. He said that ECP had made fool proof arrangements to ensure fair and transparent elections. He disclosed that the ECP at the implementation tier was helpless especially when the hare had joined the hounds, a very strong and pungent example (kutti choron se mil gai). During an interview on a TV Channel, he disclosed that the central secretariat of ECP watched helplessly when the mandate of the people was subverted through compliant lower judiciary in Elections 2013.

Coming from a man who looked hyper active at ECP during many briefings and  ably backed the aging Fakhru Bhai was startling. His interview reflected that at some stage the entire electoral exercise passed into the hands of men in league with forces that were bent on manipulating. He thenjustified his ineptness that raise serious questions. A small central secretariat is ineffective and powerless before retired judges who are members of the commission. He said that ECP was toothless for pre-election transparency and post-election accountability. What a pity that central secretariat of ECP threw in the towel without a fight or whimper. To be honest in retrospect is an ethical question. 

The events leading to these controversial elections go back to days when the commission was reconstituted during the PPP regime.  Despite hue and cry from opposition parties and media, the nominations went through with mutual back scratching. A media house played a lead role in maligning many candidates. This was followed by the nomination of Fakhru Bhai and an interim government under a senile care taker Prime Minister. Name of Najam Sethi as care taker chief minister of Punjab was a give and take over nomination of Asma Jehanghir as the interim prime minister. As Shamshad Ahmad Khan the ex-foreign secretary of Pakistan commented to me in an email: – 

“It’s going to be the mother of NROs. The future of Pakistan was choreographed in London at the so-called trilateral summit. There was the fourth ‘invisible’ party at the closed doors. No ordinances, no assembly resolutions. What is happening is the fast forward movement of the unfolding Memo that has already been under implementation. 

Diplomats of this stature are well informed and cannot be ignored. This prompted me to use my own channels to confirm the events. Compelled, I wrote: – 

“Sick and tired of the moth eaten system, all Pakistanis ask a question; would Elections 2013 be a game changer or will they sink Pakistan yet again into the proverbial black hole of Pakistan’s politics? The answer is, come out and vote”.

‘Que Sera Sera’ Nation on 30th March 2013 (http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/30-Mar-2013/que-sera-sera) 

Unfortunately, the people turned up in large numbers but the turnout and choices were subverted beyond doubt. Fakhru Bhai resigned and now his secretary is spilling the beans. All political parties are complaining of rigging. Asif Ali Zardari must be realising that he was never as street smart a politician he thought. 

So what is an ex diplomat implying by referring to ‘mother of NRO’ and ‘fast forward movement of the unfolding Memo’? No rocket science; civilian supremacy over military. Cognisant of the crises that were likely to erupt due to crude handling of Civil-Military relations, I made a comment in this newspaper: 

“For far too long, the ineffectiveness of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) and inability of politicians to enunciate a National Security Policy left a wide vacant space that the military occupied under exigency. In any case, the committee of national defence and security (CDNS), National Security Council or DCC cannot function effectively without an enabling and productive mechanism. Conversely, the civilians and politicians cannot fill this void till such time they build their capacities through education, inputs from research and academic institutions, study of military sociology and evolution of a common strategic language…Till such time civilians do not assume effective control of institutions related to the highest level of national security, a proper transition and balance in civil-military relations and political-military control will never be possible.”

‘Political-Military Context’ Nation 24 August 2013 (http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/24-Aug-2013/the-political-military-context) 

But rather than follow a sure determined route to balance the context, the government eager to enforce an agenda under which it was brought to power, decided to address the balance through a bulwark, confrontational approach. Like 1999, this government once again denies space to other political parties and national institutions. There are allegations of widespread allegations of connivance with the biggest media house of Pakistan. These machinations have been mentioned in, Corruption: The Sink Hole Nation 1 February 2013. (http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/01-Feb-2014/corruption-the-sinkhole

This brings to question the emergence of a corporate media that should never be mixed up with an independent media in Pakistan’s politics. This mega media house (by Pakistani standards) headquartered in Middle East with its group editor based in USA is endeavouring to reset Pakistan’s narrative. Imran Khan of PTI and many competitive news channels allege that this cross media powerhouse is subverting the interests of the state and people of Pakistan through a well thought plan in cooperation with the government in Islamabad and Punjab. The recent unsubstantiated allegations against ISI and Pakistan Army, playing cat and mouse with militant organisations, maligning of top bureaucrats and leaders through media followed up by relentless pressures for their removal through resignations and courts are some of the instances regularly discussed in the media. It is no coincidence that at least seven powerful members of this group now enjoy government jobs. The media house has enjoyed two successes against General (R) Pervez Musharraf and Ex President Asif Ali Zardari. They are now poised to discredit Imran Khan and take on Pakistan’s security establishment head on. ‘Dogs of War’ corporates named as such by Frederick Forsyth consider themselves strong enough to take on Pakistan’s might. This aggregation and accumulation of a media corporate cannot be generated without strong internal and external support. NRO2 starts making sense. 

If there still remain any lingering doubts, ‘The War Indoors’, Nation: 26 April 2014(http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/26-Apr-2014/the-war-indoors) should fill many blanks and make a dangerous real time sequence. Also remember that the first memogate leak came through this media house. This leak effectively pre-empted ISI investigations. 

Pakistan’s self-created crisis is running head on into a very dangerous direction. As a democrat I pray and hope it does not become a Thai Soup. 

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/columns/24-May-2014/an-escalation-within

 

May 25, 2014

SHARAF SARGODHVI

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My father standing behind the Great Jinnah in Quetta

I am just back from church on the 54th death anniversary of my late and legendary father, Lal Din Sharaf Sargodhavi. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Rawalpindi-Islamabad offered a special prayer for his heavenly abode.

His short but eventful life was cut short during neurosurgery in CMH Lahore. At Dacca, East Pakistan, he had suffered head injuries in a scuffle with intelligence sleuths trained to view constructive criticism as treason. Thus came to an end the life of an uncelebrated poet and a foot soldier of Pakistan Movement. . He was an academician, a respected Urdu and Persian poet, a self-made architect, an artist and a man who could enliven any gathering with his poetry and lucid speech.  Dr Anwar Sadeed remembers Sharaf in league with pioneers of Urdu Literature in Sargodha like Master Alamghir and Maulvi Muhammad.

In June 1948, he intercepted the cavalcade of Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah at Quetta. Same evening Jinnah addressed a gathering organized by Pakistan Christian League at Mission Hospital Quetta. Lal Din Sharaf Sargodhvi proudly sat next to Qaid E Azam and Qazi Issa. On the orders of Governor General, he was reinstated in MES and posted to a new cantonment at Wah near Rawalpindi.  He came up with the brilliant idea of copying the design of Badshahi Mosque for this new city. He and our mother spent days at Lahore with measuring tapes in hand to copy every angle of the grand mosque. He was posted to Dacca from Wah Cantt as punishment for his criticism of Pakistan’s first Martial Law. For as long as he lived, he fought his lonely battles for a democratic and egalitarian Pakistan.

My mother kept gazing at the casket with looks of ‘why have you abandoned me? What will become of your dreams and children?’ I still see the ever present reassuring smile with a mole on the cheek of my Father lying in eternal peace retorting, ‘this is not the end’. . His young wife took the baton to ensure that many of his dreams come true.

When friends and critics ask me why Sharafs are what they are, I retort that we have a legacy to defend. As his children, we carry his cross of a visionary; a romantic revolutionary and a man of many worlds.

Lal Din Sharaf Sargodhavi is survived by an army of children, grandchildren and well-wishers. They are doctors, soldiers, engineers, scientists, lawyers, business persons, entrepreneurs, academicians, writers, poets and activists. As we inch closer to an egalitarian Pakistan the Mundaya Sialkotiya with a mole on his cheek will have the last laugh.

Keep Moving, the Sharaf Dynasty!

May 18, 2014

PUNCTURED: ELECTION 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:50 am

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Take the turnout to 50% and an entirely unpredictable scenario emerges.

PTI gets into the driving seat with 150-180 seats out of a house of 272, but this will be its saturation point.  

The metaphorical tsunami would have reached its high point.

(NATION, 11 MAY 2013)

On 11 May an article Simulative Analysis, authored by me appeared in the Nation (http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/11-May-2013/simulative-appraisal). It was an academic exercise at making predictive analysis through simulations. If NDI with small representative samples could make surveys, it was possible to make accurate conclusions through available statistics of past and present. Operations Research and Systems Analysis (ORSA) methods were used to derive results and make objective conclusions. Voter turnouts, party positions, votes cast and identification of firm vote banks of political parties were taken into consideration. Deletion of unverified votes and enlistments of new votes were factorised. The trend probabilities were based on voter affiliations in the past with advantages granted to parties with election experiences. Pakistani Tehreek e Insaf (PTI), contesting large scale elections for the first time was given minuses for hasty planning, inexperienced polling agents and ignorance of the unwritten rules of the game called rigging. Though the ration of bogus votes cast in 2008 was proportionately very high (bogus votes are meant to rig), the slashing of voter turnouts was kept in favour of main political parties.

I was cognisant that Elections 2013 will be impacted by hitherto unknown data. One critical conclusion after repeated simulation was voter turnout. This meant that people daring change would turnout in large numbers. If it remained close to 20%, old political parties would excel through fixed vote banks. With higher turnouts, traditional political parties would be adversely hit by the absence of bogus votes of 44,027,567, now removed from the electoral rolls. The total addition of new 40,179,957 and the percentage polled therein would be decisive. PTI appeared to be the major beneficiary. As the turnout would rise, PTI would gradually overtake old horses.

2012 began with 44,027,567 verifiable votes in the ECP lists. On a petition filed by PTI, 37,186,053 votes were removed. This meant that only 54% votes of the 2008 remained verified. In 2008, only 34,980,069 voters (43.65%) cast their votes. Therefore at par with unverified votes the actual turnouts were halved for purpose of projections in 2013.  Consequently PMLN’s share of votes in 2008 was halved from 26.81% to 13.40% but compensated by a factor due to their electoral experience and benefit of doubt. The same was also the case of other parties excluding PTI.

Post-election 2013, voter turnout increased to from 43.65 to 55.02%.  It was lower than expected and certainly less than the crowds seen on the media. PMLN bagged 14,874,104 (26.25%) and MQM 5,880,658 (10.57 %) votes. PTI, the main challenger could only bag 7,679,954 (19.11%) from the new votes. All other parties suffered a decline for reasons mentioned in the survey. If we presume that the old vote bank of the parties remained intact, a question arises, where did the remaining 22,473,384 or 44% of the new registered votes go?  Was the high turnout deliberately downgraded? Analysis, footage and events prove that it was.

The voter turnout on Election Day was unprecedented. Many voters were denied when polling was called off. Extension time was improperly disseminated. This raises doubts. Was polling deliberately slowed; what was the percentage of rejected votes; were polling bags replaced; and what were other electoral irregularities committed that day?

Amongst the old political parties only PMLN and MQM have shown a rise in their turnout percentages. This corroborates with maximum allegations of rigging coming from Punjab and urban Sindh.

In the new voter registrations, PMLN leads by 26.25 followed by PTI with 19.11%. Curiously, the total numbers of votes received by PTI are far less than its eligible membership and followers. Considering that everyone who votes for a particular party need not be its member implies that all three parties registering rise in popularity also got votes from voters who were not registered members. Something seems missing here? Obviously a tampering with turnout figures.

Even if we assume there was no rigging, the PMLN-PTI parity ratio at 1.94:1 should have translated into far more seats for PTI than it ultimately got. This means that given the voter statistics, the winning margins were neck to neck in favour of PMLN. However in reality, in some of the constituencies, the votes accounted were far more than the registered, votes rejected were more than the winning margins or bogus votes were included in the winner’s total. There were also reports of high handedness during counting. In some stations, polling agents of rival parties were locked up.

The projections posted for PPP and other parties proved accurate. However, PMLN got far more seats than projected and PTI far fewer than calculated. At any turnout above 40%, PTI should have bagged 130-150 seats. Given the lack of homework in Sindh, Balochistan and Non-Muslims, a figure of 90-100 seats for PTI was predicted as more reasonable.

However the election 2013 statistics posted by ECP defy all calculation and are baffling. They necessitated a complete recheck of why the analysis went wrong. The obvious conclusion is widespread rigging at the level of returning officers.

NA 118 makes an interesting case study and a reference point to unravel irregularities. The winner bagged 1,000,300 votes against 43,000 of PTI. Polling agents and candidates were excluded during counting. Results were announced in favour of PMLN after two days. In November 2013 the tribunal agreed to verifications through NADRA on Risk and Cost Basis. The four months stay of the PMLN winner was vacated in March. The tribunal appointed Justice (R) Munir Mughal as Court Commission to oversee the NADRA verifications. The report has come up with startling facts.

The commission received 94 sealed polling bags out of a total of 325. Others were tampered. 65 bags were unauthorised and did not belong to ECP. Record of 88,000 votes did not exist. 36,000 votes had incomplete record. With scan results pending, only 44,000 votes out of 170,000 could be verified. After thumb verifications this shall dip further. The complainant spent over Rs. 5,700,000 as Risk and Cost. It is likely that elections in NA 118 will be declared invalid. NA 118 sets a bench mark for verifying rigging in all contentious constituencies. Amazingly, this is a constituency PTI never considered worth contention.

I was present in a polling station of NA 125 in Lahore. Long lines of women were deliberately held for hours. Many had ink marks on thumbs but had not voted. I accompanied Justice (R) Kayani Member Punjab of ECP inside a polling booth to verify complains on the spot. Vote stamping was rampant. On a wink from returning officer, a squad of elite force assaulted me with butts, kicks and punches. Justice Kayani who knew me stood a bystander as if he was there to ensure polling as planned. Another polling station in the same constituency was locked from inside while votes were stamped. We had to force the doors open.

The story of 35 pantures, rigging allegations by political parties and the number of seats won by the ruling party against its ratio raises credible doubts. My analysis of an international shadow cannot be ruled out (http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/06-Apr-2013/the-election-conundrum ). It is time the ECP takes a proactive approach to salvage its reputation lest people lose faith in electoral politics of Pakistan.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson. Email: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/columns/17-May-2014/eulogy-election-2013

 

May 11, 2014

Rebooting Elections: The Dharna Wars

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:09 am

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There are many similarities between 1997-99 and 2013-2014. In 1997-99 PMLN government had just been handed power with two thirds majority to end Pakistan’s ills. Soon, Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and President Farooq Leghari made unceremonious exits. The Ehtsesab Bureau (EB) was in full fury against the PPP.  Intelligence Bureau (IB) was tamed and ISI brought under the control of a general handpicked by the Prime Minister.

Next door, India passed through elections. BJP came to power with support of the Hindu right. India went nuclear. So did a reluctant PM of Pakistan. This set acrimony between the COAS the Prime Minister (Read Bruce Riedal). General Jehanghir Karamat resigned under mysterious circumstances and General Musharraf was promoted over several seniors. With an apparently docile DG ISI, IB-EB emerged as the political arm. IB had the audacity to pick up a serving army officer. The new COAS was suspicious of overtures with India. Lahore Yatra by Prime Minister of India and Kargil by General Musharraf were two parallel but divergent tracks. In 1999, General Musharraf’s team carried out a military coup aptly legitimised by a humbled judiciary. Pakistan was under international sanctions.

Come 2013-14 and history repeats. PMLN is in power through an election rigged in its favour. India is going through its election process. BJP leader Mr. Modi, an ultra-rightist Hindu fundamentalist appears poised to win. The army has a COAS handpicked by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister sees interventions and briefs by the armed forces and ISI an impediment to his designs. Bonapartists in power see the utility of a powerful media house to subdue the Army and ISI through malicious propaganda. Negotiations with TTP and military’s affirmation to defeat it are two parallel and opposite tracks. Confrontation is a constant. 

But there are also un-similarities. PM’s control of IB is not complete because the institution needs time to regroup. Modi’s profile is more aggressive. The DG ISI is not the choicest and the COAS has no skeletons in his cupboard to disappear mysteriously through a resignation. Majority of the country consider the TTP as sectarian and therefore want it to be obliterated. The judiciary has a challenge to get out of the Chaudhary shadows and there are two new political forces based on an agenda of change.

PMLN has to contend with PTI’s street power and PAT’s organisational excellence. It is likely that PPP will abandon the Charter of Democracy at an opportune time. Allama Tahir Ul Qadri has twice demonstrated his capability to muster mammoth crowds and has potential to kick start a civil disobedience movement at an opportune time. The fault lines between Pakistan’s political and civil society are widening.

In 2014, there are additional dynamics that make graver analysis. Unlike a heavily sanctioned country, Pakistan is now a direct and indirect recipient of foreign funding with strings. NGOs with overseas funding operate with impunity. The independent media with no code of ethics has yet to find its limits. Geo has emerged an unbridled czar of perception management and revisionist narratives. Pakistan’s economic indices reflect a dismal picture with ripples on internal security and general wellbeing. Regulatory mechanisms that ensure transparency and ethics in business have been rendered impotent. Negotiations with militants are being used as leverage against armed forces. The national narrative is under threat by revisionist outside influences. Proliferation of Arabic number plates in Punjab reflects an existence of the mind-set. Foreign policy on Syria stands revised.

Some opine that long marches and dharnas may unsettle democracy and experience of successive elections may reform the system. Critics retort, what if the present government emerges stronger in the next four years? A highly radicalised and arabnised Pakistan will emerge. Imran Khan of PTI contends that such an option can only work if there is immediate electoral verification and reforms before the next elections. But this argument with no solution for the interim is flawed. Election reforms cannot be in isolation whilst the entire system is going down the drain on whims and nepotism. It is this missing logic that makes the government uneasy on calls for dharnas. It seems Imran Khan may have started his killer spell and hold back his fast toe crusher for the final blow.

PAT argues that meaningful reforms are impossible within the prevailing system. Democracy can only be strengthened if the incumbent party is sent packing and constitution revised and made incumbent in letter and spirit. Certainly not by intent but by consequence, PTI and PAT may stand to complement each other. In case the ECP report on electoral rigging in four constituencies comes out in Imran Khan’s favour, it will provide PAT the justification of being correct and move further in its agitation.

PTI reflected the energy of this anarchic nature during the visit of Imran Khan to the Lahore High Court on 7 May. If this same energy is magnified manifold, 11 May could set a series of events that not only PAT and PTI but other political leanings could also exploit. Knowing the anarchic nature of street demonstrations and politics, events thereof would be defining. Impetus will be provided by civil society movements and political parties already on the streets protesting Geo’s propaganda against the armed forces, and the government’s complicity.

The breakaway point in these protests will come after the findings of verification in four constituencies are made known to the Supreme Court in 15 Days. If allegations of massive riggings are proved, it will be an aspersion on the entire process. Onus of justice will shift to the Supreme Court. PTI and PAT will then be in a position to demand additional verifications and annulling electoral results respectively on legal grounds.

The drama poised to erupt on the streets on 11 May will not only display revisionist nationalist forces but also non state actors with hidden hands behind them. Acts of terrorism cannot be ruled out. Pakistan’s streets and bazaars could get bloodier. Rana Sanaullah the Punjab Law Minister has already issued a security advisory.

A fortnight later, the Supreme Court will have to intervene. How it does depends on verifications of electoral results. Geo’s accusations against state institutions could not have been more ill-timed.

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/columns/10-May-2014/the-dharna-war

 

May 4, 2014

Pakistan’s Mini Great Game: The War Within

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 2:00 pm
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THE WAR INDOORs

The crude nadir in civil military relations with a hyperactive media house spewing vitriolic propaganda is least surprising. When states cede too much space to non-state actors and misuse what they have, the consequence is logical. Successive regimes and security establishment cognisant of such threats failed to act in time. Previously they traded exclusive spaces for opportunism. Failure relates to absence of institutionalism and opportunism called collective megalomaniacism. The security establishment ignored the obvious with negligent abandon from 2001 to 2013.

In a series of studies beginning post 9/11 and culminating in Pakistan’s Future War, a hypothetical scenario suggested that the biggest threat to Pakistan would come from its exploitable internal vulnerabilities. The studies did not interest generals in Rawalpindi. Balancing acts failed and incrementally pushed the military and the country into a trap. Being the author of these studies, I scripted my fears in 2008 in the leading English media through a series of articles. My sojourn did not last. I summed up the series with remarks such as ‘why has the focus of charge sheet recently shifted from the country to the armed forces of Pakistan’, ‘Pakistanis need to understand that in the scheme of things, the degradation of the army is a key plank in the objective to rid Pakistan of its nuclear capability’ and ‘It now appears that events are timed in a manner to coincide with the upsurge of hostilities and socio-economic upheaval in Pakistan’. I was suggesting that the mother of all battles would be the degradation of the armed and nuclear forces of Pakistan.

Past six years indicate that events unfolded as scripted. Assessments merited attention but were ignored. Foreign funding of media and investigative journalism is no secret. Baloch separatism intensified under the eyes of judiciary and was glorified by segments of media. While India effectively elbowed out Pakistan from cricket, Geo Sports continues to telecast IPL matches. Times of India, Geo’s partner in ‘Aman Ki Asha’ led by Arnab Goswami airs a vicious programme to disgrace Pakistani participants. Where is Aman and where is Asha?

The battle lines gathered critical mass following a mysterious and contentious electoral mandate subverted by lower judiciary and a segment of media. Victory was declared through the same media house with only 25% results in. Judiciary did not react to allegations. Election tribunals are snail pace. Thumb verifications are improbable. India is advocated as the lynchpin of Pakistan’s economic recovery. For a change, Punjabi ministers are in forefront of anti-military propaganda with dire implied threats. Battle lines are moving into the heartland of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s internal instability, subversion of regulatory mechanisms, militancy and unchecked stream of information airwaves has combined with personal vendettas to intimidate Pakistan’s security establishment into submission. Normatively such a policy would strengthen democracy, the conspicuous lack of political ethics in other shades of governance indicate an agenda laden with questionable intentions. The events being exploited are destined to accentuate. The Protection of Pakistan Ordinance and a sketchy counter terrorism policy belie the unwillingness of the government and opposition to squarely address the issue. It provides militants the time, space and legitimacy to reorganise and regroup to fight another day. It is shocking that some daydreamers compare the fighting capability of militants to Afghans who defeated Soviet Union and NATO. Use of non-state actors to subdue the law enforcement agencies in the remotest sense will invite domestic, regional and global reactions. Legitimately sanctioned international interventions could follow. It is the responsibility of the government to act in Pakistan’s interests and prevent the situation from becoming exploding mangoes.

Hamid Mir was a reluctant visitor to Karachi. Given that Hamid Mir and Jang group were cognisant, armed escorts were missing. The car was not bullet proof. Location was an obvious ambush site not secured. The assailants were in haste and lacked precision unworthy of a renowned agency; perhaps a spoiler group backed by hostile intelligence? The reaction of Jang Group and government ministers reflected a pre-determined and provocative mind-set; least, one of crises management and damage limitation.

But this standoff is neither the first nor will be the last. It is a reflection of a mind set over turfs. Such policies of one-upmanship will continue to dent civil military relations. It is unfortunate that leads were not taken from the previous government. Lessons from the confrontational and bulwark attitudes of the past are ignored.

Since 2008, many incidents threatened to derail both the democratic process and civil-military cooperation. The memo scandal was built on the argument of civilian supremacy. Incidents like Salala, Raymond Davis and Abbotabad failed to undermine the indispensability of the armed forces to combat and defeat terrorism. Pakistan Army was capable of mopping up Waziristan after Swat. DGISI was in favour of quick and effective operations. The COAS ruled it out in fear of a backlash in urban areas. From a strategic point of view, this inaction from 2010 to 2013 provided respite to militants and their sympathisers in political parties. The military surrendered the initiative resulting in operational stalemate. It allowed sub conventional threats to grow. Had the military concentrated on operations and not checkmating President Zardari’s tenure, Pakistan’s political landscape would have been different. Extensions were non-productive. A genre of post 1971 security officials are expected to contend and clear a backwash they did not create. A wider and intense spectrum of militancy is now visible. The army needs the nation at its back than never before.

No political party in the opposition seems prepared to challenge the government on confrontational behaviour. PPP lacks the leadership but not the political sense to seize the moment of its choosing. It will play its waiting game, allow others to err and hope to bounce back popularly.

The silence of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf is intriguing. It is the party most suited to fill the leadership void. In 2012, it emerged as a party of change. In 2013, it suffered most in election rigging. But strangely, the party maintains immoral neutrality over the events. What holds it from assuming a leadership role in a situation tailor made for its high ideals of Jinnah ka Pakistan?  This is a riddle only insiders can answer. Over the past few months, PTI has inched closer to Chaudary Nisar the interior minister at the cost of its cutting edge.

A nation does not live on slogans alone. Pakistanis have to find a leader with credentials to unfold the thesis of Qaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It can happen if social scientists are accorded space as political philosophers and thinkers.

Post Script Imran Khan Read this article and on The Raising Day of the party, he went full throttle against GEO and Election Rigging

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/columns/26-Apr-2014/the-war-indoors

May 3, 2014

MYTHICAL SOLDIERING

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 2:47 pm
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I always marvel why men are willing to die? As a ground combater, I bear witness to this motivation and willingness. Religious beliefs in martyrdom are indeed a factor, but then why do soldiers of other religions willingly brave dangers and die in line of duty. 

All countries have their own Unknown Soldier. The purpose is to honour the collective spirit and keep that fire of motivational sacrifice burning. An unknown soldier is much beyond a cliché. Soldiers are indeed unknown. 

There could be many explanations offered by psychologists and sociologists but the one that touches me most is the nobility. Soldiering is the noblest profession of them all and epitome of professional idealism. A soldier defends his country and readily sacrifices his life so that others live in safety. All good soldiers are romantics in pursuit. Romanticism is writ large. Training exercises, sports competitions, endurance runs and celebrations; the bugle calls at reveille, the retreat and the last post. The hoisting and lowering of flags, the change of guards or the clatter of helicopter wings bringing back last remains of a soldier from the battle field are beyond symbolic. They inject a flow of adrenaline in the blood stream. This sudden surge and harnessed hyper energy is unknown in civilian life. It conquers fear and pushes a soldier charging into the unknown. 

Soldiers are unknown because their countrymen know so little about them. They are never introduced. Heroes remain mythical characters inasmuch as the organisation they belong to. What is behind that barbed wire or the check post is what irks imagination of onlookers? Behind the façade of ceremonialism and prestige lies exclusivity that appears mysterious to an outside eye. It may also invoke an odd critic. This aura will never be known to outsiders. The meanders, peaks, valleys, travails, fortunes, misfortunes and glory are corporate traits indigenous to all armies; these fortes make them professional and efficient fighting machines. 

A musical video by a commercial bank on the occasion of Martyr’s Day conveys what thousand volumes in a library cannot. Filmed on the playback by Ustad Amanat Ali, the video encapsulates almost all aspects of a soldier’s life. It shows soldiers from a child to a martyr and survivor; families, the long and adventurous rides back home and the simplicities that amuse soldiers they seldom have the chance of living through. As an epitome, it shows how behind every soldier are a family, wife and children who endure moments of the isolation and the long wait for a reunion ‘to be or not to be’. 

Motivation and nobility of a class unknown urges youth to flock to the armed forces and submit to an entirely different way of life in teenage. These are village boys, urbanites, rich, poor and those coming from family traditions. These youngsters are in formative years and yet to pass through the moments of life, street smartness and social evolution their peers would experience in colleges and universities.  They are trained, groomed and moulded into an entirely different and exclusive entity. As they grow, they are distinctively different from their civilian peers especially in the simplistic views of life. They are ‘the little soldier blue’. 

Mental toughness, honesty and admission of failure are basic qualities of their selection. This toughness is based on the criteria of not only how much can you endure but also how much extra you can do in trying and challenging circumstances. The ability to accomplish the extra distinguishes good soldiers. While physical fitness comes through training, the basic instincts of mental robustness are polished into sharp leading edges that come handy in extreme performance. Soldiering is like extreme sports in splendid isolation. One who overcomes the tiring sinews and fading resilience emerges a winner. Trying circumstances such as these, attributes of honest failure or that extra grain of resilience come handy in producing the extra ordinary episodes of individual or collective valour. 

Unlike soldiers a century ago, who raced into massed suicidal frontal assaults, modern soldiers are expected to perform in large regimental groups as also in isolation where their initiative and survival instincts are put under the ultimate test.  Each youngster is trained under a regimen to become a disciplined street smart soldier, a burglar, assassin, a poacher or a rescuer. If soldiers do not acquire these traits, they will never be able to infiltrate behind enemy lines, lay cunning ambushes and raid enemy positions with stealth, speed and lethality, nor be able to operate as rescue squads.  Soldiers create their own rallying points to build courage when valour seems to fail; to regain faith when despair abounds; and to create hope when it is forlorn. 

Over time, they acquire a distinct corporate style of unit life, regimental traditions, camaraderie, spirit de corps and acquisition of a new home and family. Steadily, military life replaces the family life. When they marry, their spouses are also gelled into the traditions. Ultimately the military becomes the first home. Good militaries world over represent a welfare system that imbues confidence in men. Militaries look after their soldiers and their families. They have evolved a cradle to grave welfare system that rivals the best welfare states.   

The entire psychology of soldiering is built around the concept of sacrifice and country before the self. “The honour of the country is paramount; that of the men one commands the next; and self, the last”. As General Douglas McArthur explains, “a professional soldier must lie in wait all his life for a moment that may never come, yet be ready when it does even to the peril of his life”. 

I have seen them go, come back smiling and go about the normal life. I have seen them physically impaired and eager. I have seen them comatose for months invigorated by an elixir. These Unknown Soldier come and go but the spirit lives on. 

For every freckled soldier, the present will continue to bear a semblance of the past. Whenever I hear the whine of an approaching helicopter, the clatter of its rotor blades, the faint echo of the last post and the rattle of blanks, it reminds me of our martyrs. I see a train of fallen colleagues clad in virgin white with ultimate honour. I instinctively rise with remarkable alertness and call to battle. Then I realize that I am only dreaming. The life moves on. 

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/columns/03-May-2014/mythical-soldiering

 

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