February 22, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 1:38 pm

2013-09-29 09.38.18

How many know that ex servicemen are providing security to over 160 churches in Pakistan at zero cost? 

Places of worship in Pakistan have been subject to over 100 terrorist attacks since 9/11/; sitting ducks for highly trained terrorists with capability to penetrate the securest of secure. So what are the chances that existing half-hearted security measures around civilian targets will not attract the wrath of terrorists? The security detail around civilian targets at best comprises poorly trained police that is, inadequately equipped and lacks discipline. Mostly, worshipers are left to their fate. Consequently, security has been beefed by employing guards from private security companies. These guards are usually pensioners, too old and poorly equipped. As Wednesday’s incident in Islamabad indicates, the state is neither pushed nor serious in protecting places of worship.

In the All Saint’s Church Peshawar suicide bombing incident in September 2013, the police guards detailed for duty were merry making over the food being distributed. The bomber easily infiltrated and ripped through hundreds of peaceful worshipers. Similarly in Army Public School (APS) Peshawar and a Shia mosque in Peshawar, the terrorists used the backdoors rather than the frequented approaches. Security is always caught napping and scenes of carnage replayed with impunity.

Cognisant that something had to be done immediately to restore the confidence of non-Muslims of Pakistan, Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association (PESA) held an emergency meeting after the bombing at All Saint’s Church. PESA called upon all retired servicemen running security companies to rally for the call of protecting churches in Pakistan. They responded immediately. For the past 17 months, ex-servicemen are protecting over 160 churches from Karachi to Peshawar and Quetta to Lahore on Sundays and feast days. This is voluntary and costs running into millions are met by the security companies and PESA. A few hours before the prayers, the entire area is scanned, spotters posted on strategic points, scanners deployed and electronic surveillance switched on. In addition, a quick reaction force in ‘cash in transit armoured vehicles’ is deployed as standoff reserves. Contingency plans are made and rehearsed. Each man knows his duty. Security details on neighbouring churches provide support in emergency. Retired officers are posted at each deployment to form a ring of mutually supporting localities. ‘Reserves in Situ’ are always ‘on call’. So far it has worked but for how long? Yet this gesture is appreciable and unmatched. The clergy and congregations feel secure.

This generous and communitarian effort has gone unnoticed in the media. It is the only example of its kind in the world where a predominantly Muslim community has volunteered to provide security to Christians without cost tags. Pakistan notorious in the world for negative hashtags needs to project this image of brotherhood. Within the PESA, the effort is led by the Pathfinder Group and their subsidiary Wackenhut Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. The scale of logistics and deployment all across the country is astronomical. Yet it is accomplished on every occasion with military precision and efficiency. The services are now being extended to temples.

But there are less fortunate targets. Mosques of other sects, religious gatherings and educational institutions remain highly vulnerable. As the APS massacre and recent attacks on Shia mosques indicate, terrorist will always find a loophole for bloodletting. National Action Plan for its political verbosity lacks the vision and detail to counter terrorism ‘lock stock and barrel’. There will always remain vulnerabilities that terrorist will identify to wreak havoc.

The crucial civilian infrastructure to fight urban terrorism lacks imagination, organisation, discipline, training, morale and political directives to befit credible dissuasion. Hapless civil society despite being taxed heavily has no choice but to succumb to government pressure and pay for security.

In the aftermath of APS attack, educational institutions are being forced by the government to invest heavily in outsourced security. Barring the private sector institutions that may afford exorbitant costs, the public and ‘not for profit’ sector institutions are finding it very difficult to meet the recommendations of official evaluation teams due to financial constraints. Yet the list of dos and don’ts keeps inflating. Filling of blanks to absolve responsibility and affix blame is the norm.

One unfortunate aspect of this outsourced security is reliance on poorly trained guards who carry extremely inferior weaponry.  Pump action guns with limited range are no defence against modern weaponry. In repeated incidents, like the one in Islamabad on 18th September, these guards are outranged and out gunned. In most cases, they have no communications with their parent companies. Guards equipped with automatic ball ammunition weapons are very expensive that most institutions cannot afford. This false sense of security is criminal neglect. Something is bound to happen.

To bolster this privatised security, efforts by local police are insufficient. Police mobiles even if posted are lethargic and revert easily to the business of checking vehicles and bribes. Within the civil society, ward vigilance (chowkedari) and coordination is missing. The civil administration has yet to form committees of local communities. Municipal corporations and cantonment boards that fill the gap of local bodies are bureaucratic and bossy. Even the district coordination officers have outsourced their responsibilities to education officers through long check lists. ‘All is well’ till something happens is the ugly reality.

It is important to note that privatising security in environments of urban terrorism can only delay the inevitable allowing time for police to arrive at the scene. Security at this level cannot be exclusive. Similarly, police stations alone cannot exercise due vigilance. Because the terrorist are not recognisable, awareness at grassroots over suspicious activities will provide useful and timely information. Occupation of houses by new tenants, appearance of suspicious characters and vehicles can be timely noted by local communities. This coordination to the lowest levels will achieve the objectives of vigilance, timely reporting, quick reactions, and operational drills. They will give citizens the feeling of being part of a plan.

The state cannot absolve itself of responsibilities by issuing a long checklist and turn a deaf ear to financial implications. It must accept the primary responsibility for protecting its citizens. The least the state can do is provide long range weapons and sentries placed tactically on roof tops to bolster privatised security. Also quick reaction forces of police and military garrisons have to be positioned on wheels and nodal locations to respond to threats. Perhaps reporting and communications between the schools and local administration can kick start the principle of inclusiveness.

10 year conflict has repeatedly reminded that privatised security has seldom challenged terrorists. It will and cannot; unless it becomes part of the security plan.

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


February 18, 2015

GILGIT-BALTISTAN: A fading jewel on a crownless head

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 5:44 am

Gilgit Pic

An amendment proposed by the Federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan and approved by the President of Pakistan in GILGIT-BALTISTAN (EMPOWERMENT AND SELF GOVERNANCE) ORDER 2009 in paragraph (aa) in clause (1) of Article 20 reads, “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Order, the President may appoint the Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan as the ex-officio Governor of Gilgit-Baltistan”.

The amendment is a slap on the rhetoric of self-determination. It is contrary to the basic spirit of the 2009 Ordinance and universal democratic values. It is also an infringement on basic human rights of the people recognised internationally and in conflict with Article 3 of the Constitution of Pakistan. This Article prohibits exploitation with the words, “the state shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and the gradual fulfillment of the fundamental principle from each according to his ability to each according to his work”. It is also an aspersion on the spirit of Article 1 (2) (d) of the constitution that has specifically been placed successively to respect the aspirations of the people of Kashmir and other regions who wanted to join Pakistan in 1947.

With one swipe by an insensitive babu on directions of an exploitative mind-set, whatever meagre empowerment and self-governance existed, the ordinance arbitrarily rendered it meaningless by an exploitative mind-set of political wolves and vultures. Imagine the insensitivity. Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan an ex officio non-voting member in the original ordinance has been elevated as governor. From a legal viewpoint, granted that the constitution of Pakistan does not extend to Gilgit-Baltistan, the President, Prime Minister and the Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan are bound by this constitution to abide by certain norms and values. When they implement an amendment in violation of two of the first three articles of the constitution, they are guilty of taking extra constitutional steps for political advantage in violation of the Constitution of Pakistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan, Election Commission of Pakistan, human rights groups and legal experts must take notice of this treason.

The amendment has discredited whatever credibility existed in the 2009 reforms to provide relief to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan similar to those in other provinces. An evolving journey of 68 years by the people of the Karakorum and Himalayas who call themselves ‘The Jewel of Pakistan’ has been thrown in dustbins. With no clue of nation building and nationalism, Pakistan’s rulers have once again embarked on a journey of self-destruction; one of the many self-inflicted wounds in the one step forward and many backwards merry go rounds and seesaws.

The motivation behind this arbitrary amendment is the upcoming elections in Gilgit-Baltistan.  The government of PMLN vying to secure a majority in the Gilgit Baltistan Assembly have deprived the people to advise a governor. There are at least five local individuals canvassing within PMLN for this post. The stimulus is the fear that appointment of any one of these would alienate the other four and compromise prospects of PMLN in elections. Now they are being persuaded to act as donkeys and follow the carrot. This marks the first step towards a deliberate and planned pre-poll rigging in the upcoming Gilgit-Baltistan elections eroding Pakistan’s moral standing on the Kashmir Question. I hope the Election Commission is awake?

Historically ruled as a collection of independent mountain states, Gilgit-Baltistan always enjoyed a distinct political identity. In 1842, a local prince, Karim Khan, overthrew the ruler of Gilgit with the help of a Sikh army. In 1846 under the Treaty of Amritsar, the East India Company sold all the hilly territories east of Indus to Maharaja of Kashmir. In 1877, the British retook control of Gilgit as part of anti-Russia forward policy and established rule under Gilgit Agency. Internal autonomy remained intact with local rulers. On August 14, 1947, as a prelude to an illegal and fabricated Instrument of Accession by the Indian Government, the departing British Administration handed over Gilgit Agency to the Maharaja of Kashmir. A war of liberation ensued against the new colonial rule, the heroic struggle culminated in independence on 1 November 1947. On 15th of November 1947, the newly founded Republic of Gilgit declared its unconditional accession with the state of Pakistan. People of the region opine that their only link with the State of Jammu and Kashmir has been forceful subjugation and literal sellout of the area by one colonial ruler to another. After liberation of the area and decision to join Pakistan, this link was severed forever. In the tradition of slaves being sold by one master to another, successive Pakistani rulers within the present demeanor stand to expose their petty mindset on issues of human liberty and dignity.

Though Pakistan was quick to form an effective government in Azad Kashmir, these prized areas of Gilgit-Baltistan have remained hostage to exploitative politics for the past 68 years. The people who fought a self-initiated war of independence and unconditionally declared to become part of Pakistan remain slaves in the bondage of constitutional expediencies and short sighted policies. Gilgit-Baltistan, unlike Azad Kashmir is underdeveloped, impoverished and extremely poor. People do not have opportunities and no rights to be represented in Pakistan. Despite natural beauty, abundance of resources and five of the world’s highest peaks, tourism remains a trickle because of sectarian militancy. Due to migration of businesses from down country and influx of outsiders, the native populations are fast becoming a minority in their own land. Like the people of FATA, Thar and remote Balochistan, they are slaves whose destinies are decided by their masters. Separatist and sub nationalist sentiments are on the rise and successive governments have done little to win hearts and minds. With time, alienation will breed forces of secession and then it will be too late.

The constitutional jargon to deprive these people their democratic rights is illogical. Why can the democratic right like Azad Kashmir not be extended to Gilgit-Baltistan? If the Government can sign a boundary agreement with China with disregard to international law, why Gilgit-Baltistan can’t be given the status of a province at par with Azad Kashmir?  And why must the Federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan always act as a guardian over those who joined Pakistan by choice? Why Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan can’t be represented in the Senate. There will be constitutional arguments built around aberrations.

It is high time our rulers break out of the shackles of greed, bigotry and double standards and truly understand what the vision of Pakistan stands for.

Co Authored with Mr. Izhar Hunzai

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

February 9, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 4:38 am

Warfare in the early and mid-20th Century was tri-dimensional fought on land, air and sea. Intelligence operations usually supported conventional warfare. Psychological operations were limited in scope, tiring in execution, had propaganda content and focused on breaking the will of the adversary. After the Second World War, the use of fifth columnists and spies behind the enemy lines faded away. During the Cold War, intelligence operations assumed significant importance. Technology reduced reliance on manpower while ‘Real Time Information’ deprived decision makers of the luxury of a time lag. This necessitated formation of decision making structures to reduce clutter and increase cognitive controls. Two new dimensions to conflict management were added: the integrated battle space and the virtual battle field. These additions have exponentially expanded the battle space as also the capability of the ‘other’ to wrest control of hearts and minds.

The ideological frontiers of nation states have shrunk and multiple internal fronts opened. This new dimension of warfare warrants a reorganisation of battle lines beyond the conventional. This dimension besides profiling organisations and individuals also collects information that is collated and animated to create psycho-social fissures. Nations not only have to fight it effectively but also have to launch cyber counter offensives and ripostes to remain relevant. This warfare no longer needs a declaration. It is right there in the office desktop, laptop and the smart phone. Computer technologies, applications and backdoors provide real time surveillance on movements, friends, preferences, likes, dislikes, trends, habits and the list goes on. The cyber sentry watches in real time.

The grasp of integrated military operations is easy. The virtual battle field complicated. It is invisible, omnipresent, alive and ongoing. With the internet, cyberspace has invaded every household and handset. It is now possible to shape environments through remote control and expand the canvas of warfare an expanding spectrum. Beyond conventional media, the power of social media through internet, smart phones, social websites and chat rooms play their role in shaping perceptions, opinions, narratives and decision making. The art of the rationality of threat perceptions has moved beyond the conventional international politics, to framing individual minds to a level of irrational thinking. The role of cyber non-state actors is invasive, unseen and cost effective. The Kautilyan saying that “An archer letting off an arrow may or may not kill a single man, but a wise man using his intellect can kill even reaching unto the very womb” assumes more logic. Human innovation has taken the science of cognitive controls to hitherto unknown levels. Even life styles can be controlled.

Though USA, Russia, Israel and China were quick to occupy the cyberspace on internet covertly, the British are perhaps the first to declare that they are re-raising the legendary 77 (Chinta Brigade). This time instead of the British Indian units of the 8 Punjab Group (now in Pakistan), this force will comprise individuals with prowess over internet and social websites wearing the same badge. These unseen soldiers will surf the social media, frame perceptions and collect data on perceived enemies, everyone and everything. According to renowned security analyst Ikram Sehgal, “reviving the 77th Brigade as a new generation of Facebook Warriors to wage complex and covert information and subversive campaigns, the British Army will use the irregular World War 2 concept in a variation adapted to fit modern warfare.” This means that these warriors will project communicative images and themes whose perceptions they will frame and control through cognitive psychology and vulnerabilities of each individual and group.

What are bound to emerge over a period of time are new interest groups, partisans and activists with agendas controlled by the invisible and beyond control of nations; hybrid nationalists to be apt. With their identities hidden and no spectre of physical vulnerability, there are no mechanisms to control the venom these non-state actors can spew against the national interests.  If WikiLeaks and Snowden are any measure, it will be criminal neglect to sleep over the innovative realities of these developments.

Pakistan’s fault lines run through the seams. Parochialism, sub-nationalism, religiously inspired militancy, influence of Arab and Western value systems, cash flows; three tier educational streams, political cartels, business cabals, human rights records, ethnicity, civil rights groups and marginalisation of minorities all provide a happy hunting ground for gold hunters. Pakistan with its divisive politic body and divergent narratives is most vulnerable to virtual warfare. Faulty narratives propagated through state controlled mechanism and educational curriculum are already under siege. The state lacks capacity and credibility to produce viable and sustainable counter narratives. When the state does not enjoy credence, where non-state actors spew contrarian narratives and where too many fault lines exist, it will be a feast for sophisticated cyber warriors and political backdoors to shape and control an environment.

Therefore, it is no wonder that a nation unified on the tragedy of Peshawar massacre dissipated its resolve rather quickly to react to the crises in unison. The entire National Action Plan is evaporating in thin air. The government through a tacit consent has displayed no urgency to tackle terrorism by its horns. Military courts are now controversial. Religious parties have drawn lines based on divides. Bars and bench are divided. Some segments of civil society are vibrant against Lal Masjid and Mumtaz Qadri but chose to stay away from Army Public School vigils. Others though vitriolic against Charlie Hebdo or Maulana Abdul Aziz chose to ignore the significance of Kashmir Day. Military is seen as supporting proxies and Kashmir for its corporate interests. Liberal segments perceive Kashmir to be a non-issue serving the purpose of military elites. Twisting of facts on core national issues is endemic, eroding Pakistan’s power potential by each day. Lies become the truth and truth the casualty of vicious campaigns. Pakistan is a case study where private and social media have gone out of the control of the government. They pick and choose themes at whims sometimes against the core national interests of the state. All above mentioned themes are visible on facebook, twitter, tumbler, blogs and multimedia sites. Beyond the visible are spywares and backdoors.

Pakistan as a country is living through day to day. There are no visible efforts to correct the wrongs of the past or to realign the present with the national interests. Practically every core group has its own agenda and narrative to subdue its critics and opponents. Through the unchecked invasion of the cyberspace, it is others who are fast assuming control over national debates and issues. A cellular density of over 73% and over 30 million internet users exposes majority of Pakistanis to virtual warriors. The high illiteracy makes majority of the population vulnerable to themes, propaganda and subversion.

It is high time the government wakes up to these threats.

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

February 2, 2015

ANTITHESIS TO OBAMA’S HUG Pakistan’s Power Potential

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 7:30 am
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President Obama’s visit to India and the unlimited technological, military and economic cooperation between the two countries have mixed reactions. A lame duck US President has assured India positions in UNSC, Nuclear Suppliers Group, naval outreach up to the APEC Arc and a license to boost nuclear technologies. In return, India is poised to exercise controls through its envisaged blue water navy from Suez to Straits of Malacca extendable to South China Sea and perhaps Sea of Japan. The ghost of Arakan Wars will come to live and the spirit of Mahabharata will move beyond the Indian Rim to the Pacific. Is India’s dream of becoming a super power around the corner?

India shall bridge the CENTCOM and Pacific Military Command forming a formidable RIM around Middle East, South Asia and APEC. Russian re-emergence and Chinese potential to become a formidable military power by 2025 will be pre-empted. Pakistan, the only irritant would fade away due to internal strife, economic manipulation by its corrupt elites; and strangle by India through Afghanistan. Russian and Chinese trade would be vulnerable to bottlenecks. The world will become a safer place and crucial environmental issues handled with finesse. Narendra Modi would have rediscovered and accomplished Nehru’s thesis, ‘Discovery of India’.

This ambitious hypothesis appears ominous on many counts. Across the extremes of Indo-Pakistan’s ideological divides, it spells challenges for Russia and China. Reactions will come. Japan after the December elections is already poised to ride out the Guilt Clauses of World War II to pursue a new security policy. The cooperation is likely to hasten a conventional and nuclear arms race in South Asia. Pakistan with its limited resources will be forced to shore its strategic interests through unprecedented investments in defence and nuclear technology. With a live line of control any escalations could run berserk. Hope against hopes, Pakistan like Paul Kennedy’s ‘Rise and Fall of Great Empires’ would crumble under the weight of its own establishment.

However, the biggest hole in the Indo-US Thesis is Pakistan’s realised Power Potential? If achieved, Indian ambitions of dominance will evaporate in thin air. Rather than ‘Rimland Theory’ of Nicholas John Spykman, Pakistan shall contain India.

In tandem with this dramatized diplomacy, good tiding and promise blew across Pakistan through unexpected quarters. David M Darst of Morgan Stanley in a talk said, “Pakistan is among those nine countries in Asia that will add another China in the next 35 years and the impact of this change will be phenomenal on the world economy,” He went on, “I am surprised to see low number of investors in the bourses of Pakistan. This must change considering the strong fundamentals of Pakistani stocks…With a young population of an average age of 22 years, the opportunities that the young entrepreneurs from Pakistan have are going to make an exceptional contribution to the economy of the region.” He is right. Thanks for telling us what we ourselves fail to realise and believe. Pakistan’s power potential is exponential.

Matching India gun to gun was never an astute recipe for Pakistan’s security. Rather, a vibrant and sound economy reduces Pakistan’s vulnerabilities. If Pakistan grows on sustainable basis for the next few years, it will be able to spend far more on its security requirements. ‘Beyond strong fundamentals of Pakistani stocks’ as asserted by Morgan Stanley, strong and diverse existing fundamentals can jump start economic recovery. Ten Years hence, Pakistan can become an agricultural and energy giant with industrialisation high in value addition. To prevent overheating, Pakistan has the capability to consume and export what it produces. This potential begets immediate tapping.

Pakistan’s real potential far exceeds statistics. According to a study by NAB, Pakistan’s daily slippages at Rs. 12 Billion per day account for a national loss of Rs. 4.38 Trillion per annum. This doubles the national budget outlay from Rs4.3 trillion to Rs. 8.68, overhauling the budget deficit of 4.9%. The Defence Budget allocation drops from 16.28% to 8.06 %. Loan liabilities decrease significantly while all borrowing comes to a halt. Pakistan by exercising control and vigilance within its existing potential suddenly becomes a vibrant economy.  Surplus can be pumped into human resource, infrastructure, energy and exploration. Add unregulated sectors and a miracle begins to emerge through honesty, transparency and regulation.

Water and agriculture management have the potential to raise Pakistan’s GDP within a year by 1-1.5 %. New varieties of Zarquraish can make Pakistan a cotton surplus country; an all-weather cotton hybrid with unprecedented quality yields year round even in arid areas. Vast agricultural wasteland in Punjab, KPK, Sindh and Balochistan can become cotton havens. Correct channelizing of river systems and flood waters to reservoirs and waste lands can bring a green revolution to Choolistan, Nara and Thar Deserts. Proper siting of 30 delay action check dams in Balochistan can green the parched expanses. Addition of Kalabagh and Basha Dams will add manifold to the potential. Pakistan becomes the biggest producer of fruits, cotton, linseed oil and canola.

Within two years lignite coal refineries in Thar can begin producing, oils, natural gas, LPG, ethanol fuels, briquettes, fertilizer and power, reducing reliance on imports. Within 5 years, the Kohlu Block can add 16 Billion Cu Ft to the national grid while the pumping of crude oil would eliminate imports. Add the hydrocarbon reservoirs in KPK, Pakistan’s potential eclipses Middle East. Pakistan would not need gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia or Iran obviating international interference. Thatta, Karachi, Port Qasim and Gawadar would become cities of future.

Copper, gold, antimony, iron and chromite excavations can make Pakistan world’s leading producer of rare earth minerals along the entire Tethyan Belt from Balochistan to Chitral-Swat. The foundries and small industries of Sialkot, Faisalabad, Wazirabad and Gujranwala will dominate world trade in sports gear and instruments once again. Precious minerals will eclipse South Africa.

The industrial boost to Pakistan’s economy is beyond imagination. Textile, metallurgy, oil and gas, fertilizer and pharmaceutical sectors will grow manifold. Unemployment and crime will go down significantly. Economic interdependence will bond the diversity. The entire nation will galvanise into a power house.

So rather than over analyse the Indo-US relationship, Pakistan should get to the task of putting its house in order. Within five years Pakistan will be in a position to export cheapest oil, gas and other materials to India’s work horses.

The future lies in Pakistan’s undeniable economic potential and not its military prowess that in any case will increase manifold. The nation must Rise and Respond.

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


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