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Posts from — March 2012

National security: op-ed by Dr Farrukh Saleem in the News, Mar 18

The writer is a columnist based in Islamabad.

For us, national security is nothing more than military security. For us, national security is uni-dimensional. For us, national security is uni-organisational. For us, national security’s only dimension is the military one and GHQ is the only organisation that defines it.

Why are we insecure, vulnerable, uncertain and unsafe? Answer: Because our National Security Strategy (NSS) is uni-dimensional and uni-organisational. The UNDP defines security in terms of security’s seven dimensions – economic security, food security, health security, environmental security, personal security, community security and political security.

In 2006, the US Army War College (USAWC), the Canadian Land Forces Doctrine and Training System along with Queen’s University, Canada’s public research university, co-sponsored an academic conference. The Conference concluded that: “War has changed. New organising principles require a new paradigm that facilitates change from a singular military approach to a multidimensional, multi-organisational … approach to deal more effectively with the contemporary global security reality.” Furthermore, “Time-honoured concepts of national security and the classical military means to attain it, while still necessary, are no longer sufficient.”

The principal recommendation of the Conference was that in order to guarantee the survival of a nation-state its National Security Strategy (NSS) must be based on the 3-Ds – defence, development, and diplomacy. 3-D is the new “external conflict and internal disaster paradigm” in which a country’s military is one component – albeit an important one – of an overall paradigm that must include development, particularly economic development, and diplomacy.

Pakistan is in the midst of ‘fourth generation warfare’, a doctrine first defined by William Lind the author of the Manoeuvre Warfare Handbook. This is warfare’s return to a ‘decentralised form’ whereby a “nation-state has lost its near-monopoly on combat forces.” There is a major conflict going on within Pakistan but this conflict is “characterised by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian.” Who is a combatant and who is not? Is it war or is it politics? What is the distinction between a solider and a civilian?

Violent Non-State Actors (VNSA) are acting in informal alliances and have two common objectives – to de-legitimise the state; and to make the state expend manpower. Pakistan’s 4th Generation Warfare is taking place at three different levels: Physical combat; mental combat and moral combat. Pakistan needs a new paradigm, a new military doctrine.

National security is about protection of interests, safety of citizens and survival of the nation-state. Pakistan’s National Security Strategy (NSS) has to be a formalised compilation of all threats and all defences against those threats. Security of Pakistan’s next generation depends on a balanced blend of all of Pakistan’s hard as well as soft power. Survival of the Pakistani state has to be guaranteed through the use of defence, development and diplomacy. Just one ‘D’ cannot guarantee the survival of the Pakistani state. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-98296-National-security

March 18, 2012   No Comments

Burning turns: op-ed by Nadeem F. Paracha in Dawn, March 18

Every time I see an anti-US banner put up by the Jamat Islami (saying “Go America Go,” “We hate America”, etc.), it  instantly reminds me of a rather ironic episode many years ago. While studying in college in Karachi in the 1980s, I was a member of a progressive student organisation.

In early 1987, the organisation held a rally against the US government for aiding the Ziaul Haq dictatorship and the so-called anti-Soviet Jihad in Afghanistan. A hundred or so students gathered outside the college’s recreational hall and canteen, chanting anti-Zia, anti-US and pro-democracy slogans.

Then a few of us also made some fiery speeches denouncing the US government of Ronald Reagan whom we blamed for financing an authoritarian regime in Pakistan and a manufactured jihad. I remember, as soon as one of my colleagues finished his speech and we started chanting slogans —mostly in an attempt to provoke the police contingents stationed just outside the college — one hotheaded student activist suddenly whipped out an American flag.

There was a sudden hush for a second or two, before my colleague asked me for a lighter. Instead, I offered him a cigarette, thinking he wanted to smoke. “Nai, nai, comrade, lighter de, lighter!” (No, comrade, give me the lighter), he half-shouted. After lighting a cigarette for myself, and still not sure what he wanted to do with my lighter, I handed it to him. He ran towards the guy with the American flag whom I now saw desperately trying to light a match, as the flag lay on the ground in front of him.

Ah, I thought. Today we’ll be burning the American flag. Suddenly, anticipating what was about to happen, we started to chant anti-Zia and anti-US slogans even louder, all the while gathering stones, rocks and pebbles, so when the expected assault from the cops came, we’d be prepared.

Some of us even went inside the canteen to fill empty soft-drink bottles with petrol and stuff their tops with pieces of thin cloth, turning them into Molotov Cocktails. We hurried back outside so not to miss the flag-burning spectacle and the glory of confronting “Zia’s tyrannical thugs” (the police)!

But what followed wasn’t what we had anticipated. Forty or so members of the Islami Jamiat Taleba (IJT) —the Jamat Islami’s student-wing — had gate-crashed the rally. And guess what were they asking us not to do? Burn the US flag. I moved towards the site of the bickering, emptying my Molotov Cocktail, but retaining the bottle.

“Kyun?” (Why?), I shouted. “Why shouldn’t we put the flag on fire? Kya Reagan tera chacha lagta hai!” (is Reagan your paternal uncle)?” A ripple of laughter and nervous giggles cut across the gathering. “Haan,” (yes), the IJT leader screamed back. “Jiss tarhaan Marx tera mamu lagta hai!” (Just like [Karl] Marx is your maternal uncle).

Smiling, my colleague threw the lighter to the guy with the flag that had already been drenched with petrol. “You guys have been burning our (the communists’) flags for too long now,” he told the IJT activist. “Ab hum tumhare baap ka jhandah jalayen ge (Now we will put your dad’s flag on fire).

“We won’t let you,” the IJT guy insisted. “America is helping us fight the Soviets. Reagan is an ally of Pakistan and we will not tolerate any disrespect against our allies in this war!”

But before he could add more to his spiel, the flag went up in flames. Chaos followed. Dozens more IJT members barged into the college, and the rally turned into a free-for-all.

Fists, knuckle-dusters, knives, stones and empty soft-drink bottles were used by both parties in the eruptive rumble. As we gave each other broken jaws, split lips, bashed heads, stab wounds, the cops remained unmoved.

After about 20 minutes of fighting, the IJT members finally moved off the campus, carrying their wounded, while we carried ours into the canteen. The fight ended when some students resorted to aerial firing. I’m not sure from whose side the shots came.

I am not proud of this episode as such. In fact, I kind of feel silly about it now; about breaking heads to allow (or not allow) a small symbolic gesture that wouldn’t have made the slightest of dents on the flow of history. But I couldn’t resist relating this event after seeing those “Go America, Go,” banners of the Jamat-i-Islami the other day.

These banners amuse me, as I also recall the interviews given by the JI founder, Abul Ala Maududi’s son, Haider Maududi, who is a well-known scholar. Talking to English-language daily, The Nation, in 1999, Haider had said: “My father would not allow his children to go near Jihad, but would sell this idea to millions of others…”

In another interview, Haider accused the JI of hypocrisy, saying that most of the children of the then leading JI figures were leading comfortable lives in the United States while the JI was asking the Pakistanis to shun the US.

Well, each one of us who ever pretended to hold and propagate a lofty ideology at some point in time is guilty of being a hypocrite of some sort. It’s hard not to be one with a holier than thou attitude that is almost impossible in the modern world to live by. But history most certainly is cruel to the JI when it comes to counting contradictions and episodes of sheer political charlatanism.

These episodes of hypocrisy and action quite easily outweigh the JI’s positive undertakings, leaving the party hanging in the air, usually advocating action that the party itself had either denounced in the past, or its leaders are contradicting at present, perhaps thinking that Pakistanis are too naïve to notice the contradiction.

It is this attitude and history of the Jamat which makes it a case of ideological bankruptcy that is so well encapsulated by their ‘Go America Go’ banners and rhetoric now. One of the IJT guys who didn’t want us to burn the US flag eventually became a colleague of mine at a daily newspaper that we joined together in 1991. He is now settled in the US. I emailed him a picture of an anti-US JI banner that I took with my mobile phone.

His reply to my email was short but potent: “Yes,” he wrote back, “I am almost sure that the Jamat guy who made this banner, already has his passport sent to the US embassy for a visa.”http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/18/smokers-corner-burning-turns.html

March 18, 2012   No Comments

IP pipeline: other options: By Arshad H. Abbasi in Dawn, March 18

The writer is an adviser to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad.

TODAY, Pakistan’s energy security stands compromised and the country is looking towards the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline as a potential solution.

Given the intricacies involved in this particular project, however, it would be useful to dwell upon the blunders that have led us to this juncture. One of these was the shelving of the Kalabagh dam project.

Over the years, there has been a substantial increase in the consumption in Pakistan of gas, a locally available energy resource.

The shelving of the construction of Kalabagh dam led to renewed interest in exploring gas as a power resource.

The discovery of additional gas reserves fuelled the unrestrained exploitation of the resource towards the generation of energy.

The disproportionate dependency on gas skewed Pakistan’s energy mix, and led to insignificant focus on harnessing other sources of energy, especially renewable energy. Meanwhile, burgeoning energy consumption aggravated the depletion of gas reserves.

Initially, gas was considered a feasible resource because of the low costs involved in using it to generate power. It was believed that, given the vast reserves in the country, gas would contribute effectively to Pakistan’s economic growth.

However, the decision to rely on gas did not take into account the nature of future consumption patterns and the fact that this natural resource is finite. Focus on other energy sources took a backseat, particularly power generation from hydroelectricschemes. In hindsight, it is clear that had different decisions been made then, it would have helped avert the gas crisis Pakistan is facing today.

Had Kalabagh dam been constructed, the total annual production would now have been around 11,400 gigawatt hours (GWh).

But since the dam project was never initiated, the power that it could have generated was instead generated from local gas reserves. The dam would not only have saved the costs of electricity generation but would also have dispersed monetary lossesincurred due to the present gas shortfall.

Had Kalabagh dam became operational in 1993, 2737bn cubic feet (cft) of gas would have been preserved. Between 1993 and 1999, a saving of 2.7tr cft from a consumption of 10.9tr cft would have been made, which is about 24.77 per cent of the total amount of gas consumed during the period.

Gas is used extensively as fuel in a number of sectors. In 2008-9, it was mainly being used for power generation (32 per cent), industry (26 per cent), household consumption (17 per cent), the production of fertiliser (16 per cent) and compressed natural gas or CNG (seven per cent). The consumption of gas in the power sector has been around 40 per cent since 1995, which started decreasing in 2006. The share of the consumption of gas in CNG in the 2010-12 period was around nine per cent but an annual increase of around 23 per cent has been observed.

The country could therefore have made tremendous savings in gas. Had natural gas been used for solely domestic purposes, the period of gas supply could have been extended. The repercussions of the gas shortfall have been many, from business losses incurred by CNG stations to rising socio-political unrest. A timely decision in favour of hydropower development would have saved the country from the energy crisis it is facing today.

Kalabagh dam would have guaranteed the continued supply of gas to the domestic and transport sectors by 12.78 and 31 years respectively. There is no rationale behind opting for gas as an energy source, given that the cost of generation is high and it can in the long term become unaffordable. Kalabagh dam could have saved Rs76.8bn if the energy produced had solely been used to generate electricity. In addition, the share of oil in the energy generation mix is 32.3 per cent, which again costs more. If hydropower had been used to replace oil, Rs124.5bn could have been saved.

Heavy dependency on natural gas has also contributed substantially to Pakistan’s circular debt conundrum. This issue has debilitated the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), resulting in long power outages which have tremendous ramifications for the industrial sector in particular.

No significant expansion of the national grid to remote rural areas has been possible either, which has kept large swathes of the population deprived of energy. Meanwhile, gas shortages have aggravated the miseries of the common man, and there is no relief in sight. Indeed, the gas shortage is currently one of the greatest impediments to the country’s development. In addition

to the heavy financial losses being incurred, gas shortfalls have caused the termination of jobs which has increased the level of unemployment in the country.

Of course, Kalabagh dam on its own would not have averted the present crisis, which had been imminent in any case. Yet it would have to a great extent delayed the onset of the crisis. Pakistan’s power planners should have recognised the benefits of hydropower projects; the investment of time and effort on that would perhaps have prevented a gas crisis of this scale.

In light of the gas shortfall and the high exploitation of reserves for the generation of power, the government must rapidly undertake a number of measures that would help to not just reduce reliance on a finite energy resource but also help build a national consensus on Kalabagh dam.

These include the installation of telemeter systems on rivers to ensure transparent water management, expanded investment in the hydropower domain and renewed commitments to increasing the share of hydroelectricity in the energy generation mix.The timely implementation of hydropower projects is needed, as well as the financing of renewable energy and hydropower projects and the enhanced use of renewable energy.http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/18/ip-pipeline-other-options.html

March 18, 2012   No Comments

The end of Khan: op-ed by Cyril Almeida in Dawn, March 18

THE first pin to the bubble came with Salala. Americans killing Pakistani soldiers en masse: it was a made-for-Khan moment.

He could bellow against the unpopular war next door and it would be lapped up by resentful Pakhtuns in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and agitated patriots in the Punjabi heartland.

But the PPP-led coalition was for once alert to the possibilities.

Battered by memogate, unsettled by the rise of Khan, hammered by the PML-N, the coalition took a hard line on the Salala killings. It endorsed the closure of the Nato supply route, gave parliament the nod to draw up fresh terms of engagement with the US and made all the noises necessary to make it known that it wasn’t going to be business as usual with the Americans any more.

All of that put the coalition in lockstep with the army, which also leapt on Salala as a way to wrest back some space from the Americans and to counter the fallout from May 2 and PNS Mehran.

Suddenly, Khan’s wasn’t the only act in town banging the anti-US drum.

It’s harder to argue that the state — mostly the political government in Khan’s imagination but also the security establishment to some extent — is America’s poodle when they’re shutting off supply lines to a war effort and turning away important guests to Islamabad.

Khan’s other public misstep was the boycott of the by-polls, partially triggered by his insistence that incoming members of the PTI abdicate public office.

Khan doesn’t want his party tainted by what he’s lambasted as tainted assemblies, but politics abhors a vacuum. From 1985, parties have figured out that boycotts are a bad idea. They give a chance to new forces or allow old forces to consolidate.

Anyone who’s seen Gilani crowing since the record turnout for his son in Multan knows what consolidation can look like.

Spin it anyway they like, and the PTI is trying, but voters turned out for status quo options instead of staying home and waiting for PTI salvation at the next election. That really isn’t a place a party hoping to crack the system wants to be in when elections are round the corner.

Anti-corruption and anti-incumbency — which along with the anti-West/War on Terror mantra form the tripod on which Khan has built his electoral strategy — have proved to be exactly the small-bore draws that many thought they would be in the patronage-driven politics of rural Pakistan.

In urban Pakistan, too, some of the sheen has come off. Khan’s core supporter is young, educated and wants change. He or she is Muslim and fervently patriotic, but not quite of the crazy variety.

So the PTI’s linkages to the Difaa-i-Pakistan Council, however nominal, will have some of the little Khanistas running around with face paint on and turning out to swell PTI rallies wondering what exactly is going on.

Support for the Afghan Taliban as noble nationalists fighting off foreign invaders is one thing; cosying up to sectarian monsters running around Pakistan’s cities and towns threatening and killing ordinary Pakistanis is quite another.

And all of this before the internal problems of organisation and contending with the various egos that the PTI has assembled.

So far, the party hasn’t really got anywhere with the nuts and bolts of winning electoral strategies. At the lower rungs, recruitment of party workers who will help turn out voters on election day and take on funny business at the polling booth and in the counting process hasn’t taken off. The little Khanistas with face paint on aren’t cut out for that business.

At the candidate and leadership level, because Khan has already put on prime ministerial airs and talks about who he will appoint to head which public corporation and which ministry, egos are already being bruised or unwisely inflated. There’s nothing like the carrot of power and patronage to set off ugly intra-party battles.

And while Khan’s unwillingness to listen to or learn from even senior party members isn’t very different to that of other party leaders, the difference is that Khan really does know less about politics than your average party leader. So the more experienced in the PTI leadership chafe all the more when their advice is ignored.

All of this doesn’t mean that Khan is guaranteed to slide back into electoral insignificance. A major corruption scandal could yet inject new vigour into the PTI’s anti-corruption mantra and gain fresh traction with the voting public.

The reopening of Nato supply routes will give Khan fresh ammunition to attack the government as American lackeys. And as the predictable infighting in the DPC escalates, it could fade from the national radar well before campaign season begins in earnest.

The Pakistani voter’s mind is forgetful and forgiving and the little Khanistas may cheer up again.

But, whether Khan bounces back or not, the best hope for change he could have offered has already gone. Only to the most optimistic did it ever look like Khan could be propelled to power on the back of popular discontent the next time round.

But his rise did shake the PML-N and unsettle the PPP (Zardari has been candid in private about keeping an eye on the PTI, knowing the complications it could create for the PPP’s projections in KP and south Punjab).

If Khan had seriously talked up matters of policy and sounded a more sophisticated note on the solutions to some of Pakistan’s structural problems, he may — may — have forced some adjustments by the PPP and PML-N in their approach to governance and policy.

That alone would have been worth more than a few dozen PTI seats in parliament, assuming that power is only a means to an end, not the end itself — admittedly a dangerous assumption in Pakistan.

But Khan has given us none of that. Instead, when Jahangir Tareen presented the PTI’s power policy, he was promptly accused by Humayun Akhtar of stealing his plan. If the PML-Likeminded thinks you’ve copied their ideas — whether true or not — it doesn’t really bode well on the policy front.

Khan isn’t dead and buried yet and the competition isn’t getting ready to dance on his political grave. But the PTI’s purported rivals, the besieged status quo powers, are closer to paying the ultimate political insult: looking in the PTI’s direction and shrugging with indifference.http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/18/the-end-of-khan.html

March 18, 2012   No Comments

Coming home to roost: op-ed by Saroop Ijaz in The Express Tribune, Mar 18

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore

“…nobody who felt shocked, depressed or angry after reading the edited White House transcripts should ever be allowed to hear the actual tapes, except under heavy sedation or locked in the trunk of a car. Only a terminal cynic, they say, can listen for any length of time to the real stuff without feeling a compulsion to do something like drive down to the White House and throw a bag of live rats over the fence.” These were reportedly the words of Hunter S Thompson on the occasion of the discovery of the Watergate tapes. I can pretend that we are this enraged by the Mehran Bank Scandal, but I will have to pretend real hard, but then all of us should be. Our subdued anger can be attributed to the fact that most of us knew this for some time, still the “real stuff” is fairly jolting and spares us nothing, and it is in short the stuff to get livid about.

Further, I can still maintain that while it is a good thing that the matter has been taken up but why did it take this long, and in any event it is nothing special, the Courts are supposed to hear matters pending for more than fifteen years, but again I know I will be protesting too much. It is indeed extraordinary and the cynicism can be momentarily put at rest, to extend the Supreme Court a genuine congratulation, a rarity in recent times. While we are at it, also dip our flag and salute the old yet indefatigable lion, Asghar Khan.

Once one gets past the minor irritation of the almost universal habit of mercilessly plugging the ‘gate’ suffix after every scandal, the realisation that the Asghar Khan hearing is truly groundbreaking is unavoidable. A former army chief and the DG-ISI coming to Court and submitting sworn affidavits of confession of bribing and rigging the election process provides some closure and an almost guilty pleasure, even if we knew all along that something like this happened and perhaps happens. The most grotesque feature of the episode is the tactlessness of our ‘commandos’ and politicians, there are no subtle promises or sophisticated indirect campaign donations. It is the crudest, most stereotypical form of petty corruption, direct cash payments.

The episode should also put an end to a vague, rather witless notion that though the ‘Generals’ might undertake some enterprises which are not strictly legal, but their patriotism should not be doubted, heart in the right place and similar clap trap. They evidently behave like the most crooked of mafia bosses, at least those in question did.

The case of the Generals is simple, there is a confession on record and a remorseless admission of deliberately breaching their constitutional oath and hence, they should stand the necessary trial and be sentenced. There is irony lurking somewhere in their feeble defence that they were merely carrying orders handed down by the now deceased Ghulam Ishaq Khan, I am not sure if they are aware that this is identical to the plea taken by the Nazi officials in the Nuremberg trials. In any event, if General (Retd) Aslam Beg is fit enough to come on television and spin the most fantastic of conspiracy theories, I am sure he will manage to survive a trial and hopefully a prison term.

It is easy to get detracted by the pleasure derived from possibly viewing the spectacle of the Generals going to prison and miss the bigger picture. The Supreme Court has displayed a fondness for looking at the ‘holistic’ picture and one hopes it continues in the same vein. Not only should the guilty Generals be incarcerated, but also the question asked is there a political cell of the ISI now? If yes, under what authority is it constituted or does the ISI still undertake any activity which is political? If not, when was it disbanded, and if a record has been maintained, which it would have been, that should be declassified. A gentle notice to the new DG-ISI to explain the agency’s position, of course, along with a warm and fuzzy welcome, might be in order.

The most startling thing on the political front is that the PML-N has suddenly lost all its zeal for the formation of high powered fact finding commissions. Perhaps Mian Nawaz Sharif does not consider this matter to be of equal significance to the ramblings of Mansoor Ijaz. The response of many PML-N representatives is evasive denial, and betrays a lack of conviction. The list submitted in court is an assorted ‘who is who’ of our politics, including some surprises. No politician has yet confessed and hence, it is slightly premature and speculative, however, it is good speculation. Separate proceedings can be initiated against the individual politicians on the basis of prima facie evidence and the allegations proved. However, one would be pleasantly surprised if someone volunteers to defend themselves in the Supreme Court if they feel they have been wrongly accused or even more pleasantly and more surprisingly confess. Here again, the guilty should be convicted for violations of Representation of Peoples Act and disbarred from politics alongside with addressing the larger issue of campaign finance. The regulations governing campaign finance are obscure, outdated and most significantly not enforced. This is an opportunity for the Court to set guidelines and perhaps urge parliament to legislate more realistic and more implementable guidelines.

Optimism is very rarely justified in Pakistan, however, equally rare are moments which mandate such almost unguarded hopefulness. My Lords, do not let this moment pass, it will be a long while before a Pakistani Court has a similar opportunity to make history, if this one is squandered. It might not solve load shedding and corruption, but seeing the mirthless, arrogant face of Gen Beg in the back of a prison wagon, will certainly make it easier to endure all of this, knowing that there is, perhaps, justice at the end of the road. http://tribune.com.pk/story/351364/coming-home-to-roost/

March 18, 2012   No Comments

Institutions versus organisations: op-ed by Ejaz Haider in The Express Tribune, Mar 18

The writer is Executive Director Jinnah Institute

At a farewell reception some days ago for outgoing Chief of Air Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is reported to have said that institutions are built over a long time and criticism must not undermine them. He specifically referred to the so-called Mehrangate scandal and also the harsh criticism in the media of the army and the ISI with reference to Balochistan etcetera.

Kayani is right. Institutions are indeed built over a long time and painstakingly. They are the rules of the game that hold organisations, which is what Kayani was referring to, together. This is a near-axiomatic truth. But behind this truth lies a long process that determines the nature of the institutions, in other words the scope, extent, efficacy and the normative acceptance of the rules of the game.

Please note that what Kayani referred to as institutions I call organisations. The evolution of institutions also impacts the overall environment in which organisations within a state and society will develop and interact.

Many factors go into the evolution of the institutions: culture, tradition, history, geography, social development, legal structures, even serendipity. But while this mix is structural in many ways, what gives it agency and makes evolution possible in the right direction is criticism and accountability.

The military is an organisation. Like all organisations within the system it has to, and must, function according to the rules of the game. That’s the institutional framework. Criticism, far from undermining institutions, strengthens them by holding accountable the functioning of the organisations, as also their interaction with other organisations.

So we have two types of evolution: that of institutions, the rules of the game, and of organisations that must operate under those rules of the game.

I’d be the first to concede that there’s no formula to determine what percentage of criticism would be good and what bad. But the complexity and greyness is precisely what necessitates the debate. And by debate I do not mean the vitriol and invective that now informs our discourse and gets accolades from partisans. In fact, though it is difficult to quantify it, the invective might just be hindering rather than helping our struggle towards evolving the institutional framework.

A broader benchmark can be used perhaps. Is the criticism of an organisation or an act of accountability against it likely to improve its organisational culture and functioning in relation to the rules of the game and make it accept the institutional framework? If yes, we have our accepted and acceptable benchmark.

The military in Pakistan has repeatedly flouted the institutional framework. It will have to live with that reputation for a long time as it struggles with its own ethos as well as other centres of power emerging in Pakistan. When Kayani notes that the US media is far more careful in its reporting of the US military or when the Indian media takes the line presented to it by the Ministry of External Affairs, he should also remember that those states are not informed by the two fault-lines that define Pakistan: state-society and civil-military.

These two fault-lines I have been agitating as the biggest security threat to Pakistan repeatedly and in vain. The right wing, which the state supported, has turned against how the state is currently configured and the left-liberals are pathologically opposed to the military. The country has no centre and the responsibility for that lies squarely on the military. Things have changed for the right in some ways and will change more but transitions are always painful. The military wants to lock away the skeletons of the past. The people want catharsis, through criticism and accountability, even abrasive behaviour.

One can understand the military’s frustration but this is the rite of passage it has to undertake and also the punishment that comes with it in the liminal phase. In theory it would be easier if the military could be barracked for the period of transition but that’s not possible. It will remain tightly coupled with the people and continue to function in an environment that requires it to face many challenges.

Makes it more difficult for the military for sure, but then that’s part of institutional evolution. http://tribune.com.pk/story/351362/institutions-versus-organisations/

March 18, 2012   No Comments

The political role of the ISI: op-ed by Asad Munir in The Express Tribune, Mar 18

The writer is a retired brigadier who has served in senior intelligence postings in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata

A constitutional petition has been filed in the Supreme Court, seeking the abolition of the political wing of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In the Asghar Khan case, the then DG-ISI General (Retd) Asad Durani has admitted that funds were distributed by the organisation to manipulate the 1990 elections against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Both these cases relate to the involvement of the ISI in politics and its interference in the election process in favour of those parties considered more patriotic and suitable for promoting a certain kind of ideology. An impression has been created that it was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who for ulterior motives established a political cell of the ISI in 1975 and involved it in politics. However, there is evidence that intelligence agencies had been involved in politics since the 1950s.

The interviews and articles of some retired officials point to the involvement of the military in political manipulations since 1957, if not earlier. Their involvement was enhanced with the imposition of martial law in 1958 and they remained involved in political activities during the Ayub Khan era. During Yahya Khan’s rule, the agencies got more deeply involved in politics. They monitored and reported the prospects of political parties taking part in the 1970 elections. Funds were placed at the disposal of General Umer, who was the head of the National Security Council. These funds were distributed to ‘Islam pasand’ right wing parties.

Let us now examine the notorious so-called ‘political cell’ of the ISI. In 1975, during the Balochistan insurgency, the Hyderabad tribunal was set up to try over 50 Pakistanis, mainly Baloch and Pashtun politicians from the National Awami Party, who were charged with various crimes including treason. The evidence against the accused was mainly based on intelligence reports compiled by the ISI. According to the late Naseerullah Babar, Attorney General Yahya Bakhtiar was of the view that since the ISI had no defined role that mandated it to monitor political activities, therefore, these reports would not be accepted by the tribunal. To make the evidence legally admissible, an administrative order was issued, mandating the ISI to monitor the activities of political parties. However, this order did not authorise it to make alliances, distribute funds or manipulate elections.

With every successive military dispensation, the ISI has gained in strength and its involvement in affairs of the state has grown. The Afghan jihad turned the ISI into the most powerful department of the country. The officers of that era were involved in political manipulations for the 1985 elections.

From 1988 onwards, the ISI was actively involved in political manipulations targeting PPP. They had plans for waging jihad and considered Benazir Bhutto a hurdle in its plans. The military was also actively involved in political activities throughout General Pervez Musharraf’s rule.

In 1989, Benazir Bhutto constituted the Zulfikar Commission to review the workings of the intelligence agencies. The Commission recommended that the ISI should not be entrusted with formulation of foreign policy and should be relieved of responsibilities related to political matters. These recommendations were never implemented.

The 1975 order should be withdrawn by the government. The ISI should realise that with a vibrant media and an active judiciary, political wheeling and dealing cannot remain hidden. The ISI is an efficient and well-organised agency. It should not undertake functions beyond its charter. There has to be a paradigm shift in its functioning that corresponds to the changing environment.


March 18, 2012   No Comments

Long on claims, short on promises: by Raja Asghar in Dawn, March 18

ISLAMABAD: A seemingly subdued President Asif Ali Zardari scored a new political milestone on Saturday, but his record fifth address to parliament in the face of a noisy opposition protest had no big promises for an election year.

A 35-minute prepared speech, about half of which was marred by loud opposition shouting, mainly recounted what the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government did in its four difficult years and spoke little about its agenda for the last year of its term that will run out in March next year.

However, the speech included some oft-repeated promises such as to go an “extra mile” for reconciliation with Baloch dissidents, review ties with the United States in the so-called war on terror in light of parliamentary recommendations and speed up electricity generation to end power cuts, while predicting a four per cent growth of the economy in 2012 despite last year’s disastrous floods.

The event made Mr Zardari the first Pakistani president to address all the five joint sittings of a presidential tenure, though his last and fourth address on March 22, 2011, was also a record at that time.

But the opposition, led by the Pakistan Muslim League-N, seemed to have considerations of the next elections in view as it sought to steal some of the sheen of the occasion by staging its noisiest protest against President Zardari to his face before storming out of the house to boycott the remainder of the address, at which the guests included provincial governors and chief ministers, armed forces chiefs and foreign ambassadors.

The previous day, the government-allied Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had threatened to disrupt the presidential address to protest at alleged government inaction against what it called rampant “bhatta-khori”, or extortions, in Karachi, but the party gave up its plans after being convinced that action against alleged extortionists had begun following a directive from the president.

And Saturday’s protest by the lawmakers of the PML-N, the Jamiat UIema-i-Islam of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and some minor groups was much harsher than one at last year’s joint sitting when members of a divided opposition had only staged separate walkouts, while the previous three addresses by President Zardari had been trouble-free.

But the show was a far cry from PML-N’s rowdiest protest in a joint sitting during the address by then president Farooq Leghari when PPP lawmakers had to make a protective cordon around then prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s desk and stand in a line before the president while the protesters besieged the dais and some of them even danced and kicked desks.

It was not clear whether it was due to harsh sloganeering and booing or his recent illness that President Zardari seemed somewhat tense though he smiled at times when he spoke and when PML-N members started chanting slogans like “loot mar bund karo” (stop plundering) and “jhooth bolna bund karo” (stop telling lies) even before he began his speech.

The revolving chair on which he sat at the dais on the right side of National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza, who chaired the sitting — with new Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari on her left — tumbled for some unknown reason immediately after the president rose and went to the rostrum for his speech, and was hurriedly put back in place by his two military aides-de-camp.

Repeated calls by the speaker for “order in the house” proved of no avail and at one time Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani seemed becoming restless as he was seen whispering to a couple of ministers — one of whom was sent to dais apparently to pass on a word to the chair — and looked askance toward opposition front benches on his right. Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan looked to other side at the time but some glances from the new Opposition Leader in the Senate, Ishaq Dar, seemed assuring Mr Gilani the show would be over soon.

After 15 minutes of shouting, which was often drowned by desk-thumping cheers by members of the ruling coalition but which made the president’s speech inaudible in the galleries, Chaudhry Nisar led the protesters out of the house after which the speech went on smoothly.

The constitutionally mandatory address marked the beginning of the present parliament’s fifth parliamentary year during which, the president said, “we will see free and fair elections”.

He described the event also as a manifestation to the world that “the march of democracy goes on” in Pakistan, that “our institutions are working” and that “together we are creating history” despite challenges inherited by the present government.

At a time when Prime Minister Gilani is facing contempt of court charges before the Supreme Court, the president had special compliments for him for his “able leadership in the house” in the beginning of the address and, at its end, voiced what he called “our unqualified appreciation for his political wisdom in handling various challenges with courage and perseverance”.

Praising the armed forces and law-enforcement agencies for their fight against militancy and terrorism, he said the government would “continue to show resolve on this issue”.

Speaking of economy, which he said had begun showing “stronger growth”, he said it “will grow by four per cent in 2012, with exports having crossed the benchmark of $25 billion, remittances from Pakistanis working abroad at $11.5 billion last year and projected to double the 2008 level this year and foreign exchange reserves reaching record $18 billion at the end of last June.

On Balochistan, he said much more than the present government’s ‘Aghaz-i-Haqooq Balochistan’ package was needed to be done to “heal the wounds of the past”, adding: “We are willing to go extra mile to engage in dialogue with our Baloch brothers.”

FOREIGN POLICY: The president called “parliamentary oversight and democratic accountability” as a new facet of the country’s foreign policy and said: “We are committed to maintaining our bilateral relations with all on the principles of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and equality.”

He reiterated Pakistan’s support for an “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process in Afghanistan” and while talking of normalising trade with India, said “we must also address difficult issues, including that of Jammu and Kashmir”. Calling ties with China “deeply rooted and mutually beneficial”, he said Pakistan sought to engage meaningfully with the United States after recent strains and the government looked forward to parliament’s recommendations, for which a joint session of the two houses has been called next week.

He talked highly of Pakistan’s “expanded and deepened” relations with the European Union, importance of relations with Russia, close and fraternal ties with Muslim countries and efforts to “deepen our engagement with East Asia and Latin America”. http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/18/zardaris-fifth-address-to-parliament-pml-n-leads-boos-long-on-claims-short-on-promises.html

March 18, 2012   No Comments

JI, PTI say Zardari’s address an attempt to cover up corruption

By Asim Hussain & Mumtaz Alvi in the News, Mar 18

LAHORE/Islamabad: Opposition parties termed President Zardariís address to the joint session of parliament nothing but an attempt to fool the nation to cover up worst corruption committed in national history.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Syed Munawar Hasan termed President Zardariís claims of establishing supremacy of the constitution and law, containing inflation and devising new plans to overcome the energy crisis a totally false and blatant attempt to fool the nation.

He said as for as the supremacy of the constitution was concerned, the president was the symbol of the federation and was supposed to be above party politics. “President Zardari, on the other hand, is still holding the party office despite an order of the Lahore High Court, relegating the office of the president of Pakistan to a mere political office by jeopardising its sanctity and impartiality,” he said.

Munawar said that during the four years of the PPP-led coalition government, corruption, unemployment and prices had touched new heights, the country made a US slave, the masses were insecure and the country’s economy ruined. ìMajor national institutions like PIA, Railway and Steel Mills were on the brink of ruin,î he added.

JI Secretary General Liaqat Baloch said the PPP-led government claiming credit for a 120 percent raise in salaries had caused 500 percent raise in prices. The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Zaheer Abbas Khokhar, Dr Murad Ross, Yasir Gilani, Sh Imtiaz and others said President Zardari’s address to the parliament was not meant for the Pakistani people but his audience was in some big capitals across the oceans.

PTI Deputy Information Secretary Dr Israr Shah said that there was nothing new in his address, being repetition of his past four addresses. He noted prime focus of President’s address was to praise Prime Minister Gilani, who had been given a free hand to destroy the state institutions. PTI Secretary Shafqat Mehmood said the only good aspect of President Zardariís address to the joint session of the parliament was that it was the fifth time that he performed this ritual. “Otherwise in his entire speech, he distorted facts to prove that the government has performed well over the last four years,” he said.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan in her reaction said President Zardari created history by addressing the parliament while she grilled the opposition for trying to make headlines in media through their protest.

Talking to the media persons here after the presidential address, she apologised to the electronic media for not being allowed inside the premises of the Parliament House. She attributed it to some misunderstanding and promised this would not happen again.

Unlike in the past, private television channels were forced to stay outside the Parliament House for coverage of the event.

She castigated the opposition parties, particularly PML-N, and said at a time when PPP and its allies were creating history a political party was trying to catch the media attention by resorting to protest.

APP adds: Federal Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Maula Bux Chandio said that President Zardari’s address was a comprehensive one without any doubt.

The law minister said the present government deserves appreciations for taking up right constitutional, legal and political decisions.

The PPP MNA Nawab Yusuf Talpur said that major achievement of the present government is approval of 18th amendment from the National Assembly. He said another worth mentioning achievement of the government is that they have kept the opposition on board on every issue.

He said the government had constituted special committees on all issues which the opposition brought up before the house.


March 18, 2012   No Comments

Expert rubbishes Prez’s claims on economy: by Usman Manzoor in the News, Mar 18

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari’s speech to the joint sitting of parliament comprised nothing but false figures and a misrepresentation of facts regarding the economy, praise for the prime minister for ‘reasons’ best known to the president himself, and an eyewash over the grave situation in Balochistan.

A banker and economist of international repute, Dr Shahid Hassan Siddiqui, commenting on the facts presented by President Zardari in his speech gave this point by point response: Our efforts to achieve high growth and employment were hampered by the great floods and the monsoon rains. The floods cost us over 2 percent of GDP growth and damage of around 14 billion dollars. In spite of all the difficulties, the economy will grow by 4 percent in 2012.”

Dr Shahid Hassan Siddiqui said that the GDP was targeted to be 4.5%, but it will be at 3.6% by the end of this year so there was nothing to boast about.

“Exports crossed a historic benchmark of 25 billion dollars last year.”

He said that it was an absurd thing because export figures keep on increasing, but in June 2012 the exports recorded would be less than last year.

“Remittances were 11.2 billion dollars last year and will double over the 2008 levels this year.”

Dr Shahid said that since 9/11, the remittances have been continuously increasing because of a ban on Hundi. He said that the government is asking no question on the influx of remittances; perhaps, it is a financial NRO because people loot the country’s wealth, send it abroad and then bring it back in the shape of remittances. He said that in 2007, remittances were $5.4%; in 2008 these were recorded at $6.4 and in 2011, it were 11.12%; as these keep on increasing, there was nothing to boast about, the economist said.

“Our foreign exchange reserves reached their highest level ever at over 18 billion dollars at the end of June.”

Dr Shahid commented that the foreign reserves have already reduced because the external debt has increased by $14 billion and $11.4 billion was in the reserves already when this government took over so the foreign reserves should have been around $25 billion and the government is boosting over 18 billion dollars. He said that among these $18 billion $8.5 billion belong to IMF. He said that there is a tremendous fall in foreign reserves.

“In spite of a global increase in the price of oil and food, our rate of inflation has been coming down. We have worked hard to bring inflation from its peak of 25 percent in 2008 to 11 percent now.”

The banker said that the facts presented by the president of Pakistan are highly misleading as according to the Finance Ministry, inflation was 12 % in April 2008. It had gone up tremendously during the first six months of this government and touched 25 % in August 2008. This year the inflation rate will be at 12.5 %, he added.

“We have taken steps to raise revenues. Our tax collections have doubled from one thousand billion to about two thousand billion rupees since 2008. This year the tax growth is the highest ever at 26 percent.”

This is misleading as according to the State Bank of Pakistan’s Annual Report 2011, the tax to GDP ration was 9.9% in 2008 and now it is at 9.4%, so there is a decline in tax collection according to the government’s own reports, the economist said.

“The stock market has begun to improve. The index has crossed 13,000,compared to around the 7000 mark in 2009.”

The worst crisis in the stock market came in 2008 during the incumbent government’s tenure, and now the Finance Minister has announced that from April 1, 2012, there will be no questions asked over any money invested in the stock exchange that was why it was going up, said Dr Shahid Siddiqui. He mentioned that it was again a financial NRO for people who have looted this country to invest in stock exchange.

“Dependence on food imports has been reduced. We estimate our wheat crop to be 25 million tons and cotton crop will touch 13 million bales despite loss of 2 million bales in floods in Sindh.”

He said that it is normal and there is nothing to boast about. The agriculture sector’s growth was 4% in 2009; 0.6 % in 2010 and 1.2 % in 2011. Therefore, during the past two years, the agriculture growth has increased by 0.9% annually while the population has increased by 2 percent so there is a decline in agricultural growth.

“During the last four years the government spent 2,200 billion rupees on development programmes. More than 200 projects have been completed. These include: Chashma Nuclear Power 2, Mangla Raising, Mirani Dam, Islamabad Peshawar Motorway and Islamabad Muzaffarabad Expressway.”

Dr Shahid said that the government has been spending less than the allocated development budget. Development expenditure for 2011 was set at 4.3% while only 2.8 % was actually spent. So there is nothing to boast about, he said. He mentioned that investment has constantly declined from 2009 to 2012 and banks credit to private sector has also been declining which was worrisome. The public debt has never been as high as during the incumbent government’s tenure. The government has also declined the allocated budget for Health and Education. The GDP has also declined; therefore, the common man has got nothing from what the president of Pakistan is boasting. He said that the prices of petrol and kerosene were much more than the international prices.

Dr Shahid also mentioned that 28 million more people have been added to the persons living below the extreme poverty line which has now crossed 74 million people figure, the highest in the country’s history. The government has stopped publishing the figures of poverty in Pakistan for four years in a row; dollar to rupee has shown tremendous depreciation from 62.71 to 90.80, which is a tremendous failure”, the banker said adding: “Fiscal responsibility and debt limitation act has been violated again and again by this government, so all these have been false and incorrect figures given by the president, which means that there is no commitment to make policy changes to arrest the trend of failure in the economic sector.

While the president and the present government is boasting and claiming success in improving the economy, there is no doubt that Pakistan is heading toward an economic crisis in 2012, and it is apprehended that the government of Pakistan will approach the IMF once again for sanctioning new loan to avoid defaults after fulfilling tough political and economic conditions. It is also apprehended that even the next government after coming to power will say that we have inherited an economic crisis, and the nation should prepare themselves for sacrifices for a bright future.”

Moreover, the president said: “I wish to compliment Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani for his able leadership in the House.” He further said, “The rule of law has been established. The supremacy of parliament has been assured. As president, I surrendered my powers. And today, the prime minister, the chief executive, enjoys full authority as required by law.” He added: “The Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani deserves our unqualified appreciation for his political wisdom in handling various challenges with courage and perseverance.”

The PM got this praise from Zardari because he has openly defied and insulted the Supreme Court and the higher judiciary repeatedly in the last 72 hours.

“Parliamentary oversight and democratic accountability is a new and important facet of foreign policy,” Zardari said in his speech. The president did not tell Parliament that who has given the approval of drone attacks which continue to haunt our sovereignty despite several parliamentary resolutions against drone strikes.

“It was also this government that chose the Leader of the Opposition as chairman of the Public Account Committee. The PAC is the nation’s foremost body for keeping the government departments in check and ensuring accountability at the highest level,” the president praised PAC as saying. He perhaps did not know that his proud PAC was dysfunctional since last six months.

The president proudly presented the steps being taken by this government regarding the Balochistan issue which include Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan and the implementation of the NFC award. While the ground realities are much different, the US is discussing an independent Balochistan issue, the nationalists have started separation movements while mutilated bodies are found almost every day and sectarian killings are also on the rise. PPP MAN Nasir Ali Shah boycotted the joint session and president’s speech for this very reason. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-13-13247-Expert-rubbishes-presidents-claims-on-economy

March 18, 2012   No Comments