Land of the living dead

February 6, 2015

By Abdulla Wasti

On January 4, 2011, alleged blasphemer Salman Taseer was shot and killed by a ‘soldier of Islam’; Mumtaz Qadri had restored the pride of our beloved Prophet (P.B.UH). Around 3000 supporters gathered around to shower him with rose petals when he was first produced in court. More than two years later, the Islamabad High Court decided to take up the appeal against Qadri’s death sentence. The ATC judge who pronounced the verdict fled the country as his life was under threat. This really didn’t come as a surprise; perhaps the judge was naive to assume that the state would protect those who feel that it is their obligation to uphold the law. There is no place for such citizens in the land of the living dead.

Land of the living dead

Just to put things into perspective, last week at least 90 lawyers came to court to defend Mumtaz Qadri, while over 300 of his supporters gathered outside the court premises to offer moral support; on the other hand, less than 50 people turned up at Libery Chowk protest against the blast in Shikarpur that resulted in 61 casualties. And here all of us were thinking that the Peshawar massacre was a watershed moment which would unite the nation against terrorism. However, Qadri’s lawyers argue that he isn’t a terrorist as he has no past criminal record. Moreover, lawyers who came out in support of Qadri perceived it as their religious duty and obligation. It would be a futile exercise to ask those lawyers whether it is their ‘obligation’ to uphold the law, and how they can live with the irony that despite being representatives of the judiciary they are standing in support of a man who took the law in his own hands. Another one of Qadri’s cohorts, in his ultimate wisdom drew comparisons with Ghazi Illam Din and stated that the fact that he was represented by Jinnah justified the stance of all the lawyers who were standing alongside Qadri. If only, we did not pick and choose examples of Jinnah according to our convenience, and followed his vision through and through; the fortunes of this nation would have been turned around.

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The paranoia of military takeover

February 4, 2015

By AREA 14/8

There is an increased hysteria among certain ‘experts’ pertaining to a military takeover in Pakistan. This frenzy can be attributed to their conflicting preconceived notions about the institution and its rising public support. In a recent article, one particular analyst known for her anti-military slant stressed how the failure of civilian government is actually a myth fabricated to show that the government is incapable of dealing with the menace of terrorism without the support of the army.

The fact of the matter is that the politicians have lost public support after Peshawar attack and this trust deficit has led people to look up to the military in its fight against terrorism. It was the civilian leadership which created a vacuum during the political deadlock and more so after Peshawar attack leaving the military with no choice but to fill in and take charge.  While the federal and provincial KPK governments were extremely occupied with the political crisis, the army was battling on the frontline against terrorism in North Waziristan with some 10,000 soldiers deployed internally according to Interior Minister.  Therefore, in recent times, the military is indeed the only institution which appears to be fully functional.

Coming to military courts, their establishment has invited a lot of undue criticism. The narrative that the political parties have links with militants and the civilian judiciary has proven to be incompetent in punishing them can be affirmed by the cases of Saulat Mirza and Mumtaz Qadri. Sentenced to death by anti terrorism court, Saulat Mirza has still not been hanged after 16 years of conviction because of reported pressure from MQM. Similarly, Mumtaz Qadri is not only being defended by former chief justice of Lahore High Court but also hundreds of lawyers. These cases highlight the urgent need to reform institutions particularly judiciary but what do we do in the short term? Should terrorists be allowed to take advantage of the weak political and judicial systems and roam the streets freely?

The writer goes on about India-Pakistan relations highlighting how General Raheel Sharif has a personal vendetta against India.  Both states have long been traditional enemies and the personal loss of Army Chief in 1965 war against India has little to do with that equation.  It is surprising that the writer while rebuking Indian involvement in Peshawar attack comes up with her own conspiracy theory to justify her point.

One expects a better piece of writing from someone who is foreign qualified and claims to have an expert opinion. The writer neither offers constructive criticism nor presents an alternative to the problem. The whole article thus appears to be a paranoid rant against the army when the focus should be on promoting institutional harmony to safeguard the interests of Pakistan.

Wicked games

February 4, 2015



A former Pakistani ambassador to the US has taken upon himself to act on behalf of the Indian lobby to tarnish Pakistan’s image at a most opportune time for the latter. He wants the state to ‘reimagine’ itself and rid itself of its obsession with India if it wishes to become a stable country in the future—this is most damaging to Pakistan especially at a time when the country is grappling with challenges of gargantuan proportions. The individual’s role as the chief architect of the secret memorandum issued while serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US is a well-known fact. In attempting to appear non-partisan and even patriotic, the said individual has gone far enough to imply in his writings that this is perhaps the critique needed to put the country back on the path towards prosperity.


Of course, the anti-Pakistan bias is glaringly evident when the very ideology that brought the marginalized peoples in pre-partition India together for the formation of a new homeland by asserting the right to self-determination. The most ridiculous fact in this entire smear campaign remains that a man who clearly opposes all that Pakistan stands for, discredits the sacrifices of those who worked day in and day out to cut a revolution out of the heart of history (in the words of his leader Mr. Bhutto) once felt comfortable representing it resorting to seek American help to cut the ‘military establishment’ to size for… personal redemption? It is perhaps worthy of mention that he has served not once but thrice as an advisor to three former Pakistani Prime Ministers: had he actually been a neutral individual, his critique of the Pakistani state and ideology would have carried some weight.

Additionally, being the champion of civilian supremacy, he perhaps appreciates the importance of forging a consensus better than common folk. If that was truly the case, then both professional and personal integrity should have compelled the self-styled democrat to walk the talk. Posing as a ‘hostage’ in Pakistan, the diplomat-turned author has the sympathies of the west on his side and all the encouragement that he needs. He now pens articles with a singular theme that claim that Pakistan’s only salvation lies in submission to the will of the powerful and the tormentors from its past. Not only is this preposterous, defeatist narrative sickening, it is telling of the fact that in today’s world, the ‘intelligentsia’ can become an effective weapon in the hands of the powerful and can help propagate the narrative that is well in-sync with its agenda.

Let go of the past

February 4, 2015


Pakistan MapThe debate about redefining Pakistan’s ideology is a phenomenon that has only surfaced quite recently and almost every other author is reaping benefits of fame by bashing the existence of Pakistan. Sixty eight years later a state should now have moved away from its historical narrative and does not need certain individuals, Pakistani by origin, to critique the current turmoil of the state and attribute it to Jinnah’s failure to define the state’s principles clearly.

Pakistan, defined by Jinnah was a state created to safeguard the rights of Muslims who were previously being alienated in British India. Knowing that once the British had left, Muslims will be singled out and prone to being settled as second class citizens with Hindu dominance looming; Jinnah had to take the step for a separate homeland to avoid hostility against the Muslim minority.

Revisiting the ideology of Pakistan will not get Pakistan where it needs to be as the state, no matter who opposes it, already exists. Challenging the establishment’s existence and how it should never have broken away from India when a ‘political stalemate’ had been reached bears no fruit whatsoever. Pakistan raising regional security concerns to the top most of its priority list is now in a position to rally support in ridding the country off terrorism and any groups that support the militancy. The certain individual promoting anti-state material is not only out to tarnish Pakistan’s image but to destabilize the establishment that already faces much opposition from India. And of course, the ‘Pakistani’ has next door’s backing; which needs an excuse to jump down Pakistan’s throat whenever it can get a chance.

Surely the more pressing issue at current is governments collaborating in order to secure the region; with the TTP gaining momentum despite the military operation and ISIS now revealing its agenda of naming their leaders in Pakistan and North India. So, in a situation that requires utmost attention in both Pakistan and now India; is the ideology of Pakistan’s existence still a matter to be discussed? Maybe that’s where the problem has always been—scholars and authors alike, have not been able to let go of the past to look towards shaping a future that is appreciative of Pakistan’s existence as it is home to a 190 million people. By questioning the existence of Pakistan; are they denying in turn the existence of a race that resides within the land?

At times like these, the nation must come together and stop picking out the made-up historical flaws of the state’s existence theory but look ahead at what must be done to take Pakistan to a level where it should be 68 years after its independence.

Whose agenda is it anyway?

February 3, 2015

By Ghalib Sultan

Whatever the army’s detractors might say about the its past involvement in politics or its much criticized strategic depth policy when it came to differentiating between militant organizations, the fact of the matter is that it is the only state organ that has exhibited intent and desire to steer Pakistan  out of the mess it finds itself in. I am not only referring to the pro-active steps the army has taken after the Peshawar massacre, but also towards the massive rehabilitation projects that were carried out in South Waziristan and the relentless pursuit of militants in Khyber agency. While John Kerry on his recent visit to Pakistan praised the professionalism of the Pakistan Army and termed the institution a ‘truly binding force’, it baffles me that there are still those who continue to mount undue criticism on the institution.

COAS Raheel Sharif

America has been the Pakistan army’s biggest critic with regards to its efforts in the war against terrorism, however recently even they seem convinced over the army’s resolve to fight ‘all’ terrorists. But for some people it seems that any step the army takes, even if it is a positive one, criticizing it is like an involuntary reaction. I personally see two reasons for the above predicament: one that it has now become fashionable to bash the army, and other one is that the person is perhaps promoting a foreign agenda. The latter seems like a more plausible reason for a well renowned author who claims to be a civilian military scientist. With all due respect, I was left confounded when the author recently stated that the army is being made out to be the savior it isn’t, and that the bulk of the blame is wrongly being placed on the civilian leadership in light of the recent attack in Peshawar. I cannot help but ask the following questions; would it not have been right for the PM to be present at the reopening of the Army Public School? Why didn’t the Prime Minister feel that a visit to Afghanistan was necessary after such an attack? Wherever it seemed right for the Prime Minister to take the first step, it was in fact General Raheel Sharif who beat him to it proving his personal involvement and determination. Does the author still feel that the civilian government is being unfairly criticized?

It is not to say that the army should be immune from criticism, in fact all state organs should be criticized when they falter. But criticizing the only institution that is standing up for the nation and keeping it together in the face of acute adversity cannot help the nation in any imaginable way; however, it can certainly go a long way in promoting a foreign agenda.


January 29, 2015

By ZoneAsia-Pk

Pakistan has officially and clearly indicated that India is involved in supporting terrorism in Pakistan. The Pakistan Army Chief is said to have personally handed over a dossier to the US during his visit to the US. It goes without saying that he must have given the information to the Afghan President, the British Prime Minister and the Chinese President during his visits and meetings. Pakistanis have always believed that India would never forego the opportunity to exploit Pakistan’s vulnerabilities to keep it destabilized. If any more proof is needed then there is the video of the Indian Security Adviser laying out a blue print for actions against Pakistan. The orchestrated violence on the LOC and the strange explosion in a boat on the open seas are the physical manifestations of the Modi-Duval policy against Pakistan.


What the US has done with the information given to it is not known besides the stated determination to eliminate the mastermind of the Peshawar atrocity. The recent visit of the US President to India was shrouded by the bonhomie generated by ecstatic first name mentions, bear hugs and wide smiles. The most tangible result seems to have been the progress on the globally destabilizing nuclear agreement, the region destabilizing defense pact and the China irritating document detailing the joint strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. The Joint Communiqué and the Friendship document were just the standard cosmetic outcomes of all such visits. While answering a question on Pakistan the US President did highlight the importance of a stable prosperous Pakistan and in his departing comments he pointedly referred to the dangers of religious extremism—-knowing full well that Hindu extremist organizations had fully backed Modi’s rise to power and were still influencing policies. Pakistanis watched with amusement the public antics of a man once considered a pariah for the atrocities he had committed and the President of the country that had declared him persona non grata.

Read Complete Article Here: THE INDIAN HUB

Getting it Right—Thoughts on Rearranging the Subcontinent

December 30, 2014

In an article published in Forbes—“Rearranging the Subcontinent”—the author Mr Robert D Kaplan starts with the profound observation that-‘the division of the Indian subcontinent may not be history’s last word in political geography’— thereby implying that the situation is in some kind of flux and may be resolved with changes. The fact is that a partition can be the last word if the partitioned countries want to remain separated and have no desire whatsoever to unite. This is the case in the Subcontinent today where India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have no desire to undo or change the partition that created them. In fact in the case of India and Pakistan the partition remains incomplete because India refuses to resolve Kashmir and other border issues so the only change possible is a completion of the process of partition in the interest of regional harmony and peace. Mr Kaplan also mentions the ‘history of many different spatial arrangements between the Central Asian plateau and the Burmese jungles’. The same can be said about many other parts of the world so why pick on the Subcontinent? The reason becomes clear later when it emerges that the real reason for the article is to focus on Pakistan. Mr Kaplan pays many tributes to India and calls it a status quo power forgetting the role India played in orchestrating the separation of Pakistan’s eastern part into what is now Bangla Desh. If India is indeed a status quo power then as the bigger country it should have no problem accepting and living with Pakistan—India has stated such a resolve but Mr Kaplan seems to think otherwise. Is he perhaps planting ideas?

Mr Kaplan rightly states that Pakistan cannot be considered artificial because of the thousands of years of civilizations in the Indus River valley that runs the length of present day Pakistan. Such civilizations also existed in the Ganges plain of India so of course these overlapped parts of today’s India and Pakistan—so what is the point? And of course the present day borders did not exist and if there were borders they did change through invasions and migrations. This does not mean that ‘what we see on the map today’ is superficial—what we see is actually firmly anchored in history and therefore there is permanence to the arrangement with no question of rearrangement unless an outside power intervenes in its own interest. This is a permanence that the people of the Subcontinent want because they, more than anyone else, know the suffering that externally engineered partitions create. So it is surprising to learn that Mr Kaplan is making some kind of case for changes in existing borders. However, once he homes on to his real target—Pakistan—the reason situation becomes clearer.

Mr Kaplan mentions past empires in the context of unifying the Subcontinent. Today one can see the signs of at least four past civilizations—the Mauryan Empire, the Sikh Empire, the Mughal Empire and the British Empire. Each of these waged wars, conquered territories and then, in keeping with the times, evolved strategies to secure their domain. The British did give the Subcontinent rail, road and irrigation networks as well as an administrative system. They also used a policy of divide and rule—especially after the 1857 mutiny against them—to exercise control. About other methods the less said the better. The infrastructure that the British built, and to which Mr Kaplan attributes the cohesion of British India, has been vastly improved over the years. Now there is talk of trans- border trade, pipelines, silk roads, expanded vast rail and road nets linking China, South Asia Central Asia Europe and South East Asia. The stakes are very high and Pakistan is at the centre of all these developments. Afghanistan cannot be left out and that is why today there is emerging cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan to resolve issues, end conflict and ensure stability. Afghanistan may have lost out on the infrastructure that the British gave the Subcontinent but they have no intention of losing out on the future possibilities and are in fact preparing for that.

Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan will permit the kind of negative influences that Mr Kaplan points out in his doomsday scenario for Pakistan and Afghanistan. Iran with thousands of years of civilization behind it is sure of its influence in a segment of Afghanistan and this has been an accepted fact for centuries—Iran is unlikely to join India and Russia in extending into Afghanistan as Mr Kaplan postulates. Nor will Russia get into such an act knowing the historical Central Asian spheres of influence in Afghanistan through which it has always worked except for the disastrous intervention by it in 1979. Mr Kaplan thinks that Saudi-Pakistan collusion might be a factor if Pakistan seeks inroads into Afghanistan to counter other external influences. Pakistan understands Iranian, Central Asian and Russian interests in Afghanistan and is confident of its influence and centrality in the future stabilization of Afghanistan that is in Pakistan’s interest. India could be the spoiler if it interferes in Afghanistan or encourages others to do so. By so doing India might undo the gains made in Afghanistan by the US and NATO and may well undermine Afghan democracy. That is a factor that Mr Kaplan and others should consider.

Mr Kaplan, makes no mention of the US role in creating the Afghan Resistance that morphed into the Taliban and attracted Al Qaeda into first Afghanistan and later Pakistan. Had he done so then the Afghan refugees exodus and the three decades of violence with blowback into Pakistan’s western, south western and urban areas would have been easily understood. Mr Kaplan rightly quotes Professor Jakub Grygiel to make the argument that protracted violence and conflict have negative consequences for all those involved directly or indirectly. This is the lesson of history. After 25 years in Viet Nam the US left in disarray and their enemy survived. After 13 years the US and NATO have left Afghanistan and their enemy has survived. So Mr Kaplan is spot on with his observation that 30 years of externally stoked violence in Afghanistan has had a destabilizing effect on Pakistan. Contrary to Mr Kaplan’s assertion that this raises the question of the viability of Pakistan this actually indicates the resilience of Pakistan and its resolve to stabilize itself. His assertion that it also raises, ‘by association’ the question of the ‘continued existence of current hard and fast borders of India’ is also flawed because it actually reinforces the need to keep those borders ‘hard and fast’. And again Mr Kaplan errs in calling Bangladesh a ‘weak and artificially conceived state in almost never ending turmo’l because in spite of the machinations that brought about its existence and India’s shadow over it Bangladesh not only survives but is fast consolidating.

Finally Mr Kaplan devotes a substantial part of his article discussing a mythical scenario conjured by him of a Pakistan that is in his words-‘disintegrating’. Conceding the geographic reality of Pakistan he questions its reality considering the vast spread of Muslim demography. This notion could be applied to all Muslim states and the conclusion would be that this in no way undermines their statehood. He then states that—‘the specific borders of Pakistan only work to the extent that Pakistan is well governed, with responsive bureaucratic institutions, and possesses a civil society that reaches into tribal hinterlands. But that is demonstrably not the case’. In fact that is exactly the case. Pakistan has demonstrated resilience and staying power. It has done so in the face of external interference, the blow back from the Soviet and US interventions in Afghanistan and the efforts to undermine and destabilize it from within by exploiting its transient weaknesses. This is no mean achievement. If Pakistan is objectively studied and analyzed today then one would not be looking at the decay of Pakistan or its disintegration that seems to so fascinate Mr Kaplan. He relies on unnamed ‘Balochistan and Sind leaders that he met on a trip through the area some years ago’ and who told him that ‘they would prefer over time a closer relationship with New Delhi than with Islamabad’. This is the only peg on which Mr Kaplan can hang his argument for Pakistan turning into ‘a rump state of Greater Punjab’. Pakistan has problems but Pakistan is functional and Pakistan is taking steps to resolve its problems. Mr Kaplan needs to visit again (if he is given a visa!) and he needs to see through unbiased eyes and talk to the right people. The conclusion that he would reach could be vastly different unless the idea is to propagate a certain point of view.

Mr Kissinger may be right in his optimistic assessment of India (quoted by Mr Kaplan) but India has a long way to go. It is dogged by insurgencies, caste issues, horrendous poverty around islands of prosperity and a rising hard-line intolerant and extremist Hindu nationalism. It has exploitable vulnerabilities. Afghanistan has a government and it has fragile institutions. It is dependent on external financial and economic support. It has the Taliban, now linked to the Taliban fighting Pakistan and with both looking at the IS even though Al Qaeda is still around. So, yes, Afghanistan ‘truly matters’ as Mr Kaplan says. So does a stable sovereign Pakistan. South Asians know these realities and it is in their interest to work together and respect existing borders and not to listen to advice to the contrary. Pakistan has also learnt through hard experience that allies can sometimes be hidden enemies and that is why Pakistan’s focus in on governance and internal stability and it is now orchestrating all its institutions to achieve these goals.



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