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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Deep State

Humayun Gauhar    

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this parliament must complete its natural life, no matter how bad it gets, as must the provincial assemblies. This is an absolute imperative. Else we won’t grow and mature politically and the system will not evolve. If any changes have to be made, they must only come constitutionally. There are three ways to do this:
1.     The National Assembly can elect a new prime minister if the incumbent feels that he has lost the confidence of the majority of its members or if he simply doesn’t want to continue, for whatever reason.

2.     The National Assembly must pass a vote of no confidence in the prime minister by a two-thirds majority and then elect a new one from amongst its members. So too the president, by parliament and all the provincial assemblies.

3.     The prime minister could call early elections, which only he can.
The same applies to the provinces where the chief ministers have the same authority in their respective provinces. With the power of the president to dissolve the National Assembly and of governors to dissolve their provincial assemblies gone, these are the only constitutional routes available.
The ‘Deep State’, as the Americans call it, must keep its hands off. If it cannot, let it first show if it has any realistic solutions to our deep problems. However, if it can’t help intervening and then follows the same old Standard Operating Procedure, or apply what is called the ‘Kakar Formula’ or copy some other country’s failed model, it would be doing us no service at all. It should realize that all such nostrums have proved to be so much humbug. Pakistan will remain frozen in time, like a yoyo oscillating between civilian and Deep State rule. It can serve Pakistan’s interests best by laying-off as much as possible.
Test this system to its limit, no matter how dire it gets. This is the only way the system can correct itself, if indeed it contains a self-correcting gene. If it cannot, let it fall flat on its face by itself. Don’t push it. If you do, you will make a martyr of it and unnecessarily prolong its life, as we have already done many times. If it contains any inherent life and relevance, it will improve. If it does not, it will fail, but it will fail by itself, not be forced to seem to have failed. We have aborted the people’s learning experience repeatedly and paid dearly for it. Let the people learn and decide for themselves whether they like this constitution or they want something different. Let them decide whether they want this political system or that. Let them decide which politicians and political parties are good and which are bad. Let them decide what democracy really means. And let them strive towards it. It is only through experience, and mostly through bitter experience, that human beings learn – but only if you don’t keep aborting that learning process.
The usual problems associated with civilian rule – corruption verging on loot and a total absence of governance – were to be expected, no matter which party or parties formed the government. No surprises here. This is in the nature of the governments this system will throw up in a largely feudal country with an agrarian economy.
The new problem is the president: powerless though he may now be, he is also the co-Chairperson of the ruling party. That is where he derives real power from and that is what is holding the prime minister and his cabinet hostage, for fear that if they don’t comply with the president’s wishes they risk not getting party tickets come the next elections. If Mr. Zardari is forced out of the presidency, he will still continue to wield his real power over the executive. The change will only be cosmetic. If the courts rule that he cannot hold dual offices (albeit one is private and without profit) he will hit back and hit back hard. He might force a vote in the National Assembly that the executive order of the prime minister reinstating the Supreme Court judges was invalid. The cute argument that they were never thrown out of office in the first place may prove to be just so much sophistry. So let’s be careful, lest we force the Deep State in.
Rational pragmatism demands that the judges must decide how far to go and which is more important – Pakistan or the constitution? The time to amputate a limb to save the body, as Abraham Lincoln said, has not yet come. Our pseudo analysts keep referring to Article 190; I don’t see how it provides for the Supreme Court to order the army to intervene. The justices should know that even if the Deep State follows the so-called Bangladesh Model – which is unconstitutional anyway – they could be its earliest victims.
A frustrated, cynical people ask: will the army save us when there is nothing left to save? Did it save us in the past or just gave us breathing space and left us back at square one? And why did you the people elect this assembly in the first place? Don’t duck the question by saying that you didn’t vote. That is terrible. Our responsibility is collective regardless of which way a particular person voted or didn’t vote at all. Now we have to learn our lessons so that we don’t make the same mistakes again – hopefully.
The Deep State is a state within a state, very much like the Khwaraji concept. Here the state within largely comprises the army, the ISI and the USA with its intelligence, defense and official and unofficial security organs. The army should know that even if it is forced to intervene, directly or indirectly, by the Deep State, America may support it covertly but will oppose it overtly for hypocritical appearances sake, with economic sanctions imposed. That is in its nature. A bankrupt treasury and an economy near collapse will not be able to withstand the strain and we will fall either totally in America’s lap or the many laps religious extremist groups with each carving out his own warlord-like fief. Therein lie the seeds of disintegration. Think about it.
(Humayun Gohar is a free lance writer and an analyst).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Public Opinion in Pakistan

By Brig Samson S Sharaf     
A recent survey carried out jointly by New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow (NAF-TFT) with the local assistance of Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) a Pakistani NGO operating in FATA is testable. Conducted in seven tribal agencies of Pakistan, it managed to collect 498/1000 (49.8%) samples from the worst hit agencies like Orakzai, Khurram, North and South Waziristan. This particular survey in Waziristan excluded the NAF-TFT for security reasons but yet resulted in consistent conclusions.
The survey could have resulted in better insights had some questions peculiar to political sociology of Pakistan been included. Yet responses to different questions if collated scientifically point towards accurate conclusions of the ground realities. Once combined with the second part ie the Leadership Sample, the findings and inferences will be further synthesized and revealing. US research organizations adept at producing biased analysis from a stand-off need to analyse this important document in detail to mellow their anti Pakistan rhetoric.
In many ways the survey reinforces the common perceptions and analysis vocally spelled out by the Pakistani media and excluded political groups. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf has been the most vocal critic of the manner in which WIT has been conducted and is closest to the hearts of the people in FATA. The survey accurately brings out the aspirations of a representative sample living in a violence ridden environment yet conforming to the awareness of Pakistani print media, common people and civil society. In many ways, it reinforces the national construct and belief in Pakistani nationalism. It is also an important document for the Government of Pakistan to redirect its policy on foreign affairs and WOT consistent with the aspirations of the people amply reflected in this document.
The outstanding conclusion of the survey is the opposition to US Military Operations pursuing Al- Qaeda and Taliban inside Pakistan (90%). The individuals who gave this opinion belong to a well knit tribal society where information travels like wildfire and show awareness of hostile intelligence agencies operating in the area. This is local knowledge consistent with what the majority of Pakistanis feel.
Given a choice, about 70% feel that this job should be left to Pakistan Army while over 90% are favourable to the role of Army and FC in their areas. This finding links to other points of the survey in which over 60% blame USA-India-Israel for the problems in FATA. Similarly 59% also see the same nexus as the biggest threat to Pakistan. In US strategic parlance, this means the ‘Long War’ in which US Policy makers wish to include India as a major partner. These opinions based on local firsthand knowledge later transcend to very strong emotional perceptions. 59% of the same people who otherwise hate the militants in the area opine that suicide bombings against USA are justified. Spread to a larger canvas, the majority of Pakistanis disapprove US War on Terror, feel convinced that the present US Nexus is involved in covert operations in Pakistan and therefore killing them is justifiable. This hate for US policy should cause concern and raise eyebrows in the State Department, because in a LONG WAR as they perceive it, this sentiment will grow exponentially.
This is what I have been terming as a War of Hate in many articles, and that based on the Social Dimension of Strategy, USA will lose it in the end. Just like Cambodia and Lagos, this creeping adventurism into Pakistan and forcing Pakistan to become the epicenter of terrorism by design may help USA in its narrow objectives but will create a reaction that the world will not be able to contend with. The same conclusion was forcefully put across by Rachel Maddow in her MSNBC show calling it ‘a New Frontier and a New War, this time Pakistan’. This also explains why young western educated men choose to act as foot soldiers against USA.
With over 122 drone attacks since the Obama surges began, not 10% of Al Qaeda leadership has been neutralized. Yet this remote controlled technology is stubbornly deemed the best option for killing OBL who many believe is already history.  As Bill Van Auken puts it,
‘Following the strategy dictated by his generals, Obama, just like his predecessor in the White House, is attempting to exploit US military superiority to offset American capitalism’s long-term economic decline. This course is producing regional and global instability that threatens to drag the people of Pakistan and the entire world into a far bloodier conflagration’.
The recent escalation in such attacks followed by physical violations of Pakistan’s international boundary have served to ferment angry reactions in Pakistan evidenced in a spate of attacks on NATO convoys. As more people shift from the fringe to radicalism, the only safe way for these convoys would be heavy military escorts provided by Pakistan; the undeclared enemy, or through the waste lands of Central Asia. US analysts and policy makers need to answer why they are doing this and what is their back up and exit plan if this already failing policy ultimately fails?
The second most important finding of the survey is the Pacification Operations; Win the hearts and minds. In any multi dimensional conflict, there always are containing fronts and in a Transylvanian such as this, there ought to be many pacification fronts. US policy makers strive to poke every conceivable fault line to stir instability and prove what Ahmad Rashid calls, ‘Pakistan’s descent into Chaos’.
This conclusion is a tribute to the concept of collective wisdom of a healthy society; The people who have sustained violence for over three decades, lived in least developed areas with minimum developmental and educational infrastructure and lost many kit and kin to war.  Though in awe of US policy maker they do not hate the people of USA, over 75% feel that USA could win hearts and minds by transiting to pacification operations centered on socio-economic development. These people like most Pakistanis are prepared to forgive and forget if USA leaves Pakistan to Pakistanis and engages its people through developmental economics.
Most important and motivating is the strong belief of these besieged citizens in the Federation of Pakistan. Majority are dismissive of Talibanisation.  Over 90% appreciate the presence of the Military and Frontier Corps in the region for law, order and development. This indicates the mistrust of the people in the present bureaucratic and political set up. It is also an indicator that these suffering masses just like other Pakistanis yearn for a new social contract. The single largest majority of 26.50 % wish to see Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf in power trailed by 10.10% for Pakistan Muslim League (N). PPP and ANP seem to have fallen from grace while MQM appears to be more popular than Taliban and Al Qaeda. Religious parties retain their influence of over 13%.
Like most analysts and thinkers in Pakistan, these people are progressive, dreamers and yearn for a new social contract. These are all winds of change that Pakistan needs.
(The writer is a retired Brigadier from the Pakistan Army.).
NOTE:This is a cross post from THE NATION.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Towards reopening Tourkhum Route: Yes or No?

By: Yasmeen Ali   

On October 7 the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization military allies began the tenth year of their war in Afghanistan, over 3,000 miles from NATO Headquarters in Brussels. As the U.S. delivered its 20th deadly drone missile attack of the month inside Pakistan on the 27th, five times the amount launched in August and the most in any month since they were started in 2004, NATO conducted a series of attacks with helicopter gunships in Northwest Pakistan. Claiming the “right of self-defense” and in “hot pursuit” of insurgents that had reportedly attacked a NATO camp, Combat Outpost Narizah, in Afghanistan’s Khost province near the Pakistani border, this past weekend NATO attack helicopters conducted two forays into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where U.S. drone strikes have killed a record number of people this month.
Estimates of those killed, dutifully referred to in the Western press as insurgents, militants or terrorists, were 30, then 50, afterward 60, 70 and later “82 or higher.” The death toll in Pakistan this month is well over 200 and for this year to date over 2,000. The justification for this carnage offered by the U.S. and NATO is that it is intended to extend the policy of Barack Obama to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” insurgent networks in Afghanistan into Pakistan, supposedly the sooner to end the war.
However, should situation be reversed, will the USA allow Pakistan or any other country for that matter to take the same action and launch attacks, killing thousands of men, women And children, not to speak of Armed Force personnel in the name of” collateral damage”?
Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister for Pakistan, was forced to denounce the attacks in face of mounting public rage against these gross violations and anger at a weak government unable to defend the borders of the sovereign state.
Most of the time, the government has turned a blind eye to the atrocities, in spite of repeated news by the media of damage done by the drones on Pakistan soil. Not any more.  Public anger mounts at both the attackers and the inept and corrupt government of Zardari which has failed on all fronts to deliver on it’s promise at elections.
As a result of this anger, NATO trucks have been torched and burnt to ashes by angry gunmen- who see the government failing to register a complaint with the relevant authorities and for once, see justice done.
Gareth Porter, renowned historical investigative journalist, in his article, published by IPS News, states,” The crisis in U.S.-Pakistani relations was the result of a decision by the Obama administration – which press reports suggest was on the basis of a strong recommendation from Petraeus – to act much more aggressively and unilaterally if the Pakistani military did not do more to attack militant groups in North Waziristan, especially the Haqqani group, which dominates the successful insurgency in eastern Afghanistan.”.
He further states,” One element of the decision was to increase drone strikes in Waziristan dramatically to an unprecedented 22 in September – more than four times the average number in the previous six months. In the past, the United States had gotten permission from the Pakistani government for specific geographic “boxes” in which drone strikes could be carried out, as revealed in “Obama’s War” by Bob Woodward.
Evidently that was not done, however, before the sudden dramatic increase in drone strikes in September.
The second element was to carry out at a series of cross- border helicopter gunship attacks in Pakistan that were not cleared in advance with the Pakistani military.” UNQUOTE.
US forces pursued the Taliban into Pakistan “after following the proper rules of engagement under inherent right of self defense,” Master Sergeant Matthew Summers, an ISAF spokesman, told The Long War Journal on Sept. 26.
But a spokesman at Pakistan’s Foreign Office rejected reports that such an agreement between ISAF and Pakistan exists, and said the incursions are a violation ISAF’s mandate.
DAWN Newspaper, reported on 9th October 2010 that a principled stand has been taken by the Pakistan Government to reopen the Torkhum route.
Note that roughly 80% of NATO supplies pass through the Pakistan route and is vital for strategic interests of the NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Nonetheless, the Pakistan Government has kept the Chaman, linking Baluchistan and Kandahar route open for the NATO supplies and has not completely closed off the supply line.
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson has apologized on behalf of the American people for killing of Pakistani paratroopers in a cross-border raid by NATO helicopters on September 30th. But is that enough? If USA can send Dr Afia Siddiqi to jail for 86 years owing to the alleged attempt on the lives of US soldiers, should those directly responsible for the death of Pakistani paratroopers get off scot free after rendering a grudging apology? USA would do well to understand the anger by the Pakistanis on this show of  double standards and injustice.   
Unless and until, NATO takes a firm action on ground against those responsible, public anger in Pakistan shall not be appeased. Worse attacks on NATO trucks can be expected. According to Reuters, up to 40 trucks of supplies have been burnt by angry gunmen. Can the unpopular government of Asif Ali Zardari sustain the onslaught of public anger? Can Zardari’s government convince NATO to take a firm action against those responsible?
USA’s policies are clearly destabilizing Pakistan. A destabilized Pakistan will destabilize the Region. Can the USA afford this in face of their aim to vacate Afghanistan soon? The Think Tanks in USA must reevaluate their strategies for this part of the world. The United States must also take into account the diplomatic repercussions of such ill advised actions besides the dramatic increase in anti American sentiments in Pakistanis.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Fiction that India has created about Kashmir

By Murtaza Shibli

"Despite creating this self-deluding fiction and despite the armed soldiers garrisoned at every corner, the relationship between India and Kashmir remains on the edge. This fiction and the heavy Indian military presence are symptoms of Indian denial of any Kashmiri right to choose their political future. The present and ongoing Kashmiri intifada has so far claimed more than 100 civilian lives with thousands more injured, mainly due to the fire arms of the occupying Indian soldiers. Despite such a heavy price there is no end in sight."

Since January 2009 The Economist has been banned or censored in 12 countries including Saudi Arabia, Libya and China. India is the ‘only democracy on the list’; having censored 31 issues of the weekly, it is on the top. The main reason for this censorship is the publication of a map of Kashmir that does not comply with the Indian version. As a result, the Indian authorities stamp “Illegal” across it. In a twisted world of virtual realities, what is ‘illegal’ is in fact an accurate cartographic depiction of Jammu and Kashmir, with due appreciation of Pakistani and Chinese controlled territories.

A cursory look at the map of India shows Kashmir sitting atop a vast landmass. Despite being the site of endless misery and violence, Kashmir enjoys pride of place; secular Indian politicians and Hindu fundamentalists alike celebrate the possession, and describe Kashmir as taj or crown of India. Amid such triumphalistic clamour, the sufferings of Kashmiris are drowned out. However, at times, when Kashmiris rise to full scale rebellion and the brutal state response results in much innocent blood spilt, the world takes momentary notice. On such occasions, with its usual dismissive demeanour, India almost always attributes Kashmiri public dissent to Pakistan, Islam or terrorism. For some time now, the Lashkar-e-Taibba is providing a more convenient disguise; the Indian authorities have been blaming it for orchestrating stone throwing Kashmiri youth who are out on the streets protesting daily murder by the Indian forces.

The Indian version of the map that is named as ‘Jammu and Kashmir’ is a cartographic illusion, embodying the fantasy of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian Prime Minister and a Kashmiri by descent, who was instrumental in effecting its questionable accession to India. The taj that is shown spread across a vast geography in all four directions is in reality much smaller; only 48 percent of the area depicted. Discard the exaggerations, from top and the sides, and the taj, that coveted crown, looks more like a misshapen wig created by a concoction of coercion and deceit.

The Kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir was cobbled out of disparate cultural, ethnic and linguistic geographies, when the British sold it to a local Hindu chieftain, who had aided them against the Sikhs. Gulab Singh, the ‘buyer’ of the Kingdom had no regard for the sufferings of its inhabitants, a majority of whom were Muslims. This continued when a century later, in 1947, the borders of Jammu and Kashmir were redrawn, and India and Pakistan took over. An intractable dispute was born that has cursed the region ever since.

Long before, China had never accepted the border arrangements between the British Empire, Afghanistan and Russia in the northern area of Kashmir. This position was maintained even after the communist takeover in 1949 and led to the only Sino-Indian war in 1962. This ended with the Chinese taking control of a large north-eastern portion known as Aksai Chin.

At present, Kashmir is divided between India, Pakistan and China – India controls the majority of the territory with central and southern parts totalling 141,338 square kilometres. This is followed by Pakistan with the northwest portion, known as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan consisting of 85,846 km2. The area under Chinese control consists of 37,555 km2 of mainly deserted territory, but with much needed water resources thanks to its close proximity to Karakoram.

The ‘legal’ map that is depicted everywhere, from government stationary to administrative reports and postal stamps to surveys, is based on an elaborate hoax, whereby the whole of Kashmir ‘belongs’ to India. This provokes a political rhetoric which serves an inflated sense of grandeur that has animated Indian politics for too long. This deliberate hyperbole is emblematic of India’s relationship with Kashmir and its emergence as an object of desire and dispute. There are no signs or demarcation lines that distinguish between those parts administered by Pakistan or under Chinese control. The map is taught in schools often with fundamentalist religious zeal, creating a whole generation of ignorant, and often very militant, Indians who are unwilling to entertain any view other than what is drilled through official or religious channels. This has frozen Indian political reason.

In his piece, ‘China and India: the great game's new players’ (The Guardian, 25 September), Jaswant Singh, former Indian Foreign Minister extends this sterile mindset when he blames China for ‘promoting bogus Pakistani claims that undermine India’s territorial integrity’. He calls it ‘verbal trickery’, forgetting that he is the one who is employing trickery by pursuing what I call the Great Indian Fiction on Kashmir. That Kashmir is an internationally accepted dispute, in which the land is occupied by more than half a million ruthless Indian Army soldiers fails to impress Singh. It is ironic that Singh should peddle such fictions. Last year, he lost his political position for challenging another great Indian fabrication about Pakistan. In his book, Jinnah, Partition and Independence, Singh sought to correct popular Hindu/Indian historiography of the Partition and blamed the Congress and Jawaharlal Nehru and not Mohammad Ali Jinnah for the divide. He also praised Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, as a great nationalist who had been demonised in Indian history. Singh’s book challenged the very myths that form the foundations of modern India. It provoked angry reactions across the Indian political spectrum with the secular Congress party accusing him of ‘denigrating India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’. The publication resulted in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that describes itself as the ‘Hindu nationalist party’ expelling Singh from its ranks saying that the party will not "compromise on matters of ideology or discipline". The book was also banned in Gujarat, the Indian state run by the BJP and notorious for the state-sponsored pogrom of 2002 that resulted in deaths of thousands of Muslim civilians.

As a Kashmiri born under Indian occupation, I have been taught the same ‘Indian geography’ in relation to Kashmir. It was much later that I realised the exactness of the illegitimacy of Indian claims. This geographical delusion represents an elaborate denial of history – the unfulfilled Indian promises of holding a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to determine their future. This colonial mapping has led to the effacement of the democratic rights of Kashmiris. Whenever Kashmiris rise for their right of self-determination, India, instead of addressing the democratic demands, ruthlessly clamps down on them. By continuously advancing myths about geography and re-writing history, India portrays Kashmiri demands for justice as a grave threat, not only to India’s integrity as a nation-state, but also against the Bharat Mata, the Hindu concept of India as a sacred religious space. In an abominable effort to garner some moral justification for its brutal occupation, it also invokes its claims over ‘Pakistan occupied Kashmir’.

In early 1994, at the height of the Kashmiri resistance, when the demand for Kashmir’s independence was at its strongest, the Indian Parliament, the law making assembly of the world’s largest democracy, in a blatant refusal to appreciate popular Kashmiri sentiment, unanimously passed a Special Resolution that reiterated that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir belonged to India. The Resolution also demanded: “Pakistan must vacate the areas of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, which they have occupied through aggression”. This is a timeless trick in the Indian strategy. Last week, after months of slumber, when the Pakistani government, forced by growing public anger against Kashmiri deaths, finally made public pronouncements calling on India to "review the practice of describing Jammu and Kashmir as its integral part", the Indian reaction was unequivocal. S M Krishna, the External Affairs Minister, responded by ‘pointing out’ that Pakistan is in "illegal occupation of some parts of Jammu and Kashmir". With brazen effrontery, he further said, "It is desirable that they vacate that [the Pakistani part] and then start advising India as to how to go about doing things in Kashmir."

It is extremely intriguing that India often talks about ‘Pakistani occupied Kashmir’ but never mentions Aksai Chin, the area under Chinese control since 1962. Significantly, there is no mention of China or the Chinese part of Jammu and Kashmir in the Indian Parliament’s 1994 Special Resolution, which demands Pakistan to vacate its part. In fact, such demands are never made to the Chinese. Kashmiris see this as a duplicitous and cowardly Indian position that avoids facing China but gleefully seeks confrontation with Pakistan, a smaller and poorer country, with a less significant military power.

Despite creating this self-deluding fiction and despite the armed soldiers garrisoned at every corner, the relationship between India and Kashmir remains on the edge. This fiction and the heavy Indian military presence are symptoms of Indian denial of any Kashmiri right to choose their political future. The present and ongoing Kashmiri intifada has so far claimed more than 100 civilian lives with thousands more injured, mainly due to the fire arms of the occupying Indian soldiers. Despite such a heavy price there is no end in sight. Indian intransigence is characteristic – much like the demon king Ravana from the famous Hindu epic, the Rāmāyaṇa. In a region that is surrounded by three nuclear powers and contains nearly half the world’s population, where extremism both Hindu and Muslim is on the rise, such obduracy threatens calamitous consequences. As a growing power, which seeks to display its muscle so brazenly, India must exert its might with a sense of responsibility both towards Kashmiris and the whole region. To exorcise the morbid ghosts that India has raised in the region, it must undo its own fable that has compromised its conscience and morality. An honest lesson in geography can be just a start for a hopeful and possibly peaceful future. The Great Indian Fiction on Kashmir by Murtaza Shibli, (Tuesday, October 5, 2010).

NOTE:This is a cross post from RUPPEE NEWS.