Imran Khan: the 12th man rises… by Omar Ali

Source: 3quarksdaily

Pakistan’s greatest cricketing hero and second most successful philanthropist entered politics 15 years ago, promising a progressive, Islamic, modern, corruption-free Pakistan. His position as the most successful captain in Pakistan’s cricket history, the founder of Pakistan’s finest cancer hospital (providing free modern cancer care to thousands) provided him instant cachet, but for a long time he was unable to convert this personal popularity into votes in actual elections. With a political platform heavy on slogans (particularly against corruption) but short on specifics and without any obvious connection to already existing grass-roots politics, he remained little more than a fixture on the talk-show circuit for a very long time. Brief flirtation with Pervez Musharraf also set him back, as did a tendency to spout fables about Jirgas and hobnob with jihadi ideologues like Hamid Gul. But his biggest problem was his failure to create a team that could carry his party forward. The Pakistani Tehreek e Insaf was a one man show, with Imran Khan its only impressive asset. Even in parties dominated by one strong leader, there are other leaders in the wings and a semi-coherent ideology that delivers a section of the vote-bank on ideological grounds alone. Imran had no visible team and no clear ideology beyond a promise to “eradicate corruption”.

He did seem to genuinely believe in the formulaic slogans and historical framework of the 6th grade “ideology of Pakistan” he learned in Aitcheson college. He has some vague notion of “the two nation theory” (basically, “we are not Indians”) and an even vaguer “respect” for Quaid E Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the Allama Iqbal, twin icons of Pakistan’s history. But like his middle class fans, it is a superficial and shallow belief system, with little to show beyond a few empty slogans like “Pakistan first”, “Islamic welfare state” and “we are all Pakistanis now, so we are no longer Punjabis, Sindhis, Pakhtoons or Balochis”. Behind the automatic repetitions of such slogans there does lurk an odor of “one folk, one party, one leader” fascism (as it does behind all crude nationalisms) but this is not to imply that Imran Khan is consciously thinking of leading a fascist takeover of Pakistan. His commitment to some notion of democracy seems genuine enough, though his priority (and this is not unusual among middle class nationalists) is nationalism, not democracy; in a crisis, he can easily convince himself that we may have to kill democracy to save the country. In any case, lacking organization and experience and without a good grasp of actual grass-roots politics, he was easily brushed aside by older established political parties.

Things changed in 2008. International pressure and a worsening domestic political position forced Pervez Musharraf to accept elections and eventually to bring “failed politicians” back in power. Imran Khan boycotted those elections, but came back on TV chat shows to dog the new (and admittedly, corrupt and incompetent) civilian setup at every step. Meanwhile, GHQ managed to win back some of its tarnished reputation by staying away from public view, letting Zardari take all the blame for every disaster (even ones GHQ itself had birthed). The Zardari regime also managed to select an exceptionally bad team, from a clueless prime minister to one of the worst collections of cabinet ministers in Pakistan’s history. His opposite number in the PMLN did a marginally better job in the provincial government in Punjab, but not by much. Continuous infighting, breaking and remaking of coalitions, massive corruption at every level, and a terrorism problem that has kept the nation unsafe for international investment, all these drained the existing political parties of credibility and created an opening for an outsider. Meanwhile, the deep state continued its   “good jihadi, bad jihadi” policy at home and its double game with the US abroad. With the Osama Bin Laden assassination, matters seem to have come to a head with the US. The Americans want GHQ to arrange for an orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan and appear willing to pay Pakistan for help in achieving this, but they are not yet ready to hand the place back to the Taliban and the Haqqanis and their Jihadi friends. GHQ meanwhile is playing hardball and smells victory (also smells disasters to come after victory, but victory has its own momentum)  and maybe feeling tempted to get rid of the present civilian setup , preferring a civilian regime that is more closely aligned with their own strategic vision. The Facebook generation and the deep state may thus both be ready to opt for Imran Khan. And Imran Khan, it seems, is ready to opt for them. He has sharpened his anti-American message (a message that appeals to both the jihadi and the left-liberal wings of the middle classes) and toned down criticism of the army. He is saying all the right things about drone attacks, peace with our Taliban brothers and an American defeat in Afghanistan. He has been well coached by Shireen Mazari and Hamid Gul and his party is using trained cadres from the Islami Jamiat e Tulaba as well as enthusiastic youngsters from the Facebook generation. The moment has produced the man.

Having produced the man, the next step was to launch him on to the political stage in suitable manner. That step was achieved in Lahore on the 30th of October. Whether the deep state helped out with the gathering or not, the crowd was impressive and enthusiastic. For most of the young people there, it was the first taste of a genuine mass event where everyone is pushing towards one goal with one voice. That this “goal” was being defined in the Paknationalist terms they have all been fed in school and in everyday propaganda was the icing on the cake. Grown men were seen to cry helplessly as carefully choreographed patriotic music blared and the crowd rose as one to sing the national anthem. Fed on a steady diet of news about corrupt, treacherous and unpatriotic politicians, the crowd was happy to anoint Imran Khan as the savior who will eradicate corruption and save the nation. A generation that never saw the much bigger gatherings of Benazir Bhutto and her father seems to have been swept off their feet by the event. And why not?  In addition to pushing the Paknationalist buttons, the rally had something for everyone. A prayer break (with the great leader praying alone on stage during the event) was followed by Shahzad Roy and guitar music.  Bearded boys with Al-Jihad headbands mingled good naturedly with middle class families and liberal students from LUMS and NUST. For one shining evening, it must have seemed like hope has been reborn.

But it is still difficult to see how all this will translate into electoral victory unless the deep state plans to manipulate elections in a big way. Pakistan is a parliamentary democracy and established parties, even when discredited, have a grass-roots organizational advantage. In addition, Imran Khan’s personal popularity is wide, but not deep. Very different groups are currently united under his wing, but when push comes to shove, ideological and political choices will have to be made. Right now, Imran Khan has liberal followers who coexist in the party with hardcore Islamists who made their bones in the Islami Jamiat e Tulaba. But as he gets closer to real power, choices will have to be made. Since his own understanding of politics and the future of Pakistan is fundamentally aligned with the Paknationalists of the Shireen Mazari and Ahmed Qureshi variety, I predict his choices will turn to out to match those of GHQ to an extent that may surprise a lot of his liberal fans.  This is a prediction, and I realize it is an unpopular one in the liberal blogosphere. Pakistani liberals are also hungry for a savior and right now they prefer to latch on to whatever little bones Imran is throwing in their direction (guitar music right after Magrib prayers, women in visible positions, a modern look and feel) but I fear that Imran Khan is not just repeating his 6th grade Islamiyat and Pakistan studies slogans because repeating simplified propaganda is part and parcel of modern mass politics. He is repeating them because he genuinely believes all those fables about rightly guided caliphs, Jirga justice, Islamic social welfare, the vision of Allama Iqbal, the “leadership of the Quaid e Azam” and so on. But since these stories are not too closely aligned with reality, historic or contemporary, a sincere believer is likely to become a pawn in the hands of those with a clearer vision of what they want and a more realistic view of politics and power. The Leninist term “useful idiot” comes to mind, but in this case it is not Pakistan’s 37 Leninists but it’s much more determined deep state that are likely to take advantage of Khan sahib’s naiveté.

Of course, this may not be a done deal yet. Imran clearly has an idealistic bent and even GHQ may not find his crusading zeal easy to contain. And while everyone from Humayun Gohar to Ayaz Amir may be excited by this rally, reality has a way of setting in in Pakistan. The Paknationalist agenda is not new. Army men sitting in mess halls have been carping about unpatriotic politicians, bloody provincialists and separatists, uneducated Pakistani masses and massive foreign conspiracies for decades. But they have failed to wave a magic wand to fix these problems, not because they held back, but because no magic wand actually exists. Wanting to clean up Pakistan and run it like a tight ship (the current model is supposedly China, though a few inconvenient details come to mind: a 3000 year old civilization, a century of revolutions and wars, a genuine mass-based party and titanic achievements and failures,  modern capitalism embraced like never before, and so much more) is all well and good, but you cannot create anything you want out of thin air; you have to work with what exists and the properties of what exists are not necessarily what the Paknationalists think they are. History and society may have features that make some choices possible and others nearly impossible. Paknationalism of the GHQ type does not have a sufficient overlap with history, political realities or the various cultures of Pakistan to allow the creation of the homogenous- Islamic-modern-military-mullah-netizen hybrid that is being desired.  But it is possible that this vision has enough overlap with the common dreams of Pakistan’s middle class youth to let them have a go at it. One just hopes it evolves towards sanity and a softer nationalism instead of doubling down and going for broke by grasping “this sorry scheme of things entire; would we not shatter it to bits and then, remold it nearer to heart’s desire



Question of Corruption – by Wajahat Masood

مسلم تاریخ کے ابتدائی برسوں ہی میں خوارج کا مسئلہ اٹھ کھڑا ہوا۔ مدینہ کے کسی شہری نے حضرت علی سے سوال کیا کہ آخر خارجیوں میں کیا خرابی ہے ، باتیں تو بہت اچھی کرتے ہیں۔ مولا علی نے فرمایا ٴٴوہ سچ کہتے ہیں لیکن سچ کو باطل کے لیے استعمال کرنا چاہتے ہیں۔

صاحب خارجیوں کا طریقۂ واردات یعنی ایک جزوی سچ کو پوری حقیقت سے علیحدہ کر کے اپنے مقاصد کے لیے اچھالنا پاکستان کی تاریخ میں بہت استعمال ہوا۔ پاکستان کا مطالبہ ہی لے لیں۔ تقسیم کیسے ہو گی؟ تقسیم کی حدود کیا ہوں گی؟ باقی ماندہ ہندوستان میں رہ جانے والے مسلمانوں کا کیا ہو گا؟ پاکستان کی غیر مسلم آبادی کا کیا بنے گا؟ مسلم اکثریتی بنگال اور شمال مغربی ہندوستان کے جغرافیائی طور پر غیر متصل منطقوں میں رابطے کی کیا صورت ہو گی؟ پاکستان کی معیشت کیا ہو گی؟ برطانوی ہندوستان میں موجود ریاستوں کا الحاق کس اصول کی بنیاد پر ہو گا؟ پاکستان مسلم اکثریتی ملک ہو گا یا روایتی مسلم ذہن میں موجود غیر تاریخی اسلامی ریاست ہو گا؟ ان سوالات پر غور کرنے کی ضرورت ہی محسوس نہیں کی گئی۔ اونٹ پر بیٹھنے کے شوق میں کوہان کا خیال ہی نہیں آیا۔

پاکستان بننے کے بعد جدید تعلیم یافتہ مسلمانوں کے ہاتھ قائد اعظم کی ایک تقریر آ گئی ۔ حیدر آباد دکن کے ایک پیش امام شبیر احمد عثمانی اور لیاقت علی خان کی ریشہ دوانی سے مولوی لوگ کے ہاتھ قراردادِ مقاصد لگ گئی۔ ان دو ڈنڈوں سے مسلح یہ دونوں طبقے دس برس تک گڑ کی اس بھیلی پر بندروں کی طرح لڑتے رہے، جسے آئین کہتے ہیں۔ اس سے اگلے دس برس اچھے خاصے باشعور لوگ ایوب خان کے انقلاب میں انٹا غفیل رہے۔ اگلے عشرے میں ہم پر کشف ہوا کہ ذوالفقار علی بھٹو نامی ایک شخص ہے جسے اگر کوہالا پل پر پھانسی دے دی جائے تو پاکستان میں دودھ اور شہد کی نہریں بہنے لگیں گی۔ کوہالا پل پر تو نہیں البتہ اڈیالہ جیل میں بھٹو صاحب کو پھانسی دے دی گئی۔ لیکن ہمارے اجتماعی گلے کی پھانس نہیں نکلی۔ اگلے دس برس ہم نے دو شغل اپنائے۔ آدھا ملک تو بندوقیں اٹھا کر ہمسایہ ملک افغانستان کے مسائل حل کرنے چلا گیا اور جو باقی بچے وہ اسلامی نظام کے سراب کے پیچھے چل نکلے۔ شہر کو خالی پا کر جنگلی درندے گلی کوچوں میں گھس آتے ہیں۔ سو آئندہ دس برس یہ درندے فرقوں کے سوال پر پاکستان کے شہریوں کا خون بہاتے رہے۔ امریکا میں تین طیارے بلند عمارتوں سے نہ ٹکراتے تو ہم نے شیعہ، سنی مسئلہ حل کر لیا تھا نیز ہم نے کشمیر بھی حاصل کر لیا ہوتا۔ اور ابھی چار برس پہلے برادرم آصف محمود بقلم خود ٴٴپلکوں میں سپنوں کی حدت لیےٴٴ آزاد عدلیہ ڈھونڈنے نکلے تھے ۔

اب ہماری بے دست و پائی کو ایک نیا شغل ملا ہے۔ ہم نے پاکستان کے اٹھارہ کروڑ لوگوں میں بالآخر ایک شخص ڈھونڈ لیا ہے جو بدعنوان ہے۔ ہمارا یہ واضح فیصلہ ہے کہ اگر آصف علی زرداری نامی اس شخص کا ٹینٹوا دبا لیا جائے تو مہنگائی ختم ہو جائے گی، بجلی کی کمی دور ہو جائے گی، یہ شخص گیس کے پائپ پر پائوں رکھے کھڑا ہے، اسے دھکا دینے سے گیس کی لوڈ شیڈنگ ختم ہو جائے گی، غریبوں کو دو روپے کی روٹی ملے گی، برسات کی کھمبیوں کی طرح اگنے والے مذہبی مدرسوں کو نامعلوم ذرائع سے ملنے والی مالی امداد بند ہو جائے گی، پاکستان میں جگہ جگہ کارخانے کھلیں گے، ترقی یافتہ ممالک ہمارے تعلیمی اداروں کی اسناد تسلیم کرنا شروع کر دیں گے، کاندھوں پر ڈالروں کی گٹھریاں اٹھائے غیر ملکی سرمایہ کار پاکستان کا رخ کریں گے۔ مختصر یہ کہ ہماری داستانوں کی روایتی جوان عورت کہنیوں تک سونے کے کنگن پہنے، سولہ سنگھار کیے، کراچی سے چل کرپشاور تک جائے گی اور اسے کسی قسم کا خوف نہیں ہو گا۔

چونکہ قوم کی تعمیر، وفاق کے استحکام، نظامِ حکومت اور معاشی ترقی کا ہمارا اجتماعی تجربہ نہایت کامیاب رہا ہے اور ہم نے اپنے تمام قومی نصب العین کامیابی سے حاصل کر لیے ہیں۔ چنانچہ یقین رکھنا چاہیے کہ آصف علی زرداری کو گرانے کا منصوبہ بھی کامیابی سے ہمکنار ہو گا۔

بدعنوانی کا یہ بھیڑیا ساٹھ برس سے ایک سائے کی طرح ہمارے ساتھ چل رہا ہے۔ ہم نے لیاقت علی خان کی وزارتِ عظمیٰ میں ٴپروڈاٴ نامی ایک قانون بنایا جس کی مدد سے بدعنوان سیاست دانوں پر پابندیاں لگائی گئیں۔ ایوب خان نے ایبڈو نامی ایک قانون بنایا اور سیاست دانوں کی ایک پوری نسل کو، جو نہایت بدعنوان تھی، سیاست سے بے دخل کر دیا۔ اس کے بعد گندھارا انڈسٹریز کی بنیاد رکھی گئی۔ ایوب خان اور ان کے ساتھیوں کی دیانت داری کے باعث ہماری تاریخ میں گندھارا تہذیب کو بلند مقام حاصل ہے ۔ یحییٰ خان چونکہ ایک نہایت مستعد، بالغ الذہن اور سیدھے سادھے سولجر تھے انہوں نے 303 بدعنوان اہلکار نکال باہر کیے۔ بھٹو صاحب کی حکومت انقلابی تھی، انہوں نے 1300 بدعنوان پکڑ لیے۔

صاحب ہم نے اتنے بدعنوان نکالے لیکن ہمارا کنواں پاک نہیں ہوا۔ چنانچہ امیر المومنین ضیاالحق کے سریر آرائے مسند ہونے کے بعد ہم نے اخبارات میں اداریے لکھے کہ ٴپہلے احتساب اور پھر انتخابٴ۔ ہم نے نیشنل سنٹر کے سیمیناروں میں صدرِ محترم سے التجائیں کیں کہ ٴجنابِ صدر احتساب شروع کریںٴ۔ یاد رکھیے کہ وہی صدر محترم ہوتا ہے جو فوجی وردی میں ملبوس ہو۔ چاروں صوبوں کے منتخب نمائندوں کے ووٹ سے منتخب ہونے والے کسی شخص کو ہم احترام کا سزاوار نہیں سمجھتے۔ ضیاالحق صاحب گیارہ برس قوم کا احتساب کرتے رہے۔ منجملہ دیگر عنایات کے، انہوں نے ہمارے آئین کی دودفعات62 اور 63 میں اپنی مومنانہ بصیرت سے کام لے کر کچھ ایسے اضافے کیے جن کی مدد سے اگر صحیح احتساب کیا جائے تو پاکستان کا ہر شہری قابلِ گردن زدنی ٹھہرے گا ، سوائے ان اہل صفا کے جن کی پشت پر ٴصالحیتٴ کی ایسی ہی مہر ہو گی جیسی ڈنگر ڈاکٹر صحت مند جانوروں کی تھل تھلاتی راسوں پر ثبت کرتا ہے۔

ضیاالحق صاحب کی خود کاشتہ ذریات کو بھی احتساب کا شغل عزیز رہا۔ قرونِ اولیٰ کے مسلمانوں جیسے اوصافِ حمیدہ رکھنے والے ایک رجل رشید سیف الرحمن کی سربراہی میں احتساب بیورو بنایا گیا تھا۔ تاہم بات کچھ بنی نہیں۔ غالباً کسی سازش کے باعث احتساب کامیاب نہ ہو سکا۔ چنانچہ ایک نہایت درد مند عسکری سالار جنرل پرویز مشرف کو مداخلت کرنا پڑی۔ جنہوں نے نیب نامی ایک ادارہ قائم کیا۔ نازی جرمنی کے عقوبت خانوں کے دروازے پر لکھا ہوتا تھا۔ ٴٴکام کرنے ہی میں آزادی ہےٴٴ۔ پرویز مشرف کے قائم کردہ نیب کے صدر دروازے پر کندہ تھا۔
آدمی ہے وہ بھلا، در پہ جو رہے پڑا

چنانچہ جن مصفا ہستیوں نے پرویز مشرف کی چوکھٹ پر سجدہِ سہو کیا، وہ دھل دھلا کر ایسے پاک صاف ہو گئے جیسے شیر خوار بچہ۔ تاہم کچھ ایسے فتنہ پرور اور بدعنوان لوگ تھے جنہوں نے جیلیں کاٹیں، جن پر تشدد کیا گیا، لیکن وہ اصلاح پر مائل نہیں ہوئے۔ آج کل قوم کو انہی عناصر کا احتساب مطلوب ہے۔ Continue reading

Mashriq Lahore Editorial: Imran Khan’s revolutionary program?

لاہور میں پاکستان تحریک انصاف کا جلسہ اس جماعت کی گزشتہ پندرہ برس کی کارکردگی کے تناظر میں کامیاب رہا۔ 1996ء میں قائم ہونے والی تحریک انصاف نے اب تک منعقد ہونے والے انتخابات میں صرف ایک نشست پر کامیابی حاصل کی اور یہ نشست عمران خان نے 2002ئ کے عام انتخابات میں میانوالی سے حاصل کی تھی۔ اس زمانے میں فوجی آمریت نے مسلم لیگ نوازٞ اور پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی پر عرصۂ حیات تنگ کر رکھا تھا۔ پارلیمانی قوت کے تناسب سے عمران خان اور ان کی سیاسی جماعت کو ذرائع ابلاغ بالخصوص نجی ٹیلی ویږن چینلز پر جس قدر پذیرائی ملی، پاکستان میں اس کی کوئی مثال نہیں ملتی۔ اس کے باوجود تحریک انصاف کے بارے میں کبھی یہ تاثر قائم نہیں ہوا کہ یہ جماعت بڑے پیمانے پر انتخابی کامیابی حاصل کرسکتی ہے۔ سیاسی تجزیہ کاروں نے اس کے اسباب میں عمران خان کے طرز قیادت کے علاوہ ان کی جماعت کے سیاسی موقف کی مبینہ کمزوریوں کو بھی شمار کیا ہے۔ بایں ہمہ حالیہ مہینوں میں یہ تاثر عام ہوا ہے کہ وفاق اور صوبوں میں حکومتوں کی بدانتظامی اور بڑھتے ہوئے عوامی مسائل کے تناظر میں مقبول سیاسی قیادت سے عوامی بیگانگی کے باعث عمران خان کی عوامی پذیرائی میں اضافہ ہوا ہے۔ مرکزی پنجاب کے کچھ حصوں میں عوامی حمایت کے مظاہروں کے بعد تحریک انصاف نے پاکستان کے سیاسی مرکز لاہور میں جلسے کا اعلان کیا تو اس سے سیاسی حلقوں میں کافی ہلچل پیدا ہوئی۔ اس جلسے سے صرف دو روز پہلے ریلی منعقد کرکے پنجاب کی حکمران جماعت مسلم لیگ نوازٞ نے گویا تحریک انصاف کے جلسے کی اہمیت بڑھا دی۔ مسلم لیگ نوازٞ کی ریلی کے بغیر تحریک انصاف کا جلسہ سیاسی خلا میں ایک ایسی صدا قرار پاتا جس کی کوئی بازگشت نہیں ہوتی۔ یہ امر واضح ہے کہ تحریک انصاف نے اس جلسے کے ذریعے اپنی انتظامی صلاحیت اور عوامی حمایت کا اچھا مظاہرہ کیا ہے۔ تاہم جلسے کے کلیدی مقرر اور جماعت کے سربراہ عمران خان کی تقریر میں کوئی ایسا نکتہ نہیں تھا جسے ان کے موعودہ انقلاب سے تعبیر کیا جاسکے۔ ان کا سیاسی موقف اپنے استقلال اور داخلی تضادات کے ساتھ عوام پر اچھی طرح واضح ہے اور ان کی تقریر اسی موقف کا اعادہ تھی۔

عمران خان صاحب محکمہ مال کا ریکارڈ کمپیوٹر پر لا کر پٹواری کا منصب ختم کرنا چاہتے ہیں۔ اس میں کوئی شک نہیں کہ پٹواری ہماری معاشرتی روایت میں بدعنوانی اور رشوت کا استعارہ ہے۔ تاہم بدعنوانی پٹواری کی ذات پر موقوف نہیں بلکہ اجتماعی رویوں سے جنم لیتی ہے اور کمپیوٹر اجتماعی رویوں یا نااہلی کا انسداد نہیں کرسکتا۔ اگر ایسا ہوتا تو امسال پنجاب کے تعلیمی بورڈز کو اپنے نتائج منسوخ نہ کرنا پڑتے۔ عمران خان صاحب نے تھانہ کلچر میں تبدیلی کا نسخہ منتخب تھانیدار یا شیرف کی صورت میں دریافت کیا ہے۔ یہ امر قابل اطمینان ہے کہ اگرچہ عمران خان کو منتخب صدر، منتخب وزرائے اعلیٰ، اور منتخب ارکان اسمبلی کی دیانتداری پر اعتماد نہیں تاہم وہ منتخب تھانیدار کی دیانتداری پر مکمل اعتماد رکھتے ہیں اور سمجھتے ہیں کہ پولیس کو سیاسی اثرات سے پاک کرنے کا طریقہ یہ ہے کہ تھانیدار کو علاقے کے لوگ منتخب کریں۔

عمران خان حکومتی عہدیداروں سے ان کے اثاثے معلوم کرنا چاہتے ہیں اور آئندہ چند ماہ میں یہ اثاثے ظاہر نہ ہونے کی صورت میں سول نافرمانی کا ارادہ رکھتے ہیں۔ قابل ذکر بات یہ ہے کہ عمران خان کو صرف منتخب سرکاری عہدیداروں کے اثاثوں میں دلچسپی ہے۔ سوال یہ ہے کہ ہر انتخابی امیدوار کو اپنے اثاثوں کا اعلان کرنا ہوتا ہے۔ منتخب نمائندے الیکشن کمیشن کو اپنے منقولہ اور غیر منقولہ اثاثوں کی تفصیل بیان کرنے کے پابند ہیں۔ ان گوشواروں میں کسی بددیانتی کی صورت میں انتخابی عذر داری دائر کی جاسکتی ہے۔ ایسی صورت میں عمران خان کی سول نافرمانی غالباً مربوط سیاسی اور معاشی پروگرام نہ ہونے کی عکاسی کرتی ہے۔ اس اہم خطاب میں عمران خان نے جمہوری نظام سے وابستگی کے بارے میں ایک لفظ نہیں کہا۔ 1600 ارب سے لے کر 1800 ارب روپے کے کل سالانہ محصولاتی حجم میں بیرونی قرضوں کی واپسی، دفاع اور انتظامی اخراجات نکال کر جو باقی بچتا ہے عمران خان اس کا حساب چاہتے ہیں۔ یہ ان کا شہری اور جمہوری حق ہے لیکن ان اثاثوں کا کل حجم ملک کی مجموعی معیشت میں کیا تبدیلی لاسکتا ہے۔ کیا عمران خان نعروں کی مدد سے بجٹ کے خسارے، بیرونی سرمایہ کاری کے فقدان اور کمزور صنعتی شعبے اور تجارتی خسارے جیسے معاشی مسائل حل کرنا چاہتے ہیں۔ 1999ئ سے لے کر 2002ئ کے انتخابات تک عمران خان کو جنرل پرویز مشرف کا قرب سلطانی حاصل تھا اور آمر کا احتسابی بیورو سرگرم تھا۔ عمران خان نے معیشت کو ترقی دینے کا یہ نسخہ تب کیوں استعمال نہیں کیا۔ پاکستان میں کوئی ایسا قانون موجود نہیں جس کی مدد سے شہریوں کو اپنے جائز اثاثے ملک سے باہر لے جانے سے روکا جا سکے۔ درحقیقت کھلی منڈی کی معیشت سرمائے کے آزادانہ انتقال کا دوسرا نام ہے۔

دہشت گردی کے مسئلے پر عمران خان کے خیالات میں کوئی ندرت نہیں۔ وہ عسکریت پسندوں، پاکستان کی سرزمین پر قبضہ کرنے والوں، ہزاروں پاکستانیوں کو شہید کرنے والے اور لاکھوں پاکستانی شہریوں کو یرغمالی بنانے والوں کے خلاف فوجی کارروائی کے مخالف ہیں۔ عمران خان کے حامی انہیں ملک کا وزیراعظم دیکھنا چاہتے ہیں۔ ملک کے وزیراعظم کو آئین اور ملک کی سلامتی کے تحفظ کا حلف اٹھانا پڑتا ہے۔ یہ سمجھنا مشکل ہے کہ عمران خان عسکریت پسندوں کے خلاف کارروائی نہ کرنے اور بطور وزیراعظم اپنے حلف میں کس طرح مطابقت پیدا کریں گے۔ غالباً اس کا جواب یہی ہے کہ وزیراعظم کے منصب پر پہنچنے کے لیے انتخابات میں کامیابی ضروری ہے۔ انتخابی عمل انقلاب کا نہیں، آئین کے تسلسل کا تقاضا کرتا ہے۔ شاید اسی لیے عمران خان چند ماہ بعد سول نافرمانی شروع کرنے کا ارادہ رکھتے ہیں جب آئندہ انتخابات میں ایک سال سے کم مدت باقی رہ جائے گی۔ جس طرح عمران خان نے قومی معیشت کے کلیاتی خد و خال کو نظر انداز کرکے ایک جزو پر توجہ مرکوز کررکھی ہے اسی طرح وہ پاکستان کے قومی سیاسی منظر میں صرف پنجاب کے ایک خاص حصے کو ہدف بنائے ہوئے ہیں۔ پاکستان کی تاریخ میں بہت سے مسیحا آئے اور پھر اپنے صدری نسخوں سمیت تاریخ کے اوراق میں گم ہوگئے۔ اگر عمران خان اس روایت کو تبدیل کرنا چاہتے ہیں تو انہیں اپنے سیاسی موقف پر سنجیدگی سے غور و فکر کرنا چاہیے۔

بشکریہ: مشرق لاہور

Paint it Black!!! Dr Adib Rizvi road

On July 23, 2010, President Asif Ali Zardari while signing “gift of life” certificate ceremony announced that his government would nominate prominent medical professional, philanthropist and founder of Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) Dr Adibul Hassan Rizvi for Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his services in the field of organ transplant.

Dr Abdus Salam defaced grave

Our memories of First Pakistani Nobel laureate, Dr Abdus Salam are not gratifying though, the pioneer of our much lionized Nuclear program faced discrimination at home.

“He was never honoured in his own country because, as an Ahmadi, he became a non-Muslim under the Second Amendment of the 1973 Constitution. He died on Nov 21, 1996, in Oxford and, in accordance with his last wish, was buried in Pakistan. There was no official mourning, no recognition of the laurels he had won for his country and no representative of the government attended his funeral. The inscription on his tombstone initially read: “The first Muslim Nobel Laureate” but the word “Muslim” was effaced by the authorities, turning the inscription into the nonsensical “First Nobel Laureate.” (Source)

The secernment has been institutionalised by the state. On June 26, 2011, a tender notice was published in Urdu and English newspapers by Karachi Nuclear Power Complex. The tender notice was about scrap items offered for auction but KNPC administration didn’t hesitate to remind us of our blessed Nuclear assets. And added following ‘Note’ at the end,

“For the visit of site Plant, only Muslims with NADRA original CNIC will be allowed after confirming at Security Gate”

KNPC Tender notice

Ironically it is the same plant, which was founded due to tireless efforts of Dr Abdus Salam and Premier Bhutto was accompanied by Dr Salam and Munir A Khan at the inauguration ceremony. After two years, Friend of Dr Salam had to sign a constitutional amendment declaring him a Non-Muslim.

Maulana Noorani, who was on the forefront of Anti-Ahmadiyya campaign, which resulted in 2nd constitutional amendment, a decade later was asked about the Anti-Shia campaign revived by Deobandi firebrand clerics from Punjab, he replied sarcastically, “Hamein pata hei, Kaaley Jhandey Ke Baad Harey Jhandey Ki Baari Hei” (We know, after the black flag, they will turned against the green one).

Unfortunately, the campaign turned violent as Jihadi delirium in the last two decades has turned the hate mongers into killing machines. Jihadi recruitment and training centers have delegated powers and expertise to the activists of sectarian outfits, who demonstrates it by burning Christians alive in Gojra, killing Ahmedis at their places of worships in Lahore, killing Shia doctors, professionals, clerics and Hazaras in Queta.

The person President Zardari has wished to propose for prestigious Nobel peace prize is also from Shia community and has survived many assassinations attempt. After one and a half year of President Zardari’s announcement, One can hardly find any details, whether Govt of Pakistan has proposed his name or not, and like others, I almost forgot the announcement, but an email by a friend from my home city Karachi has impelled me to recall it.

The email includes some images captured via mobile, showing name plates of a road named after Dr Adib Rizvi, but it has odiously been showered(sprayed) with black paint in such a way that it hardly can be read.

The boards are located at Ghani Chowrangi, on the road going toward scrap market from SITE Area . The same road has Government college of Technology SITE, a stronghold of IJT, student wing of  violent Islamist party and terrorists sympathiser Jamat Islami.

The chowrangi has IJT flags all over, wall chalking and political slogans all around, as they have a habit of occupying every available space with it.

But the black spray on Dr Adibul Hasan Rizvi’s name tells another story. As there are two boards with names on both sides. They have consumed the paint over making the name unreadable, especially the surname, ‘Rizvi’ commonly associated with Shia Muslims.

Karachi and Lahore are witnessing violence against Shia Muslims intensified in the Last two decades. Many intellectuals and professionals have been killed for their crime of being part of Shia community and having surnames associated to Shia Muslims. The way it gone unnoticed or misrepresented is evident from the distorted arguments and misleading terminologies used for such incidents.

Dailytimes and columnist Dr Mohammad Taqi in his Op-ed yesterday referring to this tendency writes,

Many seasoned human rights campaigners have either remained mum or have issued subdued statements literally sanitising the premeditated mass murder underway in and around Quetta. Terms like ‘sectarian killings’, with connotations of a tit-for-tat warfare between equal groups for similar motives, have been deployed.(Source)

In previous term of PML-N, a senior Punjab Police official now CM Advisor was accused of his alleged links with Anti-Shia militias and in this term its Law minister is a known sympathiser of these outfits.

In Karachi, these elements are on a free run, as the complex political situation, and a broadly used term “Target Killings” provides a cover to their activities and is often misrepresented as I stated above.

Abbas Zaidi, Writer, Linguist and a dearest friend in his Op-ed about Supreme Court much celebrated verdict states,

The Taliban and the SSP appear only once each and in a context where Shias can only pull their hair in frustration and disbelief. About the Taliban, the verdict says: “Karachi’s ethnic wars have claimed some 1,000 lives this year, with more than 100 in the past week alone. By contrast the Taliban and other religious extremists kill tiny numbers in Karachi” (page 137).

One would like to ask: how tiny is a tiny number? The verdict has simply not mentioned hundreds of Shias killed in the past few years. What is the point of enumerating the number of people killed in just one year and blot out hundreds of people killed in the previous years? (Source)

President Zardari, while addressing the ceremony, I have mentioned earlier further said,

“The world had in the past converted noble Pakistanis into war machines and warriors. Although this chapter is closed now, Pakistan is still trying to adapt to the changed situation.”(Dawn)

The role of our own state and intelligence apparatus cannot be pushed aside in turning people into War machines, as well as their aiding and abetting of these Anti-Shia outfits for various ideological and political reasons.

In the last decade of our love and hate relations with Jihadis, I was using the famous Urdu saying of “Mey kambal ko Chodta hun, Laikin Kambal mujhe Nahi Chorhta”. But unfortunately there’s not even a wish to get rid of this mess. And every act of us, even our urge of giving peace a chance is negated by what we are practicing.

President Zardari said the world should look at the good in Pakistan and its people.

“Pakistan is proud of people like Dr Adib Rizvi, Abdus Sattar Edhi and Benazir Bhutto. Dr Adib Rizvi and Abdus Sattar Edhi could have made fortunes by pursuing some other profession in other countries.”

Dear President! Pakistan has their first and foremost responsibility to defend their people against hate mongers and Insane killers. And it failed miserably in this regard.

Diplomatic bargaining at the edge — I —Prof. Ijaz Khan

Prof. Ijaz Khan is an academic and active commentator at various discussion forums, mailing groups and social networks. He is associated with Peshawar University and is Chairman, Department of International Relations.  He annotates on US Af-Pak policy, Pakistan Afghan policy and its implications on the region and the people living in it. Here’s first part of his take on the current row of overheated bargaining between US and Pakistan and Pakistan wishlist in post US withdrawal scenario in Afghanistan.(ali arqam)

The conflict in the Af-Pak region has entered a new phase, which may be termed the pre-2014 phase. This phase is currently witnessing a serious row between the US and Pakistan, supposedly allies in the ‘war against terrorism’. All parties want to influence the outcome in 2014 so that the post-2014 situation best meets its perceived interests. To influence that outcome Pakistan and the US are pursuing policies that appear to be at odds. Both also consider the behaviour of the other to be vital for achievement of its goal. So they are using various means to influence each other’s behaviour. The current row between the two allies can be explained as an overheated diplomatic bargaining.

President Obama announced disengagement from active combat in Afghanistan by 2014, thus the withdrawal of US combat troops from Afghanistan. This was announced along with a plan to enable the US to do so after succeeding in Afghanistan and not losing the war there. The plan was based on the US’s increased action at different levels: one was an increased military action through increased military presence, the so-called ‘surge policy’, and two, raising of the Afghan Army and a viable governance system. The strategy also includes peeling away as much of the Taliban as possible through negotiations. The purpose is to strengthen the Afghan government in relation to the Taliban resistance. The US does not intend to abandon Afghanistan, as it does not want a repeat of the 1990s when Afghanistan became a safe haven for terrorists from all over the world, especially Al-Qaeda.

Given adjustments for language, style and rhetoric, Pakistan’s Afghan policy has continuously been guided by two considerations: security threat perceptions from India and the question of the Durand Line. It was hosting most of the mujahideen leaders of the 1980s since the early 1970s or becoming a front-line state in the 1980s against Soviet intervention in Afghanistan or the half-cooked ideas of ‘strategic depth’ in the 1990s leading to the rise of the Taliban. Pakistan appeared to have taken a U-turn after 9/11. However, that perception soon proved wrong by what Ahmad Rashid called a ‘double U-turn’. Pakistan has been playing the role of a broker between the US and the Taliban even before 9/11. After 9/11, Pakistan — while announcing support for the US — tried its best to salvage whatever was left of its Afghan policy that banked on a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Pakistan tried to bridge the gap between the Taliban and the US, with the aim of saving the Taliban from any military action against them. It continued its diplomatic relations with their government in Kabul to the very end. However, when the US attacked and dislodged the Taliban government, Pakistan adjusted its policy accordingly. Since then its policy has aimed to get a government in Kabul in which it will have a strong say and Indian influence will be minimum. For that end, Pakistan has been acting against the Taliban with a policy that will limit them but not eliminate them. Pakistan also wishes to see a complete withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, however only after meeting Pakistan’s concerns. Pakistan now wants to limit Afghanistan’s military capability as well, so a recent Pakistan foreign policy elite study proposed limiting of the Afghan Army.

Pakistan’s relations with the Taliban have been quite complex. It is like you construct a canal to direct the flow of water over whose flow you do not have much control. You stop the Taliban from acting where you do not want them to and shut your eyes when they act where you want them to. Whether Pakistan controls some of them and to what extent is debatable, however, it finds their defeat unless Pakistan’s concerns are met as not desirable. Its actions or inaction against them must be understood in this background. It is this policy that angers and frustrates the US.

The US is also facing a dilemma. It is aware of Pakistan’s position and its role. It also knows how vital that role is for the current phase of the Afghan imbroglio. Admiral (retd) Mullen’s as well as other statements, including those from the White House itself, clearly establish that the US has not been able to make Pakistan act the way it wants to with a policy that can largely be described as that of carrots and the threat of use of sticks.

With 2014 approaching fast, the US’s choices are getting limited. The American leadership seems to be getting convinced that carrots are not convincing enough and neither are the threats. Pakistani policy makers know that the US will bend over backwards as much as possible to avoid materialising of the threats — to avoid the use of sticks. They bank on US calculations that it must not entangle itself in a country bigger than both Afghanistan and Iraq put together. This does not mean that Pakistan is a match for the US militarily. Even the Pakistani establishment knows that. This means the US would need much more troops afterwards and still much more resources. Pakistan cannot be just hit, destroyed and left for the extremists to take over. If the US ever decides to hit decisively against Pakistan then it has to commit for a much longer, bigger and direct commitment than it can be worth in terms of interests — security or economic, both immediate or strategic. This is what emboldens Pakistan and pushes it to bargain hard.

Read the 2nd part here..

Courtesy: Dailytimes

The ultimate guardians of the national interest

Following the remarkable events in Egypt over the last five days has been truly a paradigm changing experience. Even a cynic like me can’t help being taken in by the idea that this is a genuine revolution, contrary to the CNN and Fox news tickers of chaos, crisis, etc. Egypt and Burma have always fascinated me in their similarities in various ways to Pakistan. I guess growing up in post-Ziaist Pakistan, I have a morbid fascination for countries with a political vacuum. Almost a year ago, I remember reading a brilliant article by Adam Shatz about Egypt’s political vacuum and thinking that Pakistan was lucky, by contrast, in that it at least had a political class and a political tradition, no matter how flawed.

This paragraph in Shatz’s article (in which he quotes the Egyptian journalist Hani Shukrullah) has stayed in my mind over the last year:

As Hani Shukrallah, an editor at Al-Shorouk, one of the new independent papers, points out, ‘the regime has pursued a deliberate policy of selective repression based on class.’ Shukrallah, a veteran of the student left of the 1970s, illustrated this by describing an aerial photograph of a Kifaya demonstration in downtown Cairo. ‘You can see three circles: the first is composed of the demonstrators, a few hundred people. Around them is a circle of several thousand police officers, and around the police is the people. The people are onlookers, spectators. The middle-class professionals in Kifaya can chant slogans like “Down with Mubarak” because they risk, at worst, a beating. But most Egyptians live in a world where anything goes, where they’re treated like barbarians who need to be conquered, and women are molested by the security forces.

It reminded me a lot of the pictures you see from the protests in places like Lahore and Islamabad against the emergency rule. What it made me realize is that ultimately, every authoritarian regime rules, not by force, but by the tacit consent of a small but influential class of urban opinion-makers. (When Musharraf lost the support of this class, he was doomed). I remember reading a quote by Anatol Lieven in which he made the observation that dictatorship in Pakistan has always been a relatively “soft” one. I don’t know whether Lieven was right or wrong. Certainly, the arm of the Pakistani state has not been soft on those it has – at various times – perceived to be outside the limits prescribed by Pakistani nationalism. But it is correct to say that the brilliance of the Pakistani military regimes has been that they have always left a great degree of breathing room to those whom it accepts as part of the class whose own institutional interests the Pakistani army represents. The kinds of opinions that the Pakistani English newspapers are able to express are an example of this. And this is what came to my mind when I read Shukrullah’s description of the three circles – the inner circle of the privileged, well-connected urban middle class, surrounded by the arms of the state and surrounding both of them, the rest of the population.

Maybe what we are constantly complaining about as the moral failure of the military is really just the destiny of resource-poor, post-colonial states with a small but well-connected class of modernist nationalists at the helm. Maybe it’s not really worth complaining about because it’s a structural issue. It fascinates me that the Egyptian military, for example, is looked at, by the protestors, as a saviour or at the very least as a potential arbitrator against the current regime. In a way, the army’s arrival to save the Cairo Museum from looters and the collective sigh of relief at this arrival symbolizes the basic dilemma – the military is always seen as a saviour because it is better organized and more developed. Here’s a (terrible) analogy: As the youngest in a family of five, I was always resentful of everyone else’s ability to make better decisions for me. I always wanted to do things by myself but had this strange, rebellious streak where I would rebel to be contrary, make really stupid decisions and then breathe a sigh of relief as someone smarter and older took control of the situation for me. Structurally, the situation is that the political class is so stunted, so far behind in development to the overdeveloped, nationalist military that the modernists always end up running back into the warm cocoon of the military’s embrace. The alternative is just too horrifying to contemplate. What is this but a form of colonialism? It’s no coincidence then, that political transitions often consist of the various actors courting the military’s good favour for a temporary shift in the status quo.

But it’s not good to be so pessimistic. It’ll be interesting to see how Omar Suleiman’s appointment as Vice President will go down.

“What concerns us now is this is clearly a military takeover,” said Mr. Shahin. “I would not be surprised if Mubarak disappears tomorrow or after tomorrow.

Dysfunction chronicled

The Pearl Project’s report on the killing of Daniel Pearl and the botched trial of his alleged killers is a remarkable piece of journalism. Every section of it is worth reading closely, but the section that really stood out to me and which I wish could have been expanded on, was section 10, titled “Rushing to judgment” which chronicled the trial of the four individuals accused of killing Daniel Pearl in Pakistan’s ATC II. The details of this trial are very important for anyone trying to understand the dysfunction that is Pakistan’s terrorism prosecution. There are three broad categories of failure here, each of which deserves to be studied in depth. The first is the actions of the infamous “agencies” which basically killed the chances of a proper trial before it even began. The second is the utter incompetence and dishonesty of the prosecution in building a case against the accused and the third is the atmosphere in the courtroom which is a reflection of the larger question of the public attitude towards terror prosecution.

According to the report, the ISI chief at the time, Gen. Ehsanul Haq, has admitted that Omar Saeed Sheikh surrendered himself, on February 5 2002 to the home secretary of Punjab and Musharraf’s close associate Brigadier Ejaz Shah and remained at his house for 7 days before he was “officially” handed over to the Lahore police on February 12. Because of Omar Saeed Sheikh’s high profile status as a famous terrorist, it is tempting to interpret this surrender as evidence of Sheikh’s links with the ISI. (Benazir Bhutto famously termed Ejaz Shah as Omar Saeed Sheikh’s handler in the ISI). However, the fact is that such “lost time” in the custody of the ISI is not limited to high profile terrorists only. It is extremely common in the case of terrorism suspects. In an excellent report in the Daily Times, Vidya Rana describes the frustration of the police with the interference of the intelligence agencies with their terrorism investigations. Here is a quote by a police official interviewed by Rana

We are being used as a ‘pick-n-drop’ service to terrorist-suspects. Police usually arrest a terrorist on tip-off of intelligence agencies. The little information we gather during preliminary investigation, it goes to media to justify the arrest. After taking physical remand, the arrested is handed over to those who provided tip-off for further investigation. But after submitting the challan, police find it difficult to substantiate the charges with evidence deemed concrete by the court,” the police officer said adding that it all happens because investigating agencies do not provide complete evidence to police which can land the terrorist in serious legal trouble during the court proceedings and the subsequent judgment.

In the Daniel Pearl murder trial, the original discrepancies in the arrest of Sheikh haunted the prosecution from day one. According to the report:

What suspects and witnesses told investigators was at direct odds with what police and others testified in court. Indeed, Pakistan police officials acknowledged in interviews that prosecutors and police fixed the trial by fabricating a story to place Sheikh at Pearl’s abduction and inducing witnesses to lie to corroborate the fabrication on these points.

For example, it appeared that the taxi driver who had dropped off Daniel Pearl to the Village restaurant had been coached by the police to make an incorrect statement about what he say that day. Whereas previously he had stated that he had seen nothing, he then stated that he saw a white Corolla pull up next to his taxi and saw Daniel Pearl get into it and drive off. In a State Department cable, US Consul John Bauman wrote:

, “As noted in previous trial reports, in its zeal to convict Sheikh Umer despite meager physical evidence and no eyewitnesses, the prosecution apparently induced at least two witnesses to perjure themselves.”

In a letter to Daniel Pearl’s family, Bauman wrote:

Bauman, U.S. consul general in Karachi during Pearl’s kidnapping, referred to the missing days in a May 22, 2002, e-mail to Pearl family members and Wall Street Journal reporters. In the e-mail, Bauman noted the testimony of a prosecution witness, Zaheer Ahmed, a local carpet-maker: “Zaheer claimed that the raids took place on the night of February 11-12, whereas they actually took place on February 4-5. This is an obvious attempt to gloss over the week of February 5-12 when [Omar Sheikh] claims he was in ISI custody.”

It wasn’t just the timeline which the prosecution lied about. According to the report, the “handwriting expert” Ghulam Akbar who was brought to the stand to prove that the handwriting of the handwritten texts of what would become the hostage emails matched the handwriting of the suspects on trial. Unfortunately, under cross examination, Akbar admitted that he had no training on handwriting at all. Another discrepancy was that a police investigator admitted that the serial number of the laptop siezed by the police did not match that of the laptop examined by an FBI expert.

The final, and, in my opinion, most important aspect of the trial is the level of religious hatred directed towards the prosecution and its witnesses. It’s very tempting to blame prosecution failures purely on incompetence and on the discrepancies in the arrest caused by the interference of the agencies but that is ignoring the elephant in the room which is that the climate in Pakistan makes it almost impossible for terrorism trials to take place in the first place. In this Washington Post article written on May 12 2002, the atmosphere surrounding the Pearl trial is vividly described.

The defendants, Sheik Omar Saeed, Salman Saquib, Fahad Naseem and Sheik Adil have shouted insults at witnesses and made obscene gestures at government attorneys. Two of the four men on trial have made threatening gestures at the lead prosecutor. One of their attorneys accused a witness of working for the CIA and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.

Earlier this week, the attorney, Rai Bashir, warned the presiding judge that unfit jurists will be condemned to hell. Then, outside the courtroom, he accused the lead prosecutor, Raja Qureshi, of blasphemy.

“He ridiculed Islamic laws and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad, and he did not show any respect in mentioning his name,” Bashir told reporters, who published the allegation the following morning.

The heroic public treatment given to Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Salmaan Taseer is an all-too-telling example of the skewed nature of the public discourse on the issue of prosecution of those who are perceived to be acting in the name of God. One of the most telling aspects of the Pearl Project’s report was the statement read out by Omar Saeed Sheikh’s lawyer after the guilty verdict was announced:

He read a statement from Sheikh saying: “We shall see who will die first: either I or the authorities who have arranged the death sentence for me. The war between Islam and kafirs [non-Muslims] is going on and everybody should show whether he is in favour of Islam or in favour of kafirs.”

While I am not trying to minimize the sheer incompetence of the prosecution or the clearly unlawful actions of the intelligence agency, the impact of this third aspect – the violently skewed nature of public discourse on the issue of terrorism prosecution – cannot be overstated. In this brilliant satirical article on the trial of Mumtaz Qadri, Junaid Sahibzada illustrates this dilemma perfectly.

MQ: ” God instructed me to kill and hence I killed. Which part of my sentence you don’t understand?”

A lawyer from the crowd, jumps to MQ’s rescue and helps MQ by using his legal expertise and argues.

Lawyer: “The constitution of Pakistan says that Sovereignty belongs to Allah alone but He has delegated it to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him as a sacred trust.

This proves that God exists and if He exists then he can also ask MQ to do a small task as well. If you do not accept MQ’s claim that God instructed him to go for the kill then you are rejecting the constitution which has empowered you as the judge of the supreme court of the Islamic Caliphate, I mean the Islamic republic of Pakistan in the first place. And you are also becoming an apostate at the same time since you are rejecting God”

I hope I am wrong when I say this but it does seem that Pakistan’s legal system cannot prosecute terrorists because Pakistan’s legal system, as a subset of Pakistan’s overall state structure is fundamentally unequipped to act against those committing acts of violence in the name of God and religion. In fact one can take it a step further and say that the Pakistani state and constitutional structure is practically designed to allow freelance acts of violence to be committed with impunity and without fear of retribution. The same combination of a weak state structure superimposed with a strong state ideology that allowed Pakistan to create its jihadi “proxies” is what leaves these same proxies free to kill and maim Pakistani citizens at and go unpunished for it. As the post 1997 history of the Anti-terrorism Act and its various iterations have shown, no amount of change in the penal code will change the nature of this stalemate.

Some thoughts on Naseerullah Babar

Whatever Naseerullah Babar’s contributions in his decades-long political career, it was interesting to see how quietly the news of his death was received. This was partly due to his long illness in the last few years and partly due to the tumultuous events of the last few days. But it is interesting that the response was so muted, nonetheless, given how intertwined he was with so much of the PPP’s politics from the 70s through the 90s. Perhaps one can say that the era of a certain hawkish mindset within the PPP is dead. It was instructive, a few months ago, to see Masood Sharif Khattak doing the talkshow rounds criticizing the performance of the current Interior Minister’s performance. Rehman Malik, he said, hasn’t even visited Naseerullah Babar on his sickbed in the last two years that he’s been ill. But beyond that, there’s been a fundamental shift in approach which is best demonstrated by the change in the policy towards Karachi. Rehman Malik’s policy of cooperation with the MQM could not be more different to Naseerullah Babar’s (and Benazir’s) hawkish approach.

It was interesting to listen to one of BB’s interviews in 2007 in which she talked about her government’s commitment to security and gave the example with which her party put down ethnic terrorism in Karachi. In a way it showed that she was somewhat out of touch with the political changes that had occurred since 2002 when MQM’s political image had been rehabilitated and moved back into the mainstream. It would have been interesting to see how Naseerullah Babar handled this changed reality. Even before he became ill, he had distanced himself from BB on her return to Pakistan, because of his objections to the NRO and because, possibly, of BB’s changed attitude towards the Taliban. Remember, before BB’s death, Naseerullah Babar was supposed to have arranged the phone conversation between her and Baitullah Mehsud in which he assured her that he would not attack a woman.

In the final analysis, one wonders whether PPP gained or lost from its association with its hawkish elements of whom Naseerullah Babar is surely the most interesting example. It is true that the hawkish tendencies of Naseerullah Babar and General Tikka Khan led to the same strategic mis-steps that the military establishment is infamous for. In fact, there was a sort of competition netween Babar and the military establishment about who would get the glory for the Afghan policy which in retrospect is really fascinating:

40. What was the isi role in Afghanistan in the period 1974-77?

It was a top secret affair and the isi had no role. The secret was shared between Mr Bhutto, myself, Aziz Ahmad and the then Army Chief Tikka Khan. This was for obvious reasons. The Foreign Office could with, nonchalance deny if raised at un or any other forum.

Conversely, Naseerullah Babar’s comments on the Ayub and Yahya military rule shows on which side he stood, when it came to civilian vs. military rule:

Very few officers were involved in martial law duties. In retrospect I would say that it was the most unfortunate event in Pakistan’s history. Corruption was institutionalised from 1958. Initially senior officers started from buying dinner sets and proceeded in allotment of agricultural land and urban refugee property. Presently, it is in mega millions. It is most ironic that it was initiated by the Ayub martial law.


He joined the Pakistan People’s Party in 1977 after the arrest of Bhutto. He famously threw away his Hilal-i-Jurat (with bar) and other army medals at the presiding officer of a military tribunal, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged by the military regime of Gen Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.

One can see a sort of twisted logic in ZAB and then BB using figures such as Babar and Tikka Khan. Consider Operation Midnight Jackal of 1990, the counter-operation launched by Masood Sharif Khan Khattak the then DG IB chief to counter an ISI plot to overthrow BB’s first government. In the crudest of terms, and stripped of all romantic illusions, politics is about consensus building between various elite groupings. That means that when a section of the elite plays a dirty game, an equally dirty game is required to counter it. Of course this is the classic ethical dilemma raised by Gandhi.

For Gandhi the means-end dichotomy lying at the heart of the traditional revolutionary theory was fundamentally false. In human life the so-caned means consisted not of implements and inanimate tools but of human actions, and by definition these could not fall outside the jurisdiction of morality. Furthermore the method of fighting for an objective was not external to but an integral part of it. Every step towards a desired goal shaped its character, and utmost care had to be taken to ensure that the steps taken to realize it did not distort or damage the goal. The goal did not exist at the end of a series of actions designed to achieve it; it shadowed them from the very beginning. The so-called means were really ends in an embryonic form, the seeds of which the so-called ends were a natural flowering. Since this was so, the fight for a just society could not be conducted by unjust means.

I realize, a more incongruous paragraph could not have been quoted in the midst of an article about the realpolitik of Naseerullah Babar and his hawkish colleagues. But it’s useful to analyze the quest for civilian parity with the military in light of Gandhi’s rejection of the means-end dichotomy of political violence. In this case, the question is, are hawkish political maneuvers, i.e. the idea of beating the establishment at its own game, justified in the process of rebalancing of Pakistan’s civil-military divide? Personally, I see very little different, qualitatively between Naseerullah Babar’s heavy-handed (and in my mind unjustifiable) approach in Karachi and the military establishment’s approach to Balochistan in the last 4 years. Similarly, for Babar, the Afghan policy was simply a race to take credit for the same flawed policies. And while Babar attempts to absolve Bhutto of the debacle of the Balochistan military operation of 1974-1976 by passing the buck to Abdul Qayyum Khan and his intrigues, it’s interesting that Tikka Khan, the “butcher of Balochistan” and the main executor of the disastrous military policy was himself such a PPP loyalist. Moreover, as Babar himself admitted, moves like the Balochistan military operation and the Hyderabad Tribunal, in which ZAB’s civilian government increasingly took on the form of the oppressive military establishment, were used by Zia-ul Haq to ultimately bring the Bhutto government to an end. One can see the same pattern reoccurring with the collapse of BB’s second government and the extra-judicial killings and security situation in Karachi being used as the justification.

However, it is interesting to consider that at the height of its popularity, PPP did have an appeal to, and made use of, such hawkish figures who, today, would consider it toxic. To me, it’s a reminder that all political groupings spring from the same elite, the only thing which defines them is how they stand against each other and how they balance each other out and from that, society is shaped. In other words, politics makes for strange bedfellows.


Unfortunately I am going to be really busy with work so won’t be able to keep up with this blog anymore. I do use twitter and you can also email me at grandtrunkroad at I learned a lot and met a lot of really interesting people from writing this blog over the last two years – if only real life didn’t have that annoying habit of getting in the way of the internet!

Does this sound familiar?

It’s a description of the tea party movement, but it describes quite well the conflict between the rural and urban elite within Pakistan:

I am persuaded by Pareto’s and Mosca’s analysis that political conflict always results from a difference between two competing elites or elite factions. Other groups may be involved as sources of support for one or the other, but below the elite level, people are too busy trying to survive to be very much engaged in politics.

The anonymous comment to the effect that mediæval peasants had almost no contact with any recognizable state government is true. Their government was that of the baron on whose land they lived, of the church, and (on those occasions when they travelled to a burgh of regality on a pilgrimage, or to trade for what they could not make for themselves) of whatever burghal authorities had jurisdiction there. Kings and royal courts were remote.

The political conflict of this era typically arose between two elites, just as Pareto and Mosca suggest. They were, on one hand, the landed interests (noblesse de l’épée, Uradel) who held their feus by virtue of military service in time of war, and on the other, the courtiers whose rank was conferred in recognition of their civil service (noblesse de la robe, Briefsadel). These differences appeared at a very early period, and remained operative well into the eighteenth century, when the typical European political division was still between court and country factions.

Maybe it is not apparent to someone living in San Francisco like MM, but not all “gentlemen” are progressive-universalists. There are people who correspond, to a “country party” that, if not aristocratic, is at least plutocratic, here in the vast center of the country – business owners, regional and community bankers, landlords, and rentiers. Indeed, many of them have emerged unscathed from first-tier universities – not so much because their propaganda was rejected, as simply ignored. I grew up among such people, and can attest that they are instinctively conservative. You don’t suppose, do you, that someone like Michelle Bachmann raised her astonishing campaign fund from “peasants”? To be sure, large contributors to such politicians are under no illusions; they simply support what appears to be the lesser of evils.

Opposed to these people in the “court” party are of course the usual crowd of parasites, sycophants, and hangers-on of government, who derive their social and economic position from their proximity to power. Behind these, however, are the state-capitalists whose fortunes are dependent on the rent-seeking opportunities afforded them by politicians.

Broadly speaking, then, the political conflict of the present day really lies between the millionaire country elite (whose money, though smaller, is typically older) and the billionaire court elite (jumped-up, nouveau riche) of New York, California, and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The country elite, like the provincial noblesse of the Vendée, is closer to its peasantry than to anyone in the capital – they are natural companions in arms. On the other hand, the court elite allies itself with the urban canaille. So far the latter have prevailed, largely because the former, like their counterparts centuries ago, do not completely understand the nature or the magnitude of their enemies.