Archive for March, 2009

Obama’s policy review

March 31st, 2009

In his speech President Obama said: “The situation is increasingly perilous. It’s been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power, yet war rages on, and insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.” What Obama said is obviously a matter of concern for Pakistan and Afghanistan because these two countries have literally been torn apart because of the seemingly endless war on terror. But is peace going to come through more military operations or through political initiatives? This is a question that the US review team needs to ponder upon once more. The time for peace initiatives had arrived long ago. New and bold peace initiatives are now warranted if this region is to have durable peace.

We must not lose sight of the proven fact that long-drawn low-intensity wars are mostly won by unconventional forces and with each passing day new militants are motivated and recruited. The cycle can only be stopped through political initiatives and not military operations alone. It is in America’s own interest that a quick political solution is now found to the Afghan problem–i.e., before there is an irresistible outcry from within USA itself to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Obama went on to say: “The future of Afghanistan is inextricably linked to the future of its neighbour, Pakistan. In the nearly eight years since 9/11, Al Qaeda and its extremist allies have moved across the border to the remote areas of the Pakistani frontier. For the American people, this border region (read FATA) has become the most dangerous place in the world.” This part of the speech is something that ought to be a matter of great concern to Pakistan because it shifts the emphasis of the American military effort to Pakistan’s north-western regions where drone attacks are usual occurrences. If Pakistan does not alert itself then the drone attacks being supplemented by ground incursions cannot be too far away.
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Aaj News’ Islamabad Tonight with Masood Sharif 30th March 2009

March 30th, 2009

NOTE: The following media is in the Urdu language and NOT in English.

Masood Sharif Khan Khattak on Aaj News TV’s Islamabad Tonight program on 30th March 2009. Other people on the show include President of PML-N Punjab Prof Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, State Miniter for Information Syed Samsaam Ali Bokhari and Prof Muhammad Ibrahim Khan.

The topic under discussion was terrorism, national security, Sri Lankan cricket team attack, democracy, politics, Governor Rule, PPP, PML-N, accountability and Mumbai Attacks.

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Explosive silence

March 21st, 2009

Pakistan’s manipulative executive, legislature and judiciary have been oppressive due to which the country is possessed by an explosive silence. Unless that silence is gone completely the status quo will remain.

Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto gave a voice to the poorest Pakistani. Then the manipulative State and its judiciary, puppets in the hands of Zia-ul-Haq, sent him to the gallows. Pakistan remained choked throughout Zia-ul-Haq’s 11 years of despotic rule. Nevertheless, the judicial murder had laid the ground for the eventual detonation of Pakistan’s explosive silence.

The second occasion on which Pakistan’s explosive silence came close to exploding was in April 1986, when Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto returned from exile. It had looked like Pakistan’s explosive silence had finally detonated and the Pakistani Dream was around the corner. But some individuals manipulating the State apparatus through the nineties did not let that happen.

On March 9, 2007, was the third occasion on which someone came around to detonate the explosive silence. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry looked straight into the eyes of COAS General Musharraf, and said “I am not going to resign.” That video clip ignited Pakistan’s explosive silence. If one salutes the lawyers’ community a hundred times a day it will not be enough.
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The new heroes

March 14th, 2009

Every Pakistani today should have been assured that he or she cannot be humiliated by a state functionary because the citizens were protected by the law. Pakistanis should have been assured of medical care provided by the state. The custodian of Pakistanis’ honour and dignity should have been the state itself. Sixty-one years after independence, we should have been able to hold out our green Pakistani passports to immigration officers around the world with pride.

Instead, the children of Pakistan in most parts of its rural and urban areas gaze into a vacuum with no future. Was Pakistan created for its citizens to suffer? Does Pakistan only deserve turmoil? Is this what the future generations of Pakistan deserve?

It is the few heroes of any nation that chalk out its destiny. Unfortunately, we are short on heroes too. And those that we do get we eventually deride them, dishonour them and even take them to the gallows.
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The Liberty hero

March 7th, 2009

The fallout of the Lahore attack will be massive. On Jan 22, the additional inspector general of police heading the Crime Investigating Department (CID) of Punjab had warned the authorities concerned of the likelihood of what eventuality did unfold on March 3. The warning was ignored for 37 days. Sadly, Pakistan will pay the price for the negligence of individuals.

The CID had clearly pointed out that RAW agents were planning to attack the Sri Lankan cricketers either at the hotel or between the hotel and the stadium. The CID Punjab, the brave policemen who were killed and the driver of the bus carrying the Sri Lankans deserve recognition from the state of Pakistan. The bus driver, Meher Muhammad Khalil, displayed extraordinary courage. He not only saved the lives of the Sri Lankan cricketers but also prevented the situation from becoming even grimmer than it did. No gallantry award would be too high for Mr Khalil because he single-handedly saved the country from immense shame.

It is inconceivable that so many attackers put themselves at risk without a big goal. The internal elements involved in the whole process may, or may not, have known the bigger goals of the actual architects of the attack.
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The great NSC debate

March 3rd, 2009

It is incomprehensible that any modern state can be at peace within itself and with the world at large without an organized structure that is dedicated to ensuring the security of that state. Unfortunately, Pakistan seems to be an exception. This is not surprising for a country where even the Constitution works on a suspended and/or provisional basis with amendments made by individuals in their drawing rooms duly authorized by the Supreme Court. Piecemeal solutions as opposed to far reaching decisions in the sphere of national security can only spell disaster.

Pakistan now needs a national security council to do all this professionally. This council must be meant for the purpose of national security alone and must operate under the chief executive of the country in an advisory capacity with its eyes on the multiple aspects directly related to the dynamics of national security. The national security council being proposed must not be for the purpose of confronting/counter-balancing any other organ of the state.

Gen Musharraf formed a farcical NSC through the National Security Council Act of April 2004. With the president at its head it comprised of the prime minister, chairman Senate, speaker National Assembly, leader of the opposition, the four chief ministers, the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the army, navy and air force chiefs. Musharraf chose Tariq Aziz, a life long income tax officer and his political broker, as a full time secretary of the NSC. This non professional appointment spoke volumes about how non-serious Gen Musharraf was about Pakistan’s national security.
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