Archive for June, 2009

The Revival Process

June 27th, 2009

Having been blessed by nature in all possible ways, Pakistan is a land of great potential that remains to be exploited. Between the second highest point on earth (Mount K2) and the bottom of the Arabian Sea, Pakistan has it all. The fact that hardly a fraction of Pakistan’s natural resources have been exploited to go into the process of nation-building speaks loudly of how neglectful we have been. Would we have had the adverse situation that is today threatening our integrity if we had not been so neglectful towards the prosperity of Pakistan? Common sense says no we would not have had any of the present day adversity had Pakistan prospered at a good pace. While our adverse present is because of our inept statecraft of the past our destiny will be decided by our current handling of the affairs of the state. We will be what we will work to be.

Together, the Pakhtuns, the Punjabis, the Sindhis, the Balochis and all other Pakistanis make up a manpower resource that any nation should have put to good use towards its progress and prosperity. But, sadly, this has not been the case and instead the fate of these proud people has been unemployment, social exploitation, deprivation, sufferings and lost dreams. Most Pakistanis continue to live without healthcare, education, the very basic amenities of life like clean water to drink, justice and fair play, equal opportunities and above all even the right to be truly represented at all levels of the political forums of the country. The most damaging aspect that has caused Pakistan and its people immeasurable damage is the absolute suppression of provincial autonomy. If Pakistan’s provinces had been autonomous federating units as the Constitution of Pakistan provides for, had they been ruled by elected leaders of conviction and proven ability and had they been allowed to flourish equitably Pakistan today would have been a very happy federation of four well-knit, harmonious provinces and there would have been no room for the disruptions and the armed challenges to the state that we today witness throughout the country. The provinces are now no-go areas for the political leadership of the provinces and the federation. Whenever such a situation comes about and even insignificant ministers and political personalities have to move about with heavy escorts and in bullet-proof vehicles the absolute divorce between the rulers and the ruled has, effectively, taken place. This is exactly what the enemies of the state strive to bring about and this is exactly the situation in which anarchy thrives and the state steadily diminishes. The slightest bit of common sense can decipher what the next level of such a situation can be. Is that a point Pakistan can afford to reach? The answer is, certainly not.
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World Economic Forum East Asia Debate – Seoul, Korea

June 18th, 2009

Masood Sharif Khan Khattak spoke at the World Economic Forum in Seoul, Korea on the topic of Asian Flashpoints: Challenges to Security along with Brad Glosserman, Lee Chung-Min, Makio Miyagawa and Moon Chung-In. Moderated by Richard Samans. Here are some highlights and the introduction video:

Despite the wide ranging nature of security issues in Asia including terrorism, endemic disease and illegal immigration, the conversation rarely veered from the nuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the current attempts to diffuse the situation. Participants discussed the various intricacies of North Korea’s nuclear strategy and what involved countries could do to defuse the situation.
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Opportunities lost

June 17th, 2009

Pakistan’s acquisition of military nuclear technology was a gigantic step in the right direction whereas the failure to develop nuclear power generation simultaneously was an equally gigantic neglect. Especially so when the base for this had been laid as far back as 1971 when KANUPP was made operational. Thereafter, efforts at developing nuclear power generation ought to have moved parallel to the military-oriented nuclear programme, but this did not happen. Chashma Unit 1 got operational in 2000 and Chashma 2 will get on the national electricity grid in 2011. By then they will not be able to account for even two percent of the nation’s electricity requirement.

Canada would never have facilitated the commissioning of KANUPP at Karachi if the world had not let it do so. Furthermore, during Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s tenure as prime minister, France had agreed to set up nuclear power plants in Pakistan. That this French offer did not materialise was because of our adverse political situation, with Zia-ul-Haq military coup removing Mr Bhutto from power.

Hope was again revived in February 1989, three months into Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s first government when President Francois Mitterrand of France flew into Islamabad to hold a joint press conference with her in order to announce a renewal of the French offer made to her father regarding the nuclear power plants. President Mitterrand did this despite international pressures not to go into such a venture with Pakistan. This was another opportunity lost. By the middle of 1989 it had become clear that Ms Bhutto’s government was not going to be allowed to last. The first blow was dealt to her government on Oct 23, 1989, when a conspiratorially generated vote of no-confidence was tabled against her. That she survived that vote is history to which I am a witness as one of her closest confidantes of that time. However, all that political turmoil in Pakistan put the French nuclear power plants offer on hold once again.
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A changed Pakistan

June 10th, 2009

Way back in the 1960s Pakistan was truly on the move. The early Ayub years gave us the “Green Revolution” because of the construction and commissioning of dams such as Mangla and Tarbela. Barrages were erected all the way down to the Guddu near Hyderabad. These dams and barrages gave birth to an efficient network of canals and small distributaries which in the sixties not only made Pakistan self-sufficient but surplus in agricultural products. In the 60s the building that we all know as Habib Bank Plaza in Karachi was the tallest building all the way from the Middle East down to Singapore. In the 60s almost every army, navy and air force in the Middle East was being manned by Pakistani officers and men. We literally raised those armed forces. Many airlines that operate from the Gulf have actually been trained, organised and manned by PIA staff when they initially started operations. Today they are amongst the best in the world while PIA is in a total mess.

In 1972 it was Pakistan that created history and paved the way for the world to move in the direction that it actually has moved by being instrumental in bringing about President Richard Nixon’s visit to Beijing (then Peking). That visit helped both China and USA equally and opened the world to be shaped as it is today. Not long after that, in 1979, if Pakistan had not taken on the USSR on its own initially, along with the Afghan Mujahideen, the world today would have been very different.

One can go on recounting many more aspects of Pakistan to show what a potently viable country it should have been today with an economy strong enough to stand it in good stead for exercising an independent foreign policy as well as in bringing about an environment in which the country would have had a content population which would, in turn, have excluded space to all sorts of disruptions.
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Snowballing chaos

June 3rd, 2009

While some parts of the country are being endangered by militancy the rest of the country is far from peaceful. It is extremely hard on the Army to be fighting endless pitched battles deep within the country resulting in the displacement of over two million people. The state’s writ has to be re-established over large tracts of the country and Pakistan cannot afford to have a situation where more than two million patriotic Pakhtoons get displaced.

The challenges confronting Pakistan are certainly not ordinary and they cannot be shrugged off through mere political statements. The threats to Pakistan’s integrity today are very real and very serious. The current situation could acquire a disaster of a catastrophic magnitude.

It can easily be said that the current military operations are not going to achieve much if the political component of these military operations is absent. To roll up one’s sleeves and launch the Army into operations against an irregular guerrilla force deep within the country’s interior is the easiest decision to take. The difficult decisions are those that can actually solve the problem and restore the writ of the state without the extensive and endless use of force. Outright force must always be the sparingly used punch of a well coordinated intelligence operation whenever an insurgency or a terror ridden situation is faced.
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