Monthly Archives: December 2011


A Pakpotpourri Exclusive

Editor’s note:The dilemma pointed out here by KHZ lies at the root of the Identity Problem faced by Pakistan. Please also read: “Do we need more provinces?”

By: K. Hussan Zia

Like so many other notions based on questionable motives, parochial politicians in Pakistan from time to time claim nationhood based on provincial boundaries but not as Pakistanis as such. The provinces were created by the British for administrative convenience. NWFP was traditionally a part of Punjab until the turn of the last century. The Pathans are a proud people, intensely tribal in nature and very far from becoming a separate unified nation. Sind did not become a separate province until 1935, when it was detached from the Bombay Presidency.

The father of Sindhi nationalism G. M. Syed, as the name implies, has to be the descendant of immigrants and could not claim to be pure lin ethnic Sindhi in the strict sense. It may come as a shock to some but well-known and proud Sindhis like the Shar, Magassi, Kulachi, Dodai, Chandio, Kaisarani, Jaskani, Gurchani, Shambani, Leghari, Bhutto, Nutkani, Khoso, Mahr, Gopang, Khoro, Quraishi, Punwar, Buladhi, Hasani, Lund, Lashari, Korai, Bhatti, Mirrani, Parihar, Almani, Umarani, Gabol, Jakhrani, Rind, Pitafi, Talpur, Jatoi, Bozdar, Mazari, Bijarani, to name a few originated from Punjab and their parent tribes can still be found there (please see the three volumes of Sir Denzil Ibbetson’s and the Honourable Mr. E. D Maclegan’s census reports of 1883 and 1892 entitled ‘ Tribes and Castes of the Punjab and North-West Frontier Province’.
Apart from sharing the same piece of land and a rudimentary language, there is not very much else common among the people of Punjab either. Even the Hindus and Sikhs across the border stake the claim to being Punjabi. Living in the same proximity does not make a nation nor does speaking the same language. The north-western reaches of the province are mostly inhabited by ethnic Pathans. A large part of the population in the cities of Sialkot, Gujranwala and parts of Gujarat and Lahore is Kashmiri. The south-west is composed of mainly Baluchi and Seraiki speaking people that overlap into Sind.
Majority of the people of Sind belong to Baluchi tribes that migrated from Punjab and Baluchistan. The boundaries of Baluchistan were not drawn along ethnic lines by the British either. It consisted of two separate political and administrative entities —- the princely states Kalat, Mekran, Kharan and Lasbella and a British administered zone in the north and east inhabited by various Pashtoon and other tribes. Baluchis do not constitute the majority of the population of the province. It is also true that there are as many, if not more, Pathans as Baluchis living in the province today. Certainly, there are more ethnic Baluchis living in Punjab and Sind than there are in Baluchistan.
To cap it all, a separate nation has also been claimed in the name of immigrants from various parts of India now living in different areas of Pakistan. It makes one wonder considering that some, if not most, of the outfits now staking claims to separate nationhood inside Pakistan were quite happy to merge their identity with a united India before independence and in the last case, as late as 2004 (see report by Amrit Baruah in The Hindu, 7thNovember 2004).
Much of the confusion results from translating the word ‘nation’ into Urdu as ‘kaum’. The two are not the same. The latter is simply an ethnic identification not tied to a common territorial location or political ideal. There is no precise equivalent of the word ‘nation’ in the vernacular because the institution itself is alien to it. The British in India often equated kaum with ‘caste’ in Hinduism, although the latter is better described as ‘zaat’.
Having said this, the people in Pakistan have a lot more in common with each other when compared with the inhabitants of most of the other countries in the area. The country is unified and rendered indivisible economically by the River Indus and its tributaries that help sustain its life. There is a common history extending back more than five thousand years to the days of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
With the exception of one or two small groups, like the Brahvis and Makranis, almost all of the people are descended from the same Aryan stock. They are culturally very similar; the vast majority of them have the same religion and a common language they all understand. There are few social taboos and they readily intermarry. These are the primary attributes that form the basis of a nation. The rest is only a matter of time.
People often differ in their views, politicians more than most. It is healthy as long as the basic principles and common aim are not compromised. It was the exaggeration and exploitation of differences carried too far by myopic and unscrupulous politicians that snow-balled and led to the alienation of East Pakistan. They seem to have  learnt nothing from the tragedy and continue to create divisions where none need exist, even fanning the flames of religious and sectarian fires —- a sin if there was one (Holy Koran, 2:62; 2:256; 29:46 and 42:15).
Divisions in any country, be they religious, ethnic or linguistic can be exploited by those who do not wish her well. This is evident from the study entitled, ‘US Strategy in the Muslim World After 9/11’, carried out by the Rand Corporation for the US Air Force that recommended ways to ‘identify the key cleavages and faultlines among sectarian, ethnic, regional and national lines (among the Muslims) and to assess how these cleavages generate challenges and opportunities for the United States’.
A country or a nation can be likened to a tree. From time to time it may be necessary to prune the dead wood to maintain its health. However, digging at the roots will almost certainly kill the tree itself. Sadly, there are many politicians who have yet to realize that we are all in the same boat and stand to sink together if they kept drilling holes in the bottom of the ship that is Pakistan.

Iraq War in Retrospect: Toppling Saddam Not Worth the Cost

Editor’s Note: Did not Condoleezza Rice, accept publicly to “wrong intelligence” on Iraq? Yet, making this statement while bowing out , USA has continued with the war. To what end?  USA has caused destruction to Afghanistan(never mind the cascading effect on Pakistan),Iraq-who next? Iran? What’s the excuse here? I’m not kidding: 9/11 again! A federal district court in Manhattan entered a historic ruling that Iran, supported al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks. :U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels.Read: But read also Rep. Wexler confronting Rice on Iraq War Lies:

Iraq war apologists are capitalizing on last week’s bombings in Baghdad to blast President Obama for allowing the premature mass exodus of American combat troops from Mesopotamia — a decision that will purportedly enable Al Qaeda to flourish and cause the people of Iraq endless suffering. But these war lovers miss the forest for the trees, failing to realize the U.S. invasion of Iraq induced Al Qaeda’s presence in the first place and has served as the substratum of sectarian violence. In fact, as far as suffering goes, one could argue the U.S. and its allies have killed and maimed more Iraqis over the past two decades than Saddam Hussein ever did.

Neocon Dennis Byrne argued in the Chicago Tribune yesterday that the sacrifices of the Iraq war were well worth the benefits derived from toppling the murderous tyrant, primarily because Saddam would have continued supporting terrorist activities and would still be terrorizing his own people. President Obama, according to Byrne, is in danger of making the entire effort “not worth it” as evidenced by the “rupture appearing between partisan Sunnis and Shiites the day after American peacekeepers left.”

Byrne sounds like other revisionist historians who claim there was a connection between Saddam and 9/11, which became the primary argument for the invasion of Iraq after the international community failed to discover WMDs. This, despite the fact an independent joint congressional commission report released in 2003 concluded that U.S. intelligence had zero evidence linking Hussein to the 9/11 attacks or to Al Qaeda. Byrne also seems to forget that Sunni and Shiite “ruptures” did not occur until after the 2003 invasion.

Byrne’s dubious benefits fall far short of outweighing the costs incurred in terms of blood and treasure. 4,484 American troops and over 125,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed while the U.S. has spent over $1 trillion on the war to date. Close to 3.5 million Iraqis, out of a population of 31.5 million, are displaced internally or into neighboring states according to Brown’s Watson Institute. Neoliberal policies instituted by the US in 2003 have resulted in increased unemployment and insecurity while the agriculture and manufacturing sectors have stagnated. The country’s GDP growth has been driven by increases in oil prices that have yet to translate into increases in general welfare as unemployment hovers around 28%.

The concept of America as savior probably strikes many Iraqis as ludicrous in light of not only the most recent invasion and occupation but the crippling sanctions the U.S. levied against Iraq after the first Gulf war. According to Mahmood Mamdani in his book Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, a 2000 UN human rights report acknowledged that the total deaths “directly attributable to the sanctions” ranged “from half a million to a million and a half, with the majority of dead being children.”

Byrne’s argument that the benefits more than compensate for the lives lost reminds one of Madeleine Albright’s mind-rattling assertion on 60 Minutes about sanctions that killed a half million Iraqi children. When asked if the ends justified the means Albright responded: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”

Compare this to some quarter of a million Iraqis Human Rights Watch estimated Saddam’s Ba’ath Party murdered or “disappeared” during a quarter of a century. As Munzer A. Khair earlier this year eloquently put it:

One great humanitarian nation, in its declared pursuit of “bringing democracy to Iraq” after failing to find the trumped up WMDs, has dismembered, vandalized and impoverished a proud and rich nation. The unnecessary war it led and its aftermath, regardless of the invading or local perpetrators, displaced, impoverished, jailed, maimed or killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein, murderous tyrant as he was, ever did or could have dreamed of doing if he had stayed in power.

Last week Glenn Greenwald quoted former Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich who encapsulated the absurdity of the dilemma: “Recalling that Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties to al-Qaeda both turned out to be all but non-existent, a Churchillian verdict on the war might read thusly: Seldom in the course of human history have so many sacrificed so dearly to achieve so little.”

Meanwhile the void left by Hussein has been filled by a ruthless powerbroker Yochi Dreazen of theNational Journal characterized as “Saddam Lite”, as Iraq Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki seems determined to hold onto power by any means necessary and instead of the model of democracy U.S. war planners had envisioned, the Iraq government is in danger of becoming a sectarian autocracy.

Michael Ignatieff from the Council on Foreign Relations concluded that the war was not worth it from the standpoint of international law because it was waged without UN Security Council approval. Not to mention, in light of the successes of the “Arab Spring”, Saddam could have faced a similar fate as other dictators in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. Perhaps the Iraqis could have achieved a better end state left to their own devices without, as Ignatieff put it, “costs that weakened the United States at home and abroad.”

Byrne also said “only a fool” would assert the Iraqis were better off with the “stability” that is sustained by a tyrant’s brutality and that the U.S. flexing of military muscle yielded the benefit of showing the world “America’s willingness to use power in its own interests.” Yet Byrne minimizes the costs that accompany such posturing. Little has been said of the relationship between the mammoth expenditures on the Iraq War and America’s current economic crisis — as if there were no constraints on U.S. imperialism whatsoever. The truth is, the fact we have the military might to conquer the world matters not when our economic backbone is on the verge of snapping. As Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: “How far can you go without destroying from within, what you are trying to defend from without?”


Bollywood Actor “Imran Khan” interviewed instead of Pakistani cricket legend

Editor’s Note: On the lighter side, Pakpotpourri brings to you an entertaining spoof. Read at: .  On a serious note, it reflects on the American lack of understanding on the political & social dynamics in Pakistan. A friend who shared this with me,made the following tongue-and-cheek comment on it,”The next PTI jalsa should be held in New York. The many innocent and ignorant here need some spot fixing !”

New York based CNN correspondent, Julia Whitehead, who was supposed to interview Pakistani cricketing legend turned politician, Imran Khan, ended up interviewing Bollywood actor Imran Khan instead under a case of mistaken identity.

Julia had been recently assigned to the South Asian bureau and is working on an upcoming article on politicians from the sub-continent. Unfortunately, her knowledge of Bollywood, Cricket and South Asia in general is very sketchy, which led to her interviewing the wrong Khan. An Indian colleague had casually mentioned that Imran Khan was in New York shooting for a movie and the unsuspecting Julia promptly scheduled an interview with him before he left. Bollywood Actor, Imran Khan, in turn gladly agreed to the interview hoping it would fetch him some publicity and enhance his image with Indians living in America.
Here are excerpts from the faux interview CNN :

Julia: Thank you Mr. Khan for agreeing to the interview. Must say, you look quite young for your age. What is the secret of your youthful looks?

Imran (slightly taken aback): er… thanks. I work hard to pass off as a 22 year old although I am 28. Good sleeping habits, exercise and healthy diet do the trick for me.

Julia (giggling): Mr. Khan, your sense of humour is delectable… For a fast bowler, you have quite a small build and frame. How did you manage to be successful in your sporting career despite being so puny?

Imran (blushing): You yanks have a very weird sense of humour. Er… my cute looks and puny frame help bowl maidens over, you see. Hopefully, I will continue to maintain a good strike rate going forward also.

Julia (now laughing hysterically): I was told that Cricket is a sophisticated sport that we Americans will never be able to understand. I can see why now. On a serious note, how easy was it to make the transition to full time political activism?

Imran (raises his eye brows quizzically): er… I am not really a full time activist. I sometimes take a stand on issues of dubious public interest such as filing a PIL against increasing the legal age for drinking mainly to garner some publicity and increase my star value.

Julia: Wow, you advocate that drinking should be legalized? Mr. Khan, you realize that your life can be in danger for taking such a bold and extreme stand…

Imran: Hmm… now you are scaring me. Why would anyone want to kill me for taking such a stand? This is India for heaven’s sake, not Pakistan.

Julia (confused): er…but aren’t you a Pakistani?

Imran: Hell no!!

Julia: Huh? Wait a minute, aren’t you the famous cricketing legend Imran Khan who won the World Cup for Pakistan in 1992?

(Imran, whose ears slowly begin to turn scarlet, just stares at her)

Julia (still confused): Well then, who are you?

(Imran opens his mouth in indignation, but no words come out. He abruptly stands up and walks away leaving a confused Julia behind)

The following day, Imran Khan swore not to grant interviews to ignorant American journalists ever again. Julia on the other hand, has requested that she be shifted elsewhere from the South Asian bureau citing utter lack of familiarity with the region.


Pakistan US Relations Determinant: Money, Money, Money …

The Long-Used Carrot Dangling- Call it Aid, Call it Bribes, Just Call it ‘Whatever’

By: Sibel Edmonds

If you’ve been listening to our podcast with real experts and truly independent analysts, then you know all about this media trick: omit the context-disconnect the dots. Basically they give you the news and facts in bits and pieces, disconnected, minus the context. This is one of the main components of propaganda, and one of the major factors counted on by the establishment in conducting hidden world affairs and psychological wars. I have always emphasized the conscious efforts in play to prevent critical and independent thinking. For things to remain as they are, or actually escalate to worse, the establishment counts on a non-critical thinking populace. Call it stupid-ification of the masses. Call it the sheeple effect .Call it whatever you want. I truly don’t care how you tag-label-name it; as long as you recognize and acknowledge what it is they are doing.

Last week, during my brief interview with RT, I mentioned the almost-comical aspect of this entire ‘Arab League’ business. A bunch of Washington-Approved atrocious dictators being placed in charge of checking, determining, judging, and reporting on  a Washington-Disapproved dictator’s atrocious deeds. I referred to them as dictators because that’s what they are, and have been. Come on, Bahrain?! Jordan?! Saudi Arabia?! And I said Washington-Approved because they’ve been placed in power, maintained-supported-sustained by the United States of America. They’ve been provided with all the tools a dictator can dream of to practice dictatorship and commit atrocities. Think Bahrain’s Human RightsRecord, and then, think US support for Bahrain. Think Saudi Arabia’s atrocities, and then, think US provided tools-means for this dictatorship and one of the largest arms deal in US history. And then, think about this atrocious dictator bunch holding hands and going over to a not-US-Backed dictator nation to issue a report on its abuses per their boss’ request. Thou shall not bite the hand that feeds you, ey?!

Now, with that frame of mind let’s take a look at the latest reports on Pakistan and our cold again, hot again, luke warm again, cold again, warm again relations, and of course what ultimately it comes down to: the aid-bribe-money factor.

Last month we had the killing of Pakistani military members by US-NATO forces; an incident that has “left U.S.-Pakistan relations in tatters.” The relationship went cold; obviously. In response to this attack, and to pacify the public outcry, Pakistan shut down US-NATO supply routes into Afghanistan and issued damning responses and warning to US-NATO. How much of this was just ‘barking’ to save face before the outraged Pakistanis? We don’t know. However, the relations seemed to go colder; icy- at least outwardly; on the front stage.

So let’s look at the intentionally fragmented news and developments on the US-Pakistan relations front, and let’s challenge the media-style reporting by putting the bits and pieces in one place.

Two days ago the media reported on the Pentagon’s confidence and optimism in ‘warming’ relations with Pakistan, and the signal for going back to old business- using Pakistan for our war machine operations:

The Pentagon has expressed confidence that US Pak ties can be improved, and hoped that Islamabad will re open NATO supply route on a border with Afghanistan. Pakistan had earlier sealed its two border crossings in Chaman and Torkham after the November 26 NATO airstrike that had killed 28 soldiers in Mohmand Agency.

As always, our predictable media reported this as isolated, singular, and sanitized news. While the behind the scenes mingling and discussions between US and Pakistani puppet regime are completely obscured from the public, especially from the still-outraged people in Pakistan, we have enough official reports and bits and pieces of media articles to fathom the ‘money, money, money’ aka ‘aid, aid, aid,’ in actuality ‘bribe, bribe, bribe’

Washington didn’t have much of a problem with Pakistan’s muscle flexing-tough talk/barking, shutting down the NATO supply route, semi-confrontation with the CIA  … Look, everyone involved knows this game. Our puppet regimes, our puppet dictators need a little bit of room to garner public support, or more accurately, prevent public backlash, in their home nations. They have to play to their people’s nationalistic and sovereignty expectations. They have to cater to religious pride. So once in a while they have to put on a ‘barking show’ and pretend to flex muscles they don’t even have. This may be for-show-only opposition to Israel’s abuses. This may be angrily pointing a finger at Washington and issuing hollow ultimatums. Or this may be a temporary closure of a US-NATO supply route to fake ‘toughness.’ Washington knows all that, and to a degree it plays along. It is one of those classic, cliché-like US foreign policy dances.

When it comes down to it Washington knows the ultimate game-determinant, and has been using it for decades. In the end our shrewdly-crafted bribery and dependency-creating foreign aid programs almost always win. They place these nations, whether Pakistan or Egypt or Jordan, on a continuous financial and military aid payroll. They make sure the rulers/monarchs/dictators grow highly dependent on these annual bribery packages. They know how these bribes, aka aid, end up in the deep pockets of these nations’ ruling elite, and they like it. And when the time comes, Washington knows how to pull this very strong string to maneuver its puppet dictators-regimes.

With Pakistan, take our latest ‘conditional’ financial aid development:

Pakistan aid linked to efforts against terrorism

Washington—The US Congress has passed a bill imposing more conditionson aid to Pakistan, especially linking it to Islamabad’s cooperation in war on terror and its efforts in curbing terrorists, including Haqqani network, a strong faction of Afghan Taliban.

The bill passed by the US House of Representatives attached condition of the US aid to Pakistan with a certification by the Secretary of State about Pakistan’s cooperation in the war against terrorism and Islamabad’s steps against terrorist groups. The bill hit around $53 billion US aid to various countries including Pakistan.

The House of Representatives passed a comprehensive funding bill with solid bipartisan support – 296 lawmakers voted for it and 121 voted against it. According to the reports, the legislation freezes aid to Pakistan until Secretary can certify that Islamabad is cooperating on counterterrorism. The aid amount was unspecified in the legislation as Congress gave the Obama administration flexibility to figure out the funds. —NNI

I am sure you can read between the lines. You know in how many ways this ‘cooperation in war on terror’ condition can be interpreted. And of course you all know how far $53 Billion a year in foreign bribery, aka US foreign aid, can go. No? Basically Washington says, ‘yo, enough with the barking-allowance. You see the billions dangling here? You want it, right? Okay, then back to being a good loyal dog Pakistan…’  And of course Zardari and the rest of the corrupt sold-out puppet elites are salivating in anticipation of the next round of bribery, aka US foreign aid. If that ain’t incentive, what is?

Sometimes Washington fortifies its official bribery package, aka US foreign aid, with extras, aka compensation:

US Offers Compensation to Pakistan

WASHINGTON: The United States has offered to send a team to Pakistan to brief the military on the findings of its investigation into the NATO raid, the State Department said on Thursday. “We accept responsibility for mistakes committed by the US side in the NATO air strike incident” that led to the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers, the department’s deputy spokesman Mark Toner told a briefing.

The US, he said, was prepared to offer compensation to the families of troops who lost their lives.

But wait, Washington hands out its bribery packages in many ways and forms; sometimes directly, and sometimes through its tentacles. Think IMF. Think World Bank. Think our banking branch of our Imperialism Incorporated. Are you thinking? Good. Here is an additional multibillion bribe package for Pakistan’s elite rulers via our World Bank branch approved a few days ago:

World Bank Sets $5.5 Billion in Aid for Pakistan

The World Bank on Thursday said it would provide Pakistan with $5.5 billion in development aid over the next two years.“The Bank has responded flexibly in the face of the tremendous challenges Pakistan has gone through over the past year or so,” said its Pakistan country director Rachid Benmessaoud.

“We will continue our strong support to Pakistan, while keeping a keen eye on implementation to ensure that these efforts translate into real results on the ground,” he said.

Soon, that is, very soon, we’ll see the thawing relations with Pakistan: the supply routes will be open and humming with war trucks, and leaders on both sides will be back to fondly praising each other on successful collaboration and partnership in a war on so-called terror.

The Pakistanis appear to be far more informed and aware than our majority over here in the United States. As long-time recipients of our imperialistic pursuits and abuses they know how the game works: their national sovereignty, their civilians’ lives, their dignity and rights offered on the platter by their ruling elites to their ultimate bosses in Washington for a few billions here and a few billions there, and of course not for the public good but for the maintenance and sustenance of the ruling elites’ with big expanding pockets.

Here in the United States things would start looking clearer and make far more sense if our media (both MSM and pseudo alternatives) would combine these facts and developments, and present them to the public in one place, rather than feeding them bits and pieces of reports and sound bites in isolation and with no context. But they don’t. And they won’t. They are the guardians of our imperialistic and hypocrisy-ridden foreign policy. They participate in preservation of the cosmetic masks before these policies, and one important task to accomplish this is the prevention of independent critical thinking. They see themselves as the preservers of the dumb and stupid-ified majority. And as long as the majority turn to them for their ‘news and facts’ they are doomed to remain dumb and stupid-ified.

# # # # NOTE”This is a cross post from “boiling frogs” the blog of Sibel Edmonds.

Sibel Edmonds is the founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers. She has appeared on national radio and TV as a commentator on matters related to whistleblowers, national security, and excessive secrecy & classification, and has been featured on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The American Conservative, and others. Her book, ‘Shooting the Messenger’, co-authored with Professor William Weaver, is forthcoming from Kansas University Press in the fall of 2010.

PEN American Center awarded Ms. Edmonds the 2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy”. She is also the recipient of the 2004 Sam Adams Foundation Award.

Imran & Pakistan!

Editor’s note: Imran Khan’s rally in Karachi on 24th December showed that the success of his not too old Lahore rally success was not a flash in the pan. But is Imran the future of Pakistan’s politics? Is he the one who can undertake the herculean task and turn Pakistan around? Read also : “Is Imran Khan the New Deal for Punjab?” in Op-EdNews:


By: Brig. F. B Ali(R)

The large crowds drawn by Imran Khan in his recent public meetings, especially the ones in Lahore and Karachi, have led to much commentary in the media, mostly focussed on the political implications of this development. But the real significance of this has little to do with the political future of Imran Khan or his party. What makes it meaningful and exciting is the fact that it shows that large numbers of Pakistanis, especially the young and educated strata, have not given up on the country, and still have hope that it can be rescued from the desperate state it is in. They flock to Imran’s meetings because he offers them a focus for their hopes and efforts.

However, if these enthusiastic and idealistic rescuers are to succeed in the difficult task ahead of them, they must get the first step right. And that is to be crystal clear in their thinking as to what Pakistan is, and what it is not. Much confusion exists, often deliberately created, on this crucial question. Pakistan is not a territory defined by certain borders, it is not a government in Islamabad, it is not some idea or ideology, nor is it a pillar or bastion of Islam (as many would like to portray it). This country is its people. Pakistan is the people who live in it.

This fallacy, that a country is something other than its people, is a deadly one, for it will destroy a country. This fatal fallacy is not peculiar to Pakistan; it is, and has been, endemic in human polities. The results are always the same: the people ‘opt out’ of the country, they transfer their allegiance to other things, the country and state are hollowed out. For a while they can be maintained by trickery, bribery or repression, but their foundations are so weakened that ultimately they will fall, due either to internal or external pressures.

This is the inevitable outcome, whether the object replacing the people is a person or group (as in Bourbon France (L’etat, c’est moi!), Czarist Russia, Mubarak’s Egypt or Qaddafi’s Libya), or an ideology (the Soviet Union’s perverted Communism), or something else. Marginalized, the people had no stake in their countries and effectively opted out; without the commitment of the people to the country, the states could not survive. The graveyard of history is dotted with the ruins of fallen empires and failed states that fell prey to this fallacy.

Paradoxically, we see this process occurring today even in countries that claim to be democracies. Democracy, after all, is the system that evolved in order to ensure that country and state were equated with the people. However, in many Western democracies, unrestrained capitalism has enabled big corporations and the very wealthy to capture the state. Their people no longer feel that their countries belong to them or that the state works for them, and are becoming increasingly alienated.

Pakistan was not created by Muhammad Ali Jinnah as just another country in a newly demarcated piece of land. He carved out a territory from the subcontinent so that the people who lived in it could lead better lives than they would be able to in an undivided India. These people were mostly Muslims, but his vision encompassed all who lived or chose to live in this new country, whatever their religion or ethnicity. All of us who joined this great struggle under his leadership were quite clear that this is what we were fighting for. The religious parties and groups that now claim that Pakistan was created to be an Islamic state bitterly opposed its creation, because they knew then that this was not what it was meant to be.

Pakistan’s greatest tragedy was that Jinnah did not live long enough to set his new country on the path that he envisioned for it. Instead of the real democracy that he wanted, which would have aligned the country with its people, his successors instituted a fake one in which feudal landlords ruled, treating the people as landless serfs to be exploited. Intermissions of rule by military dictators made no difference, for they were as self-serving as the politicians. Pakistan’s history is a sad tale of its ruling class plundering the country while its people survived as best they could.

It is not surprising that more and more of the people of Pakistan have, over the years, opted out of the country. The great majority, who live at the bottom of the economic and social structure, have switched their allegiance from Pakistan to concentrate on self-preservation; their allegiance is now to self, family and clan. The well-off send their children abroad to study and, if possible, find jobs there; they also strive for foreign citizenship for themselves and their families. The rich move their money abroad, and maintain homes there; they stay in Pakistan only so long as they can continue to squeeze more loot out of the country.

Many Pakistanis, feeling abandoned by their country, have done what Muslims tend to do when in dire straits ─ seek solace in their religion. Unfortunately, since the 1970s, an extremist version of Islam has been propagated in the country, to which many Pakistanis have switched their allegiance. From this stance, it is but a short step to move into militancy, thus creating the Islamist insurgency that is wracking Pakistan nowadays.

One of the most damaging aspects of this fallacy for the country has been the brainwashing of the military by its leaders (and the rulers) into believing that Pakistan is just a territory marked by its borders, and this is what they are charged to defend. While the military was defending the land of Pakistan, the real Pakistan ─ the people of the country ─ was being invaded and pillaged from within its borders. It was this fallacious belief that led to the loss of half the country in 1971. Even today, it is sad to see that the most patriotic, cohesive and powerful group in Pakistan ─ the younger officers of the military, and the men they command ─ continue to stand guard over the land, sacrificing life and limb in this endeavour, while their country is being lost from within.

If Pakistan is to be saved, whoever would embark on this Herculean task must remember that what they have to save and succour are the people, for they are the real Pakistan. This must be the foundation of whatever enterprise is launched to rescue the country. It must be the goal of everyone who participates in this mission.

Pakistan is its people!

NOTE: Following the 1971 war, Brigadier Furrukh B. Ali was retired by Bhutto in 1972 and spent five
years in prison after the Attock conspiracy trial. He moved to Canada in 1979 and worked in the
civil service there. Married with two children, F.B. Ali now leads a retired life in Toronto.

India’s Dirty Picture

Editor’s Note: I quote Khan Zia,”When one woman was raped in Pakistan it was headline news for months. The media in Pakistan in particular couldn’t have enough of it nor of the implication that it was reflective of the state of the entire nation of Pakistan. As if this were not enough to make the point and reinforce the image, the poor creature was also paraded all over the world”.Please read the report,”Violence Against Women in India” :

 By: Sanjay Kumar
Recently released Hindi movie “Dirty Picture” is a ‘celebration’ of women’s independence, individuality and sexuality, capturing the life of Silk Smitha, who lives by her own rules, using her sexuality to free herself from the hypocrisy of a male dominated society. But such portrayals are a far cry from the reality of life for many Indian women.

In one of a string of recent cases of violence against women, a 17-year-old student was allegedly stabbed by a youth in North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, because she refused to marry him. Reports suggest that although several people were present, no one spoke up for the girl.
Just a couple of days earlier, in a high-profile incident, a New Delhi woman was gang raped in a pick-up truck after she had been dropped off near her home after working a late shift at a call centre. In response, police in the city have introduced new measures obliging call centres, corporations and media organisations to drop female workers at their front door after work.
The pick-up attack was far from an isolated incident. Indeed, New Delhi has the unfortunate nickname of the “rape capital of India”, with The Times of India reporting that the city had the highest number of reported rape cases last year, with 414, followed by Mumbai at 194. In a country where there’s still a strong stigma attached to admitting to having been raped, the true figures could be much higher.
And things may actually be getting worse in some cases. One recent study by leading researchers found that violence against women had jumped 44 per cent between 1993 and 2011.
The working paper, ‘The Power of Political Voice: Women’s Political Representation and Crime in India,’ and penned by Harvard Prof Lakshmi Iyer, Anandi Mani of the University of Warwick, and the IMF’s Prachi Mishra and Petia Topalova, also found that kidnappings rose by 13 per cent and rapes per capita increased by 23 per cent over the same period.
The propensity for violence toward women goes further than attacks on adult women – India’s skewed gender ratio reflects a culture in many states whereby mothers will go to great lengths to ensure they give birth to a boy, not a girl.
As Shreyasi Singh has noted in The Diplomat: “Sons are viewed as bankable assets, while girls are more often associated with anxiety, expense and subjugation. Having a daughter get married is hugely costly for parents, and there is little these women can do in return. Boys are also seen as a better investment as they don’t need crippling dowries. And in Hinduism, only a male heir can light the parent’s funeral pyre.”
Such social pressures have prompted many women to abort female foetuses, dramatically skewing the sex ratio in parts of the country. According to the 2011 census, there were 940 females per 1,000 people in India. But in the state of Haryana, for example, there were only 877 females per 1,000 males. As I travelled around villages in the Rohtak district of the state recently, I talked to many young men who said they were forced to look outside the state for a bride because there were too few women.
In some respects, of course, attitudes have improved. A 1993 constitutional amendment, for example, called for the establishment of directly elected local councils at the district, intermediate, and village levels, and also mandated one-third of all council seats should be filled by women.
Yet even today, a woman’s sexuality is seen as tied to a family’s honour, and while parents might send their daughters to a good school or university, many still won’t allow them to choose their own partners or select their own path in life.
In a novel, Siba Shakib writes of a woman who struggles day in and day out to preserve her family, her honour and her sexuality, but finds the male-dominated society crushes her individuality.


By:Sherwood Ross

Even though it has spent at least $60 billion to destroy them, the Pentagon is losing the battle to combat the Improvised Explosive Devices(IEDs), which have accounted for two out of every three U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. This won’t stop the Pentagon, though, from spending another $10.1 billion on them next year as it struggles to reduce the human toll the IEDs are taking in its longest-ever war.

While 10 to 15 percent of the IEDs that go off maim or kill U.S. soldiers, “The statistical likelihood of (an enemy) being killed or hurt while planting a bomb was close to zero”, writes Andrew Cockburn in the November issue of Harper’s magazine. By May, 2007, he reported, some 70,000 IEDs were planted in Iraq alone.

“Assembled from cooking pots, mobile phones, flashlight batteries, farm fertilizer, and other commonplace items, these home-made weapons have altered the course of the Iraqi and Afghan wars,” Cockburn writes. “They are also as far removed from our industrial approach to warfare as it is possible to be.”

According to Wikipedia, “In 2009, there were 7,228 IED attacks in Afghanistan, a 120 percent increase over 2008, and a record for the war.

Last year, “IED attacks in Afghanistan wounded 3,366 U.S. soldiers, which is nearly 60 percent of the total IED-wounded since the start of the war…Insurgents planted 14,661 IEDs in 2010, a 62 percent increase over the previous year,” Wikipedia said.

“As a general rule, we find about 50 percent of the IEDs before they go off,” General Michael Oates told Cockburn. The other 50 percent do detonate but of this group one-third do no harm because they were set incorrectly or were not sufficiently lethal or failed to pierce the protective gear of the troops, Oates continued. But, “Somewhere between 10 and 15 percent kill or harm our soldiers or our equipment, and that number’s been very stubborn since about 2004.”

Military analyst Rex Rivolo said the human networks employed making, planting and triggering the IEDs provide jobs for 15,000 workers so that it “counts as a definite growth sector.” IED-planters earn about $15 per job. Rivolo said the best way to inhibit their deployment was to operate low-flying light aircraft over areas where IEDs might be planted.

“When Rivolo oversaw a test-exercise in Jordan in 2005 that clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the light-aircraft approach, all copies of the resulting report were recalled and destroyed,” Cockburn wrote. Rivolo told him, “It was too cheap for their taste.” Rivolo headed research  at the Counter-IED Operations Integration Center in Baghdad.

A concurring view comes from Franklin Spinney, a former Pentagon analyst, who said that those who come up with simple responses to nullify the IED impact “are the antithesis of the techno-war that keeps the money flowing. The American military has sold the idea that complex technologies coupled to step-by-step analytical procedures can negate all the uncertainties and surprises of combat to solve any problem in war.”

A big part of the U.S. response money has been plowed into sophisticated surveillance systems. The Air Force and the Army are hard at work building blimps costing $211 million and $517 million, respectively, that can hover 20,000 feet or higher for a week at a time that will spy over large areas to detect IED planters.

Those who plant IEDs are regarded as High Value Targets, or HVTs, and their eradication is “the ultimate objective of our entire counter-IED strategy,” Cockburn writes. Yet, when HVT bomb-planters are killed, attacks within three miles of their strikes increase by an average of 20 percent, he writes.

According to Rivolo, the reason is “our principal strategy in Iraq is counterproductive and needs to be evaluated.” The slain HVTs were almost always replaced at once, usually within 24 hours and, Rivolo said, “The new guy is going to work harder.”

If the strategy is counter-productive, a cynic may well wonder if the goal in Afghanistan isn’t so much to win—-as to spend.       #

(Sherwood Ross, who worked formerly as a columnist for major dailies and wire services, writes on current affairs and runs a public relations firm “for good causes.”)

Another Conspiracy Theory


Editor’s Note: Is Pakistan Army the ultimate US target?If so, what is the motive? US has turned upon Pakistan with vengeance. What is the end game? Also read Reuters Report on Perspectives on Pakistan:Now or Never?

How far will the US go to target the Pakistan Military? 

By: Brig Shaukat Qadir (R)

I think it was in June this year that I posted an article by Anatol Lieven on Facebook. For those who are not familiar with his name, Anatol is from the UK and numbers among the few journalists whom I always enjoy reading. I have met Anatol a few times and he is the kind of person who likes to get acquainted with the psycho-social environment of the people he writes about. Written in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s execution, Anatol’s article was critical of the US approach to the region, particularly Pakistan.

Among those responding to this post was an American whom I would rather not embarrass by naming; so let’s just call him X. Admitting that he hadn’t read through Anatol’s article and was judging its contents by earlier articles of the author, he went on to add, “let me put this as simply as possible, for you to understand. The US has concluded that the Pakistan army is part of the problem, not the solution; and that the interests of the Pakistan army are not identical with those of Pakistan. Consequently, the US has decided that the Pakistan army has to be cut to size and, if in the process of doing so, the Pakistan army is destroyed, so be it. And, I agree”.

The first thing that hit me was the arrogance of his statement. The “US has decided (on behalf of, and for, the people of Pakistan) that its army’s interests and theirs are not identical”, and will, on behalf of, and for Pakistan, cut its army to size! Typical arrogance expected of the American establishment. The only issue was that this American had hitherto seemed pretty level-headed and very far from arrogant. Nor was he a Mansoor Ijaz or even an expatriate American. I commented on the arrogance of his words, to which he chose not to respond. However, I did not take the contents of his comment very seriously; not at that time.  

The “Memo-gate” Scandal

Most readers will be familiar with this scandal, so I will cover just the bare outline of the incident from my perspective. On October 10th, Mansoor Ijaz, a multi millionaire American of Pakistani origin, wrote an op-ed for the Financial Times which, as it was expected to do, set Pakistan’s political landscape on fire.

His op-ed titled, “Time to take on Pakistan’s Jihadist spies”, as the title indicates, ostensibly seemed to target the ISI and the Pakistan military for maintaining ties with Jihadists. However, it mentioned the fact that in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s execution, he was contacted by a “senior diplomat”, who was known to be close to Pakistani President, Zardari. Apparently, Zardari feared the possibility of a military coup. Everybody knew that the senior Pakistani diplomat referred to Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US.

They had, between the two of them drafted a memo requesting US President Obama’s help by asking Admiral Mullen to warn off the Pakistani army chief, Gen Kiyani and, in return Zardari would put in place a “new security team”  of Obama’s choice, close down the “S” Wing of the ISI, which was responsible for Strategic Ops, including maintaining links with the Haqqani Network. Ijaz hinted at the fact that the memo promised much more.

All hell broke loose in Pakistan with everybody denying knowledge of everything, including Admiral Mullen. Accusations flew back and forth, till Mullen regained his memory and Gen James Jones confirmed that he had conveyed the memo to Mullen. Then the actual Memo appeared on the blog of the prestigious Journal, Foreign Policy! 

To the horror of all Pakistanis, their worst fears proved true. Between Zardari and Haqqani, the two had even been prepared to compromise on Pakistan’s holiest of “holy cows”; the nuclear program!

Haqqani was sacked; Zardari sorely troubled.

But Mansoor Ijaz wasn’t done yet. In another op-ed, he asserted that the Zardari-Haqqani duo had advance notice of US intention to execute Osama bin Laden on May 2nd! But this was in early December; lots more transpired in between his first provocation and the last.

NATO (read US) helicopters and aircrafts attack the twin posts at Salala

On November 26th, NATO aircrafts and helicopter gunships launched an attack on the recently constructed twin-posts “Volcano” and “Boulder” in Salala region of the Mohmand Agency in Pakistan. Of the 40 soldiers, including two officers, occupying these posts, 26, including both officers, were killed and 14 wounded. Not a single soldier escaped unscathed.

These posts were constructed in September 2011, before the onset of winter about 2 ½ kilometers inside the Durand Line1 for the express purpose of preventing movement on either side of the Durand Line by Pakistani Taliban. As per international agreements, the Afghan government was informed of the intention to construct these posts and map coordinates along with specifications were provided. In the period when these posts were under construction, ISAF/NATO helicopters often kept surveillance over them from across the Durand Line to ensure these weren’t violating specifications.

Since these were “anti-infiltration”  posts, they had no overhead protection nor were they equipped to respond to an air attack. The only weapon capable of effective anti-aircraft fire was an antiquated 12.7 MG. Knowing the kind of firepower that NATO/ISAF forces could retaliate with, it is preposterous to imagine that anyone at the post would engage a NATO helicopter first.

The contention that NATO helicopters were pursuing Taliban is also singularly unconvincing. Anybody who has some idea of how Taliban operate is aware that they move in ones and twos to collect at a given RV, attack and immediately disperse. Even if they intended to remain together to carry out another attack the next night, they would find a hideout in a valley; certainly not on the top of a ridge.

The final excuse presented by NATO forces for this massacre is that some Taliban probably engaged them with a rocket and, their response, resulted in the confusion. While the excuse offered is plausible but it too is given the lie by two facts: a) the manner of the attack as described by the survivors and b) we are talking about the most high-tech aircraft in the world. Would they not know exactly where the Pakistani posts are?

The survivors state that a helicopter flew over, fired a couple of flares to view them all, and then flew away. A few minutes later, some more helicopters and aircrafts appeared, kept lighting up the posts with flares, and firing at us indiscriminately. Major Mujahid tried contacting HQs but couldn’t (communication must have been jammed) and finally ordered the gunner of the 12.7 MG to retaliate. A helicopter killed the gunner with its MG fire. Mujahid took the place of the gunner, was targeted by a rocket that killed him and destroyed the 12.7. Thereafter, we were targeted individually. 

Whatever excuses are offered, it was a deliberately planned massacre that ended in a Turkey shoot.

Now, the only question that arises is why?

An Analysis

June this year, I wrote an article published under the title, “Who is gunning for Pakistan’s top generals”. I had become convinced by then that the western, particularly American mainstream, media was targeting Pakistan’s army chief and the ISI chief.

It was not till we were well into Memogate that I adverted to the comment made by X; which I referred to earlier. Could it really be true? 

Let’s review the facts. Now Mansoor Ijaz, a dubious character by any standards, claims to have been the conduit in numerous negotiations on behalf of the US and Pakistan. However, the continued utility of such a conduit lies in his anonymity, certainly not his notoriety! So, apart from whatever havoc he created in Pakistan’s domestic scene, he has also ensured the termination of the one role that ensured his entry in the US corridors of power. He must have had a compelling reason to do so.

If the fire he lit was intended to tarnish the military’s image, it did succeed to a very limited extent but it back-fired far more on Pakistan’s president. Did he then go whole hog to denounce Zardari in the hope of instigating a military coup, hoping that would embarrass the military? If so, he failed again.

But one thing is beyond dispute. Ijaz is an American, with no ties, no stakes in Pakistan. With such a high profile and such high stakes in the US, he certainly can’t afford to be an agent of the ISI. On the other hand, if he is an agent of the CIA, he would be as safe as houses.

Since he, individually, may have lost something but certainly hasn’t gained anything, at least not on the face of it, he must have had some compelling reasons to expose this charade. His compulsions could not, equally certainly, be Pakistani, in origin. Whatever the source of his compulsions, they had to be American. The same would apply to Admiral Mullen’s memory loss and subsequent recovery of his memory. 

Let’s move on and attempt to examine the Salala attack.

My understanding of how things work in ISAF/NATO HQ in Afghanistan is that any officer can initiate the request for a “routine” operation, based on unidentified information received. The lowest level at which such an operation can be approved is at one-star level. In routine, thereafter, this “approved”  request will travel up channels; it may or may not even be seriously viewed thereafter and, very rarely is it questioned.

While I have no way of knowing exactly what happened in NATO/ISAF or Pentagon/CIA, the impression that I got from the body-language and the response of senior military personnel of ISAF/NATO/Pentagon, is that this “hit” was not sanctioned at the highest level. Certainly not by the so-called American C-in-C; maybe not by the recently appointed Chairman Joint Chiefs; and perhaps not even the Commander NATO forces in Afghanistan. 

Is it possible that there are “rogue elements” within the US military which could order and execute such a massacre on their own? I think so; if this is an attack by such rogue elements; it wouldn’t be the first time and, perhaps not the last time.

But it would explain why so much time was required to “investigate” the incident. An inquiry should, in my view, not have taken more than 48 hours to find out what happened and who was responsible; OK, if they’re slow and very meticulous, let’s say one week. By no stretch of imagination should it require four weeks! 

Unless, the Chairman immediately realized what had really happened and the need for wasting time; time for things to cool down a little; time to discover whose ass was exposed; whose to cover and who, if anyone, was to be hung out to dry!

I am convinced that the Pakistan army, its top brass, and the ISI are being subjected to a well-planned, coordinated psychological warfare campaign; “and if in the process it (the Pakistan army) is destroyed, so be it”!

But it keeps backfiring! The attack on Salala should have destroyed the army but, while there is a seething rage within the rank and file of the army and considerable recriminations leveled at the top brass, there is also the awareness that if anyone in Pakistan is going to say NO to US demands; it won’t be the president or PM, it can only be the army chief; there are other reasons too but this is the most powerful one.

The army responded strongly, firmly, and without losing its cool; but the gloves are off now. The US is, at best, a “frenemy”; not a friend, closer to an enemy, and it is up to the US to prove otherwise. There are still critics of the army wondering, with good reason, why it did not respond to the attack, while it was in progress. The breakdown of communication is understandably responsible for this but I do not think that scrabling the Pakistan air force at that time would have helped. 

In fact that might have been exactly what the person ordering the US attack on Salala might have hoped for. Consequent to an air battle with the Pakistan air force, we could well have been at war with the US. And, in that eventuality, what happened at Salala and why, might have become irrelevant.

I fear, however, that the US psy-war campaign against Pakistan army isn’t quite over yet.

On December 5th, Eli Lake, perhaps the one journalist most well connected with Pentagon/CIA wrote an article titled “America’s shadow state in Pakistan”. It’s artistically subtle in its accusations; but being Pakistani and a former soldier to boot, maybe I am biased. But very interestingly, M. K. Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat responded to it in his, “Why someone is blackmailing Kayani”. Now he, certainly isn’t biased, but he is bright and balanced; not a Paki-hater. Let me conclude by quoting him.

“Surely, someone in the know of things on the US’s intelligence operations in Pakistan gave him a peep into…’someone’ very special of the stature of David Petraeus….someone is softly, gently rocking Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani, suggesting it’s time to wake up from the reverie. After all, Iran just showed how to shoot down America’s latest stealth drone aircraft. And Kayani just told his men in the border with Afghanistan that they could shoot at what they want…. And Lake reminds us gently that all these deadly US inroads into the ISI’s bowels began when Kayani was heading the ISI….slips in the intriguing thought as well that Musharraf “handpicked Kayani as his replacement as Army chief ….So, the ISI’s pro-American “T-Wing” was formed during Kayani’s stewardship….Lake informs us that Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of US Joint chiefs of staff, was known back in Washington among the folks as the “Kayani whisperer”…. Why is someone in a key position in the US security establishment in Washington deliberately slandering Kayani at this point? I think, with Haqqani gone out of the loop, with President Asif Zardari probably stepping down soon….It seems increasingly that Washington has no Plan B. The setback has come as an avalanche. The Pakistan military has turned the table squarely on the US….how the US doesn’t hesitate to degrade the state structures of even its allies if American interests are involvedIf this was the ruthless fate that visited ISI – an organization that is considered second only to Mossad – I shudder to think what would be the case with lesser mortals like, say, we Indians who live on vegetables and fruits. At the end of the historic “defining partnership” between US and India, will anything be left of our Bharat mata?”


NOTE:The writer is a retired Brigadier of Pak Army & is based in Islamabad. This is an Exclusive Article for PAKPOTPOURRI.


Pakistan’s Options

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Yasmeen Ali

Ever since 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan by USA, the world in Pakistan changed in many ways. Pakistan, USA’s ally in WOT , the biggest sufferer in this expedition was just slapped with Congress passing a bill imposing more conditions on aid to Pakistan, especially linking it to Islamabad’s cooperation in war on terror and its efforts in curbing terrorists, including Haqqani network.

Myra McDonald in her recent article states,” “The society which is being shaped by the Afghan war in ways which neither Pakistan’s neighbors, nor western powers, would choose.  The airstrikes, coming soon after the forced resignation of Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani for allegedly seeking American help to curb the power of the military, have added fresh oxygen to a combustible mix of anti-Americanism and religious nationalism enveloping Pakistan”.

Where should Pakistan go from here?

For starters, Pakistan must strategize. Whereas interests of both Pakistan and USA converge on many points, especially in Afghanistan, on many deeper, vital points, they do not. USA, understandably, wants a greater involvement of India in Afghanistan. This of course, is diametrically opposed to Pakistani interest. The problem in Afghanistan is neither the Haqqanis, nor anyone else. The problem in Afghanistan is foreign involvement. The presence of foreign forces. Pakistan lies ravaged, her economy destroyed owing to the deep involvement in WOT. Until and unless NATO troops withdraw, there will be no peace. With no peace, Pakistan continues on the path of destabilization. However, their departure does not seem imminent in near future. According to Ben Farmer of the British Telegraph, the Obama administration is now negotiating a “pact” with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai that could leave American military “trainers” — thousands of them — as well as special operations forces, and the U.S. Air Force settled into some of the enormous Afghan bases the Pentagon has built there until… 2024. 

Pakistan should strategize to hasten the departure of NATO forces from her neighborhood. If Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in cooperation with Iran can outmaneuver Bush & US military leadership and convince USA to sign the US-Iraq Withdrawal Agreement, Pakistan too, can convince NATO that the presence of their forces in Afghanistan is self defeating in reconstruction and stabilization of post-conflict Afghanistan. Ahmed Rashid, in his article,” The Way Out of Afghanistan”, states,” None of the attempts at rebuilding the Afghan state over the past nine years have really worked. What assurance is there that they will work by 2014?”

Secondly, Pakistan must expand on her trade base on two levels; regional and international. On the first level, she must strengthen friendly relations with nations of South West Asia Region. Entering into trading contracts and other “soft” interaction with Turkey, Sri Lanka(According to Sri Lanka Customs statistics, value of total trade between both countries was $345 million in October, 2011 recording 4.5 percent average growth from $169 million in 2005), China, Iran. More especially with Nepal.

On the second level, Pakistan must press not for aid, but for market access to western countries. US has recently suspended some $800 million in aid to Pakistan. This may be set off by China, our largest trading partner, particularly in infra structure & mining, worth almost $9 billion last year! However, Pakistan must increase trade with other western countries. Removing eggs from the USA’s basket just to place it in Chinese one, can make for uncomfortable sleeping partners! The policy of restricting her major economic interactions has given USA immense leverage to call the shots where Pakistan is concerned. There are lessons to be learnt here. Political independence & sovereignty is the outcome of economic independence.

Is Pakistan ready to be finally politically independent?

(The writer is a lawyer & university professor based in Lahore,Pakistan.She can be reached at

The” Coup” of 19 December ─ Forty Years Ago !

Editor’s Note: History has many faces. It may be written from different perspectives.The account by Brig. F.B Ali is one. Also read:


This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Brig. F.B Ali

19 December 1971 was a remarkable day in Pakistan’s short and unfortunate history. It was the day on which the Pakistan Army removed the country’s military ruler and forced him to hand over power to an elected leader, the first and only time that such a thing has happened. It may be worthwhile revisiting this event after all these years for the benefit of the many who do not know what happened. To understand it, however, it is necessary to recall the context within which it occurred.

On 16 December Lt. Gen. AAK Niazi surrendered the army in East Pakistan to Indian forces, and half the country was lost. That night President Yahya Khan broadcast a speech in which, in a voice slurred with drink, he announced that though a battle had been lost the war would go on. Next day he accepted the unilateral Indian offer of a cease-fire in West Pakistan. Yahya Khan’s shameful acceptance of defeat on behalf of an army that he and his generals had prevented from fighting during the 14-day war burst like a thunderclap over soldiers and civilians alike. While feelings of anger and betrayal were common among both, the soldiers felt in addition a deep shame that their cowardly and incompetent generals had caused them to let the country down so badly.

The true significance of the events of 19 December 1971 is that it was the Pakistan Army that rid the country (and itself) of this foul regime that had ruled in its name. The overt action was taken by a small group of officers, but it depended for its success on the tacit support of the rest of the army. If even a small element of the military had acted to preserve the regime, our move could well have failed since we were determined that there would be no clash within the army. But no one lifted a finger to support the Yahya gang, in spite of the desperate efforts they made to seek help.

During the 1971 war I commanded an armoured division artillery in the Gujranwala-Sialkot-Shakargarh sector. On 17 December, after Yahya Khan announced the acceptance of the cease-fire, I was quite certain, as were most other people, that he and his government would accept responsibility for the debacle and announce that they were quitting. That evening I handed in my resignation from the Army, acknowledging my responsibility (shared by all other senior officers) for having silently acquiesced in the takeover and maintenance of power by these corrupt, self-seeking generals who had brought the country to this sorry state.

Next day, the 18th, I was stunned to learn that Yahya Khan had no intention of leaving; instead, he announced that he was going to promulgate a new constitution. Meanwhile, angry public demonstrations demanding that the regime should quit had erupted all over the country. There was a real danger that Yahya Khan might use troops to quell the public outcry, which would have imposed an unbearable strain on the discipline of the Army, itself angry and upset over what had happened. I became convinced that the regime had to be clearly told that it no longer had the support of the Army and must go. I tried to persuade my division commander, Maj. Gen. MI Karim, to send such a message to the government through GHQ, but, although he appeared to share my views, he hesitated to take such a step. Finally, on 19 December, I could wait no longer, and took over effective command of the division from Gen. Karim. (He tacitly accepted this, and gave me valuable help during the subsequent events).

In this action I also had the support of some other senior officers who felt as I did. Our position was that the regime should quit and hand over to the elected representatives of the people, and that all those incompetent and corrupt commanders who had led us into defeat should be sacked. In practical terms this meant handing over power to ZA Bhutto and his People’s Party, who had won the 1970 election in West Pakistan. Even though I was by no means a fan of Mr. Bhutto’s, I believed that their elected status gave them the right to govern, and obtain the allegiance of the armed forces.

We decided that Cols. Aleem Afridi and Javed Iqbal would fly to Rawalpindi with a message from us for Yahya Khan : he should announce by 8 p.m. that evening his readiness to hand over power to the elected representatives of the people. In addition, all those generals who had led the army into this disaster should also quit. In case such an announcement was not made by 8 p.m. then we could not guarantee control of the situation, and any resulting consequences. The two officers met with Gen. Gul Hassan, Chief of the General Staff, that afternoon and asked him to convey this message to Yahya Khan. Gul Hassan went to Gen. Hamid, the Chief of Staff, who said he would arrange for a meeting with the President at 7 p.m. 

Gen. Hamid then went into a flurry of activity. He called several army commanders to see if they could help to restore the situation in our area, but they all expressed inability to do anything. Maj. Gen. AO Mitha, another stalwart of the regime, tried to get some SSG commando troops for action against our divisional HQ, but was unable to obtain any. The failure of these efforts, and the obvious absence of any support in the Army, left the Yahya clique with no option. Shortly before 8 p.m. the broadcast was made that Yahya Khan had decided to hand over power to the elected representatives of the people

After this announcement Gen. Gul Hassan and his friend, Air Marshal Rahim Khan, the Air Force chief, in consultation with GM Khar, a PPP leader, arranged for ZA Bhutto’s return from Rome, where he was sitting out the crisis, apparently because he was not sure about his personal safety if he came back. When Bhutto arrived on the 20th Gul Hassan and Rahim told him that the military was behind them, and it was they who had removed the Yahya regime. That night Mr. Bhutto made a broadcast to the nation in which he announced the retirement of all the generals in Yahya Khan’s inner clique, saying that he was doing this “in accord with the sentiments of the Armed Forces and the younger officers“. He also made Lt. Gen. Gul Hassan the Army chief, and confirmed Rahim Khan as the Air Force chief, though they did not last long when they proved insufficiently pliable.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had a glorious opportunity when he became President. The people of Pakistan were shaken down to the roots of their national psyche. The country had splintered, but much worse was that the very basis of their nationhood, their justification for being a people, long chipped away, had finally been shattered. Their lives, devoted mainly to selfish, individual pursuits, suddenly stood starkly revealed in all their pettiness and worthlessness. Shorn of their illusions and their excuses, in their helplessness they looked longingly for a leader to guide them back to the right path; they were prepared to give up the weaknesses and follies of the past, to make a new beginning as a cohesive, caring people ready to work together again to achieve the vision that had created their homeland 25 years ago. All they wanted was a leader who felt the same pain and yearned for the same goal.

Bhutto could have rallied the people of Pakistan to Herculean effort, led them to reverse the decline of the past years, and recreated the nation that had, against all odds, established Pakistan in 1947. But at this great crossroads in history, the man of the hour was found pitifully wanting. His lack of vision, meanness of spirit, and pettiness of mind, all led him to see this historic moment as just an opportunity to grab personal power. Even the use of this power was affected by his limitations : for example, one of his first acts as President was the arrest and public humiliation of persons against whom he harboured personal grudges; and the childish revelling in the trappings of office, typically exemplified by the monkey uniforms in which he clothed himself and his ministers.

That the effort by this small group of officers to end an inglorious chapter in Pakistan’s history, and provide to the nation another opportunity under the leader it had chosen, ultimately failed to produce the desired results does not in any way diminish the great credit due to them. They risked everything (their careers, their liberty, their families, even their lives) to answer the call of this critical moment in their nation’s destiny. Even though their action succeeded, they still lost the promising careers they had in the profession they loved; Bhutto made sure of that. If ever a true history of Pakistan is written, then high up on the roll of honour of its true patriots should be inscribed the names of Lt. Col. Muhammad Khurshid, Col. Aleem Afridi, Col. Javed Iqbal and Brig. Iqbal Mehdi Shah.

Later on, other young, patriotic military officers tried again to stop the downward slide on which Pakistan was launched. They failed, and paid a heavier price. The cycle of feckless generals and politicians continues; the country founders from one crisis to another. Yet, the action of 19 December 1971 should neither be forgotten nor diminished. It was an affirmation that Pakistan was worth fighting for, worth risking one’s life for. We still need that affirmation today.