Monthly Archives: January 2013

Infighting Extremism & India

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By Waheed Hamid

india-flag-jpgThe Indian society leaps towards more understanding of human values and truth as it  matures its democratic culture after lapse of almost seven decades of its birth.  The uncultured ideology of having no ethics in war and enmity was rationalized and the civilization developed with expansion of space for Human Rights , ethics , rule of law and morality.  The developed world came up with rules for every game including war and the rights for prisoners. Most of this was refined and formalized by the culture of democracy. This culture has been tailored by conscience Indian writers, politicians, officials along with human rights organizations who keep raising their voices whenever they can in restricted environment of Hindu extremism. The strength, power  and control of extremist elements at times force the pillars of state to act on their demand .Recently,  Indian Prime Minister threatened Pakistan after the firing incident on LoC resulting in deaths of soldiers from both sides. Pakistan said unprovoked Indian firing has resulted in death of three Pakistani soldiers where as India blamed Pakistan for killing and mutilating the bodies of its two soldiers. Indian PM warned Pakistan of affected relations between two countries while talking in Jaypur he said “We have told Pakistan that this could affect bilateral relations. We want good ties, but Pakistan too needs to take steps in that direction. It is not possible just due to our efforts.”  All leaders of congress including Rahul Ghandi had to praise Manmohan Singh under extremist pressure. But brave writer like Karan Thapar wrote a thought provoking article in Hindustan Times. He questioned  the beheading and mutilation of an Indian soldier on the LoC even if it happened as per Indian claim. He writes that during a skirmish at Karnah, “Indian Special Forces responded by attacking a Pakistani forward post, killing several soldiers, and by the account of one military official which The Hindu could not corroborate independently, beheaded two.” What makes this claim credible is that it’s reported by military sources who not only ought to know but would not denigrate the reputation of Indian soldiers. He gives another evidence from an eye-witnesses Barkha Dutt who wrote  ‘Confessions of a War Reporter’, published in June 2001 by Himal, a well-known Nepalese magazine, Barkha Dutt recounted how she witnessed a decapitated Pakistani soldier’s head at Kargil.

On the other hand Indian Interior Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde , has put serious blames on Hindu Extremist Organizations supporting Pakistani claims. He said that “We have report that training camps of BJP and RSS are promoting Hindu terrorism. Hindu extremist organizations recruit Armed People. We are closely watching it.” At the AICC session in Jaipur, Shinde had accused BJP and RSS of conducting terror training camps and promoting “Hindu terrorism”.  Another leader Vijay Singh said that BJP demanded concessions for Prohit and others involved in Samjhota Express blasts. “We want to ask Lal Krishan Advani  that he took delegation for following Prohit’s case to Dr Manmohan Singh, Sushmaa Suraj was also part of this delegation, they went to follow terrorists they should be answerable and sorry for it“.  Mani Shankar completely agreed to Interior minister and said,“ its good that interior minister himself told this as it is not something hidden, everybody knew it but no one had the courage to speak.” The extremists even force the sports and cultural events to function under their desire.

Indian Kashmir, keeps suffering at the hands of  security forces. Meenakshi Ganguly, senior South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch said that “It is extremely rare for the security forces in Kashmir to turn over one of their own to the civilian justice system,”. Over the past two decades, the conflict in Kashmir has left over 47,000 people dead by the official count. The Kashmir Solidarity Day is observed on 5 February each year since 1990 as a day of protest against unjustified Indian control. India has always denied the right of freedom to the innocent Kashmiri masses and tried to suppress their voice through extra judicial/mass killings, arbitrary arrests, ruthless and inhuman torture and sexual molestation using the instrument of Indian security forces. The evidence of unidentified mass graves in Kashmir is yet another dark chapter of human rights violations in IOK. To crush the Kashmiri movement, India has employed various techniques including black laws. Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act 1990 (TADA) and Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1990, (AFSPA) are enforced in Kashmir despite the fact that they contravenes the Indian Constitution and international law.  POTA empowers the authorities to hold the accused in detention for a period of 180 days without filing a charge sheet. The burden of proof lies on the accused and the prosecution can withhold the identity of witnesses. It also makes confessions made to the certain level of police officer admissible as evidence. These are all mind boggling illogical happenings but the path being set by maturing India leaves a ray of hope. The emerging vocal democratic elements of India and the world powers will have to stand for the human rights. They will have to see that slogan of bilateral solution should not become source of human sufferings.


The UN resolutions on Kashmir adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter remain legally binding on the parties. Article 25 also reiterates their obligatory nature. The Security Council under the UN Charter has the power to enforce its decisions and resolutions militarily or by any other means necessary; the powers that it has used during the Korean War in 1950 and in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991. The debate of legal status and obligations of the parties to the dispute under UN resolutions and that of the Security Council to have its resolutions implemented must culminate. The hope of a prosperous future of Pakistan and India and this region largely depends on solution of Kashmir issue. The turning tides of Indian maturity must realize this and the world powers should facilitate to put an end to all types of extremism.


India’s Cold Start Doctrine or Madness

By Brig Imran Malik(Retd)

_DSC0030India’s Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) is a Pakistan specific destruction oriented one essentially aimed at destroying Pakistan’s Armed Forces – its center of gravity. The Indians intend to inflict crippling degradation on them thus nullifying their viability as a competing and potent fighting machine.

The Indian Armed Forces opted for the CSD in the backdrop of the failure of General Sunderji’s utopian plans to attack Pakistan South of the Sutlej, cut it into two and then defeat it in detail. Those plans faltered due to the pedantic Indian mobilization system and a resultant failure to achieve strategic surprise. This allowed Pakistan to mount its response and defeat Indian strategic designs in time and space. These failures were repeated later.

The Indians thus needed a doctrine that would overcome these flaws, cut Pakistan to size before it could mount any meaningful (including nuclear) response and before the international community could intervene.

Thus the CSD was born in 2004.

The CSD stipulates that the Indian Armed Forces would launch synergetic joint operations in multiple thrusts (eight or so) on wide frontages. Each thrust will be launched by an Integrated Battle Group (IBG) comprising assorted combinations of armoured, mechanized, RAPID (Strike) divisions, independent armoured/mechanized/artillery/infantry brigade groups with supporting arms and services at compatible level. These IBGs would primarily be drawn from the Holding Corps (aka the Pivot Corps) up to two-thirds of their strength. Of their three Strike Corps the Indians are likely to employ at least two in these IBGs and retain one for strategic balance. Each IBG could thus muster strength of upto a Corps! These thrusts would be launched in conditions of complete air supremacy. The Indian Navy would conduct joint operations along the coastlines.

The Indian Armed Forces would aim to achieve strategic surprise, generate unacceptably massive multidimensional firepower and achieve their deliberately shallow land objectives without breaching Pakistan’s nuclear threshold and well before Pakistan’s conventional responses materialize.

A vast, multidimensional, modern and hi-tech arsenal is being collected, ostensibly in anticipation of India’s “anointed by the US role of a global super power,”  albeit its use against Pakistan is a foregone conclusion. If India wants to make any impact on the global level it must first free itself of this debilitating Pakistan Syndrome. To that end it must settle all its affairs with Pakistan including Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, water, trade, et al. This will neutralize all the centripetal tugs and pulls that the strategic environment in South Asia keeps exerting on it and pegging it down in its search for extra regional and global relevance.

However, India’s CSD is genetically flawed, predicated as it is upon outrageously fallacious assumptions.

The Indians intend to achieve strategic surprise. Pakistan is aware of the threat and has already taken steps to thwart it. It has already given the necessary forward bias to its deployments and posture thus reducing its reaction time. Amongst other tangible measures it has also unveiled a hi-tech short range tactical nuclear missile (Nasr) specifically meant for such an eventuality.

Further the CSD assumes that the Indian Armed Forces would be able to achieve their strategic objectives while remaining below Pakistan’s perceived nuclear threshold. This is an astonishing assumption! They can only stay below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold if they KNOW what, when and where it will be! And even if they knew where Pakistan’s military (and geographical, economic and political) threshold(s) of pain rested what guarantees do they have that these would not change during the course of the battle? These will fluctuate with the run of the battle and continuously create strategic uncertainties for India.

The Indians further assume that the Pakistanis would not react strategically till its thresholds were actually threatened or breached. On the contrary the Pakistanis will definitely consider all possible operational contingencies, including pre-emptive ones. The conflict could thus arguably assume nuclear dimensions even before a single shot has been fired in anger. India’s misplaced bravado could thus have disastrous ramifications (strategic restraint -?) for the subcontinent and beyond!

Further, India’s IBGs will attempt to overwhelm Pakistan’s defenses and its strategic responses at a very early stage in the battle. It is to be understood that Pakistan’s dependence on its nuclear assets is directly proportional to the differential in conventional forces of the two countries. In simple words, the larger the difference in the conventional forces of the two countries the greater will be Pakistan’s reliance on its nuclear arsenal. And the speed with which this difference in conventional forces starts becoming more and more tangible during battle, that much faster would Pakistan be forced to resort to its strategic assets. For Pakistan its nuclear arsenal acts as an equalisor – nullifying India’s conventional superiority in numbers and technology.

Even Pakistan’s conventional responses will be force oriented too. Pakistan will cause unacceptable destruction and losses to the aggressor’s military potential through the adroit use of terrain and massive multidimensional firepower. That in turn would set India’s pretensions to global status back by a few decades if not more; ironically, that would be the very thing they would have set out to forestall in the first place!!

The Indians seem to have misjudged Pakistan’s resolve as a nuclear power and the international community’s capacity to influence Pakistan when it is faced with existentialist threats. Nuclear weapons have actually introduced the balance of terror and mutually assured destruction (MAD) factors in the subcontinent. Both will act as the biggest deterrents to any impetuous, ill-conceived and militarily unsustainable expeditions emanating from the East. Pakistan’s declared nuclear policy needs to be heeded.

Instead of wasting time, effort, money and resources in pursuit of clearly unattainable and unrealistic strategic goals, India should aim at reaping the peace dividends of our respective nuclear prowess. It must settle down and resolve all outstanding issues with Pakistan. It must not fall for the lure and illusions of promised or borrowed greatness!

In all probabilities Pakistan would make such an adventure militarily, economically and politically unviable. India would be well advised to not start something it cannot control or finish effectively. The alternative will bring nothing but disaster for the region and the world at large.


The author is a retired Brigadier and a former Defense Attache to Australia and New Zealand. Currently  he is a Faculty Member with NUST (NIPCONS).

The article was directly sent to the Blog Moderator.

TEXT of Letter by Chairman NAB to President Zardari

On 28th January 2013 Copy of the Letter by Chairman NAB was released to the Media- addressed to the President of Pakistan: 

admiral_fasih_bokhari-nab_chairman-1Please accept my gratitude for supporting unhindered execution of my mandate. Large recoveries have been made (about Rs 25 Billion). The Prevention activity of focusing on the current procurement and projects of Rs. 1.5 Trillion to eliminate possible corrupt practices, and the disclosure of heavy daily wastage of revenue and state owned resources indicative of decade’s old systemic flaws is being addressed by the Government.
However I write to you at a critical juncture in the history of our country when our people anxiously await free and fair elections. At this juncture all political players appear unanimous and united to respond to the aspirations of their countrymen. There is broad consensus that non political players must not be allowed to derail the political process. The Military has made its position clear and firmly stands with the people.
I am constrained to observe and bring to your notice that the position of the Honorable Supreme Court, on this issue, remains clouded by actions that are bearing heavily on my mandate to strictly abide by the NAO in both letter and spirit, as the time for elections approaches.
The clear line between the recognized authority of the Supreme Court to monitor NAB investigations to the limited extent of ensuring fair investigation, and itself becoming involved in guiding investigations, appears to be becoming breached as a norm as the elections near. Contempt notices, verbal orders that differ from written orders, and insufficient time to prepare numerous progress reports, are placing extreme pressure on NAB personnel who appear before the Honorable Judges. There is even a danger that NAB personnel could lose their independence and are unable to carry out their investigations in an independent manner due to the pressure being exerted on them by the Honorable Supreme Court to proceed along lines which seem to be desired by the SC. In relieving this pressure, to safeguard their jobs, and so as not to displease the Honorable Court, there is danger of unfair investigation being resorted to. This phenomenon is observable in the investigation of very senior politicians of the government where orders, to even arrest them, have been issued on investigation reports of regional investigators that had yet to reach the Executive Board Meeting at NAB Headquarters that is chaired by me. This could be construed as a clear violation of the powers of the Chairman NAB, and to some degree circumventing the NAO which I am required by law to follow. The NAO in my view as it remains law passed by Parliament represents the will of the people and as such I am bound to follow it. The National Accountability Ordinance mandates that no reference can be filed until I have been allowed to exercise my mind, and decide that a clear case of criminality has been made out. I would be failing in my statutory duty if I shirk from upholding the law that I am mandated to protect. Let me assure you, Mr. President that I will not flinch from prosecuting whosoever may be identified as having committed a criminal act under the National Accountability Ordinance. All are equal before the law. The nation expects that there be no sacred cows, nor raging bulls.
I am constrained to also bring to your notice the revolt within NAB, clearly abetted by a certain section of the media that used the sad demise of Mr. Kamran Faisal to vilify me and some senior NAB officers. This section of the media appears to be acting as an intelligence unit influencing the public, and possibly influencing certain members of the judiciary. Long standing “stay” on taxes to be paid by this media house appears to be relevant also.This campaign, in which the role of the Honorable Supreme Court appears evident, is placing great pressure on me to please the Honorable Supreme Court in what could be seen as pre-poll rigging, and hurried unlawful action on my part.
Mr. President, I resigned my commission as Chief of the Naval Staff just prior to a Military coup rather than violate my oath to the Constitution. I was part of The Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association contingent that came on the streets protesting against the infamous 3rd November Emergency, and later for the movement for independence of the Judiciary. It is a sacred duty of every Pakistani to uphold, be guided by, and fiercely protect the Law and Constitution.
I fear that in the current direction that the Honorable Supreme Court appears to be taking, I will not be able to perform my independent statutory role. This situation needs to be addressed firmly in line with the aspirations of the people, and the clear mandatory provisions of the Law and the Constitution.

Although not directly within my mandate, as a citizen I am concerned about the current priority vital national interest (VNI) of achieving national cohesion before being able to address lower priority VNI such as HDI, Economic acceleration, infrastructure development, etc. Relevant state institutions must look carefully at the possible role of members of the judiciary, and a section of the media, in undermining state institutions, and the confidence of the people in the state itself.

The Ombudsman offices were established to also address human rights issues. The need to allow the Honorable SC to be diverted from its prime roles as the final Appellate and Constitutional Court may need to be addressed since ability to take Suo Moto notice of human rights cases can become an open license to undermine government, and may be taking time away from addressing the issues of judicial management of the current huge pendency of cases in our courts. In the absence of timely justice the people are forced to take the law into their own hands and their anger becomes focused on their governments. The essence of law is to provide a moral benchmark to society. That benchmark is sadly being lost by a judiciary that may be fast losing its own moral authority by relying on the contempt law, media, street power of lawyers, and unchecked violations of the Supreme Court Judges code of conduct.

For the well being of our people justice must be ensured, while protecting them from those who would callously allow “the heavens to fall”. Should these issues not be addressed expeditiously I will regretfully be forced to tender my resignation.

Dismantling Pakistan:Game On Hai…

By Brig Samson Sharaf(R)

The appointment of John Brennan as CIA chief is a reward for his role in Salala and Abbottabad. Washington will use John Kerry as a lollypop while it coerces Pakistan from all sides.

On the same day that terrorist bombings ripped through Quetta and Swat, killing more than a hundred Pakistani citizens, a retired officer of Pakistan Army published a prescient analysis of the effort to slowly dismantle Pakistan– or ‘deconstruct’ it, in the officer’s own words.

The op-ed by retired Brigadier Simon Samson Sharaf in The Nation discussed the ‘Long March’ by Dr. Tahir Qadri, the bombings, Pakistani elections and the new appointments of US secretary of defense and Director Central Intelligence Agency and what they mean for Pakistan. Here’s a quick look on his insightful take on those issues.


Sharaf says that Elections 2013 in Pakistan will be highly influenced by American meddling in the hope that the new government formed after the election will be a fresh version of the pro-US government of President Zardari with the MQM and ANP as coalition partners, possibly peppered with some new faces as cosmetic change:

“Elections in Pakistan favorable to US policies in the region are crucial to US interests in the region. As discussed earlier in these columns, the US in the past with help from the Pakistani establishment succeeded to influence electoral results in its favor. This means coalescing and backing a group of apparently liberal, secular, anti-right, progressive, tolerant inclusive groups. The most obvious choice is the continuation of the NRO coalition boosted with a few old and new rising political stars.”

Sharaf hints at the foreign links of Dr. Qadri, and raises a question on the role of the Sharifs, asking whether the family will join the NRO bandwagon or reconcile with foes like PTI for Pakistan’s interests:

“It also appears that the new scene of destabilization and agitations will focus on Punjab, the Clausewitzian center of gravity of Pakistan. If this is not the case, then why all long marches must begin from Lahore and not Karachi. Much will depend on how Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz reacts to this scenario? Will it like the NRO, join the bandwagon or will it as a reassertion of patriotism hold out an olive branch in the best interests of the country to its political opponents who do not share the American dream?”

Sharaf says bad governance is destroying Pakistan from the inside while terrorist agents of external powers destabilize the country. He stops short of openly accusing India of having a hand in most terrorism inside Pakistan:

“The de-construction of the state through bad governance, faulty policies, use of proxies and non-state actors will continue. These are the auxiliary operations to eat the state from within like a moth. This reminds me of my favorite strategist Chanakya Kautilya, who said that to dismember a state, it is best to get into the very womb and disembowel it. This is what is happening to Pakistan.”

Interestingly, two days after The Nation published this op-ed, British-based chief of MQM launched a diatribe against Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and tried to tarnish the image of the revered leader of Pakistan Independence Movement. Sharaf returned to the online page of the op-ed to write that Altaf Hussain’s remarks were part of the effort to dismantle Pakistan:

“Altaf’s promised drone on Qaid-e-Azam is one of the demonic portals on deconstruction of Pakistan.”

He says the chances of proxy wars by enemies against Pakistan are enhanced by the fact that we possess nuclear weapons:

“Pakistan’s security planners realize that the nuclear capability minimizes the risk of a conventional conflict with India and enhances the probabilities of proxy wars. In fact, it has been asserted in these columns for many years that Pakistan is under siege through economic hit-men, diplomatic adventurists and non-state actors for a very long time. With the military inextricably involved in counter-terrorism operations and the limited capability of law enforcement agencies, it will be a nightmare to control the mushrooms of rising levels of violence. The use of remote control detonations in Karachi and Balochistan is a reminder that either the militants are changing their tactics or new ones have entered the melee.”


Sharaf says the recent CIA drone attacks on two pro-Pakistan militants in FATA raises eyebrows and indicates that American post-withdrawal planning probably goes beyond Afghan borders to include Pakistan:

“Though Pakistan, as suggested in these columns, has facilitated negotiations by releasing some Afghan Taliban, it appears that either the USA wants Pakistan to ‘do more’ or that its objectives relate to a scenario beyond Afghanistan. It is interesting to note that in two recent incidences of drone attacks the USA has targeted Mullah Nazir and Waliur Rehman Mehsud; two individuals challenging Hakimullah Mehsud of TTP in the Fata region. As the withdrawal timeframe closes, the USA will not hesitate to use its relatively secure bases in Afghanistan for ‘Cold Start Operations’ inside Pakistan. The civil unrest and failure of state institutions is designed to give an impetus to instability in Pakistan and, therefore, completion of USA’s agenda in the region.”


Sharaf says the appointment of Chuck Hagel as US Defense Secretary would mean an increase in the chances that Washington will try to ‘co-opt’ Iran and exploit the Pakistani-Iranian divergence on the future role of Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. Sharaf predicts that Washington will try to use Iran to limit Pakistani influence in Afghanistan:

“The new team that President Barack Obama has appointed is diverse in nature. The main focus seems to be Middle East and Pakistan. Its composition and frame of reference is obvious in its structural threat. Chuck Hegel, the newly appointed Defense Secretary, is known for his strong positions on Israel and soft stance on Iran. As the top man of National Security, his appointment means that work on co-opting Iran in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria and Lebanon) and post-withdrawal Afghanistan is already well on its way. The USA will also exploit differences between Pakistan and Iran over the Afghan Taliban to counter Pakistan’s influence north of Kandahar. In AfPak, the Secretary of Defense will play minion to the State Department and CIA.”

The appointment of John Brennan as CIA director, says Sharaf, could be a reward for his role not just in executing the Abbottabad attack but also a reward for the Salala attack of November 2011 where 25 Pakistani soldiers were hunted down by American commandos in a two-hour battle:

“Appointment of the old CIA veteran John Brennan as head of CIA is a reward for his planning of the Abbottabad Raid, handling of the Arab Spring operations, targeted killings in Yemen, enhanced and crueler interrogation techniques and, perhaps, also Salala. His appointment is an explicit message to Pakistan’s security establishment about the levels of ruthlessness and violence the USA could go to in pursuit of its objectives in the region. The appointment also means that the major feature of operations in AfPak will be higher intensity intelligence-led sting, covert, drone and military operations in tandem with Pakistan’s internal instability.”

Will John Kerry play a balancing role in Pak-American relationship? Not so, says Sharaf. Kerry will only ‘placate’ and ‘persuade’:

“John Kerry, apparently soft on Pakistan, will be used to placate and persuade within the construct of a compellence strategy framed to make a constantly under pressure Pakistan, pliable and compliant. This strategy is considered most appropriate to control and subsequently defang a nuclear Pakistan without resorting to the dangerous and flat trajectory of a nuclear escalation. Compellence methods will involve diverse trajectories of violence, drones, economics, diplomacy, internal instability, unrest in Balochistan and mundane propaganda against Pakistan Army.”

A cross post:

The “Endgame” in Afghanistan

A Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Lt Gen ® Asad Durrani

The Afghan landscape is strewn with what seems to be an endless chain of hills and mountains. One is thus hardly ever “over the hump”. The next one is almost always more daunting. In a country where a game of Buzkushi can be played for days on end, wars and their “endgames” can last a lifetime. The present war in Afghanistan may have been the longest in the American history, for the Afghans it was merely another phase in a conflict that has spanned a third of a century. Its much bandied about endgame too, may outlast the NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, which again may or may not end in 2014. Open-ended it may all be; we still want to know if there was any light at the end of this tunnel. What will happen for example when the foreign forces leave by the deadline; or if they left behind lethal cargo to terrorise our tribesmen? More importantly, how would the run-up to the withdrawal or the drawdown play out?


Indeed, there are no clear answers, but one should be able to make a fair assessment if the situation on ground and the mood of the people could be judged with a reasonable degree of clarity. What follows is based upon many rounds of discussion with some Afghan hands at home and a few visits to Kabul, the last one end of November 2012.


That the influence of the Taliban has continued to expand and deepen is no longer in question. Some would concede that the war against them is lost; the others only that it was no more winnable. During the last few years, no major development work could be undertaken without the Taliban getting their cut. Lately, even the NATO convoys have to pay them if they wish to move in comparative safety; 150 Million dollars, alone in 2011. A similar amount is their due in the drug trade. Every year, nearly 500 Million dollars flow into the Taliban kitty from the Western sources.


The real estate reveals much more. In Kabul the prices are falling; in Peshawar they are rising- correspondingly. The wealthier Afghans are of course buying property in Dubai and beyond. Eight Billion dollars have flown out of Afghanistan in 2012. Economic activity is visibly in decline.


There was never much faith in the Afghan National Army’s ability to ensure security in the Country. History, Geography, Topography and Demography; all work against the conventional forces, especially when they are pitched against the militias in the tribal territories. Now, even the NATO’s spokesperson betrays lack of conviction when extolling the ANA’ state of readiness.


Most of the pro-regime factions, true to the Afghan tradition, have maintained links with the Taliban, all along. Some of them believe that the time was now ripe to talk openly about their contacts and claim a place in the future power matrix.


Though the “Status of Force Agreement”, which is supposed to sanctify any post-2014 role of the NATO’s rearguard, has not yet been signed by the government in Kabul, it is generally assumed that it would be. Someone suggested that paid the right price even the Taliban might look the other way. If so, the deal on offer must be too good to be true; unless of course the Taliban feel that in due course they would be able to deal with the residual forces. The main stumbling block however is the condition imposed by the Jirga called by the government in Kabul: “any foreign troops remaining after 2014 would operate under Afghan law”. I am not sure if the American Military on foreign soil ever submits to local edicts; at times not even to its own.


The presidential elections to be held next year are considered crucial by almost all the political forces. Parties out of power are working hard to field a consensus candidate. The majority still fears that the “system” would work in favour of Karzai’s nominee. This may be one reason the President faces a united front; the other may well be the inevitable baggage that those in power always carry.


Then there are others who rode to power under the cover of B52s. For them the villain of the piece is Pakistan. They believe that but for the cross-border support the Taliban had no chance and they could have continued to rule the Afghan roost. Some of them bemoaned the missed opportunity of 2002 when the Taliban offered reconciliation from a “position of weakness”, and were rebuffed by the sole surviving superpower. A decade later the shoe is on the other foot.


There is near consensus that the Doha initiative was sanctioned by Mullah Omer. Opinions are however divided on why he suspended the process; because Washington failed to deliver on its part of the deal, or because the young radicals in his own ranks were not favourably inclined. Even those holding the latter view admit that the US policy on talking to the Taliban suffers from internal discord.


In support of the Taliban’s earnest desire for a negotiated settlement, Omer’s Ramadan speech is widely cited. Someone from within the Kabul establishment went so far as to suggest that the Militia might agree to a 40:40:20 power sharing formula between them, the non-Pashtuns and the Karzai’s faction. (Since an equally generous offer was tabled before the Soviet withdrawal, I reckon the proposal may not be without substance.) There is hardly any excitement over Pakistan releasing some Taliban prisoners. Except for an odd individual no one believes that even Mullah Barader could come out and make a difference.


Since the situation is fluid, most if not all the Afghan factions are reaching out to each other to weigh various options. The idea is to remain flexible and make the best of any opportunity that presented itself; and if none did, to find a modus vivendi.


Lately, one has also noted closing of ranks by the regional countries- notably Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan- to forge consensus on the Afghan endgame. Exit of the NATO forces seems to be the common desire if not a clearly stated objective. India has not yet joined this “Gang of Four”, but is not likely to go against the regional grain.


Assuming that the above account is not too far off the mark, one can reasonably conclude that the Taliban were now ready to negotiate a settlement with the other Afghan factions. It also makes sense: they are in a good position to clinch a favourable deal; a durable peace was not possible without a broad consensus; and most importantly, it would help get the occupation vacated. However, being traditionally suspicious (an essential trait if one is to survive in harsh surroundings) the Afghans never take things for granted. The Taliban are therefore preparing for the long haul, which essentially means retaining the ability to carryout periodic military operations across the land. Besides signalling that they were still relevant, it would help them keep control of the countryside and ensure steady flow of money into their coffers. 


American designs are more difficult to read.


The US must have learnt in good time that the ANA could never ensure security (which is a tribal function), but it still continued to commit large sums of money to raise, arm and train this white elephant. Again, even though the dialogue with the Taliban was conceded as the sine qua non of its exit strategy, Washington has not pursued this track with any apparent resolve. The US’ intent to keep a long term military presence was demonstrated by major expansion and up-gradation work on some big bases; Bagram, Mazar-e-Sharif, Shindand and Kandhar, to name but a few. But then it is also obvious that such presence would be unacceptable to the majority of Afghans and unpopular in the Region, making it an untenable proposition beyond a couple of years. It is therefore either a ruse to keep all others guessing, or is aimed at perpetuating turmoil to rationalise maintaining a strong foothold.


There may also be broader aims to be served if these fortresses were kept operational: to strike fear in the hearts of some “rogue” powers in the neighbourhood; to foil Chinese ambitions in the Af-Pak region; to influence or spoil the “New Great Game” (euphemism for exploiting the minerals in Central Asia); and in due course, to push its New Silk Road project. That may also explain the US’ lack of enthusiasm for a genuine peace process.


Then there are groups within Afghanistan that stand to benefit financially and politically from the status quo and are therefore opposed to any effort to patch up with the Taliban. Peace and stability in Afghanistan- an upshot of a broad based accord- was therefore not necessarily in everyone’s interest.


All the same, since the majority of the Afghans and the neighbouring countries desire an end to this war- the latter because of its fallout on their territories and to get the Region rid of powerful foreign presence- there are a number of initiatives to bring the warring factions together. Pakistan being the country most affected is obviously in the forefront. It has kept contacts with all the major Afghan factions to facilitate negotiations at the “right time”; that is when all or most of them and the US would agree that it was the only way to go. Doha was one such effort to test the waters, and Paris might have been the other.


It is quite possible that some of the players required to take part in the dialogue do not feel compelled or lack confidence to come to the table. In that case, they would either try to change the ground situation in their favour or obstruct the process. The “right time” would then have to wait a bit longer.


Assuming that the major Afghan factions will not reach an agreement in the next two years and the US retains significant military presence beyond this period; some of the following developments may then take shape.


The Taliban are persuaded to join the political process and agree to a time bound foreign military presence. Seems unlikely, but if it could be pulled-off the chances of a peaceful transition would improve.


Present trends continue with no major change in various alignments. In that case, the 2014 elections will have no significant effect on the security situation; the Taliban would adapt their military activities to retain, even expand, their hold at least of the countryside; ANA would have to frequently call upon NATO’s stay behind forces for support; and the consequent rise in violence, and loss of patience in the US and its allies with an unending war, would make a policy change inevitable. This with some variation will be the most likely scenario.


In case the Kabul Regime does not permit retention of foreign combat forces beyond 2014 and all of them therefore leave before the Afghans were ready with a consensus dispensation in place, an internal armed conflict was likely to ensue. Its intensity and duration will depend upon the ability of the regional countries, especially of Pakistan, to contain and manage the chaos. Since the Region has been closing ranks on the Afghan endgame, it is thinkable that the regimes here have pondered upon how best to cope with this contingency. 


The rider in all the above situations is that the Taliban would continue to present a united front at least till the negotiations start. Being primarily a war coalition though, it is very likely that once on the table or latest after a settlement is reached, they cease to remain a single entity. 

Lt Gen. Durrani previously served as the Director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence and former director-general of the Pakistan Army’s Military Intelligence.

Offering Option in Ballot Paper:Election 2013

Following mail has been sent to the Election Commissioner. It is being shared here for public good & awareness.

Yasmeen Ali

Honourable Justice (Retd.) Mr. Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim
Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan
Your Honor,
As a concerned Pakistani citizen,also a lawyer by profession I feel, our ballot paper do not allow the masses to exercise the right to vote in its true spirit.We see the same ‘electable’ the same faces,the same names. Time has refused to weed out such elements . I therefore suggest, addition of another icon/slot to choose by voters.It should be:NONE OF THE ABOVE. A straight 50% of votes caste on NONE OF THE ABOVE option, should disqualify contestants from that particular constituency for 10 years, confiscate their security,parties must put up new candidates for the constituency,elections to be held on another date with new candidates.
I believe, employing this codicil will go a long way in choosing representatives, in the spirit of the Constitution.
Yasmeen Ali
The writer is author of “A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan”.

Computerized Balloting

Following message was sent to CEC. Copy was sent directly to Moderator for wider circulation in light of public good.

A Pakistani man walk next to ballot box after he collected his voting paper at a polling station in Islamabad. Pakistan votes

By: Captain Akmal Shah(R)

Honourable Justice (Retd.) Mr. Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim
Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan
Your Honour,
    As a concerned citizen of Pakistan and for the public good, and having given due thought to the election process as done in past elections, I have to say that the process was far from satisfactory and most Pakistanis would agree with this view point, and as reported in newspapers you have expressed dissatisfaction also and have taken steps to improve the system. I am confident that the present balloting system can be further improved. To prevent/minimize rigging of elections, bullying and coercion of voters by use of goondas and other strong arm tactics, including use of fire arms by candidates, a computerized balloting system would be much more, if not the most, effective. Such a computerized balloting system developed indigenously is in existence and according to developers of the system has been exported to and used successfully in other countries, and is available at much lower costs than an imported system. If India and other countries can use our computerized balloting system, why can we not do so?
    Local developers of software of computerized balloting system claim that the system uses NADRA N.I.C. cards and database and can be fully and/or jointly or solely monitored by ECP. It uses voters’ finger prints at the time of casting votes to ensure that the right person, and no other person can or has voted . It gives freedom of movement to all voters to vote from any polling station of their choice any where in the country. Being computerized it is highly accurate and transparent. The Central gadget can be placed and sealed in the ECP main office. Army may be employed at polling stations to prevent vandalism.
    Transparent, free and fair elections are the need of the hour to bring about a change for the better in the lives of the poor and oppressed people of Pakistan. To break the hold on the poor people of Pakistan by corrupt and dishonest and powerful waderas, jagirdars, chaudhris, maliks, and industrialists, et cetera, transparent and accurate results of balloting are a must.
    Since 1947, Pakistan has been using the same manual system of balloting and ballot boxes, which is now out of date. In today’s modern high tech world with computers, internet, wi-fi, wireless, cell phones, computerized identity cards, et cetra the current antiquated system be sent to archives as it now belongs to the medieval ages. A better system is available. With all due respect, and for the sake of Pakistan and it’s people the present balloting procedures/system should be scrapped immediately to be replaced by an up to date computerized modern system.
    Concluding, I state that the timing of holding elections is a political matter. The way elections are held is an administrative matter. Common sense and fairness dictate that the best, most accurate, modern and transparent system be put into use without political interference for the forth coming elections. I hope and pray that this will come about for the sake of our beloved country and a new chapter of history will be created.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Captain Akmal Shah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Master Mariner (UK)

Judiciary’s new role

Editorial The News carried here as a re-post.

The headline is slightly misleading. Here, the judiciary’s ‘new’ role is being juxtaposed with its old role that lasted for, say, the first sixty years of the country’s existence. If one were to pinpoint a high profile case that kickstarted this activist role of the judiciary, it would have to be the nullification of Pakistan Steel Mills privatisation in 2006.

Prior to that, the judiciary exercised restraint in matters that did not fall under its purview; not even in the name of ‘fundamental rights’ or ‘upholding the Constitution’.

The Lawyers’ Movement that started with the immediate goal of getting the judges restored upheld the long term lofty ideal of “independence of judiciary”. With the judges restored to their rightful position, somewhere in between, the ideals got muddled; the independence of judiciary, henceforth, became synomous with an activist judiciary.

This image was reinforced by a gung ho media leaving no space for the philosophical debate about what constitutes independence of judiciary. Independence is essentially tied up with the concept of separation of powers and can only be ascertained by judicial restraint.

Yet, the people of this country were engaged in a debate of another kind. Here, the supporters of an active judiciary, helped immensely by the media, tried to make the argument that in case of total failure of the executive, which they established had conclusively happened, some institution has to take action. And judiciary was the best placed to perform the executive’s, and the legislature’s, role, they claimed.

This was and is a faulty suggestion that falls on slippery terrain. The Constitution does not provide room for any such mechanism. Unfortunately, this was made to appear as a dominant, or at least a loud, discourse.

It did not just stay at the level of discourse; the activist judiciary got itself entangled in everything the classical model would warn it against. The immediate consequence is a jurisprudence that is impacting the country in a very serious manner. This is especially true for the judiciary’s interference in strictly economic and policy matters that has literally put the state’s credibility at stake internationally.

Separation of powers not just entails that one organ will not interfere in the sphere of another organ; it also means that each organ will strengthen itself to an extent that no other organ dares interfere in its sphere. This is a very fine line. Our judiciary has interpreted it to mean that no other institution shall be involved in the appointment or removal of judges (though this has its roots in the al-Jehad case). Again, this is something unique to Pakistan; no other country in the world precludes the role of executive and/or legislature in the appointment and removal of judges in the manner that we have. Not even India.

Judiciaries all over the world work on the strength of their moral authority while force and financial power rests with the executive. They cannot expect to enjoy that moral authority if they keep giving decisions that cannot be implemented. This is what is happening in Pakistan. With each decision that does not get implemented, they start losing that moral authority. If there is no exercise of restraint as the Constitution desires, other institutions may decide to put their foot down. The judiciary should not let that happen.

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