Security Apparatus : US and Pakistan

Just came across this wonderful post about how US policies are imperialistic by design and are hurting US interests. It is to be read in full. Anyway, in it there is a paragraph though which talks about US but could very well be talking about Pakistan. I have re-read it multiple times and here I am sharing it:

…. The United States has been at war for a startling two out of every three years since 1989, and there is no end in sight. As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of world events knows, countries that continuously fight wars invariably build powerful national-security bureaucracies that undermine civil liberties and make it difficult to hold leaders accountable for their behavior; and they invariably end up adopting ruthless policies normally associated with brutal dictators. The Founding Fathers understood this problem, as is clear from James Madison’s observation that “no nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Washington’s pursuit of policies like assassination, rendition and torture over the past decade, not to mention the weakening of the rule of law at home, shows that their fears were justified.

Similar is the case in Pakistan. Our India centric security policy wherein we fought 3 unprovoked wars with them. And from 1979 onwards, our Army has been continuously engaged in overt and covert warfare e.g. Afghan Jihad, Kargil, war on terror, Swat, current engagement with Taliban elements.

The army and the intelligence agencies never had any respect for civilians calling them “bloody civilians” but the missing persons and other such actions in the name of national security show that military apparatus in Pakistan is above the law.

Stupid is as stupid does

Musharraf’s reentry into politics has received little coverage and even scantier analysis. I have just picked out couple of sound bites which show that the guy has lost it.
According to him, his social system is based on three foundations

1. Quran and Sunnah.
2. realisation of dream of Quaid-i-Azam and
3. Objectives Resolution

Does Musharraf realize who his constituents are or who have been his loyal supporters? To half of his followers who fall on the left side of left-right spectrum commonly described as liberals, intellectuals in Pakispeak, the second foundation is  contradictory to first and third foundation. According to them, Quaid-e-Azam wanted a secular state that has nothing to do with religion of its people. Moreover, these liberals also describe Objective Resolution as betrayal of very principles Quaid described in his 11th August 1948 speech.

Later on in the speech, he offers another pearl of wisdom saying that he wants

“to make Pakistan into a progressive Islamic state”.

Huh? I thought Pakistan was supposed to be a state for Muslims of Subcontinent rather than an Islamic state? Some of you might not find a difference in these two but according to the intellectuals there is a huge  difference between them. Islamic state is contradictory to Quaid’s dream. Quaid-e-Azam wanted a state for Muslims (not an Islamic state) where they could rule themselves under secular laws_I know how ridiculous this sounds but this was the vision of Quaid if one listens to intellectuals.

Anyway, this post is not about Quaid. It is about Musharraf and by making this statement Musharraf is turning away his supporters who lie on the liberal/secular side of the spectrum. The question arises then who is he aiming at? Doe eyed fresh graduates and hardened Musharrafites of urban middle class in whose books and statistics Musharraf could do no wrong.

Personally, I think he has shot himself in the foot with this speech. The majority of the right wing dislikes or hates Musharraf except for the young middle class which made money in Musharraf’s credit fuelled bubble economy. Unfortunately the bubble burst at the same time as Pakistan was transitioning to democracy so the politicians ended up taking all the blame for the economic slide (not that Zardari & Co. have done anything to stop the downward slide ).

The purpose of all this is that Musharraf has started on the wrong foot and he has not judged his supporters correctly. He might be able to take a few votes away from MQM but that is the only major loss I expect and thats why Altaf bhai is in panic mode (thinking of shifting to Dubai, thinking that his days in this world are numbered etc).

Unless, the west or Army brokers a combining of all Muslim Leagues under Musharraf (similar to ISI engineered IJI) I would be surprised if Musharraf even gets a single seat in the coming elections.

Musharraf (Army) is a genius?

In recent times, a lot of terms have acquired cliched status because of overuse and “existential” is one of them. Thankfully no one has labeled the tiff between judiciary and presidency in Pakistan at present as “existential” crisis and we are grateful for that.

Nawaz Sharif has finally decided to jump in and make a bold statement against Zardari. It had been very quiet on right-of-centre-wing-front for a while. I was wondering for sometime that why is NS so quiet. Why has he not  been taking advantage of Zardari/Government for their stupidity and idiocy? Though the idea had been making ripples in my mind but like a tsunami, the realization hit me today. I realized that (even for purely selfish reason) NS does not want to rock the boat of democracy. He wants the democratic process to continue for five years. If Zardari continues like this, definitely PPP will have a defeat in next elections as they have nothing to show for their time in government.

Stopping the process midway through street protests and calling for mid term elections would bode less well for all politicians (as well as the country) whether in government, opposition or outside. However, to allow the government with the likes of compulsive liars like Rehman Malik and Kaira would also be a big mistake as there may not be much of the country left to rule when the time of next election arrives. So the right thing would be to protest against Zardari and his decisions. However, that would derail the democratic setup and serve as invitation to Army to intervene.

Hence, NS is in tight spot i.e., damned if he does and damned if he does not. This is without even considering what is good for the country before someone considers me a PML(N) sympathizer.

Hindsight is 20-20. It should have been obvious to me when NRO was passed by Musharraf. May be I was deluded that when Zardari said “Pakistan Khappay”, he really meant it. Zardari has only gotten humiliation from this country and all his wealth is abroad_ he has no stake in Pakistan. Why would he be good for Pakistan. If one reads the facebook status updates, the youtube videos, the jokes and verses in the name of Faraz that keep circulating, Zardari is the most hated personality in Pakistan amongst the middle and elite classes. By passing the NRO and taking Zardari (most hated and apparently most corrupt personality in the country( though no cases stand against him but it does not mean that people perceive him as honest)) to the presidency, Musharraf has ensured that democracy does not succeed in Pakistan. If Zardari is what you get for asking for democracy, the current generation till it lives will be never again ask for democracy.

Ayub said, “Democracy does not suit the genius of Pakistanis”, pretty soon we will hear all the educated lot requesting to be ruled by a army because we the educated lot consider ourselves “bloody civilians” not realizing that it has always been Army (and recently Musharraf) that have placed this country on the path of destruction.

Today, I appreciate the genius of Musharraf/Army. After making us lose East Pakistan due to Army/Bureaucracy shenanigans, lets see what we end up losing this time.

Things not to do when in Jordan

Last year I took a two day short sight seeing trip to Jordan. The idea was to rent a car from the airport and look at everything that was possible in two days. We went to the Dead Sea (the novelty dies down in 15 minutes once you realize that only thing to do is float on your back. period), Petra, Jerash, Aqaba, Wadi-e-Ram, mount Nebo (where you can receive welcoming texts from Israeli cellphone services on your cellphone) etc.

My colleague was harassed at the immigration on why did he come to Jordan (both of us had a green passport and advance clearance had already been taken by Jordanian Embassy from their Interior Ministry before granting us a tourist visa) however we were let off after half an hour of meaningless questioning.

While driving along the Dead Sea we came to many check posts commanded by Jordanian Army with a tank, a jeep mounted machine gun and a few soldiers. Dead Sea is as wide as Indus River and Israel is on the other side of it. At every checkpost they would address us with Arabic salutations i.e., Alhamdolillah Ala Salama (thank God for your safety) or Yateek Al Afiya ([God] gives you wellness). Though not used to speaking in Arabic  we would reply in English. As non-western and non-arabic tourists, the officers would be surprised to find us in that area. They would ask us for our passports and inquire where are we taking that road. On finding a suitable reply they would let us proceed never checking the car nor the trunk (not that it contained anything).

After six checkposts, we got used to the routine. When we approached the seventh checkpost, before the car came to stop by the officer, my colleague who was sitting on the passenger seat slightly bent down to open the dashboard and take out our passports. From the corner of my eye I could see that the officer on the machine gun mounted jeep suddenly became alert and took the aim of my colleague. I whispered under my breath in a very strict tone “Bhench##$. Leave whatever you are doing and sit back slowly”. Luckily he did as he was told. The officer on the road came to my side of the window once the car stopped completely and followed the same routine of questioning and passport. The guy on the jeep remained alert all the time with the gun loaded and aimed towards us. Finally, when the officer was satisfied, he let us go and the officer on the jeep relaxed. This was a close call. I told my colleague to never do anything so stupid unless specifically asked for by the officer.

From now on we moved inwards into the country to go towards Aqaba (newly developed sea port on red sea) and again the same routine of checkposts every few miles. Finally, at one of the checkpost we decided to use Arabic. Whats the use of knowing a foreign language if you can’t use it. We thought, what the hell, we might get some smiles out of the people. So at the next checkpost, when the military officer said Alhamdolliah ala salamah, we replied Allah sallimak which also means the same thing. Then he asked where are we going and we said Aqabah. Then he asked for our documents and we brought out our passports. He asked us to step out of the car and stepped back to the check post never turning his back to us and though not shouting yet announcing that yehki bil arabi..yehki bil arabi (they are talking in arabic)…everyone loaded their guns…we froze…their superior officer came and asked us where were we going. Ordered us to open the trunk and went through our backpacks as well as dashboard and even had someone look under the seats. After some more meaningless questions he let us go.

From then onwards, our communication in Jordan even where the guy didn’t know an iota of English was in English or sign language.

The trip otherwise was wonderful