No sooner had she [Benazir Bhutto] entered office than the military called on her with a special briefing. The subject was Kashmir, where the insurgency ignited by Generals Beg and Gul had fallen into a lull. Bhutto had a new director general of military operations, Pervez Musharraf, an ambitious and wily officer, who requested permission to revive and escalate the campaign. Musharraf had been Hamid Gul’s artillery pupil and had made his name battling it out in Kashmir. He had fled India as a child with his family in 1947, leaving an ancestral home in New Delhi to be occupied by Hindus, and he bore a deep-seated hatred of India’s attempts to encroach on Pakistan’s territory, particularly in Kashmir and Bangladesh. Musharraf had advanced through the ranks by focusing on all of the military’s non-negotiables, as defined by Gul’s secret manifesto penned in 1987. At the behest of army chief General Beg, in 1987 Musharraf had led a newly formed alpine commando unit in a pre-emptive strike on Indian positions in Siachen, only to be beaten back.
Undaunted, Musharraf had in 1988 been called on by General Beg to put down a Shia riot in Gilgit, in the north of Pakistan. Rather than get the Pakistan army bloodied, he inducted a tribal band of Pashtun and Sunni irregulars, many from the SSP which … mounted a savage pogrom, killing more than 300, and when the fighting had subsided Musharraf opened an office for SSP extremists in Gilgit, helping spread their influence across Pakistan. After Zia’s death in August 1988, Musharraf had got closer to Generals Beg and Gul, and played the extremist card many times.
In October 1993 he suggested to prime minister Bhutto that she change the rules of war and give the army sole responsibility for deciding the timing of conflicts, as Beg had argued, suggesting the move would enable the Pakistani military to react quicker if there was ever a pre-emptive strike by India. But Benazir Bhutto refused again, fearful of what an unfettered army would do.
Unfazed, Musharraf moved on, setting out his special plan for Kashmir. “He told me he wanted to ‘unleash the forces of fundamentalism’ to ramp up the war,” Bhutto recalled. Musharraf wanted to recruit from among the Sunni extremists cultivated by Zia in the Punjab and the remote Northwest Frontier Province, many of whom had already tasted war in Afghanistan. According to the military’s own tally, dipping into these groups could fetch as many as 10,000 new jihadis to send over the border into India. Bhutto gave Musharraf the go-ahead. She needed the military on her side. “Second time around I did not want to rock the boat,” she said.
After getting Jamat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulama e Islam on board, Musharraf won support from the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad (MDI). The MDI had already formed a military wing known as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), formed in 1990 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, with a goal of restoring Islamic rule to the whole of South Asia, Russia and even China.Through Musharraf’s patronage, LeT would become the largest jihadi organization in Pakistan.
The remaining factions to emerge, who were to produce fodder for Kashmir and elsewhere, were entirely the creation of Musharraf himself and included Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA), formed by the merger of two armed Sunni factions founded in the era of the Afghan war in order to oust the Soviets.14 HuA was to become the most vicious and unscrupulous of all the militant groups.
Over the border in India, the recruitment drive was immediately obvious, its story told in the bloodshed that soon catapulted Kashmir into crisis. The joint intelligence committee in New Delhi estimated the Pakistani military was spending $7.5 million per month to reinvigorate the proxy war.15 They presented a file of evidence to the US, warning that fundamentalists were being infiltrated into Kashmir and Musharraf was at the helm. But the US was not interested.
In 1994, Musharraf, as director general of military operations, recognized the potential of the Taliban as a client army that could become a client government. An expert in sectarian politics, Musharraf also recognized them as a righteous Sunni army. If necessary, they could be called upon to ….. act as a buffer against Iran.
Bhutto’s government was in step. Interior minister General Naseerullah Babar wholeheartedly backed the Taliban plan. A die-hard Pashtun and former confidant of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, General Babar was said to have single-handedly captured a seventy-strong company of Indian soldiers in the 1965 war, for which he was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat or Star of Courage. Unlike the ISI, his interest was not in religious war. General Babar saw the Taliban as a tool to impose peace. “They looked useful,” the general recalled.18 “When one compared them to the horses we had backed in Afghanistan already, they were pedigree. The Taliban would bring order, restore morality and more important than any of these things, the peace they imposed would enable us to open up trade across the region into Central Asia and beyond. They were intended as a poultice: drawing out the bad blood.”
With the involvement of Jamiat Ulema Islam, the only Islamist faction in Bhutto’s coalition government, which was close to the merchants and [transport] agencies based along the Pakistan–Afghan border, General Babar sanctioned a broadening of Musharraf’s secret supply operation for the Taliban, which city by city was marching eastwards. Bhutto wrestled with the decision. Although backing the Taliban went against her secular instincts, she knew it was impossible to survive in Pakistan without engaging with sectarian forces.
To rein in the ISI and win back US support, Bhutto acted rapidly on a piece of raw intelligence that dropped into her lap. On 7 February 1995 crack troops answerable only to the prime minister raided an Islamabad guest house and seized Ramzi Yousef, who had been living there secretly under ISI protection for two years. Waiving legal formalities that would have allowed the case to drag on indefinitely (and enable Yousef to be sprung by his supporters in the army), Bhutto had him immediately extradited to the US. One month later, on 8 March, after Yousef’s supporters had responded by shooting dead two Americans who worked at the US consulate in Karachi, Bhutto ordered a tentative crackdown against the extremists, placing Maulana Azam Tariq, the second in command of the Sipah-e-Sahaba, which had paid Yousef to kill Bhutto, and Maulana Masood Azhar, a leader of Harkat-ul-Ansar, which had kidnapped the tourists in Kashmir, on an exit control list.56
Even this mild response drove sections of the military wild. In September 1995, Bhutto uncovered plans for a coup led by Major General Zahir-ul-Islam Abbasi, director general of infantry corps at the army high command.57The ISI was everywhere and Bhutto was losing control. Then she received an uncomfortable call from Washington: her military attaché had been caught running a counterfeit currency racket. Brigadier Khalid Maqbool, who was in reality the ISI station chief, had been passing fake $100 bills so sophisticated that the US Treasury was later forced to change the design of the note.60 Maqbool refused to explain to his prime minister what he had been doing or under whose authorization he had done it and was deported from the US back to Pakistan. “It was hugely embarrassing,” recalled Bhutto.61 “We made up a story in the end to cover the scandal and said the bills had come from Afghanistan after the US contingent left. No one believed us. We behaved like gangsters and our credibility was shot to pieces.”
From the Introduction of book Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons
However, when the war in Afghanistan ended, Bush cut Pakistan adrift, terminating aid in 1990, marking the last significant contact between the US and a nuclear-ready Pakistan until cruise missiles slammed into Osama bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan in 1998. No one was looking at the Islamic Republic, even as intelligence began backing up in Europe, India and Israel to show that its military nuclear network had reacted to the aid cut-off by escalating the black-market deals in nuclear technology, eyeing markets hostile to the West.
By the time President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, and throughout his two terms, an ever more detailed picture was pieced together of Pakistan’s dangerous liaisons: Iran in 1987, Iraq in 1990, North Korea in 1993, and by 1997 Libya, too.
Things would get worse. By the time George W. Bush secured the presidency in 2001, a mountain of incredibly precise intelligence portrayed Pakistan as the epicenter of global instability: a host and patron for Islamist terrorism, ruled by a military clique that was raising capital and political influence by selling weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
However, in the days and months that followed September 11, Wolfowitz and others set about building a new house of cards. Pakistan’s President Musharraf pledged to round up al-Qaeda and to assist in mopping up the Taliban, giving up their leaders and busting their sanctuaries in the inhospitable border region with Afghanistan. Musharraf became integral to American plans, lending the Pentagon airspace, passing intelligence and mounting operations in regions where no Western soldier could ever hope to go. The Bush administration weighed his value as a potential ally against the harm Pakistan’s nuclear program could do, just as Carter and Reagan had done before. Despite overwhelming evidence of a building nuclear crisis, in which a state leaking nuclear technology was also concealing terrorists who were seeking it, the White House decided to do nothing.
In October 2003, Richard Armitage flew to Islamabad to meet Musharraf. The White House agenda was to keep the general onside. A drama was conceived that drew from Musharraf a promise to shut down Pakistan’s nuclear black market in return for winning US support for his unelected regime. It was agreed that A. Q. Khan would be arrested, along with a dozen of his fellow scientists, but Pakistan would keep hold of them, allowing the West to pose limitless questions via ISI interrogators but leaving the country’s military elite in the clear.
As White House calls for regime change in Iran rose to a clamor in 2006, Pakistan’s President Musharraf turned off the intelligence tap, shutting down all investigations into Khan. Then Musharraf’s contribution to the war on terror began to fall apart at the seams. Militants arrested in the post-9/11 heat were released and allowed to re-form their jihadi groups under new names. A neo-Taliban flourished in Pakistan’s tribal border areas, from where they struck fatally at Afghan, British and American forces. Most worrying, al-Qaeda began merging with Pakistan’s home-grown terrorists, spawning new camps, new graduates and new missions abroad. By 2007, Pakistan’s nuclear sales network was flourishing again. The Islamic Republic had learned to manufacture the restricted components and materials, electronic equipment and super-strong metals needed for a ready-made nuclear weapons facility which they were selling to anyone who could come up with the cash. Pakistan’s arsenal, developed at Washington’s grace and favor, was sliding out of control as terrorists gained new footholds in Islamabad.
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.
Some time ago, I wrote a blog post Musharraf (Army) is a genius. Rereading it, I surprised myself by forgetting the very message I was trying to get across at the time.
When Asif Zardari said “Democracy is the best revenge”, we never stopped to think who he was talking about. If it was the killers of Benazir, then the best revenge would have been bringing her murderers to justice. Now I realize that he was talking about extracting revenge from a country that had given him shame, humiliation, confinement in the previous years.
More importantly, I think he was saying what the army wanted him to say to people of Pakistan, “You wanted democracy? You with your movements for restoration of democracy and judiciary had taken on Musharraf and Army. Well this is what you get for democracy. One of the most corrupt persons in Pakistan”.
Honestly I have to admit that I was pleased rather thrilled to hear that Zardari was pelted with shoes in Brimingham. However, the way whole media enterprise has picked up this story and tried to promote it, prompted me to think that there must be something fishy. Probably the media has been egged on by Army/ISPR to start picking on Zardari.
The worst part is Zardari does not help his case either. By travelling in a time when he should not have, claiming that he is not the chief executive (then why was he meeting chief executives of France and UK) and having his jyalas supporting him with no regard to decorum etc. wherever he made speeches, he has shown that he does not have interest of this country in his heart. The trip was purely personal.
But the question is, does the Army have the interest of the country at heart? Frankly speaking, two cases come to mind that show no they don’t.
First, Zardari himself. If he was such a corrupt person, Musharraf (Army) had him under incarceration for 8 years. Could not they bring in a single corruption case to conclusion? If the Army is so sincere, he should have been tried on corruption charges and sentenced to prison never again fit to fight elections. However, what the army does is release him to live amongst his dogs in New York to fight another day or to make use of him when he is needed which is shortly afterwards and he is brought back doodh ka dhula under Army sponsored NRO.
He does what the army expects him to do turning the public opinion in favor of Army (which had reached a low during Musharraf years) as more and more people want Army to step in to relieve them of this corrupt President. I sincerely believe Zardari was a pawn in the great game by Army.
Second, Sufi Mohammad _ father in law of notorious Molvi Fazlullah in Swat, was under Army lockup. To reign in Fazlullah, they release Sufi Mohammad. The father and son (in laws) duo turned out to be a bigger menace with the Army finally stepping in to throw them out with the gratitude of whole nation and a promise to build a cantonment in the area to prevent future such occurrences.
May be I am thinking too much but all this appear as games orchestrated to bring the Army back on top.
In her book Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein describes disaster capitalism as politics of using disasters (shocks) to push through unpopular decisions without any opposition. I had earlier written a post on this topic. If she studies Pakistani politics of last ten years, she can write another book on politics of terrorism and financial aid.
In the news yesterday, Pakistan’s ambassador to United Nations stated that if the world does not come forward to help Pakistani’s (read dole out more money and financial aid) in need due to flooding and havoc created by Monsoon rains, it could lead to increase in terrorism.
Don’t we ever get tired of milking the “terrorism” cow? It is surprising that it is almost ten years since Musharraf started milking the cow by his double game after 9/11 and the cow still has not gone dry.
When the Kashmir was hit by the devastating earthquake, the government machinery was found incapable to do anything. Jamat ud Dawa (JoD) were the first ones on the ground. With their jihadist training and rugged terrain experience, they were able to provide relief to areas where no one else could go.
……it [JoD] was certainly making its name heard across the line of control doing earthquake relief – better indeed than the Pakistani army. Where the army could move supplies into the mountainous region only by helicopter, the militants were already there. These hardy guerrilla fighters, experienced at operating in the mountains, cleared their own dead then went to help in the earthquake relief: “only the Mujahideen are helping, from Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat ud-Dawa…One hour after the quake, they were here. The army only came on the fourth day.”—-openDemocracy
They were followed by MQM and Jamat-e-Islami. These three are persona non grata: JoD because they are jihadis (read terrorists), MQM because of their ethnic based politics and JI for bringing religion into politics.
At that time, there were concerns that Jamat ud Dawa’s relief work in earthquake affected area would serve as big recruiting opportunity for Jihadis (not because of their hardline preaching but due to extensice welfare activities carried out by them). There was a lot of pressure on Musharraf from US at the time to impose a ban on Jamat ud Dawa. Despite himself wanting to do so but fearing the repercussions from public for stopping welfare activities when they were mostly needed and not having the infrastructure nor resources to take over the extensive relief network of JoD, he didn’t do it. I don’t know whether JoD recruited anyone but they did developed a lot of goodwill (in modern parlance, they won the hearts and minds of local people).
MQM which is mainly a urban Sind based party also made inroads into the heart of people through their welfare activities. It was said at the time that if elections were held in those areas, MQM could easily sweep them whereas winning even a single seat was deemed impossible earlier. It was rather unfortunate that MQM sacrificed all its goodwill just to please Musharraf in May 12 massacre. It was large price to pay for a useless cause. Hence, the two islamists earned the lasting goodwill by their relief work in that disaster.
The government has started crying “terrorists” to squeeze more money out of US. Most of Pakistan army is busy fighting a war with Talibans, it leaves little of them to help out in relief work. The civilian aid agencies are ill equipped and ill trained to solve such a catastrophe. Hence the Jihadis, who can endure hardships for long time, live on the rugged terrain and have proven their resilience by fighting US and Pakistani forces without comparable resources, will come forward to help the people in need. Who knows, may be the government itself may ask these organizations to help as the disaster has been huge. Though we will be asking US and the world for aid, the final delivery will be done by these jihadis and they will earn the goodwill of the people whether US and rest of the world likes it or not.
From NYTimes quoting DAWN’s Huma Yusuf
Tragedies such as those Pakistanis have borne in the past few days — the plane crash and the ravaging floods — provide governments with the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity for governance. The failure to do so breeds conditions that allow extremism to thrive.
The mantra that good governance is the best antidote to extremism seems cliched. But it bears repeating in Pakistan, where the authorities have proved incapable of learning from history. Few can forget that five years ago, in the wake of the October 2005 earthquake, the government’s failure to cope with immediate relief efforts created a vacuum within which Jamat-ud-Dawa pulled off its greatest publicity stunt.
The extremist organization had the most efficient response teams on the ground, and boasted the most functional and well-stocked relief camps. Its mobile X-ray machines and operating theaters made international headlines. Through their clever use of mobile technology, the group’s volunteers established an unparalleled communications infrastructure that facilitated relief work.
The government and army, meanwhile, fumbled in early relief and reconstruction efforts, as charges of corruption in the distribution of aid and resources were rampant. The consequences of Jamat-ud-Dawa stepping in where the government should have been exercising its authority are obvious today in the support and influence that the organization enjoys.
I am not praising these organizations. I am just pointing out the fact no matter how hard we try, due to our lack of training, equipment, infrastructure, resources, manpower etc, we leave a be a vacuum for these terrorist organizations to fill.
You might wonder, where are the politicians? They are busy in their blame game. Shahbaz Sharif is requesting Zardari to stay home and be there for the people in this tough time. Babar Awan is saying that this IS the time for Zardari to go abroad and raise funds (he should call it begging). Qaim Ali Shah (Sind Chief Minister) is saying that normally Punjab makes Sind beg for every drop of water yet now they have opened floodgates thus drowning Sind. Meanwhile neither the military nor civilians nor the media is highlighting or interested in the plight of Balochis and then we wonder why Balochis are fighting for secession.
Aloof and regardless of what is going on in the rest of country, MQM, PPP and ANP (this is the ruling coalition in Sind) are busy settling score through daily killings in Karachi with 14 killed in just two days.
As a nation, we haven’t fared well either. Till day before yesterday we had ignored all the flood victims.
The pakistan flag was at half-mast on the first day to honour more than 150people who died in an air crash in Islamabad. It should rightly have remained at half-mast as more than twice as many died in monsoon rains. But the rich die in air crashes; the poor perish in monsoon rains. Flags rarely flutter at half‑mast for the poor. —- Guardian correspondent David Hopp
A good analysis of the same topic on five rupees:
The role of class in covering national tragedies or why aren’t the floods in KP getting attention
UPDATE: Christian Science Monitor reports on Jamat ud Dawa helping in flooded areas:
At the JuD aid “camp” on the main road east out of Charsadda, huge pots, used to cook on an industrial scale, were lined up, and the cooked food already had been distributed to the needy. An ambulance, no longer needed to ferry the injured, was being loaded with bundles of second-hand clothing to be given away. JuD also was running a first aid clinic in a building in town belonging to a college, the group said.
The group is operating under the name of Falah-e-Insaniyat but has made little effort to disguise that it’s JuD. Its staff said that it had 2,000 members working for flood relief, across the northwest and south into Punjab province. The uniform vests worn by many of the volunteers bear the badges of both JuD and Falah-e-Insaniyat.
“If the government were doing this work, there would be no need for us,” said Hajji Makbool Shah, a 55-year-old volunteer at the aid camp. “When the floods came, we carried people out on our shoulders to our own ambulances. Where were the government ambulances?”
Other day a friend of mine was talking about Khilafat being a solution as democracy has not been able to solve our problems. He was probably influenced by Hizb-ut-Tahrir propaganda. Having met a few of these Hizb-ul-Tahrir aficionados, I find them educated, intelligent and much more world-wise than what passes for liberal-educated class in Pakistan (but then this is just my opinion). However, whenever I ask them how will they choose their Khalifa (will it be a democratic process, will Khalifa nominate himself, or have they already decided on a Khalifa but he is invisible/underground like the 12th imam etc) I have always drawn a blank. Lets assume that some how Khilafat is established and against all odds we accept a Khalifa. Will he be Khalifa for life? Once he steps down, how will we agree upon the next Khalifa?
I have heard some people (mainly liberals) criticize the Prophet that he left his companions without telling them how to choose their leader. Its my belief that the Prophet was Divine messenger and the Divine had given us a choice of whatever method we deem suitable for selecting who rules over us. Obviously certain things are common sense that the leader should be of clean character, just in his dealings etc. I am sure that if some method had been suggested or recommended by the Prophet for selecting a leader, the liberals would have hounded it as another example of rigidity of Islamic rules even if it had been democracy. Another so called secular liberal had said that democracy does not suit the genius of [Pakistani] people and later words to similar effect were uttered by the last dictator but that does not bother the liberals.
Since none has been divined, I believe all methods of ruling whether it is Khilafat, Monarchy, Democracy are fine as long as they don’t usurp on anyone’s rights and work towards the betterment of people. If democracy does not work, replace it with Khilafat but then there needs to be a system in place for choosing and replacing the Khalifa which is not clear or which has not been made clear to us by the proponents of Khilafat. Even if the monarch is just, I would not mind living under his rule.
Couple of years ago I remember surfing the channels and I chanced upon Zaid Hamid being interview by Lucman. The Commando was ruling us at that time. Someone, probably a Zaid Hamid fan, telephoned in the show and he wanted Zaid Hamid to say that democracy is un-islamic. The guy calling in sounded educated. However, the reason he wanted democracy to be labelled un-Islamic was that movement for removal of Musharraf and restoration of democracy had gained momentum and he wanted a justification for his support of Musharraf. One of the most ridiculous way for justifying a dictatorial rule.
US citizens were celebrating 4th of July few days ago and I had a chance to read through their declaration of independence. What a marvel of human thought.
This comes from the second sentence of declaration:
….Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Here they do not talk about democracy or any other form of government. They just say that if the system government does not deliver, they can throw away the system and put in place a new one. However, they add a little qualifier that prudence should taken when making such a decision.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
What beautiful prose and ideas. I could not have said it better myself :).
I don’t consider the takeover by military or military rule removal of a despot or change of a system. They are as much a despot as the despot they are replacing. A game of musical chairs between democratic despots and military despots is played and we are the spectators.
The way things are moving, a time will come that our troubles will become insufferable, we will need to walk out and demand our rights even if it means changing the system. We have done it before (most recent example being restoration of Judiciary which showed two things: 1) if we get together we can get the military man to remove his uniform and even give up his seat and 2) that sometimes there is no difference between military and civilian despot _ both refusing to reinstate the judiciary) and when the time comes, we need to do it again.
And then we wonder why our country is going to the dogs