Popular Posts

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

An open letter to Shahid Afridi AND......

There is no  method to madness; I was slated to take an exam of an   abominable subject on 17th March 2004. The subject was despised to say the least, and I had to cram through everything. But well, how cares about science when Pakistan take the field the day before the exam. It was the 16th of March of 2004, Pakistan took on India at Rawalpindi . It could not have been better  for a cricket fanatic like me. Moreover, somebody for whom my heart never stopped beating made a comeback after a lapse of 381 days. Yes, the Pathan from the war-torn Khyber Agency made a mark right upfront by scoring 80 off 58 balls and plucked out Ganguly and Yuvraj to give Pakistan a well-needed win. I was ecstatic , and went to school next day with an open chest. Yes, it was Afridi's come back in the national side. Guess what , I was congratulated by all my friends; even relatives abroad called to give me thumps up.

I an avid cricket lover, but the support for Pakistan is out of sheer patriotism. Perhaps, I am fortunate enough to have a good memory; 20th June 1999 still haunts;17th March 2007 and 30th March, 2011 still bring tears in my eyes. I will not be a pedant , but would just say that I love Afridi

I have been enthralled; I have cried; I have been jeered at . Afridi has given me much to laugh about and perhaps much to leave me in a huff. Starting the 2000 Sharjah Cup with a golden duck and ending with a 52 in the final. Just like in 1997, he proved to be very useful with both bat and ball in the tri series down-under in 2000. I could write a book on him, but that is not the purpose of this piece.

My association with Boom Boom has grown exponentially. Whether he lofted Kumble ; whether he castled Ganguly, or whether he kissed Kallis; all remain in my memory as gold. I fought with friends; they teased me and I loved it. There were many culminating points; some lows as well. His temporary retirement from whites made sure that I had a bad class test next morning. His eventual retirement on 16th July 2010 made sure that I missed friends reunion. I still have a few unbearable moments in mind; his skirmishes; altercations and being stripped off from captaincy.

Regardless, Afridi continued to be my most enamored icon. His services to my country have been tremendous; it is not just about him winning matches , but their are other societal reasons too. It is about unifying. That merits another write up though.

I started reading about FATA; I started to learn Pashtu so much so that now I read and write on CT in that area; AF-Pak strategy and all. Afridi became a muse .Lala has given me a couple of birthday gifts ; one such was in Chennai way back in 1999.

But I am your greatest fan because I love my country. You along with your team mates give this country moments to cherish, albeit far and few.

Times certainly do change. I no longer took any defeat to heart. Over the past three years , our performances have oscillated from decent to poor . I didn't even notice that you weren't selected for the Champions Trophy in England. Yes, I was oblivious to whatever was happening around me; I still am.

Yes, I fell in a heavenly association; something that hurts and pleases at the same time. From war, politics and cricket I moved into the realm of sheer love(which stands stronger than ever before). Yes, the letter A came in my life; my thoughts and it became an obsession that I will NEVER end.

Now matter how much sophistry I try to churn out, love being unrequited has brought me to my knees; I toss and turn in agony and anticipation; I fight with my demons without an iota of solace.

To say that I am fine is a travesty of the highest proportions. I desire the impossible; yes, I may be a lunatic delusional brat, but I am pure. In fact, I am very proud of myself; losing the bearings for the dearest of the dear makes me happy.  With me going nowhere, cricket becomes all the more important. Cricket , especially when Pakistan wins is the only thing that cheers me up. If it is owed to Afridi then I go on cloud nine, forgetting about that aspect of my life for a while.

In the spring of 2014, when I was most shattered (not that I am any better now) those 43 balls faced by Boom Boom in the Asia Cup made me scream out loud. YES YES, I was happy; I had tears , not for her but because we won on your(lala) behest.

My dear Afridi, may this fan of yours tell you that he has three great wishes for the years.

He wants a peaceful Pakistan

He wants the unrequited to become requited

And he wants Pakistan to lift the cup at the MCG on the 29th of March, 2015.

I know it is a team game. All are heroes for me but Lala, you yes YOU will or can create the indelible difference that opponents fear. Ahhh we need to see maximums from you; we need to see your customary celebrations. Can't you make  a war-torn country happy?

Can't you play a major role in fulfilling one of the wishes of your fan? Can't you

Sunday, 28 December 2014

World Cup down-under: A Test of Misbah's Leadership

Dunkwart A Rustow in the book “Philosophers and Kings” said that it is pertinent to ask to who is leading whom from where to where? The book is riveting to say the least for students of leadership since many academics have pitched-in their thoughts. However , for the consumption of the readers let us dissect the above statement in light of the uphill task that the men in green are to face in a matter of 51 days : The World Cup.

Indeed, the most coveted event in cricket happens to be the World Cup; 4 years are worth waiting for as teams lock horns to get their hands on the trophy. Right from 1975's first edition to that of 2011, the skippers of the teams that clinched top spots (not necessarily the title) performed exceedingly well.

The 11th edition of ICC's premier event begins on the 14th of February in Australia and New Zealand. The two trans-Tasman rivals last hosted the World Cup way back in 1992. the green shirts out of nowhere won the title under the inspirational and charismatic leadership(Weberian sense too) of the legendary Imran Khan.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has named Misbah Ul Haq as skipper for the mega event. One could argue and bicker over it, but the fact is that in him the board has reposed confidence. Leadership is a function of the leader; the led and the cause. Hence, it is about Misbah-Ul-Haq , the team and the World Cup.

Misbah Ul Haq, a man known for his doggedness and excellent temperament took over the reins of ODI cricket on the 28th of May, 2011. He has led the team continuously since then. He certainly has been a vital cog in Pakistan's fledgling batting line up, amassing runs when others fail to deliver. Under his command the ODI performances have been oscillating from good to pathetic. Much to his credit, he has been a prolific run-scorer , but has been chastised on many occasions. At times the criticism was justifiable because if we look closely, there has been a negative paradigm shift in Pakistan's ODI approach. Certainly, the captain is the most important corollary and hence the brunt of the credit and the opprobrium has to fall on him. However , to be fair to this dedicated gentlemen , we must admit that the troops under his command let him down on many instances.

With great powers come great responsibilities ; Misbah knows this well and has never shirked his duties. The task is an uphill one. He will be leading a mediocre, yet dangerous team. The skipper is short of resources in his arsenal. What can he do to eke-out the best from his boys ? What he must do to achieve an elusive glory , something which Pakistan as a country really needs. A country beset with terrorism and all other kinds of epidemics find solace by seeing the men in green overhaul opponents that come their way.

Misbah realizes the magnitude of the World Cup. He is the linchpin of the batting as aforementioned, but there is always room for improvement. He needs to come up and raise the bar, in both his batting and captaincy.

When the going gets tough; Misbah has to show the way. He has to be aggressive and proactive tactically. He has been found wanting in regards his approach, though he is not the only one to be blamed. Decision-making power is essential to the success of a leader; Misbah needs to think on his feet. There is a need for more flexibility.

Yes, vagaries in situations demand leaders to change their tactics. Attack is the best form of defense. Misbah has to imbibe this spirit in his team. (Mix caution with aggression)

Pakistan is beleaguered with injuries and suspensions, which include the likes of Saeed Ajmal and Muhammad Hafeez. This will certainly dent the likelihood of the team pulling off the cup, but the picture is not as bleak as portrayed by the chairman.

The captain has many highly talented match winners in his armory. The mindset needs to be tinkered with. Experienced players like Shahid Afridi must take the mantle of responsibility and help their skipper. Juniors must be given full confidence and they should compliment the seniors. The captain must let them be themselves. Greatness lies in doing something when it is most desired. The careers of the likes of Haris Sohail and Yasir Shah can take a great-leap forward if they are able to make a mark in the World Cup.

A combination of bold leadership; response from the players and luck can help the men in green replicate history. But Misbah must rise to the occasion; he must take the bait and adopt audacity as important element in his leadership. However , his soldiers must stand up to his call.

All the best skipper

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Zarb-e-Azb: A quest for Azaadi

Freedom is something that we all covet. History is rife with examples showing  that the quest for freedom became a major casus belli. Perhaps, the preservation of freedom is the most vital interest of any state. I am hastily penning-down this piece on the eve of our independence day. 67 years have passed since Pakistan adorned the map of the world after a colossal yet controversial struggle. The focus of the piece is on the current impediments which mar us in fructifying our potentials. What can or should be done is something which worries one and all. However, I would not paint a morbid picture because despondency is in sin.

Pakistan and her inhabitants are typified with resiliency. The country has borne everything, from continual political instabilities to foreign incursions . Much of this is a product of our own inanities. The despair and frustration of the populace is shunned aside on this festive day, wherein one and all show their veneration and love for their motherland. When Shahid Afridi was up against R Ashwin in the famous Asia Cup clash, all Pakistanis regardless of class, religion or color were praying for the former to smash the ball over the ropes. When the wish actualized all rubbed shoulders with each other in ecstasy . But that is not enough. Bouts of unity alternate with those of open disregard.

Zarb-e-Azb should  not just be  a name of a CT MILOPS being carried by the armed forces to clear North Waziristan from the clutches of the enemies of the state. It should be a philosophy of every Pakistani.We know our  fighting and non fighting corps will clear, hold and built areas like Ghulam Khan and Miranshah at the cost of many more YOs and Jawans. But when will we  launch an operation individually ? Every Pakistani must stand up against injustices of all kinds and types. As the English saying goes that penny and penny make up many, we must stand up in unison for a better Pakistan. We must pitch-in to make this country safe for all minorities as enshrined by Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Yes, we need a Zarb-e-Azb against those who kill innocent Pakistanis on the basis of their beliefs.

I hope sense dawns upon us, wherein we can start owning our follies. A realization must be there that tells that only Pakistanis can ameliorate the milieu of the length and breadth of this country. It is upon us alone to protect and propagate our vital and secondary interests. Indeed, we must not  be oblivious to the malignant intentions of foreign actors, but instead of cribbing , measures must be taken to obviate actual and potential threats. The modus operandi (MO) is plain and simple: augment all sinews of national power, to include military , economic, hard, soft and smart. Power is currency and as the likes of Waltz and Morgantheau say that it is all about national interests.

Mere slogans of Pakistan Zindabad won't do the trick; we need to  back-up choruses with actions.

Let's be proud Pakistanis.

Friday, 6 June 2014

The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihad and Modernity. By Tariq Ali

The vocabulary of politics has always been rife with buzz words. Vigilante, extremism and other such phenomenons have certainly left an indelible impact on high power politics and inter-state ties, thereby having its underpinnings  on world order. Every religion is inherently rigid in one way or the other; therefore, elements of fundamentalism and obstinacy creep-in somewhere along  the line.  
Islamic Fundamentalism has been a bogey , to say the least. In fact many see extremism and Islam as hand in glove. This is something exacerbated and based on farcical analysis, but this write-up  doesn’t aim at challenging the very assumption. Many scholars have looked at the anatomy and nature of Islamic fundamentalism. The work that this piece looks at is one of Tariq Ali’s famous works “ The Clash of Fundamentalism: Crusades , Jihad and Modernity. Tariq Ali is a renowned scholar with visible leftist leanings. He has written extensively on world history and politics. His leftist proclivities; atheist make-up and the fact that he has been very critical of the West makes this an interesting study.
However, before going into the review itself, it is imperative to briefly tell readers as to what this book is addressing. Firstly, it sheds-light on the evolution of Islam right from its inception till contemporary  times. How fundamentalism took shape? What has been Islam’s take on various aspects, ranging from private affairs to diplomatic gimmicks  . There has been an accentuation on the Middle East. This is because Tariq Ali had to bring everything within the ambit of American and Israeli foreign policy. A closer review will make up the subsequent part of this write-up.
The ill-fated events of September 11,  2001 became the launching pad for the book in a way. Ali , from the very outset positioned himself as one who was critical of the behemoth empire  of the West in particular the United States. The prologue not only gave readers a framework of the book, but also posed pinching questions. Why was the Western centre of gravity attacked by erstwhile sidekicks? Why there was jubilation in many countries when the news of the cataclysmic events reached every nook and corner of the globe? Ali squarely put the mantle of responsibility on capitalism. One should not be surprised, given his leftist tilt, so to speak.  The prologue entailed a bit about his background, especially his averseness to religion right from the start. This gives readers some confidence when he chastises  the West on being stern on Islamists. His criticism is hence free from emotions or closeness with Islam.  In fact, the first chapter is regarding his upbringing; it is aptly titled “Atheist Childhood”. Herein, Ali frankly described his detest for Islam and its incumbent practices.  Ali’s tutor of the Quran and his uncle were compelled to give up on inculcating in him the love lost for Islam. Such is his link with the very religion even to-date.  The author rightly pointed out that many were critical of his family being away from religion. “But these children should be given  a chance… They must be taught their religion.”  This fascination with “must” continues to haunt Islam today. Perhaps this word becomes the launching pad for fundamentalism. Ali ended the chapter by terming the  Gulf War of 1990 as a milestone, for he started to seriously show keenness in studying Islam through various prisms. For the consumption of readers , a succinct survey of this lengthy book is the needful.
Ali’s analysis of the swift rise expansion of  Islam was coherent and well-knit . He started off his description from the 8th year of the Islamic Calendar i.e. AD 629, when Hazrat Muhammad mandated the destruction of a Meccan Goddess . One can debate on many views that Ali proponed during the course of the chapter. Though, we agree that the Prophet had a tactically shrewd mind , but never did he conceal or delay his message for tactical gains. He also did not consider truces with the polytheists as bitter pills.
Thereafter, Ali  lucidly and briefly delved on the rise of Islam across the globe.  He looked at the swiftness by which Islam spread. Ali attributed this to many factors, to include sympathy towards the invaders and battle-field deployments.  The meteoric rise in the imperial stretch of the Muslims was quite assiduously explained by Ali. The frenzy of the Muslim conquerors was very much akin to that of any other imperial power. For avid readers and aspirant critics, his chapter on the response of Chrisitanity to the ever-expanding Islamic jaggernaut , must not be skipped.  Ali rightly pointed out that regional Muslim kingdoms had need-based ties with the non-Islamic world.  Readers would find it easier to grapple with the tug-off war between the Crusades and the Muslim over the city of Jerusalem by reading this chapter, for the account is a short one. Jerusalem remained within the realm of the Muslim until the dawn of the twenteith century. Subsequent events are well-documented. Again, he shifted the discussion back to the sprawling rise of Islam ; this time he looked at the forays of Islam in Asia.
As regards Islam , Ali broached upon the rise of heresy; the bickering  within various sects, most notably the anatomy and rise of the shia strand in Islam. However, the chapter is a  mere narrative of the historical evolution of debates, dissent and heretical elements.  The chapter on women and their untamable desires  is certainly a good inclusion; however, Ali by picking up a few verses shows Islam as a monster for women. This has indeed meant that the exalted status given to women in many respects was deliberately circumvented. However the author can get away with it , for the chapter was on Islam and women’s  sexual proclivities.
The fact that the Saudi Clout has been way too potent or rather a crutch for Western Imperialism, his chapter on the genesis of Wahhabism is a must read. The excursion to glory of the Wahhab-Saud nexus was unbridled; however, they were overhauled by the Ottomans. Ali found another reason to castigate imperialism. He rightly attributed the re-emergence of Wahhabism to the British.  Thereafter,  Ali tried to develop a linkage between elements of international diplomacy and the rise of vigilante. How the dominant Western powerhouses poured-in money which expedited the expansion of monarchy in Arabia. The decade preceding the Second Great War provided a preparatory period for the elongated Cold- War politics and the role of the then newly-freed Islamic states.
Ali, one must admit, took a rigid stance against  capitalist imperialists, especially the United States. He allowed visceral to cloud his analysis. The subsequent, paragraphs will just briefly touch upon a few thoughts of the author on  Middle Eastern politics post World War II; USA’s preponderance and lastly, the case of a nuclearized South Asia.
The rise of Islamic obduracy  in the twentieth century is a direct product of the simmering conflict between Israel and Palestine. This along with other conflicts which have marred stability , were explained just in light of capitalist undercurrents. Zionism was seen as a movement espoused by the strategic interests of the Western imperialists. In other words, the blame for all the wrongdoings in the Middle East to-date was squarely put on the US and its allies. This is where Ali needs to be questioned. Isn’t the international system anarchical by its very nature? Wasn’t the Soviet Union equally interested in creating spheres of influences? Wasn’t the Soviet Union hell-bent upon increasing their cache of ICBMs, SLBMs and other deadly weapons?  It is noteworthy that superpowers are exploitative in nature and they leave no stone unturned to outwit their competitors. If Ali labels the United States as imperialists then certainly  USSR was second to none, but that’s a debate which merits another write-up.
Ali’s analysis on South Asian politics was rather naïve. Especially , ascribing the fall of Field Marshal Ayub only to the strength of the student movement is way too simplistic. There were many other factors, which led to his political capitulation, one being the burgeoning crisis in the Eastern wing of the country. Ali, tried to gloss over the fact that USSR  invaded Afghanistan, which pushed Afghanistan into a perpetual quagmire; he was insistent upon blaming the US for de-shaping the erstwhile centre of the Great Game. Ali perhaps could have explained as to why the conflicts between India and Pakistan continued unabated. Certainly, Soviet clout was never used to mediate, barring Tashkent. Russian-made  MiGs kept India steadfast, and who can forget the Soviet’s role in the breakup of Pakistan in 1971. Though, one should agree to most of his assertions about the US, but there are certain analytical exaggerations.  The United States was, during the Cold War era acting in the pure action-reaction syndrome, an important concept of International Relations. However, Ali failed to delve on the diplomatic and military incursions made by the Soviet Union, be it in Vietnam, Korea or the Middle East.
In sum, despite the fact that there are some issues of unwarranted berating, the book provides a very good analysis of Islam, its rise; the induction of fundamentalism and heresy. However, the best part of the book is the focus on various issues of international politics and foreign policy. This shows how Islam and Muslim states have been used as a plank of superpowers’ expansionist  designs. For all those who aim to learn a thing or two about Islam’s socio-political evolution and the role of Muslim States in global politics must read this book. There were other chapters in this book, but in the interest of time were not scanned through in the review. However, that does not mean that those were less important, in fact the analysis on the Iranian Revolution must be carefully studied.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Nawaz Sharif’s jejune address

Richard Nixon’s book “leaders” is a stunner; the book expounds upon the men that changed the world. Probably, all those leaders on whom  Nixon dwelt were men with immaculate traits. One hallmark which was common in almost all was their ability to speak with authority. Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle and Douglas MacArthur spoke with such panache that all were awe-inspired. Forget about the likes of Churchill or Yoshida for that matter; let us talk about the man at the helm in Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. For the sake of simplicity, the piece will not even try to compare Sharif’s oratory prowess with that of the above-mentioned leaders, but will instead shed-light on his much-awaited speech to the nation, especially his “strategy” as regards power crisis and terrorism.
The man in question took over  the coveted crown of premiership for the third time in June this year. This was possible because his party overpowered not only the PPP but also PTI,  led by cricket legend, Imran Khan Niazi.  A lot has happened since then: the spate of terrorism has gained momentum; the menace of load shedding is seemingly not near its end. The nation was waiting for the veteran’s speech. Finally, the ice has been broken now.  For us to analyze his speech, there is a need to find out his oft-repeated sentences and/or claims that he made in pressers and interviews.  His speeches and interviews always had extensive references of the Kargil conflagration and Vajpayee’s  highly -touted bus journey to Lahore. Thankfully and much to my delight he eschewed or probably forgot to allude to these incidents.
Sharif started-off by needlessly reminding us that he was elected PM in June this year, but much to his credit admitted that lambasting from outside is easier than facing the bullets in the battlefield. Yes PM, governance is not a dime a dozen!
“On the one hand, terrorism threatens our nation. On the other, load shedding has destroyed us. Negligence of past is to blame.”  One cannot disagree with Sharif over this statement, but don’t we all know that these issues have marred the progress of our country? What was the need to rue on the blemishes made by previous regimes? Those who voted-out the Pakistan People’s Party knew that these issues existed and that they were not resolved. The voters wanted panaceas for these issues, not a diagnosis of the problem. As the English idiom goes that there is no use crying over spilt milk, Sharif should have hit the bull directly by giving plausible solutions, which he did but not before flaying the previous governments. Announcements as regards the completion of Nandipur  and Neelum-Jhelum projects were good additions in his speech, for they were solutions and political point scoring. His resolve to inaugurate electricity projects in Gaddani was another conspicuous part of his speech, which had little interest for the public. Let us not get into the merits and demerits of these projects, but one thing that is evident from the speech  that Sharif was talking gingerly on the issue. He looked unsure as to when his “team” will alleviate the grave and ever-brewing power crisis. This part of his address  should not make us upbeat at all!
Now, let us analyze his thoughts on counter-terrorism.  He , like any other Pakistani said that his heart goes out for the people who have lost their lives owing to brazen attacks by terrorists. Neither he was daring enough to name death squads like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi(LEJ ) and others, nor he delved on a broad strategy to put an end to this epidemic.  One can understand that tactical matters are not delved-upon in these addresses, but a policy is delineated. He vowed to end terrorism by talks or by coercion shows that talks will be the mainstay of his government’s CT policy. Negotiations require an assortment of tactics, wherein you show the other party your strength. Mahinda Rajapakhsay famously said that “I will negotiate with Tamils, but not Tamil Tigers”.  It is not hard to figure out the importance of being in a strong position during any kind of negotiations.  There is hardly anything to talk about with those recalcitrant beasts who take pride in killing 50,000 Pakistanis. The talks will inkle towards a victory for the TTP, for talks tantamount to a failure to uproot non-state-actors.  Army officers at the Staff College and the National Defense University are bombarded with sayings that “never reinforce a failure”. Dialogues, be it in Shakai , Bajaur or Swat failed to deliver the goods. The very areas were cleared by military operations. But operation is not the only panacea; military action is a just a part of a comprehensive CT strategy , something which the incumbent government  has not devised as of now. “We can’t let Karachi fall to terrorists.” Agreed; we must not allow but how will the government impede the terrorists, if I may ask Mr Sharif?
I am glad that you showed cognizance and concerns as regards Balochistan, but many like me must have been left in a huff, for you gave no direction as to how Balochis would be mollified and BLA would be pummeled or cut to size?
In sum, Nawaz Sharif’s speech leaves a lot to be desired for. The speech accentuated on problems rather those much-needed solutions. If he actually wanted to enumerate the impediments to us becoming the Asian Tigers then certainly the target killings of shias and Ahmedis; India’s nefarious activities, both on the borders and inside the country also merited his  attention.
I don’t mince my words and would therefore vociferously and unequivocally say that this speech has left me in a huff.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

India must hold her horses.

The trajectory of Indo-Pak relations has been pretty simple: a collision course has been followed by both these neighbors over the past 66 years.  Let’s not go into the main conflict and the crises that emanated from that. The piece will shed light on a few sardonic antics shown by the Indian defense forces and government/opposition off-late. In the  process this piece will  deride some hollow arguments made by the ever-growing clique of liberals in Pakistan.
Civilian supremacy is something that many of us covet; often Indian Army is given credit for being truly professional, for they haven’t as yet subverted the government. Yes indeed, it is something creditable however; we need not compare the milieus of both the countries. The difference was there for all to see. Had Nehru appointed General P N Thappar as defense minister, for instance sake , things might have been very different. One can disagree with many of the assertions made by General Ved Prakash Malik in his book “Kargil: from surprise to victory, but one remark is striking and thought-provoking as regards the Indian Army being apolitical .   “The credit goes not only to the military and its traditions , but also to the political leadership …….. The political leaders or the party members did not make any attempt to politicize the armed forces.” This is what our liberals and Army bashers should understand. However , the Indian military has  out of her own accord  sabotaged the peace process on a few occasions , be it putting their foot down over the Siachen Accords or Brasstacks or even Cold Start for that matter. For instance, in December, 2012, the  then commander of the Northern Command, Lt Gen K T Parnaik disparaged Kayani on his overture of withdrawing from the Siachen Glacier. Things took shape for the worse amidst façade of peace-building and conflict-resolution efforts.
It was 4th January, 2013 when the green shirts under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq defeated a formidable Indian side in the 2nd ODI to take an unassailable lead in the ODI series. Just after a few hours the Indian Army resorted to unprovoked firing on the Line of Control (LOC), which resulted in the martyrdom of Naik Aslam of the Pakistan Army. However, it was seldom reported in our otherwise-vibrant media. Probably, they were showing too much fidelity to the cause of Aman Ki Asha. However, on the 8th the Pakistani troops allegedly beheaded an Indian soldier in the Meander sector. The Indian media known for its  war mongering , launched a virulent attack on Pakistan day-in day-out. Is it conceivable that troops from any side can cross the LOC and behead a soldier, given the fact that there are bunkers and barbed wires on both sides of the LOC? If the alleged beheading turns out to be true then it is not only barbaric, but shows the ineptitude of India’s Northern Command, which was then commanded by Lt- Gen K T Parnaik. As expected, things conflagrated with a hostile statement from the Indian Air Chief, Browne; a 2-hour long press conference of General Bikram Singh. However, the General cleverly dubbed these issues as “tactical in nature”. But talks of effective vigil and dress down of local formation commanders meant that India was up to something. The leader of the opposition, Sushma Swaraj demanded 10 Pakistani heads. Sense prevailed on our side, as we did not see our military counterparts giving such statements. Politicians from our side were seemingly not concerned! The low-profile response from Pakistan was a good move, for statements carry weight in the Indo-Pak theatre. A localized skirmish at the LOC has every likelihood to escalate to the international border, especially keeping in view India’s Cold Start Doctrine, something which merits another write-up.  The scuffle of January showed that Indians were utterly aggressive and Pakistan was acting gingerly.
Fast-forward to May, Nawaz Sharif even before becoming PM for the third time made his intentions clear as regards his India policy. Not only he invited his Indian counterpart on his oath-taking ceremony, but also decided to institute an inquiry commission on the infamous Kargil face-off. Many critics raised eyebrows over these benign overtures made by Sharif, since India had again shown that how much they value a proven terrorist: Sarabjeet Singh was given a grand funeral. Nonetheless, the border spats in Ladakh kept the Indian establishment busy for some time and moreover, both PM’s agreed to meet during next month’s General Assembly Session of the UN.
Now, finally let’s delve on the current and ever-increasing crisis. Pakistani Army allegedly crossed the LOC and 5 miles inside Indian Poonch ambushed an Indian Army patrol and killed 5 soldiers. The Indian Defense Minister oscillated at the whims of hawkish elements of the Indian opposition and media. His initial statement called the attackers as terrorists, dressed in army uniform. Within 48 hours Antony took a 360 degree turn against Pakistan. In other words he played to the gallery. He said “It is now clear that the specialist troops of Pakistan Army were involved in this attack when a group from Pakistan- occupied Kashmir (PoK) side crossed the LoC and killed our brave jawans,” Furthermore, he said that these acts will alter their approach and posture on the LOC. “"We all know that nothing happens from Pakistan side of LoC without support, assistance, facilitation and often, direct involvement of Pakistan Army," Antony said. The visit of the Indian Army Chief to the LOC with a mandate for a calibrated tactical response is showing its effects. The Indian Army and BSF resorts to unprovoked firing daily . It is not about the LOC only, but over the past few  weeks the BSF have been  violating  the sanctity of the Working Boundary in Sialkot and Shakhargarh, injuring innocent Pakistani citizens. What will India gain from these skirmishes, recriminations; vandalizing PIA offices; attacking the High Commission in Delhi and blocking the “Dosti Bus”?  India’s overall strategic designs are beyond the scope of this article. However, the fact is that these aggressive signals would not be a boon for South Asia’s strategic stability. Pakistan has been far more cautious in its approach and rightly so. As nuclear powers both country’s should act responsibly. It does not mean that we will reach a nuclear threshold over this hyped and spiced-up LOC ingresses, but the fog of war is a reality, to say the least.
A quote for all commanders, especially those of the  Indian Army.
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” Helmuth von Moltke.
Hawkish plans will be countered with more hawkish ones.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

The Iranian Nuclear Program: Issues, solutions and views of Pakistan.


American foreign policy is based upon the infamous Monroe Doctrine and in fact more importantly on the ideas of President Woodrow Wilson. Before, going into that let’s first establish the fact that the international system is anarchic, brutal and based upon national interest. Thus, the realist worldview takes primacy over liberalism, which calls for cooperation, diplomacy and disarmament. Woodrow Wilson always aspired America to put more weight in the international system , but the rationale was for humanitarian purposes  and the endorsement of democracy. However, it is imperative to fathom the fact that America has always looked after her geo-strategic interests under the garb of liberalism. For instance the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine were not enunciated due to any love lost for Greece, Turkey and other European countries, but because the Americans had to counter Communism. The reason why American foreign policy is being discussed here is that it has a direct bearing on the Iranian Nuclear conundrum. The program which began under the aegis of the “Atoms for Peace” program made great strides before the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Things turned for the worst not only between USA and Iran, but the latter’s nuclear program was also hampered. Iran has maintained her stance of developing a peaceful nuclear program; Iran considers herself well within the ambit of the Nuclear Non –Proliferation Treaty of 1968. This paper will shed-light on the Iranian Nuclear Program; the suspicions attached to it; the approach of the United States and Israel. Lastly, Pakistan’s view, albeit a bit insignificant would be the mainstay of the paper. The paper will be divided into 3 sections. The first will deal with nuclear weapons and deterrence, so as to provide a conceptual framework for discussing Iran’s penchant for the bomb, if any. The second part will succinctly trace the genesis and development of the program to-date. The last part will look at the views of other countries, to include Pakistan. Apart from that some portion will look into negotiations, sanctions and possible surprise attacks.

Nuclear Deterrence:

Karl Von Clausewitz said that war is an extension of diplomacy by other means. He was very right, but the Clausewitzian war accounts for the  horrors  of war through the  famous concepts of fog and friction. Before going into the realm of nuclear bomb, it is imperative to talk about wars and battles.  A war is a series of battles fought between states with a clash of vital interests. Battles are fought in different Forward Defended Localities on or near the border. A war can be limited or all-out, conventional/ sub-conventional or a counter-insurgency. All these kinds of wars are fought by conventional means: forces and weapons employed to target the enemy on the battlefield. Threat perceptions compel countries to maintain conventional forces; however, when an adversary becomes numerically too superior, a country feels insecure. The concept of security dilemma comes into the equation. What do nuclear weapons do? Without going into intricate details, we should only focus on the concept of deterrence for the consumption of this paper.
Deterrence is the ability to dissuade an adversary from doing something repugnant to the security interest of the state. This is done through the possession of credible capability of causing unacceptable damage to the adversary. Deterrence is based upon willingness, capability and communicating the very capability to the nemesis, so that it believes that a likely action would be fatal.  The types of deterrence are listed below:
1.       Sufficient Deterrence (MAD with multiple capabilities)
2.       Extended Deterrence (Nuclear umbrella to allies)
3.       Graduate Deterrence (proportionate to threats)
4.       Minimum Credible Deterrence
5.       Existential Deterrence (Deterrence as policy vs condition)
6.       Non Weaponized Deterrence [1]
Deterrence primarily hinges upon second-strike capability, which happens to be the ability to withstand a surprise or a pre-emptive strike, and then be able to retaliate with a nuclear strike. Hence, the safety and security of the arsenal becomes imperative, to say the least. Furthermore, an efficient command and control system is needed to be in place, so as to channelize all nuclear-related activities.
The late Keneth Waltz was always a great proponent of nuclear weapons, for he believed that it induced caution.  There are plenty of stabilizing factors of the nukes, to include acting as a power equalizer. Internal Balancing is or should be preferred over external balancing and bandwagon approach. States go nuclear because of three themes as identified in the book Eating Grass: the making of the Pakistani bomb. The themes are national humiliation, national identity and international isolation.[2]

The genesis of the Iranian Nuclear Program:

Iran is an all-important country of the Middle East; it has a geo strategic importance of its own. Proximity to waterways and rich resources of gas and oil has made it an important country in the foreign policy calculus of the superpowers. This is true because the first ever covert CIA operation  overthrew Mosaddegh in 1953, ostensibly on nationalizing the oil company.[3] Till 1979, the United States championed the Shah of Iran.  Shah was known to be the protector of American interests in the region. All said and done, let’s expound upon the nuclear history of Iran. It was Dwight Eisenhower who gave a historic “Atoms for Peace” speech at the UN General Assembly session. This set in motion the Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program. It was agreed that any country having any kind of nuclear expertise or material would donate it to International Atomic Energy Agency, which would in turn  help any country which wanted a nuclear program for civilian purposes. The United States was actually serious about promoting peaceful uses . Iran began to settle down after the coup of 1953; it became economically stable enough to be trusted with nuclear technology. Thus, in 1957 we  not only saw a nuclear training center shift from Baghdad to Tehran, but a bilateral agreement was signed between USA and Iran. Moreover, the “Atoms for Peace” exhibit was opened in the city. The program thus kick started from then on wards. The bilateral agreement predicated upon a few terms and conditions. The stipulation was that Iran will stick with the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The Americans provided Iran with enriched uranium and a 5 Megawatt light water reactor. Hence, nuclear power was born in Iran and America was the midwife.[4]
The impetus was given, but Iran with its scant scientific prowess could not capitalize on the platform. The light water reactor was not put to use; it was seen as a showpiece at the Tehran University. The course of the program changed in 1965. A young scientist by the name of Akbar Etemad came back to Iran in the very year. He is deemed as the father of the Iranian nuclear program.  He yearned Iran to become a technologically advanced  country, hence he went on with full heart and soul. Shah of Iran after seeing his credentials mandated him to work at the Tehran University. Within a few years he handed over the 5 MW Reactors to the University. It was ironically working on a critical level. Soon, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) was created so as to streamline all nuclear-related activities. A significant development took place in 1968, which perhaps remains the bone of contention between Iran and the West. Iran signed the Non Proliferation Treaty in 1968. This implied that Iran agreed on not to make a bomb and only has a right for a peaceful nuclear program.  Shah’s penchant for embarking on the nuclear program was there for all to see. In 1974, Shah told Etemad that we needed nuclear power (not weapons) for economic reasons; he believed that nuclear power was the perfect conduit for economic growth. However, there were some ulterior motives, such as royal glory and a drive into modernity. As early as 1960,  Shah told the outgoing Majlis that Iran could no longer afford to live in the middle Ages. One can make out that  Pehlavi wanted a great leap forward through the so-called peaceful nuclear program. The journey continued under the tutelage of Etemad . Two developments are noteworthy before the revolution of 1979, one that the Bushehr nuclear reactor was 85% complete, thanks to the tireless efforts of Etemad . Then Gerald Ford signed an agreement with Iran, which allowed it to buy US-built reprocessing facility to extract plutonium. In fact the deal was for a complete nuclear fuel cycle. The extracted plutonium also can be easily diverted from civilian to military purposes; therefore this was a momentous development. Iran had always remained averse of the bomb; however, it is imperative to understand that the civilian and military side can never be divorced, due to the ease of diversion. Iran has always been vociferous, though.  There were however, inklings that the Shah vied for a bomb to show his grandeur. The NPT was signed, but there were voices against it from the very outset; Etemad also saw it as an infringement of national sovereignty. The revolution changed things drastically, to say the least. Ayatollah Khomeini infamously said that nuclear bombs are UN Islamic. This dissuaded Iran from going overtly nuclear, for Imam Khomeini was and is still revered.  The program was stifled by the ramifications of the revolution, to include the Hostage Crisis.  A brief discussion on the post revolution nuclear odyssey would be pertinent.  The international community began to turn a deaf ear to Iran; France and the US stopped the supply of Highly Enriched Uranium. Despite, efforts of rapprochement, the damage had been done due to the potent Hostage crisis; the predicament led to the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw. The program came under the scanner; the Kraftwerk stopped working on the Bushehr plant, owing to the intensification of war. Thus, Iran had to cobble-up everything all by herself. Imam Khomeini always viewed all international organizations with a great deal of skepticism. The organizations were advancing the cause of Western hegemony.  The way the IAEA reacted over Iraqi attack in 1984 gave lot of credence to this notion. The Iranian Foreign minister questioned the dubious role of the IAEA, for he believed that it was playing in the hands of  world powers.  Adversity brings resolve; a sense and urge of self-sufficiency was evident. One can term it as Nuclear Nationalism. The program continued with zest and zeal; the Iranians considered it as a national duty to tirelessly strive to complete the program. Meanwhile, the Americans did all what they could to thwart a perceived threat from an Islamic Republic.  Before going into the actualities of the crisis, let’s briefly scan-through, the remaining journey. Iran had time and again made a clear stance as regards the bomb. David Patrikarakos in his book “Nuclear Iran” has given a very good account of Iranian views on weapons and theories of deterrence within the lens of Islamic rubric.  Ghahvechi , the Iranian representative to the UN gave a lengthy speech where he expounded upon deterrence and weapons unambiguously. However, things were not that straight-forward. In close circles, there were talks about going for the bomb. Khamenei believed that a nuclear deterrent was the only way to secure the very essence of the Islamic Revolution from the schemes of  its enemies, as a prelude to the rule of Imam Mehdi.[5] This was not the first inkling for the idea of bomb-making; even during the tenure of Reza Pehlavi , there were indications that a bomb option was on the table. This can be corroborated by just one statement of the Shah in wake of India’s so-called peaceful explosion in 1974. The Shah said “ Pakistan and India talking about nuclear strength might force Iran to reconsider its options” the point that one needs to make is that the concerns of the West are not that concocted; there are plenty of reasons for them to be wary of Iran. One should not go into the debate of the NPT, for America has quite obviously flouted the treaty by signing the NFDR with India. The program was shrouded in mystery from 1989 to 2002, not that it is all clear now, but these years were deemed as lull before the storm.  
The Iran-Iraq War had left an indelible imprint on the minds of the Iranian establishment and government officials. Rafsanjani’s ascendancy to power gave the program a fresh lease of life. He was able to seduce Iranian scientists working abroad, to include Reza Khazaneh. The period from  1989 to 2002 was marked with significant augmentations, both overt and covert. The former included Russians working at the Bushehr. There were serious reports of Iran pursuing the first and the second stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. The stages pertained to extracting uranium ore to produce yellow-cakes and then converting them to UF6. Moreover, the fact that Iran had the Par-1 and Par-2 centrifuge components added to suspicion. Now, going by nuclear theory, it is imperative for a nuke to be supplemented by a delivery system. One can really not decipher whether Iran went after missiles for conventional or strategic purposes. However, the presence of sophisticated Ballistic missiles would have only created skepticism.
All in all, Iran had not only suggested to go for the bomb, but had started to crack deals to get equipment; it had centrifuges, sites, yellow cakes and most importantly, delivery system: missiles. The cats were set among the pigeons. Suspicions may well be true, but the issue will probably reach what we call a “ripe moment” in the jargon of conflict resolution. A brief summary of the unfolding crisis is needed.

The conundrum:

Nuclear program like we all know is of two kinds, civilian and military. The former is typified with Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE’s). The civilian program is used for economic purposes such as energy and medicinal. As mentioned earlier, Iran signed the NPT way back in 1968. That meant that Iran vowed not to go for the bomb, and remain under the ambit of the civilian nuclear program. The program was to be under the strict control of the IAEA. The crisis relates and is predicated to an alleged cat and mouse game between Iran and the IAEA. It was in 2002, that an enrichment site was unveiled at Natanz. Furthermore, a heavy –water plant was instituted at Arak. The site at Arak had the potential to churn-out plutonium. Both, these sites were not illegal as per the terms of the NPT. However, there are other stipulations which ought to be followed. The IAEA must be informed 6 months prior to the establishment of a site. As the international comity saw the reports in awe, the crisis was underway. The Iranians were reticent to show IAEA other sites and workshops, but ultimately acquiesced. The delay was enough for the West to raise eyebrows. Soon a resolution was passed which baulked Iran from uranium enrichment. There was a furor in Tehran. There were cleavages within the Iranian  high-ups; some wanted to halt the program, while others wanted the country to go ahead even with a weapon option. Hasan Rowhani came up with his 5-step plan. First, he wanted to keep the crisis under control and deter threats. Second, the need to safeguard nuclear facilities was important. Other plans included, turning threats into opportunities; enhancing capabilities and legal clout. Tehran subsequently signed the Tehran and Paris agreement, which manifested good faith on its part.  The spirit of the treaty called for Iran to sign on additional protocols and cease enrichment. The issue has conflagrated since Ahmedinejad took over. He ordered the resumption of activities at Natanz, which was seen as a blatant breach of the Paris Agreement. Things moved in the direction where they stand today because of the hawkishness of Ahmedinijad. There are two important things which should be brought to the attention of readers. These anecdotes, so to speak will be a harbinger of something grievous. Satellite images outside the sacred city of Qom were shown to Obama. The site was huge, located on the mountainside of a military base and protected by Anti-Aircraft guns. This highly-protected and deeply-dug site certainly rung alarm bells among the American ranks. Secrecy increases suspicion.[6] Then, America offered. During the talks in Geneva, Iran made a somewhat ironic excuse of not stopping uranium production because they needed to keep the Tehran reactor running ostensibly for medicinal purposes. Robert Einhorn, an expert  on proliferation got a food for thought. He said “why not offer to ‘swap’ much of Iran’s HEU , with specialty fuel for the research reactor”? This put Iran in a catch-22 situation; however, they agreed, but the Supreme Leader refused. This shows that everything is not that straight-forward when it comes to Iran’s intention to go for the bomb.[7]

Diplomacy vs Military strikes and the views of Pakistan:

Diplomacy is a vital cog in conducting international relations. It is a process of asserting one’s power and national interests by overtly benign means of persuasion and not coercion. As of now, the Iranian nuclear crisis is in the “ripening process”, it has not yet reached the threshold of a “ripe moment”. Diplomacy has been thus far used to bell the cat. Much to Bush’s credit, that despite initiating the preemption doctrine, he opened the door for direct negotiations after a lapse of 30 years. He launched the famous 1st June offer. In this section, let’s focus on Obama’s tryst with this challenge. What has been the mainstay of Obama’s policy as regards Iran? Before going into that, it is imperative to mention that there are voices against diplomatic engagements, not only by Obama’s erstwhile rival, Mitt Romney, but others too.
Dore Gold with this vast experience in the UN has tried to explain the dangers associated with diplomatic engagements, in his new book, “The Rise of Nuclear Iran”.[8] Obama made his intentions very clear even before his inauguration that he will prioritize the Iranian issue, and would talk to so-called rogue states. Obama made benign overtures right from the very outset. He gave a video message on Nowruz with Persian subtitles; this was ostensibly done with a view to broach upon the fact that the US wanted to resolve all issues.  This talk overture directly to the Iranian leadership came after 30 long years. With the election of the hawkish Benjamin Netanyahu, pressure began to pile-up on Obama. The latter wanted diplomatic maneuvers to be given a change to work.  The Israelis were left in a huff when Hillary Clinton talked about extended deterrence. The Americans at that stage and even now aim to slow down the process of uranium enrichment; they are mainly concerned with the site at Natanz. The talks at Geneva were of great significance, for they were the first after 30 years. Iran agreed to ship 75% of LEU abroad. However, Obama’s diplomacy was perhaps making Iran bolder; Ahmadinejad , in a press conference unveiled new centrifuge designs, which were capable of enriching at a faster rate. He also signaled that two new enrichment plants will be built by March, 2011. Thus, the US and the Europeans felt that they have been duped. A round of sanctions ensued; Resolution 1929 is just one example of many sanctions that have been imposed on Iran.
Obama’s penchant for diplomacy was matched by Israel’s aplomb for punitive action against a prospective nuclear-armed state. Now, it is not about diplomacy alone; it is about a pre-emptive strike or “Olympic Games” on   Natanz. In a nutshell, Olympic Games alludes to a joint project of USA and Israel. A computer worm “Stuxnet” is destroying the centrifuges at Natanz, in the process it has really slowed the otherwise vigorous enrichment process. Israel’s Mosad is groping for Iranian scientists; in fact they killed Majid Shahriari in broad day-light. Netanyahu visited the United States and  both leaders talked about all options that were available. Netanyahu always favored the strike option; however, Obama has not yet bought that  argument. The quagmire in Afghanistan; internal economy and the ability of Iran to retaliate, makes an attack highly unfeasible.  With his focus on diplomacy, Obama has not entirely ruled out the war option, in fact war games and simulations take place, so as to make contingency plans.  Israel has stretched a Red Line of 90% enrichment, if that is crossed, then it will take due note and reprisals will be witnessed. However, it is imperative to be savvy of the geopolitical compulsions, while thinking over this dangerous course of action. Iran will retaliate to anything offered to her, be it a surprise attack or mere diplomatic aggression. It is better to continue with sanctions and Olympic Games because history tells us that adversity has also given Iran an impetus to fight back.

Pakistan’s stance:

Before ending this paper, let’s us touch upon what Pakistan has to say regarding this crisis. A country beset with problem galore, to include terrorism, political and economic decay can probably have no weight in international politics, for only power is currency. However, Pakistan has power when it comes to nukes. Being the 7th and the fastest growing nuclear power in the world, it has a stature of its own. Pakistan helped Iran in wherever it has reached today. Indeed, the Par-1 and Par-2 centrifuges supplied by the clandestine Khan Network provided Iran with much-needed exposure and expertise. Pakistan has not spoken vociferously regarding the program; one can call it safe play or neutrality. One can understand this ambiguity taking into account the Saudi clout in the country. Former Prime Minister, Shaukat Aziz along with Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan paid a visit to Iran. Both leaders persuaded Ahmadinejad to change the firm stance on nukes , for his attitude would not benefit Iran and the whole region. Pakistan has given categorical foreign policy statements as regards the Iranian nuclear program. Ex Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met the Iranian Vice President. Gilani declared wholehearted support for the Iranian nuclear program , provided it was used for peaceful purposes . Shah Mehmood Qureshi delivered a lecture at Harvard University as foreign minister. There , he made strongly-worded statements against alleged Iranian endeavors towards the bomb. Qureshi said that Iran had no rationale to go for the weapon, for it had no immediate threat perception, like Pakistan had. Qureshi wanted Iran to accept US overtures and avoid a confrontation in the region. This is what Pakistan has said, and rightly so.  The bomb is not yet out, and nobody has issues with the civilian program. Only time will tell how this saga pans-out.


 Cheema, Zafar Iqbal.  “Pakistan’s Posture of Minimum Credible Deterrence: Current Challenges  and Future Efficacy,” in Nuclear Pakistan: Strategic Dimension, edited by  Zulfiqar Khan, 43-78 . Karachi: Oxford University Press, Pakistan, 2012.
Khan, Feroz. Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb. Stanford Security Studies, 2012.

Kissinger, Henry.  Diplomacy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994
Patrikarakos, David . Nuclear Iran: the birth of an Atomic State.London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2012.
Gold, Dore. The Rise of Nuclear Iran. Regnery Publisher, 2009.

[1] Zafar Iqbal Cheema, “Pakistan’s Posture of Minimum Credible Deterrence: Current Challenges  and Future Efficacy,” in Nuclear Pakistan: Strategic Dimension, ed. Zulfiqar Khan( Karachi: Oxford University Press, Pakistan, 2012), 43-78.
[2] Feroz Khan, Eating Grass : The Making of the Pakistani Bomb (Standford Security Studies, 2012).
[3] Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994).
[4] David Patrikarakos, Nuclear Iran: the birth of an Atomic State (London: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd, 2012) 16.
[5] Ibid, 121.
[6] David E. Sangers, Confront and Conceal Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising use of American Power ( New York , Crown Publishers, 2012).
[7] Ibid, 183-184.
[8] Dore Gold, The Rise of Nuclear Iran ( Regnery Publishers, 2009).