Popular Posts

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Cricket: A potent tool of diplomacy

July 16, 2012
Diplomacy is a vital cog in international relations; it is a process of amicably dissuading other states from doing something detrimental to a state’s interest. It also includes the abdication of some secondary interests in lieu of some favors. However, states do not find the middle ground on their vital interests, and are not reticent to go to war for their protection. Ever since, the inception of India and Pakistan, the region has witnessed, nothing but strained ties alternated with bouts of tranquillized milieus. There are various stumbling blocks, which continue to vitiate the relations between the two nemeses, but will not be delved upon in this piece. Both nations resorted to diplomacy to ameliorate ties with each other, but as yet have failed to achieve the desired results. However, whatever strides have been made for achieving thaws have been espoused by the love for cricket across the 1610 long international border. To say that cricket binds the two nations together is ludicrous, for both nations lock-horns. In order to look at the resumption of cricket ties in a broader spectrum, one needs to look at the past.
The love for this dynamic game has been used as a tool of diplomacy. The fact that, Indo-Pak matches are or were in high demand; good relations were all the more imperative. Cricket between the two nations started in 1952; the acrimony was same like that in the war zones, but due to wars and conflicts, cricket trysts were intermittent, yet riveting. For instance, when Shoaib Akhtar was steaming in at National Stadium Karachi on 13th March, 2004, it was after 1989 that India came to Pakistan for a bilateral series. Anyways, the relation between cricket and diplomacy came to the forefront in 1987.
Some analysts call General Sundarjee as the bravest Indian Army chief, but he was the man responsible for indirectly orchestrating “Cricket Diplomacy”. He introduced the “Sundurjee Doctrine” which was based on 7 defensive holding corps and 3 strike corps. In a quest to test the doctrine, India embarked upon the massive operation “Brasstacks”, which was then, the largest build-up for an exercise. However, due to the type of ammunition used, and the fact that all was being done close to the border, the cats were set among the pigeons. Nukes were assembled; forces were mustered, and both states were on the cusp of war. However, General Zia was astute enough to visit India for ostensibly watching the Indo-Pak match, but it was a perfect example of cricket diplomacy; war was averted as Rajeev and Zia sat together. Without doubt, cricket helped in avoiding disaster.
The sheer euphoria of Indo-Pak encounters made the diplomacy possible. Again, due to strained relations both teams did not meet each other after 3rd June 2000 till 13thMarch, 2004, barring the WC 2003 encounter. This was mainly due to the aftermath of the attack on Indian Parliament on 13th December, 2001. Again, operation “Parakram” brought both countries on the brink of war.
While responding me, Mani Shankar Aiyar termed Musharraf’s tenure as the golden epoch in Indo-Pak relations. True, the bilateral ties between BBCI and PCB resumed, with India’s tour to Pakistan in 2004. Relations were bettered due to strengthened cricket ties and vice versa. We all witnessed enthralling cricket from 2004 to 2007, both in India and Pakistan. Celebrities went across the border for the explicit purpose of cricket. Even General Musharaf went to watch the ODI at Delhi on 17th April,2006 and had fruitful discussions with Dr Manmahoon. Things were going smoothly; Pakistani players adorned the first edition of the Indian Premier League, with Sohail Tanveer receiving the Purple Cap. Soon, the ties were vitiated by the Mumbai attacks. War was imminent; cricket wilted under the virulence of terrorism. Since 2007’s Pakistan tour to India, both teams have only played 8 ODI’s that too in multilateral events, to include the World cup Semi-Final at Mohali on the 30th of March.
This match ended as a debacle for the Afridi-led team, but since both Prime Ministers along with their entourage  had lengthy discussion, it paved the way for future permutations. Ever since then we have seen a Détente of some sorts. Off-late Sialkot Stallions, the champion of the domestic T20 tournament have been invited for the Champions League.
Now, the BCCI has officially called Pakistan for a short tour in December. The tour will entail 3 ODI’s and 2 T20’s, hence, after 5 years, bilateral relations have recommenced. Is this significant? Indeed, it is not only a sigh of relief for cricket lovers across the globe, but also for aspirants of peaceful co-existence. Cricket will open-up avenues of resolving issues, or at the  least  purvey  opportunities to delve on all bones of contention. It will augment people to people contact.
Having said that, cricket is not that potent a panacea for foisting peace. There are some grievous conflicts, which have jeopardized the region since the past so many years. Besides these conundrums, skepticism and recrimination has left in a huff. The only way-out is to continuously embroil in a composite and certainly, cricket will 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Kayani's speech: Ominous or Veritable

COAS,General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani’s speech to a clique of officers in GHQ has  been exacerbated; however, before delving into this speech, there is a need to provide succinct background of civil-military relations during this democratic epoch. Democracy is considered as the only panacea for Pakistan’s problems. This claim is debatable. Let’s not go into the quality, sincerity and commitment of the drivers of democracy: politicians. But the foibles committed by the PPP-led coalition continue to leave the country in a huff. The PPP shunned criticism with impetuosity: chanting about the rigging done against them in 1990’s elections and of course the gruesome act of 4th April, 1979. Agreed, they got a rough deal, but the past cannot absolve them from their responsibilities towards the people of my country. The army, under the leadership of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has remained apolitical; those who think otherwise should give vent to their claims. The military is tenaciously hunting-down militants; the Swat and South Waziristan operations ended with marvelous success. Having personally met the wounded soldiers, who sustained injuries in recent combats in Miranshah, I feel that the current perception with regards to the reticence of the army in confronting militants is hogwash. Let’s not get into the role of military in the “War on Terror”, for it is impertinent with the topic in question. However, the fact that the military has remained away from acts of subverting the government, speaks volumes of the tolerance of General Kayani.
We have witnessed a very docile military, which has virtually acquiesced on whatever the tainted politicians or the respectable judiciary has ordered. One needs to shed light on one very important instance, which was nothing, but an invitation to the military. In December, 2011 former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani unnecessarily talked about a state within a state; this was something bizarre, since a few days prior to the statement he boasted of having the army/ISI under his control. The statement was highly-incendiary; the rejoinder from the ISPR set the cat among the pigeons. However, nothing happened, much to the delight of all. The military remained committed to strengthening democracy, but the politicians remained focused on minting money from state exchequer, and most importantly, they disparaged the apex court. However, PPP lackeys think that Gilani’s ouster was accepted out of sheer veneration of the judiciary. Sorry, but one cannot be beguiled by this statement; Gilani sacrificed his premiership for the party, not the country or judiciary, for that matter. This was testified by the then influential Firdous Ashiq Awaan. Party policy and discipline is highly pronounced by the PPP; however, one must not forget   that their oath is sacrosanct, which means that the country is above everything.
Now let’s analyze what our Army Chief said, while addressing a cohort of officers in GHQ. Kayani said “as a nation, we are passing through a defining phase”. If this statement is objectionable then the same is written by Stephen Cohen, Bruce Riedel  and others. Why aren’t they lashed by the so-called liberals? Why are we linking this sentence to the inaugural speeches of previous dictators?  This is tantamount to provocation. If experts consider this sentence or the whole speech as a precursor to martial law, then it must be accentuated that, there was no prior warning for any of the previous martial laws; the military needs no write-ups or press conferences for foisting martial law. There is no rationale or need to give dangerous vibes regarding this sentence. The rest of the speech must be perceived with all the positivity. Give the devil its due, since he openly admitted that, mistakes were made, and that one must learn, so as to improve things in the future.  He was 6 years old on 7th October 1958; a rookie teenager when Yahya took over and had graduated into a captain at the time of Operation Fair play. Yet, he is willing to take responsibility; he is even not questioning the elements which paved the way for military interventions. Why can’t we hail Kayani for not poking his nose in a democratic set-up? Although, he had plenty of opportunities He has not attacked the judiciary in his address.” No individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest”. This statement is being lambasted by anchors, lawyers and others. Certainly, negativity has got the better of them; they should see this as a reversion from the previous fallacy of the army considering itself  as  the guarantor of national interests. The part which pertains to pre-judgment and transgression is aimed against some elements of the media, to include aggressive activities on  Twitter.  Being a Twitter buff myself, I confront authors, critics and anchors who flay the military day-in, day-out, but fail to provide evidences. They talk about the ISI as if they are privy to something surreptitious. Linking Imran Khan with ISI; passing the buck of the Balochistan imbroglio on the military/ISI/FC and eschewing the incompetency of Mr Raisani. These critics had given their call on the Asghar Khan Case even before the court. Hence, General Kayani gave a soft rejoinder to media personalities. Most certainly, the dissemination of such information creates a wedge between the populace and the armed forces. It serves as a strong force in dissuading future aspirants of joining the military. Twitter is fast-becoming a dime a dozen in spreading information of every type and kind.
Last, I feel a need to shed light on talks of the  military’s support for the militants; one feel saddened on the fact that, we have plenty of home-made Bruce Riedel’s , who, while, remaining in  Islamabad lecture us on FATA. Do we support the Haqqani Network? The answer is in the negative. The mere fact that we are not launching a military operation cannot imply support to them. Since, we are already fighting three groups in North Waziristan; we cannot open a front with a seemingly innocuous Haqqani Network. With less numerical strength; the inability of ISAF/ANA/US Army in controlling their side of the Durand Line, makes the operation unviable. Yes, the easy way out is by telling  General Bikram Singh to stop Cold Start, and thin-out their presence on our border, so that, we can bolster our might in FATA; an attacker requires forces 3:1 vis-à-vis the defender.
Let’s pay eulogy to General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani; let’s not use the term “Fauji “ or “Generals”. Blame individuals, not the institution.  No army should tolerate any attempt to break the trust between the leader and the led.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Azhar Ali: A crutch to a feeble batting contingent.

The winter of 2009/10, brought ignominy for Pakistan’s cricket; the Aussies did not let us taste victory in any format, much of which owed to alleged in-fighting, though. The tour was followed by bans and fines, which meant that Pakistan’s touring contingent to England was bereft of Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan for obvious reasons. Hence, the mantle of responsibility was on the feeble youngsters. Much to the delight, Afridi was made captain of all three formats, bringing him out of a self-imposed abeyance from Tests. The test team included some new faces, to include Umar Amin and Azhar Ali. Both of them were definitely in line for making the final 11, but maybe not early in the tour. Audacious as ever, Afridi won the toss on the 13th of July against Ponting-led Australia, elected to bowl and inducted Azhar Ali and Umar Amin at number 3 and 4, respectively. This article will delve on the excursion of Azhar Ali, since his induction in the test side. He certainly has the grit, temperament and resilience to last the distance. Indeed, he is a crutch to a feeble batting line-up.
Azhar Ali was 25, when he made his debut; his first innings fetched him only 16 runs, but two sweet boundaries on a difficult where only Afridi played in Cavalier fashion, was a commendable effort. However, one got a feeling that Azhar had limitations; he did not possess an array of strokes, but his test-like aptitude compensated for it. When, in the 4th innings, Pakistan was chasing 440 runs, he roughed out with a 42. He was playing cover drives with a great degree of ease, and after his departure the batting capitulated. Azhar’s debut was impressive, not rollicking. However, he showed his class at Leeds with a 30 in the first innings and a well-crafted 51 in a difficult run chase, so it was Azhar who stopped a replica of Sydney. The strides were right, but in the series against England, he failed to live-up to the promises, barring one match-winning innings of 92*. His first assignment sufficed the need for keeping him in the team, but owing to his poor stroke making dexterity he was kept away from the shorter formats. Later, he got some chances in the ODI’s and off-late has performed exceedingly well however; this article will delve on his ODI exploits.

Pakistan went to UAE, to host South Africa, who had Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel amongst their ranks. Azhar proved his mettle; his contributions were instrumental in drawing the series 0-0. He amassed 237 runs in 4 innings, inclusive of three half-centuries, with a best of 90. He was helped by cool heads, namely Misbah and Younis. The grit was evident. He was and still is, seen as an archetypical test cricketer; spends hours at the wicket and does not play reckless shots. The guy continued with his form in New Zealand, with a 67 in the second test. In his short stint, he had performed in England, New Zealand and the Emirates, showing that he had the ability to play on all kinds of wickets.

After a long lay-off due to the World Cup, Azhar flaunted his prowess in the Caribbean. At ST. Kitts he scored 67 and 53 in the two innings of the second test, which Pakistan went on to win. So, the trend was being set, his contributions were handy for the team; even seniors were not that consistent like him. The century was elusive; he foiled a chance to score his first in Zimbabwe, he got out for 75 and then a 70 against Srilanka in Abu Dhabi.The century came in the next test at Dubai. The century contributed towards a victory, strengthening the relationship between his exploits and Pakistan’s victory. The innings was followed by a fifty in the next test at Sharjah.

Azhar carried on with his show in Bangladesh; an insignificant, yet decent fifty was scored by him. One can never eschew his stellar performances in the second and third test of the series against England. If we take out his 68 in the second test then, Pakistan would have lost that test. Wickets were tumbling, but he along with Asad Shafiq propelled the target to a level of respectability. Then, it was up to Ajmal and Rehman to pummel England. Last, his 157 against the Englishmen in the third was awe-inspiring, having bowled out for 99 in the first innings, Pakistan won the test because of his resiliency, guided by Younis Khan.

One can see that, Azhar was never looked back since his debut; he is going from strength to strength. His temperament needs to be eulogized. He has certainly been a crutch to this feeble batting line-up. He may be flayed by youngsters for being inactive and slow, but it is evident that his style has been effective and rewarding for Pakistan. The batsman will ameliorate with the passage of time; improvements are needed, he needs to develop his stroke play and augment his strike-rate. Last, but not the least, Azhar should be allowed to focus, solely on Test cricket as of now.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Establishment: A misconstrued term

I would be very unequivocal in talking about the English prowess of my politicians. They don’t know English, but the way they to try to speak in public gatherings, makes us all laugh. There fluency in English is a disgrace. However, there is one word which is spoken with a spot-on pronunciation. The word is “Establishment”; indeed, every Tom Dick and Harry uses this word in the normal discourse. Nawaz Sharif and his cohort are using this term way too frequently in reference to Imran Khan’s popularity as a political force; the media uses it all the time without any proof. What is meant by this term? This paper will explore two things; the meaning of establishment and its role in Pakistan. However, its role in other third world countries will also be discussed.

Establishment refers to organizations that are permanent powerhouses in the country; they wield power incessantly. However, in the strictest sense it is the administrative machinery of the government. Powerful outfits, to include the civilian-bureaucracy and military high- command form part of the establishment. The establishment is deemed of as the force behind many decisions, ranging from issues of national security to foreign policy. The establishment play the cards from behind the scenes; owing to the influence, the establishment wields their weight on important issues. One can say that, the establishment is a dominant group which has perpetual power.

In the United States of America, not only the President’s administration, but also the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); Pentagon and homeland security among other organizations forms part of the establishment. I believe that, all these organizations had a say in American policies such as entering the Korean, Vietnam or the Afghan War for that matter. The impending drawdown of forces from Afghanistan is being vehemently being resisted by defence minister, Leon Panetta and CIA chief, General David Patreaus; these two people are part of the American establishment. In the United Kingdom, the establishment includes all senior politicians and civil-servants. Even industrialists, financiers and the governors of BBC are deemed as part of the establishment.

Groups that are preponderant in the country, to include the bureaucracy, Military and even the media make up the establishment however, in some countries such as India; the military does not make up integral part of the establishment. The strings that, the civilian setup imposed on the military are well documented in the book:  “Arming without Aiming” by Stephen P.Cohen and Sumit Ganguly. Yet, the Indian military has exerted its influence on multifarious issues; in fact, the military has always been recalcitrant on the Siachen issue.

Next, it is pertinent to mention the role of the establishment in different countries; I would hesitate to use the word third world for countries like Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. These countries were ruled by military establishment till very recently. Egypt and Libya will be dwelt in this paper.

Normally the political scaffold is subverted by the military, so Egypt is a very good example to cite in this paper. The country was under British occupation since 1882; the British were ousted by a revolution in 1952 along with King Farouk. The revolution was orchestrated by the “Free Officers Movement” led by General Naguib and Gamal Abdul Nasser. The former was sworn in as the first president of Egypt. However, fissures arose with Nasser, which ultimately led to the latter’s ascendency to presidency. Nasser ruled the country till 1970; a man who once claimed to be the guardian of national interest became the ruler. Then, the country was ruled by Anwar Sadaat from 1970 to 1981; he was assassinated by the soldiers under Lieutenant Khalid. This brought Mr Hosni Mubarak to glory. This man dictated his terms for 30 years. His epoch was grotesquely repressive to say the least; the state officials were rife with corruption, but eventually he was ousted by the 2011’s revolution. Hence, we can see an overt role of the military establishment in Egypt.

Libya is another country which was dominated by the establishment. Libya gained its independence on 24th December, 1951 under the first and only monarch, King Idris. The monarch gave Libya a constitution, which happened to be the first piece of legislation to indemnify the rights of the Libyans. However, after a lapse of 18 years, the monarchy was dismembered by a 27 years old officer, Colonel Gaddafi. This was the start of the 42 years long tenure of the colonel. He was quick to consolidate his position and vowed to purge the country by protecting the revolution. His rule was typified with repression; he like Napoleon established a surveillance system. It was believed that 10 to 20 percent of Libyans worked in surveillance; dissidents were summarily executed. He was a monstrous dictator with sweeping powers; the establishment was nothing, but him alone. He created organizations to perpetuate his tenure, to include the General People’s Committee as a farce body, which ostensibly controlled Libya.

So far, I have delved on the meaning of establishment and a bit about its role in Egypt and Libya, for these countries witnessed all-out dictatorship. It was the military establishment which usurped power in Egypt and Libya. Now, I will shed light on the main part of the paper, which pertains to the role of the establishment in Pakistan. However, in a quest to discuss the role, one needs to define establishment in the country of the 65 years old country.

Establishment is used interchangeably with the military in Pakistan. You name any erudite worldwide, he or she would use this word with reference to dominant military in the country. To me, it is a very grotesque term used by sapient scholars such as Cohen, Reidel and many others. They feel that the military-establishment takes key decisions, ranging from foreign policy to those of national security. So when Nawaz Sharif, an ex blue-eyed boy of the establishment, talks about the establishment, he basically inkles towards the military.

Although, the Pakistani establishment is not entirely akin to army, but still I would most use this term with regards to the army because of the following reasons:

1)      The Inter services Intelligence (ISI), which is the eye and ear of the country should not be considered as separate from the army; intelligence is only taught in military institutions, to include Intelligence schools; Staff colleges and others, not anywhere else. Considering it a civilian organization is hogwash.

2)      The civilian-bureaucracy is just concerned about securing the perks; they see the wind and support the government of the time; they are a crutch to any government. I cannot delve on concocted stories.

So, the subsequent paragraphs would deal with the role of the establishment in the polity of Pakistan. Pakistan was created on the 14th of August, 1947 after a long and somewhat concerted struggle under the tutelage of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. However, the new was beleaguered with multifarious problems; going into all of those is impertinent with this paper. The impediments that made the role of the establishments were:

The loss of the Quaid was a death-knell for a newly-born country as there was a great void of calibrated leaders. Certainly, Jinnah was the sole spokesman; this is the title of Ayesha Jalal’s book too. The death of Jinnah resulted in mayhem and ruckus; the country could not agree upon a constitution due to bickering and the death of Liaqat Ali Khan was the last nail in the coffin.

The lack of administrative dexterity meant that there was a need to heavily rely upon bureaucrats, who used this to muster power. Ghulam Muhammad soon, ousted Khawaja Nazimuddin and then played havoc with the country’s political scaffold. When Justice Munir gave an infamous verdict on the Tamizuddin case, the establishment got emboldened in the name of doctrine of necessity.

As far as the army is concerned, its role was very imperative from the very outset, owing to a host of factors. The chaos of the partition which led to atrocities galore was dealt with only by the army, who despite being ill-equipped, emerged as an organized force to deal with problems. The way the army rstored law and order in Lahore in 1953 during the anti Ahmediyya movement impressed the populace and probably would have aroused some sentiments of grabbing power, though it is a sweeping statement. I would question the sagacity of Ghulam Muhammad in inducting a serving Commander-in-chief, Field Marshal Ayub and Major General Iskander in the federal cabinet. This helped them taste political power, which led to further openings. The geostrategic conditions really pronounced the role of the military; we had to fend off India over the Kashmir issue, which led to wars with the nemesis. The heroism of the army earned them veneration in the society. As Carey Schofield says in her book “Inside the Pakistan Army” that “army is the only thing that works in Pakistan”. Furthermore, the role of the military was not only pronounced because of India or Afghanistan, but also due to the incompetence of the politicians from the period of 1947-58; prime ministers coming and going; law and order problems and economic downturn.

Hence, Ayub Khan along with Iskander Mirza orchestrated the first martial law of many to come. However, after exactly 20 days, the latter was ousted by the latter; thereby, started-off his 11 years epoch (1958-69). The military dictator led Pakistan in perhaps the golden period; he purged the country by taking punitive actions against licentious politicians and bureaucrats through PODO and EBDO. In fact, he was averse to the role of politicians. He was pushed about the competence of the people at the helm.Ayub supplanted a shaky democracy with a controlled one; he introduced the presidential form of government in the 1962’s constitution. He viewed parliamentary democracy as inept for a country like Pakistan. He embarked on a process of reformation; he vowed to eradicate corruption; smuggling and develop the country’s economy. To be honest, he was successful in all of his aspirations; the economy was vibrant. We were called the “Asian Tiger”. Ayub used bureaucrats for running the machinery, for he deemed them as experts.

However, after the war with India in 1965, Ayub’s popularity was on the decline due to economic downturn; a disenchanted labour force and the rise of his erstwhile supporter Z A Bhutto, who had formed the PPP. The dwindling popularity led him to abdicate in favour of General Yahya Khan in 1969, 25th March to be very precise.

People have a fallacy about the role, intentions and capabilities of General Yahya; they blame him for the East Pakistan debacle, but that is highly exacerbated and it will require another paper from my side to explain the imbroglio of East Pakistan. Still, I would like to mention a few things. He abolished the One Unit Scheme; promulgated the   legal framework order and to add to that, organized the first free and fair elections in the country. He should have been eulogized for it, but then there are people who blame General Ghulam Umar of dispersing funds to anti-Awami league elements without any proof. The inability of the military to prevent a breakup was ignominious, to say the least. The establishment was and perhaps still is heavily censured for the debacle, but reality is a bit different and impertinent for this paper. After the breakup, a man who came to power on behest of the military, Z Bhutto came to power. He made many follies which strengthened the role of the establishment. We are oblivious of the fact that he was a vociferous advocate of the Balochistan operation of 1973; he forced General Tikka to induct the contentious 2de in the army act, which gave , army the  authority to try and punish civilians. He made the political wing of the ISI and gave the crown to a junior, General Zia. The ruckus that ensued after the 1977 elections gave Zia the opportunity to intervene; on 5th July, 1977 he staged a coup to oust Bhutto. Zia made promises to hold elections; he was resolute to go back in the barracks. However, he ruled the country for a good part of 11 years. He used the judiciary to good effect to hang Bhutto on the 4th of April, 1979; this was a grave episode, one that cannot be justified.

Thereafter Zia became all-powerful; he curtailed the powers of the courts; restricted the press and wrested controlled the bureaucracy by inducting military personnel in the administrative setup. The country was under a fully fledged martial law. He appointed CMLA’s across the country. General Sawar, General Rahimuddin, General Jahanzeb and General Iqbal were some of the martial law administrators. The Afghan war turned Zia, from a pariah to a champion of the free world. He allied with the US and fought a proxy war till 1988. He used the slogan of Islam to perpetuate his rule and espoused the Afghan Jihad. This meant that the ISI had an ever-increasing role to play, both in the Jihad and also in the politics. The military establishment, in connivance with the civilian establishment launched independent candidates on the scene, for instance Nawaz Sharif who remained finance and chief minister of Punjab and was a strong proponent of military rule/ Zia made narrow institutions such as the Majlis e Shura; organized farce election and used Islam as a political strategy. I would not go further to unfold Zia’s era, for it is impertinent, to say the least.

 After his death, the country was under grotesque democracy, driven by incompetent leaders, namely, Benazir and Nawaz Sharif. The establishment was a silent spectator however; the creation of the IJI and the Mehran Bank scandal speaks volumes of the role of the intelligence agencies in Pakistan. In fact, the army had the final say in issues pertaining to India, nuclear and Afghanistan. To be candid, the politicians were uncouth to handle these errands. Once, Benon Sevon came to meet Nawaz Sharif over the Afghan imbroglio, but Nawaz was oblivious of the happenings in Afghanistan. Thus, the establishment continued to put their weight on issues of national security and foreign policy.

The coup of 1999 is a well-known case in history, therefore, one should not delve into that, but a bit a General Musharraf would serve the paper well.

Musharaf ousted a feeble government and put the country on track for greater things. He ushered in an era of development with the help of dexterous technocrats; barring the operation Parakram , relations with India were improving; the media was free and the economy was booming. However, his support for the Afghan war; a facade democracy; the chief Justice’s and Lal Masjid’s  incident proved to be death-knell for him. After he relinquished the throne, the country has seen the worst of times under a PPP- headed coalition government.

I do not believe in stories that are not backed up with corroborations. I vehemently repudiate the statement of the “Crime Minister” Yousuf Raza with regards to the military being a state within a state. The military establishment is callous now; they have left these politicians free. Yet, scholars say that the military is playing the cards without much concrete evidence.

Yes, the army has played a vital role in these four years. It was the military which restored the CJ to his deserved position by forcing Asif Zardari to do so.

I would like to unfold an incident, which will never be highlighted in the media. After the Mumbai attacks of 26/11, India, via Mike Mullen conveyed our president to get ready for surgical strikes in Muridke and Azad Kashmir; Zardari did not castigate them and remained quiet, but the Army chief reprimanded Mullen and India of grievous consequences and assured them of a full scale reply. Then, the army put their foot down on the Karry-Lugar bill.

The army is fully focused on counterinsurgency operations in FATA; they carried out stupendous operations in Swat, South Waziristan and other areas. They are not concerned about politics. The strategic planners in the military establishment are bent upon countering India’s Cold Start doctrine instead of political gimmicks, same goes for the ISI.

Thus, I urge erudite scholars   like Christine Fair, Bruce rediel and others not to base their pieces on concocted stories. The bogey of establishment is used by politicians to camouflage their misdeeds. One needs to explore the reasons of the preponderant role of the military establishment; I am focusing on military because the civilian establishment, for the protection of their interest, hobnobs with all governments. If people say that the military intervened wrongly in the setup, then I would rebuke them squarely by telling them about the subverted democracy.

Musharraf rule ushered in economic development; the average growth rate meandered around 6 %; the tax to GDP ratio was much better than today.

Who will curtail the dominance of the establishment? The answer is simple; sincere, committed and competent people at the helm will block them. If they ameliorate the system and make it bereft of loopholes then, no establishment can poke their nose. If our military is involved in national security and foreign policy decision making then, so be it. My civilian politicians don’t have the wherewithal to take this decision. The military is perhaps the greatest stakeholder in foreign and defence policy, thereby; they ought to be involved. I believe that, the US army has the greatest say in making all of the above-mentioned policies.

I would like to conclude this paper by a few suggestions. First, the duty of the military establishment is to defend the territorial sovereignty of a country; the job of the bureaucracy is to carry-out the policies of the state on to provide policy options and certainly they are not supposed to rule the country. This is what our Quaid stated firmly in many of his speeches. However, there are certain responsibilities upon the shoulders of the leaders. Seemingly, as of now, the military is serving the country meritoriously by giving sacrifices galore; but what is the government doing?

Our government is rife with venal personalities, who are way too busy in mustering wealth; they have thrown the country to dogs; the element that peeves me is that, they have no qualms about their follies. I would request my anchors to stop saying this:

“A sordid democracy is better than a brilliant dictatorship”. This statement pesters me to the extremity. Last, but not the least, the establishment is roped in to rule the country, which is not their job.

I am proud of my military/

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Rajarental: A dexterous lackey and a pariah PM

I am very unequivocal in showing my reservations about this grotesque democracy in Pakistan. The follies of the PPP- led coalition has tarnished the reputation of democracy, which is deemed as the best governing system. The government has remained unfazed by all impediments, which have marred the country. One cannot possibly delve into those impediments, for they are too much, and well-documented. The credibility of the incumbent government is at its lowest ebb; rightly so, for it has thrown the country to dogs. However, it was widely opined, that the leader of the pack (PPP), was in a position to recover some lost territory, by supplanting Mr Gillani with a somewhat, less tainted and clean PM, but they foiled this opportunity in connivance with their partners, to include MQM, ANP and PML-Q. Much to our dismay, our head of state nominated the infamous, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf as a candidate for premiership of the country; an office that happens to be everything in an archetypical parliamentary democracy, not in Pakistan, though. These so-called amendments have not transferred the powerhouse from Zardari to PM. The nomination and election of Raja Pervaiz Ashraf or Rajarental is nothing less than a pariah for the nation, yet the PPP has no remorse in giving him the crown. This piece will highlight the traits of Raja Sahib, which compelled the president to repose faith in him and 211 parliamentarians to vote for him.

Firstly, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is someone, who happens to be un-assuming and docile person; doesn’t seem to be a man who wields power. In a facade democracy which, happens to be   under the thumb of our president, he is the ideal man for this task. Certainly, the 51-month epoch of Mr Gillani was dominated by Zardari; he being de facto head of the party took all major decisions. Extrapolation will not be wrong; Raja sahib will be a mere puppet, not in the hands of the establishment, but the president.

Secondly, appointing the 61 year old Sindhi cum Punjabi politician as a candidate is not something new; the PPP offers promotion based upon unmatched qualifications. These qualifications include: outstanding performances in their respective ministries; vociferous chants of Jayee Bhutto and BB shaheed and praising the services of president Zardari for democracy. Raja is thus a befitting candidate; the ministry of water and power was in full bloom under him; it tried and succeeded in crippling the country with the weapon of load shedding. The effects of the power crisis need not be emphasized more, for they are far-reaching, multifarious and ever-increasing. Raja Pervaiz was an abominable snowman for the hoi polloi of Pakistan till 2011 when he was ousted from the cabinet. He could have escaped the opprobrium, had he not made innumerable promises to eradicate the curse of load shedding. The newly-elected premier said on one occasion “load shedding will be done away with on the 14th of August.” True to his promise, load shedding was not experienced on that day, but as 15th dawned, it re-appeared. This was just one instance; Hamid Mir, yesterday showed footages of his high-sounded promises to get rid of power outages, yet he was not indignant upon his lacklustre performance. Same goes for his party; it is recalcitrant on defending his candidature, which is a criminal, to say the least. But why should we only say all this for Raja Pervaiz. We have seen the follies of Naveed Qamar and Ahmed Mukhtar were rewarded by swapping their portfolios; Makdom Amin continues to enjoy the taste of his ministry. The predecessor of Raja Pervaiz, Mr Gillani was no different.

Finally, the man in question is alleged, tainted and under scrutiny of the supreme court, in the rental power case. If the leader of the pack is venal; the ex-premier was under the scanner and other ministers, to include Makhdom Shahuddin and Amin Faheem are facing charges of dishonesty then the newly-elected premier is apt to lead a cohort of tarnished personalities and incompetent to the core. The sleeping prowess of Naveed Qamar is well-known, yet he is the man responsible for defence-related affairs, things that are way beyond his dexterity. So, Rajarental, as he is called will not be an odd man out.

Now, I come to the crux of this article, which terms the new PM as a dexterous lackey and a pariah. First, let me delve into him being a pariah. One can go in a slum and ask about him; people would hurl profanities, for they deem him as responsible for leading life sans electricity. Certainly, he is a sycophant; a loyal chum of the president and a man who camouflages his slip-ups in the name of bhuttoism.
Hence, it can be inferred that, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has nothing worthwhile to write home about; his previous idiosyncrasies compel us to deem him as a pariah, yet he fits-in well amongst the ranks of the PPP, owing to his dexterous sycophancy

Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Egyptian revolution

The incendiary forces of the 2011’s Egyptian revolution:

Were they socio-economic or political?

           Revolutions have changed the course of history; they have not only affected the countries of their origin, but their ramifications have been felt elsewhere. It is normally deemed that, the French Revolution provided an impetus for further movements, to include nationalistic ones, which led to the unification of Italy and Germany in the latter half of the 19th century.  Egypt has also witnessed revolutions, which continues to create an impact. It was the 1952’s revolution, which ousted not only the monarch, Farouk, but also the British; the latter had ruled Egypt since 1882. After that, the country was ruled by General Naguib, Gamal Abdul Nasir and later by Anwar Sadat.

        In 1981, Anwar Sadat was assassinated by soldiers led by Lieutenant Khalid; this brought Hosni Mubarak to power. Hosni ruled Egypt nonchalantly from then onwards. But, as we say in English that, for how long can the evil be put off. The populace protested in January, 2011 and soon it turned into a massive revolution, which culminated in the ouster of the abominable, Hosni Mubarak. I often do not subscribe to the fact that, the love for democracy compelled people to revolt; instead, I think that belly teaches all arts. This paper will delve into assessing the incendiary forces behind the revolution with a special focus on economic and social factors. This study aims to probe the following: I what caused the revolution after 30 years of Mubarak’s epoch? II why didn’t this happen in the 1980’s or 1990’s or even in the early 2000’s for that matter? Democrats around the world attribute the outbreak of the revolution to the dictatorial policies of Mubarak, to include curtailments on speech; police brutality and others. However, people lived under the tyrannical regime for 30 years; there was no mutiny to oust the government till 2011.Although, the regime was grotesquely repressive, but what actually kindled the revolution were the socio-economic factors, to include unemployment; high inflation; poor living conditions and other such grave aspects.

            No one can ever undermine the impact of economic and social factors, on the survivability of an incumbent government. Although, the revolution in Egypt happened recently, but still there have been studies carried-out to explore the reasons, which caused the upheaval in 2011.various studies have attributed the revolution to the socio-economic factors. A comprehensive study done by eminent scholars of the American University of Cairo, gives us a full list of socio-economic causes that, kindled the revolution. First, they delved on the income inequality and poverty levels in Egypt; backed-up with data, this factor was fully explained in the study. Certain other factors, to include overpopulation and youth unemployment, education and market matching, amongst other such indicators were discussed in the study. In the section of overpopulation and youth unemployment, the authors opine about the rapid increase in Egypt’s population during the epoch of Mubarak:

The Ex-president Hosni Mubarak ruled the country for nearly thirty years, during which the population grew by 90% from 45 million to 85 million, according to United Nations (UN) estimates, despite concerted government efforts to slow down population growth. The vast majority of Egyptians live in the limited spaces near the banks of the Nile River, in an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found and competing with the need of human habitations. (10-11)

The authors have clearly shown a vivid picture of the bulge in the population, overtime. This is not all that was dwelt with in this study; furthermore, they explained a very colossal problem that the youth confronted. They elucidated that “moreover, according to the Population Reference Bureau’s annual report in 2005 two-thirds Egyptians are under 30, and each year 700,000 new graduates chase 200,000 jobs” (11). These figures are certainly worrisome, to say the least. Job is a crutch for every individual and of course, the economy.

Similarly, another piece of literature gives vent to significance of socio-economic in the turmoil of 2011. Nick beams, national secretary of the socialist equality party (Australia), prepared a report, which was published in the World Socialist Website. The report outlined various socio-economic rationales for challenging the writ of the state. First, he calls the worker class in Egypt as the most potent; this inkles pretty much towards the economic element. Nick beams categorically discusses about the grievances of the workers: they were unhappy with the post-2004 neo-liberal economic policies of the Mubarak’s regime; the augmentation in the pace of privatization led to a crisis in the job market; the conditions of the workers became deplorable and wealth was being amassed by the higher echelons (par 6). Nick further backs his argument by putting the following lines in black and white “when the minimum wage rate was related to per capita gross national product, it had declined from nearly 60 percent in 1984 to 19.4 percent in 1991-92; and then to 13.4 percent in 2007.”(par 6). These evidences suffice the need to accentuate upon the socio-economic degeneration, while studying the fresh revolution. It would be pertinent to mention one other work on this topic. In an article “More than a political revolution”, Samantha Iyer has attributed the mutiny to high living costs; youth unemployment and cuts in social services (par 8).  The author of this piece has reasonably accentuated upon the economic factors; in fact, the societal dimensions of the economy were in limelight. Thus far, the aforementioned studies have corroborated the claim that, the triggering reasons were apolitical, to say the least however; the annus horribilis owed to the high-headed policies of Mubarak. Hence, one can find various scholars concurring upon the economic elements of the revolution; even scholars like Shadi Hamid, who vociferously attribute the mutiny to political reasons, also delve on socio-economic indicators.

Yet, there are some scholars that repudiate the socio-economic milieu as the incendiary force behind the revolution; they argue that, the Egyptian economy was relatively better than other countries. One such study is noteworthy; Andrew V.Korotayee and Julia V. Zinkina, wrote a paper in the Middle East Online Journal. They used statistical data to manifest that, economic stagnation; corruption and unemployment were not grave matters. Further, V. Krotayee and Zinkina bickered “economic growth rates accelerated particularly visibly after 2004 when the new government     managed to attract a group of talented economists who worked out an effective program of economic reforms.” (3).The study described the Egyptian economy as vibrant, only in relation to other impoverished countries, which eschews the gravity of the situation.

Apart from papers, articles and other literary pieces by learned men, one can find data galore to corroborate the very significance of economic relapse. The bulge in population became a persistent problem, for it emanated other emanated other impediments; graphs show the very existence of this phenomenon (see fig .1).

The bulge in the country’s populace may turn out to be a bane, to say the least; the economy may not have the requisite number of jobs, which obviously leads to the grave problem of unemployment. The pinch of being unemployed cannot be felt until one goes through the same mill. The figure below clearly depicts that, the Egyptian population comprises of relatively young men and women. This is a double- edged sword for the economy; the country’s economy  has the propensity to expand however; unemployment can result in societal evils.

                                    Fig. 1.  Youth bulge in Egypt (Neguib et al.10)

This, along with other figures speaks volumes of economic and social problems that led to Mubarak’s ouster from the office. In another data, provided by the World Bank way back in 1989, it was observed that, upper bracket income earners, got the lion’s share of Egypt’s national income (Neguib et al.6-7). This, without an iota of doubt, vitiates the relationship across sections of the society; Egypt was not immune from all these rifts. The results of all the tables and graphs that I scanned through were inkling towards lopsided wealth and poor living conditions. The studies have shown one eccentric phenomenon; the GDP and GNI of Egypt grew, but simultaneously, the level of inequality also increased. This is a harbinger of a grievous problem; the economic prosperity does not have a trickle-down effect.

Thus far, I have reflected upon previous research, pertinent to the titanic revolution; this upheaval was potent enough to dislodge the monstrous dictator. I would refer back to the question, which happens to be the mainstay of this paper. What caused the revolution after 30 years? Why did Mubarak become a pariah in 2011, but not in the 1980, 1990 or early 2000’s? I vociferously refute the claim, that the Egyptians had a love lost for democracy; the immense love for democracy did not bring about the ebb of the dictator. It took nearly thirty years for the populace to endeavour to supplant the abominable autocracy, with the enamoured democracy.  The fact, that the nation was in slumber, inkles towards other reasons; those reasons were apolitical, so to speak. As aforementioned, the sharp increase in inflation; lopsided distribution of wealth and other factors left the country in a huff. Especially, if one considers the past performances of Egypt in the economic sphere, one can develop a link between economic downturn and grievances. Indeed, the worker class protested only because they were getting deplorable, by the day. If they were not deplorable; Mubarak’s regime would have been alright for them. Why would a youngster lambaste a dictator, if he acquires a job, commensurate with his credentials? Every tom dick and harry is not cognizant of political theories; he aspires to live with peace and prosperity. It would not take more time and space for me to repudiate, all those who try to put weight behind the political factors as the prime movers. Despite all his repressive measures, which anyways emanated societal problems; the nation never ventured- out against him. When the economic element was tinkered by his ill-fated policies, the tide turned against him; no one camouflaged him. We lived happily under a Pakistani dictator, till a point when the country was rife with inflation, terrorism and other issues. We Pakistanis, revolted when the above-mentioned impediments plagued our country. Same goes for the Egyptians; in fact, all revolutions, barring the Iranian were triggered by economic downturn and social disparity.

In sum, it may not be wrong to say, that the Egyptians were ripe for a revolution, not because of love for democracy or loath for dictatorship, but because of economic stagnation and youth bulge, which further had a multiplier effect on the populace. Mubarak would have clung on to power, had labour been prosperous or young graduates found apt jobs; he was ousted because people rightly deemed him and his lackeys as the culprits. The political reasons have their rightful place in causing a  mutiny, but they cannot supplant the economic and social as the incendiary forces behind the historic episode. One can identify certain limitations in this study; the paper has only looked into a few broad economic indicators. A few more graphs and tables would have gone down well with the readers; graphs and tables help, elucidate complex situations. The topic is broad and is open to multi-faceted research. The researchers should, try and go to Egypt to ask those who made history by participating in the event. No scholar can explain things, the way these ordinary people can do.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Afridi is not a politician

Eminent scholars around the world, base their stories about Pakistan on unsubstantiated claims; this is not only true in case of Pakistani politics, but cricket also. I would unequivocally say that, so-called cricket pundits are hell-bent upon castigating Afridi for anything untoward that happens in cricket. During Misbah epoch as skipper, Afridi was deemed as the culprit for instigating Anti-Misbahism and when, Hafeez was given the coveted appointment, these trolls were casting aspersions on his espousal. They never believed in Afridi’s open support for Misbah or Hafeez, for that matter. This piece would delve on the fact that, Shahid Afridi is not involved in gimmicks; all aspersions are nothing, but hogwash. We don’t need to be anti-Misbah to be pro-Afridi.

Shahid Afridi came out of retirement during the tenure of Misbah; he came back in a team, which was led and developed by him in most grievous milieu. The series against Srilanka, happened to be his comeback series; he took 13 wickets and scored 123 runs, which earned him the much yearned for Man of the series award; one should not forget 20th November, 2011 when he scored 75 and got 5 wickets to grapple a victory for “Team Misbah. In the one-off T20, Afridi’s cameo helped us cross the line.

After that, Afridi travelled to Bangladesh with the entourage of Misbah. Afridi’s 7th 5 wicket haul and 24 with the bat helped us circumvent ignominy in the first ODI. The talismanic cricketer scored 42 in the next game to propel the team’s total. The series yielded 72 runs and 5 wickets for him, to include one MOTM.

Next, Pakistan had to face the war-torn Afghanistan; the team was full of gumption and optimism. They took our bowlers to the cleaners, virtually, but it was Afridi who mesmerised his ethnic fellows by grabbing 5 wickets. I am pretty much sure that, had it not been for his brilliance, the virulent pashtuns would have beaten us.

Despite all the aforementioned performances, a slight dip in his form in the England series, where he could only muster 106 runs and 3 wickets, the guns were turned at him. Although, he could have taken many more wickets, had the field placing not been grotesque. Certain journalists were writing concocted stories against him, but all in vain, for he flaunted a decent performance in the Asia Cup final; thus, contributing to Pakistan’s victory.

All in all, Afridi scored 335 runs and took 29 wickets in 15 matches under the incumbent ODI skipper, Misbah-Ul-Haq; in the t20’s, he scored 65 runs and took 3 wickets. Rebuking him for playing politics is absolutely claptrap.

Professor’s debut as skipper was shocking for the Green brigade and Afridi; his poor, yet necessary shot was lambasted by everybody as if they are maestros themselves. Chants of politicking reverberated. However, the trolls were left in a huff as just hours ago; Afridi swash buckled 52 and took 2 wickets to win the game for Pakistan. He glossed Hafeez’s scratchy/dismal show. Whre does politics figure in?

I request the erudite to come up with concrete evidence against Afridi; upon failure they should stay put and support him in thick in thin. His performances gives vent to the fact that he is a cricketer , not a politicians.

Monday, 14 May 2012

14TH MAY, 2010

We were the champions of the shortest format of the game; the trophy was lifted on 21st June, 2009. The glory was a great bequest for a country beset with impediments galore. The euphoria was understandably huge, but short-lived; we were off to the Caribbean for the next edition. Our team was in tatters; many stalwarts were banned/fined, to include the victorious skipper Younus Khan and Shoaib Malik. PCB appointed Shahid Afridi as the skipper after the announcement of the squad which was an assortment of youngsters and veterans; some were perhaps inept for the T20’s. This article does not want to give a run-down of the whole event and how it panned-out for the then world champions, instead it will shed light on the culminating match as far as Pakistan was concerned.  Pakistan took on her nemesis, Australia in the semi final; they became nemesis because they had pummelled us down-under in 2009/10. I have seen the pits of Pakistan’s cricket; it would be unreasonable to call it as a dark day for Pakistan’s cricket, but for a fanatic like me the flabbergasting   loss was a death-knell. The subsequent lines would refresh the memories of those who were livid.

As aforementioned, Pakistan took on the Aussies in the semi on an overcast day at ST Lucia. Clarke had the misread the pitch and hence, inserted Pakistan to bat. After a sedate start, the two openers, Kamran Akmal and the incarcerated Salman Butt flayed the Aussie bowlers; the former departed after mustering up exactly 50 while the latter conjured 32. The captain fell prey early (8), so did Khalid Latif(13).

Then came the rookie, Umar Akmal to the crease and the carnage began; Umar flaunted startling strokes to the on side for huge sixes; he propelled a modest total into 191. Umar himself amassed 56 off 35 balls, leaving Pakistan well on course to reach the third consecutive final. I was cocker hoop to the extremity; I know that we have the bowling prowess to show them the door.

I was having a fallacy that we would go to Barbados to lock horn with England for the coveted. The dismal start by the Kangroos when they lost Watson and Warner inside 3 overs, gave by belief more vent. The Aussies never really recovered, losing Clarke, Haddin and David Hussey at regular intervals. However, White bludgeoned 5 sixes to restore some order. Meanwhile, Hussey was quietly gaining momentum. White got out, leaving his team in a huff, so did Steve Smith. We were dancing like anything. After 18 overs, the Aussies required 34 more, which was perhaps highly unlikely, but Mr Cricket took 16 runs off the 19th over, leaving 18 runs to win off the final over. This was a mamooth errand. Afridi went to his tried and tested option, Saeed Ajmal who was on top of his game. He bowled the first ball for a single; Hussey came on strike and on the second and third delivery deposited the ball in the aisles. This gave many of us the jolt of our life. Adding insult to injury, he finished the game in a jiffy by hitting a four and a six. We were no longer world beaters; Afridi wasn’t able to fortify the title. We were left indignant.

I want my readers to understand that both the captain and the bowler need not be censured for the dramatic turnaround; one should have the spirit to eulogize M E K Hussey.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

My beloved country is in dire straits.

The love of one’s country is the greatest virtue of a civilized man”. This is a famous quote uttered by Napoleon Bonaparte. I fully concur with this very saying of the great general, for I consider myself insignificant without my country. From the very outset, I was ordained to think about doing something substantial for Pakistan; I have obeyed those orders, and will continue to do so till the very end. The patriotism that has been inculcated in me has made it difficult to digest the current state of the country. Hence, there are various things that annoy me about the current situation of Pakistan.
The first phenomenon that really pinches me is Pakistan’s abysmal economic growth which is currently at 2.4 % according to the latest economic survey of Pakistan. Indeed, this is disappointing and not something to boast about, for the country is endowed with all the resources that one can ask for, be it copper, gold or other minerals, not to forget our talented population. I get more frustrated when I compare this growth with the past; the previous economic surveys showed an average growth rate of 7% from 2004 to 2008; this was certainly a robust growth rate. The most important reason that makes this situation worrisome is the fact that India, our perennial enemy is the 4th largest economy in the world; the CIA World Fact book bears testimony to her position. Hence, it is a cause of concern for diehards like me, for this rate is way beyond our capability, and that our neighbor has taken the lead in this regard.

The second thing that frets me is that personal-equation has become the criterion for getting pivotal positions in the cabinet, state corporations and other important places. In essence, nepotism is being preferred over meritocracy. There are numerous examples; the minister for petroleum who is basically a surgeon, is nothing, but a friend of Mr. Zardari. Instead of giving examples, it is imperative to explain that these kinds of appointments which do not take merit into account, are ruinous. Firstly, this is really annoying because we have talented and competent people who are being wasted; they can deliver the results, but they just don’t have political connections. Secondly, we are all seeing that the institution which were considered as the pride of the nation, to include PIA, Railways and others have all gone to dogs; in fact they are on the cusp of closure. Last but not the least, these failures have a direct bearing on the common population. Indeed, nepotism is annoying, for it has ruined our essential institutions.
Perhaps, the most agonizing scenario in Pakistan is the curse of corruption; this has really crippled us. For me to say that corruption annoys me would not tell the magnitude of this epidemic, so to speak. Firstly, corruption contributes heavily in poverty and inflation. Secondly, it has stalled our growth. Lastly, it has made life miserable for those who are away from this nuisance, for I believe that the virtual bankruptcy of the above-mentioned corporation is owed to corruption. So it can be concluded that corruption in Pakistan really pesters me.
To sum up, the dwindling economy of the country; the rampant corruption and installing   favorites on critical positions is what really annoys me, for all these things are a bane for Pakistan.

Afghanistan and Pakistan


The year, 1979 was very eventful, to say the least; early in the year, the Iranian revolution overthrew the western stooge Raza Shah; Pakistan was under martial law, while Afghanistan was still under turmoil, after the Saur Revolution of 1978.However, there was one event which left an indelible impact, not only on Afghanistan, but also on Pakistan; the event in question is the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This invasion culminated into a proxy war between the two heavyweights, namely USA and USSR; this was the last Cold War battle. Afghanistan became the centre of attention for a good part of 9 years, but Pakistan had a significant role to play in the surrogate war. The country became a conduit, which assisted the Afghan freedom fighters to resist the Soviet Union. President, General Zia turned from a pariah to a champion of modernity. Pakistan became a US ally in the war, and hence, received huge sums of money, which helped her a great deal, but she had to bear the brunt of millions of refugees; a Kalashnikov culture and extremism, which continues to haunt her. Hence, the events in Afghanistan have a direct bearing on Pakistan. Even after the soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan was typified by in-fighting, political instability and extremism; to a certain extent these problems were faced by the country across the Durand line too. The international community shifted their attention from Afghanistan, after 1989; however, after the Taliban entry, started to initiate peace processes. The interest in this region was brought back after the infamous 9/11. The Taliban’s refusal to handover Bin Laden forced the start of operation “ENDURING FREEDOM” in Afghanistan, which continues to date

Again, the new phase of the Afghan War has labelled this region as perilous; peace has not been restored in Afghanistan, despite all efforts. Pakistan is again an ally in this “War on Terror”, and has given great sacrifices in these 10 years; a wave of terrorism has crippled the country’s economy, not to forget the loss of 40,000 lives. Hence, it is clear that both countries are beset with problems, which are similar and dissimilar both. The coalition forces want a safe exit from this quagmire, while both, Afghanistan and Pakistan look forward to a peaceful and prosperous region. Ostensibly, this book is written to provide in-depth analysis on the problems which have marred the two countries. The author has called conflict as the main problem in Afghanistan, and extremism as that of Pakistan.

The author, Riaz Mohammad Khan was an experienced diplomat.  He held important assignments, to include Ambassadorial responsibilities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, European Union, Belgium and China. However, the assignments that make him an authority in AF-PAK affairs, is his designation as director general of Afghan and soviet affairs (1986-92); and foreign secretary of Pakistan from 2005-2008.The book is divided in three parts; the first deals with Afghanistan; the second deals with Pakistan; and the last part deals with the concluding opinions and perspective of the author.


The book reviews the conflicts in Afghanistan after the Soviet departure in the first part of the book, which comprises of 4 chapters. The first chapter discusses the post-Soviet period from 1989 to 1995.Firstly, the study talks about the permutations that were being discussed by stakeholders, for the future; Pakistan was a proponent of a government based on national reconciliation: dialogue between the Mujahedin and Najibullah. However, the Geneva accords were signed, leaving Afghanistan amidst a new phase of conflict. Then, the chapter goes on to examine the intra-Afghan fight for power. The study talks about the creation of AIG, as a representative body; the botched-up Jalalabad operation, which led to the defeat and division of the ISI, backed Mujahedins.Furthermore, the chapter analyses the peace initiative taken to stabilize Afghanistan. The UN efforts were led by Diego Cordovez and later Benon Sevon; these efforts for a broad based government failed because the hardliners like Gulbaddin refused any UN intervention, while some were ambivalent, or sceptic about the UN’s role. Next, Pakistan’s efforts for political stability are discussed, in the chapter. The study shows, the efforts made by Ghulam Ishaq Khan, to convince the Afghan parties for making a broad-based government; then, Pakistan  wanted to pursue UN’S involvement, but was enable to do so. Pakistan held the bag, even after the world lost interest. A short-lived Pak-Iran co-operation also followed. The chapter further elaborates the somewhat, concerted efforts to oust Najibullah’s government. The Mujahedin unitedly launched a successful operation of khost; this eventually led to the abdication of Najibullah.However, stability was a far shot. Then, efforts were made to press upon the Tanzeemat, to work out the transfer of power with the UN. Differences arose over the nomination of office-bearers in the new government, adding to frustration. After deliberations, the eight Afghan parties signed the Peshawar accords. The accords defined two phases of interim government headed first by Mojadedi, and then Rabbani (rip); the ministries were divided among the parties. After a two months lull, yet turmoil started as Mojadedi wanted to perpetuate his rule, which was repugnant to the Peshawar accords. This period was marred by the rivalry between Ahmed Shah Massoud and Gulbadin; the latter was mollified by being installed as prime minister, in the newly drafted Islamabad accords. These overtures flunked in bringing peace. The chapter, at last, analysed Pakistan’s concerns over the subverted Afghanistan; she feared that the route to CIS would be hindered by the war-like situation in Afghanistan; and did not like the under representation of pashtuns in the new set-up.

The next chapter, analyses the advent and ascendency of the Taliban from 1995 to 2001.The author, refutes the claim that, ISI created the virulent Taliban, instead is of the opinion that it was the growth of madrassas; Islamization under zia, and discontent in Afghanistan, that created them. The author has written about the way in which people rallied together against the corrupt warlords: these warlords were hanged by these people known as Taliban. Soon, this new force swept through Uruzgan, Paktia and Paktita, and knocked at the gates of Kabul. However, were overpowered by Massoud. They recovered, and launched an assault on Kabul;      they captured Kabul with tactical acumen, and formed a government. Then, Taliban shifted their attention towards the north. Owing to desertions and fighting prowess, they captured Mazar e Sharif, but this was followed by their ouster too, temporarily though. Furthermore, this chapter discusses the involvement of UN with this newfound power .The UN instituted a mission for Afghanistan, mainly to encourage ceasefires; expedite the process of reconciliation, and to install a broad-based government. However, these efforts failed because of UN’s non recognition of the Taliban. Further efforts, such as “Six plus two” also failed, since it did not reach out to the masses. Then, the author goes on to explain US’s ambivalence towards the Taliban; he says that initially the US was neutral, if not supportive, but their views were influenced by two factors: first, the antipathy of Iran towards Taliban, second, a growing interest in oil pipelines. The chapter puts light on the rise of Al Qaeda, and its link with the Taliban. The Taliban were put under pressure to handover; UN resolutions were imposed. At last, the immediate ramifications are discussed by the author. The way Musharraf agreed to espouse the US; efforts to persuade Mullah Omar to handover OBL, and US military operation and the fall of the Taliban, were discussed by the author.

Chapter 3 delineated the happenings in Afghanistan after 9/11.The demand for a broad-based government was enlivened; eventually a Bonn Agreement was signed by Afghan notables, which  made Hamid Karzai as the head of the interim government. Hamid perpetuated his rule by winning the elections in 2004.Furthermore; the chapter identifies the failure of the new political dispensation; the agreement required a transitional government, which limited the ability to consolidate control. The country was still subverted, as the Taliban began to regroup. The governance of Karzai did not deliver because the ministers were preoccupied with political gimmicks. The study also analysed further developments such as Afghan compact, and its failures; the US involvement in Iraq, and the worsening situation on the Durand Line. Hamid felt that Taliban was being espoused by elements across the border; Pakistan always asked for concrete evidence. Pakistan’s proposals for improving border security were shunned by Afghanistan. The remaining chapter discusses the series of loya jirgas held by AF-PAK for peace; the military predicament of Pakistan in the tribal areas: the army faced multifarious challenges, to include the inability to divert forces from the eastern border, since India is a perennial enemy; a difficult terrain, and the ability of the miscreant to mix with the locals, which rose the likelihood of collateral damage. The mistrust between the militaries was developing faster; this is the incendiary force for the increase in predator strikes. The discontent grew in the dying days of the Bush administration. The chapter includes a section on the Af-Pak reviewed strategies too. The first review was a comprehensive strategy containing both, political and economic elements. The second review was the brainchild of General David concept of “TROOP SURGE” which he used in Iraq. Finally, the much debated Kerry-Lugar Bill is weighed up by the author; This Bill became a stumbling block in the military relations of the two countries, since the clauses required the infiltration in the army’s internal affairs.

The last chapter in the Afghan section outlines the interests and concerns of external powers in this landlocked country. The author has talked about the interests of Pakistan in gaining strategic depth for themselves; her advocacy for a pashtun government and other interests are discussed. Similarly Indian and Iranian support for the Northern Alliance; Saudi Arabia’s efforts for foisting Saudi Salafi version of Islam; US’s Afghan policy over the last three decades, and at last, the policies of Russia, China and CIS  were outlined in this chapter.

The second part of this book focuses on the Pakistani problem of rising radicalism. The first chapter in this part gives an account of the rise in militancy in the country; and the efforts by various regimes to control it. This chapter outlines the military campaigns in FATA, Malakand and in the Red Mosque. At last, the author enlightens us with the intellectual crisis and weak governance. The author has cited the contributions of towering personalities in shaping religious views; Islamization of Zia, and the tenures of successive governments.


I developed a profound interest in international relations, politics, and other related disciplines; I was particularly keen on enriching myself with more knowledge on what some people call the “arc of conflicts”. I had already got substantial information, but I needed a good book to understand the complexities of the region, which were evident, when I studied about AF-PAK hostile relations. This book provided me with a well-informed account of events in this theatre of conflict, which I had not found in other books. I think that the author has given an insider’s view from 1989 till date. This will prove very helpful for students like me to understand the impediments faced by this region.

There are plenty of things to like about this book. First, the author has put light on all the important events in this region; not a single event has eluded the author’s attention, be it the efforts to oust Najibullah; or the intra-Mujahedin feuds over power. The chapter on the Taliban thoroughly traces their rise up the ladder. I feel that the most compelling features of this book are the chapter which analyses the interests and concerns of the external players. I say this because, I had previously only heard about the meddling of foreign elements in Afghanistan, but didn’t know the policies of those powers for Afghanistan in detail. Then the author has gone deep to explain the reasons for the growth of religious fanaticism, to include the Afghan jihad and Islamization. Similarly he gives reasons for the institutional debacle: the politicization of the bureaucracy, judiciary and the military.

The author has not only unfolded events, of the past two decades, but has always equivocally given his point of view; in fact he has included a full chapter on perspectives and opinions. There is very little that one can bicker on, since he has roughed out 39 years in foreign dealings. However, there is always a divergence of opinions, probably due to a different frame of reference.

One can agree with the author that the idea of Pakistan seeking strategic depth is not sensible because its main enemy was on the eastern side, and Afghanistan cannot put a barrier between the two neighbours. However, it is difficult for me to reconcile with the notion that Taliban would have been different if they were recognized, since, they were recalcitrant, and going by the pashtun principle of “nanawati” which means providing sanctuary; they would have never budged an inch on handing over Osama. Then, I do not believe in the view that the Pakistan army were ill-trained to fight in FATA, which happens to be a built up area. I can’t believe this because fighting in built-up areas is taught all the way through, from Pakistan Military Academy, to probably the NDC. I do not agree with the author when he says that more time should have been allowed for students to get out of Red Mosque, since they had been given time in plenitude, but they were adamant not to bow-down. I think the author has belittled the meritorious contribution of the stalwart, Syed Ahmed Khan , by saying that MAO College just aimed at preparing the Muslims elite to become a part of the ruling class; his movement was a milestone for awakening the Muslim , it never aimed at ameliorating the status of the elites only. I tend to agree with the author that words such as traitor, unpatriotic and betrayal are loosely, because I even see those people using these words who are themselves are epitomes of the above-mentioned traits. I agree with the author, when he says that Z Bhutto squandered the opportunity of improving the state of affairs in the country; I think that his policies of nationalization of the industrial and educational sector; the politicization of the bureaucracy by appointing PPP loyalists, immensely harmed Pakistan.  Then one can also agree with the fact that Pakistan’s support for Mujahedin groups in Kashmir and Afghanistan actually spawned militancy in the country, since religious parties often galvanized the youth by hailing the resolve of those outfits in fighting the infidels. At last, the author gives his opinions and observations, which are certainly worth reading, since they are coming from horse’s mouth. He has enlisted the policies adopted previously that proved to be a nail in the coffin; he has aptly identified the under-representation of pashtun in the new set-up as hogwash. The under-representation of the largest ethnic group in the country is by all stretch of imagination a fatal error. Those who know something about Afghanistan would concur with the author’s view that military presence in Afghanistan is part of the problem, for the Afghan have always resisted foreign invaders, be it in the Anglo-Afghan Wars, or in the time of the Soviet invasion. Generally one can agree upon the fact that Pakistan should stop its endeavours to install favourites in the Afghan government, but this is what other powers did; India and Iran always supported the Northern Alliance, and since Pakistan is greatly influenced by the happenings in Afghanistan, so ought to have some reason to back “favourites”. The past bears witness to the fact that Afghanistan too tried to instigate “faqir of ipi” to revolt against Pakistan, so this gives vent to my argument. The author has generally given a balanced analysis on the imbroglio in this war zone, which provides information in plenitude, and that too is arranged chronologically. This book has taken care of the all issues from different perspectives.


All in all, this book is written, perhaps on the hottest topic going around these days. I say this simply because the turbulence in these strategically important countries is certainly a bane, not only for these countries, but the whole world. This book goes deep to explain the crux of the impediments faced in creating the highly-coveted peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan too, since the latter has also been plagued by Militancy. To be very honest, the author has touched upon every event that took place in the past two decades, and has explained each one of them from various angles; not forget his balanced analysis. The book has been released at a time when policy-makers are in a quandary about these two countries; and hence, the panaceas given by a person who has been in the thick of things in various capacities, can come in handy in making future policies. I recommend this book to students, who intend to understand the complexities involved in the region because even the un-important facts have not eluded the author’s attention.

This book has given me a lot of material, which was previously not available; this will enable me to develop my own viewpoint on the issues highlighted in this study; this will also increase my quest for more knowledge, which is the greatest wealth in life. One must eulogize the seasoned diplomat for enlightening us with the intricacies of the countries across the much-disputed Durand Line, with a historical perspective of imperative developments witnessed since the past 20 years. This book deserves a thorough reading