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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

Saturday, 21 April 2012

They have left us in a huff

Our country, Pakistan is endowed with virtually everything that one can ask for. Not only, is the country enviably rich in resources, but also in heritage and culture. Moreover, the country is strategically located, owing to the proximity to China and Central Asia. The founding fathers of the nation had envisaged a prosperous future; they wanted Pakistan to have a high status in the comity of nations. However, as of now, the country stands way below that status. Many critics say that dictatorship which remained the governing system for a good part of 3 decades; this theory may well be true, especially if we look at our neighbor, India which is fast developing as a regional power, has not ever seen a military chief abrogate their constitution. The last of the military regime ended initially, when the PPP led coalition took charge of the government in March, 2008 and then on 18th August, General Musharraf relinquished the presidency. Hence, after a lapse of 9 years, a democratic government under the premiership of Yusuf Raza Gillani was in-charge of the state. Army under the new chief, General Kayani went back to the barracks, and the judiciary was active in trying to restore the deposed judges. They were restored in March, 2009 during the long march. Hence, the role of the apex court has been pronounced in the last 4 years.
I have composed this article in trying to make the people cognizant of the fact that we have been left indignant by the  parliament/government  and the military. So, the subsequent paragraphs will shed light over the blemishes made by these institutions in the last 4 years. The article will take care of the incompetence of the government, in tackling with various issues, to include economy and foreign affairs. Then the military’s failures will be discussed in the ensuing pages; especially the Abbottabad debacle and the build-up of their massive empire.

Pakistan was under her fourth martial law from 1999 till 2008. However, the results of the 2008 elections was shocking for the king’s party; PML (N) and PPP won the elections, and soon made the coalition government, with Mr. Gillani being the prime minister. There were great expectations from this newly-elected government since the last few years had brought the popularity of General Musharaf to the nadir. However, our fellow countrymen were soon left indignant by the performance of the parliament. I don’t require a great deal of debate to back my  stance; the events are pretty much indicative of the government’s bad governance.
Over the course of four years, the parliament, I feel has been nothing, but a rubber stamp. The parliament has been ineffective; it passed two unanimous resolutions, one on 31st October, 2008 and the other on 14th May, 2011. These resolutions called for stopping drone attacks, and devising new terms for future ties with the US. However, both of these resolutions were futile; they were not acted upon; drones are thus far infiltrating in our territory and the US is continually browbeating us, not to forget their allegations against the army and ISI regarding links with the haqqani network. A parliament whose resolutions cannot be acted upon can only be called a rubber-stump, nothing else.
I  believe that the parliament can now be considered a white elephant. Well, if 342 MNA’s and 100 senators are paid close to rupees 3750 as daily allowances, and the fact that the parliament as a whole has done nothing substantial for the people of Pakistan; the power crisis has been aggravated in these years; our state corporations, to include PIA,Railway and steel mills have virtually gone to dogs. According to official reports the punctuality has reached abysmally low 65.5 percent and that less than half of its planes have been grounded; similarly, no cognizance has been taken for the killings in Balochistan and Karachi; the later was under severe ethnic violence, last year, but the parliament took a back seat. Then, the case of the missing persons has never been formally taken up by the parliament. The other blunders of the government will be discussed later, but if we just look at the things, already discussed then, certainly the parliament is a white elephant.
 Moreover, due to the staggering growth in unemployment rate, it is believed that the government has failed to deliver. According to CIA world fact book, the unemployment rate, from 7.4 in 2008 jumped to 14% in 2009, 15% in 2010, and 10.4% in 2011. Real GDP grew by a mere 2.4 % and the inflation rate was at 14.1 in the same year, according to the economic survey of Pakistan. This speaks volume of the government’s failure in delivering the desired results. The economy has been hampered by a tax evasion of 79% according to a World Bank study. 24 members of the cabinet including the prime minister are notable tax evaders, according to a report by GEO NEWS.
T he federal cabinet consists of incompetent people who know little about their portfolios.  We see that a surgeon is heading the petroleum ministry while, a businessmen is heading the ministry of defense.  Then it is noteworthy that ministers like Ameen Fahim, and Pervez Ashraf  are facing serious charges of corruption, but never has the prime minister taken any stern action against; which without doubt is his dishonesty with his duty. How can he control the cabinet when his own sons, Qadir Gilani and Ali Musa are under the radar ? He was, and perhaps still is filling important posts with his cronies; he made Adnan Khawaja, a criminal and a matriculated person as the head of OGDC, not to forget the appointment of his media advisor, Khurram Mansoor who is alleged for defrauding worth rupees 630 million.According to the latest report of transparency international, there has been corruption, worth 850 billion rupees. Now, by all means this shows the inability of the government in putting a lid on the curse of corruption. We feel that the government has made a policy statement on having a tussle with the judiciary, and now after the Memo gate scandal, the military has also entered the fray. Indeed, this is the case, be it the NICL, HAJJ, NRO or the Memo gate; the government has shown recalcitrance. Let’s take the last two cases, for they are proving to be the bone of contention. The Supreme Court, on 16th December, 2009 declared NRO as void and therefore ordained the government to write letter to the Swiss courts, but till date this has not been done, resulting in a contempt case on the PM.The memo gate scandal has once again brought the government and the military at loggerheads; the latter calls the memo gate as a serious threat to our sovereignty while, the former is calling it a piece of paper; the prime minister is nullifying the remarks of his military commanders and instead, says that since ISAF commander has called this as a non-issue, so it should be considered a past and closed transaction. The PM needlessly, on 21st December called the military a state within a state, and later called the submission of replies to the apex court by COAS and DG ISI, as unconstitutional. This led to a momentary crisis between the government and the military. As far as the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is concerned, we believe that since he is the head of his party; he should not be president, for the President is a person who should be politically neutral; he should not call the shots. He needs to relinquish at least one post. Seemingly, he has surrendered his powers to the PM, but we all know that even the PM cannot deviate from party policy; this makes Zardari the linchpin. The President , on 2nd May, wrote an article in Washington post where he lauded US forces for infiltrating in Pakistan and killing OBL. Should anyone expect the head of the state to say so; then his role in the memo gate scandal is flabbergasting, to be honest.  We feel that if the revelations in the memo gate scandal are proven then, the bus will stop on Mr. Zardari; he would then be responsible for toying with Pakistan’s sovereignty which is a momentous sin.
Thus far, I have lambasted the government, well and proper, but now will identify the blemishes made by the well- equipped and trained armed forces. There can be no repudiation regarding the fact that these armed men have given titanic sacrifices for the nation; they will receive all the eulogy for that, but since they take a great chunk of the federal budget they can be censured. There have been austere failures in the past few years which have raised many eyebrows, rightly so. In the federal budget 2011-12, budget outlay on defense account for 495,215 million rupees which saddles, the already dwindling economy. This figure pinches us when we see that the defense establishment has time and again failed in their duties. On 10th October, 2009 terrorists ransacked the GHQ for about 6 hours; now if the centre of the military can be targeted then how can we feel secure? On 2nd May, 2011 two American helicopters, carrying navy seals did a 2 hour long operation, just next door to the Pakistan military academy which killed OBL. Our defense system failed to spot and shoot those helicopters, and during the operation, our forces did not reach the place to counter the seals. Hence, they went unscathed. We can only say that our army, intelligence and the air force flunked. Morality demanded our military commanders to relinquish their office, but they are still at the helm. If Husain Haqqani can resign on grounds of alleged involvement then, certainly the military high-ups should do the same since this incident was an overt infringement of the territorial integrity of the country. Then we cannot forget 23rd May, 2011 when a handful of miscreants entered the mehran naval base and destroyed pc3 Orion aircraft; it took a whole day for the security forces to wind-up the operation at the cost of 13 personnel. This too, was a serious security lapse.
This is not all; on 26th November,2011 NATO helicopters annihilated the salala check post in Mohmand, killing 26 security personnel of the 7 ak regiment, but in that process no reinforcements came in to counter the attack. This situation is alarming and hence, there is a great deal of skepticism. The pretext that the military regarding the inability to gun down predators is absurd since they never took  permission from civilians in foisting martial laws, be it 7th October,1958,5th july,1977 or 12th October, 1999. So we deem this attitude as a stigma for the military. We feel that, in light of India’s current efforts to test their Cold Start doctrine which calls for rapid mobilization of battle integrated groups, the ISI should be keeping an eye on this development, instead of political gimmicks. Although, there is no proof of the latter, but we extrapolate things of the past; the ISI was deeply entrenched in politics, so it is rightly assumed that they are still very much into this game which is not their job, by any stretch of imagination. It is important to address the phenomenal growth of our nuclear arsenal; according to congressional research service, Pakistan is growing its cache at the fastest rate. The aforementioned economic data shows that we cannot afford this augmentation and even otherwise it has and can possibly not make us secure.  However, I still salute my army men who defend our frontiers even at the peril of their life. Before giving the concluding remarks, I must rave about the men who have been hit by the avalanche in Siachen.
In sum, one can say that the government  and the military have left us indignant; the former has thrown the country to dogs and the latter has made fatal slip-ups.

Why should Afridi steer the ship

I want to say sorry to my nation”. This is what Shahid Afridi said on the 30th of March, 2011 when the team lost under his command in the semi final of the coveted World Cup to arch- rivals and eventual champions India. He apologized for leading a fragmented, jaded and weak team to the top 4; something which he envisaged on the 9th of February, 2011. The talismanic all-rounder was stripped-off from captaincy by the infamous ex-chairman PCB Ijaz Butt. This step must have delighted his critics, especially when we consider that the darling of the crowd took a short-lived retirement. However, much to their disenchantment, he came back with a vengeance; ever since his come back he has scored 335 runs and taken 29 wickets with 5 Player-of-the-Match awards. The captaincy conundrum has once again appeared in Pakistan’s cricket, owing to the likelihood of skipper Misbah’s removal from captaincy of the shorter formats.  The anti-Afridi lobby is vociferously campaigning against his reinstatement as skipper, but there is a strong rationale for giving him the crown which was unjustly taken from him, if and when the aging Misbah is boded out.
Firstly, statistics corroborate the fact that Afridi has performs well with both bat and ball as a skipper. However, there are people who baselessly say that the burden of captaincy hampers his own performance. It is noteworthy, that Afridi scored 753 runs and took 43 wickets, to include 21 in the World Cup. It is pertinent to mention some of his batting heroics; 15th June, 2010, 109 (76 balls); 21st June, 2010 124(60 balls); 29th January, 2011 65 (25 balls), and not to forget his quick fire 34 and 37 in England; 49, 24 and 29 vs. South Africa. There is perhaps, no need to shed light on his bowling exploits in that stint. Hence, the notion that captaincy saddles him is nothing, but hogwash.
Secondly, Afridi took command of a dejected, beleaguered and a broken team; one that was marred by the spot-fixing case, and made it almost the champions. After the lord’s test, Afridi led the team to a 2-3 loss in a closely fought series which we would have won had it not been for poor umpiring. The series was great for Afridi as skipper because he managed to take the best from the boys when the British crowd and media were shouting profanities. The series against South Africa was again a closely fought series which ended in the same result; he took the team to New Zealand and won the series amidst all the pressure that one can imagine. He never assured of leading the team; the World Cup started on the 19th of February, and Afridi was appointed skipper on the 4th of February. He still took responsibility of whatever that transpired in the mega event. In 2010, the team for the t20 World Cup was announced on the 15th of March while Afridi was named captain after 8 days. Why? This was unprecedented. Still the man didn’t raise an eyebrow.
Thirdly, Afridi always led with a great deal of passion which  was evident on the field. He must be given credit for instilling a winning attitude in a jaded team. He reposed confidence in players like Hafeez, Shehzad, Shafiq and Ajmal who were naïve at time, but they delivered because Afridi cajoled them. Now, almost all of them have made a mark for themselves. The way he used senior players like Razzaq and Akhtar was commendable, not to ignore some blemishes too.

At last, one needs to question the wisdom of the former head of PCB. He removed a successful captain who was gradually taking the team forward; new players like Asad Shafiq, Wahab Riaz and Ahmad Shehzad had found their feet; the team was an assortment of juniors and seniors. There was no pretext for removing Afridi.

In sum, Afridi ought to be reinstated as the skipper because of his aggressiveness, previous performances and the unfair removal from captaincy.

Why is India a threat to Pakistan

Karl Von Clausewitz said that war is an extension of diplomacy by other means. States as unitary actors resort to war to protect their vital interests, but both the realists and idealists aspire for peace, albeit they have different routes. They yearn for peace because war is devastating. Who else would know better about war than arch-rivals India and Pakistan; both countries have fought wars in 1965 and 1971, not to disregard those fought in 1948, 1984 and 1999. Both states have attained nothing, but a condition of perpetual enmity. Off-late, peace overtures have been made and perhaps some progress is evident in trade; Pakistan has given MFN status to India, amidst hue and cry. Peaceful coexistence is something that we all covet, but that requires both countries to revise their policies. However, if we delve into Indian defense related developments then there is a need to get skeptical about their seriousness in peaceful coexistence. Readers must be made cognizant of India’s hegemonic designs.
  India, which as of now is Pakistan’s adversary, possesses a much larger conventional force. The asymmetry between the conventional forces is large, and ever increasing. The Indian forces comprise of 1,288,000 personnel (Army 1,100,000 Navy 55,000 Air 125,000 Coast guard 8,000); Pakistan has 619,000 personnel to her disposal, to include an Army of 550,000; Air Force of 45,000; Navy of 24,000 and paramilitary of 304,000 personnel. This article does not aim to carry out a comparative analysis between the two forces, but the number game is important to understand that India is in a much stronger position than Pakistan, for the latter is entrenched on the western front too. General Kayani, in an interview with Mariana Baber said that Pakistan has deployed 147,000 troops in Fata. This could embolden India, for she is believed to have deployed 5 out of the 6 armed tactical commands on the Pakistani border.
Moreover, it is worrisome because these tactical commands are being fed with deadly weapons galore. According to a recent study by the Stockholm International Peace Research, India has been the largest importer of weapons for the period 2007-11. These developments will set the cat upon the pigeons for the Pakistani strategic planners. They ought to be perturbed because these weapons are undoubtedly to be used against Pakistan. They can’t use these against China, for bulks of the Indian forces are looking at their perennial adversaries. Did India devise their Cold Start Doctrine for China? Anyone who has kept track of Indian defense policy must know that after the failure of the Sundarji doctrine of defensive holding corps in the Operation Parakram, India chalked-out this doctrine which calls rapid mobilization of integrated battle groups (IBG’S) with air support against Pakistan.
What makes matters more bothersome for the men that matter in Pakistan is that India has endeavored tooth and nail to operationalise this doctrine through her war games. On May 12, 2011, India launched Operation Vijayee Bhava (blessed to win) a defense exercise involving 50,000 troops in Bikaner and Suratgarh near the Pakistan border in order to boost the synergy between the defense forces. During Oct-Dec, 2011 Indian army conducted its largest war game in the last two decades, titled "Operation Sudarshan Shakti" under the Southern Command Headquarters, to revalidate its cold start doctrine.
These are nothing, but virulent Indian designs against Pakistan. This doctrine of limited war can or most certainly will exacerbate into a total war, and India will need to take the mantle of responsibility.  This is not all, there are multifarious other happenings that should pester Pakistan.
The Indian defense related ameliorations are being espoused by foreign powers, to include the US and Israel. The Indian- US nuclear deal (2006) is perhaps the most worrisome aspect for Pakistan. The exemptions given to her by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in accessing civilian nuclear technology and fuel from other countries have not gone down well with Pakistan.  Then Israel’s military cooperation with India is also tilting the balance in the latter’s favor. The Israeli Elta Green Pine Radar has been acquired by India, amongst other advanced systems. This heavily upsets the strategic balance which will enable India to be preponderant over Pakistan.  The region thus, is jeopardized, to the least and considering Pakistan’s military and economic clout vis-à-vis the aspirant hegemonic country across the border, it is certainly stuck with the back against the wall.

It is a fallacy to assume that, the possession of nuclear weapons has neutralized all threat perception of Pakistan. There are challenges to the viability of the minimum credible deterrence doctrine. The development of ballistic missiles poses the greatest threat to the doctrine of minimum credible deterrence. Hence, it is a myth to assume that a limited number of nuclear weapons will have an equalizing impact on the deterrence calculus. .  India, for instance tested the Brahmos, a supersonic nuclear anti ship cruise missile, not to forget Shaurya, Sagarika and others which are at India’s disposal.    If we consider the strategically deep and large India, and lack of second-strike capability, Pakistan will not find it easy to dissuade India.                                                          Perhaps the gravest threat to the minimum credible deterrence doctrine is the development of the Indian ballistic missile defense system.  Dr V.K Saraswat, a leading scientist of Defense Research and Development Organization claimed in 2007: within three years major cities would be under a protective shield.  Thus India embarked on its ballistic missile defense program. India possesses BDM system such as Arrow 2; furthermore, Israel has been transferring Anti Tactical Ballistic Missile (ATBM) and Phalcon- Airborne Early Warning (AEW). Moreover, they have tested surface to air missiles such as Akash and Trishul; this gives them a strategic advantage.  Pakistan ought to take cognizance of these developments.

The aforementioned events in India gives vent to the claim that the eastern neighbor, despite the new wave of peace overtures is a peril for Pakistan by every stretch of imagination. Yesterday’s test of ICBM Agni v is just another example of India’s  offensive policies.