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Army vs Nawaz Sharif: Is it a deja vu moment for Pakistan?

8 Apr

NSIn Pakistan, history is repeating itself again. It’s a déjà vu moment and the Pakistanis are watching the unfolding events with their fingers crossed. Whatever is happening proves one cardinal rule; mediocre leadership, with focus on personal vendetta and narrow political interests, cannot grow. Only yesterday, a journalist predicted that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was planning to make Jehangir Karamat out of his hand-picked army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif.

Jehangir Karamat was the army chief when power-drunk Nawaz Sharif [Unlink], encouraged by cronies and close relatives, sacked him for no reason. He wanted to demonstrate, in Lahori-Kashmiri style, his contempt for the most power institution of the state, an institution which made the mistake of making a politician out of him. He then appointed Musharraf and when the latter was in the middle of his tenure, and his home-bound international flight, Sharif struck again and dismissed him. The rest is history.

Not only army chiefs, Sharif has a history of seeking confrontation with other institutions, president and the chief justice, so much so that he had the Supreme Court attacked and vandalized in 1997 to deal with a top judge who was adamant at prosecuting him for contempt. The judge had to go as did the president who felt humiliated.

When Sharif was sworn-in as a third-time prime minister, people genuinely expected that after having spent 14 years in political wilderness, he would have attained maturity and demonstrate some semblance of statesmanship. He proved everyone wrong and with less than a year in office, he started daring the armed forces through different means, and through more mediocre political nobodies. He unilaterally decided to enter into dialogue with terrorists who have blood of 70,000 Pakistanis on their hands. He gave them concessions; the most disgusting of these was surrendering the sovereignty of the state and giving them their much desired recognition of a stakeholder of peace in Pakistan. He ordered unilateral release of hardened terrorists and has promised to release more.

As if this was not enough, he initiated legal proceedings against Musharraf to get even with him at the moment when his government had utterly failed to deal with terrorist attacks on the eve of Aashura. Apart from the fact that Musharraf trial is selective, smacks vendetta and has become laughable, his team started bashing army; an army which is at war. Those laying down their lives for the defense of the country were upset and apprehensive at all these moves. They were genuinely fearful that at the time when they are offering supreme sacrifices, the prime minister was busy stabbing them in the back. It was at this moment that army chief had to pacify his soldiers saying army would protect its honor and prestige at all costs.

Was this a veiled warning? Will Sharif do some damage control or will he repeat what he has already been doing? A part of the media is busy creating further misunderstanding between him and the army, painting Gen. Raheel as a villain. The very same media is already busy in army-bashing on one pretext or the other.

For Pakistanis, it’s a déjà vu moment again.




September 6, 1965: The war as fought by Inayatullah, Noor Jehan and Dr. Rashid Anwar

5 Sep

inayatullahnoorWhile on this auspicious day of September 6, we remember our valiant soldiers who sacrificed their present for nation’s future, we should not forget to remember, and pay our tributes to, the Queen of Melody Madam Noor Jehan, poet par excellence Dr. Rasheed Anwar and writer Inayatullah. These three personalities made enormous and lasting contributions in that 17-days’s long war which enabled Pakistanis to discover their forgotten nationhood.

Noor Jehan was an actress and a singer and was a heart-throb, like any other of her ilk in entertainment industry. Her voice and her physical attributes, like her general reputation, only excited the animal instinct of her admirers. But with the break of hostilities, she became a revered celebrity overnight. Her songs, merya dhol sipahya, ahe puttar hattan te nain vickdey and many others fuelled the fire of patriotism all over the country from Karachi to Chittagong. She was especially a favorite of those busy fighting on the battle front. In recognition of her services, she was bestowed the honor of Malika-i-Trannum (The Melody Queen) by the whole nation unanimously. She is still remembered with this title most respectfully.

Dr Rasheed Anwar was a homeopathic physician and a poet of Punjabi language. Unknown heretofore, and down-to-earth, he immortalized his poetry and himself with his song, jang khed nain hondi zananian di. Those of us who remember the war would recall his single war song and would have a strange feeling of national pride in his blood. May God bless his soul. He must be remembered by all of us while we are celebrating the Defence of Pakistan Day.

Inayatullah was known as a short-story writer, a fiction writer and an editor of Monthly Sayyara Digest of Lahore before the war. He had a few radio and TV dramas to his credit. But he rose to fame and glory with the advent of war. The valiant deeds and gallantry of ordinary soldiers and ingenious war tactics authored by the military leadership on the front transformed this short-story writer into a war correspondent, military analyst and impressive narrator. His initial books BRB Behti Rehegi (BRB canal will keep flowing), Lahore ki dehleez par and Badar se Batapore tak made him an instant national celebrity all over the country and abroad. His accounts of war are still considered authentic wherever there is an interest in 1965 war. And his novels on the war are no less than authentic accounts. He wrote dozens of books on the subject, founded his own Monthly Hikayat and dedicated all his works to the defense of Pakistan. After the fall of Dacca, his also launched a Movement for Unification of Pakistan (Tehreek-e-Takmeel-e-Pakistan) which was later hijacked by some politicians.

While we remember the 1965 war, we owe a debt of gratitude to these three personalities for, without them the memories of those days will remain incomplete.

Sukkur Attack should be the last eye-opener for security agencies

24 Jul

SukkurBlast-police-isi_7-24-2013_110825_lPakistan’s establishment and its security agencies are under three-pronged attack from Pakistan’s enemies; from India, Afghanistan and their allies in fourth generation warfare (4GW), from international establishment through international media in connivance with some elements of the local media and from Pakistan’s emerging power center, the apex judiciary. The attack from the third front only reinforces the attacks from other two sides but is only either under pressure from the media or to reassert its authority and occupy the space ceded by the establishment in the last five years. The media has helped built up the image of this new power center and any pressure from this side is too hard to resist.

It is now no secret that after Pakistan becoming a nuclear power, there is no chance for an all-out war as demonstrated in the past; the Kargil conflict, the Indian parliament attack and Mumbai attacks. The last two events have received a renewed limelight and there are questions as to who was the real perpetrator of these attacks. In view of the possibility of a nuclear conflict, India has already drawn the battle lines to keep Pakistan under pressure of terrorists’ attacks on its innocent civilians and military facilities to break the resolve of security agencies to fight. The media, now fully exposed to be recipient of generous funding from India, is unleashed simultaneously to attack the security agencies to establish that Pakistan’s security apparatus is not capable of defending the country.

Terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s soil are planned and war-gamed in Afghanistan where pro-India regime notwithstanding, India has not been able to secure a foothold in post-2014 era. The Kunar province of Afghanistan is the actual epicenter of terrorism against Pakistan. Pakistani authorities are in possession of incontrovertible evidence that India arms and funds anti-Pakistan TTP operating from Afghanistan with a nod from CIA. The separatist movement in Balochistan has clear stamp of Indian involvement. The major resistance to crush anti-Pakistan elements comes from a particular media house and opportunist politicians.

The latest attack on ISI center in Sukkur clearly suggests that the terrorists of India-funded Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have deeply penetrated into the heretofore peaceful province of Sindh in Pakistan. The Rural Sindh, home to countless saints and peace-loving populace, was peaceful so far in the wake of terror attacks in the rest of country but the Wednesday evening bomb attack on ISI office and other administration buildings in a heavily guarded compound in Sukkur indicates that the terrorists can strike any target anywhere with impunity.

According to reports, a least five terrorists attacked the ISI office, adjacent to the Rangers office, Commissioner’s House and office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, soon after Iftar. One ISI official and an employee of the Commissioner House were killed in the attack. Sources said that a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into the gate of ISI office while two others detonated explosives rigged with their bodies inside the office. A suspected bomber has reportedly been arrested following the explosions, which damaged several vehicles and buildings and left a deep crater near the ISI office. According to a Rangers spokesman, two militants blew themselves up while three were shot dead by forces. He added that several security personnel sustained injuries during the operation against attackers. According to police sources, the city headquarters of the ISI was the main target of the terrorists.

This latest attack should be the last eye-opener for the security agencies. The time to look towards nincompoop political leadership for direction is now over. It is the time that army and other security agencies reject political meddling and media influence and take action indiscriminately against terrorists of all hues including those under the shelter of political and religious parties. TTP, BLA and LeJ terrorists are Pakistan’s enemies and should be dealt with accordingly.

Indian influence in Pakistani media escapes Supreme Court’s attention

16 Jul

SCThe proverbial cat is out of bag and Pakistan’s populist Supreme Court has announced its decision on the Report of Media Commission. As expected, the court in its ruling made public on its website has chosen not to touch the sensitive parts of the Report. The most sensitive is dubious interest of foreigners in Pakistan’s electronic media.

There are two most sensitive issues mentioned in the Report:

a)      Pakistan Broadcasters’ Association alleged that entertainment channel Urdu 1 was owned by Rupert Murdoch and two Afghan brothers (Mohsini brothers) who were based in Dubai. This channel (Urdu 1) was granted landing right much before it went on air anywhere in the world. The trail of dubious grant of license can be traced to Musa Gilani, son of former Prime Minister and Faryal Talpur, sister of the sitting President.

a)      Media watchdog, PEMRA informed the Commission a couple of media houses are reported to have received large grants in the form of advertising contracts from overseas sources. It is said that one such grant is 20 million British pounds. Any attempt by PEMRA to probe such matters immediately leads to claims that there is an attempt to curb freedom of the media and there is always the recourse to obtaining a stay order if an inquiry is held. Most of the funds are channeled through the cover of a Norwegian NGO named Friends without Borders but it was found the footprints of this funding lead to Indian sponsors including the Indian state television, the Doordarshan.

Who is Keith Rupert Murdoch and why the Indians send their money to one Pakistani channel? If the influence of Murdoch and Indians was not checked in Pakistan, then PEMRA was in breach of trust and an accomplice in the crime of allowing foreigners making inroads into Pakistani airwaves through their money.

Keith Rupert Murdoch is an Australian American media mogul. In July 2011, he faced allegations that his companies, including the News of the World, owned by News Corporation, had been regularly hacking the phones of celebrities, royalty and public citizens. He faces police and government investigations into bribery and corruption by the British government and FBI investigations in the US. On 21 July 2012, Murdoch resigned as a director of News International.

The allegation of PEMRA that one channel (GeoTV) received huge amounts in the name of sponsorship is most disturbing. That the amounts were actually sent by Indians should have rung alarm bells in the court room and media watchdog taken to task but the Supreme Court did not utter a single word in its order. The Supreme Court could do was to order an investigation. But this very serious breach of trust on the part of PEMRA escaped the attention of the court which strengthens the perception that the said channel is enjoying strong influence in the court room.

What are the services that Geo is delivering for India? Numerous. From showing excessive Indian contents to bashing Pakistan’s ISI and armed forces for anything happening anywhere in the world. This was the first channel which blamed in unison with Indian media that Mumbai Attacks of November, 2008 were perpetrated by ISI. Not only that, it helped Indian establishment’s line that Pakistanis were involved in the attacks when it prepared a package and informed the world that Ajmal Kassab belonged to a Pakistani town Faridkot. Now when this line of propaganda has been questioned in India with Indian security officials blaming their own government, the cover of this channel has been blown off.

Why this channel bashes ISI and armed forces? Because ISI and armed forces must be weakened at the point in time when they are fighting India’s proxies in FATA, Balochistan and even in Karachi. This is something enemy does to pressurize the security establishment of the rivals and break their resolve to fight. The Pakistani channel is doing exactly the same and earning millions of dollars of Indian money it has received. The security establishment should realize that even this channel is an Indian proxy and needs to be fought. The Supreme Court owes its popularity to this channel and may not take any action or utter any word to displease it.

Way to go; India decides to eliminate top Maoist commanders

3 Jun

india-maoist-2010-6-17-3-28-38India is in the grip of multiple insurgencies, the notable among them is Maoist rebellion in some Indian districts called the Red Corridor. Country’s para-military force, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is fighting against the insurgents with 65,000 personnel. In this fight, the government and its political leadership are standing behind the security forces like a hard rock. The latest attack by the insurgents was launched on a Congress convoy in Chhattisgarh that left 28 people dead. This has totally devastated the government which has now given the go-ahead to a massive counteroffensive against the Maoists with focus on eliminating top rebel leaders. According to reports by India Today, CRPF has prepared a hit list of 25 senior Maoist commanders responsible for masterminding deadly attacks, and got the approval of the Union Home Ministry to go after them.

The Indian government on Tuesday ruled out peace talks with Maoist rebels as previously talks offer did not make any headway. Instead of talking, the Maoists demanded that the government first withdraw thousands of paramilitary soldiers deployed to fight the rebels in several states.

India is also deploying Israeli drones in tracking the Maoists in the Andhra-Odisha and Andhra-Chhattisgarh borders, though these UAVs are proving ineffective due to the terrain in which the rebels are operating.

The rebels, known as Naxalites, have been fighting the central government for more than four decades, demanding land and jobs for tenant farmers and the poor. Since 2005, more than 6,000 people — including civilians, security troops and the rebels themselves — have died in Maoist violence across the country, according to data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management.

Can Pakistani politicians learn a lesson from the stance taken by the Indians? Their insurgency is not as lethal and destructive as the phenomenon of terrorism in Pakistan. The Indian rebels do not slit throats of security forces and bomb civilians. They only demonstrate their disapproval of the economic policies of the government. They are pro-poor and have a large number of sympathizers in the area of their operation. Yet the Indian politicians do not consider them as their “brothers” like the Pakistani politicians.

When the security forces have clearly informed the politicians that terrorists are a graver threat to the solidarity of Pakistan, it is not understood why the politicians should try to appease and protect the terrorists. Why is it that the menace of terrorism is not given priority which killed 50,000 innocent lives and why there is an increased focus on drones which killed 3,000 including the deadly terrorists?

India may Pakistan’s enemy, but Pakistan can learn from India how to deal with the enemies of the state. Pakistan can even learn from Sri Lanka’s Rajapakse Model of dealing with home-grown terrorism.

How will Musharraf escape terrorists in black coats

22 Apr

Pakistan’s former military ruler, Gen Pervez Musharraf, who waged war on terrorists and who decided to be on the right side of the world post-9/11, may be exposed to the risk of assassination at the hands of terrorists of all hues. A commando, who led an expedition against India in 1987 to wrest back Siachen illegally captured by India and then launched Kargil operation is now totally cornered. A former chief of army staff and president who faced many assassination attempts at the hands of terrorists has been isolated at his own farm house. If he escapes TTP assassination bid, other forces sympathetic to Taliban may get him.

TTP has already tried to kill him in 2003, twice within 10 days, through some elements of the armed forces sympathetic to the terrorists. The ring leader of his assassins was freed in an historic jailbreak of Bannu and crowned right in the jail before fleeing the premises. He is free to plan and kill Musharraf whose crime as the terrorists and pro-Taliban describe is to push Pakistan into war on terror. This is as if Musharraf had any other choice.

Another crime that Musharraf is accused of is Lal Masjid operation of July, 2007. The premises is located right in the heart of Pakistan’s capital and was taken over by the terrorists who got into kidnapping foreigners, establishing their Sharia courts and providing sanctuary to terrorists. The inmates clashed with the state agencies and finally armed commandos stormed the premises. Some SSG commandos were killed during the operation. Before the operation, all inmates were evacuated. The chief cleric, Maulvi Abdul Aziz, the terrorists’ godfather was nabbed while leaving the premises clad in burqa used by women. He was arrested and charged for attacking the security forces but was subsequently freed under the pressure of pro-Taliban lawyers and judges.

Musharraf’s security detail may be vigilant to protect him from the terrorists of TTP. The grave risk that Musharraf faces is from pro-Taliban extremists clad in black coats. While over-stepping his legal authority, a judge of Islamabad High Court not only dismissed his bail application in an offense which is bailable, he ordered to charge him for terrorist activities. The offense for which he is being charged is restricting the movement of apex court judges who lost their jobs after Proclamation of Emergency on November 3, 2007. This is not an offense which can lead to death penalty, the charge of terrorism can.

And this overstepping of judicial authority has motive attached to it. Let’s look at the judge who is involved in this travesty of justice. According to information trickling down through social media, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui was a candidate of MMA, a party of pro-Taliban clerics who gave free hand to terrorists during their rule in KPK from 2002 to 2007. He was nominated by the party to contest election from a constituency from Rawalpindi, a garrison town housing Pakistan Army’s headquarters. When Maulvi Aziz of Lal Masjid was charged with offenses like attacking security forces in Islamabad, he was the lawyer who managed his release from jail even though everyone has witnessed on TV screens how the terrorists fought the forces on the streets of Islamabad.

After judge’s order to include section of Anti-Terrorism Act in the charge-sheet against Musharraf, Anti-Terrorism Court was hastily set up in Islamabad to be presided over by a judge whose brother was an army deserter and was court martialed by Musharraf. This deserter came on the radar of security agencies when he was found involved in providing sophisticated arms to CIA’s security contractors, Black Waters. He was apprehended but freed under pressure from the USA. The judge has an obvious grudge against Musharraf, army and the security agencies.

The free media, who owes its freedom to a dictator like Musharraf, comes in handy. This is a golden opportunity for the media to bash army and ISI and portray Musharraf as a criminal who must be hanged for his crimes. Everyone seems to forget that Musharraf’s rule was corruption-free when Pakistan was the fastest growing economy of Asia and people were generally prosperous and there was no IMF clutches to sustain the balance of payment.

And then there is a Supreme Court who nurture grudges against Musharraf for a decision which led to their sacking in 2007. They are hearing a case against him for proclamation of emergency. They had themselves validated his sacking of an elected government but like their detention has been interpreted as an act of terrorism, their sacking has been determined as an act of high treason which carries death penalty. Then there are lawyers, the hooligans whose hooliganism has escaped the process of law because they are the foot soldiers of present chief justice who owe his restoration to his job to a movement by these lawyers.

Musharraf’s fate has been sealed, or this is what they think who want to get him. All arrangements are in place to teach Musharraf a lesson. He is no politician. Politicians seek compromise and leave to safe palaces in holy lands to avoid legal action. He has come back to face legal action and this is where he seems to have erred. Is he brave or stupid, only the time will tell but only today, an SC-appointed judicial commission has dented the credibility of Lal Masjid allies’ claims that Musharraf’s Lal Masjid operation resulted in death of hundreds of innocent girls. The report says not a single girl was killed. There may be more surprises and let us cross our fingers and wait to see how this drama unfolds.