Tag Archives: Nawaz Sharif

Anti-drone sit in: Is it a genuine protest?

5 Dec

PTIIf Pakistan’s cricketer-turned-philanthropist-turned-politician Imran Khan, widely perceived as a pro-TTP fundamentalist was hoping to arm-twist the US into stopping the drone strikes through his party’s sit-in to block NATO supply routes, he has not only failed to achieve what he stated to be achieving, he has failed his party as much as the country he so loudly claimed to change for the better. The initiative fizzled out; first through a drone attack when the sit-in was in progress and through US decision Wednesday to stop, temporarily, using Pakistani overland routes for retrograde movement of equipment out of Afghanistan. Bulk of trucks carrying US military cargo pass through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a North Western Pakistani province where Khan’s party ruling in coalition with another pro-Taliban religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Was this sit-in organized to protest against the drone strikes and was it a sincere protest?

The answer, so far, is not in affirmative. Khan has to answer some more serious questions being asked by the people echoed through Social Media. The terrorists, who are the actual target of drone strike, have killed around 50,000 Pakistanis including security personnel and have established their own writ in a part of Pakistan’s restive tribal area but Khan has never protested or even condemned these deadly beasts. Drones are a weapon against terrorists which they find themselves unable to stop. The drones have killed around 3,000 of which 410 were identified as non-combatant. But opposing drone strikes and forgetting thousands of deaths of innocent civilians place Khan with the terrorists.

Another serious question that Khan may not be able to answer is that why those Afghan Taliban leaders, killed in the latest drone strike on a Hangu seminary, were allowed by his government to enter into settled areas of the province without valid travel permissions and why their dead bodies, a fundamental evidence in any crime, were allowed to disappear? Khan’s party was quick to nominate CIA’s station chief in Islamabad, by name, as the principal murderer in the drone strike. This information, the identity of the CIA chief is privileged information only available to top security outfit of the country. By blasting the cover, the angry politician has caused embarrassment to security establishment.

So far, there are the following outcomes of the sit-in to block NATO supplies; (a) The US has remained undeterred and will continue to hit targets at the time and place of its choosing, (b) Pakistan will continue to be internationally isolated by annoying US and NATO countries, (c) the US could be forced to pursue other routes, not necessarily the Northern Distribution Network and with a thaw in US-Iran relations, Chabahar port, built and managed by Indians could be a preferred, and (d) the government of Nawaz Sharif at the Center will have additional problems in its already over-filled plate of foreign policy, security and economic issues.

The sit-in is, thus not a genuine protest as it would benefit neither Pakistan nor the terrorists. It would be naïve to say that Khan is not aware of the costs associated with his ill-intentioned adventure. But in the ultimate analysis, it has become clear that Khan is advancing his political interests, and those of his coalition partners at the cost of national interests.

 

 

Drone Strike on Hakeemullah Mehsud and weird reaction of Pakistani leaders

4 Nov

109437Hakimullah_MehsudPakistani government is in a real fix; civilian leaders are confused over the recent drone strike which killed Hakeemullah Mehsud, TTP commander and Pakistan’s Enemy Number One. They are unable to decide whether the drone which killed the terror prince was a blessing in disguise or an attack on their political asset. In life, the terror chief carried a bounty of Rs 50 million on his head.

In death, he has been instantly turned into a martyr by the leaders who are perceived to be coward and are trading State’s sovereignty with the terrorists in return for a peaceful tenure. The slain terrorist leader had blood of thousands of Pakistani men, women and children and security personnel on his hands. The reaction of political class has baffled everyone, including the foreigners who fail to understand that while the politicos were mysteriously silent on killing of innocent civilians and high-ranking military officials, why are they mourning the death of the chief killer?

Their reaction can be explained in simple words; the current lot of rulers of Pakistan owes their political power to Hakeemullah Mehsud. And this is the time to return the courtesy.

The elections which brought them into power were manipulated, if not rigged as widely believed, by Mehsud. He very generously allowed right-wing parties like PML (N), PTI, JI and JUI (F) to continue with their election campaign peacefully and threatened to bomb election rallies of ANP, MQM and PPP, the liberal parties. They attacked election rallies of these parties and forced them to stay inside giving open field to the parties of their choice. Had it not been the threats and attacks and there was a level-playing field for launching election campaign, the electoral results could have been different.

The right-wingers, immediately after coming into power, decided to pay back. They held an All Parties Conference (APC) in September and elevating the anti-state terrorists to the position of stakeholders in peace, decided to offer them an olive branch. The peace negotiations were to be held when the drone took out Mehsud on November 1, 2013. The Americans were after him as he was wanted by them with a head money of $ five million. He was their Enemy Number One too because of his attacks on American interests and close affiliation with al Qaeda.

After killing of Mehsud in the drone attack, ruling PML (N) has termed it as an attack on peace initiative and has promised to review US-Pak relations, Imran Khan has threatened to block NATO supply routes, JI has branded the slain terrorist leader as a martyr, the clerics of extremists Deobandi Islam have demanded retribution and the public is confused. The people are confused because the very same people mourning the death of one terrorist were never furious over death of tens of thousands innocent civilians at the hands of terrorists.

The questions is; if Mehsud was not killed in drone attack, would he cooperate the government in bringing peace to the country and give up arms to allow the State establish its writ in the area where TTP is holding the territory. The answer is, very unlikely. There are two reasons for being skeptic; one, the preconditions for peace talks like withdrawal of army from FATA and freeing of all criminals belonging to TTP without trial would be unacceptable to any honorable government, and two, it has now been established that TTP was an outfit working as proxy of Pakistan’s adversaries like India and Afghanistan. There is no reason that talks would be held to benefit Pakistan. At least five major terrorist attacks in the run up to so-called peace negotiations bear testimony to the fact that terrorists wanted such talks which could cede territories to them with the assurance that they would not be questioned on making further ingress into Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is under immense pressure to block NATO supplies passing through Pakistan’s GLOC and shoot down the drones. He has convened an extraordinary Cabinet meeting today to deliberate on the issue. The outcome of the meeting is expected to be not more than cheap political rhetoric.

Mounting pressure on Pakistan has nothing to do with Cross-LOC firing

14 Aug

LoC-BSF-ReutersSinking of a submarine, docked in the home port, due to any reason is a very dear loss to any navy because subs are very expensive platforms. Everyone is clear that sinking of Indian sub, INS Sindhurakshak, was due to fire but the statement of an ex-chief of Indian Navy making a vague reference to sabotage rings the alarm bells. If this comes out as a reason for sinking of the sub and killing of officers and sailors on board, this could be used as a ploy to blame Pakistan yet again. This is not skepticism; the developments rapidly taking place between India and Pakistan during the last two weeks suggest that Indians are seeking an occasion to escalate the tension.

First it was Indian Army Chief, Gen Bikram Singh, accusing Pakistan for killing of five soldiers by Pakistan’s elite SSG commandos. The soldiers were stated to be on night patrol on the Line of Control (LOC) between the two countries when they were allegedly ambushed and killed. Indian government made a statement in the parliament that the soldiers were killed by terrorists donning Pakistan Army’s uniform.  There was uproar in the parliament by the opposition parties demanding to accuse Pakistan Army and ISI and suspending dialogue between the two countries. The pressure was mounted to such a scale that the government had to cave in and revise its statement and accuse Pakistan’s SSG commandos. Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi was attacked; bus service stopped by goons threatening Pakistani passengers and offices of Pakistan’s airline also attacked.

The dispassionate analysts watching the developments were not convinced. They were appalled at the level of dis-information. They were asking questions; the soldiers have clear instruction to wear bullet-proof vests while on patrol but three of the five killed had gunshots on their chests. This clearly meant that the soldiers were not on patrol and were in their resting place. Previous pattern of fighting among the soldiers suggested that they might have fought amongst themselves and killed each other and the Indian Army distorted facts to cover up the incident.

Ever since the killing on LOC, there have been numerous incidents of cross-border firing, each country blaming the other for cease-fire violation. Pakistani government under Nawaz Sharif has demonstrated remarkable restraint issuing no statement that could complicate the matter. However, New Delhi has not reciprocated the gesture because of fear of backlash from media and opposition parties. Anti-Pakistan rhetoric wins political parties massive support and Indian elections are around the corner. The ruling Congress government knows that any mis-step at this juncture could result in political cost. The politicians in both the countries are not known for maturity and statesmanship; they can do literally anything to grab votes.

Elections are not the only reason for Indian brinkmanship; Pakistan is passing through the deadliest period of its 66 years and it is time that India could add to Pakistan’s miseries through threats of war. There has been record number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan by TTP and BLA. Both these terrorists’ outfits are funded by Indian RAW and operate from Afghanistan where India has established more than 15 consulates. Having no real consular work, these are used as conduits to transfer funds and weapons to these terrorists.

With 2014 approaching fast and NATO troops leaving Afghanistan, the pro-Indian government of president Karzai may not survive pro-Pakistan Taliban fighters. India is desperate to have its share of influence in Afghanistan but it has not so far succeeded. It wants to squeeze Pakistan from within through the terrorist organizations broadly perceived to be its proxy and from LOC to weaken it to such a scale the Pakistan could not have a say in the matters of Afghanistan. Taliban are expected to be the next rulers of Afghanistan and it would be wonderful if their sole supported, Pakistan is kept under pressure.

The cross-LOC firing incidents are not random; these are prelude to something more sinister. Indians are hell-bent to escalate tensions for political and strategic reasons. But the escalation may spiral out of control as no one would be able to stop Pakistan from exercising the option of first use of nuclear weapons if Indians did not stop here.

Sacking judges is an act of high treason in Pakistan

25 Jun

MushThe government has finally come clear on a matter which is being considered of paramount importance for democracy, Pakistan style. Amid strong protests against unjust taxation in the next year’s budget, load-shedding and law and order issues, the new government has decided to prosecute former military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, for high treason under article 6 of the Constitution. The charge, if established, will lead to death penalty for Musharraf. The provision of the Constitution prescribes similar punishment for all those who aided or abetted in heinous crime of suspension or abrogation of the Constitution.

The development is interesting. Pervez Musharraf is guilty of high treason on two counts; the military under him staged a coup on October 12, 1999 and dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif. At that moment, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Musharraf was not present in Pakistan; he was not even anywhere. He was in an airplane flying home from abroad. While he was in air, he was sacked and the pilot of his airplane was ordered not to land till the newly appointed COAS was securely installed in his place. The pilot was even asked to take the plane to India, a country bitterly hostile to Musharraf for Kargil operation which was a huge embarrassment to Indian government and India. Pakistan army reacted to this, captured the government and allowed Musharraf to land in Pakistan. Rest is history.

Second time Musharraf suspended the Constitution was when he proclaimed emergency on November 3, 2007. This second offense was aimed at getting rid of troublesome judiciary. No government was sacked this time and no parliament dissolved; it was judges of the superior courts who lost their jobs. They remained jobless as even the successor democratic government of Zardari was not willing to restore them. They were restored after street agitation started by lawyers and supported and sponsored by opposition parties.

The first act of suspension of the Constitution was widely aided and abetted by a cross-section of society; opposition under Benazir Bhutto welcomed it, 70% of the people on the street were jubilant, the Supreme Court endorsed it and the subsequent parliament validated it.  The second suspension was endorsed by the SC but when the sacked judges were restored they declared it as an act of high treason.

Imagine; abrogation of the Constitution, dismissal of elected government and dissolution of the parliament was not only acceptable, it was baptized as kosher by the judiciary. The judiciary was so magnanimous with the usurper that it gave him a blank check to amend the Constitution at will. Amendment of the Constitution, even the judges knew, was the prerogative of the elected representatives and that too with a two-third majority.

It seems that the judiciary which is Pakistan’s new establishment is bent upon settling its score with Musharraf. This has given a godsend opportunity to Nawaz Sharif not only to settle the scores with the generals but also to subdue the military in order to have a free-hand to deal with India, Afghanistan and the terrorists. This is evident from the fact that, at the expense of public interest, he has chosen to be the foreign minister and defense minister himself. This gives him an opportunity to flex his civilian muscle, a serious mistake which was first made by power-drunk Bhutto and then Sharif himself. The consequences in both the cases were disastrous.  No military in a country faced with external and internal threats can afford to be personal fiefdom of unscrupulous politicos.

Under the Constitution, trial under article 6 is to be initiated and concluded by none else but the federal government. The judiciary, however, is not prepared to take any chances. Setting aside the principle that in this particular case, the judges are aggrieved party themselves and they should demonstrate least interest as to how the government proceeds in the matter, it has in its infinite wisdom, decided to monitor the prosecution. Only yesterday, the honorable judges sought a step-by-step mechanism from the government for initiating high treason proceedings against Musharraf. It was very interesting to note that when attorney general informed the bench that the government would require a 30-day period to prepare a detailed mechanism, including who would investigate, who will prosecute, and who will be named as abettors in the treason case, the court observed that a one month period could not be granted because the government had in principle decided to proceed against those who had violated the Constitution. He said the mechanism should only seek to clarify how the process would be initiated and concluded.

The court has insisted time and again that only the act of November 3, 2007 constituted high-treason whereas Musharraf asserts that proceedings for this offense should start from 1999 when he actually abrogated the Constitution. The court is aware that the learned judges would be deemed as abettors and partners in the crime, if they were to prosecute Musharraf for his martial law.

The case has taken interesting turns. The top judges don’t want to dig the past which highlights their own role and want to focus on 2007 which made them jobless. In any case, this is evidently a case of conflict of interests. Their desire to monitor the prosecution proceedings and their interest to personally approve the procedure is, prima facie, a violation of principles of natural justice and would not augur well with judicial independence of Pakistan. This may have adverse consequences for the toddler called democracy, Pakistan-style.

 

With sympathetic judiciary and sold-out media anchors, terrorists have a field day in Balochistan

15 Jun

ziaratPakistan’s restive province of Balochistan is on fire again with increased intensity in the activities of militants of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Two terrorist incidents on Saturday have posed serious questions about political stability of the province after a populist government headed by a commoner has been installed only last week. The first incident was destruction through rocket attacks of Ziarat Residency, a building in scenic pine forests about 75 miles from provincial capital, Quetta. This building is of historical monument and Pakistanis have special emotional attachment to this building because the Founding Father, Jinnah spent his last days here.

In another incident, at least eleven female students were killed and several others injured when a blast hit a bus near Quetta’s Women University on Baruri road. According to police, explosives were planted inside the bus parked on the premises of the university. Another 22 people had been injured in the blast with some of them in critical condition. This attack comes hours after militants attacked Quaid-e-Azam residency in Ziarat area of Balochistan. According to reports, a larger portion of the building was destroyed in the attack.

Attackers of the Quaid-e-Azam Residency in Zairat are reported to have removed the Pakistan flag and replaced it with the flag of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). According to Interior ministry report presented in the National Assembly on Saturday, there was firing and five explosions at the Qauid-e-Azam Residency at approximately 1:15 AM. Following the attack, the historic building was completely burnt and the fire was extinguished after a four hour struggle. District Police Officer (DPO) said that six bombs were also recovered from the site of the incident. He said that each bomb weighed 2 to 3 kilograms.

The BLA is alleged to have been sponsored by Pakistan’s archrival, India and its leaders have been provided asylum in Switzerland and UK. It has some local sympathizers too as Pakistan Supreme Court chief judge Chaudhary, himself hailing from Balochistan has repeatedly provided relief to them and rebuked the security forces for chasing them. Judge Chaudhary was a personal favorite and lawyer of slain tribal leader Bugti whose grandsons are leading BLA. One of them was caught red-handed smuggling a huge cache of arms and ammunition but was released on the orders of the judge. Another sympathizer of the separatists is a host of a popular talk show of a leading news channel. His late father was recently honored by Bangladesh’s pro-India regime for supporting the cause of India-funded insurgency in East pakistan in 1971. This is the reason that security agencies want Balochistan to be a No-Go area for the apex court.

After the May 11 elections, it was hoped that Balochistan might stabilize but the decision of Nawaz Sharif to appoint a popular leader as chief minister may have irked the BLA separatists because he is not a tribal chief while Balochistan government has so far been under the tribal chiefs who have received hundreds of billions of development funds and syphoned them off to their personal coffers depriving the common man of the benefits of development.

Courtesy: ALLVOICES

 

Are Indians misreading Nawaz Sharif’s statements about Pakistan army?

5 Jun

NSIs India so sure that Mr. Nawaz Sharif nurtures a grudge against Pakistan army and ISI that it found it appropriate to fire its first salvo against the agency on the very day he was to get elected? And just look at the allegation; ISI is trying to revive Sikh militancy and Indian youth are being trained in ISI facilities to carry out terror attacks in the country. This accusation was hurled by no less than the Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde. He said there have been significant developments on the Sikh militancy front and its commanders based in Pakistan are under pressure from the ISI to further the Pakistani intelligence agency‘s terror plans not only in Punjab but also other parts of India.

Mr. Sharif may have dropped some hints that he would investigate Kargil and Mumbai but did he ever mean that he’d welcome to be dictated by the Indians? The Indians, it seems, are misreading his statement, or are not familiar with ground realities. Whatever grudge Nawaz Sharif or his party have against the 1999 coup or the Kargil adventure, it is against one person; Musharraf, and not against the institutions. They’d have no grudge if they had not been dethroned. History suggests that Mr Bhutto tried to humiliate the armed forces after he came to power. First he pressured army not to let Mujeeb take over as PM even though he was in majority, then after Fall of Dacca, he left no stone unturned to reduce the humiliated and demoralized force into a toothless army. He further humiliated the institution by appointing a COAS who he himself used to call a “monkey general”. He had to pay for his arrogance heavily; with his life.

Mr Sharif may have felt hurt by the treatment meted out to him post-1999 but he is no fool. He will tread with caution and being a hardcore Punjabi, he knows fully well that his major support base, Punjab, will not approve of his anti-army overtures. Remember the joy of deliverance when he was dismissed in 1999?

India has also blamed that Sikh youth based and settled in Europe and the US were also being motivated towards militancy and a large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives, including RDX have managed to find its way into Punjab through the borders.

What they blame Pakistan for doing in Punjab is already being done by Indians in Balochistan. Who is training and arming Baloch youth in Afghanistan and who is paying for BLA leadership’s expensive living in UK and Switzerland? Who has been training the sharpshooter of a politico-terrorist outfit of Pakistan’s port city belonging to a certain ethnic community in 1980s? And who has invested heavily in Afghanistan to fund, arm and sustain TTP elements fighting against Pakistan? And if ISI is trying to pay back, it only shows that it is doing its jobs efficiently, media and judiciary bashing notwithstanding.

Some months ago, Deccan Chronicle reported that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), has in a classified report submitted to the government warned that Pakistan’s ISI, as part of its new strategy, has started surrounding India from all neighboring countries -Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even Burma -by setting up modules for its agents who in turn promote and sponsor subversive activities against India. This new trend is extremely significant as Pakistan’s dependence on countries like Nepal and Bangladesh for using them to launch anti-India activities is reducing. And instead Pakistan’s ISI is looking at expanding its network in Sri Lanka and Burma. While warning New Delhi’s security top-brass the RAW document states that ISI has already established a formidable network in both Nepal and Bangladesh and it is now focusing on other neighboring countries of India like Sri Lanka and Burma. This way, the ISI will completely surround India with its agents and can launch them into the country from anywhere.

If the contents of RAW’s report have correctly been reported, then it means it is being checkmated by ISI. But Pakistan has not armed and funded any separatist movement in mainland India. The insurgencies of the Red Corridor and the Seven Sisters are homegrown and Pakistan has nothing to do with it. The one in Indian-held Kashmir is homegrown too but may have Pakistan’s moral and diplomatic support because Kashmir is the core issue and the sole cause of Indo-Pakistan tense relations for the last 66 years. Indians should not forget that Nawaz Sharif’s forefathers migrated from Kashmir and they would not be able to woo him as long as Kashmir dispute remains unresolved.

Mr Sharif is between a rock and a hard place

14 May

NSPakistan is going to have a new government in Islamabad and a third-term prime minister installed in less than two weeks. It is almost the same time that the new Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang will visit Pakistan on May 22 and 23, 2013 as a part of efforts to further strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations. Li Keqiang, who became prime minister in March, will be visiting Islamabad on his first foreign trip since assuming office. The Chinese premier is expected to meet the incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as well as President Zardari during his trip.

China and Pakistan call each other ‘all-weather friends’ and their close ties have for decades been underpinned by a desire to hedge against US influence across the region.

The incoming prime minister will face the challenging task of balancing his government’s relationship with China viz-a-viz the United States of America. He has already assured the Americans that he would work with them to rid the region of the menace of terrorism. In order to please the Americans, he has already criticized two decisions of the outgoing Zardari government; handing over management of Gwadar Deep Sea Port to China and Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline. While China may be the direct beneficiary of managing Gwadar Port to strengthen its String of Pearls strategy, it is also a potential beneficiary of the pipeline crossing Pakistani territory. It may be difficult for the new leadership to explain to its visiting friend as to how the bilateral relations would be strengthened if these two decisions were reversed.

Mr Sharif has openly criticized Pakistan Army’s Kargil adventure and promised to constitute an Inquiry Commission. He has also promised to share the findings of this Commission with India, a potential move which has already been severely criticized. People believe that Mr Sharif has gone “too far” to appease Indians, perceived in Pakistan as enemy number one. It would be difficult for the PM to face his Chinese counterpart and support a similar recent adventure of PLA in Ladakh. Chinese forces have not only encamped inside the LAC in Indian territory (read: occupied Indian territory), it has no plans to withdraw from this location. The Kargil was almost similar to Ladakh and if Mr Sharif does not approve of Kargil, he should also condemn or at least disapprove of Chinese adventure.

There are going to be interesting developments. It would not be possible to appease Americans and Indians and simultaneously strengthen Sino-Pak relationship.

Courtesy: ALLVOICES