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Whisper
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Quote Whisper Replybullet Topic: Capitol Hill String Pulling
    Posted: 01 December 2008 at 10:04am

Ominous signals from Capitol Hill

By GENERAL MIRZA ASLAM BEG
 
It is better to be informed, than being complacent, about the reports emanating from prestigious institutions of United States. Such reports are taken seriously by the policy makers in Washington.

These are carefully deliberated and analysed views, deserving due consideration by Pakistani policy makers to be able to face challenges to national security. If these views go unchallenged, they will seriously impact the consciousness of the Pakistani nation already suffering from economic meltdown, political uncertainty and the agonising sense of insecurity.
 
The National Intelligence Council of the US Congress in its lengthy report, Global Trends 2025 - Transformed World, comments: The future of Pakistan is a "wild card in considering the trajectory of neighbouring Afghanistan", and The New York Times, goes a step further and predicts, break-up of Pakistan by 2025, and new boundaries to be drawn, as the geo-political necessity, also raises the issue of Pashtunistan:
"If Pakistan is unable to hold together until 2025, a broader coalescence of Pashtun tribes is likely to emerge and act together to erase the Durand Line. This will maximise Pashtun space at the expense of Punjabis in Pakistan and Tajiks and others in Afghanistan. In this context India's strategic plans for Afghanistan would rely on a defector alliance, with Iran to counter the Pashtun/Pro Pakistan forces, in the East."
 
Without going into any unnecessary argument on the ideas quoted above, I would simply say that such notions are "destined to be doomed" as it has happened in the past thirty years. For example, in 1988 Bush the Senior, declared: "America is a rising nation. I see America as the leader, a unique nation with a special role in the world. This has been called the American century because in it we were the dominant force for good in the world. We saved Europe, cured polio, went to the moon and lit the world with our culture. Now we are on the verge of a new century. I say it will be another American century."
Since then, every US military misadventure in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, and the present economic and social crises have blown "the myth of US global primacy and pre-eminence" and also the notion of Greater Israel and Expanded Middle East. Similarly the "trajectory of neighbouring Afghanistan" will find its course as soon as the Mother of all Evil - the occupation of Afghanistan is vacated. Historical reality cannot be repudiated; Afghanistan cannot be conquered, no matter how militarily powerful the occupation forces may be. It is true, history repeats itself.
No doubt, during the last thirty years Pakhtun nationalism has emerged as the dominant force, extending from the River Indus to the Hindu Kush mountains - the historical reality and the main determinant of peace paradigm in the region. It is an unalterable reality, beyond the control of Indo-Israel nexus or the Indo-American-Israel alliance.
Its emergence does not threaten the Punjabis, Sindhis or the Balochis. Rather it is a source of strength, unity and integrity of the Pakistani nation. It is not a wishful paradigm, but the emerging contours of a new dynamism - a uniting factor between Pakistan and Afghanistan and realisation of the concept of Strategic Depth, as the emulative effect of betrayals that we have experienced after USA emerged as the sole superpower, ala courtesy Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 
The Institute of International Studies, USA (IISS) makes the following comments: "That the army 'would step in' despite its reluctance to do so having lost so much prestige during the nine years of Musharraf's rule. President Zardari's presidency may be fragile despite his successful outmanoeuvring of Nawaz Sharif as an immediate political threat and maintaining a strong constitutional position. He is deeply unpopular in Pakistan and has a reputation for corruption and violence, dating back to his time as a minister in his wife's government in 1993. He has also made enemies within the PPP by dismissing many of those who had been close to Bhutto." The fundamental Pakistani army structures have also been weakened."
 
These comments deserve serious consideration, because, if true, it is democracy which is threatened. We have the experience of four military interventions of the past, and know 'the Main Ingredients' which precipitated military take-over. These are (1) COAS' loyalty pledge to the political government as a ploy. (2) Pak-US military commander's secret contacts. (3) Military engagements to solve political issues (4) Unpopular government, with opposition ready to support the military government.
'Loyalty pledge' to the political government has been used as a ploy.
 
General Ayub Khan was made the defence minister in uniform on his pledge of loyalty to the political government. General Zia pledged loyalty, on the Holy Book in Multan, (in Late Sajjad Hussain Qureshi's library) to earn the confidence of Mr Bhutto. General Pervez Musharraf's apolitical credentials earned him the confidence of the government, although he had established strong political links. General Kiyani is apolitical and enjoys the confidence of the government. He supported the process of democracy, by pulling out the ISI and MI, from the election process - an act which established his credentials. US military commanders contacts with General Ayub, Zia and Musharraf were well-established, before their take-over. Such contacts were 'covert in nature'. In the case of General Kiyani, contacts have taken place overtly, at Kabul, USS Ibraham Lincoln and Brussels. No apprehensions!!
Political governments have used the 'army to settle political issues' with serious consequences. Under General Ayub Khan, army was used in Balochistan in 1957 which facilitated his take-over in 1958. Bhutto gave army a free hand in Balochistan in 1974, under General Zia, who took over two years later.
 
General Pervez Musharraf embarked upon the disastrous Kargil operation in 1998 and taking advantage of American ire on atomic explosions, toppled Nawaz Sharif's government a year later. General Kiyani is winning battles in Swat and Bajaur using the army with unlimited powers, with licence to kill own people, which provides the "incentive to kill the constitution and throttle democracy." A dangerous drift, which must transform into dialogue and political approach. The army is predisposed to preserve the democratic structure and safeguard the constitution. It has experienced the pitfalls of interventions of the past - an advantage which the political government must avail to protect the democratic order.
 
'The Political Movements', in Pakistan invariably have produced dictators, which is a unique politico-military phenomenon of Pakistan. In 1968, the movement against Ayub Khan, led by Asghar Khan and Bhutto, produced Yahya Khan.

General Zia was catapulted to power in 1977 by the PNA political movement against Bhutto government. With the support of the political movement under PPP, named GDA and the American displeasure for 1998 atomic explosions, it was easy for General Musharraf to topple Nawaz Sharif government in 1999.
 
Under the present situation, even an American nod will not be necessary to start a "movement, which is waiting on the wings, of lawyers, the media and the civil society," yet army take-over will not be welcome because PPP will be antagonised and political support by PML-N will not be forthcoming as they carry the bitter experience of the past. Who else will provide such a support?
 
None, I suppose, not even Q-League. This is a positive sign, providing time and space to Zardari and his government, to correct things where wrong. The civil society movement is the most important phenomenon of today's socio-political struggle. In dealing with the civil society, the government must show discretion and perseverance. Democracy requires patience and commitment to accepting the verdict of the people.
If a government does not come up to its expectations, the people have the right to change it. There is self-correctiveness implicit in the democratic process, and the political parties despite their differences must tolerate each other and not let the system be derailed.
An incident I would like to narrate to prove the point: Early October 1999, FRIENDS delegation was visiting Germany at the invitation of Hanns Seidel Foundation. On October 11, we were in Berlin, invited to dinner by our Pakistani friends. I spoke to them at length, about the civil military relations, and in answer to a question I said, "One more mistake and Nawaz Sharif government will be gone." Next evening, October 12, 1999 when we returned late to our hotel, the lobby was swarming with media, wanting to know from me, "how I knew that, one mistake and Nawaz Sharif will be gone." I said, "Living across the road, I knew what was cooking inside the Army House" but that was not enough. I had to do a lot of explaining. But I made it very explicit that it should not have happened and the military will not relinquish power so easily and once again, it will be a long painful experience of military regime, the Pakistani nation will suffer from. It was bad for the nation. It was bad, because the verdict of August 17, 1988, by the three Services Chiefs, was so blatantly violated.
 
The situation, today is muddled, yet, we don't have to get disturbed by such reports emanating from the US Congress, the IISS or any other source. These should be taken as warnings also being used as pressure tactics to extract concessions from the government.
The real strength of the government lies in the people and the Parliament. The government has to learn, to invest in them and earn their respect. USA has exposed itself and there is a clear realisation that USA is playing a sinister game of destabilising Pakistan, while developing new 'friendship' with India to support the strategic objectives of keeping its forces in Afghanistan and extend power and influence to control events in the regions of Central Asian States, Iran, China and Russia. But such ambitions are not based on solid realities.
 
Vaclav Havel of Czech Republic, advocates: "It is my profound belief that there is only one way to achieve [harmony between reason and conscience]..., we must divest ourselves our egoistic anthropocentricism, our habit of seeing ourselves as masters of the universe, who can do whatever occurs to us. We must discover a new respect for what transcends us, for the universe, for the earth, for nations, for life and for reality. Our respect for other people, for other nations, and for other cultures, can only grow from an awareness that we are in part of it, that we share in it and nothing of what we do is lost, but rather becomes the internal memory of Being, where it is judged."
* The writer is former chief of army staff
E-mail: fr786pak@isb.comsats.net.pk


Edited by Whisper - 01 December 2008 at 10:11am
Sasha Khanzadeh
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