Pakistan is Changing

Pakistan society has suffered from haemorrhages and decay particularly in last four decades. These were the decades of conflict, destruction and wars. While 1978 makes a benchmark for China to take an upwards flight, 1979 makes a benchmark for Pakistan for a downwards flight. It’s natural that owing to perpetual conflict, evolution of civil society as enunciated by Ibne Khaldoon, either retards or gets in retrograde motion. The case of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s neighbouring regions makes a perfect study.

The perpetual conflict has impacted us in many ways. We have suffered loss of blood, money, infrastructure, values of society and most menacingly our national character. All losses will be less daunting to recover than that of national character. In the overall setting of corruption, lack of merit and serving of vested interests, there are few glaring aspects of this loss. Firstly, societies are driven by guilt or shame. These two feelings inhibit a human from committing a sin. Unfortunately both have ceased to exist in our society. Nothing inhibits us from committing a crime or a sin.

Secondly, this environment has created a breed of street smart people who are sycophants, nouveau riche, opportunists and yes-men. These are the people who have been ruling the roost and dominating the system. They see talented and competent people as a threat. So they contrive and rally together to cull merit, talent and competence. Consequently on the whole, in our society while the RIGHT is cornered the WRONG is thriving.

Thirdly, the leadership lacked motivation to develop human resource. Though they justified their actions by citing lack of resources. Human resource development neither serves their political interests nor interests of the breed mentioned in preceding para. Notwithstanding, what we have done to earlier generations, we have successfully corrupted the system for growth of our coming generations. There are three grooming places for a child, school, mosque and home. Schools are teaching cheating, mosque is teaching violence and home is indifferent.

There is yet another aspect to this. In my view while political interests pull us to the left, national interests pull us to the right. Unless these converge we shall not be able to develop as a society. It’s a national interest that people should be educated. Whereas, no Vadera, no Sardar, no Saneen, no lord wants his people to be educated. It’s also a national interest that people should be secure. Just to cite an example, Karachi; a city of 25M people is being managed by 30000 police force. If we exclude police on protocol duties and use combat potential of a London policeman as a yardstick, Karachi is being managed by 1000 policemen. No government will put it right because security of people isn’t a political interest.

Perpetual conflict prevailing in and around Pakistan had a lot to do with our superior strategic location. TV Paul had said, while Middle East is suffering from resource curse, Pakistan is suffering from Strategic curse. He further qualified that people of Middle East due to abundance of natural resources lacked motivation to work hard. Whereas, in case of Pakistan superior strategic location earned them easy money so they lacked motivation to work hard. Easy money has indeed damaged us in many ways.

Pakistan is also suffering from the dilemma of parachuted leadership. Parag Khanna in his book Future is Asian has argued that countries of Asia whose leadership rise from grass root level and climb rungs of ladder would be in step with Asian Century. Whereas the countries where leadership comes through parachute would lack behind.

On the whole, this complex environment has culled virtues and instilled vices in our society. We lost ability to call a-spade-a-spade, ability to say what was wrong. In my opinion, no individual, power or organisation can do better accountability than people of Pakistan. If people start questioning the ruling elite on bad things they do, it will impose caution and deterrence on them. Else they will continue to disregard interests of people and serve their vested interests. I have held a view since long that more than anything else, Pakistan needs social reforms. We need to bring back our values, our ethics and national character. In order to do that, first and foremost is that we ought to be strategically correct. Yet again we don’t have to be friends for war. We only should be friends for peace. Fighting other’s wars can fetch us couple of dollars but will devastate us as a nation much more menacingly than earlier cases.

In the absence of an apt leadership, Pakistan has remained directionless for quite some time. It has been akin to a flotilla of rudderless ships. Notwithstanding many shortcomings, on the whole, Imran Khan seemed to be providing a direction to the society. Apparently, political and national interests seemed to be converging. He focused on raising conscience of the people, he has given awareness to the people. People have begun to question the leadership. People are picking courage to call wrong, what is wrong. IK or no IK, Pakistan is changing very fast and that’s the way to go. People of Pakistan have to take reins in their own hands. Else will they will continue to be exploited by one vested-interest-serving group or the other.

BALOCHISTAN: CLAMOURING FOR ATTENTION

Published in Pakistan Observer on 6 Feb 2022

THE insurgency in Balochistan is on the rise.No words can assuage the loss of lives of valiant sons of the soil who are offering blood, as well as of misguided insurgents.

I had the opportunity to serve Balochistan from 2012 to 14.My exposure to disturbed seventeen southern districts of the province was rewarding on one extreme but appalling, painful, and worrisome on the other.

After service to Balochistan, I also got the opportunity to do my PhD in Strategic Security Management of CPEC.

My offerings in subsequent paras are based on these two experiences.Right at the outset, I shall like to say that, such threats had been foreseen and the state will prevail In Sha Allah upon elements who are trying to serve the interests of enemies of Pakistan.

In the 20th century geopolitics of the region, two provinces of Pakistan adjoining Afghanistan ie Balochistan and the KP suffered the most.

Balochistan remained more unfortunate for multiple reasons viz poor management, poor governance, and two front situation ie unstable Afghanistan on one border and estranged Iran on the other.

Perennial neglect, injustices at the state level and the vested-interest-serving elite has created feelings of alienation and deprivation.

Interestingly, the British ruled Balochistan through two cardinal principles; appeasement of Sardars and keeping the masses alienated.

Unfortunately, with the lack of ingenuity, even Pakistan continued to follow the same principles.

I would like to substantiate my assertions with examples.1986 was my first visit to Quetta, I was then surprised to notice that despite being a provincial capital, English newspapers reached Quetta by 4 pm and the day there was no flight there was no newspaper.

As late as 2014, I didn’t find any improvement in this domain in spite of the era of the internet.

There is no improvement in the connectivity of Balochistan with the rest of the country for a long.

In the early 2010s, coastal highways and the start of night flights in Quetta may be seen as small pinpricks.

Dera Bugti and Kohlu are the most disturbed districts of Balochistan, no effort has been made to offset the British approach of a single entry and exit to these districts.

In the 80s PTV Station of Quetta was the most vibrant station, which launched new actors and popular TV dramas, now it’s non-existent.

General Musharraf paid extra attention to the neglected province.From 1947 to 2002, Rs 200 B were allocated to Balochistan for development, whereas from 2002 to 2008, Rs 400 B were allocated.

However, this money reached deep pockets and failed to improve the lot of the masses.

General Musharraf for the sake of better governance converted the Category B* area of Balochistan (which is 95% of the total area of Balochistan) to Category A but the very next government reversed this decision to serve the interests of Sardars.

There was not a single cardiac centre in entire Balochistan as late as 2014.Quetta as provincial capital lacked behind the rest by 30-40 years.

In the discharge of my duties, I extensively travelled through seventeen critical districts of Balochistan.

Abject poverty, social inadequacies, state of management, lack of connectivity was mind-boggling, to say the least.

On a governance template, one can still find as low as 2-5% governance in parts of Balochistan.

With a view to addressing the root causes of the insurgency, firstly, the State of Pakistan has to realise that, the province of Balochistan has transited from a ‘backyard and wasteland’ to a ‘region of immense strategic importance’.

Balochistan is critical for not only the prosperity of Pakistan but also for the future ambitions of China.

Secondly, the forces which are against the growth of Pakistan and the rise of China are anticipated to resort to such acts of terrorism.

We should be prepared to face such challenges.

Thirdly, in the media-savvy environment, feelings of alienation, deprivation and injustices get more pronounced.

Thus, it’s important to address the root causes of insurgency.The connectivity of Balochistan with the rest of the country should be improved.

Feelings of injustices, deprivation, alienation and social inadequacies should be mitigated and eradicated at a fast track.

Numerous projects are already being executed but the scale, speed and expanse need to be increased manifold.

The participation of the people of Balochistan in future plans and projects is a MUST.70 years of inadequacies can only be addressed through crash action and sincerity of purpose.

—The writer is a former DG ISSRA, National Defence University, Islamabad.

Disinformation

https://fb.watch/9l0aoZzUNE/

Above video is getting viral. The narrator is building a case that poor work ethics of people of Pakistan are due to buffalo milk. It’s indeed a forceful projection of a narrative, however, I want to give different perspective.

Towards fag end of my military career, I had opportunity to manage live stock of Pakistan Army. My views are based on my exposure to the subject and my reflections.

Mother Nature has blessed Buffalo to very less regions of the world and the developed world is endowed with Cow. So milk producing animal of developed world is cow and that of countries of our region is buff. Apparently, it’s bizarre that Mother Nature produced a black skinned animal for warmer regions of the world. However, justifications and logics of Mother Nature are beyond our comprehension. These may be unbeknownst to us. Our lack of knowledge doesn’t mean Mother Nature could have gone wrong. Latest research is also proving that Buff milk is far better than cow milk.

If we admit that Mother Nature always has a sound justification for something prevailing on the globe, then how can buff milk be bad for us. Developed world had wherewithal to carry out all the research on their animal ie Cow. Whereas our animal ie Buff remained neglected due to our poor research ability. Developed world has always belittled our animal. The gentleman in the video got carried away with same logic of the West. He resorted to self-bashing.

Indeed we are lethargic, we are less active, we are less aggressive, we are slackers; but the reason doesn’t lie in what he has identified. The reason lies else where. Which I shall attempt to identify in next blog. Allah may bless us all.

Fearing to Taste Own Medicine

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/pakistan-china-indulging-proxy-war-india-jammu-kashmir-bipin-rawat-1868585-2021-10-23

In 2009, heading a delegation to the US, I got an opportunity to interact with the US authorities. In those years, India had set the stage for two front scenario for Pakistan. India was staring into our eyes from the East and had wherewithal to vitiate our Western Front. We complained to the US authorities regarding Indian involvement in terrorism from Afghanistan into Pakistan. Then there were 8 consulates of India strung along Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

US authorities suffering from their wilful BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) countered our allegation saying that they always hear such complaints from Pakistani delegates but they (US) haven’t found any evidence. I retorted that, any one who knows history of animosity of Pakistan and India doesn’t need any evidence. Logically speaking none of the two countries, given an opportunity will leave any stone unturned to harm the opponent.

Even since then, though Pakistan has provided ample evidence but US has stuck to their BFO.

Nature has its own way of turning the tables. I had predicted since long that; with the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, two aspects will be corrected by default. Firstly, unjustified political dispensation in Afghanistan will be rectified ie minority will cease to rule the majority and majority will get back its right to rule. It has already happened. Secondly, India will be cut to size, that has too happened.

Unlike Geopolitics of 19 and 20th century, one is good thing is happening incase of Geopolitics of 21st century. More or so the West/US stays as one antagonist where as China is emerging as second antagonist. India is replacing Pakistan as a conduit and Hindu fundamentalist is replacing Muslim fundamentalist as fodder for fighting. Pakistan is over with the dirty part of the game, India will serve this purpose for the US incase of 21st century Geopolitics.

Above quoted statement of Indian CDS, speaks of India’s fear of tasting its own medicine. The time has come for India to reap what it has sown. I have no reasons to substantiate that it’s actually happening but again taking corollary from my previous argument, why shall Pakistan waste an opportunity to pay back to India what it received in past two decades.

In short I will say to Indians, ABBAHI TO PRTY SHUROO HOI HAI, (stay calm, the party has just begun)

The Scourge of Social Media

Social media has removed all barriers from sharing of information. In a way it’s highly beneficial in sharing of knowledge. However, no technological advancement is free of pitfalls. Improvement in connectivity of the globe and it’s turning into global village has eroded control of a nation-state on flow of information. Accessibility to new technologies is providing similar exposure to developed, semi-developed and underdeveloped societies. Here development doesn’t imply economic development. Rather it implies development in ethics, morality and morals.

Developed societies have a combined ability to draw maximum benefits and ward off pitfall. However, story of underdeveloped societies is far different. They get overwhelmed by pitfalls of new technology.

Pakistan is a society which has suffered societal decay due to many reasons but mainly prolonged conflict. Prolonged conflict created anti-merit environment by throwing up a breed of sycophants, parvenues and opportunists. These conflicts brought in easy money and craze for materialistic pursuits. These conflicts eroded ethics, morals and values of society. Societies are driven by shame and guilt. Both these stop a human from committing a sin. Both these attributes have disappeared from Pakistani society.

Societal decay along with lack-lustre management and regulation has created a dangerous mix. Social media has provided a platform to further damage our ethics. Since there is no system of attributability of content on social media. People are holding no bars in baseless allegations. Islam strictly stops us from levelling allegations on others. However, utterly against these teachings and ethics, as a society we have started drawing pleasure in ridiculing and dishonouring others. Worst is happening against women of fame.

It’s so immoral that pornographic material is attributed to a lady of fame even if there is 10 percent of resemblance of personalities in the clip. Such clips then spread like fire on social media by irresponsible sharing. No system can check unhealthy trends in society unless each member of society realises his or her responsibility. It’s deplorable to see even so called educated lot further sharing such clips while even an insane person can find inadequate reasons to believe that clip of that particular personality.

It is said that such trend was initiated by political parties to malign opponents. But no one realises that such trends can backfire onto us. It’s already happening and the environment has gone so filthy that anything can be attributed to anyone without impunity.

Political parties being a source of leadership for the society must shun such elements who are ruthless in maligning opponents based on unethical, baseless, concocted and fabricated allegations. If one party is doing other may not respond in same kind because two wrongs don’t make a right. Allah may bless us with true spirit of Islam.

Can Afghanistan be Harbinger of Resurgence of Islam

Humiliation of a superpower in Afghanistan has created serious ramifications for the region as well as the globe. Victory of Taliban is bound to initiate a chain of events with long lasting impact. Biggest ramification of the defeat of superpower is that it’s myth of invincibility has been broken

In the context of geopolitics, I had authored an article on Golden Ring of Security in 2018. Same became part of my PhD dissertation. Amidst global transitions, new regions and alliances are emerging. Shifting of power from West to East, Rise of China to replace US as superpower, change in global polarity and Rise of Asia are well accepted outcomes.

Within ambit of these global transitions, hitherto-fore not so integrated countries are finding convergence of interests. Concept of Golden Ring of Security (GROS) is based on a regional alliance between Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. The contours of such a regional grouping have already started to emerge. This alliance is best suited for seeking stability in Afghanistan which I have identified as Threat No1 to CPEC in particular and ambitions of China in general. These regional countries can play a better role in Afghanistan because these are directly impacted by instability in Afghanistan.

Sudden shift in Afghanistan can also have impact on Pakistan related to fillip in activities of TTP. Allama Iqbal had called Afghanistan as heart of Asia. Heart purifies and supplies blood to organs. If Afghanistan becomes functional it will have impact on entire Asia.

This blog is intended to focus on how religion of Islam might gain from victory of Taliban in Afghanistan. If Taliban can exhibit greater maturity (which they are already doing) in giving good governance to Afghanistan, then this victory can become first drop of resurgence of Islam.

Militant Jihad though disfigured in certain cases has been more prevalent in the Muslim World due to global political injustices. Hamas has already greeted Taliban on assumption of power. Taliban have too repeatedly hinted at struggle for liberation of Kashmir. Jihad might again gain prevalence which got bashing for its lumping with terrorism.

Islam as an ideology of justified struggle has gained through success of Taliban. It is foreseen that the victory of Taliban may become harbinger of resurgence of Islam which is long over due.

Shamefaced Superpower

The world is aghast with the outcome in Afghanistan. Indeed it is utter amazement how a superpower has been humbled and embarrassed in the hands of irregular forces. This is what I had written in my book, titled Fighting Shadows in 2018,

“Alas! If Soviet Union had known that Afghanistan was a “graveyard for empires”. One wonders whether the same statement may be repeated tomorrow with reference to the US”

The statement is indeed being repeated. One is bewildered to say the least that how a superpower could be so grossly wrong in its assessments, analysis and intelligence. Weeks ago President Biden asserted that Taliban take over of Kabul was not inevitable. Three days ago US intelligence agencies had predicted that Kabul might fall in 90 days. It has taken 1/30th of time for Kabul to fall. Gross miscalculation seems an understatement.

Almighty superpower has been left to beg Taliban for safety of its embassy staff. It’s equally appalling that a superpower didn’t have contingency planning for evacuation of its embassy staff. First they extricated all troops and then re-inducted a contingent of 6000 soldiers.

On initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom, General Pervez Musharraf had demanded from the US that Northern Alliance should not come to Kabul mounting US tanks. However, the US had no other option because it had to ally with enemy of Taliban. The day Northern Alliance came to Kabul mounting US tanks, the same day India moved into Afghanistan. India had a hey-day with favourable government in Kabul.

Withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan was bound to rectify two distortions in the country due to its presence. Firstly, a flawed political dispensation had to be rectified. Minority rule had to give way to majority rule. Secondly, India had to be cut to size. Both have happened much earlier than expectations.

The tables in Afghanistan haven’t turned rather these have been catapulted. The speed of change is mind boggling. 20 years efforts, money, planning and nation building has gone down the drain.

Rapid changes in Kabul will augur well for overall CPEC related prospective growth and development in the region.

Test of Nerves

In the emerging contours of 21st Century Geopolitics, Pakistan is feeling the heat.

It’s unfortunate but a stark reality that akin to hither-to-fore Pakistan is once again coming to the centre stage of rivalry of giants. First British and Soviet Empire, then US and Soviet Empire, then US and forces of disorder (so to say) and now US and China.

The mere criticality and importance of Pakistan for China as well as contending US is amply proven through two accounts; firstly what kind of efforts China is putting in to retain Pakistan and CPEC and secondly, what kind of efforts opposing camp is putting-in to wean Pakistan away from China and CPEC.

Once again the US has shown how ruthless it is in using and dumping others. Bad days for Pakistan started in particular with new year Tweet of President Trump ie 1 Jan 2018. Then it dawned on to the US that safe exit from Afghanistan isn’t possible sans support of Pakistan. Thus same POTUS reinitiated a bonhomie with Pakistan culminating in visit of PMIK to the US. Now that safe exit has been secured, Pakistan is finding yet again estranged US.

Whatever is happening to Pakistan now, amounts to testing its nerves. Snubbing of Pakistan at environment conference called by President Biden, then snubbing of Pakistan by refusal of President Biden to make a telephone call to PMIK and now snubbing of Pakistan by not inviting to UNSC special session is part of same orchestration. It is aimed at bringing unbearable pressure on to Pakistan. Ultimately, it comes to test of nerves of leadership.

In my PhD dissertation, Coercive US has been identified as one of main threats to CPEC. Pakistan is in deed being coerced.

Iran next doors is excellent example of resoluteness and display of steel nerves. It is expected that Pakistan will display similar steel nerves for betterment of future generations of Pakistan. Opposing forces will try their best. If we succumb we are doomed, we keep standing, these storms with wither away. I am very hopeful that present leadership will not succumb to these pressures and coercion.

A Pariah State and Double Standards of the World

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10218783832762768&id=1108879427&sfnsn=scwspwa

A dispassionate analysis leads to a conclusion that; India has remained a source of conflict in South Asia since it’s independence in 1947. It has had disputes with all of its neighbours and why shouldn’t it have? Seeing it’s strategic thought.

Strategic thought is cumulative response behaviour and attitude of a group of people built over centuries. This becomes a frame of reference of people of that group to react to a given situation. Strategic thought of India is based on Chanakya Doctrine which stipulates, “your neighbour is your natural enemy, whereas neighbour’s neighbour is your friend”. Besides that strategic thought of India is also driven by extremist Hindutva and vision of Akhand Bharat. In this milieu India’s disputes with its neighbours are logical and a foregone conclusion. It’s only for the world not to deny the obvious.

Indian hegemonic attitude has debilitated South Asia with Kautalian Dictum and perpetual instability. South Asia is thus the least integrated, conflict prone and the most impoverished region of the World. Even SAARC failed due to intransigence of India.

In the emerging geopolitics of South Asia, India has emerged as new darling of the US. However, the US is in total denial and disregard of the basic nature of Indian strategic thought. The US seems to be inhibited by BFO (Blinding flash of the obvious). The US is failing to realise that conflict-based Strategic Thought of India renders it incapable of being Net-security provider of the region. India can only suit the US, incase its objectives in the region lie in instability rather than stability.

India is now playing a huge role in marring fair-play of global systems. In 2021, there have been three incidents of stealing of Uranium, but world opted to look other way. There have been reports of drug trafficking, but world is looking other way. Even over 700 days of curfew and heinous crimes of India in Indian Occupied Kashmir has not shaken slumbering conscience of the World. Irrefutable evidence of terrorism and the World is looking other way. Confession of Indian Minister for External Affairs that India has used FATF for political purposes has laid thread-bare meanness-to-the-core of Indian polity. The World will still look other way. Since world isn’t just and fair, so attitude of the world is justified.

However, in the setting of unjust and unfair world, Pakistan must exercise its options. The video attached in the beginning builds a case for mistreated nations like Pakistan to care hoots about biased global organisations like FATF. Pakistan must exercise all of its options to record and rebut impartial attitude of FATF. People of Pakistan must support in building of the case and supporting the government against this blatant injustice.

Change of Heart or Strategy

https://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2021/07/26/pakistan-taliban-leader-robertson-pkg-intl-vpx.cnn

The US has finally opted to withdraw from Afghanistan. There is a sure implausible deniability regarding failure of a super power in its longest war.

Unfolding of events in Post-US withdrawal is any body’s guess. Crystal-gazing is on and each day new possible scenarios are being churned. All scenarios hold ominous consequences for the unfortunate region of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The regions which have remained disturbed for over two centuries of modern history are yet again standing at cross roads.

In the multidimensional global transitions, the most serious lies in emergence of China as a challenger to the US status of super power. It is critical for the US to block rise of China at the max or retard it’s rise to the min. This in view, the most serious retrospection is needed in certain key questions. What is strategic significance of the region in Sino-US Rivalry?Notwithstanding its withdrawal, can US totally delink from this region? And, on the part of US is it change of heart or strategy?

Rise of China is predicated mainly in two main domains, integration of Eurasian Landmass and mitigation of Malacca Dilemma. The first needs critical land routes through CARs and the second needs direct access to Indian Ocean. Kazakhstan happens to be the linchpin for integration of Eurasian Landmass and Pakistan forms linchpin for access to Indian Ocean. Afghanistan lies in the middle of CARs and Pakistan. While stability in these key regions is critical for China’s ambitions; instability in these regions is equally critical for the US to stop China from rising. Afghanistan can serve to radiate instability in all directions. That much about first question. Now I move to the second.

Based on strategic importance of the region, it can be safely presumed that total delinking from this critical region can not be in the interests of the US. Incase, US totally abandons this region, then China will have an easy run for its ambitious plans. Direct involvement through physical presence may no more suit the US, however, indirect involvement through other ways may be essentially required.

Third question is the most critical and warrants serious deliberations. Does US have a change of heart or strategy. Change of heart can imply that the US, in its heart has accepted failure and has given up on its objectives vis-a-vis Afghanistan and the region. While change of strategy may imply that mode is being changed but objectives are not being abandoned. Instead of direct strategy of fighting and suffering, the US may adopt an indirect strategy to achieve its objectives. 21st Century Warfare has brought to fore the role of Non-state actors. It has been same non-state actors which have humiliated a super power.

What if? the US employs same very non-state actors to create chaos in the regions critical for Chinese ambitions. Conduct of peace talks, concessions to TTA, indications to carry out air strikes only against ISIS in Afghanistan raise suspicions regarding purity of intentions of the US. The above cited video seems to serve as an incitement to TTP for carrying out operations in Pakistan. TTP leader has been given an opportunity for an interview on CNN.

If the US and CIA unfolds such plans, the region is up for a bigger chaos than we have witnessed earlier. Malicious role of non-state actors in Afghanistan can give fillip to ETIM in Xinjiang, IMU in Uzbekistan and TTP of Pakistan. These non-state actors if not well managed can serve interests of the US better than its physical presence in Afghanistan.

Stability in Afghanistan may be more critical than any time in the past. Regional countries must join hands to defeat designs of inimical forces and to prevent instability which will radiate its ill effects in all directions.