A Straight “No” To Army’s Intervention In Politics


Often I contemplate why we, as civilians, assume that we cannot govern the country? Haven’t we — the “bloody civilians” as the army thinks — recognized our worth in all these 63 years of Independence?

A few days back during a debate with a friend he said to me:

“Civilians like you are worth nothing in the political system of this country”

Now I don’t understand one thing: why underestimating yourself as a civilian? Will we always remain “bloody civilians” in the eyes of uniformed ones?

Army is an institution, not a contractual leadership icon. It is we, the civilians, who are going to make any difference. If not, we will always keep on hanging between the 10 years military rule and couple of years civilian rule — the epitome of Pakistan’s political history. And If the things will keep going on in such a way, we will yet remain confused forever which ideology to follow — military or civilian. Army “may” change things to good for a short period of time, but it won’t and it can’t change things the way we need it for a long-term progression.

PS: I, in any case, am not endorsing the “democracy”. I don’t believe in this “ism” or that “ism”, and which is a different debate. I only intend to say that the “bloody civilians” are worthy of ruling too. Besides, the army’s influence in the politics of Pakistan should be subdued.

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Clash Of Ideologies


While we’ve good examples of other countries to follow, we’re stick to our self-nurtured habits of creating our own unparalleled examples in the world. And so, no wonder if we fall each time to the lowest of regression because Pakistan remain to date a testing laboratory where each day and in each regime we experiment new lamentable things

While we’ve good examples of other countries to follow, we’re stick to our self-nurtured habits of creating our own unparalleled examples in the world. And so, no wonder if we fall each time to the lowest regression because Pakistan remain to date a testing laboratory where each day and in each regime we experiment new lamentable things

Since the time Pakistan has gained independence, it’s sometimes with the bottom part on top and sometimes the top part on bottom. The clash of ideologies is a chief ingredient in country’s social and political structure. The usual debates in the country, pointing mainly towards the major tier of clash of ideologies, are that of secularism, conservatism, democracy and dictatorship.

Despite that Pakistan is said to be an “Islamic” country having the official name “Islamic” Republic of Pakistan, the current and major lot of national and ethnical political parties along with the ruling party are left-wingers.

Pakistan was meant to be a democratic Islamic state. As the Jinnah said before the Sibi Darbar in 1948:

“Let us lay the foundations of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic ideals and principles. Our Almighty has taught us that our decisions in the affairs of the state shall be guided by discussion and consultations.”

Moreover, in a press statement on 31 July, 1947, Jinnah addressed to the Tribal Areas. He said:

“The Government of Pakistan has no desire whatsoever to interfere in any way with the traditional independence of the Tribal Areas. On the contrary, we feel as a Muslim State, we can always rely on the active support and sympathy of the tribes.”

At the conclusion of this statement, Jinnah chose to use the term ‘Islamic State’:

“In the end, I would appeal to all the different elements in the Frontier Province and in the Tribal Areas to forget past disputes and differences and join hands with the Government of Pakistan in setting up a truly democratic Islamic State.”

Since the first Martial Law by Ayub Khan, many rulers came and became a history – all with their unique set of incoherent ideologies. Mixture of civilian and military rule continued. However, Pakistan remained a testing laboratory for every ruler or dictator who would play with its original ideology and would manipulate it according to the so-called needs – mostly based on the de facto “doctrine of necessity” and the de facto “national interest”. The people of Pakistan, at the same time, have always paved a way for those new ideologies to get emerge each time they get bored or tired with the previous one.

The last one to come up with a new ideology was veteran president General Pervez Musharraf. He introduced “Enlightened Moderation” and attempted to promote it in Pakistan during his 9 years tenure of dictatorship. Musharraf has always quoted the example of Turkey and the Turkish revolutionary statesman Kemal Ataturk who gave Turkey a new ideology of secularism after the Ottoman Empire, which was said to be an Islamic Caliphate, was abolished.

Let’s come back to the favorite country of Musharraf as if in examples, the Turkey, where he once lived as a boy. The idea of military’s unaccountable power, in other words the sense of dictatorship while making decisions on his own, was once again swept up by Turkey. In Turkey, the military and establishment is said to be secular. Four times since 1960, the military, which views itself as the guardian of Turkey’s secular tradition, has overthrown civilian governments. And none of the plotter of the coup was punished until the AK party came into power. The military influence in politics was then diminished because of the strong civilian government lead by Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan. This goes for Musharraf – as well for those striving hard to keep country democratic and for those who endorse coup – again:

Few months back, that is in February, the court of Islamic-oriented government of Turkey has jailed seven senior military officers – including four admirals, an army general and two staff colonels. The officers, some of them are now retired, are charged with plotting in 2003 to topple the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Having said that Musharraf can follow the examples of Turkey in order to adopt secularism, the current government of Pakistan should now take a literal serious step in trying Musharraf just as the Turkey prosecuted and punished the servicemen who plotted to overthrow the Turkish government. Unfortunately, what we have seen so far is that the present civilian government of Pakistan has never took any step to try any of those servicemen  who even executed the coup, most recent Pervez Musharraf, and gave country the worst times it has ever seen.

What is the constitution of Pakistan for military dictators? Aren’t they the one who take oath on the name of Allah for they shall abide by the constitution? If oath-taking and fulfilling it has become so marginal and unholy, why do we still continue with the tradition of oath-taking ceremonies and the likes of it? Should not Pakistan cut the Gordian knot instead of making mockery of a constitution and oath by appending a new fresh clause to the constitution, which should state: “any breaching of the constitution under the pretext of ‘national interest’ and ‘doctrine of necessity’ shall not be considered treason. Military shall be allowed to practice the coup when needed.”

Who was Jinnah? Anyone remember him? To the armed forces, this man’s message was quite clear and well-defined briefly. On August 14th 1947, he addressed the armed forces of nascent Pakistan, saying:

“Do not forget that the armed forces are the servants of the people and you do not make national policy; it is we, the civilians, who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted.”

Jinnah left this message not only to the armed forces but also to the people of Pakistan. With this literacy rate and that poverty rate it is difficult for Pakistan to be democratic are the crippled rhetoric we have been listening for ages now. Not too far to go to seek an example. A country that lies on the east of Pakistan, truly our archenemy likewise, has the poverty rate bigger than Pakistan and literacy rate not as good that it cannot afford a single Martial Law.

Most recently, the MQM has vehemently announced that it will welcome the Martial Law by the “Patriotic Generals.” Well, endorsing to put Pakistan again under a new militarily based ideological test will really help Pakistan? When will this civilian-military ideological game show going to end? When will the civilians – including the political parties – are going to understand the fact that they are also worthy of ruling Pakistan? Only if they do it – ruling – with sincerity, keeping the principled politics its aim, and understand that we civilians do matter to the country, then Pakistan can avert the unwarranted and uncalled for military interventions, besides its influence, in the politics.

While we have good examples of other countries – like Turkey – to follow, and political guidelines and principles of Jinnah likewise, we are stick to our self-nurtured habits of creating our own unparalleled examples. And so, no wonder if we fall each time to the lowest regression because Pakistan remains to date a testing laboratory where each day and in each regime we experiment new lamentable things.

Pakistan: An American Occupied Territory?


For sometime I have wondered that General Kayani is the Queen (piece) of Chess. While Gilani may have the power of a King after the 18th amendment, but certainly on the chessboard of Pakistani side politics and maneuvering it is the General Kayani – or by and large the army – that takes a lead in making the wider and crucial steps in deciding the fate of the country.

Around half year back, there was a interesting news on the media. Veteran Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt-Gen Shahid Aziz revealed in a talk show on one of the private TV channels that the former President Gen. (retd.) Musharraf obliged US without informing corps commanders. He further revealed that he, along with other senior Army officers, opposed to give Pakistan’s Jacobabad airbase to the US.

According to the news report:

Lt-Gen Shahid Aziz said the Pakistani troops were moved from Quetta to Jacobabad for taking control of the local airbase, but, according to him: “we were surprised when our troops informed us that the US Army had not allowed them to enter the Jacobabad airbase.” He said that after sometime, he came to know privately from a PAF officer that the US had also taken over the Pasni airbase and as the CGS, he was not aware of all these developments.

What was done was done. Musharraf was still given a nice and lofty farewell despite of his unwarranted actions like the contracting of Pakistani airbases under the pretext of de facto national interest. Once the national assets – the sensitive ones – were dispensed to the United States, Pakistan became worst than a protectorate state – the manifestation of which has been witnessed by Pakistanis perennially.

Today, somewhat similar news popped in on the media which startled me yet again. The excerpts of the news say that “Health relief operations in Jacobabad are not possible because the airbase in the area is controlled by the US.”

This statement which is yet surprising to an utmost extent has been made by the Health Secretary Khushnood Lashari today during an appearance at the Senate Standing Committee on Health.

According to one of the Senator Semeen Yusuf Siddiqui of PML-Q, it is very unfortunate that Americans can launch a drone attack from Shahbaz airbase but the government is helpless even in using the country’s base for relief operations.” She further said that the health ministry should have requested the army to ask the US to allow relief operation from the base.

Understanding the sensitivity of the situation where the flood has submerged 1/3rd of the Pakistan and still wreaking havoc in the country, I assume that – if the news is true – it makes one of the most egregious news concerning the United States of America. At first place, Pakistan shouldn’t be passing around its airbases or such sensitive assets to any country, yet not on contractual basis under any such sensitive situation. Under the present state of affairs, it appears that the whole Pakistan is under the full order of United States. Therefore, talking about one base [allegedly occupied] virtually looks ridiculous but that is how it is: a Pakistani airbase is apparently incapable of providing relief to the Pakistani flood victims. Here, the reason is ridiculous rather!

Jinnah’s Pakistan: Where Has it Lost?


Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Students: Let me give you this word of warning: you will be making the greatest mistake if you allow yourself to be exploited by one political party or another

Muhammad Ali Jinnah to Students: Let me give you this word of warning: you will be making the greatest mistake if you allow yourself to be exploited by one political party or another

Had Jinnah been alive today, would he have been steering Pakistan to really a progression that he intensely yearned for? I often think about Pakistan from this perspective. Then mostly I am persuaded by my own sense of judgment and justice that had Jinnah been alive today, yes, Pakistan would have been, at least, a country of people espousing the unity, faith and discipline in its true spirit. It does not necessarily mean that Pakistan would have been like as happy and jolly as a sandboy, and that there would have been no obstacle on the road to progression. Problems are naturally constitutional for individuals and for a nation. But Jinnah, really-truly, would have shown her second, and perhaps most dearest daughter, Pakistan, a direction had he been alive today.

From the common people to students and politicians, yet army, the unity, faith and discipline of Jinnah is scarcely seen. Who, in literal sense, talks about bringing back Jinnah’s Pakistan in the midst of national turmoil? Among the lot of the mainstream politicians, I can see not a single one who is a stern advocator of Jinnah’s principled political system. Instead, the de facto “national interest” and “doctrine of necessity” is inundating in the political culture and social system of Pakistan. The version of “Quaid” has taken a new shape which highlights the personality cult factor sweeping over the people’s conscience. From the students and youth, by and large, what I see is the obsession with the party politicking. While reminding myself the message of Jinnah to the students, I found him cautioning the students to not exploit themselves by one party or another. The actual message of Jinnah to the students was delivered on March 21st, in Dhaka. He said:

“My young friends, students who are present here, let me tell you as one who has always had love and affection for you, who has served you for ten years faithfully and loyally, let me give you this word of warning: you will be making the greatest mistake if you allow yourself to be exploited by one political party or another…. Your main occupation should be – in fairness to yourself, in fairness to your parents, in fairness to the state – to devote your attention to your studies.”

For the politicians, Jinnah was emphatic of the idea that elected leaders must realize their obligations and liabilities in a prudent way. During the Presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11th August, 1947, he said:

“The first and the foremost thing that I would like to emphasize is this – remember that you are now a Sovereign Legislative body and you have got all the powers. It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions.”

To the armed forces, Jinnah’s message was quite clear and well-defined briefly. On August 14th 1947, he addressed the armed forces of nascent Pakistan, saying:

“Do not forget that the armed forces are the servants of the people and you do not make national policy; it is we, the civilians, who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted.”

Today, Muhammad Ali Jinnah only lives in the books and portraits. How sad it is that his depiction is used – on notes – to gratify our appetite as well.

To bring back Jinnah’s Pakistan, we must come out of our shells of idleness. On this decisive phase today, happen as well to be the 14th August – the 64th Birthday of Pakistan, we be forbidden to wait for a wake-up call from our affiliated political parties or groups or other mentors. Jinnah’s amount of supporters were little than Congress activists but his supporters were sincere. The advocators of Jinnah’s principled politics are maybe little, but they should be sincere likewise – followed by the unity, faith and discipline – in order to bring back the Jinnah’s Pakistan which was meant to be sovereign and not protectorate, which was meant to be progressive and not regressive, which was meant to be united and not divided.

The Futility Of Karachi Mayhem


As news spread residents of Karachi left work and rushed to get home PHOTO: Express Tribune/M.ADEEL

As news spread residents of Karachi left work and rushed to get home PHOTO: Express Tribune/M.ADEEL


Published at Express Tribune

Raza Haider, an MQM leader and member of the Sindh Assembly, and his guard were shot dead at a mosque in Nazimabad in Karachi. It was a sad event. Target killings are unwarranted and uncalled for. The culprits of this cold-blooded murder and all such murders should be caught immediately and punished severely.

But another sad event followed the murder. As soon as news of the incident broke all shops were closed. Members of the self-proclaimed ‘middle-class’ and ‘most educated’ political party of Pakistan were allegedly seen threatening shopkeepers. Some shopkeepers were even physically attacked by workers. A Pakhtun cobbler’s small shop was torn down.

Should shops and businesses in Karachi be forced to close down?

The closure of businesses and shops means a substantial loss of billions of rupees every day. It means that daily wagers will not have money to buy food to feed their families. Bread, milk, eggs, pulses, flour and rice will not be available.

Pakistan is already suffering from massive budgetary difficulties and day-to-day financial problems. An entire day without business in the financial hub of the country will not help solve our national economic problems.

The politics of pain

Only one party could be responsible for the city-wide shut down of business. Karachi is MQM and MQM is Karachi. If any party wants to prosper in the political culture of Pakistan it should practice patience and tolerance even in the face of tragedy. Punjab is often seen coping with the after effect of any tragedy much prudently. This is why the party should advise its workers to stop the forceful closure of shops and businesses.

Business as usual for city police

Meanwhile, as the public rushed to reach home safely, policemen continued the practice of greasing their palms on Shahra-e-Faisal and other busy routes in Karachi. Why would the police harrass civilians on a day when the entire city was worried about security and getting home safe and sound? I am not in favor of ransom during a normal situation in the country but during emergencies it is inexcusable.

All in all, I feel that we, Pakistanis, are quite emotional as a nation. We react to the things emotionally while completely forgetting its adverse outcome. We must understand that during such trying times Pakistan needs our honest and patient services more than it needs impulsive reactions.