Saturday, June 18, 2005

Is militarism irreversible in Pakistan?
Daily Times - Site Edition
Sunday, June 19, 2005
VIEW: Is militarism irreversible in Pakistan? —Ahmad Faruqui

Musharraf believes that Pakistan needs the big stick of the military to survive as a nation state. Deep down, one senses an authoritarian conviction that the people cannot be trusted to choose their own leader

After watching cricket with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his native Delhi, General Pervez Musharraf proudly declared to world acclaim that the peace process with India was irreversible. But he has yet to declare in Islamabad that Pakistan’s move towards democracy is irreversible. During his recent tour of Australia and New Zealand, he said Pakistan was already a democracy, but for his having to wear a uniform to safeguard it. Conveniently, the general’s four stars are never visible when he travels abroad. They are meant to shine and intimidate fellow Pakistanis at home, especially the khakis. He knows the day he doffs his uniform, he would rule at the mercy of his army chief. Even the taxi driver in Karachi knows this iron law of Pakistani politics.

Why, one must ask, is Pakistan still governed by its military, in the sixth decade of its life? Like the one field marshal and two generals who preceded him, Musharraf believes that Pakistan needs the big stick of the military to survive as a nation state. Deep down, one senses an authoritarian conviction that the people cannot be trusted to choose their own leader. As Ayub famously said in the early-1960s, it is the duty of the khakis to “save the people from themselves”. He forecast that Pakistan would be ready for true democracy two generations later. Well, that time has now come and there is still no sign of democracy of the kind that exists in India or even the kind that is exercised in the theocratic state of Iran. The generals, like the British imperialists whose uniform they wear, believe that Pakistan is a collection of warring tribes that cannot self-govern. This is an ideological premise. Next comes the issue of self-interest. The generals have fallen in love with the benefits of militarism that continue to enrich them even after they retire. Surely Jinnah did not create Pakistan so that the Khaki Raj would replace the British Raj. A furious debate continues to rage in Pakistan (and recently in India) on whether Jinnah was a secularist or a closet theocrat. But there is no debate about whether he wanted to establish a democratic or a militarised nation - the answer is obvious.

So the debate that needs to occur is who derailed democracy, the civilians or the military? It is often argued in the West that the military is the only strong institution in Pakistan that can hold the country together. But this argument confuses cause and effect. An overweening military has prevented the development of strong civilian institutions. Had Jinnah lived, it is unlikely that the dispute over Kashmir would have persisted for half a century, resulting in the diversion of billions of dollars to the military. It is this large military force that has crippled civil society in the country.In India, the military is strong but its strength has not come at the expense of civilian institutions. Indeed, strong civilian institutions in India have kept the military out of politics and kept it focused on its core competency. India’s military failures, unlike Pakistan’s, have been openly studied, critiqued and analysed, leading to improvements.

Today, Pakistan is a country on the edge, being held together by its nuclear bomb programme on the one hand and on the promise of F-16s from the US on the other. Both are relics of an irrational and un-winnable conflict with India. Neither is going to help the nation survive, because myriad internal problems are chipping away at its national identity.Stephen Cohen’s candid assessment of Pakistan’s political future to the US Congress is worth noting. From a US perspective, Cohen said the main problem is not whether or not Pakistan is serious in pursuing terrorists but “Pakistan itself and its faltering political system, its dysfunctional social order, its dangerous sectarianism, and its grossly distorted political system.” Pakistan, he said, is one of the few states that have achieved “sustainable failure”. Perhaps sustainable failure is a core competency of Pakistan’s. Sadly, such core competencies do not lend themselves to generating revenues in global markets.

About mid-way into his rule, General Musharraf laid out the formula for making democracy irreversible: “To keep the military out, you have to let the military in.” While to everyone else this sounded like asking the fox to guard the henhouse, it provided the impetus for the misbegotten National Security Council (NSC), patterned after its Turkish namesake.At a time when Pakistan seems to be inching deeper into the abyss of militarism, Turkey is pulling out of it. This is partly out of pressures arising from its desire to join the European Union. Last year, the European Parliament noted that the Turkish military still has “inappropriately large power” in that country’s polity and called for stricter civilian control of the security sector as a prerequisite for Turkey’s membership in the European Union.In response, Turkey passed a constitutional amendment that curbs the military’s powers. For example, special accounts that had long been used to finance commanders’ pet projects have been terminated. Military courts may no longer prosecute civilians in peacetime and allegations of torture by the military will be investigated and prosecuted promptly. Most tellingly, structural reforms have been passed to curtail the powers of the overarching NSC. It has been enlarged to give civilian ministers a majority and the enabling legislation has been amended to prevent abuse of the NSC’s advisory role and decrease the frequency of its meetings. The prime minister is now authorised to appoint the NSC secretary-general, who sets the agenda and the tone of the council’s work. All of this must make Shaukat Aziz envious.

Turkish democracy seems increasingly vibrant just as Pakistan’s is becoming increasingly flaccid. In his Congressional testimony, Cohen laid out three conditions for Pakistan’s political development. One, it should hold free and fair elections in 2007 in which exiled leaders of the two leading parties are allowed to participate. Two, the army should end its “comprehensive interference in domestic politics.” And three, President Musharraf should give up his army job well before the elections. There are no signs that any of these conditions is about to be fulfilled. In Pakistani politics, it is militarism and not democracy that is on the march.

Dr Ahmad Faruqui is director of research at the American Institute of International Studies and can be reached at
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Cricket, and transcending cricketing matters!


This is a piece that was first published in DAWN right after the Indian cricket tour to Pakistan last year. While we have come some way since then as a team, I have little hope of any structural improvement of the game in the country if we were to continue being ad hoc in our approach.

Therefore, I see the piece still holds true for it substance, and actually goes much beyond just the game of cricket!

Does anybody else feel that a similar thought-process and appropriate implementation in other affairs of the general running of the country would yield positive results?

Takes, anyone??

More than just cricket

By: Mohsin Hafeez

Sitting in a state of utter disbelief way into the night of March 30, 2004, in a quiet, suburban town of the San Francisco Bay area, the potential early morning staring me in admonishment, I saw the Pakistanis falling in that fight against the Indians like a ton of bricks. And, like a ton of bricks they did fall- on the Pakistan Cricket Board. Ramiz Raja and his boss, Sheheryar Khan, certainly have work cut out for themselves.

In a related piece ‘Triumph and Defeat” on, an Indian writer referred to our team as Inzimam’s ‘pussycats’ as opposed to Imran’s ‘cornered tigers’ of the 1992 World Cup fame. I have been a great advocate of trying to see beyond the immediate as therein lies the reality. It couldn’t be truer in this case. We are all extremely proud of the talent we produce in the low middle-class streets of our country, and proud we ought to be. There is no doubt about the merit of such players, as we have witnessed in the last few decades. However, there has been something tantalizingly missing in the Pakistani cricket team, barring the time-period when we had Imran Khan and then, to some extent, Wasim Akram, as our captains. I see it as the ability to persevere, to fight against all odds with a sense of discipline, and to stay focused and committed. It’s unfortunate to see the deterioration of our social fabric transcend so aggressively to cricket, as evident in the overall, personal traits of the players.

Without being philosophical, what works in everyday life works equally well in a sport. One goes to work, interacts with people as in a team, achieves (or tries hard to) whatever goals and objectives one has professionally, and brings food on the table for the family. Now this is work, and there is no reason that playing a sport should be any different. Yes, there is all this exuberance and exhibitionism about being a celebrity but it does not -and should not- take away from the fact that this engagement is a celebrity’s livelihood, the success of which depends, and should, entirely on the performance of today as opposed to some one-off stunt or a predestined notion.

Sports is an important element of any civilized country’s nomenclature. There is significant money involved-if there is not enough, there really ought to be- and it acts as a catalyst in the overall economy of any nation. It is an industry, and like any industry it needs proper management. Sadly, we see this as a totally alien concept in our country, or, just like most other disciplines, it merely gets lip service, what with all the hoopla attached to a separate Ministry of Sports and the rest. It surely is a great way to please and to woo some of the sycophants and turncoats, of whom there is no dearth, to partake of the running of the government.

It is not, therefore, surprising to see where we are. Unfortunately, our cricketers think the world is their oyster, and that they are a gift to the game of cricket just because they have the capacity to throw deliveries at close to a 100 miles per hour or to bash any bowler in the world based on their past records and reputation. This is the crux of the issue. Imran Khan, in a related program ‘Straight Drive’ clearly said, and I couldn’t agree more, that the subcontinent is notorious for being obsessed with collecting individual records and then basing one’s confidence level on them rather than self-discipline. It’s all very well to achieve milestones but team-spirit is the emotion, along with discipline, that wins matches. It’s a mind-game and we need to inculcate the right, positive attitude in our team before we can go back to the times of the great Imran Khan.

The entire domestic structure of cricket needs an overhaul. The way we produce talent can be natural but we can surely do a better job of nurturing it. Cricket is not only ‘cricketing skills’ which one may acquire or inherently possess. There is more to playing cricket than meets the eye. A whole lot of it has to with what happens in the backdrop, the off-ground coaching being a critical piece to it. We need disciplined team players with no attitudinal roadblocks more than we need individual heroes. We have had more than our fair share of them. No more self-professed heroes, please!

For starters, we can begin by promoting the game at local school levels by arranging inter-school tournaments. This will do two things: one, give the control to authorities to pick and nurture talent at the outset, and two, ensure there is at least basic education among all players. The significance of basic, good education cannot be overemphasized. It makes all the difference in how one approaches one’s game and what one does in each and every changing scenario; in short, be ‘situational.’ Our players don’t need the coaching of being able to produce a beautiful flick off the bat going down the leg side as much as an indoctrination of what wins matches and how to play sensible cricket. This will also help produce good leaders, a rare commodity among the current crop of players. There ought to be a series of classroom sessions for a team of youngsters going on a regular basis to instill in them a sense of seriousness about playing the big games. They need to be taught the value of fighting back, irrespective of the end-result of the game, and playing positive, sustained cricket in any situation. In addition, the value of being able to at least communicate in the international arena cannot be ignored.

This can be achieved by opening a Cricket Academy which works in a regimented fashion as opposed to the chaotic ways of life we are all so used to and take pride in. After all, there are institutions in Pakistan that develop first-class officers. Why should we differentiate between one profession and the vocation of cricket is beyond understanding to the reasonable mind. Should cricket be an avocation rather than a vocation? If the answer is in the affirmative, then we cannot expect to improve on the domestic cricket structure.

Concurrently with the above proceedings at the Academy, some of the players will graduate to playing first-class cricket and others will become subject to the Peter’s Principle (‘failing upwards’ or ‘rising to one’s level of incompetence’). The successful ones should then be put to even tougher tests, including not only how well they play their strokes but also how they fare under pressure.

In today’s competitive world, which is getting increasingly brutal, we have to move with time and be progressive. We cannot put the clock back and stay within the comfort zone of the yesteryear. If the coaching needs to be specific to skill, so be it. And if we need to hire a specialist to impart this knowledge, then let’s go and get someone qualified. Does it really matter that that person has spread the wealth in cricket terms by coaching an international, budding player? After all, the resource is universally available and whosoever takes the initiative gets it first. Kudos are due to the one who learnt it so well that it left the so-called seasoned Pakistani batsmen totally baffled.

Not all is lost, however; so, there is no reason for remorse. Taking a cue from my uncle, the late Yunus Said, the perennial optimist to the core on Pakistan and all that had to do with her as a nation, including, of course, cricket, there is still tomorrow to come in everyone’s life, and so it will in Pakistani cricket. We can either look forward to it in hope of learning a thing or two and taking corrective action or dread it in despair and continue being defensive. The choice is ours.

(The author is a banker in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, he is an adjunct professor of marketing at his alma mater Golden Gate University and serves on its Alumni Board of Directors.)

Pak's image abroad

I can see Musharraf's viewpoint on not wanting to project the retrogressive image of the country abroad. What I have an issue with is his own wishy-washy approach to eradicating women's, or for that matter, the extremist issue. I see lack of consistency and actions invalidating the overall policy that the government purportedly follows.

Is this treading the fine line of politics or lack of sincerity or just a simple matter of lack of courage of conviction?

Any thoughts?

Friday, June 17, 2005

How Musharraf is protecting the image of Pakistan
Daily Times - Site Edition
Saturday, June 18, 2005
I stopped Mai from going abroad: president

AUCKLAND: President General Pervez Musharraf said on Friday that he ordered a travel ban on Mukhtar Mai to protect Pakistan’s image abroad.Gen Musharraf said Mukhtar Mai, the victim of a punchayat-ordered gang rape, was being taken to the United States by foreign non-government organisations “to bad-mouth Pakistan” over the “terrible state” of the nation’s women. He said NGOs are “Westernised fringe elements” which “are as bad as the Islamic extremists”.He acknowledged that he placed the 36-year-old on the list of people banned from leaving Pakistan while responding to media questions during a three-day visit to New Zealand.“She was told not to go” to the United States to appear on media there to tell her story, Gen Musharraf told the Auckland Foreign Correspondents’ Club. The government lifted the travel ban on Wednesday after Mai appealed to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. Musharraf said atrocities are perpetrated daily against women in developing nations round the world - “in Kashmir and many other places”.“I don’t want to project the bad image of Pakistan,” he told the journalists’ club.“I am a realist. Public relations is the most important thing in the world,” he said, adding that media misperceptions would discourage tourists from travelling to Pakistan.“Pakistan is the victim of poor perceptions. The reality is very different,” he said. He defended his regime’s treatment of women, saying it was working for their emancipation. Rape was not “a rampant malaise Pakistan suffers from every day,” he said. He said he was on the side of women and was trying to bring rapists to “justice in the strongest form”. His government was encouraging the emancipation of women through education and by reducing high death rates for women and children. Women’s right were also discussed during earlier talks with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. “This is a country with many women in powerful positions so we do take an interest. So I certainly have been satisfied today that President Musharraf shares that concern and would like to see his country move,” she said. As well as Clark, New Zealand’s top judge, parliamentary speaker and top business leader are all women.
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Urdu's New Spring on the Internet

For those not familiar with it, Urdu is the language associated with the Muslims of South Asia--fully almost half of the world's Muslims. It is the language in which the madrassas of Pakistan and India operate. The official language of Pakistan, a country that needs no introduction to most readers in this day and age, it is also the language in which a great volume of literature, especially poetry, has been written--a lot of it with Sufistic content or undertones.

On the Internet, Urdu has had a presence for a while. But up to now, it has been in the form of content created using specialized software (like the ubiquitous "InPage") and then converted to a graphic format (like GIF or JPG) and then placed on a website. The content itself has usually been in the form of poetry, literature, or news and current affairs that has been created for another medium--or in another time-- and "re-purposed" for the Web. Original content creation specifically for the Internet has been very tentative; though we have had some poets use the Web as their first or main outlet and some news sites, etc. have come up.

But all that is changing. In the last few months or so, I am tracking a blossoming of Urdu language for blogging and other live discussions, and original content being developed for, and often on the web.

Blogs, of course, are where everything "is at" nowadays. And blogging in Urdu seems to have been triggered by the direct support for Urdu script that is available in Windows XP and the phonetic keyboard developed by the CRULP (the Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing at the National University of Science and Technology in Pakistan). A follow-up piece to this one will lay out the how-tos of this. Please watch this space and feel free to get in touch with the author/editor of this piece.

By way of background, this phenomenon has been preceded by the explosion of blogging in Farsi. And yes, I use that word advisedly; if what is happening in Urdu now is a "blossoming", then what has happened in Farsi is an "explosion". Farsi is reputedly now the third most popular language for online journals, and Farsi blogs are to the political scene in Iran what printed pamphlets were to revolutions in the early 20th century. But I digress. You can follow the links earlier in this paragraph to catch up on that discussion. Back to Urdu.

Here's a short round-up of things that will provide you a lay of the land, so to speak.

There is now a list of Urdu blogs:

The above link is to a post is from "Urdu ke Naam", a collaborative blog that includes contributions by the current author, and announces that blog's being included in the list. A closer look at that blog entry will also point to a page--on, what else? a blog--that describes how to start blogging in Urdu. And one that provides templates for setting one up.

The comments on that post above also mention "Urdu Planet", a site that aggregates the content of a lot of Urdu and Urdu-related blogs in one place:

The list of blogs that page points to is hosted on the "Urdu Wiki":

For readers not familiar with them, "wikis" are a wondeful new class of websites which are great for colloboratively creating content and gathering infromation. The "Urdu Wiki" has become a good place for the community forming around this whole phenomenon of Urdu on the Web. Among other things, it has pages where the community is starting to do some of the work on developing and fine-tuning the terminology for computer usage, for example. To use another link from Urdu ke Naam, see:

South Asian readers will remember that, till very recently, this kind of list was sent around as a joke, with satirical translations of Windows features into Urdu, Punjabi, or what-have-you. Now we are working on the real thing. And I do mean "we"--anyone can participate. I wish everybody would.

Which brings us to the next topic. A real encyclopedia in the language. The Wikipedia community has set up an encyclopedia in Urdu. Everyone can and should participate; it is a wonderful way to engage the Urdu-speaking community and Urdu lovers with the Internet, while helping the collection and growth of knowledge in Urdu. The address to get to it directly is:

By way of background, here's a link to an earlier post by the current author on this topic:

One could see a conflict, or redundancy between the above two projects--but I dont. Here's why: One is a place for collaboratively developing content about Urdu and related topics, while the other is a real encyclopedia about anything and everything (or aims to be, anyhow) in Urdu. A project that, to my knowledge has not successfully been carried out since before colonial times.

To give you an example of the kind of discussions that are starting to happen as the use of the language starts to mature in its use on this medium, see the following posts on "Urdu ke Naam":

Before I close, a few specific observations:

The community I am talking about spans India and Pakistan. Which, IMHO (in my humble opinion), is a good thing. It is good for the health of the language and intellectual strength of the community using it, as well as for world peace. The interesting thing is, the only tensions that arise in this online community do not arise out of national differences, but about things like the strong feeling amongst some users that the Urdu script should be the only one used for such discussion. (See the comments under the main post at and then the current author's own post at:

Secondly, from where I sit, the discussion of just a couple of years ago about whether Urdu is on its way out in India (see, for example, the 2003 article on Chowk that has been making the rounds on e-mail again recently) is moot. Some of the most passionate members of this community are currently based in Hyderabad, one of the historical "homes" of the language.

Another interesting thing is that the diaspora of Urdu speakers and lovers around the rest of the world is the furthest behind in this regard. Most people one talks to around Silicon Valley, for example, start the discussion with a "but I can write Urdu now, in InPage (a software for desktop publishing in Urdu)". When, after a few minutes of explaining that what is being talked about is exactly that one now does not need specialised DTP software and can employ the Urdu script anywhere in their day-to-day computer use, you can practically see the lightbulb go off above people's heads. What follows is requests for "how to" and so on.

And lastly, an expression of humility. I write this piece not to take credit for any of this, but to pay homage. The people in the trenches, doing the real work, are people like Asif Iqbal, father of the Urdu Wiki mentioned above; Danial, a blogger in Karachi; Umair Salaam, who makes a rather credible claim to have started the first blog in Urdu; Qais Mujeeb and Manzoor Khan, founders of "Urdu ke Naam"; Qadeer Ahmad Rana, the 19-year old student in Multan, Pakistan who finally scolded and shamed the current author into learning how to write in Urdu. (Wish him luck, he's in the middle of exams now.) Heartfelt khiraaj-e-thehseen and nazrana-e-aqeedhath to them. For these are the "Asathaza", the founding fathers, as "hamaari zubaan" moves into a new medium.


PS: Shapar86, my apologies for writing another piece in English, but I really wanted to reach an audience outside those that are already set up to read and write in Urdu.

NOTE: Versions of this article have appeared in my column in Al-Mizaan and at my own blog ( and

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Is there a gas pipeline in Pakistan's energy future?

A tale of three gas pipelines
Zaheer Jan

A pipeline geared to providing natural gas to Pakistan and India couldn’t come at a better time. After the discovery of the giant Bombay High Oilfield in 1974, India has not made any significant discoveries of oil or gas resources. India’s energy needs are increasing in a geometric progression as its economy continues to grow rapidly. Concurrently, Pakistan’s main energy supplier, the Sui Gas field discovered in 1952, is also petering out. According to a report released by the government of Pakistan, Pakistan will face major shortages of oil and gas by the year 2010. Pakistan’s natural gas needs will exceeds available resources by 0.2 bcfd (billion cubic feet per day) by 2010. The shortage will grow to 1.4 bcfd by 2015 and 2.7 bcfd by 2020. Pakistan currently produces 3.5 bcfd of natural gas, enough to meet about half of the country’s total energy needs. If needed supplies were not forthcoming to make up the shortage, the demand-supply imbalance in the energy sector would start biting into the growth rate, according to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) Report.

In India, gas demand is expected to rise from current levels of 1.8 bcfd to 11.5 bcfd by 2010. India’s indigenous natural gas accounts for only 8% of the energy consumption in the country.
With no new major indigenous discoveries on the horizon, both Pakistan and India need to import natural gas. Import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is one option but it is not as competitive as building a pipeline to bring in gas from the Middle East or Central Asia. Three competing pipeline projects are being offered to fill the subcontinent’s energy needs.
These include, first, a pipeline from Daulatabad field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India (TAPING). Second, a pipeline from Qatar’s North Dome through Oman and Pakistan to India (QOPING). And, third, a pipeline from Iran’s South Pars field through Pakistan to India (IPING).

The 1,056 mile-long TAPING Pipeline is estimated to cost $3.3 billion and will be capable of transporting 2.5 billion bcfd. However, the viability of this project is questionable. While Indian gas companies have shown interest in making investments in TAPING, the ministry of external affairs has expressed doubts about the availability of adequate gas reserves.
Turkmenistan’s domestic demand for natural gas totals 1.45-2.0 bcfd. It exports 1.0-1.3 bcfd to Iran. The remainder is currently contracted to Russia leaving very little for exports. Recoverable reserves of Daulatabad gas field have still to be established. Add to this the difficult construction logistics posed by the need to traverse high mountains; lack of suitable staging stations for supplies to construction spreads; and the volatile security situation in Afghanistan and the project becomes speculative.

The QOPING pipeline would tie Qatar into the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s Dolphin Project, an integrated natural gas pipeline grid for Qatar, UAE, and Oman. From Oman, a 720-mile subsea pipeline connection to this grid will link Oman to Pakistan. The project is estimated to take five years to build at a cost of $3.5 billion. It will be able to provide 1.6 bcfd of natural gas to Pakistan. United Offsets Group (UOG), a UAE state-owned corporation backing the project, signed preliminary memorandums of understanding with Qatar, Oman, and Pakistan. ExxonMobil also signed a preliminary agreement for the natural gas supply from ExxonMobil’s production capacity in the North Field. The total project is expected to cost around $10 billion, including costs associated with the development of more extensive gas distribution networks in the UAE and Oman.

IPING would build a 1,400-mile long pipeline from Iran through Pakistan and onto India. At an estimated cost of $3.7 billion, this project is the most economically viable of the three serious contenders. Iran boasts the world’s second largest gas reserves of 812 trillion cu ft or 15.8% of world’s total available supply. The entire route of IPING pipeline is overland. It would traverse comparatively easier terrain along Iran’s and Pakistan’s Makran Coast, pass in the vicinity of Karachi and continue on eastwards along the Rann of Kutch to terminate at the industrial city of Ahmedabad in India. While sabotage of the pipeline in Balochistan of Pakistan is a natural concern, this can be addressed by focusing on regional economic development. Before commencing work, project sponsors should get the Balochis to buy-into the pipeline through offers of employment, fuel for their settlements in the vicinity of the pipeline route and water. All these items are in short supply along the pipeline route and the Balochis currently depend upon brushwood or animal droppings to meet their fuel needs. If the Balochis buy into the scheme, safety of the project is assured. Financing for the project will not be a problem. Any number of countries and companies will line up to provide the needed funds.

Politically, however, the IPING Pipeline is the most contentious project of the three that are being floated. This is because Iran remains on Washington’s most un-favored nations list. Along with North Korea, it is a member of George Bush’s “Axis of Evil.” Any move that smacks of helping Iran’s economy enters the realm of high politics. This is where India and Pakistan, in pursuit of their own economic interests, need to use their new relationship with Washington to gain an exception.

Being the world’s only superpower, it behooves the U.S. to give the go ahead to the IPING Pipeline project in the interest of promoting regional economic integration between the Middle East and South Asia. Such a gesture would go a long way toward convincing world opinion that the Bush administration is sincere when it says it wants to pursue diplomacy over confrontation during its second term in office.

Zaheer Jan is an independent energy consultant who has served as the Deputy Chief Engineer, Transmission for the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Company in Pakistan. He has also served as Manager of Pipeline Engineering for the $24.0 billion Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System and Consultant to the State of Alaska.

This article has appeared in Daily Times, Pakistan (

Sharmeen Obaid honored with Livingstone Award

Yesterday, the winners of the Livingston Awards were announced in New York and Sharmeen Obaid was a winner for International Reporting. She is the first non-American (and first Pakistani) to win the award.

Congratulations, Sharmeen!

New York, June 14. -- Ken Auletta of the The New Yorker, Tom Brokaw of NBC
News, and Ellen Goodman of The Boston Globe announced the winners of the
$10,000 Livingston Awards in local, national and international reporting.
The prizes are limited to journalists under the age of 35, and are the
largest all-media, general-reporting prizes in the country.
Additionally, Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune presented a $5,000 award
named for Richard M. Clurman, the distinguished Time, Inc. journalist, and
given to senior professionals who are superb on-the-job mentors.
Winners for 2004 work are:
Local reporting. Pauline Arrillaga, 34, of The Associated Press, for "Doors
to Death", about the illegal smuggling of human beings, and a deadly
tractor-trailer run in Texas.
National reporting. Reese Dunklin, 31, of The Dallas Morning News, for
"Runaway Priests: Hiding in Plain Sight", a series about priests who leave
allegations and charges of sexual abuse, for new parishes in other
International reporting. Sharmeen Obaid, 27, of Discovery Times Channel, for
"Reinventing the Taliban", about the MMA, a fundamentalist group similar to
the Taliban, who are gaining control in the government and among the
citizens of her native country of Pakistan.
The Clurman Award for Mentoring went to John Seigenthaler, Founder of the
First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, and founding
editorial director of USA Today. Mr. Seigenthaler was also a journalist and
editor for The (Nashville) Tennessean, where he retains the title of editor
emeritus, and was chief negotiator with the governor of Alabama during the
Freedom Rides.
Auletta, Brokaw, Goodman and Page are joined on the Livingston judging panel
by Jill Abramson of The New York Times; Christiane Amanpour of CNN; Charles
Gibson of ABC News and Osborn Elliott, former editor of Newsweek. The
program is directed by Professor Charles R. Eisendrath at the University of

CONTACT: Julaine LeDuc, 734-998-7575

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Questions for Pervaiz Chacha

Ifran Yusuf

In some parts of Pakistan, it is customary to refer to all men of one’s father’sage as “Chacha” or “Chachaji” (literally meaning “my dad’s brother” in Urdu). Inall parts of Pakistan, one must also show utmost respect to elders.

Now that President Musharraf of Pakistan is visiting Australia, I would like to ask some respectful questions to Pervaiz Chacha. I will try to be as respectful as possible.

Chacha Pervaiz, you will be aware of the negative press that Pakistan has received as a result of its implementation of a criminal code partially extracted from the ‘hudood’ laws of Islamic Sharia.

Under the code, female victims of rape are often faced with a death sentence,while male perpetrators are free to plunder the honour of more victims.

Also, under the code, religious minorities are persecuted and accused ofblasphemy. Christian Pakistanis, some as young as 11, are placed on trial and face the death penalty for breaches of anti-blasphemy laws.

Over 50 years ago, the founder of Pakistan, “Qaid-i-Azam” (translated as “theGreat Leader”) Muhammad Ali Jinnah, declared that all citizens of Pakistan wereto be treated equally regardless of faith. Christian Pakistanis have madeenormous contributions to the Pakistani nation, including in its second religion (cricket). I have lost count of how many times Yusuf Youhana has bailed out Pakistani teams from certain defeat.

You will be aware, Chacha Ji, that recently a prominent Swiss Islamic scholar bythe name of Professor Tariq Ramadan has called upon all Islamic nations toimplement a moratorium on all hudood-based criminal punishments. Professor Ramadan believes that God’s law is fast becoming the devil’s handiwork and an instrument for oppression. His call has been supported by Islamic scholars around the world including Australia and Pakistan.

When will your government implement the views of Professor Ramadan? When will you stop God’s law from being used as an instrument for the oppression of women, Christian minorities and other downtrodden Pakistanis?

Chachaji, Muslims across the Islamic world are crying out for liberty and democracy enjoyed by their relatives living in Western countries. When will you return Pakistan to full-fledged democracy?

Chachaji, I was born in Karachi. I arrived in Australia when I was hardly 6months old. I have only ever held an Australian passport. I therefore am concerned with how Australians are treated overseas.

Pervaiz Chacha, when will your government come clean on why it detained andtortured an Australian citizen? Why did your government pass this Australian citizen onto American officials who then flew him to Egypt for more torture? How could you allow an Australian to be subjected to torture within your jurisdiction?

Chacha Ji, the Prophet Muhammad did not allow prisoners of war to even havetheir teeth pulled out. I am concerned that in this “war against terror”,prisoners from various parts of the world are being taken to countries such as Egypt, Syria and your own. They are tortured on behalf of the US government as part of a contracting-out arrangement known as “rendition”.

Tell me, Chacha, to what extent does Pakistan participate in rendition? Are there any further Australian citizens being made subject to this policy?

Apart from the torture of terror suspects, we see at village level innocentMuslim women subjected to the violence of honour killings. Women merely suspected of talking to a male stranger or committing some other cultural crimeare tried by an all-male village council of elders and sentenced to death or to be gang-raped.

Numerous cases of these abuses have been documented. Custom-based violence wasapparently stamped out from Muslim societies by the Prophet Muhammad 14centuries ago. Why has it returned to Pakistan? And what steps will your government take to ensure it is eliminated completely?

Chacha Ji, I was taught that Islam guarantees human rights and the dignity of the individual in much the same way as liberal democracy. I understand that youare here on an official state visit on behalf of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Yet the abuses of human rights and individual dignity (of which a sample have been cited above) continue to be perpetrated by police, securityapparatchiks and government officials of a nation founded as an Islamicrepublic, a nation carved out for Islamic values. How can such a nation allow such crimes to be committed in its borders, against its own people and against people of my country Australia?

Uncle Pervaiz, my government also has its share of excesses. My government only selectively advocated for Australians caught up in trouble overseas. My government throws foreigners into prison camps in the middle of the desert. My government commits numerous crimes in the name of fighting terror.

My final question is to both Perzaiz Chacha and Uncle John Winston. Terror is an enemy of liberty, freedom and dignity. How can the pair of you possibly be claiming to be fighting terror when you are helping the cause of terrorists by compromising individual liberties and abusing human rights?

(The author is a Sydney employment and industrial lawyer whose ancestors were from Delhi where President Musharraf was born. He grew up in John Howard’s electorate. He can be contacted on

Jinnah was not a Jihadi writes Mohsin Hafeez

'From a vantage point'
Mohsin Hafeez

The mundane activities of the day- and night- in this vast land of increasingly diminished means and seemingly infinite ends have been the only encumbrance in vocalizing what has been, and is still being, internalized for a long time. Otherwise, there is a lot to say. After all, this is the post 9/11 era, not only in America but also across the globe, and what affects the sole superpower has its ripples floating way beyond one's imagination. And we have seen this. This world is a 'global village,' as opposed to being somebody's 'oyster,' as we are beginning to see; it is not even the greatest superpower's oyster, as we shall shortly and rightly see. It is a complex web of redundant resources, yet insatiable desires, on the one hand, and stark nothingness on the other. Such are the vagaries of nature. It surely does take us all back to the basic necessity of international trade, as propounded by David Ricardo, the 19th century neo-classical economist, in his Theory of Comparative Advantage. What has really jolted me out of the inertia and stirred me to put pen to paper this evening is a series of readings in this newspaper and others where there are no bones made in casting aspersions on some of the more objective writers. Such balanced contributors have the ability to see the forest for the trees and articulate a viewpoint that, to the most part, is free from any undue influence. Much to our dismay, the criticism of such visionary writers comes from some of us representing a cross-section of the population that believes their country is infallible. While this sense of patriotism is appreciated, however misplaced it may be, let us not forget to underscore the significance of introspection. It's all very well and convenient to paint with too broad a brush the lack of fair-play displayed by the ‘wannabes' of this increasingly crafty world, just as it affords us a comfort level to condone all of our own actions and polemics. Such a cross-section tends to live in a tunnel, insulated from the geo-politics of today. For them, life is in black and white, as opposed to being open to wider interpretations. This leads them to follow a more simplistic model, as opposed to a path of incisive analyses and consequent inferences! Being still in Pakistan at the time of the nuclear detonation in May, 1998, let me, at the risk of sounding unpatriotic and an infidel to the 'simplistic' some, assert my disappointment at the decision to actuallydemonstrate the nuclear 'capability.' While the possession of nukes involuntarily may serve as a deterrent, it does not necessarily follow that it be flaunted so ceremoniously. A little situational analysis at the time, done with an inclination toward objectivity and dispassionate thinking, should have yielded a different set of recommendations. This, indeed, was an opportunity to win world acclaim, in addition to being able to leverage our balance sheet. Alas, it was an opportunity lost to the perpetuation of what our country has been plagued with over a period of decades: 'ad hocism and lack of vision.' Religion has wrongly been brought in to the affairs of the state. Fundamentalism has crept in and become inextricably interwoven in each and every fabric of our society. The need for public display of religiosity has mushroomed at a galloping pace. The choice of consumption, or otherwise, of the edibles- specifically discernible when one lives abroad- has overtaken the need to restrain the conspicuous gluttony of what blatantly, almost crudely, represents social evil. A cause of this malaise has been what is known in economics as the 'demonstration-effect,’ or simply ‘keeping up with the Joneses!’ 'Rituals' have surpassed 'spirit' by far. Paranoia reigns supreme in our psyche when this ‘global village’ calls upon us to integrate with the rest of the world. We choose to isolate, instead, under the garb of maintaining our identity. Little do we realize that the line between integration and retention of one’s identity is quite well demarcated. All it takes is being a little forward thinking. One’s faith need not be in any sort of jeopardy. Indubitably, a good part of the reason for our current inadequacies stems from this particular tendency. Now, it is not difficult to see that the retrogessiveness of the above kind is prevalent all over the Muslim community. What has it resulted in? Well, with the Muslims accounting for about 20% of the global population, is it any surprise then that they are instrumental in only about 4% of international trade? To add insult to injury, of the preceding 4%, Malaysia’s contribution is about 3/4th! Unfortunately, Pakistan’s effort to figure on the map has been undermined by vested interests of the kind described above. While we are long on being conspicuously demonstrative of patriotism, with all the public statements galore, we are painfully short on promoting the spirit of that emotion. To bring the point a little closer to home, the Pakistanis are inexcusably underrepresented in some of the more prominent professions in the US. These professions help define public policy and influence public opinion. We have doctors and engineers in abundance; however, there is a serious dearth of attorneys, journalists, business and media professionals. The result: “lack of effective Pakistani lobby in the power corridors of the Congress.” The Israel lobby is by far the strongest in the country. Let’s face it. It has not happened per chance. It has happened by design. There is hardly any meaningful area in the nomenclature of the US that has no effective representation and contribution of the Jews. The fields of banking/finance, science and technology, medicine, law, media, and entertainment are but a few examples along the line. The diversity thus makes for an easier seeping in of the Jewish viewpoint among the masses of the population and the consequent entrenchment of their value system. It is not difficult to see this viz a viz the Palestine/Israel issue at hand. By some reliable information, India is a relatively close second to Israel with respect to her support lobby in the US. Again, nothing happens by accident, especially success, and this is no exception. To their credit, the Indians have been slowly and surely making their mark in just about every field in the country. Technology is on the forefront. Knowing the growing relevance of this science, they went to work on developing this resource years ago by opening some excellent training centers and producing the human potential that has today become the envy of most of us. Playing to diversity, they have also ventured out into media, entertainment, education, banking/finance and business. This has helped them sell their beliefs in the congressional sphere, hence their strong lobby. Let there be no doubt that had our founding father stayed alive a little longer, our country would have been set a direction. Let it also be reiterated here that Quaid-e-Azam M A Jinnah himself believed in secularism. He believed in Pakistan being a modern, liberal state. Mr. Jinnah worked diligently to carve out a piece of land for us out of the geography of India. This, by all means, was an achievement of immense proportions, especially since he was thus instrumental in changing the physical contours of the planet. The rationale was to create a 'homeland for the minority Muslims' of the then India, not necessarily an 'Islamic nation.' A ‘separate country for the Muslims’ in which they can exercise their rights as emancipated nationals and an ‘Islamic nation’ are two distinct and mutually exclusive concepts. Sadly, we are missing the point. Furthermore, he gave us three principles to build our nation on: ‘unity,’ ‘faith,’ and ‘discipline.’ Unfortunately, just like everything else about this great leader, he has been interpreted out of context here as well. When he mentioned 'faith,' he referred to faith in ourselves as a nation, and faith in our destiny, not necessarily faith in a religious sense. Of course, this has been distorted to hide the real meaning. And, just so there is no room for doubt about his preference for the style of government, let me quote him from his speech to the Constituent Assembly members: "You are free; you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed...that has nothing to do with thebusiness of the State." Perception building plays a huge role in contemporary politics...more so because we have the tools to propagate an intended message: the media. Some of the channels in the US have taken this exercise to another level altogether. We have seen this in recent history. The SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) of the Foxes (Fox News) of the world are but an almost unsightly example of how sterile minds are rendered even more useless, and how marketing plays into everything these days, not just corporate business. Unfortunately, we, as a nation, have failed miserably in our own projection in the world, thus marketability. Some of it does have to do with deeds, or lack thereof, but most of it is attributed to the inadequacy of words, or the words that the world wants to hear from us: the right rhetoric! After all, marketing is a warfare wherein battles are won with ideas, words, and actions. Ostracism may well be in store for me in light of the views expressed, especially since I do live abroad and possibly deemed to have no prerogative over my homeland; however, by way of clarification, I chose to return to Pakistan after having attended university in the US and served the country for a good twelve years or so prior to emigrating to America in 1998. Even now, if and when the opportunity presents itself, I do not lag behind in speaking up for my country, be it a casual affair or an arranged talk by a sponsor. That said, I try not being tainted in my views, as all it does is literally kill credibility. The fact that such tone has been clearly demonstrated here should bear testimony to the high level of commitment in this regard. As a Parthian shaft, let me quote Mr. Jinnah again: "The story of Pakistan, its struggle and its achievement, is the very story of great human ideals struggling to survive in the face of odds and difficulties..." 'Jihad,' do we hear him say?? After all, as opposed to kamikaze missions and public execution of hatred (especially, among ourselves), isn't this what the term really stands for? Or ought to??

(This piece was first published in Dawn. The author of this piece is a banker in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA. In addition, he is an adjunct professor of marketing at his alma mater, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, and serves on its Alumni Board of Directors)


Prof. Dr. S. Farooq Hasnat

On May 18th a Pakistani official spokesman said that General Pervaiz Musharraf, who also happens to be the Chief of the Army, would continue to hold office beyond 2007. It was followed by General’s assertion that two former Prime Ministers and exiled leaders of their respective parties, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto will not be allowed to participate in the expected elections in 2007. These statements send a clear message that the General is gearing up for the extension of his Presidential tenure. He had declared himself elected for five years, as a result of the controversial 2002 referendum. In Pakistan, the military has never voluntarily surrendered power and General Musharrf is following the same tradition. A noted military analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi explains that that this continuation will rule out the possibility of the establishment of viable democratic institutions, which are already muffled to a great extent.
Musharraf’s explanation to be in power lies in his self proclaimed indispensability against international terrorism. He sends the message that the forces of extremism would takeover Pakistan, more so its nuclear assets, once he is out of power. It can be argued, on the contrary, whimsical and illegal control would in fact encourage militancy in Pakistan. It would undermine the national political parties and would inculcate a culture of distrust and greed. All these factors taken together would further weaken, not strengthen the Pakistani society. As witnessed in Afghanistan, unstable societies are a hotbed for extremist tendencies.
The new world order presented a value system, according to which the human rights and democratic institutions were to be encouraged and enforced. By the end of the last century it became unthinkable that in countries where democratic institutions were in place could follow any other path. The emphasis was on the strengthening of the institutions; its roll back was not conceived. On 12th October 1999 Pakistan became an exception, when its military took over power, sacked the elected Prime Minister (no matter how controversial he was), dissolved the National and Provincial assemblies and suspended the constitution. This was the fourth time that the army had intervened, through Martial Law, although this time, it was not declared, as such. The promised takings of the post-coup regime were stereotypes, such as a promise of free and fair elections, bringing true democracy in the country and eradication of corruption. It was an echo of the previous military dictatorships of General Ayub Khan, General Zahya Khan and General Zia ul Haq. Soon after his takeover, addressing a press conference, General Musharraf affirmed that he would remain in office for not more than three years.
Since 1958, the direct military rule in Pakistan, is spread for about three decades. From 1985 to 1988 President Zia ul Haq installed a civilian Prime Minister, but kept the powers in his office, by grossly amending the 1973 constitution. After the death of President Zia, a political process started as a result of 1988 elections, with an expectation that future Pakistan would move towards a civil society. For nearly 11 years (1988-1999) Pakistan Muslim League, under Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People’s Party led by Benazir Bhutto alternately shared power. Within the main stream politics, for the first time, a two party system emerged, promising that it would provide a kind of political stability that was not seen before - although, both the leaders could not use their authority to strengthen the institutions, political or otherwise. These governments lacked seriousness of purpose and agendas for the future. Their commitment to the welfare of the people was weak and the matters that affected the real lives of the people were never addressed. Whenever, the opportunity arose, these two leaders would eagerly cooperate with the military establishment. In fact, when in opposition they would send feelers to the Commander in Chief to intervene. The civilian governments failed to allow a democratic culture to take its roots in the polity of Pakistan. However, in spite of all its flaws, the political process was captivating the foundations of a democratic culture. More so, the participation of the people was being reflected, in one way or the other. It was believed that uninterrupted political process would ultimately bring a civil society in place and that Pakistan would get rid of the menace of military takeovers. The frail political governments were not all that meek. The military interference was challenged from time to time and measures were taken to take command of the armed forces. One of the fragile Prime Minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo boldly challenged the corruption and non professionalism within the Armed Forces. Just before his ouster, apart from other acts to curtail the ambitious Generals, he had ordered an inquiry of the Ojheri weaponry site blast of April 10, 1988, which was suspected to be a master mind of an Army General, pilferrating the arms, meant for Afghan Mujahideens. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on October 8, 1998 removed the Amy Chief General Jehangir Karamat for his interference in politics and a naval chief was dismissed on corruption charges. The third General to be dismissed was none other than Pervaiz Muharraf, who was accused of mismanaging the Kargil adventure. No matter Nawaz Sharif wanted to clip the wings of the Generals to enhance his personal power, but these actions fit well in explaining a delicate balance between the military and the civilian authority – where ultimately the civilian governments lost the battle for control.
On its part, the military sat on the fences, putting pressures on at least three main concerns of Pakistan, namely, the nuclear issue; the Kashmir issue and the Afghan issue. The military pushed the weak political governments to accommodate the retired Generals at key civilian positions, severely compromising the efficiency of the national institutions. Apart from that the military got increasingly involved in taking control of the economic institutions of the country. Their corporate interests got more expanded with every new opportunity. With that the stories of corruption and nepotism became a house hold talk.
Immediately after the coup, Army chief General Pervaiz Musharraf, held a one and a half hour meeting with the Ambassador of the United States, William B. Milam, which according to some sources was described as “good”. It was quoted that the American Ambassador gave a patient hearing to the military ruler and, heard with interest his agenda to solve Pakistan’s unresolved issues. It was known that General Pervez Musharraf wanted to get a nod from the United States, which was the sole super power, with ability to influence the world/regional events. General Musharraf’s legitimacy as a military ruler, through a coup, could not come from the people of Pakistan and he understood that well.
Anxious as he was, the General was desperate to legitimize his rule by whatever
means. Like his predecessor General Zia ul Haq, General Musharraf’ in 2002 undertook to legitimize his un-Constitutional rule by holding a national referendum. Like General Zia, the system could not gain legitimacy by the law of necessity doctrine alone, so generously applied by the highest court in Pakistan. The referendum question was: "For the survival of the local government system, establishment of democracy, continuity of reforms, end to sectarianism and extremism, and to fulfill the vision of Quaid-e-Azam, would you like to elect President General Pervez Musharraf as president of Pakistan for five years?" Insignificant number of people cared to vote but the General declared himself as the President for the next five years. Interestingly, later the General admitted that the referendum was flawed but he would still keep his post for the next five years.
The Washington Post in its editorial of April 12, 2002 had suggested that the Bush administration’s support for the General in holding a referendum would be a mistake, unless he is willing to “work within a legitimate democratic system”. But political expediency of President Bush overcame all other values.
Even today, the question of legitimacy is grave for the President. He himself had admitted that the referendum in which he was the sole candidate was faulty. Still further, referendums are not meant for the purpose of electing a political office. When used for this reason, it is as undemocratic in appearance as is in practice. The wordings of the question on the ballot were so confusing that it made little sense to vote, either way. In spite of the inherent flaw in the procedure, at the eve of that legitimizing exercise, a number of questions were raised. It was argued that, “the referendum results could be termed authentic only if the next elected parliament and the provincial assemblies validate them. Secondly, the president must not amend the constitution unnecessarily. Thirdly, the newly-elected president must not manipulate the forthcoming general elections. Fourthly, once his election is validated by the newly-elected legislatures, General Musharraf should retire as the chief of army staff.” On all accounts the General failed to fulfill any of the conditions and thus even after three years questions about his legitimacy as a head of the State and government remains on the horizon, as bright as ever. The system faces the crisis of political legitimacy.
By the first quarter of 2005, the Pakistani society had become a hallmark of misrule, as widespread corruption and mediocre became the standard norm. At the macro level the issues of the legitimacy of the regime and sovereignty of the nation remains the main two concerns for the people of Pakistan. A unanimous view exists that under the repeated Military interventions, the Pakistani society has grossly worsened and help is needed in all fields. A renowned Pakistani Professor noted that the national “politics has been reduced to a mere game of chess and with the exception of rare voices in the wilderness, transcendental principles have no relevance in statecraft”. He further adds “…for all the claims of realism and pragmatism, the problems of an economy in shambles, law and order in disarray and education in tatters, and not addressed. Politics has fallen into disrepute because the practitioners of Realpolitik do not appear to have a clear vision of the chronic ills of our society. In the realm of thought, we are going in the dark”. The Pakistani society today is a sad picture of the collapse of all institutions and a widespread degeneration in the society. People have been led to short cuts, greed, and other illegal means, thus paving ways for incompetence and corruption. Nearly every program that was launched by the military government, failed to achieve its goals, education being the major victim.
Pakistan represents more of a society resembling a medieval rule, with a resemblance of the dark ages of the Muslim civilization, than a modern Islamic nation with well established structures of a civil society. Professor Stephen Cohen remarks, “If he (General Musharraf) resembles any past Pakistani leader, it is General Yahya Khan - also a well-intentioned general who did the United States a great service”. The professor further hinted that Musharraf has rented his country to the more powerful states. General Musharraf gets his legitimacy from outside as he fails to obtain from the people of Pakistan.

The sad tale of Mukhtaran Bibi--a future we don't want

June 14, 2005
Raped, Kidnapped and Silenced
No wonder the Pakistan government can't catch Osama bin Laden. It is too busy harassing, detaining - and now kidnapping - a gang-rape victim for daring to protest and for planning a visit to the United States.
Last fall I wrote about Mukhtaran Bibi, a woman who was sentenced by a tribal council in Pakistan to be gang-raped because of an infraction supposedly committed by her brother. Four men raped Ms. Mukhtaran, then village leaders forced her to walk home nearly naked in front of a jeering crowd of 300.
Ms. Mukhtaran was supposed to have committed suicide. Instead, with the backing of a local Islamic leader, she fought back and testified against her persecutors. Six were convicted.
Then Ms. Mukhtaran, who believed that the best way to overcome such abuses was through better education, used her compensation money to start two schools in her village, one for boys and the other for girls. She went out of her way to enroll the children of her attackers in the schools, showing that she bore no grudges.
Readers of my column sent in more than $133,000 for her. Mercy Corps, a U.S. aid organization, has helped her administer the money, and she has expanded the schools, started a shelter for abused women and bought a van that is used as an ambulance for the area. She has also emerged as a ferocious spokeswoman against honor killings, rapes and acid attacks on women. (If you want to help her, please don't send checks to me but to Mercy Corps, with "Mukhtaran Bibi" in the memo line: 3015 S.W. First, Portland, Ore. 97201.)
A group of Pakistani-Americans invited Ms. Mukhtaran to visit the U.S. starting this Saturday (see Then a few days ago, the Pakistani government went berserk.
On Thursday, the authorities put Ms. Mukhtaran under house arrest - to stop her from speaking out. In phone conversations in the last few days, she said that when she tried to step outside, police pointed their guns at her. To silence her, the police cut off her land line.
After she had been detained, a court ordered her attackers released, putting her life in jeopardy. That happened on a Friday afternoon, when the courts do not normally operate, and apparently was a warning to Ms. Mukhtaran to shut up. Instead, Ms. Mukhtaran continued her protests by cellphone. But at dawn yesterday the police bustled her off, and there's been no word from her since. Her cellphone doesn't answer.
Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer who is head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, said she had learned that Ms. Mukhtaran was taken to Islamabad, furiously berated and told that President Pervez Musharraf was very angry with her. She was led sobbing to detention at a secret location. She is barred from contacting anyone, including her lawyer.
"She's in their custody, in illegal custody," Ms. Jahangir said. "They have gone completely crazy."
Even if Ms. Mukhtaran were released, airports have been alerted to bar her from leaving the country. According to Dawn, a Karachi newspaper, the government took this step, "fearing that she might malign Pakistan's image."
Excuse me, but Ms. Mukhtaran, a symbol of courage and altruism, is the best hope for Pakistan's image. The threat to Pakistan's image comes from President Musharraf for all this thuggish behavior.
I've been sympathetic to Mr. Musharraf till now, despite his nuclear negligence, partly because he's cooperated in the war on terrorism and partly because he has done a good job nurturing Pakistan's economic growth, which in the long run is probably the best way to fight fundamentalism. So even when Mr. Musharraf denied me visas all this year, to block me from visiting Ms. Mukhtaran again and writing a follow-up column, I bit my tongue.
But now President Musharraf has gone nuts.
"This is all because they think they have the support of the U.S. and can get away with murder," Ms. Jahangir said. Indeed, on Friday, just as all this was happening, President Bush received Pakistan's foreign minister in the White House and praised President Musharraf's "bold leadership."
So, Mr. Bush, how about asking Mr. Musharraf to focus on finding Osama, instead of kidnapping rape victims who speak out? And invite Ms. Mukhtaran to the Oval Office - to show that Americans stand not only with generals who seize power, but also with ordinary people of extraordinary courage.
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Monday, June 13, 2005

Not mixing up the short term with the long term

My view is that the people of Pakistan have always taken the short term view and have looked for immediate salvation, rather than taking the long term view and accepting that there will be pain to bear along the way.

This is why whenever we have a new leader, people get excited and start believing that salvation has finally arrived from the heavens. Whether that leader be Ayub Khan, Bhutto the father, Zia ul Haq, Bhutto the daughter, Nawaz Sharif or now Pervez Musharraf.

Given this prevailing frame of mind, we are always looking for an individual who can come in and clean up the mess overnight (hence the calls for Imran Khan), rather than setting up a constitutional process and forcing whoever comes into power to govern within that process. Not allowing individual leaders to change the constitution to perpetuate their own rule. In this case, we might get some corrupt or incompetent leaders but we MUST stick to the process and allow power to change hands by constitutional means (this has never happened in Pakistan except in the case of Ch. Mohammad Ali, I believe).

If the US can survive the current leadership, we have to believe that Pakistan is strong enough to survive a few years of inept or corrupt leadership as well. Democracy and the will of the people have a way of cleansing the system out but we need patience to let this happen over a period of time.

Even though I think both Benazir and Nawaz damaged the country significantly, the preferable route in my mind would have been to take the short term pain and let the people of Pakistan make the change through elections. This way, these leaders would not have been able to claim that they had been victimized by the military or the Bureaucracy and come back to power again and again. I know some people believe that Pakistan is too fragile to withstand too many years of bad leadership. But between the two terms of Benazir and those of Nawaz Sharif, the country suffered for many years. Wouldn't it have been better to let each of them complete their term and then be rejected by the people? At least they would not be in a position to come back to power now.

Abid Farooq

The algebra of democracy

Dear friends,

In a way, Pakistan is a complex study case as far as democracy is concerned; and, in another way, it is very a simple case study if we look at it in its true perspective.

When Pakistan came into existence, the equation of power was somewhat like:

Political Leadership = the people

Then very soon this equation changed into:

Leadership + Bureaucracy = the people

This equation remained in action from 1950 to 1956. The leadership tried to constitutionalise the state, but during this period the equation started to change:

Bureaucracy + Military = the people

In this phase, leadership gradually phased out. Bureaucracy and military strengthened its hold on power. In 1958, with the imposition of martial law this equation totally changed. It turned into this equation:

Military + Bureaucracy = the people

This scenario continued until Pakistan collapsed in 1971. After the collapse of Pakistan in 1971 the equation changed to:

Political Leadership + Bureaucracy = the people

This equation again tried to constitutionalise the state, but the real actors immediately changed the equation to:

Military + Military + Bureaucracy = the people

After this off and on this equation has been changing from:

Military + Military + Bureaucracy = the people


Military + Military + Bureaucracy + political leadership = the people

And again to:

Military + Military + Bureaucracy = the people

During this whole process we find one interesting element: the politicians tried to constitutionalise the state whereas the khakis always destroyed or over rode the process of constitutionalisation of state.

If we really want to pull Pakistan out of the sink it has been in for all times, we need to bring the real equation back:

Political Leadership = the people

We can do it through constitutionalising the state. Since, we know who is the culprit (i.e., who is destroying or over riding the process of constitutionalisation), we, the people of Pakistan, because we have the biggest stake in the state of Pakistan, have to move in and apprehend the culprit. If are hoping some general (Musharraf or anyone else) or a member of the judiciary or United States or anyone else will do it for us, we are hoping against hope. The people of Pakistan have to move in and they have to take charge of the situation and constitutiolise the country by imposing the writ of constitution.

Best regards,

K. Ashraf

Thinking Beyond Imran Khan by Tarek Fatah


What strikes me as juvenile is the fact that despite the clichéd condemnation of the feudal, so many of us cannot shed the feudal cult of personalities.

We grew up with our middle class parents praising, Ayub Khan as good for the country, then we had otherwise educated and sensible people making six figure salaries sing accolades for Zia.

Now, after having lived and and experienced the folly of personality cults, Pakistanis who live in democratic societies, are presenting Imran Khan as the panacea to our ills!

Unless this is tongue-in-cheek attempt, I am astonished that people can seriously discuss 'personalities' instead of policies. And what distresses me is that this is coming, not from the streets in Karachi or Lahore, but from the suburbia of the US!

As far as I am concerned, any country that has seen three civil wars; the separation of its majority (bizarre concept unheard of in human history); destruction of its indigenous cultures, languages and customs, and is on a threshold of another brewing insurgency by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), needs a serous introspection, rather than a discussion of which personality is better suited to sort the mess.

We grew up with stories of shahazadas and khalifas of the past and it seems we cannot get rid of the simplistic analysis that is the hallmark of Pakistanis.

The country was created as confederation of Muslim States and was stolen, not by Military or Feudal lords, but a civil beurecarcy that turned it into their private club from the days of Aziz Ahmad onwards.

It is probably the only post-colonial nation that honoured as its heroes those who worked for the Colonial power.

Tariq Fatah

The Genesis of Militancy in Pakistan

The Genesis of Militancy in Pakistan

S. Farooq Hasnat, Ph.D.

An unruffled study has to be conducted, with the intension of revealing the real reasons for the “sudden” ascend of militant tendencies, in the Pakistani society. The broader propensity of intolerance is stretched to all layers of the State institutions, (including the military and bureaucracy) and is not confined only to the non-state actors. On the other hand, when it comes to a violent resentment, it is not restricted to the “Islamic militants” or sectarian fanatics, alone – it is rather a part of more comprehensive phenomena. More than one ideological group, are responsible for disturbing the nonviolent traditions of Pakistan. The trend of violence and extremism is reflected at all levels of societal contacts and it became more prominent as the Pakistani society moved towards the end of the last century. Militancy in Pakistan has many facets – ranging from military coups (including attempted) to sectarian killings. Also included are the ethnic related civil war situations. There is no denying in the fact that today’s Pakistan is more known for its religious fanatics than anything else. At the same instance it’s also a reality that this bigotry, originates from a variety of factors – like any other phenomena, it did not emerge by itself.
The society, as a whole has done away with the conflict management mechanisms; which should have been in the fabric of the societal relationships, in laws and in the agendas of the establishment. The social cohesion and community values, which once were a hallmark of the typical Pakistani society, have given way to exclusiveness, status and above all gluttony.
To uncover the truth, a narrow approach, which is intended for political and security purposes, must be broaden to the society in general. We have to look far behind the closed walls of the madrasahs and the syllabus that is being taught at those places. The problem lies in the extended society; the manner in which the State is being governed and the types of relief a citizen is denied, through normal economic, legal and administrative/political methods. This is accompanied by the feeling of deprivation, amongst a large majority of the people. Sponsored and encouraged by the corrupt military and civilian regimes, it has become an accepted norm to look for short cuts, strife for out of turn benefits, and to become wealthy, no matter what it takes. This practice has severely compromised merit and mediocre has replaced excellence and professionalism. All these trends promote militancy as citizens have no customary channels to redress. An understanding of this phenomenon could help us to locate the level and kinds of frustration that is prevalent in the Pakistani society.
On a broader spectrum, it has become a fashion to trace all acts of violent behavior to Islamic community. There is so much rhetoric in this regard that other possible reasons for the rise of militancy in Pakistan, have been set aside. The international media has found a new excitement about the activities of the militant groups and linking them only and only with the Muslim ideology, no matter where they are located. It is being prorated as if the origin and manifestation of extremism and terrorism is only confined to Islam or at least to people who believe in the religion and call themselves Muslims. It is also believed as if the militancy is constituted as part of the Pakistani society. This impression is further reinforced by the Greater Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes, which after 9/11 got the opportunity to strengthen their dictatorial rule, by deliberately misinterpreting the unrest in their respective societies. In this way the state extremism or militarism received its authenticity, from the international community.
After September 11, the dictatorial regimes of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Pakistan rushed to support the United States, facilitating the American onslaught on Afghanistan. The intension behind those gestures was not because of moral reasons or to become an honest partner in a war against the evil of terrorism. It was in fact to protect their regimes against the growing unrest within their societies, originating from the massive financial corruption, brutal control and gross injustice by the dictatorial rulers. In the process, every dissent and every revolt that took place within their respective countries was branded as Islamic militancy and being part of the international terrorist network. Under this pretext, the gross violations of human rights, by the state structures, were justified. These regimes have freely branded their opponents as Islamist militants, with the intension to disguise the grievances of the people. The rulers try to outdo each other, in getting legitimacy for their illegal regimes, as they are not able to get support from their own people. A glaring example is the massacre of nearly 700 people by the Uzbek army, while the world looked the other way. A more regrettable feature is that no distinctions are being drawn between the Islamic groups, having a visible political program and are part of the participatory system and those that are hidden and have an exclusive agenda of destruction.
Until the beginning of 1990s, the Pakistani society was reasonably tolerant. In 1968, a gigantic mass movement against the doctorial rule of Ayub Khan went on for months, in nearly all big cities and towns of Pakistan. There was hardy an instance of sabotage or any other source of violence, from the agitators. In fact this extended mass revolt, in search of tranquility, demanded freedom and democracy and a freely elected Parliament. Another mass movement against the rigging of the 1977 general elections followed the same pattern.
Decades of military rule created a way of life, where the real Pakistani values were undermined, which ultimately eroded for the worse. Oppression, intolerance and disregard for law were practiced by the ruling elite, as an accepted model. Taking advantage of the Afghan situation, in the 1980s, General Zia, further inculcated a culture of violence by his deceitful rule. While the Afghan resistance went on, his inapt military administration silently adjusted to the culture of violence and militancy, within the Pakistani society. Regional secular parties were created to protect the narrow objectives of the junta, which as a result undermined nationally acknowledged political entities. These narrow focused military sponsored political groups were based on hatred and suspicion, which became instrumental in disturbing the peace and balance of the society.
After the Soviet left, the military undertook upon itself an assignment of playing a “role”, in war-torn Afghanistan. The establishment’s interests were based on egoistic and self-defeating multifaceted conviction that they could play a role in the making and maintenance of a regime of their liking in Afghanistan. Their close ties with the Taliban encouraged the militant Islamist organizations, to go ahead unabated, with their agenda of extremism. The Pakistani governments callously allowed the Talibanization of the Pakistani society, inducting culture of hate and bigotry, which ultimately ruined the centuries of societal balance.
The Generals of Pakistan Army and the Taliban had nothing in common, as far as ideology is concerned – in fact they were poles apart. The Army generals have always been secular in their approach, representing in their habits, style and training a true reminisce of the British colonial rule. While, the Taliban advocated a unique interpretation of Islam – rigid and uncompromising by any standards. However, the interests of the two coincided on such secular matters of mutual interests as narcotics money, kick backs and providing arms and support to the Taliban regime, for financial rewards. After the nuclear tests of May 1998, the faulty concept of “strategic depth” was no more relevant, and with that the flawed rationale that had become an excuse to interfere in a neighboring country, could not hold ground. The Pakistan Afghan policy had a certain mind-set which continued even after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, although the events had drastically transformed the regional as well as international security perceptions. There was no possibility that in post 9/11 the Pakistani establishment could have wriggled out of the mess, of which it was equally responsible. Even the swiftness, with which the military took a u-turn, could not save the country from the well entrenched effects of violent behavior in the Pakistani society.
In Pakistan, there is a strong linkage between rising religious bigotry/terrorism and poverty and role of dictatorial rule, based on well defined hierarchal pyramid. James C. Davies gives a psychological explanation of why people revolt by explaining a gap that exists between what people want and what people get. His theory explains that when frustration becomes widespread and intense, society seeks violent means and once the frustration becomes focused on the government, the violence becomes coherent and directional. Decades of military oppression, establishment’s greed, chronic illiteracy, high unemployment and callus attitude of the military/bureaucratic alliance inculcate a feeling of despair and dejection in Pakistan. Under the circumstances, the frustrated youth becomes an easy prey for the recruiters of hate and rejection, postured under the brand of religious extremists.
The genesis of militancy must take into account the alteration of the society, under the extensive dictatorial rule in Pakistan. Concluding, we can say that despair and frustration, arising from the extended military rule, is directly linked to the unjust socio-economic order and the foreign policy issues, where a strong feeling exists amongst the Islamists, secularists and nationalists alike, that the national interests and sovereignty of the country, are being compromised.

Do we need democracy? by Mohsin Hafeez

We have all heard ad nauseam on the need for democracy in Pakistan. But so far I have not even any semblance of democracy in Pakistan. We have had either 'militaryrule' or 'a sham democracy.' The rot started with the onset of the first Army takeover in 1958 and its diktat, even though there are views that date it back to soon after the Quaid's death. The apparent economic developmentin the early 60s, preceded by the start of the less than transparent Pak-US friendship, what with all its vissicitudes, went a long way in masking the real state of the State (the Union). Everybody basked in the glory of what they saw, totally ignoring the cancer it was spreading all over the institutional structure.The bureaucracy, in cahoots with the military junta,pitched in solidly then and continues to dominate therunning of the country to date. The feudalisticcharacteristic of the country has only gainedstrength. No government has had the courage to dealwith this evil. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how the social system got further plagued. With no emphasis on education among the masses, we are today at the lowest ebb of the LDCs in terms of literacyrate. The population growth has been explosive becausewe have let our 'mullah' class overrule 'rationale.' In addition, with contsant boosting of the military budget under the pretext of standing tall against theneighboring enemy has only drained the nation ofcritical resources. The trickle down theory works at its best when there is a spiral of ill-thought out decisions. To boost the military, we must borrow and thus increase our debt-servicing obligation. Word has it that between defence and debt-servicing, we are left with a mere 9-10% of the annual budget for social sectors. That includes, but may not be limited to, education, health, and women's development etc. With a good part of the population living at the subsistencelevel, does it make sense for us to even entertain the thought of acquiring F-16s? And what about the nuclear detonation of 1998?. Isn't this all a scourge that we must get rid of if we are to really and seriouslyrethink our country's priorities? The above may sound a little idealistic but there issomething to be said for 'idealism.' In a country where democratic institutions have been totally annihilated, the foremost concern should be the irreconstruction. Media need(s) to be liberated. We must choose, in this embryonic stage (imagine after almost58 years of physical existence), between 'liberty' and'democracy' as a start. It's a myth that the two are mutually inclusive. We know from our example in thegood, old US of A, which prides itself as the greatest political system, that while democracy flourishes,freedom or liberty diminishes. There is a frameworklaid out by the forefathers of this country that hascome to stay as the 'law.' I doubt if the majority ofthe population necessarily agrees with everything that has been handed down. Democracy is a loose term that has been used rather vaguely at times and equallyconveniently so as well. We need in Pakistan a system that respects the wishesof the people of the country, irrespective of theirreligion, caste, creed, or color. To maintain andexercize the famous management concept of simultaneous'loose-tight control,' there has to be a politicalsystem that is not only laid out but actuallyimplemented at all costs. This will take disciplinewhich makes me shudder as our nation is known to bequite nonchalant and cavalier. The military needs togo back to the barracks and leave the civiliangovernance to civilians. Musharraf's ideas for thecountry notwithstanding, I'd be happier to see him as a civilian president putting forth these policies. Additionally, I'd like him to be consistently clampingdown hard on the religious/extremist element. Finally, I'd like him to have good people around to advise him as, really, this is what it's all about!!I am willing to be patient as long as there are signsof promise...the product should be reliable and MUSThave 'promise of delivery.' Unfortunately, while I dohear about this boom (?) from the elite of thecountry, I see little hope of any improvement on the socio-political plain. And this is sad and must change!

Best,Mohsin Hafeez"

Sunday, June 12, 2005

"Musharraf's new budget" by Hasan Askari Rizvi

Here is a timely analysis by Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi (taken from Monday's Daily Times). He writes:

"It is interesting to note that the combined federal allocation for health (Rs 9.43 billion) and education (Rs16.22 billion) is less than the increase in defence expenditure from last year’s budget. The budget for 2004-05 allocated Rs 193.92 billion to defence which was raised to Rs 223.5 billion in the budget for 2005-06."

Here is the full column:

Daily Times - Site Edition
Monday, June 13, 2005
VIEW: The federal budget and human security —Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi
The budget is geared primarily to serve the people of the first Pakistan. It offers them opportunities to engage in economic activities and to make money. The people of the second Pakistan are advised to wait patiently till the rewards of the activities of the people of first Pakistan trickle down to themThe presentation of the federal budget to the National Assembly on June 6 has started a highly opinionated debate in political circles. The official circles are overplaying the positive aspects of the budget and describing it as the biggest gift of the Musharraf-Aziz government to the nation. The opposition is taking the opposite view. Its leaders are pointing out the lopsidedness of the budget, which they say is based on concocted figures to hide the serious deficiencies in economic management. They take exception to Pakistan’s dependence on economic assistance from the international financial institutions and several Western countries. Such polemics can continue forever because the budget does have positive as well as negative aspects. There are serious problems with the budget but this does not mean that it has no good news about Pakistan’s economy. The downward slide of the economy as witnessed after the nuclear explosions in May 1998 has been checked and, since 2001-2002, the economy has shown significant progress. However, it is difficult to decide who should get the major credit for this recovery: Pakistan’s economic managers or the US and other Western governments that have made a determined effort since September 2001 to pull Pakistan out of its economic predicament? What matters most about a budget is its underlying philosophy and the over-all direction. The most crucial question is who benefits most from it? The statements coming out of Islamabad are optimistic. These indicate that Pakistan’s economy has “taken off” and Pakistan is now well set on the road to prosperity and development; the fruits of growth have started reaching the common people whose lives will soon experience an economic transformation for the better. Interaction with the people in the lower-middle to the lowest strata leads to a very different view of the economy. Islamabad’s optimism is not reflected here. Poverty appears to have increased. Most people in the lowest strata of the society talk of unbearable economic pressures. Some complain that they cannot provide two daily meals to their families. Poverty, underdevelopment, severe economic pressures and alienation from state institutions dominate the scene.It seems that there are two Pakistans. One — the Pakistan enjoying Islamabad’s attention — consists of the affluent classes: big business and industry, senior civil and military officials and those who draw special grade salaries and perks. It includes the people who have made a fortune in the real estate business. This is a world of affluence, prosperity and abundance. Optimism about the security of their personal and family’s future pervades these sections of the populace. Their children study either in private sector institutions in Pakistan or in the United States and the UK. This saves them from the acute crisis of quality in the state-run institutions, especially the state universities. The other Pakistan belongs to the people struggling for economic survival. Their main challenge is how to meet the basic needs, i.e., food, shelter, healthcare and personal security. If their children seek education, it is in the decaying state-run educational system. Pakistan’s economic recovery has very little to offer to the people belonging to the second Pakistan. The budget is geared primarily to serve the people of the first Pakistan. It offers them opportunities to engage in economic activities and to make money. The people of the second Pakistan are advised to wait patiently till the rewards of the activities of the people of first Pakistan trickle down to them. Economic activities of the big business and industry, they are told, will create new jobs and opportunities for them. There is some resemblance between Pakistan’s current capitalist economic policies and the economic development model pursued by Ayub Khan in the mid-1960s. Pakistan registered impressive economic and industrial growth during the Ayub years. In 1968, the government celebrated the Decade of Development (1958-68) to mark its achievements and massive propaganda was launched to highlight them. The major flaw in Ayub’s economic development strategy was that it had nothing much for the poor. They were advised, as they are being told now, to wait for the trickle-down of the benefits of aggregate economic growth. The standard argument was that inequality was integral to early stages of economic development. Once enough business and industry was established employment opportunities for the poor would increase. The difficult but temporary phase would soon be followed by an era of prosperity. This did not happen. As a matter of fact, the trickle-down philosophy and advice to the poor to be patient has worked in no large-population developing country. Ayubian economics increased the disparities between various sections of population and regions of Pakistan.A similar situation of growing poverty and disparities exists today despite an impressive economic growth. However, three major differences give some breathing space to the Musharraf government. First, international financial institutions and some Western states are providing funds for social development, including poverty reduction, and institutional capacity building. This assistance is meant to provide a cushion for Pakistan’s return to privatisation, free trade and globalisation, a new and updated version of capitalism. Second, remittances by Pakistanis working abroad, especially in the Middle East and the UK, to their families in Pakistan are helping ease economic pressures on a large number of people. Third, voluntary charities and the support from the extended family provide some relief to the poor. These factors have dampened many people’s zeal for agitation. Further, a large number of unemployed youth have taken to religious orthodoxy and militancy. This has diverted their energies to ideological issues. As some of them get demobilised, economic deprivation and poverty are likely to have implications for their social and political disposition.The poor sections of population cannot be left to the mercy of the market forces. They cannot be asked to wait while the rich gets richer and till the industrialists install more industry. The state must make corrective interventions in the economic domain in support of the under-privileged section of the populace. The federal budget needs to make more resources available for societal development and must adopt effective measures to ensure human security. Currently, debt repayment, defence expenditure, law and order and administration take up most of the resources. There is a tendency to under-spend the development allocations but the state almost always ends up over-spending the defence allocations. One wonders what will happen to Pakistan’s social development programmes once international financial assistance is not available. It is interesting to note that the combined federal allocation for health (Rs 9.43 billion) and education (Rs16.22 billion) is less than the increase in defence expenditure from last year’s budget. The budget for 2004-05 allocated Rs 193.92 billion to defence which was raised to Rs 223.5 billion in the budget for 2005-06. The defence sector also gets resources through other means. These include the pensions of military personnel, which is shown as civilian expenditure, covert expenditure on defence-oriented projects, income generated by the military through its commercial and industrial activities, and foreign loans and grants for military training and purchase of hardware. Pakistan can be described as a country where poverty of resources for human needs is in sharp contrast to the affluence under which the military operates. The budget priorities will have to change drastically if the gap between the two Pakistans is to be bridged.Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst