Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Unholy Alliance

The recent merger of MQM and PML-N is a classic example of politics of opportunism.
Two marginal parties, lacking a national constituency, are forming an alliance against the PPP not because they wish to offer a credible opposition to the PPP, but because they sense an incentive for for more political distractions.

If the idea is force an early election, it is a misplaced idea and both parties will serve the cause of democracy better in Pakistan by waiting for the next elections scheduled in Feb. 2013.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Unwarranted Absence

It has been a while since I last blogged. Hopefully, I will be more regular than in the past.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Drunk On The Bus

There has to be a law that only people, who can handle alcohol should be allowed to drink. People should know their limits and they need to stop drinking before they empty the contents of their stomachs on to the floor. There is nothing as disjusting as smell of an alcoholic vomit and that too, cheap alcoholic vomit!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Mess in North Africa

The situation in North Africa is turning into a classical nightmare. The idea of an international led military intervention in Libya was not only legally, in the sense of international law, wrong but it was unrealistic. Military interventions, without a clarity of purpose, which is clearly defined and its objectives clearly understood, is a road to disaster. No military intervention or invasion or act can exist without its political rationale and in the case of Libya, the reason for intervention was not humanitrian but to seek a regime change itself.

This was a mistake. The conflict inside Libya was a revolutionary war, a war marked by a struggle for political power within a nation, and the world by picking sides in that war has effectively become a partisan in the Libyan civil war itself. The west, notably the United States, has a habit of misreading the political intentions of conflicts in far away lands and seeing them through the narrow prisms of its own interests and it will pay, along with the world, the price for this misadventure of folly.

Also, but more importantly, the United Nations by allowing the military intervention into Libya has just annulled nearly 500 years of international law and treaty precedents and has effectively destroyed the Treaty of Westphalia, which laid the foundations for international law and the independence of state sovereignty.

The Treaty of Westphalia established the principle for non-intervention by state in the affairs of another state and the United Nations, which was founded on the idea of preventing one state from invading another state, has created an international legal precedent that allows any nation to invade any other nation and has, in fact and deed, mooted its own raison d' etre.

The day United Nations Resolution 1973 was passed, was the day when the United Nations itself ceased to exist as an organization dedicated towards maintaining global peace and for upholding the rights of nations from invasion and foreign interventions and in doing so, it went against its own charter; which called for states acting in uniformity to prevent one state from intervening in the affairs of another and instead became an organization acting in conformity with other nations to invade a country!

Audacity (A Silent Coup d' Etat in Pakistan)

The pointing finger points to the silence of the Pakistani army towards the murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. Has no one wondered why the security establishment has been so silent on the issue? Can no one hear the loudness of this silence?  When something is too obvious, it is not really obvious and when all other possibilities are eliminated, what is left no matter how improbable is always the truth.
There are serious things presently afoot in Pakistan and the events clearly hint of a massive im

balancing of the scales of political power in Pakistan. There is a silent coup d’ etat underway in Pakistan and Pakistan, as a state, is quickly becoming a state of martial law.  Two events, isolated yet connected, have changed the nature of power in Pakistan and those two events were the extensions given to General Kayani as the Chief of Army Staff and to General Pasha as the head of Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI).

What these extensions imply is that the Pakistani military and the Pakistani military intelligence (ISI) have institutionally merged and the idea of a political power, which was always considered to rest with the chief of the army staff, will now be equally shared between the chief of the army staff and the director-general of the ISI.

This means that the pantomime of a civilian democracy in Pakistan has become irrelevant and the civilian government has become a bonsai government and the Pakistani army, sub voce, has become an autonomous center of power in Pakistan accountable to no one but its own ideological worldview and its own metrics of interest in the Pakistani political system. It also means that interregnum of democracy in Pakistani politics, which started in 2008, may be coming to an end.

In a sense, both Generals Kayani and Pasha had held important positions during General Musharraf’s military rule and with both having secure extensions to their tenures, it can be safely said that Pakistan has reverted to the status quo of February 2008; a state of political reality which had existed in Pakistan before the elections of February 2008.

Also, the military rule that started in 1999, with a lapse of three years from 2008-2011, has been reestablished. It means that the policies of the Musharraf era vis-a-vis Afghanistan, India and towards the United States will be followed faithfully by the dyarchy of Kayani and Pasha. This means that with the end game in Afghanistan fast approaching its point of eventual terminality, there will be resurgence in the Pakistani Army-ISI’s support of jihadi organizations and groups as possible strategic assets to secure its interests in a post-Americanized Afghanistan.

This also means that the military-mullah alliance had to be re -calibrated in view of these newly emerging realities and obstacles to that alliance had to be removed. The murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti and the silencing of all liberal dissent against the spread of an intolerant religious ideology have to been seen and understood in the light of this shared consensus between the Pakistani military, ISI and the religious groups in Pakistan.

The Pakistani media’s role is, and has been, the vocalization of this agreement and to facilitate this aim by creating a climate of fear, hostility and insecurity in which no voice can be raised against this development; the cementing of the Pakistani military’s ideological and political view point onto the politics of Pakistan.

This coup d’ etat, by the Pakistani military, is different from the past coups in Pakistani history. Unlike the past coups, this time the military has no wish to share power with the civilian politicians and unlike the past, where it covertly supported the religious parties; it is now overtly supporting the religious parties’ attempts to influence political power by its silence and refusal to condemn their acts of terror and violence in Pakistan.

The glue, which is binding and reinforcing this alliance is the fact that both the military and the religious groups in Pakistan see eye to eye and agree on the key issues of foreign policy, domestic politics, ideological moorings of Pakistan and on their political perceptions on what is the right course of action in Pakistani politics: the move towards an ideologically conservative society, which protects the traditional roles of the military and the religious groups as the defenders of Pakistan’s ideological, geographic and moral frontiers.

It is in this vortex that the story of Raymond Davis starts to make sense and it is this logic which explains the outbreak of the intelligence war between ISI and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Once the CIA realized that it could not count on ISI to tackle the problem of jihadi organizations acting against the United States interests, it decided to act unilaterally to deal with the problem and this act of independence by CIA threatened ISI, and Pakistani military’s strategic calculations towards the region (read post- United States’ influenced Afghanistan).

Therefore, CIA and its unilateral policies in Pakistan had to be stopped at all costs and it is within this prism that the murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti also make sense. If the politics of Taseer and Bhatti had been allowed to be successful, and the repeals to the Blasphemy Laws had, indeed, been affected, it would have immeasurably strengthened the cause of liberal-secular politics in Pakistan and would have caused untold harm to the military-mullah alliance itself. Both Samaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti were seen as a threat not because they had the political constituencies of support behind them, but because they had the potential to galvanize such a constituency not only within Pakistan, but also internationally and that would have undermined the military’s traditional importance to the United States as the sole interlocutor for the United States’ interests in Pakistani politics.

Frederick the Great of Prussia had once remarked “audace, tojour, audace” on the eve of a battle to his generals telling them that it was audacity, which won battles and not courage. The first rule of a successful coup is not to be losing side and the second rule is to do everything possible to make sure that one comes out on the winning side and this is exactly what has happened in Pakistan.

Faced with the prospect of a defeat and the lessening of its role in Pakistani politics and internationally, the Pakistani military mounted a desperate coup d’etat inside Pakistan to secure its long term interests and the first shots of this coup, which were heard all over the world were fired on January 4th 2011 and since then, Pakistan has become a different country and because of this, may be, the world has also changed.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Reply To YLH

Whether it was right or wrong, the fact is that vast majority of the Pakistani population wants Pakistan to be Islamic and ruled under sharia laws. It does not matter what Jinnah thought or Zia-ul-Haq did because the only issue that matters, today, is what does the present generation of Pakistanis want for Pakistan.

Zia-ul-Haq is just a blink of the eye in the narrative and Zia only put the capstone on the work that was started in 1947. In 2011, it really does not matter what was promised in 1947 or what was the reason for Pakistan in 1947. The vast majority of Pakistanis believe that Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and it is their perceptions of Pakistan, which matters and will decide how Pakistan’s future evolves.

This is what the majority of the Pakistanis think and if true democracy is allowed in Pakistan, the majority of the Pakistanis will vote in favor of Islam and sharia. Therefore, true democracy of one person-one vote cannot be allowed to exist in Pakistan. The denial of this demand then creates an emotional and instinctive hatred for the centers of power in Pakistan, which keep proming this eventuality, but do not deliver on it.
The logical outcome of this is a massive sense of alienation between the people and the rulers as their interests in Pakistan and its forms of goverance are diametrically opposed. The electoral dissatisfaction of the Pakistani populace, once it has grown disenchanted of its ruling cadres, automatically sought other alternatives of pursuing their vision of Pakistan.

This vision, then, finds a sense of identity and commonality with the religious parties in Pakistan and thus, the people support the religious parties not because they agree with them, but because the religious parties are seen to be representing the ideas that the people wish to see being implemented.

The ideas in politics are not measured in the grains of reality but in the sands of perception. There are been a silent coup d’ etat in Pakistan and this coup has forever changed the balance of power in Pakistan. This coup has given substance to three new political ideas in Pakistan, which influence the direction of Pakistani politics. These ideas are the people, the mosque and the Pakistani army.

There is a common linkage between these three ideas. The common thread is all of these ideas; the people, the religious right and the army stand for Islam and see Islam as the source of their identities. Not only does this troika see a common purpose between them; they also see any obstacle to this idea as a common threat and they will support each other in order to remove this threat.

Once this new trinty of power is understood in Pakistan, it also explains the fissures in Pakistani society that came to surface in the aftermath of the assassination of Salmaan Taseer and the popular reaction to it. The religious right refused to blame the murder and instead glorified the murderer of Salmaan Taseer and the people cheered their verdict by coming out on the streets in demand for religious laws and army supported all of this by its silence on the matter.

If there was a doubt as to where the Pakistani army’s heart was in the matter, it should have been disspelled by its silence over the killing of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. There is a duality in the policies of the Pakistani army vis-a-vis the issue of religion and extermism in Pakistan. Pakistani army encourages religious extermism where it suits its interests, as in the case of patronizing certain religious groups, which are seen as strategic assets and it fights religious extermism, as in the case of the Taliban, where such activities are seen as a threat to its ideas of being govering Pakistan and being the defenders of its “ideological and geographic frontiers”.

The day Salmaan Taseer was killed, January 4th 2011, was the day that Jinnah’s Pakistan and any dream or hope associated with it died. It was on that day that the first shots of this coup were fired which changed Pakistan forever. The Pakistan of today, in the aftermath of the murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, is a theocratic state dedicated to the principles of sharia and Islam and it refuses to tolerate any more dissent against those ideas.

Pakistan is not at a cross-roads any more, old friend; it has crossed the Rubicon!

Friday, February 18, 2011

And they all fell down....

The dominoes fall one by one but who will pick up the pieces and clean up the mess? Yemen, Libya, Iran, Bahrain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia? We might be on the cusp of seeing a world in the middle of a change and for that, none of us will be ever be the same again.