Monday, 20 October 2008

Fourth A of Pakistani politics

Fourth A of Pakistani politics
Dr Shabir Choudhry 20 October 2008

People say three A’s – Allah, America and Army have always had important role in the Pakistani politics. Although some people now beginning to understand that Pakistan was not created to serve cause of Islam, but majority still believe that it was created to advance the cause of Islam and therefore Allah will always protect this ‘land of pure’.

These wishful Pakistanis who like to live in their fantasy world, conveniently forget that Allah only helps those who help themselves. Allah Almighty did not save break up of Pakistan, humiliating defeat and imprisonment of more than ninety thousand Pakistani soldiers in war of 1971, because Pakistani rulers and senior politicians of the time had no interest in saving united Pakistan.

Apart from influence of Islam or Allah, American influence has been a major determining factor in politics of Pakistan; some even say that Pakistan was created because the British and the United States wanted this, as it fitted in their scheme of things for future of Asia.

That view is academic and controversial; fact however is that soon after the creation of Pakistan, American influence became visible and with time has become so powerful that all major decisions are subject to Washington’s approval. Now their officials come to Islamabad just like British Viceroys used to come to India during the British Raj. Their missiles land in Pakistani territory regularly killing and injuring Pakistani citizens and Pakistani government; and Pakistani government still boast about its sovereignty and that they will not allow anyone to violate this.

Some have inferred from this that if someone asked government of Pakistan to allow them to bomb their territory to kill Pakistani citizens, they will not allow it but if it is done without asking them then they will not retaliate and just issue a statement to show their annoyance.

The third A, of course, is the army of Pakistan, which despite its overwhelming control, influence and violation of Pakistani constitution and repeated invasion of its capitol was held in high regard. But this trend changed dramatically during the reign of General Musharaf; and army officers were instructed not to use uniform in public places as they could become victim of public wrath.

The new Chief of army has taken certain steps which may help to restore image of the Pakistan army, but I can hear sounds of military boots which could lead to direct or indirect military rule before too long. Many experts believe that next few months will determine future course, and unless certain preventive measures are taken situation in Pakistan could get out of control leading to head on clash around February 2009.

The role of army is overwhelming in Pakistan and many people regard political role of army and ISI as the root cause of all problems of Pakistan. This might not be the whole truth, as landed aristocracy and corrupt politicians have also done no favour to Pakistan; and have helped to promote culture of corruption, nepotism, extremism and deliberately and consistently undermined national institutions.

The fourth A in the Pakistani politics is a new entry Al –Qaeeda and its sister organisation Taliban who were trained and promoted by secret agencies of Pakistan; and at one time Home Minster of Pakistan, during PPP government while referring to Taliban said they are ‘our boys’. These ‘boys’ have grown up and have become adults; and wants to pursue their own agenda which did not suit Pakistan after 9-11 mainly because Pakistan decided to become subservient to the USA interests in the region.

9-11 was tragic, but still mystery surrounds who were the real culprits? One thing is clear no Taliban were involved in this, then why invade Afghanistan? Is it because this fits in with the plan which they have for this region and Central Asia? Some reports suggest that plans to invade Afghanistan were made in mid 1990s, many years before the tragic events of 9-11. What this means is that Uncle Sam had plans to have his foot hold in the region as a part of their future strategy, and the tragedy of 9-11 provided them an opportunity to implement their agenda.

It was good luck of the USA that Pakistan at that time was ruled by a man who brought shame and humiliation to Pakistan and its army because of Kargil misadventure. After failing in Kargil the brave generals proved their heroism by successfully invading Pakistani capitol. He and his army could not conquer Srinagar or Lal Fort, which was their ultimate aim, but successfully conquered Lal Mosque.

Time and again he boasted that he was a commando and was not afraid of anyone, but when he received one phone call from Washington this commando General surrendered completely, and brought Pakistan and its people to troubles which they face today.

On the other hand a civilian Prime Minister, who had no commando training and no gun in his hand; and did not boast about his bravery received five phone calls from Washington, some phone calls from London and other capitols around the world that he must not become nuclear else he would face serious consequences. This softly spoken and easy looking man stood like a rock and did what was in the best interest of Pakistan and made Pakistan a nuclear state.

The army commando who ruled Pakistan with an iron fist since conquering Islamabad in October 1999, bulldozed all institutions, promoted culture of corruption, political opportunism and intolerance. It is due to his policies that future of Pakistan is bleak now. There is a civil war going on in some parts of Pakistan. The USA attacks are frequent and more destructive. Pakistan is faced with severe shortage of food and energy; and confidence is at its lowest ebb.

The present Pakistani rulers who do not enjoy good reputation, and lack personal integrity of being honest and sincere are forced to go from one capitol to the other with a begging bowl once again. To make bad situation worse, different Taliban groups and Al Qaaeda have challenged the writ of Government, and Pakistan has practically lost control in some parts of Frontier Province (or Pakhtoon Khawa) and FATA; and to rub salt in wounds it is believed that foreign countries including the USA are behind some of these groups.

Whatever the situation now, but by any stretch of imagination it was not a Pakistani war in 2001. Pakistan had no issue or axe to grind with Taliban or Afghanistan at that time, but Pakistani generals worked hard to make it a Pakistani problem and a Pakistani war; and of course they were generously paid for their services, according to some reports 100 million dollars a month, not to mention money they received by selling Pakistanis and Muslims of other countries to the Americans and the rent which they receive for leasing out certain airports and strategic locations. It is a different matter that ordinary soldiers and people of Pakistan had to pay very big price for this policy, and they continue to suffer as a direct result of that policy.

One can say that he was a bad general but many would agree that he was a good politician, although at times his army grooming and training made him commit certain political blunders. It was not that he was anti Pakistan that he brought these troubles to Pakistan, but because it suited his personal ambitions, and may be he thought what was best for him was also best for Pakistan.

Despite that he would not go beyond a certain point in support of the USA, and many believe that he successfully fought war on both sides, but you can only play around with a superpower for so long. He was replaced not because he was getting unpopular in Pakistan, the Americans didn’t care about that, as they have immense experience in dealing with unpopular dictators.

He was replaced because he was becoming too big for his shoes and would not take the American war to its final conclusion. He wanted them to be entangled in this quagmire that he could also continue with his game. Also in the view of the Americans he failed to make this war a ‘Pakistani war’.

The new team in the form of PPP and Zardari is willing to go to any lengths to fight this war, and are ready to use every weapon, apart from the atom bomb to eliminate the ‘terrorists’. Their definition of ‘terrorist’ is that whoever is killed by a Pakistani or the American bomb or a bullet is a ‘terrorist’, even if that person is a five year old child or a seventy year old woman, bombs fired by jet fighters do not differentiate between gender and age of its victims. The new team has also made some progress in convincing people that it is ‘their war’.

If we take Al Qaeeda and Taliban on one side and the USA and its allies on the other side, and despite massive propaganda one can still say that the public opinion in Pakistan is still in favour of the former. Al Qaeeda and Taliban have strong roots inside the Pakistani society, especially in FATA, Pakhtoon Khawa and parts of Punjab. These militants groups of course cannot engage in a direct fight with any regular army, but their long drawn strategy and effective propaganda means that they will give Pakistan and the USA a tough fight and outcome of this will determine future of Pakistan’s economy, future of democracy, peace and harmony; and of course future of Pakistan.
Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

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Sunday, 12 October 2008

Right of self determination and ‘All Parties Adhoc Committee’

Right of self determination and ‘All Parties Adhoc Committee’
Dr Shabir Choudhry 12 October 2008.

What a change? What a U turn? Those who were until recently selling General Musharaf’s four point agenda on Kashmir leading to division of the State of Jammu and Kashmir have made another somersault and have brought out a new ‘commodity’ wrapped skilfully in cover of right of self determination.

Right of self determination is a fundamental human right and is highly respected in all societies, especially in the West. Many countries and agencies use this noble concept of self determination to further their national and personal interests. Some business minded people have transformed the Kashmiri struggle in to a lucrative business, and they have ability to sell anything.
They have mastered the art of salesmanship, and have successfully sold Kashmir issue for generations. When it suited them they advocated the status quo, when militancy was popular, it was sold as a ‘Jihad’. When popularity of militancy declined they became advocates of peace and human rights. When General Musharaf, as a President of Pakistan proposed a division of Kashmir in a form of ‘self rule’, they advocated that ‘self rule’ was more ‘advanced’ and ‘forward looking’ concept than right of self determination.

Now that General Musharaf is no longer calling shots and his four point agenda is abandoned, policy makers in Islamabad thought of promoting right of accession under disguise of self determination. They approached their tried and tested ally based in Chandni Chowk of Rawalpindi, who successfully accomplished many missions for them in the past.

As a result of that understanding a declaration was made with regard to ‘right of self determination’. This so called nationalist leader who is not regarded as such by any nationalist party of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan, and is out of step with all parties who promote united and independent Jammu and Kashmir is still ‘blue eye boy’ of Pakistani agencies.

He seems to be more at home with pro Pakistan parties and that is why he never felt need to consult or talk to any of the nationalist parties. He under directions of his mentors had meetings with pro Pakistan parties and declared right of self determination day on 14th October.

Their foot soldiers and employees in Europe were also issued directions to hold some function to promote their brand of ‘right of self determination’ that it ‘coincide with the right of self-determination day called by their mentors in Islamabad, hence some people in a close room meting set up an ‘All Parties Adhoc Committee’ in name of Kashmiri Diaspora.

Interestingly these promoters of right of self determination felt no need to take in to confidence anyone from Jammu, Ladakh, All Parties Nationalist Alliance - alliance of nationalist parties of Azad Kashmir of Gilgit and Baltistan, or GABNA alliance of parties in Gilgit and Baltistan, Kashmiri alliances among Kashmiri Diaspora and popular parties in the Valley; and yet they have nerve to claim that they are representing the majority view. It clearly looked that their aim was to promote a Muslim interest – a right of self determination for Muslims to divide people of Jammu and Kashmir on religious lines.

Dr Nazir Gilani, a prominent human rights activist and Secretary General of JKCHR- only Kashmiri party with a special consultative status with the UN, was also among those who were not invited to this so called meeting in which this so called ‘All Parties Adhoc Committee’ was set up. A Kashmiri channel – KBC is sincerely trying to educate people and doing its best to help Kashmiri Diaspora to forge some kind of unity; and Shams Rehman is playing a leading role in this regard.

Shams Rehman had a special TV programme for this purpose, and when he pressed these promoters of new right of ‘self determination’, why they did not take other Kashmiris on board to promote unity and right of self determination, one man who receives a salary from a centre set up by Pakistani agencies said: We have called all people who believe in right of self determination, but we will not invite those who are ‘hashia bardaar of India’ and that he ‘will expose these people’. The term ‘Hashia bardaar of India’ is abusive and derogative, and is not used by self respecting people – one can translate it as a ‘member of an Indian lobby or agent of India’.

This man was a school teacher before the start of militancy and since that time has changed many platforms which helped him to run his kitchen. His mentors could not promote him adequately with a title of school teacher so they gave him a new title of a ‘Professor’; and exported him from Islamabad to London with hefty salary. Perhaps this guy does not know that his language was divisive and full of hatred; and he could be clearly in violation of British laws. The British authorities don’t look kindly at those who spread communalism and hatred, and advocate such policies which can shatter peace and harmony of the British society.

After pressure from the KBC team and other political parties they hurriedly issued some invitations. On Saturday 11th October I checked with some active nationalist parties in UK and I was astonished to find out that they did not receive any invitation, and this so called seminar is taking place on 14th October. Active participant in this campaign is Amanulalh Khan’s JKLF which is not regarded as a nationalist party by nationalists of Jammu and Kashmir, and like Muslim Conference their role is to protect and promote interest of Islamabad from their respective platforms.

According to the rational expressed by this employee of Islamabad all those who were not invited in the so called original meeting or there after are ‘Hashia bardaar of India’ – agents of India?

It would be pertinent to ask some questions from these champions of ‘right of self determination’:

Who called this meeting of representatives of Kashmiri Diaspora to set up an ‘All Parties Adhoc Committee’?

What criteria, if any, were used to extend invitations?

When and where this meeting was held and who were present?

Names associated with this enterprise also belong to political parties; and those parties also have a policy on Kashmir, does it mean that they are disappointed with the policy or stand of their parent parties that they felt obliged to set up a new platform?

Apart from that these people are also associated with pro Pakistan alliance known as Rabta Committee or Coordination Committee, does it mean that this platform is no longer capable to advance the cause of self determination?

I am sure one could add more questions to this list. It is becoming evidently clear that this new campaign is a new trade mark for those with commercial interest in the Kashmiri struggle. It is not their imitative, just like militancy was not their initiative. Previously they were agents of a ‘proxy war’ and sold it as a ‘jihad’; and it looks that in place of that now they will be part of this ‘proxy politics’, controlled and directed from Islamabad.

My humble request is to find another business or another job, and do not sell right of accession to Pakistan wrapped up in a beautiful cover of right of self determination. And please do not use name of Kashmiri Diaspora to further your political and commercial interests.

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

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Thursday, 9 October 2008

So they are terrorists now?

So they are terrorists now?
Dr Shabir Choudhry 8 October 2008

When a head of state makes a statement it is regarded as an official policy of the country; and now it is official that Kashmiri struggle is ‘terrorism’ and all those associated with it, including leaders of APHC are ‘terrorists’, claims President of Islamic republic of Pakistan, Asif Zardari.

It is different matter that Pakistani establishment has hitherto projected leaders of the APHC as ‘holy cows’ which must not be criticised or opposed; if anything they must be respected and followed. Asif Zardari might have had his reasons and compulsions when giving this very bold interview to very prestigious newspaper Wall Street Journal.

But compulsions and requirements of powerful military and ISI which is known as state within state could be different from that of Asif Zardari; and it remains to be seen if they will accept this doctrine or will continue their old policies of supporting, training and promoting ‘jihad’ and militancy. It is not secret anymore that it was their considered policy to ‘keep India bleeding’ and to ‘keep India engaged’ or bogged down in Jammu and Kashmir; and that time it was perceived as in the best interest of Pakistan.

Nations best interests do change with time, but question is since when Pakistan has become a nation? Where and when they have discussed and reached a consensus that so and so policy is in the best national interest? There have always been forces within Pakistan competing against each other and undermining national interest. Policy of ‘adhocism’ always prevailed there with no system of check and balance or any kind of accountability or transparency.

My colleagues and I were fiercely attacked and a malicious campaign against us was launched with help of Pakistani agencies some years ago because we refused to accept the APHC as representative of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and demanded politics of accountability and transparency. We criticised role of these leaders and not only refused to follow them but questioned about their sincerity, legitimacy and action plan for the Kashmiri struggle.

This vicious campaign was initiated against us because we challenged those who were puppets of the Pakistani establishment and were protecting and advancing ‘interest’ of Pakistani establishment. We stood our ground and claimed that the policy of communalising Kashmiri polity with violence, hatred and extremism will ultimately hurt people of Jammu and Kashmir; and might destabilise the Pakistani society as well.

When bombs were exploding outside the borders of Pakistan it was promoted as a ‘Jihad’ by Pakistani establishment and media because they were behind all this; and mosques and their imams and other Islamic organisations were urged to preach this ‘jihad’ and recruit people for waging it outside borders of Pakistan. For this ‘noble cause of jihad’ millions of dollars were spent and huge network was established.

We opposed this kind of ‘Jihad’ because it was a ‘proxy war’ of Pakistan presented to people of Jammu and Kashmir and the world at large as a Kashmiri struggle; also because it immensely increased suffering and problems of the people and unleashed forces of communalism, terrorism, extremism and hatred.

Asif Zardari has turned decades of Pakistani policy on its head; and it sent shock waves not only to the Pakistani establishment but also in many quarters around the world. It also shocked some Kashmiris as they still thought Pakistan was sincere with the cause of Kashmir; and in frustration and anger they burnt effigy of Asif Zardari.

Apart from the above U turn, he boldly claimed that "India has never been a threat to Pakistan". That statement in practise means that it is always Pakistani military which initiated wars with India and caused death and destruction of thousands of people in wars of 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 and not to mention proxy wars. Similar views have been expressed by some Pakistani writers, and Asif Zardari’s statement is supporting that view point, no matter if Pakistan’s strong establishment and military likes it or not.

In line with tradition of Pakistani politics the Pakistani government and members of establishment tried to limit the damage by saying that Zardari Sahib didn’t say that. But the fact is he did say it and no one is taking explanations of Ms Shery Rehman seriously. If he really has not said it then why doesn’t he sue Wall Street Journal? It is clear that he won’t because he has no legs to stand. He knows that the interviews of this kind are recorded and could be produced in the court.

Also Asif Zardari stunned everyone by acknowledging that the USA has permission to attack and kill militants and terrorists inside Pakistan. Of course with every strike more and more civilian are killed and maimed. Previously all government leaders were yelling that they will not allow any country to attack Pakistan or undermine its sovereignty. One wonders where they stand after this revelation. Either there was total lack of coordination, consultation and understanding among different branches of the government and rulers, or they were issuing these statements for public consumption knowing full well that they were wrong and didn’t mean anything.

However crucial question for people of Jammu and Kashmir is can they rely on Pakistan anymore? A government or rulers who feel no shame in killing their own people with F16 fighters, helicopter gun - ships, tanks and bombs even in holy month of Ramadan, will they spare us Kashmiris when and if we demanded and took certain measure that we want Pakistan to leave from Azad Kashmir and Gilgit and Baltistan. One has to remember that despite virtual collapse of system because of militancy in 1990, killings, destruction and human rights abuse on the Indian side of the divide the authorities there did not use tanks or jet fighters to eliminate militants.

Moreover a government or rulers who give permission to foreign powers to violate Pakistani sovereignty, cross over to Pakistani territory and use their lethal weapons to kill people and destroy their properties, can we trust these rulers? Killing militants or Terrorists is one thing, but killing of innocent people men, women and children who are generally killed in these attacks cannot be condoned; and it is not proper to cover all these atrocities under the umbrella of ‘collateral damage’.

One can agree that extremists and terrorists are threat to every civilised society, but there must be unity of thought and action on this. You cannot pick and choose in this matter, and say that one kind of terrorism is justified because it furthers ‘our national interest’ or strategic policy; and the other kind of terrorism is wrong as it hurts us and directly challenges ‘our national interest’, writ of government and strategic policy.

If violence and terrorism is wrong in Pakistan then it is also wrong in Jammu and Kashmir, and appropriate measures need to be taken in order to stop and contain terrorism. Government of Pakistan and its agencies must abandon its old policies and stop supporting those who have been actively and deliberately promoting violence in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere.

Also government of India and Pakistan must not give undue importance to those who took part in violence and have been promoting it for so many years, as that is tantamount to rewarding their past violent or ‘terrorist actions’. Both governments stop human rights abuse in their respective parts of the State and support those forces who believe in non military solution of the Kashmir dispute; those forces who promote liberal and democratic politics and rule of law.

Writer is a Spokesman of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs. Email:

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