Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Let there be a code of conduct

Note: All photos above are property of various news agency and are used in good faith to support the view point

In recent past, there has been much violence in our country – ostensibly by a revolutionary self-styled cleric. Many innocent support of the cleric died while scores were injured. Likewise, in Islamabad a standoff between his workers and police not only left many protesters and policemen seriously injured, the Islamabad airport almost came under a take-over situation, which resulted in diversion of cleric’s plane of a foreign airline to Lahore. And there too, the cleric and his supporters kept the aircraft in their ‘possession’ for almost five hours before Army intervened behind the doors and sense prevailed upon the cleric who presumably had no clue to international relations and almost put Pakistan in a precarious situation, also partly due to a highly irresponsible statement by the state information minister.

If we allow these politicians and clerics to incite their supporters to an extent that they almost put the good name of Pakistan in jeopardy, no foreign airline will be willing to come to Pakistan. Incident at Peshawar airport and Karachi could further fuel the situation and mess we are already in.

In order to safeguard the interests of the state and good name of the country, may I suggest some corrective measures which must be accepted and endorsed by all political and religious parties under oath. Any party not adhering to these measures should straightaway be banned and not allowed to participate overtly or covertly in politics. These measures are given herein under:

  • No political workers and supporters e allowed receiving their leaders on the airports. They may however gather at some open place outside the city, where the leader may join them, address them and disperse. No such long processions be allowed to be taken inside any city. 
  • Batons and ‘dandas’ should be declared as an offensive weapon and not allowed to be carried by anyone, except police in uniform. 
  • Arms and weapons should only be carried by uniform personnel and no one from such agencies be allowed to keep weapons while not in uniform or what e call plain clothed policemen.  By doing this one would be able to differentiate between a miscreant and a member of law enforcing agency. 
  • After the brutal attacks on political workers in Lahore and on police in Islamabad, Police should not be allowed to go on brutalizing the mob by beating them to death. And once a person has been apprehended, no more punishment be meted out to him, as we saw people under custody being ruthlessly beaten. 
  • No senior citizen should be beaten by police as many such incidents were seen when old people were blood covered and dragged by policemen. Likewise no already injured person in possession of rescue people be beaten by police.
  • No male policeman should beat or mishandle a female worker, for which lady police be employed.
  • No automatic weapons be used by police as policemen were seen firing these weapons in long volleys which resulted into over dozen deaths in Lahore. 
  • Whenever there is a procession, a senior party leader must be present at the scene to control its workers. And likewise, there should be senior police officers to be with their men to see that these do not overstep their orders. 
  • All statements that have national and international implications must come from the responsible officers/spokesman of the foreign office and not from state information ministers not adequately educated to handle critical statements. 
  • All members of political parties should abstain from accusing others and media should not over blow the critical situation by calling ordinary political members who in defending their parties lose control over their language and emotions.
There could be many more such suggestions as can be added to this list to make a comprehensive document and endorsed by all political parties, specially the religious parties who members are more charged with emotions and damage life and property more than others.

If you like the Fire Within, follow us on Facebook

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Stoning of pregnant woman to death – and police was silent spectators

It was the most shameful day in our lives when a pregnant woman was stoned to death right inside a court in Lahore where she had come for hearing with her husband. And the act was not that of an individual – but by almost two dozen (twenty to be exact) who came en masse to do this ‘noble act’ as decided by the family to put an end to their daughter’s life in the name of honour.

A sad end to a love marriage – but a bitter reality wherein a woman is stoned to death in broad day light and police and onlooker just kept watching her dying – silently. We have come to this state of our lives when a wrong does not seem to have any effect on us anymore. We see crime being committed but instead of stopping it we either watch the scene silently or some of us have the guts to make a movie on their cell phones.

I have not seen any officer resigning in shame or being held for allowing this gruesome act to be continued. Where did those black coats hide who mint money form people in the name of justice or march on streets politically bribed? Why did not even one person, be it a spectator, police or black coat come forward and helped the dying woman?

I know many well get away and not even questioned for their inability to arrest a situation – and this apathy allow such incidents to continue happening in our everyday life. Are we really dead with no conscious?

If you like the Fire Within, follow us on Facebook

Friday, April 25, 2014

Nawaz Government vis Armed Forces of Pakistan

By Brigadier Tariq Sher (R)

As a citizen of this country one wonders as to what kind of country one is living. There seems to be a crisis like situation after every forty eight hours. While there is serious law and order situation at least in three provinces besides economic and other issues; the Nawaz Govt gets into serious problem one after the other due to capacity issue. The institutions which should work together to resolve the miseries of the people are in tussle with each other. If these institutions cannot become a team; the dream will remain unfulfilled. The Nawaz Govt has a history of having problems with Pak Army. At least this time, one hoped that a better handling of relations will be seen but unfortunately it happened too fast and too early. One may say anything but a line has been drawn between the Govt and the Army, which is unfortunate. Of course, the discredit is to the Govt. It has been lead due to the following.
- Desire of Nawaz to control everything at once and by not giving space to others, while intellectually he is just an average politician.
- He lacks the ability to articulate institutions and policies at national and strategic levels.
- His decision making process is slow, as he depends on others for input and remains divided thus making delayed decisions.
- At the time of crisis, standing by a media group for personal relations rather than with the aggrieved institution (which was insulted) thus making a grave mistake of judgment and displaying lack of statesmanship.
It will be worthwhile to discuss another actor in this issue and it is the Geo channel. Geo, over a period of time has grown in to a monster with no internal controls and never bothered to abide by any law, values or code of conduct. Its vocal and pseudo intellectual anchors and producers said what they felt and due to its very strong relations it had actually made individuals and institutions hostage. They were the policy and opinion makers in Pakistan and enjoyed unlimited control. However, these anchors never realized that they are simple pawns of a Seith( Mir Shakeel) and serving foreign agenda. Their arrogance and conduct is more like O’Reilly of FOX TV. The Geo started crossing the red line for many years now. 

Therefore, it is the considered opinion of the security establishment that Geo is working against the national interest of Pakistan. Geo’s management and anchors were advised to show restrain in the larger national interest of Pakistan but due to various interests they never paid any heed to it. Geo never tried to understand the national security and concerns of those guarding geographical/ ideological frontiers of Pakistan, on only one pretext i.e, “freedom of media”. One only hoped that Geo should have learnt something from Indian and American media. It was on an unfortunate day, when there was a murder attempt on Hamid Mir that Geo went out of its mind in share arrogance and crossed all limits of national security, PEMRA rules, decency, values and respect to others. While no institution is untouchable, the critique has to be balanced and based on facts alone. Geo’s action was not only condemned by the nation at large including Pakistani media but the Ministry of Defence had to ultimately move against it to stop such kind of conduct in future.

While all this happened, the supreme commander of the Armed Forces was found on the opposite side. His ministers’ views were reflection of his policy. The concerned ministers failed to realize the gravity of the situation and reacted late and that too unwisely is a sad part of the episode. Raymond Davis was a CIA contractor’s employee. He was not even an employee of CIA. But once he got in to trouble in Pakistan the President of USA not only declared him a diplomat but sent John Kerry to Pakistan and got him out of Pakistan. That much for the honour of CIA and US national security by the US President. On the contrary, misjudgement of Nawaz in this situation remains a case study in our history. The Army and ISI are the key institutions and major stake holders especially in the war against terrorism and national security; therefore, they need to be valued on their merit.

Present obtaining environment are very favourable to democracy and every citizen of this country wants to see it succeeding. One hopes and prays that Musharraf was the last dictator of Pakistan’s history and everyone supports it including the khakis. The tenure of Gen Kayani bears testimony to it. While the Govt and the Army will enjoy cordial relations soon, the policy of Geo channel remains stubborn /misplaced and it has not learnt any lesson. An organization, which fails to learn from its mistakes, is likely to falter. Geo will continue to be a bad example in Pakistani media in foreseeable future.
One always prayed that Govt - Army relations should have been most cordial, as there are so many important issues that need immediate attention but it did not happen so. The way forward is that the Govt must strategize to keep cordial relations with the Armed Forces and its Institutions and pay them due respect, which they deserve and stand by them when required. After all, the Prime Minister is the supreme commander and should have the ability to understand the national security concerns of his important institutions. The Army must also understand that it is subservient to the civilian government and should address its concerns in the right spirit and appropriate forum. For Geo, one can only pray.

About the Author: Brig Tariq Sher (R) is a very high profile and well read veteran military officer who has a very wide and broad awareness of issues related to strategy, geo-politics and international relations. The views expressed by the author are purely his own - but do represent the feelings and sentiments of a large portion of people of Pakistan.

The article is already published at Facebook

If you like the Fire Within, follow us on Facebook

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

EU Model and Pakistan – India Peace

By Brig Nadir Mir

Pakistan and India need peace. However the much quoted EU Model does not apply in the Pakistan – India context. The historical perspective, Geopolitics and national aspirations are radically divergent.

The EU Model

Present day European Union evolved out of old Europe. Europe for all its diversity had basic commonalities. The concept of unifying Europe was an old dream. The old Europe was not only conquered by force but also interwoven by Royal marriages. The ideals of the French Revolution, followed by others, spread into the length and breadth of Europe. Napoleon and Hitler both had attempted on a grand scale to unify Europe by force but failed. 

EU evolved since the Europeans (for all their diversity) had one faith Christianity, one white race or the heartland of western culture, similar political aspirations (post Second World War and post Cold War). The common enemy Soviet Union vanished, the common friend USA geopolitically sought EU as a global partner. Economic interests coincided in EU. Despite economic interests and cultural affinity, there would have been no EU, if the basic factors had not been in place.

Farewell to Hegemony

Through centuries of war fighting, the European Nations bid a final farewell to hegemony. The demise of Soviet Union meant no foreign state could threaten Europe. Intra European sentiments were all anti hegemony. The major European powers, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Russia had forsaken all forms of hegemony. The quest for dominance had been expelled from the European mindset. The EU weltanschauung or world view was basically peace and humanity driven.

Conflict Resolution

The EU took shape since basic conflicts stood resolved. Border conflicts, territorial claims, ideological issues, other flash points and sources of tension were mutually finished, reconciled or disappeared from European politics.

Balance of Power

The EU era was ushered by a new semblance of power balance in Europe. The EU states big and small are equal partners. Neither did UK aim at naval preponderance, nor Germany massive land forces. This new amicable political culture and geopolitics of peace contributed to maintaining balance of power.

In essence for all the amiable talk, EU would not have existed or functioned until the quest for hegemony vanished, conflict resolution took place and balance of power was maintained between member states.

The environment of Pakistan – India is not only radically different from EU, but in fact quite antagonistic.

Pakistan – India historical perspective

In 1947, Pakistan – India were created as Nation States out of British India. No Indian Nation or republic existed before that. Various empires had conquered large swaths of the subcontinent historically, but none completely. Even the British in their heydays dealt with over 500 princely states with varying status.

Two Nation Theory  

The nation state of Pakistan was created to provide equal status, secure environment and a prosperous future for Pakistani citizens.

In the wider sense, it means more than a separate homeland for Muslims of the subcontinent. Muslim minorities exist in numerous states of the world, but no Pakistan has been created there. Pakistan was created because post British India was not good enough for Muslims. Pakistan was not only created for a separate religion, but different culture, aspirations and world view. Pakistan’s cultural links with Turkic world, affinity with Iran – Gulf Arabs, commonalities with Afghans created Pakistan as a melting pot of cultural identities.

Multi Regional State

Pakistan is not merely a South Asian State like India. Pakistan is fast emerging as a multi regional state. Pakistan’s Geo economics bonding with China and Central Asia at Gwadar is its new destiny. Even strategically China is Pakistan’s true partner, with whom India is mistakenly racing.  Pakistan’s affinity with Arabian Peninsula’s religious, cultural and economic ties is likely to increase.

Pakistan – India’s Conflicts
  • Kashmir Until India relents on Kashmir, peace and stability will remain elusive.
  • Afghanistan post US The post US ‘New Afghanistan’ situation is likely to increase competition between Pakistan – India. Dr. Maria Sultan’s recently published brilliant book, ‘Afghanistan 2014: Decision Point’ aptly highlights the emerging environment.
  • Chah Bahar – Central Asia India’s maritime, trade movements to Chah Bahar will heighten tensions with Pakistan in new uncharted waters. Delhi’s bid to develop Chah Bahar in Iran to out flank Pakistan’s Gwadar 70 miles to the west en route to Central Asia enhances rivalry.
In a nutshell, the Geopolitics of Pakistan – India region is confrontational rather than cooperative. The present regime in Pakistan is trying to befriend India.  The problem is the disciples of ‘Global India’ have developed a world view in which they assume India to be a global player. The recent rift between US – India on an Indian diplomat’s mistreatment in USA is a case in point. Indians are shocked that the established superpower USA did not defer to the Rising Global India! Indian culture does not believe in equality between in its own people, leave alone with smaller neighbours!

As examined the relationship between EU States has no resemblance in Pakistan – India context. The younger generation of Indians has antipathy for Pakistan and China. The Indian Air Chief talks on Indian Aero Space Power reach beyond Pakistan to Central Asia. The Indian Navy aspires and develops its Navy for sea control from Straits of Hormuz to Malacca Straits making a clash with Pakistan Navy inevitable.   

The ‘Peace Party’ is right in the view that Pakistan – India need peace. It is wrong in the view that peace can be achieved without a comprehensive solution.

The views expressed are that of the author and are a food for thought and analysis by those who view the resolution of Pakistan-India relations in a most amicable way.

If you like the Fire Within, follow us on Facebook

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A topsy-turvy world

The planet is moving towards a non-polar world, rather than a multi-polar one. After World War Two (1945), the world was split into two camps or ‘bipolar era’ (the Cardinals of the Kremlin and Grand Masters of the White House). The demise of Soviet Union in 1991 left USA as the undisputed global master. America’s ‘overstretch’ abroad, contested by numerous quarters and capitalism going wild, exhausted it within two decades. 

China emerged as an economic peer, Putin’s Russia as a strategic rival and elusive Islamic militants embroiled Americans in Islamic lands, even as the Arab Spring created a new equation. Meanwhile, EU faced economic crisis, while global wealth partly shifted into the ‘Petro Gulf’, Asian Tigers and Central Asian cities. The new entrants into the global economic arena included Brazil, Turkey, South Africa and even Mexico. 

America had waged protracted, unwinnable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. With a war weary public at home, the culmination point of US unilateralism had been reached. Even Robert Gates, the previous Secretary Defence, had warned that ‘USA should no longer get involved in land wars in Asia’.

In 2013, when USA was prevented from attacking Syria, it sought diplomacy with Iran (to the annoyance of Israelis and Saudis), and found Karzai reluctant to sign BSA. Kabul did sign agreements with India and Iran and would probably later with USA. But the world had changed for Washington. Even as the US made Asia Pacific its pivot with Air Sea Battle plans against China (akin to Air Land Battle against Soviet Union), its Middle East influence was slipping. Discovery of shale gas at home, besides difficulties abroad also reduced US’ appetite and penchant for Middle East energy reserves. The cumulative effect of all this and much more is that America remains pre-eminent but not predominant. In essence, US may lead but not control the world.

So, now that brings us to the non-polar world. ‘There is no need for conflict between America and China now that global dominance is no longer achievable’. Zbigniew Brzezinski Giants, but Not Hegemons (NY Times Feb 13, 2013)

The emerging non-polar world or zero-polar world has already cast a shadow on Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia confluence. Regional Geopolitics may be taking a new turn.

And now, we move onto regional geopolitics. Now the clock is ticking in Afghanistan. By next year, most US combat forces are expected to leave for home. Afghan war is already a forgotten story in US. Except for small vested lobbies, mainstream America wants an end to this war. Some Afghans living on US dole want US troops to ferry them along to the home of the brave. Some quarters in Pakistan are in a state of denial as to how and why should US leave Afghanistan (perhaps they never heard of US withdrawal from Vietnam). Delhi is petrified by the very idea of US leaving Afghanistan. US – Iran d├ętente is possible, yet the geopolitics of the regions is extremely complicated. Normal relations between the two foes will take some time and are also hostage to future American Administration and their world view. 

The emerging non-polar world and regional geopolitics are positive trends for Pakistan. A unified Pakistan putting its house in order is a prerequisite. By combining its virtues, both as a ‘Bridge’ state and ‘Interposing’ state of multi-regions, Pakistan would guard its national interests. With peace at home and pursuing a nationalistic policy, Pakistan can achieve its rightful place on the map.

by Brigadier Nadir Mir®  - a geo-politician and defence analyst.

If you like the Fire Within, follow us on Facebook

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are we heading towards the Action-Replay of 1977 elections?

By Akhtar Malik

It was a sunny morning of 7 March 1977 when a democratically elected government was to hold general elections so that a smooth transfer of power could take place. PPP under the leadership of ZA Bhutto was still considered to be the most popular party. In order to counter PPP, almost all the opposition parties joined hands under the name of Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) and started an aggressive campaign.

When the results were announced Pakistan Peoples Party won 155 out of 200 seats in the National Assembly. The results of the elections astonished political pundits both inside and outside Pakistan. Pakistan National Alliance was only able to win 36 National Assembly seats. To add insult to injury, the Alliance could only win 8 out of 116 seats of the National Assembly from Punjab, and failed to win even a single seat from Lahore and Rawalpindi, cities in which they had organized big public gatherings and processions.

Pakistan National Alliance leaders rejected the results and protested that there had been a systematic rigging of election results to defeat them. At many places, particularly where the PNA candidates were strong, the polling was alleged to have been blocked for hours. There were also reports that PPP armed personnel in police uniform removed ballot boxes. Marked ballot papers were also found on the streets in Karachi and Lahore. Rumours quickly circulated that the results in key constituencies were issued directly from the Prime Minister’s office. PNA boycotted the provincial elections which were to be held on 10 March. PPP resorted to bogus voting merely to prove that voters had come to cast their ballot. Overall PPP gained 99 percent seats. The voting figures showing the success of the PPP candidates often surpassed the actual number that turned up for voting.

The opposition demanded immediate resignation of Bhutto, chief election commissioner, and as well as the government, proposing the idea of holding new elections under the supervision of Supreme Court of Pakistan. Bhutto refused the demands, Wali Khan and the Alliance decided to bring their party workers onto the streets, to break law deliberately, and to confront the police and security forces. Mr Bhutto decided to negotiate matters with the PNA. Negotiations began on June 3 and went through 13 rounds.

During the negotiations the opposition demanded that since clear evidence of rigging in 28 constituencies were available with them so an inquiry should be conducted in those places only. Bhutto issued a notification whereby Election Commission was ordered to carry our thorough investigation of the rigging charges within two months wherever the opposition had lodged complaints. Election Commissioner of Pakistan Justice Sajjad Ahmad Jan carried out the investigation and submitted report to the PM. 

According to report the elections were rigged, bogus / unverified votes were polled in all the 28 alleged constituencies. Mr. Bhutto would have given the orders for re-elections in those places but one thing became his weakest point. Those constituencies also included the constituency of Yahya Bakhtiyar in Quetta who happened to be a very close friend of Bhutto. In a bid to save his friend Bhutto cancelled the notification of inquiry in rigging and thus let the situation worsen till his government was toppled by Gen Zia on 5 July 1977.

What is happening now seems to be an action replay of the unfortunate events of 1977. Soon after the elections of 11 May 2013 there were complaints of rigging from almost all parties and there are over 400 petitions lying in SC / ECP on this. PTI had asked for an inquiry on thumb impressions in only 4 constituencies. Ch. Nisar said that the government is ready to inquire into 40 and not mere 4 ones. Later he said that there should be inquiry in all 272 constituencies. NADRA had carried out thumb impression checking in Karachi and declared that about 50 to 60 thousand votes were unverified. 

When the question of checking came to NA-118 Lahore from where Sardar Ayaz Sadiq had been declared successful against Imran Khan, the Chairman NADRA Tariq Malik was removed from service. The case of rigging is in SC and opposition party PTI is adamant to get the verification at all cost. The tension between PML-N and opposition is increasing with each passing day. The question is: Will PML-N try to save their stalwart Ayaz Sadiq. Speaker NA from disqualification and humiliation at the peril of democracy and their government?

I have yet to see politicians learning lessons from their checkered history.

If you like the Fire Within, follow us on Facebook

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This is how America 'decides' to go to war [video] - Point to Ponder


Since 9/11, the world has not seen a second of peaceful day as there is war going on in some corner of the country and the sphere is expanding.

Interestingly, all countries where people are dying happen to be Islamic countries - no other country of the world is as ferocious as the Islamic countries under war - at the behest of the USA and in connivance of its allies and the UN.

But how decisions to go to war are taken? I came across this video and was simply stunned. Listen to American army and former CIA General Wesley Clark, who unfolds the US plan to invade and take over 7 countries, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya  Somalia, Sudan and Iran, even before USA invaded Afghanistan. 

The first part of the plan was revealed 10 days after 9/11 and was expanded to included the other nations. Clark is quoted as saying the invasion wasn't based on links to Al-Qaeda or any other intelligence reports but just because the US has an army that is great at taking over other nations. And some of the reasons given even made the audience laugh.

Go ahead and hear for yourself:


If you like the Fire Within, follow us on Facebook

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Powered by Blogger