Original Articles

A commodity called security

An internal operation has to take place that purges the Security Establishment of supporters of terrorism.

In the last few months, especially after the manner in which the Raymond Davis matter unfolded, I have been saying to friends that Pakistan (unfortunately) has a commodity to sell called “Security” which is now not going to be bought by the international community. The commodity called “Security” sells like this. The world is under threat from terrorism. Pakistan neighbours Afghanistan which is a harbor of global terrorism. You need Pakistan to control this problem. Don’t support civilian governments. You need military and intelligence support. Without us, you are nothing.

Whenever the world wants to support Pakistani civilian setup, something untoward happens. In the last three years there have been quite a few incidents. Let us look at some of them now:

  • President Zardari in October 2008 said “India has never been a threat to Pakistan. I, for one, and our democratic government is not scared of Indian influence abroad.” He also ended up calling the Kashmiri Mujahideen as “Militants”. The Security Establishment shot back such explicit  plans for normalization of relations with India through the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. Who gained the most from the attacks? It was India that was able to label Pakistan as a supporter of terrorism and the Security Establishment which was able to impress its supremacy
  • Just one year later in October 2009 came the infamous “Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act” that looked to give Pakistan civilian aid of up to USD 1.5 billion every year. How could civilian aid come to Pakistan? That was not in the interest of the Security Establishment. Ghairat became a national issue and all efforts were made to shelve this plan. Hillary Clinton had to say “You don’t want the aid, don’t take it!”. It was only in March 2010, that General Kayani in Washington led the Strategic Dialogue with the US saying that trade and aid is what Pakistan needs. Off course, just six months earlier, the Corps Commanders meeting, expressed concern at the Kerry Lugar Berman Act!
  • The concept of national ghairat took center stage again earlier this year when the Raymond Davis saga unfolded. A deliberate effort was made to make the civilian government a scapegoat and the security establishment as the innocents. The national ghairat in the end was sold for PKR 200 million only, courtesy of the wheeling-dealings of the security establishment.

In my opinion, the Raymond Davis saga affirmed one thing in the eyes of the world. The Security Establishment of Pakistan cannot be trusted anymore. They are not reliable. They say something and then do the other thing. They promote hatred towards US to gain petty favors. Whether Raymond Davis was on the trail of now “Shaheed”, in the eyes of ghairatmand media, Osama Bin Laden or not, the fact that OBL was located in the garrison city of Abbottabad, just a few yards away from the Pakistan Military Academy is enough to shun the Security Establishment and its paradigm forever.

I personally feel that in order to enhance their value, albeit in a bid of desperation,   the Security Establishment will conduct another adventure soon that will be enough to make Pakistan a terrorist state.

Till yesterday, it was quite likely that a desperate “coup de-tat” could have been made in Pakistan on the pretext of taking control over the “nuclear arsenal” in light of the US action against OB:, however, Hilary Clinton’s statement that cooperation with Pakistan’s civilian leadership will continue may have just foiled this adventure.

In my humble opinion, we have reached a tipping point where our staple commodity called “security” is now outdated and our  Security Establishment not trustworthy. The world now needs to deal with the civilian governments of Pakistan only.  Similarly, an internal operation has to take place that purges the Security Establishment of supporters of terrorism.

Already the world has begun to question Pakistan’s motives. Senator Joe Lieberman has said that “Pakistan needs a lot of explanation to do” adding that “unfortunately Pakistan at times is playing a double game and that is very troubling to me.” Last thing we want is that sanctions are imposed on Pakistan for the doing of a few mindless men. Pakistan needs to sit back and reflect on its  Security Establishment and the paradigm in which we have been living. This is probably the best  time ever of burying this mindset forever.

About the author

Ahmed Iqbalabadi

10 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • I think the most proud right now must be the Indians who have been proved right that terrorism emanates from Pakistan!!!!

  • The Security Establishment of Pakistan is the biggest security risk to the country!

  • Our security establishment has become a big threat to all of us. There are so many spins taking place. Admitting your mistake is never wrong and helps you deflect a lot of criticism. ISI and Army have to become 100% subservient to the political government and parliament. Their budgets need to be slashed and scrutinized thorughly

  • What are they doing? Marwayen gay hum sab ko. I feel being robbed by my own institutions

  • This article is right on the money. This security establishment will sooner or later destroy all of us if it is allowed by the rest of the world to continue its shenanigans. The PPP, along with ANP for sure, and other democratic forces have resisted the total take over of the state by the military and its proxies but they are up against a formidable foe that has the resources and the organization to buy off many other sections of society.
    Whether the imminent collapse will happen soon may be debatable but if this remains their wayward ways it will sure happen. David Cameron’s statement yesterday is the only one where the international community has acknowledged this essential contradiction within the Pakistani state. Hope others do too and do it soon

  • http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=45440&Cat=9&dt=5/6/2011

    Mother of all embarrassments

    Ayaz Amir

    Friday, May 06, 2011

    For a country with more than its share of misfortunes and sheer bad luck, we could have done without this warrior of the faith, Osama bin Laden, spreading his beneficence amongst us. He was a headache for us while he lived, but nothing short of a catastrophe in his death. For his killing, and the manner of it, have exposed Pakistan and its security establishment like nothing else.

    To say that our security czars and assorted knights have been caught with their pants down would be the understatement of the century. This is the mother of all embarrassments, showing us either to be incompetent – it can’t get any worse than this, Osama living in a sprawling compound a short walk from that nursery school of the army, the Pakistan Military Academy and, if we are to believe this, our ever-vigilant eyes and ears knowing nothing about it – or, heaven forbid, complicit.

    I would settle for incompetence anytime because the implications of complicity are too dreadful to contemplate.

    And the Americans came, swooping over the mountains, right into the heart of the compound, and after carrying out their operation flew away into the moonless night without our formidable guardians of national security knowing anything about it. This is to pour salt over our wounds. The obvious question which even a child would raise is that if a cantonment crawling with the army such as Abbottabad is not safe from stealthy assault what does it say about the safety of our famous nuke capability, the mainstay of national pride and defence?

    Barely 24 hours before the Osama assault General Kayani, at a ceremony in General Headquarters in remembrance of our soldiers killed in our Taliban wars, was describing the army as the defender of the country’s ideological and geographical frontiers. For the time being, I think, we should concentrate on ideology and leave geography well alone, the Abbottabad assault having made a mockery of our geographical frontiers.

    Every other country in the world is happy if its armed forces can defend geography. We are the only country in the world which waxes lyrical about ideological frontiers. To us alone belongs the distinction of calling ourselves a fortress of Islam.

    In the wake of the Raymond Davis affair a certain sternness had crept into our tone with the Americans, as we told them that they would have to curtail their footprint in Pakistan. I wonder what we tell them now. It is not difficult to imagine the smile on American lips when we now speak of the absolute necessity of minimising CIA activities.

    With whom the gods would jest, they first make ridiculous. The hardest thing to bear in this saga is not wounded pride or breached sovereignty but our exposure to ridicule. Osama made us suffer in life and has made us look ridiculous after his death. Around the tallest mountains there is the echo of too much laughter at our expense.

    Consider also the Foreign Office statement of May 3, “As far as the target compound is concerned, ISI had been sharing information with CIA…since 2009….It is important to highlight that taking advantage of much superior technological assets, CIA exploited intelligence leads given by us to identify and reach Osama bin Laden.” This is hilarious. If we were aware of the compound and had suspicions about its occupants what ‘superior technological assets’ were required to go in and find out?

    But what takes the cake is the stern warning attached: “This event of unauthorised unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule. The government of Pakistan further affirms that such an event shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the US.” We can imagine the CIA trembling in its shoes. My son burst out laughing when he read this. If the Americans get a clue to the whereabouts of Ayman al-Zawahiri or Mullah Omar will they ask our permission before sending their SEAL teams in?

    The CIA chief, Leon Panetta, has rubbed the point in: “It was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardise the mission. They might alert the targets.” That’s about the level of trust we seem to inspire.

    Anyway, trust Prime Minister Gilani to put it best, that the failure to find Osama for so long was not just Pakistan’s failure but that of intelligence agencies around the world. This is really cool, absolving ourselves of all responsibility even when Osama is discovered within walking distance of PMA Kakul.

    We have some funny notions of sovereignty and national honour. The CIA spreading itself wide in Pakistan is a breach of national sovereignty, and rightly so. And American boots on the ground, as in Abbottabad, are totally unacceptable. But when it comes to Al Qaeda using Pakistan as a base, Sirajuddin Haqqani and the rest of the Taliban holed up in North Waziristan and Taliban elements in Quetta, we somehow can’t work up the same outrage.

    We already had a tough job on our hands convincing the world of our bona fides. After the Osama operation it gets that much tougher.

    In an ideal world this should be a wakeup call for Pakistan, an opportunity for some honest introspection and a hard look at some of the bizarre notions underpinning our theories of national security. Must we spend so much on defence? Is the world engaged in a conspiracy to undermine our foundations? Aren’t our nuclear weapons enough to give us a sense of security? Hasn’t the time come to curb some of our zest for nurturing and sustaining jihadi militias? And isn’t it time we stopped fretting so much about Afghanistan and made internal order and prosperity the principal focus of our endeavours?

    But we do not live in an ideal world and our capacity for self-deception should not be under-estimated. Shaken as we may be by the Osama operation, we can safely assume that we won’t take this as a wake up call. As the Foreign Office statement vividly shows, we’ll hunt for lame excuses and hide behind false explanations, convinced of our ability to fool the world when the only thing fooled will be ourselves.

    So we will keep talking about strategic assets and good and bad Taliban, and about protecting our interests in Afghanistan, and we’ll keep subscribing to theories of Indian hostility and encirclement, because these are the foundations on which stands the peculiar national security state we have constructed, forever threatened and insecure.

    If the separation of East Pakistan was not a wake up call, if Musharraf’s adventure in Kargil wasn’t that either, it is too much to expect that Pakistan’s comprehensive exposure in this saga, the Islamic Republic without its clothes, will lead to any radical departures in national outlook.

    Our ruling establishment is too set in its ways and, sadly, the roots of national stupidity run too deep.
    And perish the thought of anyone taking responsibility and throwing in his papers. That’s just not the Pakistani way.

    But there should be no escaping the fact that from now on we will have to be more careful. All the signs suggest that this may prove to be a milestone of sorts, a dangerous turning point, in that our friends, let alone our enemies, become more sceptical of our pronouncements and increasingly less willing to put up with our hidden and double games.

    We will be asked some tough questions and the time for bluster or a show of righteous indignation may have passed.

    Email: winlust@yahoo.com