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Deconstructing Pakistani Generals’ strategic depth theory

Defining ‘strategic depth’
By Kamran Shafi
Tuesday, 19 Jan, 2010

Will our army pack its bags and escape into Afghanistan to disengage itself from the fighting, if India goes to war with Pakistan? –writes Kamran Shafi

And how does it help us? We are engaged in the Great Game in Afghanistan, we are told, because ‘strategic depth’ is vital for Pakistan due to the fact that our country is very narrow at its middle and could well be cut into half by an Indian attack in force.

Strategic depth, we are further informed, will give respite to our armed forces which could withdraw into Afghanistan to then regroup and mount counter-attacks on Indian forces in Pakistan. I ask you!

I ask you for several reasons. Let us presume that the Indians are foolish enough to get distracted from educating their people, some of whom go to some of the best centres of learning in the world. Let us assume that they are idiotic enough to opt for war instead of industrialising themselves and meeting their economic growth targets which are among the highest in the world.

Let us imagine that they are cretinous enough to go to war with a nuclear-armed Pakistan and effectively put an immediate and complete end to their multi-million dollar tourism industry. Let us suppose that they lose all sense, all reason, and actually attack Pakistan and cut our country into half.

Will our army pack its bags and escape into Afghanistan? How will it disengage itself from the fighting? What route will it use, through which mountain passes? Will the Peshawar Corps gun its tanks and troop carriers and trucks and towed artillery and head into the Khyber Pass, and on to Jalalabad? Will the Karachi and Quetta Corps do likewise through the Bolan and Khojak passes?

And what happens to the Lahore and Sialkot and Multan and Gujranwala and Bahawalpur and other garrisons? What about the air force? Far more than anything else, what about the by now 180 million people of the country? What ‘strategic depth’ do our Rommels and Guderians talk about, please? What poppycock is this?

More importantly, how can Afghanistan be our ‘strategic depth’ when most Afghans hate our guts, not only the northerners, but even those who call themselves Pakhtuns?

Case in point: the absolute and repeated refusal of even the Taliban government when it was misruling Afghanistan, to accept the Durand Line as the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, despite the fact that it was a surrogate of Pakistan — propped into power; paid for; and helped militarily, diplomatically and politically by the Pakistani government and its ‘agencies’.

Indeed, it even refused the Commando’s interior minister, the loudmouth Gen Moinuddin Haider when he went to Kabul to ask for the extradition of Pakistani criminals being sheltered by the Taliban. We must remember that the Commando, as chief executive of the country, was pressing the Foreign Office till just a few days before 9/11 to use every effort to have the Taliban regime’ recognised by more countries!

This poppycock of ‘strategic depth’ can only be explained by our great military thinkers and strategists and geniuses: it is not for mortals like yours truly to make sense of any of it. Particularly because this nonsense can only happen after the Americans depart from Afghanistan. And what, pray, is the guarantee that they will leave when they say they will?

Why this subject at this time, you might well ask. Well I have just been reading David Sanger’s The Inheritance in which he meticulously lays out the reasons why he believes the Pakistani “dual policy” towards the Taliban exists.

On page 247 he states that when Michael McConnell, the then chief of US National Intelligence went to Pakistan in late May 2008 (three months after the elections that trounced Musharraf and his King’s Party, mark) he heard Pakistani officers make the case for the Pakistani need for having a friendly government in Kabul after the Americans departed.

When he got back to Washington McConnell “ordered up a full assessment” of the situation. ‘It did not take long … Musharraf’s record of duplicity was well known. While Kayani was a favourite of the White House, he had also been overheard — presumably on telephone intercepts — referring to one of the most brutal of the Taliban leaders, Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani, as a “strategic asset”. Interesting, for Kayani’s former boss, Musharraf is quoted thus in Der Spiegel:

Spiegel: “Let us talk about the role of the ISI. A short time ago, US newspapers reported that ISI has systematically supported Taliban groups. Is that true?”

Musharraf: “Intelligence always has access to other networks — this is what Americans did with KGB, this is what ISI also does. You should understand that the army is on board to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda. I have always been against the Taliban. Don’t try to lecture us about how we should handle this tactically. I will give you an example: Siraj Haqqani …”

Spiegel: “… a powerful Taliban commander who is allegedly secretly allied with the ISI.”

Musharraf: “He is the man who has influence over Baitullah Mehsud, a dangerous terrorist, the fiercest commander in South Waziristan and the murderer of Benazir Bhutto as we know today. Mehsud kidnapped our ambassador in Kabul and our intelligence used Haqqani’s influence to get him released. Now, that does not mean that Haqqani is supported by us. The intelligence service is using certain enemies against other enemies. And it is better to tackle them one by one than making them all enemies.”

Well, there they go again!

But back to ‘strategic depth’. Will the likes of Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, help Pakistan gain this ‘depth’ in Afghanistan? Are we that gone that we need these backward yahoos to save our army?

PS By the way what about our nuclear weapons? Are they not enough to stop the Indians in their tracks? What poppycock is this ‘strategic depth’?!

Source: Dawn

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  • A piece from one of the finest minds Pakistan has ever produced….

    What After Strategic Depth? [Dawn, 23 August 1998]

    Eqbal Ahmad

    In his letter to Zarb-i-Momin, the Taliban publication, Mr. Azam Tariq, leader of Pakistan’s violently sectarian Sipah-i-Sahaba party, is ecstatic over his ideological brothers’ recent victories.

    His ecstasy is shared by Pakistan’s national security managers, but for non-ideological reasons. The attainment of ’strategic depth’ had been a prime object of Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy since the days of General Ziaul Haq.

    In recent years, the Taliban replaced Gulbadin Hikmatyar as the instrument of its attainment. Their latest victories, especially their capture of Mazar-i-Sharif, the nerve centre of northern Afghanistan, brings the Pakistani quest close to fulfilment if, that is, in addition to residing in some military minds such a thing as ’strategic depth’ does exist in the real world.

    In does not. In military thought, it is a non-concept unless one is referring to a hard-to-reach place where a defeated army might cocoon. Far from improving it, the Taliban’s victory is likely to augment Pakistan’s political and strategic predicament. The reasons are numerous, and compelling. Consider, for example, the following:

    A fundamental requirement of national security is that a country enjoy good relations with its neighbours. If one is unfortunate enough to have a neighbour as an adversary, then its security interest are best served by maintaining excellent relations with the others around it. Pakistan has had the misfortune of being born in an adversarial relationship with India, a populous and resource-filled country. This enmity shows no sign of abating, and is now augmented by the nuclear arms race and proxy warfare. The growth in provincial and ethnic discontents renders Pakistan especially vulnerable now to covert warfare. In this critical period the country needs friends in the region. The regional environment has been favourable to consolidating old friendships and forging new ones. Instead, Islamabad is alienating both actual and potential friends.

    Until recently, Pakistan has always had good relations with Iran and China. In this decade new states emerged in Central Asia augmenting the number of Pakistan’s potential trading partners and strategic allies. Cold war’s end also ended its hostility with Russia and held the promise of friendly regional alignment. Afghanistan was long an irritating but innocuous adversary with territorial claims on NWFP, Pakistan’s largely Pashto speaking province.

    The Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s support of the anti-Communist Mujahideen ended Islamabad’s hostile relations with Kabul, and rendered its influence dominant over Afghanistan. Pakistan has misused this gain to its detriment. Its Afghanistan policy – the quest of a mirage misnamed ’strategic depth’ – has deeply alienated trusty old allies while closing the door to new friendships. Its national security managers have in fact squandered historic opportunities and produced a new set of problems for Pakistan’s security.

    Teheran is openly hostile to Islamabad’s support of the Taliban. “We had an agreement with Pakistan that the Afghan problem will not be resolved through war,” said the judicious former President Hashemi Rafsanjani in his Friday khutaba last week. “This has happened now and we simply cannot accept it.” Thereafter, hundreds of Iranians protested in front of the Pakistan embassy in Teheran against the “fanatical, mediaeval Taliban” who held eleven Iranian diplomats hostage and mercilessly bombed civilian quarters of Bamiyan, a predominantly Shi’a town. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharazi, called Taliban’s capture of Mazar-i-Sharif a “threat to the region”. A resolution of the United Nations Security Council appeared to concur. Russia issued a warning. Tajikistan and Uzbekistan responded to Taliban advances by shoring up their defences.

    Pakistan’s foreign office responded with strongly worded declarations of innocence and neutrality in Afghanistan. Not one diplomat at the UN headquarters in New York regarded these claims as credible. This worldwide loss of credibility is hardly a foreign policy achievement. Also, denials are not a substitute for policy. The fact is that Iran, an important and traditionally friendly neighbour, is deeply alienated by what it regards as Pakistan’s sponsorship of the Taliban. Russia, a major power, protests it. Recently independent states – Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kirghizia – that had once looked up to Islamabad for help and guidance now regard it with apprehension. Pakistan appears today morally and politically isolated, a condition it shares with the Taliban who present to the world a most distorted and uniquely repugnant visage of Islam. It is not possible yet to surmise the consequences of this isolation, but it is certain that it will greatly augment the sense of insecurity that for five decades has haunted Pakistan and contributed much to its misery and militarisation.

    The cost of Islamabad’s Afghan policy have been augmenting since 1980 when Mohammed Ziaul Haq proudly declared Pakistan a “front line state” in the cold war. Those costs – already unbearable in proliferation of guns, heroin, and armed fanatics – are likely now to multiply in myriad ways. The Taliban will certainly be assisted by Islamabad to consolidate their precarious conquests. Successful or not, this will be an expensive undertaking, an expense we are ill-prepared to bear. Taliban victories have not put an end to their challengers; they are there and do not lack sponsors. The prospect is for protracted proxy warfare. It may cost some billions to keep the Taliban in saddle, assuming that we avoid being sucked into a larger war with Iran or Russia or both.

    Afghanistan’s reconstruction cost is conservatively estimated at some $40 billion. We cannot muster such amounts even for ourselves, so who will keep the Taliban in business? The strategic dreamers of Islamabad dream of dollar laden Saudi princes, Emirate Sheikhs, and American oil tycoons laying transnational pipelines from Turkmenistan to Karachi. They are veterans of false and deadly dreams such as the great Kashmiri uprising in support of Operation Gibraltar in 1965, or the powerful reinforcements which the American Seventh Fleet was bringing to Pakistan’s army in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

    Pakistan is being trapped again in risky illusions, and again the people not the decision-makers will pay the price. Without the resources of a great power Pakistan has entered the game – both nuclear and non-nuclear – that great powers found difficult to sustain. So help us God!

    The domestic costs of Pakistan’s friendly proximity to the Taliban are incalculable and potentially catastrophic. Our embroilment: willy nilly, in the Ben Laden affair is a case in point. More importantly, the Taliban’s is the most retrograde political movement in the history of Islam. The warlords who proscribe music and sports in Afghanistan, inflict harsh punishments upon men for trimming their beards, flog taxi drivers for carrying women passengers, prevent sick women from being treated by male physicians, banish girls from schools and women from the work-place are not returning Afghanistan to its traditional Islamic way of life as the western media reports sanctimoniously.

    They are devoid of the ethics, aesthetics, humanism, and Sufi sensibilities of traditional Muslims, including Afghans of yesteryear. To call them “mediaeval” as did the protesters in Therean is to insult the age of Hafiz and Saadi, of Rabi’a Basri and Mansur al-Hallaj, of Amir Khusrau and Hazrat Nizamuddin. The Taliban are the expression of a modern disease, symptoms of a social cancer which shall destroy Muslim societies if its growth is not arrested and the disease is not eliminated. It is prone to spreading, and the Taliban will be the most deadly communicators of this cancer if they remain so organically linked to Pakistan. The Sipah-i-Sahaba leader’s greetings to his Afghan co-believers is but one signal of the menace ahead.

    Policy-makers in Islamabad assume that a Taliban dominated government in Kabul will be permanently friendly towards Pakistan. The notion of ’strategic depth’ is founded on this presumption. This too is an illusion. The chances are that if they remain in power, the Taliban shall turn on Pakistan, linking their brand of ‘Islamism’ with a revived movement for Pakhtunistan. I have met some of them and found ethnic nationalism lurking just below their ‘Islamic’ skin. It is silly to presume their debt to Pakistan as an impediment to their ambitions. Old loyalties rarely stand in the way of new temptations. Also, as the threat of local rivals recedes, their resentments against Pakistan’s government shall rapidly augment, as Islamabad will not be in a position to meet their expectations of aid. The convergence of ethnic nationalism and religion can mobilise people decisively. However inadvertently, Islamabad is setting the stage for the emergence in the next decade of a powerful Pakhtunistan movement.

    There may still be time to help avert the disasters that are likely to accrue from the Taliban’s domination of Afghanistan. Our interest lies in the establishment of a common peace there, one as welcome to Afghanistan’s other neighbours as to us. Our future is best served if power in Afghanistan is pluralistically shared by its ethnic groups, for that alone can inhibit the pursuit of ethnically based territorial ambition. If we must live with a theocracy next door, it is better to live with an enlightened rather than a barbaric version of it. Also, if Afghanistan is to regain life, it needs a government hospitable to international aid; the Taliban are not.

    It is unlikely that the architects of Islamabad’s Afghanistan policy shall pay heed to arguments such as these. Dissenting points of view have always been ignored in Pakistan with tragic consequences. After hesitating for a while on the side of wisdom, Ayub Khan ignored them in 1965. We were relatively young and gullible then, so they lost a costly war and declared victory. In 1971, Yahya Khan, Z.A. Bhutto and others dismissed the warnings of impending disaster as treachery, and lost half the country. Z.A. Bhutto rejected friendly early criticism of the failings of his government, suppressed the magazine in which they were published, and ruled on to be overthrown and executed by a usurper of his choice. He alone paid for his blunders personally; for those of the others only the land and the people continue to pay. Yet they do not hear and do not see even the obvious. No wonder they are looking for ’strategic depth’.

  • Interesting and pertinent comments of Musharraf in the selfsame sabre-rattling interview on state-run TV (October 22nd) have been glossed over. Consider what the megalomaniacal CE-cum-COAS-cum-President meant by the following:

    Q. Does Afghanistan give Strategic Depth to Pakistan?

    A. These are old theories. After India and Pakistan have become nuclear powers, if anyone perceives that one would try to get some strategic gains, it would be a sheer folly. It is not possible now that we will be overrun and will go to Afghanistan for strategic depth. (Emphases mine)

    The putative abandonment, loss or ‘sacrifice’ of Strategic Depth since September 11 is a revolution in Pakistan’s security doctrine and Kashmir policy at best, as Musharraf seemed to be portraying it, or a casuistic ‘sour grapes’ eyewash of a strategic nightmare at worst. In either case, it is a moment of supreme significance for the dynamics of conflict in South Asia. The import of this loss can be best understood by going back to the origins of Strategic Depth and enumerating what it earned for Pakistan in two decades.

    Mirza Aslam Beg, General Zia-ul-Haq’s high profile army chief, is credited with the authorship of Strategic Depth in the early eighties. Theoretically stated, it was a proactive defensive strategy of securing ‘Islamic Depth’ in the west to counterbalance the conventionally superior ‘Hindu India’ by strengthening diplomatic and military relations with Afghanistan and the Arab world to the extent that in the worst-case scenario of India invading and overrunning Pakistan, the Army High Command could relocate westwards and use Afghanistan as a frontline ally from which to roll back Indian ‘expansionism’. Practically though, Zia’s regime was well aware that India respected the sanctity of the Line of Control and that in every war since 1948 India has resisted the temptation of crossing the de facto border. No responsible Indian decision-maker has ever stated overrunning Pakistan as an objective either in war or peacetime (in sharp contrast to quixotic assertions by Nawaz Sharif’s foreign minister, Gohar Ayub Khan, that Pakistan could “overrun India in three days”!). That India is the status quoist power in the dispute was well known to the creators of Strategic Depth. In this context, Thomas Thornton’s phrase to describe Pakistan’s life as “fifty years of insecurity” is misleading because India has never militarily contemplated or attempted to forcibly occupy its smaller neighbor.

    Depth, in the garb of a defensive shield, was in fact an offensive tactic to “bleed India with a thousand cuts in Kashmir.” (Zia) Afghan opium poppies and mujahideen, the two swords of ISI machinery, would be the servicing fuel and ammunition for overthrowing “the tyranny against our Kashmiri brethren” (Beg). Depth was also a conduit through which mercenaries and “guest militants” from various Arab nationalities could be recruited for the jihadi terror in Kashmir and this turned into a reality by the mid-nineties when the indigenous movement in the valley was practically hijacked and overwhelmed by foreign fighters. Strategic Depth was thus the lynchpin of Pakistan’s offensive infiltrationist game plan in Kashmir.

    Have I underplayed the Pakhtunistan angle which some claimed to be the other defensive rationale for Depth? When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, leaving a hostile superpower friendly with India right on Pakistan’s western doorstep, Islamabad regurgitated the spectre of Abdul Ghaffar Khan’s struggle for a separate Pakhtunistan uniting Pakistan’s NWFP and Pushtun areas across the Durand Line. The quest for a ‘friendly government’ in Kabul was presented by the Zia regime as a preventive to separatism in Pakistan’s frontier areas and ipso facto an act of national self-defense. In the larger geopolitical chessboard, it was depicted as a securing of one flank and a pre-emptive move to break Pakistan’s encirclement on eastern and western fronts. Again, this was a case of the men in uniform proposing a scenario and the silent majority in the country having to accept it with unquestioning obedience, for dissident thinkers like Eqbal Ahmed have repeatedly stressed that Afghanistan was “an irritating but innocuous adversary with territorial claims on NWFP” and that Strategic Depth in this context was a “mis-named mirage”. Frontier Gandhi’s peaceful and unarmed secessionist movement was effectively crushed by Punjabi rulers with ISI talons and the movement had lost all vigor and resistance by the seventies (Abdul Wali Khan and Afsandyar, Ghaffar’s successors, find shrinking mass appeal and state persecution insurmountable hurdles today).

    Pakistani anxiety to control Afghanistan as a marionette has nothing to do with the red herring of endangered territorial integrity in the west but, as US Ambassador to Tajikistan Grant Smith recently emphasized to me, “has everything to do with India/Kashmir”. To improvise on a Clintonomic phrase for all those who still buy defensive Strategic Depth as the real intent of Islamabad- It’s the Kashmir covetousness, stupid! The decisive overthrow of Taliban by the Northern Alliance in the war against terrorism and the refusal of the international community to invite Pakistan’s acolytes, the self-contradictory “moderate Taliban”, to the discussions on a new pluralistic order in Afghanistan is a big blow to Pakistan’s Mission Kashmir and could once again throw up the scenario of Islamabad training and equipping opponents to destabilize the new multi-ethnic government a la 1992-6 until another pliable puppet like Hekmatyar or Taliban is coronated. But as long as the dispensation in Kabul won’t be a ‘friendly government’ and Burhanuddin Rabbani is ensconced, does Pakistan have any option other than allowing Kashmir to return to normalcy?

    Going back to the interview, it is necessary to read between the lines on what Musharraf implied when he introduced the new variable of nuclear weapons as if they could now act as substitutes for the depleted Strategic Depth. As Nawaz Sharif’s scheming and bellicose chief of army staff, Musharraf was an ardent advocate of Pakistan going nuclear and the reasons thereof became clear when the latter engineered the Kargil intrusion in 1999 (with or without the Prime Minister’s complicity). Intelligence reports reconstructing the genesis of the Kargil war indicate that right since Pakistan’s nuclear tests, Musharraf began making public statements that “while the probability of conventional war between India and Pakistan was virtually zero, proxy war was highly probable given the nuclear balance between them.” His calculation was that the atomic bomb and world concerns about a nuclear conflagration in Kashmir would deter and limit Indian retaliation to unlawful salami-slicing of small pieces of territory, because the adversary would not consider the losses to be worthy enough for escalation. “What Pakistan attempted at Kargil was a typical case of salami slicing” propped up by nuclear blackmail (Kargil Review Committee Report, p.242). With ‘Strategic Assets’ in the backdrop, Kashmir could be militarily wrested from India inch by inch and the international community can be expected to restrain Indian ripostes owing to fears of the conflict going nuclear. It is another matter that the world saw through the game, condemned Pakistani aggression and actually forced Nawaz Sharif to withdraw from Kargil, but as the Indian Prime Minister revealed later, so petrified was Washington of the quasi-war erupting into nuclear pyrotechnics that it recommended at the early stage that Delhi let Pakistan take some of the land that it had stealthily encroached upon. By constantly ratcheting up scenarios of nuclear war, Pakistan under Musharraf will try to repeat Kargil along other sectors of the 450-mile border and redraw a “New LOC” with blood.

    Pakistan’s Strategic Assets thus emerge less as defensive deterrents (India anyway has a no-first-use of nuclear weapons policy) and more as ‘bombs in the closet’ under whose cover offensive military movements into Kashmir can be carried out. With the erosion of Strategic Depth in Afghanistan and with Kabul resounding in echoes of “death to Pakistan”, the piece de resistance of Islamabad’s armory in its pernicious attempt to wrest Kashmir by force will increasingly be the bomb. Depth will not entirely be abandoned while pursuing the nuclear feint and all means would be adopted to install a ‘friendly government’ in Afghanistan, but with Colin Powell categorically declaring, “Pakistan will not be allowed to foist a government of its choice in Afghanistan again”, the premium Generals in Rawalpindi place on the atomic bluff for achieving their Kashmir acquisition schemes will be magnified in the immediate future.

    A posteriori, it would be in the interests of abiding peace in South Asia if Pakistan’s Strategic Assets are commandeered and neutralized by the United States. Numerous press-leaks that the Bush administration will consider such an action if there is a coup against Musharraf by ‘rogue elements’ in the army or if it is lucidly proven that the ISI or pro-Taliban Pakistani nuclear scientists transferred weapons-grade Plutonium to Osama bin Laden have already been doing the rounds, but these hypotheses are predicated on an artificial divide between ‘moderate Musharraf’ and his radical lieutenants. No such gradation exists in reality and if Washington sincerely wishes for durable peace in the subcontinent, it should use its present leverage on Pakistan to extinguish the ‘Islamic Bomb’.

  • فوج پرحملے:’کشمیر طالبان‘ نے قبول کرلیے

    ذوالفقار علی
    بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، مظفرآباد

    آخری وقت اشاعت: بدھ, 20 جنوری, 2010, 21:27 GMT 02:27 PST

    پاکستان کے زیر انتظام کشمیر میں فوج کو اب خود کش حملوں کا نشانہ بنایا جا رہاہے

    تحریک طالبان کشمیر نامی ایک غیر معروف گروپ نے رواں ماہ پاکستان کے زیرانتظام کشمیر میں فوج پر ہونے والے دو الگ الگ خودکش حملوں کی ذمہ داری قبول کی ہے۔ ان حملوں میں چار فوجی ہلاک جبکہ تیرہ زخمی ہوگئے تھے۔

    شمالی وزیرستان کے علاقے میران شاہ سے بی بی سی کے ساتھ ٹیلی فون پر گفتگو میں خود کو تحریک کا ترجمان ظاہر کرنے والے ابو دوجانا نامی شخص نے کہا کہ ان حملوں میں پاکستان کی فوج کو نشانہ بنانے کی وجہ کشمیر پر فوج کی پالیسی میں تبدیلی، اور آئے روز امریکہ کی جانب سے قبائیلی علاقوں میں ہونے والے ڈرون حملے ہیں۔

    ان کا کہنا ہے کہ ’مقبوضہ کشمیر میں مجاہدین فتح کے قریب تھے تو فوج نے بھارت کے ساتھ معاہدہ کیا اور مجاہدین کی امداد بند کردی اور اس طرح ایک لاکھ سے زیادہ شہیدوں کے خون کے ساتھ غداری کی گئی ۔‘

    چھ جنوری کو کشمیر کے جنوبی ضلع سدھنوتی میں تراڑ کھل کے مقام پر ایک فوجی بیرک پر خود کش حملہ کیا گیا جس کے نتیجے میں چار فوجی ہلاک جبکہ گیارہ زخمی ہوگئے تھے۔

    اس واقعہ کے دس روز بعد راولاکوٹ کے قریب دو تھان کے مقام پر ایک فوجی گاڑی پر خود کش حملہ کیا گیا جس کے نتیجے میں دو فوجی زخمی ہوگئے تھے۔

    حکام نے کہا تھا کہ ان کو خوش کش حملہ آور کا سر ملا اور یہ کہ اس کی عمر سولہ سے سسترہ سال کے درمیان تھی اور وہ غیر کشمیری معلوم ہوتا تھا۔

    بھارت کے زیر انتظام کشمیر میں برسرپیکار سرکردہ عسکری تنظیم حزب المجاہدین کے ترجمان احسان الہیٰ نے کہا کہ ریاست جموں کشمیر میں تحریک طالبان کشمیر نام کی کسی تنظیم کا وجود نہیں ہے اور نہ ہی کسی کشمیری عسکری تنظیم کا طالبان سے کوئی تعلق ہے۔

    تا ہم ان کا کہنا ہے کہ کشمیری بھی پاکستان کے قبائلی علاقوں میں ڈررون حملوں کے مخالفت کرتے ہیں کیونکہ وہ یہ سمجھتے ہیں کہ یہ حملے پاکستان کی سلامتی، خود مختاری اور وقار کے خلاف ہیں۔

    پاکستان کے زیر انتظام کشمیر کے چیف سیکریڑی خالد سلطان نے کہا کہ انہوں نے پہلی بار اس تنظیم( تحریک طالبان کشمیر) کا نام سنا ہے اور یہ کہ اس کے بارے میں پتہ لگانے کی کوشش کریں گے۔

    واضح رہے اس سے پہلے گزشتہ سال جون میں مظفرآباد شہر کے علاقے شوکت لائن میں فوجیوں کی رہائشی عمارت کے احاطے میں ایک خود کش حملہ آور نے فوج کے جوانوں کو نشانہ بنایا تھا۔

    اس حملے میں دو فوجی اہلکار ہلاک جبکہ تین زخمی ہوگئے تھے۔ اس حملے کی ذمہ داری تحریک طالبان پاکستان نے قبول کی تھی۔

    فوج پر ہونے والے ان تین حملوں سمیت پاکستان کے زیر انتظام کشمیر میں کوئی سات ماہ میں اس نوعیت کے پانچ واقعات پیش آئے ہیں۔

    گزشتہ سال اٹھائیس دسمبر کو مظفرآباد میں امام بارگاہ پر ایک خود کش حملہ کیا گیا جس کے نتیجے میں آٹھ افراد ہلاک جبکہ اسی سے زیادہ زخمی ہوگئے تھے۔ اس حملے کی ذمہ داری کسی نے قبول نہیں کی۔

    اکیس نومبر کو تین خود کش حملہ آوروں نے مظفرآباد کے نواح میں اپنے آپ کو دھماکے سے اڑا دیا تھا جب پولیس ان کا تعاقب کر رہی تھی۔ پولیس نے ان کے بارے میں کہا تھا کہ یہ حملہ آور حلیے اور زبان سے غیر کشمیری معلوم ہوتے تھے۔

  • Elimination of ‘ideological boundaries’ —Dr Manzur Ejaz

    For Quaid-e-Azam, Pakistan was just a creation of a nation where the majority of citizens would be Muslims like Algeria, Turkey or Egypt. After their independence none of these countries adopted theocratic rule

    A few days back Prime Minister Gilani reiterated that the army is diligently defending Pakistan’s geographical and ideological boundaries. One would like to believe that Mr Gilani is just puttering the oft-repeated cliché of ‘ideological boundaries.’ However, a closer examination shows that the ruling elites, while trying to eliminate armed religious bands, are trying their best to cling to the ‘ideological boundaries’ defined by Ziaul Haq and his pro-theocracy allies led by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).

    There were several questions regarding ‘ideological boundaries’ that had to be addressed first before the implementation of the concept, but Zia and his groomed military-civilian leadership snubbed the opposing views for political expediency of that period. First and foremost the question was: which religious school will be followed in defining the ‘ideological boundaries’? Will it be the Islam defined by the Sufis or by the mullahs? Second, how will the different sects consent to a consensus about the boundaries and third, can Pakistan claim to be a modern state if the minorities are accorded second or third class citizenship?

    The most powerful justification for imposing the ‘ideological boundaries’ is given by the slogan that ‘Pakistan was created for Islam’ or ‘Pakistan ka matlab kia, La Ilaha Illilah’. Before 1970 such slogans were very rare and Ayub Khan’s successful suppression, good or bad, of pro-theocracy forces — Maulana Maududi was sentenced to death and his life was spared due to external appeals — shows that religious forces were not in a challenging position.

    The religious grouping could not gain credence because they had opposed the creation of Pakistan and the founder of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who was quite clear that Pakistan was not going to be an Islamic theocratic state. He was a westernised liberal person with routines that would be prohibited by Ziaul Haq’s defined ideological boundaries. I am sure the great Quaid would have spent his entire life behind bars if he had continued with his breakfast and evening routines. For Quaid-e-Azam, Pakistan was just a creation of a nation where the majority of citizens would be Muslims like Algeria, Turkey or Egypt. After their independence none of these countries adopted theocratic rule.

    The slogan mentioned above was popularised to combat Zulifkar Ali Bhutto and his People’s Party. The religious parties and traditional ruling classes perceived Bhutto as a mischief-maker intent upon unleashing, intentionally or otherwise, liberal and progressive trends. As a matter of fact, when the JI popularised the slogan ‘Pakistan ka matlab kia, La Ilaha Illilah’, Habib Jalib gave the real meaning to this slogan in his very famous poem of the time in these words:

    “Khait wadairon se lay lo, milein lutairon se ley lo,

    Koi rehay na aali-jah, Pakistan ka matlab kia La Ilaha Illilah.”

    (Take the land from the feudal and mills from the exploiters. No super-citizen should exist any more. This is the meaning of La Ilaha Illilah.)

    Alas! Habib Jalib lost in defining the slogan and his opponents won even during Bhutto’s regime when he declared Ahmadis a minority, banned liquor and racing and designated Friday as a weekly holiday. Zia, supported and brought to power by the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) — a joint front of mullahs, ruling elites with tactical military support — took Bhutto’s hypocritical Islamisation to its logical conclusion.

    After the ideological boundaries were fully defined, whatever happened was against every big or small desire Habib Jalib had expressed in his memorable poem. Unlike 1970, land reforms, increasing labour’s share in industry, giving people shelter, bread, education and health services was never put on any party’s election manifesto or were never made the focus of the election debates. In the 1970 elections the atmosphere was so progressive that even the JI had to insert a limit on land holdings in its manifesto.

    So-called strengthening of the ideological boundaries freed everyone of social responsibility and in a convoluted manner individuals went on a binge for personal gains. It was in direct contravention of Sufi Islam, where the individual was made responsible to himself and to fellow humans around him/her and the state or Shariah (state-imposed rules) had nothing to do with personal or societal well being. Sufi thought emerged as a revolt against the negative social experience under theocracy. The essence of Sufi thought sought love and liberation through personal efforts, leaving the worldly rule-making in the hands of the state. It meant that the state should be secular and religious practices should be left to individuals.

    The Sufis’ experience once again proved its validity. Except comforting the mullahs by banning alcohol, prostitution, gambling, etc., the imposition of so-called ideological boundaries gave birth to every possible social ill. Not only the consumption of alcohol increased manifold, heroin and other fatal drugs became common. Prostitution, ousted from Shahi Mohallas, proliferated in every corner of every city. The only change that took place was that the police and civil administration increased their income from pimps and bootleggers.

    Besides the spread of social ills, ideological boundaries gave birth to quite expected sectarianism. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Tanzim-i-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and many other sectarian organisations created havoc in the country, unleashing the murders of innocent citizens. And it was the reign of demonological boundaries that gave birth to Salafi Islam that created the Taliban and other types of jihadis. It is interesting that other than Saudi Arabia, no Muslim country has emulated the Salafi version of Islam. It is also noteworthy that this version of Islam, prevailing in tribal Saudi Arabia, has resonated in limited circles of Pashtun tribals (not among settled or urbanised Pashtuns) and nowhere else. Therefore, the entire gambit of ‘ideological boundaries’ and its impact has to be re-examined. Eliminating the Taliban or the armed jihadis is just the starting point and the deep rooted ideological troubles are not going to go away automatically.

    The writer can be reached at\01\20\story_20-1-2010_pg3_3

  • Plans to sabotage the Balochistan package —Malik Siraj Akbar

    Backed by powerful quarters, the FC is simultaneously penetrating Baloch society as a community police, intelligence agency, force to crush political dissent and a tool of propaganda against the Baloch nationalist leadership

    Smooth implementation of the Balochistan package, as announced by Prime Minister Gilani, is extremely essential to immediately de-escalate tensions in the insurgency-stricken Balochistan province. Two months after the announcement of the package, indications have now emerged on the political milieu to foresee the sabotage of the multi-pronged Balochistan package. What Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, General Secretary of the PML-Q, bills as “a hawkish mindset in the establishment that does not believe in the rights of smaller provinces” is once again out to derail the reconciliation process in Balochistan.

    On January 15, the Frontier Corps (FC) opened indiscriminate fire on a peaceful political rally of the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) in Khuzdar, reported the local chapter of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). This unprovoked firing killed two young students and injured four others. The killing of political activists by a federal paramilitary force that is often seen as an ‘alien force’ in Balochistan has sparked a renewed phase of protests and demonstrations across Balochistan.

    The FC has become a new power centre in the restive province. Having a clearly defined constitutional mandate to guard Balochistan’s borders with Iran and Afghanistan, the FC has, on the contrary, begun work on multiple tasks. The worst among such responsibilities is the job to crush political opponents. Last year, the FC besieged the offices of three Quetta-based newspapers in order to force them to give up their editorial policies and follow the establishment’s line. While two newspapers bravely resisted the pressure, Daily Asaap had to succumb to mounting pressure and shut down its publication for good.

    The FC is also blamed for whisking away political activists and handing them over to intelligence agencies. In one such significant breach of law, FC officials whisked away three prominent Baloch nationalist leaders –Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Munir Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch — from the legal chamber of Kachkol Ali Baloch, former leader of the opposition in the Balochistan Assembly, in April last year. No police station agreed to register a case against the FC in connection with the ‘disappearance’ of the Baloch leaders nor did the courts take notice despite submission of an application by the lawyer of the three missing leaders. A week later, the dead bodies of all three Baloch leaders were recovered at a deserted place in the outskirts of Turbat district.

    Widely regarded as a controversial and belligerent official, Major General Saleem Nawaz, the Inspector General (IG) of the FC, has always remained defensive about the activities of his force. In the first place, Major General Nawaz insisted that those who whisked away the three Baloch leaders from Turbat did not belong to the FC. Similarly, he contradicted the local media, political parties and the HRCP regarding the fresh killings in Khuzdar district by insisting that the FC had not been deployed at the protest rally where the firing took place.

    Observers believe that the IG exercises more power than the provincial chief minister. He is the only official deployed in the province who does not hesitate in giving statements related to foreign affairs. Backed by powerful quarters, the FC is simultaneously penetrating Baloch society as a community police, intelligence agency, force to crush political dissent and a tool of propaganda against the Baloch nationalist leadership.

    It is not the first time that hawks in the establishment are discouraging a political solution to the Balochistan conflict. The timing of such gruesome developments, like the one in Khuzdar, is significant given the fact that the political leadership is making some progress in settling the Balochistan issue through dialogue. The Khuzdar killings must have come as a major disappointment for Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani who was still busy celebrating the breakthrough achieved among the federal government and the four provinces on the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award at Gwadar.

    Though the Balochistan package was widely rejected by nationalist parties, it still has the potential to mitigate public disillusionment provided that most, if not all, of the recommendations proposed in the package are implemented without any delay. While the government has acted too slowly to induct some drastic changes on the political, social and economic fronts, hawks in the establishment, on the other hand, have unfortunately moved faster to sabotage the Balochistan package.

    For instance, political activists have gone missing in Balochistan even after the presentation of the package. No doubt, the issue of missing persons has become the major source of unrest in Balochistan. On the eve of presenting the Balochistan package, Prime Minister Gilani promised that all missing persons would soon return home to celebrate Eid with their families. Though the government had issued a verified list of 992 missing persons, hardly any were released. Chief Minister Raisani added fuel to the fire when he said in Khuzdar that many of the missing persons had deliberately gone underground merely to malign state intelligence agencies. On the other hand, children and women hailing from the families of the missing persons have once again established a hunger strike camp before the Quetta Press Club to coax the government into releasing the missing persons. They are planning a long march from Quetta to Islamabad in the coming days.

    The kind of stand the provincial and federal governments have taken on the issue of enforced disappearances clearly shows their powerlessness to deal with this ‘sensitive’ matter entailing ‘sensitive institutions’. Hence, no progress has been made in recovering the missing persons, even after the presentation of the Balochistan package. Worse still, the recent firing incident on the protestors in Khuzdar is likely to further jeopardise the peace process in Balochistan.

    Elements in the establishment sabotaged a similar previous attempt to find a political solution to the Balochistan conflict back in 2004 when a parliamentary committee headed by Mushahid Hussain Syed had almost achieved some progress in talks with Baloch leaders. As the leaders hailing from Marri, Bugti and Mengal tribes and the National Party agreed to negotiate with the parliamentary committee on Balochistan on all outstanding issues, security forces derailed the peace process by arresting Baloch political activists and carrying out search operations in different districts. As a result, the Baloch leaders withdrew from the parliamentary committee in protest. Even then, the government could have done some damage control if the recommendations of the parliamentary committee were wholeheartedly implemented. According to Mushahid Hussain, the chairman of the committee, elements in the establishment did not allow the implementation of the recommendations of the parliamentary committee.

    Another area that merits attention in the wake of the newly announced Balochistan package is the official plan to provide 20,000 jobs to the unemployed youth of Balochistan. The provincial government has already given the department of Services and General Administration the responsibility to collect forms and undertake the recruitment process. Many Baloch see the recruitment process sceptically because the government in Quetta has not chalked out a proper recruitment policy to ensure the employment of deserving people.

    The Baloch complain that a majority of the beneficiaries of these jobs are the urban non-Baloch youth, while the rural youth does not have the resources to travel to the provincial capital, Quetta, to apply for these announced jobs. Likewise, they demand that jobs be distributed among the districts so that all districts in Balochistan benefit from the package. Under the current recruitment procedure, the biggest beneficiaries are the young boys and girls from Quetta.

    On the other hand, youth from remote parts of the province who have truly been affected by the turmoil in the province, fear that they may not be able to compete on open merit with the youth of Quetta who are educationally more competent than those from backward areas. Chief Minister Raisani has completely rejected the proposal of distributing jobs to districts by saying that all aspiring candidates must be selected on open merit. If merit is the sole benchmark for recruitment in the regressive province of Balochistan, ground realities suggest that unemployed youth from Dera Bugti and Kohlu will most probably remain outside the national mainstream forever.

    The government has to first of all minimise the use of force by the security forces against the people of Balochistan in order to save the reconciliation process from being hijacked and elements responsible for the Khuzdar firing incident must be brought to justice. Secondly, the government must not waste much time in implementing the recommendations of the Balochistan package. Durable peace in Balochistan is intertwined with sustainability of government policies and timely implementation of the Balochistan package.

    The writer is a staff member and can be reached at\01\20\story_20-1-2010_pg3_5

  • ’دونوں کرنل، حزب التحریر کے رکن‘

    آصف فاروقی
    بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، اسلام آباد
    آخری وقت اشاعت: بدھ, 20 جنوری, 2010, 08:10 GMT 13:10 PST

    چاروں ملزمان نے ان الزامات سے انکار کیا ہے۔ انہوں نے فوجی عدالت کے کوٹلی میں منعقد کیے جانے کو چیلنج بھی کر دیا ہے

    پاکستان کے زیرِانتظام کشمیر میں قائم فوجی عدالت کا سامنا کرنے والے دو فوجی افسروں اور دو سویلینز پر کالعدم تنظیم حزب التحریر کا رکن ہونے کے باضابطہ الزامات عائد کیے گئے ہیں۔

    کوٹلی کی فوجی عدالت میں کورٹ مارشل کی کارروائی کے دوران چار میں سے دو فوجی ملزمان پر جو فرد جرم عائد کی گئی ہے اس کے مطابق کالعدم حزب التحریر کا رکن ہونے کے ناتے یہ لوگ اس تنظیم کو بعض فوجی تنصیبات کے بارے میں اہم اور حساس معلومات فراہم کر رہے تھے۔

    دو سویلینز کے بارے میں کہا گیا ہے کہ یہ لوگ ان خفیہ معلومات کی بنیاد پر صوبۂ بلوچستان میں پاکستانی فضائیہ کے اڈے شمشی ایئر بیس پر تخریبی کارروائی کی منصوبہ بندی کر رہے تھے۔

    الزامات ثابت ہونے کی صورت میں ملزمان کو فوجی قوانین کے تحت سزائے موت دی جا سکتی ہے۔

    چاروں ملزمان نے ان الزامات سے انکار کیا ہے۔ انہوں نے فوجی عدالت کے کوٹلی میں منعقد کیے جانے کو چیلنج بھی کر دیا ہے۔

    ایک شریک ملزم انجینئر اویس علی خان کی والدہ نے بی بی سی کو بتایا کہ ان کے وکلاء نے ایک برگیڈیئر کی زیرسربراہی فیلڈ جنرل کورٹ مارشل کے سامنے موقف اختیار کیا ہے کہ ملزمان کو راولپنڈی سے حراست میں لیا گیا اور مبینہ سازش بھی اسی شہر میں کی گئی، لہذا یہ مقدمہ کوٹلی کی فوجی عدالت کے دائرے سے باہر ہے۔

    ملزمان کے اس موقف کے بعد عدالت کی کارروائی ملتوی کر دی گئی ہے۔

    پاکستانی فوج کے ترجمان میجر جنرل اطہر عباس نے رابطہ کرنے پر بتایا کہ وہ اس فوجی عدالت کی کارروائی کے بارے میں لا علم ہیں۔

    کرنل شاہد بشیر اور ان کے ایک اور ساتھی کرنل، فضائیہ کے سابق پائلٹ ایڈووکیٹ ندیم احمد شاہ اور انجینئر اویس علی خان کو اس سال مئی میں راولپنڈی سے فوج کے انٹیلی جنس ادارے نے حراست میں لیا تھا۔

    ابتدائی طور پر ان افراد پر پاکستانی فضائیہ کے بلوچستان میں واقع ہوائی اڈے شمشی ایئر بیس کے بارے میں خفیہ معلومات حاصل کرنے اور فوجی افسران کو تخریب کاری پر اکسانے کے الزامات لگائے گئے ہیں۔

    اس ایئر بیس کے بارے میں سابق فوجی سربراہ جنرل ریٹائرڈ مرزا اسلم بیگ نے چند ماہ قبل دعویٰ کیا تھا کہ پاکستان کے قبائلی علاقوں پر امریکی ڈرون طیاروں سے ہونے والے حملوں میں اس فوجی ہوائی اڈے کو استعمال کیا جاتا ہے۔

    افغانستان میں امریکی فوجی کارروائی میں مدد کے لیے پاکستان نے امریکہ کو جو سہولیات فراہم کر رکھی ہیں ان میں شمشی ایئر بیس بھی شامل ہے جسے امریکی فوج سپلائی بیس کے طور پر استعمال کرتی ہے۔

    واضح رہے کہ گزشتہ ماہ دفاع کے متعلق قومی اسمبلی کی قائمہ کمیٹی نے آرمی ایکٹ 1952 میں ترمیم کر کے اس کے تحت عام شہری کا کورٹ مارشل کرنے سے متعلق شقوں کو ختم کرنے کا مطالبہ کیا تھا۔ آرمی ایکٹ میں عام شہریوں کا کورٹ مارشل کرنے سے متعلق سابق صدر جنرل ریٹائرڈ پرویز مشرف کے دور میں شامل کی گئی تھی۔

    رکن قومی اسمبلی ڈاکٹر عذرا فضل پیچوہو کی صدرات میں ہونے والے قائمہ کمیٹی کے اجلاس کو بتایا گیا کہ اس ایکٹ میں کی گئی ترمیم سے متعلق وزارت قانون کی طرف سے جو رپورٹ آئی تھی اُس کے تحت یہ ترمیم ملک کے شہریوں کے حقوق سے متصادم ہے۔

    اجلاس میں ماہر قانون اعتزاز احسن کو خصوصی طور پر شرکت کے لیے مدعو کیا گیا تھا۔ انہوں نے اجلاس کے شرکاء کو بتایا کہ ملٹری کورٹ کے پینل کی منظوری ہائی کورٹ کو دینی چاہیے جبکہ ملٹری کورٹ سے ملنے والی سزا کے مجرم کو اپیل کا حق دیا جائے۔

  • A Brig (retd) Ali Javed who alleges that he is an old friend of mine (Letters, Jan. 23) had this to say in criticism of my article Defining strategic depth of last week: “Notwithstanding that the retired officer of Pakistan Army has not been exposed to our higher institutions of military learning like the Command and Staff College or National Defence College, such preposterous, quixotic and naivety (sic) surprises (sic) his old compatriots of the army.”

    I am not quixotic. The Rommels and the Guderians of the Pakistan Army who think barren and hostile and lawless Afghanistan can ever be strategic depth for Pakistan are quixotic. As for my not attending the Command and Staff College and the National Defence College, might I ask who led the Pakistan Army into its many humiliating failures, for one, Kargil?

    “Retired officers” who write analytical columns in newspapers and who have not been “exposed to our higher institutions of military learning like the Command and Staff College or National Defence College”, or the Pakistani Rommels and Guderians who have attended both? Why, the architect of Kargil, the Commando, was not only a DS at the then War College, he attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in the UK to boot!

    So, enough of arrogance, gentlemen. It is time to take honest stock of the situation as it confronts us today and to change with the times, discarding attitudes and concepts and so-called doctrines that are dated, and in some cases downright absurd and idiotic.

    Pakistan cannot be put at risk just to humour a handful of greedy (and foolish) Don Quixotes and their Sancho Panzas.

    Kamran Shafi