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Debate on USIP-JI report on Afghanistan and Moeed Yusuf’s testimony to US Congress – by Marvi Sirmed

There has been a discussion on Pakistan Press google group on the recent report about a mythical ‘endgame’ in Afghanistan, produced by Jinnah Institute and USIP. While one has many questions on the report’s contents, the discussion was suddenly obliterated to the supposed attack on and/or defense of the authors / participants of the report and their probably complicity with the deep state on this particular issue.

While I personally don’t like to brand any difference of opinion as complicity with either the deep state or the foreign conspirators against Pakistan, I did not participate in most of this discussion until Mr. Moeed Yusuf posted this testimony that he gave before American Congress. My response to this testimony goes below:

While completely respecting Moeed and Imtiaz sahib’s defense, and firmly believing that both of these gentlemen have shown their commitment to progressive ideals in the past, the question still remains. Why the vibes that come from some of the writings of our friends put us under the impression that they are catering to the ages old arguments / conclusions used excessively by the deep state?

One; I have written about it in today’s Daily Times and will reiterate here once again, while recognizing the handwork that the authors and the participants put in bringing that report, what one can’t miss is portraying just one point of view (calling it ‘predominant’) that coincides with the claims of deep state, ignoring dissenting PoVs that might have appeared during the discussions. This goes without disparaging the scholarship of anyone of you. Neither is it a crime to agree on some issues / points with the institutions of state. It is simple statement of an opinion deduced from what the report says and people signed the report. Is this too complex to understand?

Two; having known Dr. Ayesha and having read her as well as having had the privilege of discussing many issues with her, I don’t think she has ever been shy of expressing her opinion. Same goes with Dr. Fair, although I don’t know her personally. What makes you think both of them would hide their opinion if they have a particular opinion, or go back on their position?

Three:  Why is working with SPD is such an embarrassment for Moeed sahib? When his CV mentions SPD twice. Here:


Four; In his testimony to Congress, one sees many things which Moeed sahib can throw light on. For example, he said:

the military is in charge of the security policy but it is more a case of the civilians having abdicated this responsibility than the military having usurped the space

. . . I mean, really?

Five:  Then again Moeed sahib says:

“In February 2008, when the present Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led coalition took over, Pakistan had a great opportunity to rebalance the civil-military equation. The PPP government was riding on a sympathy wave after the assassination of its leader, Benazir Bhutto, the two largest political parties were in a coalition, the Army was both tied up in the anti-terrorism effort and discredited after General Musharraf’s prolonged rule, and the new Army Chief seemed committed to pulling the Army back into the barracks. However, gradually, the military’s footprint has enlarged again, with a number of instances in the last three years suggesting an overreach into civilian affairs”

Should we deduce that military enlarged its footprint because PPP did not try to rebalance the civil-military equation? Will you be kind enough to elaborate on this point please? Grateful.

Six: Then you say in the testimony, sir,

“the U.S. has little choice but to work within the framework offered by Pakistan. The Pakistan military therefore is likely to remain the point of contact on Afghanistan” –

Now that worries me a lot. Are we being suggestive to US that they should keep dealing with the military instead of political government in the matters of security? If yes, how is the great suggestion pro-democracy?
Seven: And then sir, this comes in your testimony:

“Politically, Pakistan is moving towards a phase where coalitions are likely to replace hegemonic parties…”

If I’m not wrong Moeed sahib, Pakistan has never seen a non-coalition civilian government after 1973 (except that ‘heavy mandate’ government of Nawaz Sharif). This was precisely the reason why we see very little to no powerful legislation in these tenures. Even in Musharraf’s dictatorial regime, the government remained coalition one. In the same breath you call the one-party government government ‘hegemonic’ and coalition government ‘superficial’.

Can we make up our mind sir, if we are advocating any form of government under parliamentary democracy? Or we are saying any form of parliamentary democracy has inherent problems? (it sounds like women-specific advertisements whereby women are given the impression that they are just not ‘good enough’ whatever the size of their bosom is. You go for silicons if you have smaller breasts, you go for steroids to reduce the size if you have bigger ones – you are not good enough if you are slim, you are not good enough if you are fat. Strange to me at least!).

Eight: While describing the interim political set up till the time democracy takes firm roots in Pakistan, you say:

“.. it may have to continue support despite inefficiency, lack of accountability, inability to deliver on promises, and similar shortcomings”.

Now this is tricky. Do you mean, inefficiency, lack of accountability and inability to deliver promises is peculiar to civilian governments? We must recommend you few readings to look deep into what military governments have been doing (although I’m sure you are smarter and have already read all the material including Military Inc).

Nine: Oh and here comes the typical urban gem:


“The temptation to waver towards the more organized, relatively efficient military will be strong….”

Relatively efficient you say, sire?
Ten: Your epic is:

“There is nothing sacrosanct about a five-year term for a government in a parliamentary system”

If there’s nothing sacrosanct about a constitutional provision, then what is?
I would be grateful if the readers could contribute and help us answer these questions.
Marvi Sirmed

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  • the military is in charge of the security policy but it is more a case of the civilians having abdicated this responsibility than the military having usurped the space

    . . . I mean, really?

    haha. Well noted, Marvi.

    Moeed, Several of your arguments resemble the Deep State’s narrative. Great coincidence!

  • Soon after Barack Obama assuming President of USA, there was a basic shift in American foreign policy viz. not to vouch on one person (dictator) but to get their interests protected in the specific region through democratically elected government. Majority of Congress members strongly believe in the new policy. They are watching Jasmine Revolution wave in North Africa and Middle East quite interestingly.

    Now under what capacity this gentleman, Mr. Moeed Yusuf testified before the Congress is not known to me. Either Mr. Moeed is playing a wrong fiddle or a second fiddle prepared thoroughly by hidden powers that be to convince the Congress to revert to Bush doctrine. Let me tell Mr. Moeed loud and clear, USA has tasted the pudding of military rule in Pakistan many a time with bitter experiences. Ojhri camp in Zia’s period, heavy increase in terrorism in Musharraf’s period at a very high cost of 10 billion (out of which only 400 million are accounted for). In the case of Osama Bin Laden, officially US government accepts the averment of Pakistan that they didn’t know his hideout, but Congress members do not buy the same.

    In the wake of above hard facts, Mr. Moeed’s deliberations would fall on deaf ears of Congress, I believe. The powers behind Mr. Moeed, sorry sirs, no luck this time. Since the above facts are just enough to torpedo Mr. Moeed’s points of view, I do not think it necessary to give parawise comments.

  • In me humble opinion, methinks this is Sherry Rehman taking sweet revenge for what President Zardari did to her i.e. sidelining her in the party and making her political future in it very shaky.

  • Great article! All due respect to Mr. Moheed Yusuf, but his presentation is a veiled threat and his opaque language is troublesome. The tacit message: Hated Americans, give us more aid, but don’t tie it to killing any terrorists, don’t have any expectations, and don’t expect our government to do anything to subdue Pak military strategies. Meanwhile our Pak government sleeps.

    He gives no credibilty to the Pak gov, and indeed, DID NOT EVEN MENTION President Zardari by name!

    “Pakistan’s refusal to target Afghan insurgent sanctuaries inside its territory, explained partly by capacity constraints and partly by its concerns about an antagonistic Kabul, is actively raising Western costs in Afghanistan.” …NO kidding!!

    The timing, right on the heels of the bin Laden incident, shows some steel balls. Yusuf’s relentless requests for MORE USAID on Pakistan’s behalf, followed by noting that winning the Hearts and Minds of the Pakistanis is a lost cause, also, if not insulting, is presumptuous. This is gem: “There is also an active effort to try and win the ‘hearts and minds’ of
    Pakistanis, which again is, an overly ambitious goal with unclear utility.”
    So, don’t expect us to ever like you- and, don’t give us understanding-give us money.

    I read this also as the U.S. must trust the military, as it is “relatively efficient,” and, if true that there is “nothing sacrosanct about a five-year term for a government in a parliamentary system”- are we to believe that it can be removed in a simple coup at any time as history has illustrated? Most disturbing is the argument to not do anything with Afghan Taliban suggesting the military would be spread too thin, AND it isn’t in Pakistan’s interest unless a total win in Afghanistan- this whole notion is patently absurd.

    Maybe this is what could be expected, but, alarming narrative nevertheless. The congress is smart enough this time- it needs to deal directly with the Pakistan government, and monitor where the money goes- none of this- let us determine because then it won’t be the American’s fault. Billions were lost to Musharaff’s government and no one knows where it went- Pakistan’s government needs to turn its funding towards Balochistan, KP and marginalized provinces, education and literacy, clean up Karachi violence and show the Pak people the government is more important for security, than keeping that Pak fist up in the air at India.