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Archive for category PAKISTAN THINK TANK ANALYST

Dharna Visit – A Lesson in Discipline & Organization under Two Great Leaders

 Islamabad  Dharna-  6 Sept 2014

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 My wife and I teach in Rainbow Foundation School. Fired by the appeal of Dr Qadri, we decided to do our bit. We talked to the students for donations – whatever they could for those men, women, children who are braving the weather and time for our future. The children responded far better than one expects from children. Next morning we had a pile of a variety of gifts – even personal toys, which was very touching indeed.

 On Saturday, 06 September 2014, with our car loaded with the neat packages clearly marked with contents, reaching up to the roof of the back seat, we left our house in Chaklala – 1,Rawalpindi at about 0645 in the morning. Not knowing the route,( poor Pindiites!), we took a few wrong turnings, and ultimately reached right into the Dharna camp from the Margalla Road side at about 0800 hours. This ia what we saw.

 All along the route, the police were very helpful. Seeing the load in our car, they would happily wave us on towards the correct direction without check or hinderance. The camp started from about three hundred metres from the Margalla road. There were numerous men about,with name tags indicating their party and assignment, wanting to enquire and direct. The camp showed activity, but surprisingly, no noise.  Considering that there were thousands and thousands of men, women and children about, this was the first pleasant surprise. We asked one of the persons where could we hand over the packages to some authorised to collect them. He walked in front of our car towards the nearest Control container.

 Driving through the camp we noticed various sights and stages of activities of early morning routines.People were shaking out their mattresses, spreading clothes out in the sun, which had happily come out after three days of continuous rain . There was a clear water mountain stream flowing through the camp, where people were washing up. Beyond, we could see a long row of toilets in containers. Nearer, we found lines of almost military discipline leading to a langar. Every one had his or her utensil and were being served breakfast by the caterer quite efficiently. On my asking whose party line was this one, the guide told me proudly “Sir, for eating time we are all together”! And I could scarves of both PTI as well as PAT in the same line. Very gratifying.

The nearest command container we came to, was the one we keep seeing on TV with Dr Qadri’s arms spread out and upwards. On asking to see someone in charge, some one came up introduced himself as Mr Ayub or Yaqub, who later on I was informed was, I think, an advocate! I said these parcels are from Rainbow Foundation School children, an Amanat, and therefore I need some photos so that I can put them up on the notice board for them to see. Within minutes he had organised 4-5 men with name tags who unloaded all the packages, lined them up, took out the toys , displayed them on top of the cartons, gor a press photographer . My wife acting as the press photographer, kept taking photos with my cheap camera. Seeing the pile of goodies, some women and men came up asking for an umbrella or warm Chador, but the PAT man in charge said no one would get anything here. “we have no authority do give out any thing. Dr Sahib will come at one o clock and personally distribute them. He will announce on the speaker who these are from”. And he didn’t. After the photo session, he asked my name and address, and the cartons were lifted up onto the container and stacked according to category. Very organised, very efficient. Being ex Army, I noticed, and was very pleased.

 Thereafter we went around and drove through. What we saw was a real eye opener, and, I would say, a confidence builder.

 In spite of all those thousands and thousands of Pakistanis of all casts and creeds and languages, having been in those unsettling conditions for over three weeks of sun and rains, there was no sign of fatigue, frustration or anxiety. People were calm and peaceful.

 Inspite of such close proximity for so long in trying circumstances ther was no sign of frayed nerves, of quarrels, disputes or even heated arguments. Every one had a peaceful and content expression. Pakistanis are great cribbers. There was no such sign anywhere. Which was great.

 The crowds had a high percentage of well to do, educated people amongst men as well as women. One group of young women that went past us were definitely teachers. We were told that the books, copies and pencils etc we had brought would be used in the schools for small children! So they already have schools going!

 There were tents, shaamianas, tables and chairs in small groups, some occupied some vacant. Men were seated on some quietly, discussing whatever. Women and children were moving freely. Their body language clearly depicted a sense of total security, which was pleasant as well as amazing, considering our normal culture elsewhere.

 Some entrepreneurs ahd set up shops and ‘khokhas’ doing roaring business, serving all sorts of wares from eatables to utility items, specially umbrellas!

 Considering the multicultural conglomeration of teeming mankind there, the calm and homogeneity was remarkeble, almost unbelievable. The whole area gave the impression of a hastily built mini city, well organised and self contained.

 The general impression exuded was “we have come to stay”. More importantly, I was impressed by the discipline, organisation, the calm determination, the sense of ‘doing the right thing’and self control of all the Pakistanis gathered there in such a small confinement.

 All because of just two good leaders who have given this cross section of so called unruly Pakistanis, a sense of direction and conviction and hope:  Hope of a new and better Pakistan.

 We came back full of confidence in these two leaders and confidence in the Pakistani nation. They have raised our hopes of a better future and dared us to take charge of our own destiny.

 We are both old people, well beyond seventy. We came back very happy. We hope to go again next weekend. Inshallah.

 May Allah bless these two leaders of ours with success. Aameen. 

If only the other so called ‘leaders’ could take lesson from them instead of piling ignorant ridicule on them

 

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Robert Baer-Ex-CIA Officer : What Does Pakistan Really Want in Afghanistan?

images-196What does Pakistan really want in Afghanistan? That question has become all the more urgent since Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan of being indirectly responsible for last week’s attack on our embassy in Kabul. Reports of a second possible attack, on Sunday, on the building alleged to house the local CIA station will, no doubt, fuel further speculation. Assessing Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan through the prism of honesty and realpolitik rather than wishful thinking may be the only way we’re going to get out of this messy war. 

 

For a start, we need to understand that Pakistan intends to bring down the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, even if that means taking on its sometime U.S. ally. Pakistan hates Karzai out of a conviction that he has made common cause with Pakistan’s strategic nemesis, India, and a suspicion that the Afghan leader intends to harm Pakistan’s strategic interests in other ways. And, of course, the hatred is mutual. Rightly or wrongly, Karzai believes that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) assassinated his father, and would do the same to him given half a chance. (Read what Pakistan really envisions as an endgame for Afghanistan.)

 

A second misunderstanding we need to dispense with is that the ISI is somehow a rogue organization outside of Pakistan’s chain of command and is pursuing a pro-Taliban agenda all its own. The Pakistani army can remove the ISI director, General Ahmad Shuja Pasha – or any other officer of the organization – at a moment’s notice. So, if the ISI did indeed sponsor an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, such a step should be assumed to have been taken with the consent of the power that be in Pakistan, i.e. the military establishment. The idea that to make our Pakistan problem go away, the ISI needs to be “cleaned up” is naive. The Pakistani actions that make life difficult for the U.S. in Afghanistan are driven by a clear-sighted strategic agenda. 

 

As for the Pakistani proxy accused of carrying out the embassy attack, the Haqqani network, we need to understand why Pakistan won’t give it up or act against it as the U.S. demands. With up to 15,000 fighters and effective control of large parts of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan’s North Waziristan, the Haqqanis are an indispensible party to a peace settlement in Afghanistan – and a vehicle for securing Pakistan’s interests in that country after the U.S. withdraws. To sever relations with the Haqqanis now would mean Pakistan giving up a large degree of influence in Afghanistan after the war is over. 

 

The U.S. has for years demanded that Pakistan mount a sweeping military offensive in North Waziristan to destroy the Haqqanis, but even if they were so inclined, the fact is that the Pakistani military has only ever been able to control the main roads in North Waziristan. The Pakistani army is incapable of occupying and holding this territory, no matter how much money we offer or how dire the threats we make. (See whether Pakistan really wants a stable Afghanistan.)

 

At the core of the problem stands a simple proposition: Pakistan doesn’t trust us with Afghanistan – and from Islamabad’s perspective, not without cause. We took a strategic decision to invade a country central to their national-security doctrine without seriously consulting them, preferring to think in terms of an Afghanistan of our dreams. Nor did we take into account their strategic interests and the proxies through which they have pursued them. The Soviet Union made the same mistake when it invaded Afghanistan in 1979. 

 

Having failed to prevail a decade later, we now have two choices, neither of them particularly attractive to Washington. We can attempt to destroy the Haqqani base in North Waziristan by invading Pakistan. But to do that effectively would require more troops than we currently have in Afghanistan. Doing so would obviously destroy whatever relations we still have with Pakistan, with profoundly dangerous consequences in Afghanistan and far beyond. 

 

Alternatively, we could hash out a settlement with Pakistan, which would inevitably mean accepting the Haqqanis and easing out Karzai in any political settlement to the conflict. Such a deal would also potentially bring in Afghanistan’s other neighbor with real strategic interests in the country – Iran. Iran can be unpredictable, but it’s by no means certain it would accept true Pakistani-American collusion in Afghanistan. In the mid-’90s, Iran was all but at war with the Taliban, and if Iran isn’t consulted on a settlement, it could play the spoiler. 

 

Accepting Pakistan’s postconflict agenda and backing off on the Haqqanis at Karzai’s expense is too bitter a pill for Washington to swallow in an election year, so we’ll muddle through for another year. But when the U.S. finally leaves, don’t be surprised to see the Haqqanis in Kabul.

 

Robert Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer, is TIME.com‘s intelligence columnist and the author of See No Evil and The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower.

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