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Posts Tagged Politics




Celebrities and political leaders have no personal life but we still need to avoid useless gossip. On the other hand, we have the chance to learn from different situations.


Ten months is a very short time and marriages don’t end so quickly even for Hollywood actors. Very bad both of them! They should have stayed together for much longer. Marriages based on attraction for looks, power or wealth normally fail so quickly, not when two people come together sensibly looking for long commitment in life.





















People generally follow role-models they have formed in their minds. The couple has set wrong trends for the society, sorry to say. We are not happy, rather very disappointed by this sad occurrence. When IK held a humble ceremony instead of a lavish wedding function, and invited poor children, it was very inspirational. But not this divorce after a short wedding span of 10 months. We should think rationally instead of blind following of PTI and IK. Fans of both persons should better wake up now! – S Roman Ahsan.




In the last meeting between Late Dr. Israr Ahmad and Late Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Late Dr. Israr ahmad gave his last advice to Qazi Hussain Ahmad who was then Ameer of Jamat-e-Islami to give up election politics. The main leadership of Jamat-e-Islami was also present.


Apart from him, many other scholars also condemn election politics.


The current electoral political system in Pakistan will yield no positive result for the overall betterment of the country, especially when the literacy rate is very low. How can these people have the sense to elect good leaders?


Votes are earned by doing small favours to poor masses or by treating them to a meal or by even providing them pick & drop service to the polling stations. Also, the main concern is that sovereignty lies with ALLAH but in democracy the majority decides what is good for you. And then we know also that majority does not subscribe to the ultimate truth. Let’s hope one day we realize this and fight the system.

[Late Dr. Israr’s efforts in awakening Islam and for creating awareness to launch Islamic ruling system are laudable though we don’t subscribe fully to his Islamic school of thought]








The Views Expressed Above May Not Reflect the Thinking of Pakistan Think Tank or its Members.


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The Wind that Shakes the Barley! By Dr. Haider Mehdi



The Wind that Shakes the Barley!

By Dr. Haider Mehdi


I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Pakistan of August 2014 is well on its way toward a decisive journey towards real democracy – or at least, a brave attempt is in the wind to initiate a determined and resolute process toward that cherished national goal.  The recent six-year so-called democratic experience in Pakistan (2008-2014) has clearly demonstrated that the present brand of so-called democratic dispensation can no longer work in this country. 


Let us try to take an unbiased look at the recent political events leading to the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March on Islamabad. A segment of the incumbent power elite may disapprove of Khan-Qadri methods (the status quo forces never approve of changes), but viewed from a purely Realpolitik angle, the Khan-Qadri demands for a revolutionary change in the current political system and its manifested status quo-oriented traditional political culture is absolutely justified because this political structure is completely incompatible with the needs of present-day Pakistan. In many ways, the PPP-PMLN so-called democratic era (2008-2014) and its failures have contributed immensely to bringing about this perceptual change in the political consciousness of this nation, most specifically of the younger generation, who have rejected, out-of-hand, the totality of the existing political dispensation.


And why should not the entire nation and specifically the younger generation feel this way?  Imagine in the last 6 long years of this sham democracy completely dominated by the PPP-PMLN Right-wing vested-interests  status quo-oriented foreign-patronized leadership, even a national debate on a fresh developmental discourse to give this nation a “people-centric” socio-economic political administrative reform agenda has not seriously taken place!  The PPP leadership, during its tenure, remained essentially oligarchic and non-reformist, while the incumbent PMLN leaders have reached the ultimate limits of plutocracy. As I stated in one of my previous articles, “In precise terms, it means that individual wealthy people exercise a combination of economic and political power, and consequently, have overall dramatic impact on the entire shape and structure of society.” Much of the political capital and financial expertise of the PMLN incumbent leadership has been injected into mega-projects inconsistent with the urgent and present needs of the overall society.  On top of that, there appears to be commercial vested-interests involved in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad mega- transport project and all other major entrepreneurial initiatives taken by the PMLN national management.


The questions are: Where are the national priorities of the PMLN leadership? Does the PMLN leadership truly understand the nature of the real issues and challenges that are being faced by the common folks of this country on a daily basis? Do the PMLN national managers have enough managerial competence to deal with and resolve fundamental socio-economic problems of Pakistan’s ordinary citizens? Is the incumbent PMLN leadership equipped with the necessary expertise to deliver “people-centric” ideological and knowledgeable solutions for sustainable socio-economic development of this nation? Does the incumbent PMLN leadership appreciate the precise requirements of a democratic doctrine suitable for a present-day modern democratic society? Do they truly understand, given their rigid mindset and traditional political conduct, the management of the complex, complicated modern society? I’m afraid they don’t – and that is precisely the crux of the problem of the incumbent PMLN leadership.


What today’s Pakistan needs is a proposed set of comprehensive goals that should be unprecedented in their discourse towards a “people-centric” socio-economic ideological future. Taken in their totality, these goals should clearly reflect an integrated and transformative agenda which builds and expands on the interlinked socio-economic challenges that Pakistani society faces today. It is important that the Pakistani state and its democratic institutions commit to eradicating poverty for everyone everywhere in the country. The Pakistani state must commit itself to a human development agenda targeted towards eliminating socio-economic inequalities in the society, promoting rapid economic growth, creating jobs, streamlining plans for healthy and environmentally clean urbanization, resolving the energy crisis and planning sustainable consumption and production levels, and giving this nation a self-sufficient and self-reliant economic system. Above and beyond, the Pakistani state must ensure and promote peace, justice and institution-building in the country. 


However, the unfortunate ground reality is that the recent so-called democratic era (2008-2014), of the PPP-PMLN shows no appreciable history of where even initial or preliminary steps towards these important national goals mentioned above were taken. The fact of the matter is that the PPP-PMLN record has been extremely dismal on this count and, I believe, that the incumbent PMLN leadership does not have the managerial capabilities and political management capacities to deliver on these fundamental and essential elements needed in a democratic society.  


The latest irony of the PMLN 14-month rule is that its leadership has dragged the country into an environment of chaos.  There has been institutional polarization, divisions and conflicts all over the political spectrum since they took over governance after the so-call massive public mandate (now openly challenged as rigged and stolen by meticulous manipulative tactics).  The fact of the matter is that present-day Pakistani democracy lies in shambles.  The people of Pakistan are suffering while the economic and political power of this country’s incumbent ruling elite has been on an ascendancy – but that’s about to take a nosedive. 


And that’s where the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March figures into the political mix with its much-awaited complex and far-reaching political consequences. Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri must be credited, at least, with giving this nation a highly acute awareness and a highly-developed political consciousness that there are fundamental things wrong with the present so-called democratic system, and offering a visionary outlook and real-time democratic-oriented actions to demonstrate and prove that people can and will force a change in the ways that this country has been managed so far. The PMLN cannot escape the inevitable that is bound to happen in tomorrow’s Pakistan in whatever shape and manner it may occur. I need to say no more about Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri: I know, as a social scientist, history will judge them and it may judge them as the most prominent and phenomenal revolutionary leaders and actors in the struggle for democratic freedom in Pakistan.


Times have changed, and so has the political consciousness of this nation – and so will the nature of democratic politics in this country. There is no going back now – the day of judgment is already upon us – it can be delayed but cannot be set aside indefinitely.  That is what we are going to learn from the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March. 


Hold your breath – In the air is the wind that will shake the barley!

Dr Mehdi’s Note

Gracious Friends,

Following is my latest article that appeared in today’s The Nation  http://www.nation.com.pk/E-Paper/lahore/2014-08-14/page-7.  Your comments are welcome.
Warmest Regards,

Dr. Haider Mehdi


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Tale of Musharraf’s Coup in 1999

Tale of Musharraf’s Coup in 1999

Courtesy: Pak Tea House

March 24th, 2013 |


Parvez Musharraf, ex-Dictator, landed in Karachi today, amid much fanfare(and while wearing a suicide jacket). He was ousted democratically on 18th August, 2008 and left the country. Pakistan has successfully completed transition from an elected government to a caretaker setup without direct intervention of the Military for the first time in its history. This does not mean we forget the history of military interventions and the disastrous consequences. To commemorate the arrival of Musharraf, we are posting account of his coup in 1999, in the spirit of the great Urdu Poet, Momin.

(Hamain Sab hai yaad zara zaraa, tumhen yaad ho kay na yaad ho)

This is an excerpt from Owen Bennet-Jones’ excellent book “Pakistan: Eye of the Storm”

On the morning of 12 October 1999, Nawaz Sharif finally made up his mind. His army chief would have to go. Like many Pakistani leaders before him, Sharif had surrounded himself with a tightly woven cocoon of sycophants. Family relatives and business cronies filled the key posts of his administration. The chief of army staff, General Pervez Musharraf, did not fit in.
Sharif had appointed Musharraf in October 1998 and quickly came to regret the decision. He regarded his army chief with distaste. The origin of the antagonism, which was mutual, lay in the snow-clad, Himalayan peaks of Kashmir. In the spring of 1999 Musharraf gave the final order for Pakistani troops to cross the line of control that separates the Indian and Pakistani armies in Kashmir. The soldiers, posing as divinely-inspired Islamic militants, clambered up the snowy passes that led to one of Kashmir’s most strategic locations: the dusty, run-down town of Kargil. Having caught the Indians off guard, the Pakistani troops made significant territorial gains. Tactically, the operation was a success. Politically, it was a disaster. As India cried foul, Sharif found himself in the midst of a major international crisis. And while General Musharraf had sent the troops in, Prime Minister Sharif was left with the unenviable task of getting them out. For three decades the Pakistani people had absorbed a steady flow of vitriolic propaganda about the Kashmir issue: Sharif ’s decision to withdraw seemed incomprehensible and humiliating. As the man who had defied world opinion and tested Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, Sharif had been acclaimed as a national hero.

As the man who pulled out from Kargil, he was denounced as a supine coward. Sharif ’s sense of resentment was acute. General Musharraf, he complained, had marched his men to the top of the hill without considering how he would get them down again.

The generals, though, were also unhappy. By deciding to pull out of Kargil without negotiating any Indian concessions in return, they argued, Sharif had squandered a militarily advantageous position and caused a crisis of confidence within the Pakistan army. After the Kargil withdrawal Musharraf faced a surge of discontent within the army. As he toured a series of garrisons he repeatedly faced the same question: ‘If Kargil was a victory then why did we pull back?’ Musharraf told his men that it was the prime minister’s fault and that the army had had no choice but to obey his order. It was a disingenuous response. Musharraf had been fully consulted on the withdrawal order and had raised no serious objection to it.

Sharif was never in any doubt that removing Musharraf would be a high-risk exercise. In 1993 Sharif ’s first government had been forced out of office in part because the military high command lost confidence in him. He was determined to avoid a repeat performance. Indeed, from the moment he took over as prime minister again in 1997, Sharif had devoted himself to making his political position impregnable.

On 8 and 9 September 1999 Sharif and Musharraf travelled together to the Northern Areas. They were to preside over a ceremony to reward the Northern Light Infantry (NLI) for its role in the Kargil campaign. Previously a paramilitary force answerable to the Ministry of Interior, the NLI was to be inducted into the regular army. The trip got off to a bad start when Sharif noticed the absence of the commander of the 10th corps, Lt. General Mehmood Ahmed. In the previous few weeks Sharif and Musharraf had undertaken two other trips to the Northern Areas and on both occasions Mehmood had been present. On this third occasion his absence was especially striking as the Northern Light Infantry was to be transferred to his command. Sharif knew that Mehmood would be a key figure in any coup against his government. Clearly, he should have attended the induction ceremony. As far as Sharif was concerned, there was only one explanation for Mehmood not being present: Musharraf was afraid he might be arrested by Sharif and wanted Mehmood away from the scene so that he could organise a response if the need arose.

On the evening of 8 September Sharif revealed his anxiety. General Musharraf was in the lobby of the Hotel Shangri-La outside Skardu showing off a new Italian laser-guided pistol to the information minister, Mushahid Hussain. As Musharraf was explaining how the pistol could never miss its target, the prime minister walked into the lobby. Aware of his fondness for high tech gadgets, Mushahid Hussain called Sharif over. ‘Have you seen this new pistol?’ he asked Sharif. ‘It’s remarkable.’ Uncharacteristically, Sharif did not ask how the pistol worked, but he did put one question to the army chief. ‘General’, he asked, ‘who are you aiming it at?’

As he considered the possibility of mounting a coup, Musharraf realised he would not be able to move without the support of all his corps commanders. He called them together in mid-September and raised the question of Sharif ’s competence. Although there was wide agreement that Sharif was not performing well, the generals decided that the army could not move without clear justification. But if Sharif tried to sack Musharraf, the corps commanders agreed, then they would act: to lose two army chiefs in the space of a year would be unacceptable. With this qualified backing Musharraf went back to Sharif and said he wanted to be given the full chairmanship of the joint chiefs of staff (at the time he was only acting chairman) and, to demonstrate his seriousness, he put the 111 Brigade on standby. It was an unmistakeable signal. 111 Brigade had been used for carrying out every previous coup in Pakistan. Three hundred troops, with a squadron of tanks, were posted at the army’s GHQ in Rawalpindi, just 10 miles from Islamabad. The troops were outside the normal chain of command and answerable only to General Musharraf himself.

Sharif ’s fears were confirmed by one of his few allies in the army leadership, the corps commander from the Baloch capital Quetta, General Tariq Pervez. The two men knew each other well: the general’s cousin, Raja Nadir Pervez, was Sharif ’s communications minister. A few days after the corps commander’s meeting, General Tariq Pervez warned Sharif that if he moved against Musharraf, the army would strike. Thoroughly unnerved, Sharif sought the help of his most trusted political ally, Senator Saif ur Rehman. The energetic senator had organised the triumphant corruption investigation into Benazir Bhutto and had blackmailed and bullied countless other government opponents. He now concentrated his efforts on Musharraf, putting a tap on his phones and monitoring his movements.

Sharif was furious that his few allies in the military were being sacked and demoted. It was now just a question of timing. The prime minister knew that Musharraf was due to be out of Pakistan in October to attend the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of Sri Lanka’s army. The army chief was due to return on 12 October; since he would be airborne for four hours, Sharif calculated, the army would be caught off-balance and left unsure how to react to his sacking. By the time Musharraf touched down, his removal would be a fait accompli and a new army chief would have taken his place. Sharif was relying on the element of surprise and felt constrained by his fear that he was being bugged. On 10 October he arranged a flight to Abu Dhabi ostensibly for a meeting with Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Nahyan. He took a very limited group consisting of his son Hussain Nawaz, his speechwriter Nazir Naji and the man he wanted to succeed Musharraf, the ISI chief General Ziauddin. Confident that any conversation on the plane could not be overheard, Sharif spent the entire flight talking to Ziauddin: the final plot was being hatched.

On the fateful day, Sharif knew he had to give the appearance of conducting business as usual. At 10.00 a.m. on 12 October he left Islamabad to make a routine political speech in the town of Shujaabad, near Multan. Before leaving, Sharif gave instructions that he wanted his defence secretary, Lt. General (Retd.) Iftikhar Ali Khan, to meet him on his return. He also scheduled an appointment with President Rafiq Tarar for that afternoon, giving instructions that the meeting should not be reflected in his official programme for the day. The prime minister again took a small group with him: Hussain Nawaz, Nazir Naji and the chairman of Pakistan Television (PTV), Pervez Rashid. When the plane landed in Multan, Sharif told Nazir Naji that he should remain on board for a discussion with his son and Pervez Rashid. All the crew, Sharif said, had been told to leave the plane and they could talk in confidence. Once the aircraft door was closed the three men sat down and Pervez Rashid asked Nazir Naji for his mobile phone. Sharif, he explained, could not afford any of the information he was about to divulge to be leaked. Naji was then shown a speech written in Hussain Sharif ’s handwriting that his father planned to give on television that evening. Although the punch line – the dismissal of Musharraf – was not included in the draft, it was clear that the speech would announce that decision. Naji then worked on the draft, translating it into Urdu.
Two hours later the prime minister’s plane was heading back towards Islamabad and when he touched down at the military airbase at Chaklala his defence secretary, as arranged, was there to meet him. As the two men were driven to the prime minister’s residence, Sharif declared his hand. The sacking of Lt. General Tariq Pervez, he said, ‘has started creating the impression that there is a gap between the government and the army which is not good for the security of Pakistan . . . I have decided to appoint a new army chief.’ The defence secretary was shocked: he could guess the army’s likely reaction. He suggested that the prime minister might want to discuss the issue with Musharraf but Sharif was adamant. ‘The time for this discussion’, he said, ‘is over.’
As the prime minister’s car drew up outside his official residence in Islamabad his principal secretary Saeed Mehdi was, as ever, on hand to greet him. Mehdi was already aware of the prime minister’s plans and Sharif now told him to prepare the official papers for the handover of military power. As he walked into his office, the prime minister confirmed that the new army chief was to be none other than the man he had wanted to appoint twelve months before, Lt. General Ziauddin.

As Sharif ’s officials got to work, General Musharraf had already completed his official programme in Sri Lanka and was preparing to board flight PK 805 which would take him back to Karachi, along with 197 other passengers and crew, including the pilot, Captain Sarwat Hussain. Because the army chief was on board there were extra security checks and the plane took off forty minutes late at 4.00 p.m. At the very moment Musharraf ’s plane was climbing into the sky, the man who confidently expected to replace him was reaching the prime minister’s residence. By the time Sharif went to see him at 4.20 p.m., Saeed Mehdi had completed drafting the official notification. It stated that:
“It has been decided to retire General Pervez Musharraf, Acting Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of the Army Staff with immediate effect. Lt. Gen. Ziauddin has been appointed as the Chief of Army Staff with immediate effect and promoted to the rank of General. Before orders to this effect are issued, President may kindly see”.

By 4.30 p.m. Sharif had signed the document. The deed was done.

He told Ziauddin to assume his command and went to the president’s residence to show him the notification. Perhaps aware that the army might not accept the change, and that Sharif ’s days might be numbered, Tarar displayed some of the political cunning that had enabled him to achieve high office. Rather than writing the word ‘approved’ on the notification, he employed the more neutral term ‘seen’ and signed it. With the formalities completed Sharif told Pakistan Television (PTV) to broadcast the news of Musharraf ’s sacking. It did so on the 5.00 p.m. bulletin. PTV was also told to take pictures of Ziauddin receiving his badges of rank.

Ziauddin was now the de jure army chief, but he knew that to become the de facto leader as well he would have to move fast. Rather than waste time by driving back to the ISI headquarters, he stayed in the prime minister’s residence and started making phone calls from there. He thought two men, the chief of general staff Lt. General Aziz Khan and the commander of the 10th corps Lt. General Mehmood Ahmed, were likely to offer him the stiffest resistance. Both were Musharraf loyalists who, within army circles, had been outspoken in their criticism of Sharif. Ziauddin decided to remove both of them. He called an old engineering corps friend, the quarter-master general Lt. General Akram, and offered him the job of chief of the general staff. Excited by his promotion, Akram said he would come straight round to the prime minister’s house. Ziauddin then called the man who had recently been removed by Musharraf, General Saleem Hyder. Hyder was playing golf and was not immediately available. Eventually the two men spoke and Hyder was offered General Mehmood’s job: 10th corps commander.

Having sorted out the two key posts, Ziauddin called round other corps commanders. Most were non-committal. They were in an awkward position: they did not want to repudiate the new army chief but were also aware that Musharraf loyalists might resist him.

While Ziauddin was trying to shore up his new position, the two men best placed to stop him, Lt. Generals Aziz and Mehmood, were playing not golf but tennis. They realised that there was a problem when both their mobile phones started ringing on the side of the court. The man who called them was the Peshawar-based Lt. General Syed uz Zafar. As the longest-standing corps commander, he was serving as the acting chief of army staff in Musharraf ’s absence. Consequently, Ziauddin had called him to tell him about his own elevation and Musharraf ’s sacking. But rather than simply accept Ziauddin’s statement as a fait accompli General Syed uz Zafar called Aziz and Mehmood in Rawalpindi. The second they were told what was happening Aziz and Mehmood held a brief conversation and decided to act. As one eyewitness put it, ‘I have never seen two senior officers move so fast.’ They sped to GHQ and, as they changed out of their sports kit, considered their options. One thing, they decided, was beyond doubt: they could not permit a change of army chief while Musharraf was out of the country. The first priority, then, was to get the news off PTV. The two generals dispatched Major Nisar of the Punjab Regiment, together with fifteen armed men, to the PTV building in Islamabad. He was ordered to block any further announcement about Musharraf ’s sacking. As the major set off, Aziz called a meeting of all available corps commanders and other senior officers at army headquarters in Rawalpindi. Some already knew what was up: they had received the telephone calls from Ziauddin. And with Mehmood and Aziz determined to resist Ziauddin’s appointment, the corps commanders decided to implement the decision they had taken in principle in September: Sharif had to go. Within minutes, the infamous 111 Brigade was ordered to do its job.

Unaware of the growing crisis, PTV continued to put out the news of Ziauddin’s appointment. The station’s managers first became aware of a problem when Major Nisar and his men rushed past the guards on the gate and stormed into the control room. The major ordered the PTV staff to block the news of Musharraf ’s dismissal. ‘Take it off ! Take it off !’ he yelled. Faced with fifteen armed men and a screaming major, the staff complied. At 6.00 p.m. Nawaz Sharif was sitting in the TV lounge of his official residence waiting for the news bulletin. But when it came on, he was dismayed that there was no mention of Musharraf ’s sacking. He told his military secretary, Brigadier Javed Iqbal, to go straight to the TV headquarters and find out what was going on. Sharif was now convinced that he had to prevent General Musharraf ’s plane from landing. Ziauddin agreed. He advised Sharif that if Musharraf were kept out of the country the army would have to accept his removal.
The prime minister picked up the phone and made a desperate attempt to save his administration. First he spoke to Aminullah Choudhry, the Karachi-based director general of the Civil Aviation Authority. A classic civil servant, Choudhry could be relied upon to execute the prime minister’s orders without hesitation. Sharif told Choudhry that flight PK 805 should not be allowed to land in Pakistan. Choudhry immediately called the air traffic control tower at Karachi: ‘Which international flights do you have coming in at this time? Is there any coming in from Colombo?’ he asked.  Having learnt that PK 805 was due to land within an hour, he ordered the closure of Karachi airport. Minutes later, the runway lights were switched off and three fire engines were parked on the landing strip – one at each end and a third in the middle. Choudhry also ordered the closure of PK 805’s alternate destination, a small rural airport in Nawabshah, 200 miles east of Karachi.

Back in Islamabad, Sharif ’s military secretary, Brigadier Javed Iqbal, an excitable man at the best of times, was manically preparing for his mission to the TV station. As he left the prime minister’s residence, he noticed a group of men from the Punjabi Elite Police at the gate. They were Shahbaz Sharif ’s personal bodyguards. He took the men with him and made the short journey to PTV headquarters. He arrived at 6.15 p.m. and went straight to the control room where he found Major Nisar with his fifteen men. ‘Disarm yourself immediately!’ the brigadier yelled.12 Major Nisar refused. The brigadier then drew a pistol and pointed it at Nisar’s chest. The Punjabi Elite Police and the Punjabi Regiment were moments away from a shoot-out. Nisar blinked first. He handed his gun to the brigadier and told his men to lay down their weapons. Within minutes the major and his men were locked in a room with an armed guard at the door. The jubilant military secretary ordered the Elite Police to shoot anyone who offered resistance and headed back to report his success to the prime minster. (Later, Brigadier Iqbal was to rue his actions. On 13 October he was arrested and charged with drawing a pistol on a fellow officer.)

With the TV station back under civilian control, the news about Musharraf ’s retirement was rebroadcast at the end of the 6.00 p.m. bulletin. Encouraged by this turn of events, Sharif renewed his efforts to keep Musharraf out of the country. He called a long-time political ally, the chairman of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Shahid Abbasi, and repeated his order that PK 805 should not land in Pakistan but be sent to Muscat or anywhere else in the Middle East. He did not give a reason but, having just seen the news bulletin, Abbasi wasn’t in much doubt about the prime minister’s motivation.

Both Choudhry and Abbasi, though, soon realised that a disaster was in the making. Officials at PIA’s operations department told Abbasi that the plane was 50 miles away from Karachi and lacked sufficient fuel to reach the Middle East. Choudhry’s staff at the Civil Aviation Authority had already reached the same conclusion. The plane would have to land in Pakistan. Aminullah Choudhry called the prime minster and told him.But, Choudhry subsequently claimed, Sharif was adamant: the plane must not land in Pakistan. Back at PTV headquarters, Major Nisar and his men were still being held under armed guard. When army officers at GHQ saw the news of Musharraf ’s sacking being replayed at the end of the 6.00 p.m. news bulletin, they realised something had gone wrong. A second army unit was despatched to PTV. At 6.45 p.m. another major, this time with five armed soldiers, asked the guards at the gate if they could enter the building. With the Punjabi Elite Police breathing down their necks, the guards refused to let the major through. Half an hour later, the major returned with a truckload of troops. Again he was refused entry, but this  time he would not be denied. With a flick of his wrist the major ordered his men to clamber over the PTV gate. Journalists who had gathered at PTV filmed the pictures that within hours were leading news bulletins all over the world. The Elite Police, realising they were outnumbered and outgunned, offered no resistance; some even put their weapons on the ground and sat on them. By 7.15 p.m. PTV was off-air. By then the coup was well underway. The first soldiers to reach the prime minister’s residence had arrived at around 6.30 p.m. Having secured the gatehouse, a major took fifteen men over the extensive lawns an and headed for the building’s main entrance. As the porch came into view, the major saw General Ziauddin on the steps with six plain clothes ISI officers. The major ordered the ISI men to lay down their weapons. They refused and General Ziauddin tried to persuade the major to back down. The major started trembling. He was, after all, disobeying an order from the duly appointed army chief. Beads of sweat poured down his forehead. ‘Sir’, he threatened Ziauddin, ‘it would take me just one second.’ Ziauddin, recognising that resistance was futile, told his men to lay down their weapons.

Once inside the prime minster’s residence, the soldiers soon found all the key figures of Sharif ’s administration. The prime minister, realising that he was about to be ousted, had gone to his private quarters to shred some documents. That done, he gathered with his brother Shahbaz and his son Hussain Nawaz to await their fate. General Ziauddin, his new chief of staff Lt. General Akram and other Sharif allies were also there. Having heard about Musharraf ’s sacking, Sharif ’s trusted ally Saif ur Rehman had gone to the residence. So had his brother, Mujib ur Rehman, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, who had turned up with his young son to congratulate Sharif on getting rid of Musharraf. With the residence secured, Lt. General Mehmood himself arrived and confronted Nawaz. ‘I was praying and hoping’, the general said, ‘that it wouldn’t come to this.’



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Nawaz Sharif’s Maiden Address

Upright Opinion

August 19, 2013

Nawaz Sharif’s Maiden Address

By Saeed Qureshi

 Nawaz Sharif’s first address to the people of Pakistan after his assuming office was earnest and thoughtful. He was somber and spoke with a profound aura of sincerity and a great deal of solemnity. I can feel that Pakistan has finally landed into the stewardship of a leader who is committed to salvage Pakistan from a deep morass and lift it high to the level of a modern state.

 In his nearly an hour long speech the prime minister catalogued all those issues that were in his plate and were passed on to him from what he called a misrule of the past 14 years. He spelled out the strategies of his government to resolve and tackle those ticklish lingering problems.

He dilated at length upon acute electricity mayhem and its disastrous impact upon the country’s economy and the people’s lives. He painted a bleak picture of how ruthlessly the nation building departments and assets were drained and mismanaged that now these have become a liability on the national exchequer to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

 I can draw a comparison between the Nawaz Sharif of yesteryears and the one that has come before us after the 2013 elections. There is a sea change in the mannerism, outlook, attitude and overall personality of Mian Nawaz Sharif. Erstwhile, he used to be volatile, reactive, vengeful, aggressive, ambitious and irritable.

 Now he is kind, compassionate tolerant, understanding, composed and mature. The long tenure in exile and removal from power has brought about a kind of metamorphosis of maturity in him. He doesn’t seem to be power hungry or with a mind frame of sticking to it by hook and by crook and through devious machinations.

 During the past five years, he displayed a marvelous show of great statesmanship when he spurned all temptations and calls for removal of PPP government through non democratic maneuvers. His party opted out of the coalition at the center yet remained simultaneously its silent supporter and critic as what was cynically codenamed as “friendly opposition”. That paid dividends to him in the form of retaking power.

 He is quite conscious that the gigantic goals and formidable challenges that his government is faced with are to be addressed in a limited framework of five years. His mandate and charter of giving a new promising destiny to Pakistan  is comprehensive, ambitious and far reaching that may not be accomplished in that period but hopefully a clear direction and road map would be mounted that can serve as pioneering guide for the future rulers.

 Nawaz Sharif’s call to build consensus among the political parties for rebuilding Pakistan as a modern state should be welcomed and appreciated by opposition parties and all sections of the society. But it appears that the PPP, PTI and ANP would not extend a helping hand to prime minister Nawaz Sharif is his agenda for re-calibrating Pakistan towards prosperity, self reliance and dignity.

I gathered this impression after listening to a follow-up debate on Dunya television channel.  The participants from PTI and ANP manifested their moral dishonesty by bitterly censuring the prime minister for a disappointing speech. One could have given them some saving grace, had they been objective in also appreciating his objectives and plans that he exuded for a glorious future of Pakistan. But to object that why he catalogued and mentioned the blunders and the bad policies of the previous regimes was an outright show of a hypocritical and malicious mentality.

 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has to clean the “Augean Stables” of the gross distortions and criminal disservice of the previous ruling cabals lately that of PPP.  It is apparent to the people of Pakistan that during the past decade the national institutions were deliberately and shamelessly debilitated and destroyed. The odious culture of corruption and bad governance was given full play to make money and fill the coffers of the people in power.

 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presented a resume of the wounds inflicted on body politic of Pakistan and the way the elitists classes and politicians tried in every possible manner to render Pakistan a failed and bankrupt nation. For the past several years there has been a complete breakdown of the law and order and the governance seemed to be in tatters.

 On the contrary the vast population was subjected to grinding poverty, degradation of life, lawlessness and so on. A nation turned mercenary and pawn in a war that has wreaked it economically and socially, besides denting the national unity and dignified survival as a free nation.

One of the pernicious offshoots was the teUnknown-49rrorism that is still rampaging Pakistan. The drone attacks started during Musharraf era and continued during the PPP rule have made a mockery of the sovereignty of Pakistan. There is a rampant loot and plunder prevalent from top to bottom. 

The persistent acute electric power shortage was cashed by the big wigs of the previous government for making personal fortunes. The national enterprises like Steel Mills, PIA, railways were subjected to economic ruination.

 Referring to terrorism‚ the prime minister said the government was determined to tackle this horrendous problem either through dialogue or with full might of the state. He said that on this issue all the state institutions were in agreement. 

The grave lawlessness and demons of corruption that the Pakistani nation has been witnessing for over decade robbed people of peace of mind and even barest means for two square meals. As a result Pakistan can be equaled with some of the unstable African countries now passing through the civil war.

 One by one he mentioned the breakdown of law and order, the unremitting terrorism, the Balochistan imbroglio, the Kashmir stalemate, the thorny relations with India, rehabilitation of the doomed enterprises, chronic corruption, the drone attacks, the creation of jobs, the provision of houses to the homeless, the completion of the stalled power projects.

 Offering an olive branch to India he remarked that both India and Pakistan should grasp this reality that they should stop wasting their energies and resources on wars‚ and instead divert these to eliminate poverty‚ ignorance and disease.

 Bu the most outstanding feature of his speech was to build with China’s help a 2000 miles long highway and railway track between the Kashgar city of China and Karachi. He empathized that this mile-stone project would open a glorious gateway and gigantic spectrum of economic boom for both the countries. 

On both sides of this historic miracle, the industrial and economic zones would be established that in return would create countless jobs and lead Pakistan into the fold of prosperous nations. The Prime Minister said that his vision was to extend motorways and communication links not only to Kabul but also to Central Asia and South Asian region.

The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a former diplomat

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Distinction between friend and foe

Distinction between friend and foe

Asif Haroon Raja

Presidential election held on 30 June 2013 kicked up lot of dust owing to PPP’s cranky behavior. PML-N’s demand to seek a change of date was not with mala fide intention. It was wrong on part of well-meaning but secular Fakhru Bhai not to understand the significance of 27th Ramadan which fell on 6th August and that many either sit in Aitiqaf or perform Umrah during last ten days of Ramadan. He should have owned his mistake and changed the date rather than showing his inability to do so when requested by PML-N. He displayed weakness when he was required to act firmly to stop pre-poll rigging and rigging on polling day, but became rigid at a wrong time. Rather than taking decision he passed the buck to the Supreme Court.

PPP’s attitude was debatable and it gave an impression as if Raza Rabbani would win the contest if held on 6 August and not otherwise. Judging from the political strength of each party and alliance of MQM and JUI-F with PML-N, victory of Mamnoon Hussain was a foregone conclusion. The only wishful possibility visualized by Rabbani was absence of large number of PML-N and JUI-F Parliamentarians on 6 August because of Aitiqaf/Umrah might pave his way to victory. He also naively thought that nomination of a weak candidate by PML-N might help him in winning over dissidents from PML-N and allied parties. Hidden motives were to make the election and judiciary controversial.

Notwithstanding some undesirable reservations expressed about Mamnoon, none will disagree with me that anyone howsoever mediocre but clean would be better than tainted Zardari. Hence boycott of election by PPP and its two worthless allies was in bad taste. PTI wisely decided to take part in election and field its candidate, although Imran Khan has still not got reconciled to general elections results and has landed himself in avoidable trouble. Mamnoon won with an overwhelming majority and will enter the presidency as a ceremonial president in September, putting an end to palace intrigues pursued by his predecessor.   

Presidential election was no issue; what concerns Pakistanis are insecurity of life and property, energy crisis, faltering economy, declining morals and values, erosion of national sovereignty and honor, media’s negativity and foreign interference. Blood is oozing out of every pore of Pakistan for the last many years without blood transfusion to replenish the loss. As a result, the state is getting enfeebled with every passing day. The only preventive measure taken is to barricade the country by putting string of barriers and check posts and pitching security forces against faceless enemy which is well-trained, well-equipped and supported by external powers. While lawless FATA has to some extent been secured because of heroics of Army and FC, settled areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and urban centres where police is in the forefront remain in turmoil. Militants stab the chosen target with ease and get away. No fool-proof system has been devised to nip the evil in the bud by preventing occurrence through timely intelligence.

Unknown-1This myth has also been broken after the DIK jail break about which all concerned had been forewarned well in time. Police sluggishness, ineptness and collusion with the militants were reasons behind the embarrassing outcome. It was in knowledge of all that the police are involved in high scale corruption and in league with the criminals particularly in Balochistan and in Sindh. Performance of KP police was relatively better in facing militancy. Some say this downslide is owing to unclear policy of PTI government regarding TTP.

While the effect of this demoralizing event had not faded away, the nation was subjected to another embarrassment in Islamabad on August 15 where a lone gunman kept the capital city police in a spin for over five hours. But for Zamurrad’s bold act, the high drama would have continued till next morning. Having seen the conduct of Islamabad Police and its senior officials on TV, it can be safely concluded that it is unfit to confront even minor challenges.          

It is indeed mind boggling that our security forces have been fighting war on terror haphazardly for a decade without national security and counter terrorism policies. This is despite the fact that Pakistan is the biggest victim of terrorism. Reason behind this criminal neglect is that the elites have secured themselves within the confines of Red and Green zones, bulletproof vehicles, and ring of security guards while leaving the masses to fend for themselves. In hundreds of acts of terror, the underprivileged class has suffered the most. This unfortunate class had neither been taken into confidence to participate in US imposed war nor is in direct clash with the militants. It is caught between the crossfire of security forces, militants and foreign agents.

The police which are the frontline force to check crime and terrorism have been thoroughly corrupted and politicized by the elites to serve their ends. Moral turpitude of all segments of society has nosedived and distinction between good and bad blurred. Rather, dishonest officials are patronized and rewarded while the honest are seen as misfits. This downslide started during Gen Musharraf era which allowed complete liberty of action to Washington to neo-colonize Pakistan and India given a free hand to crush freedom movement in occupied Kashmir. Five-year inglorious rule of PPP-ANP-MQM combine ruined Pakistan’s economy, social fabric and state institutions.

Till 2002, FATA was unofficially recognized as Illaqa Ghair where murderers, absconders, car-lifters, abductors and criminals could find refuge from hand of law. Now whole of Pakistan has turned into Illaqa Ghair since there is no rule of law, elites are biggest law breakers, accountability is absent, law enforcers and lower courts are corrupt. Terrorists having confessed committing over hundred murders are set free; terrorists nabbed during close combat in war zones are given bail; those in jail are freed by terrorists. Anti-terrorist courts violate mandatory timeframe and take their time to decide high profile cases, and those sentenced to death are not hanged.            

A stage had been set to declare nuclear Pakistan a failed state, but God saved Pakistan from sinking by turning the victory of USA in Afghanistan into defeat and thus checkmating its imperialist designs. Since ISAF cannot possibly pull itself out of the quagmire without the help of Pakistan, the US is grudgingly tolerating Pakistan. Issues on which the US has been making hue and cry are being put up with and friendly gestures made. Its affability is however not at the cost of annoying India which continues to remain in its good books. USA is not putting any pressure on India to stop its hostile acts against Pakistan as is evident from ongoing escalation of tensions along the LoC. TTP and BLA have not been bridled by CIA.

It is heartening to note that the new government has firmed up to stem the rot and to not only clean the mess but also improve the economy and living conditions of the downtrodden. Some positive steps have already been taken. Electricity policy has been formulated and curse of prolonged load shedding marginally controlled. PM Nawaz Sharif’s address was inspirational and well-intentioned but good intentions require speedy and result oriented implementation. What is needed now is to take all stakeholders on board and finalize coherent national security policy and counter terrorism policy at the earliest to control the scourge of terrorism. Setting up of Rapid Response Force (RPF) and Joint Intelligence Secretariat to combat terrorism by the close of this month is satisfying, but police needs a big overhaul and so do investigating and prosecution agencies and lower courts. Effective RPFs and effectual intelligence setup are also required in each province.  

As regards foreign policy, friendship with immediate neighbors is desirable, but it should not be one-sided and at the cost of honor and dignity. Clear distinction should be made between friend and foe since enemies guised as friends have caused more harm to Pakistan. It is good that grant of MFN status to India has been put on hold till normalization of relations. China being all-weather and time-tested friend, should be trusted and envisaged long-term projects executed.     

The writer is a retired Brig, defence analyst, columnist and author of several books. [email protected]

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