Saturday, October 9, 2010


Brigadier (r) Samson Simon Sharaf
A recent survey carried out jointly by New America Foundation and Terror Free Tomorrow (NAF-TFT) with the local assistance of Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP) a Pakistani NGO operating in FATA is testable. Conducted in seven tribal agencies of Pakistan, it managed to collect 498/1000 (49.8%) samples from the worst hit agencies like Orakzai, Khurram, North and South Waziristan. This particular survey in Waziristan excluded the NAF-TFT for security reasons but yet resulted in consistent conclusions.

The survey could have resulted in better insights had some questions peculiar to political sociology of Pakistan been included. Yet responses to different questions if collated scientifically point towards accurate conclusions of the ground realities. Once combined with the second part ie the Leadership Sample, the findings and inferences will be further synthesized and revealing. US research organizations adept at producing biased analysis from a stand-off need to analyse this important document in detail to mellow their anti Pakistan rhetoric.

In many ways the survey reinforces the common perceptions and analysis vocally spelled out by the Pakistani media and excluded political groups. Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf has been the most vocal critic of the manner in which WIT has been conducted and is closest to the hearts of the people in FATA. The survey accurately brings out the aspirations of a representative sample living in a violence ridden environment yet conforming to the awareness of Pakistani print media, common people and civil society. In many ways, it reinforces the national construct and belief in Pakistani nationalism. It is also an important document for the Government of Pakistan to redirect its policy on foreign affairs and WOT consistent with the aspirations of the people amply reflected in this document.

The outstanding conclusion of the survey is the opposition to US Military Operations pursuing Al- Qaeda and Taliban inside Pakistan (90%). The individuals who gave this opinion belong to a well knit tribal society where information travels like wildfire and show awareness of hostile intelligence agencies operating in the area. This is local knowledge consistent with what the majority of Pakistanis feel.

Given a choice, about 70% feel that this job should be left to Pakistan Army while over 90% are favourable to the role of Army and FC in their areas. This finding links to other points of the survey in which over 60% blame USA-India-Israel for the problems in FATA. Similarly 59% also see the same nexus as the biggest threat to Pakistan. In US strategic parlance, this means the ‘Long War’ in which US Policy makers wish to include India as a major partner. These opinions based on local firsthand knowledge later transcend to very strong emotional perceptions. 59% of the same people who otherwise hate the militants in the area opine that suicide bombings against USA are justified. Spread to a larger canvas, the majority of Pakistanis disapprove US War on Terror, feel convinced that the present US Nexus is involved in covert operations in Pakistan and therefore killing them is justifiable. This hate for US policy should cause concern and raise eyebrows in the State Department, because in a LONG WAR as they perceive it, this sentiment will grow exponentially.

This is what I have been terming as a War of Hate in many articles, and that based on the Social Dimension of Strategy, USA will lose it in the end. Just like Cambodia and Lagos, this creeping adventurism into Pakistan and forcing Pakistan to become the epicenter of terrorism by design may help USA in its narrow objectives but will create a reaction that the world will not be able to contend with. The same conclusion was forcefully put across by Rachel Maddow in her MSNBC show calling it ‘a New Frontier and a New War, this time Pakistan’. This also explains why young western educated men choose to act as foot soldiers against USA.

With over 122 drone attacks since the Obama surges began, not 10% of Al Qaeda leadership has been neutralized. Yet this remote controlled technology is stubbornly deemed the best option for killing OBL who many believe is already history.  As Bill Van Auken puts it,

‘Following the strategy dictated by his generals, Obama, just like his predecessor in the White House, is attempting to exploit US military superiority to offset American capitalism’s long-term economic decline. This course is producing regional and global instability that threatens to drag the people of Pakistan and the entire world into a far bloodier conflagration’.

The recent escalation in such attacks followed by physical violations of Pakistan’s international boundary have served to ferment angry reactions in Pakistan evidenced in a spate of attacks on NATO convoys. As more people shift from the fringe to radicalism, the only safe way for these convoys would be heavy military escorts provided by Pakistan; the undeclared enemy, or through the waste lands of Central Asia. US analysts and policy makers need to answer why they are doing this and what is their back up and exit plan if this already failing policy ultimately fails?

The second most important finding of the survey is the Pacification Operations; Win the hearts and minds. In any multi dimensional conflict, there always are containing fronts and in a Transylvanian such as this, there ought to be many pacification fronts. US policy makers strive to poke every conceivable fault line to stir instability and prove what Ahmad Rashid calls, ‘Pakistan’s descent into Chaos’.

This conclusion is a tribute to the concept of collective wisdom of a healthy society; The people who have sustained violence for over three decades, lived in least developed areas with minimum developmental and educational infrastructure and lost many kit and kin to war.  Though in awe of US policy maker they do not hate the people of USA, over 75% feel that USA could win hearts and minds by transiting to pacification operations centered on socio-economic development. These people like most Pakistanis are prepared to forgive and forget if USA leaves Pakistan to Pakistanis and engages its people through developmental economics.
Most important and motivating is the strong belief of these besieged citizens in the Federation of Pakistan. Majority are dismissive of Talibanisation.  Over 90% appreciate the presence of the Military and Frontier Corps in the region for law, order and development. This indicates the mistrust of the people in the present bureaucratic and political set up. It is also an indicator that these suffering masses just like other Pakistanis yearn for a new social contract. The single largest majority of 26.50 % wish to see Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf in power trailed by 10.10% for Pakistan Muslim League (N). PPP and ANP seem to have fallen from grace while MQM appears to be more popular than Taliban and Al Qaeda. Religious parties retain their influence of over 13%.  

Like most analysts and thinkers in Pakistan, these people are progressive, dreamers and yearn for a new social contract. These are all winds of change that Pakistan needs.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


When we as Pakistanis discuss the partition of the sub continent and creation of Pakistan, we usually refer to the freedom movement led by both Congress and Muslim League in the backdrop of events within the united India and the Jinnah-Nehru rivalry. We also ignore to shut our eyes to the reality that despite a sustained freedom struggle, Jinnah’s Pakistan has remained elusive due to the instability created by various power houses within and outside Pakistan’s politic body. 

By 1951, most of the die hard and ideological supporters of Jinnah had become back benchers, others left for India and those who dared became traitors or got the lead clad in copper. The entire construct of Pakistan as an equal opportunity and democratic republic evaporated in the heat of political machinations exploited by elites and zealots who themselves were never the vanguard of Jinnah’s movement. By 1956, the army as the strongest institution was hobnobbing with USA and in 1958 in full grip of political power. This political seesaw has continued without addressing the factors of perennial political instability; except that all interventions notwithstanding military or political have served to secure great power interests while compromising Pakistan’s strategic equilibrium and political institutions. 

Though most Pakistanis recognize and acknowledge the foreign intervention factor, none dilate that this same factor could have had an effect on the creation and future of Pakistan, evidently so because such research does not help our process of inventive nationalism and distortion of history. Had the bull be taken by the horns then, our generation of Pakistanis and the one before us would have evolved a modern and prosperous Pakistan.

History suggests that at the end of WW II, USA having emerged as the greatest military, economic and maritime power was not interested in dividing India. However due to relentless pressure of Jinnah and Nehru’s rejection of the Cabinet Mission Plan, it was not possible for Britain to deny freedom to India through partition. It was also in their interests to create a Muslim buffer between the godless communism and rapidly growing relations between the congress, USSR and China. Hence Pakistan was given freedom with a bleeding Kashmir wound and the containing Radcliffe Award drawn not by Mountbatten as the common perception is but by Frank Wavell who handed him a map cutting across the Indus River System. The controversies thus created would ensure that Pakistan does not grow beyond a certain point and coalesce with other Muslim neighbors to challenge imperial interests. Britain’s Afghan Policy with obsession of CARS could be pursued through a containment front that ultimately served the British and US interests in the 80s.  This remains the constant road map; and hence the interchangeability of military interventions and political instability.

Ayub Khan’s intimate relations with USA not only allowed him to modernize the armed forces but also urged him to become the first military dictator of Pakistan. Yet when he began to say, ‘Friend not Masters’ it needed a price hike in sugar to remove him through another military man who presided over the partition of Pakistan.

When Bhutto coalesced too close to the Saudis and Iranians to make an Islamic Union, challenge the world through an oil embargo, settle Durand Line with Afghanistan and nuclearise Pakistan, he was sent to the gallows by another military man harvested in the killing fields of Jordan.

The man who served US interests so well in the Mock Afghan Jihad was blown up in air because he too had begun to harbor notions of a greater Ummah and Islamic Bomb.

Benazir was thrown out twice not because she was corrupt but for supporting Pakistan’s Nuclear Development much beyond the point her father had envisioned and bringing political stability to a war torn Afghanistan by cajoling Mullah Umar and Taliban. She was murdered because it was impossible to kill the Bhutto in her.

General Pervez Musharraf was forced to resign not because he wanted but because he was accused of playing a double game by USA. He was guilty of not doing enough.

If this be the precedence, empirically what is next?

The print and electronic media is rife with conspiracy theories about the winds of change. There are at least five lists being circulated by aspirants, technocrats and fly by night reformers. Most pundits due to obvious reasons rule out a conventional military intervention. Some theorists are pointing towards a military backed political change with the objective to eradicate corruption and usher good governance. There are still others who pray that the change takes place constitutionally in light of various Supreme Court Judgments and their defiance by the government. Yet there are diverse dreamers who wish to re revamp the entire system through a revolution and either return to Jinnah’s Dream or a Talibanised Emirate.

Having been a keen and critical student of Pakistan’s political sociology, allow me to comment that that if a change does take place, it shall only be cosmetic. In view of many skeletons in the cupboard, only the pawns will perish and Pakistan will continue to serve other’s interests but its own.

As ever, I also pray that if a constitutional change does take place, it pursues the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. This wish is not asking the moon.

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army and a Political Economist.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf
This year’s floods besides bringing destruction and misery to Pakistanis have also raised many questions about the ability and intent of the government to manage crises, avert failures and reconstruct. In case these questions are not addressed, then the ability of the government to rebuild and create an opportunity out of a challenge is also questionable. This implies a very pathetic socio economic equation as an ends means relationship; something a country torn by strife, dysfunctionalism, corruption, economic meltdown and terrorism can least afford.   

The flood and its aftermath have raised many technical questions that that need to be addressed lest they become folklore of exploitation, corruption and deprivation for the most fertile areas of Pakistan and its people rendered hapless by the cruel force of nature.  

The flood is now over a month old and has yet to debouche into the Arabian Sea. Rather it continues to move at a snail’s pace whilst challenging the Southern areas of Pakistan, intercepting highways, inundating oil/gas fields and naval garrisons. Now as more rains fall in upper Pakistan and Kirthar Range, the menace will prolong miseries inasmuch as the political spinoffs of poverty.

All pondage areas of Pakistan to divert floodwaters to create wetlands are practically dry. The excess flow of Chenab rather than be diverted to the East was diverted to the West where it inundated huge tracts of prime agriculture lands and town. Similarly, the dykes and levees on Indus and its drainage system were breached to the East, flooding a vast tract between Indus and Chenab. Indus in this area also created a new course and debouched into Chenab North West of Multan. In contrast the pondage areas of South Punjab and Sindh maintained as reserves for the Shikari Elites remained dry.

A satellite photo of the flood water taken on 15 August 2010 at a time when Punjab had been ravaged and Indus was just being diverted near Jacabobad. Note how Indus had joined Chenab North West of Multan at multiple points.  All pondage areas East of Chenab are dry.
For quite some time the water levels at Guddu and Sukker Barrage were over 1,000,000 cusecs. The arrival at Kotri was much below expected. Despite the havoc it has now wreaked in Thatta, Sajawal and Johi, the discharge still does not match the initial thrust at the two major barrages upstream. This means that the flows recorded at the two barrages were minus the diverted flows that hit Balochistan and Upper Sindh. Where has all this water gone and when will it recede is a big concern?

In this NASA photo of 7 September 2010, notice the new Course of River Indus created by diverting the flood waters to the North. The water has inundated parts of Balochistan and Upper Sindh. According to experts, the darker parallel Indus to the left suggest depth or a greater sediment load. In my view it also indicates more static nature ie huge lagoons in making and hence a thin stream flows into the Manchar Lake.

There is no doubt now that the entire dyke and levee management was done arbitrarily by non technical people sans intervention of geologists, hydrologist and hydro-archeologists with historical knowledge of the river system behavior. The result is a complete breach of national interests and security tantamount to treachery.

For a long time our water managers have talked of the structural insecurity to Pakistan through Indian Water Management Schemes. Yet the biggest cut of them all has been inflicted by our very own. Indian release of water at Ravi, Sutlej, Beas and through Hanumangarh has been controlled and minimal following the perennial pattern. No doubt that the floods have been massive, but the damages could have been limited through professionalism and scientific knowledge.

So what are the challenges ahead and how we must face them?

The first process of darning the shreds is to carryout both damage limitation and rehabilitation simultaneously. This will particularly be a daunting task in areas that are likely to remain submerged for prolonged periods. The entire Dera Allah Yar, Manchar, Juhi Complex overhangs like a daemon that will take its toll before the exorcism is complete incurring socio economic and political scars for a long time to come.

Secondly, the prime lands of Southern Punjab are destroyed. Misery is likely to coalesce with the political notion of devolving Punjab and breeding grounds of militancy. The scale of disaster and its political economy cannot be offset even by the best of rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts. There always will remain a window of exploitation and vested interests will not relent.

Thirdly, the urbanization and migration of rural populations to the cities? If unplanned, it will create law and order issues endemic to migration trends. The biggest problems in the long term will be faced by Hyderabad and Karachi that are already vulnerable to ethnic conflicts.

Fourthly, the trends to convert a tragedy to money making opportunities are already visible. This lack of transparency is already holding back donors. The NGO-Public Development debate is becoming ugly. A public-private sector transparent mechanism is a need of the hour to ensure that even trivial projects are not monetarily sexed up to divert profits.

Lastly, barring the KPK, none of the governments both at provincial and federal level appear to be delivering. The challenge is made even more difficult by political intent and enormity of the tasks; Hence, a need for political transparency beyond party lines. If this is not done, situational dynamics will throw up a GODOT and the entire political fabric will be consumed in fits of public rage.

But this GODOT must come riding the wave of public aspirations. As in the past, doctored institutionalism will not work.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf

The destruction caused by the massive flooding from Gilgit-Chitral to Thatta is a tale of destruction wreaked by nature, misery, incompetence and massive corruption. In most places, devastation was avoidable had the water managers of Pakistan not tinkered with nature in exchange for ill gotten wealth, insensitivity to people’s welfare and political mileage.

As I wrote in ‘Drowned in Rivers with no Water’, 70%  of Pakistan’s external debt has been consumed in the Water Management Sector with 60% of it going away in incompetent feasibility studies by foreign experts.  The net result is that either there is no water or too much of it. Drainage, flood protection bunds, dredging and lining of canal schemes designed to control the fury of rivers have all failed because of shady and ghost civil works. Dredging though an annual budgetary feature was never implemented in letter and spirit neither the height of bunds and shoring through stone and concrete works ever carried out on the supposedly completed projects.

Despite month long floods, administrative reactions in lower reaches of Indus are still slow, inefficient and malafide. The biggest manifestation of this inefficiency, incompetence and vested management is the new course of River Indus to the north. The inundation of the entire productive and fertile plains of Southern Balochistan will neither seep nor have an exit. As a result, lakes will be created on the southern slopes of the Kirthar range that shall hang like a daemon on the towns of Shadadkot, Qambar etc. The flood will continue to flow into this area till the fatal bunds breached on the northern side of Indus are not plugged or the flood waters do not run out.

River Indus and its tributaries have always had a history of fury obliterating civilizations and creating new ones.  The lowest depressions of this massive river system still lie in South Eastern Pakistan from Bahawalnagar to Nagar Parkar. This contour of the land also indicates the old course of the lost Nara River called the great Nara depression itself created by the natural forces of earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding.

It was not very long ago that Brigadier Ahsan Tiwana, a nature loving agriculturist had gone from pillar to post suggesting that the extra outflow of Rivers Indus, Jehlum and Chenab should in any emergency be diverted towards this great depression thereby providing water for agriculture, charging of aquifers and reclaiming lands of the Choolistan and Nara Deserts. The wisdom of his proposal is now vindicated. Much of the water could have been diverted to these areas especially when Ali Wan Bund had earlier been made just for diverting water to this untamed desert. As a result the main desert remains dry because its upper fringes irrigated by the canal systems owned by political elites had to be protected. But there is still a heavier cost to be paid by the cities of Kotri, Thatta, Hyderabad and Badin for this act tantamount to criminal intent and complicity to incompetence and vested interests.

25% of Pakistan’s plains including heartland are flooded, infrastructure and cash crops destroyed and over 30% people mostly poor have to start life from scratch after the water has receded. Once the water goes away, the land revenue department will have a field day delineating boundaries and open gateways to massive corruption and bloody feuds. The over centralized response (in reaction to corruption at lower tiers) of NDMA and ERRA-like reconstruction and disaster management organizations and legal issues will slow resettlements.

Many people are now comparing the indigenous national and international response of the 2005 earthquake to these floods. There are three simple explanations for the lack of it.
First, more than 40% of Pakistan’s population has been directly or indirectly affected. Many of the people who responded in 2005 are either victims of this disaster or are helping relatives and friends who are. We are now talking of the entire KPK minus Peshawar, Mardan and Kohat, at least 11 districts of Punjab, 11 of Sindh, over 7 of Balochistan and entire Gilgit-Baltistan. With over 50 million population affected, the scale is just too big for such a response.  

Secondly, international donors have been slow to react. They fear that like 2005, much of the aid will fall into the wrong hands. Aid workers are reluctant to travel due to security reasons as the entire Southern Punjab and Northern Sindh has been portrayed as a hotbed of Talibanisation. In fact there is vested interest that would hope that the flood situation breaks up Pakistan.

Thirdly, a country that had the world’s highest Charity to GDP ratio is at a contradiction within itself. They are reluctant to trust their charities in the hands of political and bureaucratic elites that are corrupt and part of the problem.  This trust deficit is the biggest cause of delayed national mobilization. People either go and do something directly or are waiting for a GODOT to take charge.

But there are many other scars that will be left on the political and development fabric of Pakistan.

First, and of immediate nature is the misery caused to the fertile plains of Balochistan. Soon the rising poverty, absence of governance and resettlement issues will give rise to crime and centrifugal forces. Much of the area will for times to come become permanent lakes and ponds and a grim reminder of the manipulation of flows by political elites.  Ironically, this is also the part of Balochistan that has stood like a rock against forces of secession. Poverty may breed crime at the societal level but one step up, it also breeds sub nationalism.
Notice how a new course of River Indus has been artificially created in an area that has no drainage. We are likely to see lakes and new ponds in some of the most fertile areas of Balochistan. This water will continue to pour in till River Indus does not recede.
Secondly, government’s insensitivity to Atabad Disaster and landslide phenomena since 2002 is a cause of concern. No teams of geologists and hydrologist have been created to study these unprecedented phenomena that have virtually cut off vast areas of Pakistan as also land routes to China.

The third issue relates to dredging of the dams. Warsak has outlived its life and Tarbela is badly silted. It is hoped that these heavy flows may have carried away some of the embedded silt. But more than building new controversial dams, there is a need to study latest technologies and evolve a method to dredge and reclaim these dams not only on continuous basis but also taking advantage of high peak floods and water velocities.

Fourthly, would Kalabagh have averted this disaster? Considering that the dam will be down of KPK that faced the joint brunt of Kabul, Panjkora, Chitral and Swat Rivers the answer is no. If anything, it could have prevented some damages downstream at the cost of submerging Nowshera, Kohat, Chaarsada and some areas of Swabi. So what is the logic of making a dam that inundates the major cities and economic hubs of KPK? Maybe the geologists, hydrologists and engineers consider the option of a smaller storage reservoir at Kalabagh by reducing the height of the dam.

Fifthly, considering that Kohistan and Diamer are beset with mysterious land slide phenomena, very young and loose rock structure and in proximity of major fault lines, would it be prudent to construct Basha at all? With a 300M vertical wall hanging over Tarbela, KKH realigned and memories of Bunji and Atabad still alive, would it be sensible to rush for a Basha that has its own destruction writ large.

All these are very crucial issues at a time when the nation waits for a GODOT. What Mr. Altaf Hussain and Imran Khan are saying is a true reflection of the feelings of majority Pakistanis.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf

A few days back, I had the occasion to meet Professor Walter Russell Mead a US scholar and opinion maker on a fact finding mission to Pakistan. I met him after he had already interacted with some think tanks and important people from Pakistan; some critical and others apologists.

Knowing that he is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and also linked to the evangelical church, I was particularly keen to find out how the religious right affected the US policy making. If he is to be believed, it actually does; but I doubt his contention in view of the Kennon Telegram and Tonkin Reports. In my and many respected opinions, it is the Military-Industrial Complex and its think tanks that beef up a case.

As it turned out, his chief intellectual interests involves the rise and development of a liberal, capitalist world order based on the economic, societal, and military power of the United States and its closest allies prominently UK. He also theorises to seek a stable Southern Asia (South, East and Central) with India playing the major role from East Africa to Malacca, albeit containing the rise of China. During discussions, it became amply clear that US occupation of Afghanistan is a mere stepping stone for greater geo political designs in what may turn out in his own words to be a Long War.

He was of the view that Pakistan’s security perspective framed around a hostile and over bearing India was faulty and in conflict with the US perspective of a stable and prosperous Asia led by India. He suggested that Pakistan ought to forget all issues with India and instead focus on a supportive role in the region with India in the lead and become a prosperous country, rather then be doomed economically as it presently is.

But this view is not new to Pakistanis. I recall having met Michel Kreppon of the Henry Stimson Centre in 1995 and 2001 advocating risk reduction and confidence building measures with India. I asked him that if Pakistan was to agree to all US suggestions, would USA guarantee Kashmiri people their freedom. He was quite for some time and then said No. The same can also be said of Ex President Clinton’s visit to Pakistan to deliver a sermon to the nation besieged by military dictatorships, inept politicians and Harvard trained bureaucracy. He refused to intervene on behalf of the Kashmiri people.

Ashley Tellis once wrote that India and Pakistan exist on the extremes of divides and went on to qualify his thesis with historic predispositions and facts. Now a naturalised American and an expert advisor on the region, he qualifies India as a peace loving and caring country to lead Asia and chooses to forget his thesis that propelled him to fame. In one capacity or the other, he remains a bigwig of the region and moulds opinions. So when I read and hear one American opinion and policy maker after another being particularly dismissive of Pakistan and its abilities, I wonder what keeps them thinking in such a manner. Are their pre emptive policies really a solution or an isolationist syndrome built around oceanic insulation and immense military power?

One, Pakistan has not been able to produce the likes of Tellis and Khalilzad, who have managed to penetrate the core of policy makers and shaping opinions. Our scholars and expats of ability invariably choose to adapt to the perspectives of their adopted land and become apologists. They hardly frame opinions. Pakistan’s lobbyists, though highly paid are ineffective.

Secondly, US-Pakistan relations have surged intermittently during times of so called strategic alliances. If Ayub Khan’s letter to a US Admiral in 1955 that spam the cyberspace nowadays is to be taken as a measure, not much has changes since. Each time, Pakistan has acted as a US dependency and then exercised its Flexible Conscience on selective basis. As a reward, USA has been compliant in looking the other way while Pakistan shored its security against India. But this time it is different. While Pakistan continues to do the donkey’s work, it gets no respite and leverage.

As I gathered from the meeting and many opinionated research papers from USA, the issue of Afghanistan is fast becoming peripheral. USA will not withdraw from Afghanistan nor will the pressure on Pakistan from across the Durand Line and world over abate. This confirms earlier circumspection about US objectives in Afghanistan not to arrest OBL and dismantle Al Qaeda, but to occupy the pivot of three Asias for geo strategic gains and world domination. Though the apparent logic and hindrance in this policy may be Pakistan’s fixation with India, it actually boils down to the growing strategic partnership between Pakistan and China. This is what makes the present crises A LONG WAR.

As a face saving threat, it appears that this reasoning spares USA the indignity of another Vietnam type retreat. It shifts the perspective to a global game of US led economic domination that will make another ideology collapse. “You see, it was ultimately the economics that won the war against a communist ideology. Pakistan’s competition with India in asymmetrical and Pakistan will soon collapse economically”, is what Dr. Mead was quick to assert. Built on Paul Kennedy’s thesis of The Rise and Fall of Great Empires, USA has time on its side for things to happen. For Pakistan, it is the final phase of the battle for its integrity in face of a dysfunctional economy that gives rise to internal conflicts.

In my meeting with the Foreign Minister Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday last, I mostly remained a silent listener. The only point I made was that if Pakistan was indeed so vulnerable, why the govermnet was allowing Pakistan’s economy to collapse so easily. He gave no answer; but this is a subject I amply dilated in a series of five articles I wrote in NATION on economic manipulation.

My parting words to Dr. Mead were that Pakistan or no Pakistan, in the final analysis, it is the people of the region who will win. I asked him to read the Forgotten Social Dimension of Strategy by Michel Howard and take a fresh look at his thesis of Asian domination.

As for Pakistan, we need to make a blessing out of the current flooding tragedy and not waste a penny of the aid that comes Pakistan’s way to hedge our flagging rupee and jump start a reconstruction program that actually benefits the common man and not off shore dollar accounts. This reconstruction program unlike the ERRA should set the pace for healthy development activity built around domestic industries and expertise to boost local economies. Concurrently, the entire country should gear towards a national austerity program.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


If it is in the Governments interest to extend the tenure of COAS for the sake of WOT, then it is also in Pakistan’s interest that the tenure of CJCSC be extended. After all, he exercises operational control over Pakistan’s nuclear forces, the objective of the entire mayhem  

 Brigadier (R) Samson Simon Sharaf

Pakistan is strategically located on the crossroads of Central, West and South Asia. This position is enviable but fraught with instability. From 1947 to 1975, Pakistan had to contend with a hostile Afghanistan to the North and a declared enemy to the East.

In quest for a new Pakistan, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto rallied the Muslim nations under an Islamic summit and was one of the architects of the Oil Embargo. In 1974, he laid the foundations of Pakistan’s nuclear programme. From 1973-75, he created the nucleus of Afghan student resistance to Sardar Daud and forced him into negotiations. In 1977, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was scheduled to sign an already drafted and agreed agreement with Sardar Daud on the Durand Line. Lamentably, he was over thrown through a military coup, hanged and made a lesson of. His other two allies in King Faisal and Shah of Iran met somewhat similar ends. All three paid the price for disturbing the International Equilibrium of the Great Game.

As events prove, one of the most compelling reason for Pakistan to participate in the US sponsored mock Jihad was legitimacy for a military dictatorship and elimination of  a pro Soviet-India government in Kabul. The vanguard of resistance was provided by the Afghan resistance trained in Bhutto’s days. With the Soviets driven out, USA withdrew with a pro Soviet-India regime still in place. What followed was anarchy created by warlords, diverse mujahidin groups and rise of Taliban all with active interventions from the intelligence agencies of Pakistan, Saudia Arabia, Britain and USA.

In 1996, Benazir Bhutto tried to rewrite her father’s script. During negotiations led by Nasser Ullah Babar, Taliban agreed to moderating themselves and converting Afghanistan into a federation with a power sharing formula. The atmosphere was so friendly that Babar also flew in an entourage of western diplomat families that went shopping in Kandahar and Mazar. Benazir was unceremoniously removed by President Leghari just a day after the draft agreement had been agreed.

In 2002, it was again with Benazir’s intervention that the Taliban agreed to make a Lockerberie out of Usama Bin Laden and hand him over to a neutral Muslim country for trial by a Qazi Court. USA dissented and walked out of negotiations that could have spared the world this War on Terror. Seymour Hersh speculated her to be a victim of special assassination squads.

As I wrote earlier, 9/11 was an opportunity for an otherwise besieged General Musharraf to get the Americans off his back and use them to settle the same question. He was misled by Shaukat Aziz who assured scores of billions of dollars pouring into Pakistan. The short sightedness of this policy became obvious. The entire country including military has been drawn into a most hostile environment where states, agencies and maze of non state actors compete for influence.

Recently, Pakistan’s direct negotiations led by the Military/ISI with Karzai and a nod from McCrystal are now history. For the time being, Taliban with their heads high are unwelcome. Pakistan was prematurely led to play its last cards.

The recent rush of defence and foreign office diplomacy in South Asia and Afghanistan, statements made by Clinton, Holbrooke, Mullen and Cameron suggest a renewed pressure on Pakistan in which India is being co-opted as an important player.  Even Karzai’s tone has changed. Military despatches, sitreps and intreps leaked through WIKILEAKs are in tandem with this policy.  The entire western media on a jungle feast is out to discredit and disgrace the military and ISI which has been implicated only in 30 out of 92,000 reports along with a disclaimer about authenticity.

The target is Pakistan Army and ISI accused of playing a double game, assisting Taliban against coalition forces and creating a new terror network with the help of LeT. This also implies that Pakistan Army continues to deliberately and consciously play a double game against its field formations by engaging them in stage managed and fake encounters; a preposition being made to Pakistani media to take on. This propaganda ignores the fact that Pakistan’s armed forces have suffered the highest toll of casualties in this war.

There have been three consistencies in all the events since 1974. First, Pakistan is repeatedly denied to secure its north western frontier, secondly, to Pakistan’s chagrin; India has always been allowed an influence in Afghanistan by USA and thirdly, peace in the region has been elusive.

However these consistencies may not lead to the logical because the ELUSIVENESS may itself be a recipe for a bigger disaster in making that can swirl either way.

The recent diplomatic offensive indicates that in the next few months, the violence in the region will reach new levels including strikes deep inside Pakistan. If empiricism leads to prediction, then it also points to another elusive summit overseeing valleys full of snakes, in which Pakistan dangerously treads.

This makes the positive impacts of the extension of Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani questionable.

Even western analysts like Anatol Lieven agree that India is a potentially disastrous liability for Afghan policy with limited direct help in the war on terror. Yet why does the coalition choose the Indian soil to make aspersions on Pakistan?  The answer is straight forward; Afghanistan is the base, Pakistan the target and India the containment front.

So what is it that Pakistan has to give up to become a trusted ally? The answer can be read on the face of every Pakistani; Pashtun connection to Afghanistan, Kashmir and Nuclear.

If these be the objectives, then how are the events likely to unfold?

First, AFPAK also arouses the romantic notion of Pashtun nationalism. There are already suggestions that Afghanistan should be bifurcated on ethnic lines into Pashtun and non Pashtun zones. India is likely to play a big role in the North both in development and defending the pivots for attacks in Pashtun areas. The operations will ultimately spill over into Pakistan. After total burnout, efforts will be made to enliven the romantic notion of Pashtun nationalism and carve a new Pashtun nation. What AFPAK chooses to ignore is that Gujjars comprise 35% of Afghan population have intrinsic links with Pakistan. Some of their best known leaders are Dr. Abdul Qayyum and Maulana M.Younas Khalis of Hizb-e-Islami. In fact both Hizb-e-Islami and Harkat-e- Islami are Gujjar dominated groups.

Secondly, the Government of Pakistan will be forced to launch operations against the Punjabi Taliban.  This will create anarchy in the biggest province of Pakistan which will ultimately be divided into more provinces. The myth of Punjabi domination in bureaucracy and armed forced will be broken.

Thirdly, full fledged operations in Kandhar will be launched spilling the conflict into Balochistan. This will most logically happen when Pakistan’s armed forces are fully stretched in FATA, Khyber Pakhtoon Khawa and Punjab. Karachi will become a hot bed of ethnic and sectarian strife. The secessionist movements in Balochistan will intensify and ultimately a direct corridor to Afghanistan will be crafted.

A weak and discredited Pakistan will then be asked to negotiate on US terms.

In the past many years I have repeatedly and accurately pointed to these dangers, but as events have proved, Pakistan has willingly stepped into partnerships that rather than provide security, compromise it.

If it is in the Governments interest to extend the tenure of COAS for the sake of WOT, then it is also in Pakistan’s interest that the tenure of CJCSC be extended. After all, he exercises operational control over Pakistan’s nuclear forces, the objective of the entire mayhem.   

Monday, July 19, 2010


Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf 

Though ordinary citizens may look at war as an end to politics and diplomacy, statesmen of realism paradigm know that it is ‘a continuation of the policy in concert with other means’ (Clausewitz). According to Julian Lider, the transition point to state sanctioned violence however, remains a challenge.

US President Truman faced a very difficult choice after having received the lengthy Kennan Telegram from Moscow. In the midst of electioneering, both Truman and his opponent Thomas Dewey did not want to appear spineless against Stalin. What followed was a Cold War built on containment. Ironically the issue then was not military expansionism, but resistance by Stalin to Breton Woods (IMF & World Bank).

Similarly, the Gulf of Tonkin incident in on Aug. 4, 1964 misled President Lyndon B. Johnson to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam (New York Times, July 15, 2010). Readers must recall that this decision was taken at the heels of resistance by President John F Kennedy regarding Bay of Pigs in Cuba, his plans to thin out from Vietnam and assassination. It is now proven that the Tonkin incident never happened and was sexed up by CIA and Pentagon. US senators chose to seal their conscience.

“If this country has been misled, if this committee, this Congress, has been misled by pretext into a war in which thousands of young men have died, and many more thousands have been crippled for life, and out of which their country has lost prestige, moral position in the world, the consequences are very great,”

Senator Albert Gore Sr. Member Foreign Relations committee March 1968

Pathetically, there were no consequences and no lessons learnt.

New York Times reports that the current chairman of the committee, Senator John Kerry, said that the transcripts were especially revealing to him. In February 1968, during some of the most intense debates, Mr. Kerry was on a ship headed for Vietnam along with thousand of servicemen who never made it back.

Very recently, the Invasion of Iraq was based on deliberately falsified information on the WMD threat from Iraq that never was.

So who is responsible for this huge suffering and massacre? Not only the Americans but also the people of Vietnam, Saigon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan need an explanation.

Having started a conflict, it is also important that the statesman makes a correct assessment of Friction and Culminating Point (Clausewitz), so as to seek peace at the right time. Clausewitz shunned the notion of the Totality of a Conflict and theorised that all wars must be limited to the attainment of political objectives.

However, Statesmen have repeatedly ignored both theories and fallen into a trap where an exit with pride becomes difficult. Statecraft for times immemorial is premised on the paradigm of Political Realism. Armies have fought themselves to physical and psychological exhaustion in face of pacifist values of morals, legality and conscience. In prolonged conflicts, this emotive factor driven by mixed feelings of hate, love, patriotism, ideologies and beliefs even manages to over power the best of armies and technology (Michel Howard in Forgotten Dimensions of Strategy). Wars are planned around a strategic logic and rationality. To the contrary, wars especially long ones cannot be premised around sexed up dossiers, hate and metaphysics.

It is also difficult for statesmen in possession of superior munitions of violence against an inferior foe, overshadowed by a praetorian mindset to bridle a bully within. During the entire Cold War, USA and USSR bullied inferior peripheral states without getting into a direct conflict; the true face of deterrence between equally destructive and ambitious foes.

The logic is also applicable to conflicts between bigger armies and rag tag people. It happened both to Napoleon and Hitler in the harsh winters of Russia. Great Britain retreated from Afghanistan and FATA with its entire expeditionary force mauled. USA had to make an unceremonious exit from Vietnam. USSR disintegrated after its withdrawal from Afghanistan. India tried it with the Tamil rebels in Sri Lanka but being the progeny of the world’s greatest strategist Kautilya, made a timely exit.

The Afghan conflict from 1974 till today is a classic case of shadow intelligence wars, policy mismanagement, corporate pressures within the ruling establishments, vested and competing interest. Iranian Revolution provided an additional twist; a threat both to Arab Kingdoms and US designs. Beyond Islam versus the godless communism, proliferation of anti-Shia militant groups became the hidden agenda of the West and Arab States. Military regimes in Pakistan seeking international legitimacy were quick to board this band wagon with no thought to possible havocs this policy could wreak.

Having witnessed the stagnant coalition operations in Afghanistan for the past eight years and their inability to neither control the Afghan resistance nor eliminate erstwhile ally turned enemy Al Qaeeda, I am forced to comment that expecting Mullah Omar to control Al Qaeeda was insanity of the highest order. Abundant intelligence chatter on the internet indicates frequent contacts of the principal actors like Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Omar Saeed and the hijackers themselves with CIA training centres and safe houses in USA and world over. Surprisingly, none of the culprits identified by US intelligence were born Pakistani or Afghan citizens. More than anyone’s complicity, it was the biggest intelligence failure of CIA and FBI itself.

Even worse than Pearl Harbour, a homeland attack like 9/11 was too much for US Republican administration to absorb patiently; after all the only super power with the capability to bomb hostile countries to Stone Age. With abundant faulty intelligence and a historical precedence of trigger happiness, Bush Junior took the decision to employ full military might against a people who had once won USA’s war against USSR. It also gave a window to the doomsday prophets and theological detectives searching for the anti Christ to put their full weight behind the killing of the innocent.

The invasion was deliberately planned from the North to push the conflict deep into a nuclear Pakistan. Eight years on, none of the declared objectives have been achieved. Hate of US Policies has grown from thousands to hundreds of millions.

Back in 2002, I had commented that this was a war of hate and USA would ultimately loose it. If pursued further, the world will become a very dangerous place for all humanity. Millions of lambs will turn to werewolves with killing fields spreading world over.

George Bush committed the cardinal sin of transiting to conflict at the wrong time against the wrong people, with wrong reasons. It is up to another Democrat Barak Obama to go down in history like Kennedy or choose the elastic conscience of Johnson. The lesson of history must not repeat itself.

It is a Shakespearian irony that Senator John Kerry chairs the same Foreign Relations committee in 2010, that put its conscience to sleep in 1964 when Kerry, US servicemen and people suffered on the false premise of TONKIN.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


We, the people of Pakistan, progeny of the Great Nara (Sarasvati), Indus, Gandhara and Muslim Civilizations that predate all civilizations of the world; and a bastion of knowledge since antiquity; and those who have withstood all imperial adventures,
Having evolved a civilization founded on acceptance of higher values of civilized life, respect for others’ rights, culture of giving not taking, and imbibing an ideology of submission to God’s will, with the firmest of beliefs and faith in our abilities to discern the correct civilization path to a better tomorrow,
Disturbed and aghast at the policies being pursued by the oldest and nascent democracies; overtaken by the imperialist, expansionist and exploitative mindset; concerned that democracy is fast becoming the domain of the highest bidders; political-military and industrial complexes, financial cartels and believers of the doomsday scenarios,
Saddened at the gross violations of human rights defined in the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights of the American Founding Fathers and UN Resolutions, an infringement on the values of cultures, Faith in God that reflects separate standards and values; liberal for self and barbaric for others inherently leading to conflict,
Cognizant that silence is acceptance and complicity in the murder of the innocent; considering such militarized preemptions a violation by the governments on the largest suffering class of the poor in Pakistan, Afghanistan and all coalition countries fighting in Afghanistan.
Spiritually disturbed, because all faiths propagate peace, forgiveness and a quest for truth; rightfully asserting that all those who resort to violence and murder of innocent blatantly violate the universal common values of humanity,
Desiring that political and religious leaders in all our nations lead the way to peace for humanity, to stand united as equals, to save mankind and our planet from extinction.
Appealing to the international and national conscience to stand up and declare that ‘enough is enough’ because, civilizations, cultures and ideologies cannot be bombed out of the minds,
We, the Coalition of Conscience demand, that this, illegal, unjust, and inhuman war be stopped through the collective power of human resilience and conscience world over.
1.                  The foreign presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan is part of problem rather than the solution;
The coalition Governments must immediately order a cessation of all military and sting operations in the region and allow peace to be negotiated.
2.         Al-Qaeda is a convenient tool to blanket all opposition to US policies in the region and impose unilateral policies;
All efforts to use this pretext to prolong the presence in the region and to pursue an international agenda other than peace must cease.
3.         On going coalition operations have a fragmenting effect on both Pakistan and Afghanistan;
All coalition operations with divisive effects must be stopped.  
4.         The entire spectrum of violence and instability in Pakistan is a backwash from Afghanistan created by the presence of foreign forces. Support to insurgent and terrorist groups in FATA and Balochistan originate from Afghanistan. If this is not stopped, the instability will spread to other regions as well;
We demand the Government of Pakistan to make its own independent policies to ensure peace and development in the region; the mother of all civilizations.
5.                  Afghan movement is led by leaders who are indigenous to Afghanistan and legitimate representatives of resistance to foreign occupation;
These leaders must be treated as party to peace and brought into a comprehensive dialogue process as reflected in Pak-Afghan Jirga of 2007.
6.                  Failing a clear timetable from the coalition for the cessation of war;
The Government of Pakistan will be urged to exercise this nation’s legitimate right to secure its interests against all hostile bases inside Afghanistan, supporting and funding terrorism and insurgency in Pakistan.
7.         In order to ensure long term stability and prosperity in the region;
The Government of Pakistan must carry forward the inconclusive negotiations of 1996 and assist all Afghans (Resistance and Northern Alliance) to mediate peace. We welcome support from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and China with no covert agendas.
8.                  It is not Pakistan’s responsibility to ensure logistics for coalition forces in Afghanistan knowing well that much of it is used to destabilize and terrorize Pakistanis;
This support must stop unless approved by UN and conducted under transparent international safeguards and inspections.
9.                  Gross violations and exercise of human rights on selective bases are widely documented;
All Pakistani prisoners kept by coalition countries, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in illegal detention centers must be brought back immediately and subjected to Pakistani courts.
10.              Rendition centers, trials under duress and extra judicial killings including drones and blanket air strikes violate basic human rights;
War reparations and criminal trials of coalition leaders who have knowingly falsified evidence in support of war before their own people; their Parliaments; and before the UN Security Council must be brought before Law. All Pakistani leaders guilty of same must be tried under Pakistan laws.
These are the ten screams of conscience. Let them travel far and wide through the resonance of people’s will and be understood and acted upon with speed, honesty, and conviction. We wish a better and secure future for all nations of the world.

The founder members of THE COALITION OF CONSCIENCE are:
Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association
Association of Former Ambassadors
Christian Study Center, Rawalpindi Pakistan
Omar Asghar Khan Foundation
Society for Advancement of Health and Education (SAHEE)
KBS Welfare
Sindi Awam Sanghat
Poverty Alliance
Good Governance Forum
Alternate Solutions Institute
Pakistan Overseas League
Defence of Human Rights
And signatory Citizens
All Civil Society Organizations and Individuals world over are invited to join and raise their voice for the future of mankind.