Was it even possible for Pakistanis to think that their space to speak and express themselves will be curtailed so much that speaking would become a matter of life and death? I am a generation that saw both the enforced silence under Zia and the ‘glasnost’ and ‘prostriaka’ of the later years. Having survived the decade of the 1980s, many people amongst the intelligentsia were eager to talk and vent their frustration. And people did talk and express themselves. Continue reading “Modi’isation’ of South Asia”
A MQM worker was killed in Rangers’ custody – a reminder of the old tradition of lack of accountability of law enforcement and the overall security apparatus of the state. Torture and its most crude form: extra-judicial killing takes place all in the name of providing security. But we are not sure if such measures contribute to peace and stability. I am reminded of what a senior police officer once told me the problem was with such above the law mechanisms. In torturing people to death or killing them without following the course of law we often forget that the person has people who love him/her. They will always get back at you and in case the power is disproportionate they may not get back at the powerful but the powerless.
When the French statesman Georges Clemenceau, who led his country into the First World War, said that ‘war was too serious a matter to be left to generals’ he wasn’t demeaning his commanders. It meant that active conflict is not a light matter to be trifled with and thus should not be left to people, who due to their training, have a natural propensity towards conflict. Many decades later, John F. Kennedy followed a similar principle in not adhering to advise of his generals in dealing with the Cuban missile crisis.
Pakistani generals are reputed to be lucky. The more ambitious a general the better it is. Even gods conspire in their favor. Whenever in power, they seem to attract money and new opportunities. Today, Pakistan and its military would turn any other green with envy. Not only certain segments of the civil society are keen, as in the past, to build the military high command’s image as the ultimate savior, both friends and foe seem to help in boosting the institution’s image. So, its not odd for the former ISI chief Lt. General Asad Durrani to feel so smug and confident as he appeared to be during his interviews to the BBC and Al-Jazeera English in February 2015. With an Oscar and Nobel prizes to boost about, we now have other things to rejoice such as the economic corridor to be constructed by China. Soon pictures of the corridor with Chinese trucks will replace paintings of F-16s painted on the sides of buses and trucks.
Who will be the next army chief is an issue that seems to have caught the imagination of many a people in Islamabad and even outside. many a defense analysts are setting up shop and doing good business because of their acclaimed expertise on the matter. The closer you are to the GHQ’s heart the more answers you might have. At least, you can conjecture much more freely and tout yourself as ‘The Security Expert’. There are at least a couple in Islamabad who have a raving business built around their ability to answer questions of less knowledgable people, diplomats and foreign journalists. I bumped into one such character at a dinner who could name the postings that a particular senior general had done like the back of his hand. Very impressed!
Someone called me recently insisting that now there will be action in North Waziristan against the Taliban. His point was that the killing of over 80 Christians in Peshawar would shake us into action. I quickly reminded him of what a rather intelligent nephew told me on recently about not taking such outpour of sympathy too seriously because it doesn’t eventually amount to anything. We sympathized with the Hazaras but didn’t ensure any concrete outcomes for their protection. We cry for the Baluch in conference rooms and think the job is done. Continue reading “The original version of what couldn’t get printed in Express Tribune – Why shouldn’t Christians be Killed?”