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Militarism and Extremism

23 August, 2007

By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu


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The concerned Pakistanis believe that the army has become a state within the state.  The fact of the matter is that the army has moved almost to the final stage. It became a state within the state during General Ayub’s rule. It moved a step further during General Yahya’s martial law, and turned the state into an army state.  Since the Bengalis were capable of undoing the army’s newly acquired status, they were forced to seek separation. During General Zia’s martial law, the army entered into big business related to the wars, warlords and social ills. It acquired whatever it could with the help of the Americans and the Arabs i.e. the militants, and the arms and ammunition, and sold it wherever it could (even within Pakistan). The taste of business turned it gradually into a corporation, similar to the ones whose emergence and existence is possible only in a militarised environment. As of today it has become the biggest stakeholder in the country’s wealth. The combination of military power and economic stakes has helped it complete its journey. It has elevated itself from a state within the state to the status of a nation.  The present day reality is that there are two nations in one country, the army and the people.   

 

What our corporate army has been doing is fatal for the country, but it is not a unique phenomenon. In the past the armies determined the territorial boundaries and the working of the state at many places in the world. Even the businesses have been doing the same.

The entrepreneurs, companies and corporations intending to start or expand their businesses, need the support of the state/governing system. When they succeed in raising their businesses to an extraordinary level, they act or tend to act like states. If the state is weak, they either dominate the working of the state or become a state into themselves. In this regard, the East India Company is a befitting reference. In case of strong states, the businessmen do get the support of the states, but they cannot even think about challenging the state. The US and the Western states stand fully behind their businessmen, but monitor their activities too. In the developing countries strong states act similarly. The Indian and Chinese states are the important examples.

In a weak state where bureaucracy is incompetent, politics and the rule of law are non-existent, and corruption is eulogised, if the army is also weak and involves itself into businesses and becomes a major stakeholder, it first defies the writ of the state, then acting as a parallel nation creates its own super and separate state to formulate policies, laws and strategies for itself and against peoples’ interest. In doing so it exploits all social weaknesses and instruments, ethnicity, tribalism, feudalism, greed, religion etc.  Many areas in present day Africa are facing this terrible situation. At some places the situation has worsened because of split within the weak armies too; and that has led to emergence of various mini states and even parallel nations within one country. This is how the warlords and mercenaries dominate the destiny of a country.

Our situation is different as well as similar in many ways.  The difference is that our army is not weak; it is rather much more powerful than it should have been. That is why it does not need a separate state. Our state is by all means is an army state. This difference, the strong army, has on one hand delayed our downfall, but on the other hand it has been adding to the reasons for our ultimate and even irreversible collapse. The army's overstretched and excessive muscles and its business empire make it naturally act like a separate nation. That is why our country has to have the similarities with the hells that some African countries have become. In this respect please read the various reports that have placed us in almost all aspects at par with such African nations that have either been ruined, or do not count, or are on the brink.

Two nations in one country cannot stay in peace. The stronger one, the military in our case, will keep on creating reasons, basically destructive, to strengthen its elevated but abnormal status. The wars of 1965, 1971, and 1999 did not happen haphazardly. After each of these wars the army became stronger. Similarly the Jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir, and the creation of the Taliban and the continuing extremism enhanced its strength. That these wars, Jihads and extremism broke the backbone of the people is the terrible side of the story.

Notwithstanding the similarities between our country and the doomed African countries, we still have an advantage; we are in the grip of a chaos and not anarchy. The people be it the Punjabis, Pukhtoons, Baloch or Sindhis still have great resilience. For national and noble causes they can stand up and fight together. Their support to the lawyers’ movement is the recent example.  What is needed is that the army too should understand that if we have to survive as one dignified entity, and not in pieces, all of us will have to take ourselves as various parts of one modern nation?  A modern nation does not allow its army to become a corporation, state and a nation. A modern nation spends most on social sector development, and only a reasonable amount on the defence. A modern nation is most touchy about its future, its children. An interesting story explains it all. It reads: Hillary Duff told Hollywood Life magazine: “I remember when all that stuff came out about her (Britney Spears) not strapping her baby in the car seat right. I was just like; ‘Leave her alone.’ My mom said to me; ‘Do you know how many times I dropped you on your head or let you fall off something accidentally?’ It just happens.”  Look at the depth of the sensitivity that the Americans have for their children. The example from showbiz was picked because the people here are so busy that it becomes difficult for them to have time for their families; yet in the US they do it

In contrast where do we stand? Look at the man, our Prime Minister, who has come all the way from the US to tell us that the Darul Illam for the destitute is the solution to the madrassas. Look at the man who is our President and Chief of Army Staff and is telling the world that the madrassas are the biggest and the best NGOs in the world.

It is time to sit and analyse that where would 17, 000 plus madrassas — a joint venture of the Americans, Arabs, our army and our affluent groups — lead us; and where would the millions of madrassa-qualified students go? A few thousand would find a place in the madrassas as teachers or in the mosques as Imams. A few hundred would join politics, contest elections and would work and vote for the army chosen system. A few thousand would fight against the enemy, chosen either by the army, or the Arabs or the Americans. A few thousands would seek an early departure to the hereafter taking many more along with them. The remaining millions would not find a mosque, a madrassa, an enemy, and even an urge for an early departure to heaven. Neither would they find a commonly known job. They would survive as beggars, outcasts, outlaws, and even as untouchables as long as they would live. This would happen even if the madrassa reforms are implemented. So, why should not our state treat these children as the modern states do? Why should not the madrassa going children go to the government schools? Why should not the madrassas be nationalised?

Here, the same questions that have been arising since our inception would arise again: Since we are a nation that spends least on education, from where the funds would come for opening up of modern schools for the discriminated children; and from where would we bring finances to run these schools?  From where would we secure jobs for the students who would attain their education, because we do not have jobs even for those who have attained highest honours?  Answer to these questions does not lie in dividing the nation into two nations or into pieces; it lies in turning to participatory economy through participatory politics. We need money for schools, health care and housing, and also for economy’s expansion. Initially it will only come from one source: through a cut in the army’s huge share in the budget. The budgetary allocation above 1.5 per cent of the GDP for the defence is our real and fatal problem. Agreeing to a reasonable ratio will not be possible unless the army acts as people’s army, and that is almost an impossible proposition. ‘Nationalisation of the army’ is a terminology not known in social sciences.  Given our situation, let us not only accept this terminology, but also implement it.

Who will do it, the courts, the lawyers or the politicians? The politicians make the A-team of the army. The lawyers have already returned to their usual jobs. The courts cannot do it. The most the courts can do is to help us steadily recover our constitution. If it happens it will be a step towards much needed great transformation; from two nations to one modern nation; and from an army state to modern state; and from a security state to a welfare state. But, it is not an easy task.  The Chief Justice’s case should have been decided within a week. Aitzaz Ahsan’s early request to the honourable Judges to stage a coup was Freudian slip. So was Justice Ramday’s comment, on the last day of hearing, that, ‘We are not a trade union.’ All of us are full of frustration. There is no early outlet, despite our newly found pride and energy in our judicial system and in our people. 

 

Reader Comments:

An excellent article.

Yatu Sahib.
This is a good article.I agree only partly with Imran that blame should not all be with army(the biggest political party)but with those pakistanis who supported it.,and surely Mr.siddiqui is one of those.
Army has done to Pakistan which in polite terms even can be said as rape,lies,exploitation.Army's loyalty was not with Pakistan but with arms supplying nation i.e.USA,the war of 65 was said to be for Kashmir basically it had nothing to do with it.It was same Ayyub Khan who upon the pressure from US/UK ambassadors lost nerves and didn't take advantage of weakness to get Kashmir when India was bogged down with CHina.Both US/UK always will keep the apple of discord ripe and ready so the ammunition can sell and profit be made.Male prostitutes with the brain in their rectums and courage in commode should understand this.,but wouldn't.
And about economy,This is all hogwash,A sound economy means only financial independence.Not nose deep in loans with superficially good standard of living.It was Ayyub's loan taking for projects that were bound to fail that Pakistan is nose deep in loans,Pakistan is on downward spiral while India whose leaders were sincere and honest to their nation ,but didn't wear dress up in pretty uniforms like male prostitutes in Pakistan that India is now on upward spiral.Problem with the biggest political party is that it is so selfish and morally weak that it puts the interest of nation on the bottom.
The only solution to the problem is to prevent this party to come in the govt and that is only possible when every Pakistani hurls humiliation,and insults(based on their past performance) on each and every member of this party so much so that they think many times to go in public wearing uniform.This again depends on people.
If you read the profiles of each president General in www.dictatorshipwatch.com you see facts clearly.
Yatu Sahib,
Keep on writing.You are balanced and factual.

Jawaid Sultan Pindiwal., United Kingdom - 24 August, 2007

I don't hold the army responsible at all.

Why do we blame the Army when people and our judiciary supports Army take over?

I will accept Gen. Ayub's and Gen. Zia's martial law over the govts of BB and Sharif. At least Pakistan progressed in those Martial Laws.

Why do we forget the Martial law of Z.A. Bhutto?

It is so easy to blame the Saudis and the Americans but no sir we can't blame ourselves. This is also a form of hypocrisy.

For your kind info, all big Armed forces are working as corporations.

Before writing articles may be we should check how other armed forces operate.

It seems that the author is either extremely bias or on the payroll of BB and N Sharif.

Can someone please ask the CJP about why he was trying to relax the rules so that his incompetent son could get a job?

Gen. Musharraf is the best option for Pakistan!

Imran Siddiqui, Canada - 24 August, 2007

Mr. Pindiwal,

I never said that I support martial Law over Democracy. I said I will support ML over the govts of BB and N Sharif.

Why should I support BB who can't have democracy in her party.

If Ch Aitezaz or someone else comes forward as a leader then Pakistan should suport them but not BB.

Same goes for N Sharif, if someone else like Imran Khan or Javed Hashmi comes forward as a leader then yes he should be supported.

My issue is that major political parties are sticking to the same people who have looted Pakistan over and over again!

Gen Ayub was also responsible of SITE in Karachi and a capital like Islamabad, lets not forget that.

Gen Musharraf has given freedom to the press which will be taken away as soon as N Sharif or BB take over.

Our national debt grew in the years of so called democracy. When Gen Zia was killed we were at less then $10 bilion USD and in 2000 we were at $34 bilion USD. How do you explain this?

Gawadar was a far fetched dream and JF-17 had shortage of funds. These are now complete projects.

Mr. Yatu should know this and more then why should I not question his integrity?

Please don't forget the role of a certain Z.A Bhutto in the wars of 1965 and 1971.

As far as India is concerned, if India shining was truth then BJP would have come back in power but I guess the shine was on one side and they got a reverse swing.

Each society has different norms, China is a democracy and so is KSA. Similarly Pakistan is experiencing true democracy.

Democracy means freedom of press and judiciary and we have both (thanks to Musharraf govt). People have jobs and again this due to solid policies of the govt.



Imran Siddiqui, Canada - 25 August, 2007

Democracy

Mr.Siddiqui,
what Military Generals did in so called area of making SITE and Islamabad.So Industrialiazation is necessary and praiseworthy and should have been done anyway.This should be done by even elected leaders.But democracy should still be preferred.

Abdus Sammad, Pakistan - 26 August, 2007

Siddiqui

Mr.Siddiqui,You have embarrassed Pakistanis living in canada.You support dictatorship.You support military rule.You should sure be criticising the civilian leaders for their corruption but military rule is not the answer.Is your relative running on the ticket of Q League,or some one in your family is directly beneficient from Pushy Mushy.Don't embarrass us here in Canada.Use your head.

Sheikh kareem, Canada - 26 August, 2007

Siddiqui,You don't know what you are talking about.

Shame on you Siddiqui,You live in canada and talk about military rule.You can contact US embassy and collect money for this.You speak thier language.They prefer dictatorships,kingdoms and shiekhdoms over democracy.
YOur saying that you suspect the integrity of Mr.Yatu reflects that you have not read all his articles.But that is understandable you may be a busy person.There is an excuse for being busy but not for being stupid.

Ahmad Saeed, United Kingdom - 26 August, 2007

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