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Pakistan at Crossroads

18 June, 2007

By Ahmer Muzammil


Pakistan stands at a critical juncture. This is probably the first time in our sorry-history that the oppressor of the people of Pakistan, which is not India or Israel, but its own Military/Civil establishment, is on the defensive. I get a feeling that for the first time they are not in position to dictate terms, hence will be looking for a compromise with the civil-society. This compromise is what I would like to focus on in this piece. We the people of Pakistan have to make sure that the small pressure groups that have benefited in the past at the expense of 160 million of us are accountable for their previous endeavors and if that’s too much to ask for then at least going forward there must be some kind of guarantee that these vested interest MUST NOT exploit and or take over the system. 
 
The higher brass of Pakistan Army is visibly irked because for the first time in the history of our existence the only province that really matters when it comes to reshaping the destiny of our country, which mind you is also the biggest in every sense, is on board with the fact that Pakistan Armed Forces are directly responsible - more than any other group - for the failure that is Pakistan. We are a country where the interests of 160 million human beings are gladly sacrificed to accommodate the high-life of few. The scholarly work of Dr. Ayehsa Siddiqa titled Military INC. is a pathetic reminder of the misuse of resources that belongs to the people of Pakistan and should have been used to bring about a social revolution in Pakistan.
 
How many plots, how many cars, how much money is enough? Do these thugs have any conscience what so ever? In a country where a common person doesn’t have access to clean water, and I know it’s a cliché but think about it, people are forced to drink water that one shouldn’t even bathe with and in that country the pet dogs of our rulers enjoy bottled water imported from France.  The reason people are not all lovey dovey about Pakistan Army and are openly expressing there discontent is not because the media in Pakistan is inciting hatred against them it’s because people have had ENOUGH.
 
You can’t ignore the message, the messenger is quite irrelevant, why is that so hard to understand? And the message is that a vast majority of Pakistanis would like the armed forces to stay within the bounds of constitution of Pakistan, it’s really that simple. DO THE JOB THAT WE PAY YOU TO DO! We don’t need you running the real estate agencies, we don’t need you to take over steel-mill or PIA or WAPDA or Presidency or any department for that matter, just make sure that our borders are safe and help out in emergency situations such as floods, earthquakes etc., not as a favor but because we pay you and ITS KIND OF YOUR JOB.
 
It’s nauseating to see otherwise champion of democracy and everything that is honest and upright one Mr. Hameed Gull getting uncomfortable when the society at large insinuates that maybe it’s time to bring the Army down from the stature of GOD. This justification that defense societies are cleaner and their real estate values are higher is because some how armed men are in fact a superior being is quite comical. It’s the Guns stupid! The reason special preferences are awarded to Army in all arenas is not because they are a gift to humanity its because they have the most guns and unarmed human beings are kind of scared of those who have them. We have to strive for true democracy not just in theory and not because it sounds sexy but in spirit as well. And the spirit of democracy is that all branches of the government work within the boundaries that have been set for them by the constitution of Pakistan.
 
The only positive development this current cabal of thugs in Islamabad could really boast about in the past was the comparative freedom of the media. Although a quite strong case can be made on the contrary even in the previous years, but now the gloves are off. The way journalists are openly threatened by all concerned is a travesty in its own. Dr. Shahid Masood was asked how much Latha (burial-garment) he would need. Hamid Mir was man-handled by the police and agencies. Talat Hussein and Aaj Tv was shot at for hours in broad daylight while the administration and the authorities were standing aloof like a retard. Not only these gentlemen were harassed and threatened, there respective programs were taken off air as well. What was their crime you ask? They were reporting the facts as partially and politely as you can report a rape and exploitation of a nation. Mind you these journalists are still the lucky ones; at least they are still alive. We can’t say the same about a number of them who have paid the price of their journalistic integrity with their own blood.
 
The most troubling aspect for me is the willingness of political players with real vote banks to still look to cut a deal with the Army establishment. For the love of GOD, grow a spine! It’s been 60 sorry years. Don’t you think its time we look towards the people of Pakistan for once instead of romancing Washington and GHQ? Let’s throw caution to the wind people. Maybe the success of Pakistan is in empowering the people of Pakistan and just maybe in giving them a stake in their country. I know it’s a crazy idea but what do we have to loose really? We have tried this joke of democracy for 8 years now, actually its an insult to the word democracy it should be called what it really is, Martial Law, that’s all we have really ever had. So how about turning a new leaf and I know I am reaching for stars but why is that every single country (except for Burma off course) deserve democracy but we the Pakistanis are such incompetent monkeys that we should be governed by the guy who has the biggest gun? Pakistan Peoples Party and MQM should be very careful. I think they are playing with their political future if they can’t see that the people of Pakistan are ready to kick this domination of armed forces from our civil matters. It will be a political suicide in my opinion to align yourself with the oppressor at this juncture.
 
For ages we have been told that the reason Pakistan Armed forces need this humongous budget allocation is because any day now, India will attack us, so we must buy the BMW’s for the brigadiers because that’ll some how scare of Indians. Enough with this scare tactic. Quite frankly, when India did actually attack us in ’71, Army couldn’t do anything to safeguard our international borders anyway. So let’s get off this high horse and invest in the people of Pakistan; maybe they’ll do a better job themselves if they are not disenfranchised like the people of East Pakistan.
 
 
Nisaar mein tayri galiyon ka aey watan kay jahan
Challi hay rasm kay koi na sir utha kay chalay
 
Jo koi chahnay wala tawaf ko niklay,
Nazar churra  kay chalay, jismo-0-jaan bacha kay chalay.
 
Hay ahl-e-dil kay liyayy abb yeah nazm bast-o-kushad
Kay sang-0-khusht muqayad hein, aur sag azad.

Reader Comments:

Great Piece

You seem to be talking like an Indian brother.Its a great article,but could do with a little less emotion.But,thats probably warranted by the current situation in Pakistan and the socio-cultural factors.A very candid writeup from a very young man I guess.I really appreciate.Good work from a young patriotic Pakistani.Regards, Ashutosh

ashutosh mishra, Hungary - 18 June, 2007

Pakistan at Crossroads

Writer has done his good work and understands what he is saying but he is forgetting one thing that in 1999 the country we all love was on the bad CROSSROADS when there was a civilian dictator. Similarly when Bhutto was PM it was even worst. Political assasination and corruption at its hike. Military has done better especially Gen. Musharraf and PM Mr. Aziz. No doubt there are problems and they will remain but will come down in number gradually. Fresh and clean water, health, education and other basics will be met when the government carries on with its agenda. Given time when economy is on its boom things will change for better. Just looking the negative sides and highlighting it at its height and forgetting the present economic boom comparing with 1999 and during BB's tenure today Pakistan has got more than $15.78B in the treasury. WHO TOOK THE WEALTH OF THE NATION? It was BB and her spouse and Nawaz Sharif. There are many people in the west with huge sums in their Bank accounts and they were all holding important positions during civilian rules in Pakistan. Why forgetting all those corrupt politicians and still are many inside there is no doubt. Pakistan is a highly corrupted country but with the present set up at least some of the things are done tremendously better than previous regimes. Ashutosh Mishra has appreciated your article but he is forgetting what is happening in India having a democractic system. Perhaps you can recall when MPs inside parliament were busy in exchanging bribes and a wicked Camera took all those photos and later they were sacked. They were quite a few of them. We are carried away in sentiments quickly but do not appreciate the good work done by Military. They also deserve gratitude for their performances.Why not be kind enough to do so.

Mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 19 June, 2007

Pakistan at Crossroads

Wind of change is finally blowing in Pakistan. People of Pakistan are coming to realise that India or Israel are not the oppressors of Pakistan, as mentioned by the author. It is the military/civil establishment that is the real oppressor of the people. The military in Pakistan has duped its people for a long time, of dangers from India. The people are now realising that India has its hands full with its own priorities and have no time and money to waste on a war with Pakistan, unless there is another Kargil misadventure by the military. This realization is likely to further erode credibility of the military that has grabbed power, ostensibly to save the people of Pakistan from corrupt politicians, and from India ???

Sincerely,

Neel, Pakistan - 19 June, 2007

So called democracy

There is a so called democracy in India and what all look at the face is not true. Ballot boxes rigging and bribes are all there. You name malpractices and they are there and system needs overhauling in both India and Pakistan. Whether India is an oppressor or not its not the issue the problem lies in the hearts of the people of India and Pakistan where majority is suffering in the hands of top brass whether military or civilians. They both are the same the difference is only one in Uniform and the other in civilian disguise. If you can recall elections of Bush not last but the first when he could not get majority rigging was done and finally court decided and surely some influence must have been excercised. Democracy is a word which is used just to get votes and divert the attention of the public but its better to see who is doing a better job and not to go for what he is wearing. Gen. Musharraf has given more to Pakistan than any civilian leader in the history of Pakistan. India is no longer a worry to Pakistan because India got tremendous poverty problem of its own and not easy to manage a huge population, too many mouths to feed. No doubt economy is doing well but not as it should have been comparing with similar size country Republic of China. I personally would appreciate the good work done by either party whether its a military or civilian but later do fail more and ruin the economy if we look back over 60 years.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 19 June, 2007

Time has come for common Pakistanis to rise

Its people of Pakistan , only common Pakistanis, will make difference to their lives. Its no use blaming armed forces, politicians for their problems. If common man on streets accepts the status quos and being mis guided by fanatics and becomes pawns in hands of politicians, they have no one else to blame but them selves. Also, there is no point of comparision of democracy in India with others. India has proved consistently the sucess of free and fair elections since last 50 years all over India , including J&K. All these loose talk about rigging etc is exagerated , far away from reality. At the end, its common man who will have to fend for himself ...let one Gandhi rise from soil of Pakistan, who will make all the difference to Pakistan.

Sanjay, Hungary - 20 June, 2007

Army's respect has become a means of explotiation by them.

In reality if we look we all both civilians and army are responsible for this state of affairs.Army came to such position only because nation kept quiet and allowed army to hide behind issues like defence or Kashmir and kept on accomodating their excesses until the present state of affairs.If Pakistanis would have protested practically meaning somehow blocking the rise of "respect for uniform" to such level this day would not have come.Hindu soldiers fight and die on border,not a big deal, they do it for money,they get salary.But why it is a big deal for Pakistani soldiers.While in reality Pakistani army personell makes more money,more benefits,upon retirement in the form of squares of land or appointment in civil positions without any training,education and experience.Thus Pakistani army personnel become a blow to any direct or indirect desire to implementation of merit.It is painful to say that it was only this institution which could have implemented merit in all walks of Pakistani society but it exploited it for itself and hurt whole nation.Today reason for corruption in every walk of life is this very lack of merit.When people can't achieve anything rightly for themselves in legal way they have to go via wrong ways.IN US e.g.you need some documents,and you go to Motor vehicle dept and will get the driver licence,you don't have to beg it,you don't have to find any connection for it you don't have to give any bribe for it.This applies to most of the areas.
Army's reach to present position should be a source for worry for them more than others but they have to demand adjustments e.g.
1)reduction of salary,
2)No more appointments in civilian positions after retirement.
3)No more gifting of squares of land to retired army personeel
4)Laying off all such personells who occupy civilian positions and return of squares of land to civilian authority.
5)Army's return to its role and limitation to borders and barracks.
This can be done best by forming a pressure group of retired officers.And if they get abducted and tortured then the worries and resentment of nation is well founded.The pendulum has gone too much on one direction and has to come in middle.
Army is for Pakistani nation,it takes salaries from them and should respect them.

Dr.Jawaid, United Kingdom - 20 June, 2007

Corruption is everywhere

Corruption in high place is prevalent everywhere. Even a country like Japan and Korea experience this. If 10 MP/MLAs exchange US$1mn, that does not change anything of a vast nation like India.It is the common people and administration, that makes difference.

Nikus, Hungary - 20 June, 2007

No crossroads

Pakistan's disciplined and united military appears to have upper hand over the dis-united and infighting civilian masses.Military dominance in Pakistan is akin to Turkish situation,but the acquision and control of businesses and industry by military in Pakistan is clearly visible in the form of firm grip and control of the army over almost every sphere of life in Pakistan.

It is really not a crossroad in essence as the country of Pakistan is advancing economically, strengthening militarily and expanding its sphere of importance and acceptance. The world's sole super power and all major powers are knocking on Pak doors for projecting their interests via or through Pakistan.

Pakistan will have issues and problems like that of CJ reference or civilian political half hearted challenge to the military dominance, but that appears to be fizzling or disscipating due to lack of will, terrible dis unity, lack of trust and even more corruption in civilians drive for power.

What you see in Pakistan today is the propensity to absorb the problems without a crash. And most important fact is that Pakistan's military might is getting stronger. With expansion and advances under way to enlarge the nuclear arsenal, Pakistan's military is confidentially steering the country to big power status.A country's defense becomes respectable once it has acquired 200 or more nukes and Paskistan may be there in the next 10 years.
Through unity and discipline, the armed forces are confidently steering the country to respectable status with integrity.

And awarding an army general with a plot of house and a car is only privileging the military. It is certainly not exploitation or loot and run from the country that is normal in other cases, where regimes are aborted after they are in power for only a couple years.

I THINK THE LACK OF DISCIPLINE AND UNITY ARE THE KEY SHORTFALLS FOR THE CIVILIAN POPULATION'S DRAG IN THIS HEALTHY COMPETITION.

LIKE THE JEWS HAVE DONE, YOU HAVE GOT IT MADE ONCE YOU CONTROL THE COUNTRY'S NERVES OF INDUSTRY AND BUSINESSES.

AND THE ARMY OF PAKISTAN IS ACQUIRING THAT STRONG HOLD BY NOT JUST PENETRATING THROUGH MANAGEMENT LEVEL, BUT THROUGH REAL OWNERSHIP AS WELL.

PAKISTAN IS NOT ON CROSSROADS.IT HAS NO MILITARY CIVILIAN ANIMOSITY OR DIVIDE.

THIS IS A STATE OF COMPETITION, WHERE UNITY AND DISCIPLINE ARE THE KEY FACTORS TO PUT MILITARY OR ANY BODY INTO ADVANTAGE. AND CIVILIANS ARE IN CATCHING UP SITUATION.

PAKISTAN IS IN A STATE OF HEALTHY COMPETITION WHERE ALL HAVE CHANCE TO BE BETTER OFF AND BENEFIT FROM THE PROGRESS AND SUCCESS.

Anwar Mahmood, Canada - 23 June, 2007

Let us get out mental blockade

This is the biggest tragedy of nation that it has been programmmed into believing that Army is everything,necessary for survival and growth of all kind.There can't be a bigger lie than that.Look around and you see India,Malayasia,Iran and other countries where Army is confined to its purpose that is defense and is confined to borders and barracks yet these countries are growing.While Pakistan is on downward spiral only because of Army.ANy and every nation these days will survive and grow on its civilan sector and its stability e.g education,research,science,technology.The earlier we get out of this mental block that Army is everything the better it will be for us.Army is trained that its survival is only on second grade American ammunitons and arms which are very expensive compared to its equivalent in open market and it therefore sucks all resources and nothing is left for local research,science and growth.Allah saves Pakistan from this corrupted and convoulted thinking.

Abdul Qadir-e-Mutlaq, United Kingdom - 24 June, 2007

Pleading for respect and integrity for Army,Mr.Musharraf it is getting so bad.!

Addressing the Lahore garrison officers, Musharf said that integrity of army is necessary for Pakistan's survival.
Really?
Do you read any news or are you aware of history.All the great nations of today and earlier have confined army to borders and barracks.Growth comes only from civilian sector and is linked with its prosperity and stability.If you see in Pakistan,eg.Rawalpindi,go to Govt college on Said Pur Rd and you see the bricks of building becoming powdery,you see lab and you see the countertops broken.This is what makes nation decline,but you don't care because you always linked yourself with the American donations and you never linked yourself with Pakistani nation which cuts its food to feed you.This is our tragedy and thank God more and more people are starting to realise.By begging for respect you don't get respect you have to earn it by proving your worth by sacrificing in your standard of living,by not allotting squares of land to army officers retd,by not appointing them on big civilian posts .Mr.Musharraf because people have started to know right from wrong your respect and integrity is fast eroding.You will yourself not make sacrifices in your and army's standard of living despite how difficult it is getting for nation and therefore will keep on pleading for respect to nation when nation will keep on getting filled more and more with hatred.No amount of arms or no level of superiority in arms can get any army victory in battlefield if they don't have public support.

Abdul Kareem Pindiwal., United Kingdom - 24 June, 2007

THE SO CALLED OPINION.

MOHAMMAD CALLS INDIA A SO CALLED DEMOCRACY. THAT HIS VIEW AND YOU CAN’T QUESTION A MERE OPINION. BUT THEN HE HAS LEFT A SO CALLED LAND OF THE PURE, ISLAMIC HAVEN WHERE THE INSPIRATION FROM THE HOLY KORAN GUIDES THE FAIR AND WONDERFUL APPROACH TO LIFE, WHERE EVERYONE INCLUDING THE SHIAS AND SUNNIS LIVE IN PERFECT HARMONY WITH NON-MUSLIMS TO THE SO CALLED EVEN HANDED BRITAIN WHERE HE AND HIS FELLOW MUSLIMS ARE TREATED FAIRLY AND AS EQUALS AND HE IS WELCOMED EVERYWHERE IN BRITAIN AS A PRINCIPLED CITIZEN ---------. WAKE UP MOHAMMAD IT IS NOT TOO LATE.

A . V. RAO, Pakistan - 25 June, 2007

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