Major Changezi’s Shahadat at Torkham

In loving memory of Maj. Changezi who I met only after he sacrificed his all for Pakistan. 

I have often written about how challenging it is for a non military person to understand what a soldier goes through in the Army. And once again Its this sacrifice by Maj. Changezi.

To many or most, the passing away of a Soldier in the line of duty giving the ultimate sacrifice of their life in a remote God forsaken outpost in FATA or Balochistan or Kashmir or somewhere in Pakistan is a mere statistic, a temporary flash in the pan news headline, a fast moving ticker, a talk show discussion and at best, a whatsapp comment (which is where I first posted these lines several days ago)

But to the soldier, even someone like me who shed the Khaki nearly 35 years ago, the passing away of a fellow brother in arms, epitomizes the whole symbolism of this great profession.

To many civilians who have a beef with the Army, and I don’t say it in any patronizing or derogatory manner, the Pakistan Army is confined to and understood through the filters of either Martial Law or the ISI.

The limited horizons, superficial understanding, pedestrian analysis, subjective biases and prejudices, about the institution, by many so called political pundits, does not even scratch the most basic fundamentals of the Pakistan Army and what it really is and stands for.

From their high heeled, sari clad, suited booted or kurtaad crisp shalwar kameez pretentious high horses, these so called “liberattis” run down this great institution, day and night.

They do not, and cannot ever know what a soldier feels, does and dies for.

Never. Ever.

Unless they’ve worn the Khaki or been very close to someone who has.

Rest in Peace dear Maj. Changezi.

We sleep better and in peace, because of your sacrifice!

May Allah Bless your Soul in the Eternal Abode. Aameen.
Haider Mehdi.

Is the Pakistan Army in Nawaz Sharif’s Crosshairs?

As a former Khaki man for some years, and then civvies for most, one thing was and is quite clear. It is well nigh impossible for a person who hasn’t done two years of PMA and several years or an entire military career in the Pakistan Army to understand even peripherally the psyche of the institution and it’s members.

All that the so called military pundits in the civilian sphere have to go on are the 4 Martial Laws and the “dreaded” ISI to fill their columns, and their rhetoric.

Our Army and our officers and jawaans are much more than the politics of Martial law or the shenanigans of ISI, real or perceived.

We go through deprivations and pain and labor which no one can understand. We are away from our loved ones and spouses and children not for days or weeks or months but years. And for a pittance in financial terms. The vast majority of our officers and jawaans really have nothing.

And yes, we made these choices willingly and for our country.

Since 2004 the institution has defended the integrity of its country. Yes it’s senior leaders in the past did make questionable and even catastrophically wrong choices, but to lambast and pillor the whole institution is an act of criminality and treason, at least in my eyes.

When I read or hear from the likes of Hussain Haqqani, Asma Gilani, Marvi Sirmed, Aqil Shah, Najam Sethi, et al and marvel at their intellectual brilliance, of which there is no doubt, I’m equally surprised at their pedestrian and extremely superficial treatment of the institution. And joined in this chorus by much less and poorly endowed but aspiring pseudo intellectuals, like Hamid Mir etc.

While I’m no blind lover of the Army, right or wrong, I do believe there is an insidious and very calculated move ( don’t want to say conspiracy) supported by many main stream politicians, including Nawaz Sharif to weaken this institution, which is seen as the only bulwark or barrier to their unrestricted and unchallenged rule, loot, rape and plunder.

And if I may add the only institution which may be standing between efforts to denuke us.

While the ever intellectually endowed phoo phoo the denuke conspiracy as a ….well, figment of a hyperactive imagination…all that I’ve seen happen these last three decades in the Region, clearly indicates a desire to bring Pakistan to heel.

If I were the USA and India or represented the very right wing ultra conservative Israeli lobby lead by Netanyahu…the only thing keeping me up awake at night would be Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal.

And I would do everything possible to remove this threat. So while direct ways are impossible, the only options available to me would to weaken institutions who stand in the way. In this case the Pakistan Army.

I would seek out pliant and anti Army national politicians who have a common interest in weakening that institution. I would then make the country economically hostage and eventually when all three ducks are in line, to go for the kill.

Weak Army.
Pliant political leadership.
Economic bankruptcy.

It’s quite clear to me.

So hopefully someone’s listening.

Martial Law in Sindh -1978 – Inspector Shah’s Punishment and Nawaz Sharif’s Panama Leaks

It was close to 2 am on a hot humid night in Johi, Sind. Several officers, including me, had just finished work and were about to crash, dog tired after a long day, sifting through tons of documents. 

It was 1978. Gen. Zia’s Martial Law was in full flow. My batman, Ali Afsar, with his permanent half smile which only an officer’s batman can forever carry, depicting both amazement and utter disbelief, at the kind of people God Blesses to become officers, informed me that a truck driver was outside the Martial Law Headquarter and insisting on seeing the “Afsar” right now!. Bold man or incredibly stupid, I thought.

Being the Adjutant, the unenvious task fell on me, and I hustled back into my uniform and met him in our makeshift offices.

He was clearly agitated and also a bit scared ( you don’t walk into a military martial law office at 2 am in the morning and expect to be garlanded! ). After the pleasantries and an offer of a cup of tea and a chair, both nervously declined, he stammered out an incoherent babble.

With some coaxing to calm him down, I was finally able to understand that earlier that night, a certain Police SHO, Inspector Shah (name changed) had charged the truck driver double the usually agreed “monthly”. “Monthly” being the “unofficial fee” charged by the police from these truck transporters.

He indignantly showed me a greasy page in an equally greasy diary with a few strange squiggles, supposed to represent a rupee amount, a signature and a date of a week ago!

” ….Look at this saheb…. This (followed by a choice phrase describing the offspring of a pig) Inspector Shah has now asked me to pay again…..I’m fed up of this man and want to launch an official complaint against this (some more choice words)……Inspector…….”

Long story short….Inspector Shah was tried and sentenced by a military court. It was an open and shut case. The evidence against Shah was overwhelming. A trap was laid and he was caught red handed. He pleaded for mercy and leniency, citing his excellent record. This was true. He was actually one of the most efficient and effective SHO’S in that area. Crime in his area was very low and he ruled his domain with an Iron fist. We actually quite liked him. But the case against him was crystal clear

“……Shah saheb”..he said turning towards me wistfully….” You know I’ve done some really nasty things in my career but to be caught, tried and sentenced for this petty act is an insult and a disgrace to me and my reputation”……and off he went to jail, handcuffed, stripped of his police rank, to serve time.

I was reminded of Inspector Shah earlier today, as I watched Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif deliver his fiery Panama Leaks sermon in the National Assembly.

‘You complain about Western exploitation but tell me what have you done about your despotic rulers’ – A Lunch with Tim Sebastian

In 2004 in Abu Dhabi I had the opportunity to spend some time with Tim Sebastian, the renowned anchor.
He was an invited guest of the Higher Colleges of Technology at an International Conference of Noble Laureates. I was, for want of a better label, his chaperone and “Minister in waiting” so charged because of my employment with the University/ College, as Chair of their Business Programs at the Abu Dhabi Campus.
Later that day over lunch, several passionate Arabs and an equally effervescent Pakistani laid into the poor chap, lashing out at “what the West had done to the Muslim world”.
I saw him nodding politely and as the rhetoric from our “brave hosts” reached, perhaps a level tad beyond gracious social conversation, some meek quiet rats, now also jumped into, what was turning into, a free for all.
Tim turned red.
And as the poor deprived representatives of the “colonised” Muslim world became louder and louder against the representative of the “evil” British Empire, Tim looked at the most active Rat.
What’s your name Sir? He said in his most soft yet incredibly intimidating style.
The poor soul stopped in mid air as he was narrating the horrors of what the “West” ( read USA and Britain) and mumbled his name.
Said this man from UK….Mr. ( whatever the name was) I accept that the West has done what you say it has…terrible terrible things….but please tell me what have YOU and your forefathers done in the past and even today (Saddam, Qaddafi, Hosni were still in power) to fight for your rights against colonization and today to replace the dictators who are ruling these Muslim countries with arrogance.
Please tell me why do you allow a family monarchy to rule over you?
He turned to the Pakistani gentlemen. Your country is under military rule today. You’ve had three military dictators before. What did you do to stop them from continuing to rule over you?
I am not here to defend what the West has done. I’m asking you all, what have you done to safeguard your own independance and your rights and get rid of your corrupt rulers.
By this time Tim was on a roll.
The fault, he said, is entirely yours. You people allow foreigners to rule over you. You allow despotic dictators to rule over you. You allow dynasties to rule over you and you have the audacity to blame the west.
We took King John to task in the 13th Century! So my dear friends he said, my apologies for my answer, but you people are responsible for your own misery through your cowardice.
It was a pretty silent lunch after that!
I thought of this conversation, as I heard our PM on TV today.
He is where he is, because we allowed him and others like him, to hijack our system and come into power. And now, unable to muster the guts to remove him, because he will not go otherwise.
We couldn’t stand up to military interventions and allowed a corrupt electoral process to elect corrupt leaders.
We’ve honoured crooks, murderers, money launderers, corrupt politicians, by electing them to our highest offices of President, Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, Governors, Cabinet Ministers.
So why now the hullabaloo? From the comfort of our rooms we look at the Army to “get rid” of Nawaz Sharif, yet unwilling to do anything ourselves.
Sleep well my friends as more sleep is in the offing.
The sleep of the shameless, the spineless and of the cowards!