Rooting out the Cancer – Gen. Bajwa on Lt. Arsalan Shaheed’s Shahadat

-by Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Heartwarming words spoken by the Army Chief during his condolence visit to Lt. Arsalan Shaheed’s house. Extempore, and clearly from the heart.

I think and hope and pray he means business. Especially when alluding to those sitting in far off lands, specifically traitors like Altaf Hussain and Hussain Haqqani and others like them.

I hope when he referred to internal conspiracies he also means those being hatched by Nawaz Sharif and company under the garb of “democracy and political process” to again create space for this crook and plunderer, Nawaz to somehow worm his way back into power. I hope he is cognizant of the efforts to make Kulsoom Nawaz the Prime minister so the loot, rape and plunder restarts.

I hope this is also a message to those who conspired to bleed this country dry and money laundered through Hudaibiya, as did Nawaz, Shahbaz, Hamza and Ishaq Dar. And a message to those who should bring these looters and plunderers to justice.  Convict them and throw away the key.

I hope he also means those who conspired and ordered the killing of hapless women and civilians in Model Town. And I hope he also means that that the two two masterminds of this massacre,  Shahbaz Sharif and Rana Sanaullah will swing from the gallows.

I hope he also means that conspiracies hatched by bureaucrats like the SECP Chairman, Zafar Hijazi, the National Bank President, Saeed Ahmed and many others including the current NAB chairman, Qamar Zaman will also be foiled. And these wretched souls will be given such exemplary punishments and so disgraced that they and their families would be unable to show their faces in public. And so, tomorrow no other bureaucrat dare conspire and provide cover to the loot and plunder of their political masters .

I hope he also means that the Sharif family including Maryam Safdar, Hussain and Hassan Nawaz, alongwith their father will face due process of law under NAB, convicted, sentenced to a long term in jail and all their assets in and out of Pakistan seized and handed over to the State for the betterment of the poor and the underprivileged.

I know that Gen. Bajwa is apolitical and doesn’t believe in military interference in political and government processes. This is a very good position and a laudable virtue. But one must also remember that any virtue carried to its extreme, becomes a vice.

Unfortunately the only two institutions today who are relatively independant and powerful and have the larger interest of the country as their core value are the Supreme Court and the Army. Hence it is to these that we, the spineless, look towards for redressal.

And whether people like it or not the only political leader fighting the entire entrenched corrupt political mafia is Imran Khan. Love him or hate him, but he’s the one battling against this culture of corruption.

I don’t have an answer.

I don’t know if the NAB judge hearing Nawaz’s case and the NAB Prosecutor have spines like the Supreme Court Justices or the JIT members.

I don’t know if the Lahore High Court bench hearing the Model Town petition also has a spine.

But I do know who have spines. Imran Khan, the Supreme Court and The Pakistan Army and the many unsung unknown men and women of Pakistan who toil day and night not succumbing to the lure of corruption to make Pakistan a better place.

Pakistan is again at a cross roads. If we are unable to root out this mafia from political power, I see a terrible and dark future in which they will destroy the independance and competence of the Supreme Court and the Army and convert them into something like the Punjab Police.

And Imran?  Imran they will take care through their political handmaidens. The Election Commission being one. And the rest of us. Who cares?

So for our sake and the future of our children and our beloved Pakistan, the answer and option really is simple.

They must be rooted out!

But how?

Unfortunately we’re in really deep trouble. Economically, politically, governance and socially. We’re surrounded by external threats. USA, India, Afghanistan. And of course, terrorism.

The fabric of our society is being torn asunder by decades of misrule and misgovernance and corruption and loot and plunder. But our biggest and most serious issue is the decay and in many cases the complete breakdown of all public institutions.

Just look at how the NAB, SECP, State Bank, FBR, Anti Corruption, the Election Commission, the Police services and nearly every other Federal and Provincial public office and State owned enterprise has performed and delivered, personal handmaidens to the Sharifs and the Zardaris. Look how a Federal Minister sits at the feet of Maryam Safdar.  Look at how the nation’s wealth is being splurged on security and protocol on a criminal, money launderer, forgerer, liar and cheat, convicted and debarred to hold public office!

But all is not bleak! Of course there’s a way out, and within the system.

Most people understand that “form follows function”. This simply means to create the right structures and the right processes to achieve the results and objectives, we want.

There is an answer, of course!

Change the electoral process to get better people into politics and positions of power and authority.

For starters an independant, competent, credible and powerful election commission is extremely critical.

One would have hoped that the electoral reforms would have resulted in at least four major changes.

1. Majorality and not first past the post.

2. Non elected people could be appointed to Cabinet posts as in the USA.

3. 50% seats on proportional representation.

4. Two time bar on becoming PM.

These four above would dramatically change the quality of people entering politics and occupying positions of power and authority. And also stopping many from ruling forever.

Political Parties would be less liable to be held hostage by baradari based politicians. More technocrats would be appointed to cabinet posts.

But why would an assembly comprising people who would lose their power vote for such amendments?.

We’re in a cul de sac or a dead end. So either we keep sliding down this slippery slope or we do something.

NA 120 illustrated in mind blowing colors how the electoral process continues to elect garbage. 60k votes from 340K registered voters means Kulsoom got 17.5% of the registered vote.

Unfortunately such is our system which will continue to recycle the same old garbage, election after election.  And it will not deliver differently until it is fundamentally changed. Otherwise expect Nawaz to be back in power and Zardari in Sind.

“Insanity is to expect different results from the same behaviours” is the famous definition from Alcoholics Anonymous.

We would be and are insane if we expect the current electoral process to elect angels from a gutter full of devils. So somebody has to change this system of recycling garbage in and garbage out!

The current lot of politicians won’t because it’ll kill them. Martial Law can, but it’ll eventually fail.

In my opinion, only a Supreme Court lead constitutional petition can do so, especially if supported by the people of Pakistan. Hence Imran’s role in leading this charge and support to him by the people of Pakistan is crucial. This is really not about party politics, but about Pakistan, our future, our very existence.

Otherwise, as I’ve repeatedly said, it’s back to the terrible stench and putrid vomit of Nawaz and Zardari and the system they represent.

And the result?

Pakistan will slide  deeper and deeper into total and complete, economic, political, governance and social meltdown and eventual collapse.  The consequences too horrific to spell out.

It is for us the Nation to decide!

Now or never!

Gen. Bajwa’s 6th September Speech was really a “Message!”

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

It was one fine policy statements from an Army Chief in recent times.

Simple, straightforward with no ifs and buts. No complex verbosity.  Just the plain simple truth, by a man who clearly speaks from the heart, announcing Pakistan’s position on key issues.

1. The Armed forces will fully support the State and all its institutions.

2. The world’s crocodile tears on fighting terror are hypocritical. If the world (read Mr. Trump) says we have not done enough, then really nobody has done anything. It is now their turn  to “Do More.”

3.  India will not be allowed to use international public opinion to continue to subvert Pakistan in Balochistan and any attempts will be responded to with an iron fist.

4. While the Armed forces can defeat terrorism militarily, it is the Nation which has to collectively defeat it intellectually and ideologically.

5. No non state actor has the right to arrogate to itself the right to initiate armed action and or launch Jihad. Islam is very clear that Jihad is the exclusive prerogative of the State.

6. A clear statement that the Nation is united in its efforts to rid Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism and the Armed forces is working closely towards this end.

7. That Pakistan will not allow it’s land to be used by terrorist groups and expects the same from other countries especially from its western neighbour, Afghanistan

8. It is our duty to give to our coming generations a Pakistan free of terrorism, corruption and disorder, governed by rule of law and the constitution.

The tragedy is that these words and such a clear clarion call should have come from our Prime Minister or our Foreign Minister or our Defence Minister.

The first is busy trying to save his former boss from NAB and stave of LNG corruption charges against himself.

The Foreign Minister is still busy  sharing daily power generation megawatt statuses and our spanking new Defence Minister is busy counting the number of Dengue mosquitos in KPK.

The government has failed miserably and abjectly on all counts.  Take for example the 2600 kilometer fencing of the Afghan border and 900 border posts. While construction is in full swing, the Federal Government is stalling and refusing funds on one pretext or the other.

What kind of government is this which is silently sabotaging the single biggest action which will finally put to rest all these charges against us about providing “safe havens?”

Is this a government which is true and honest to its mandate and to its people?

So when the government abdicates it’s responsibility and its entire focus is to save their former leader from corruption charges and conviction or helping his partner in crime, his daughter win a National Assembly bye election, then somebody has to step up to the plate.

Gen. Bajwa deserves our gratitude for doing the job of the three who have been found wanting and sleeping on their jobs.

-Haider Mehdi.

The 2017 BRICS Summit announcement on Terrorism. A brief comment.

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

In my view the BRICS announcement is actually an announcement of a change in Pakistan’s policy vis a via the Jihadis especially LeT and JeM which have the potential of stumbling Pakistan and India into a military conflict.

Here’s the actual clause numbered 48 of the 71 Clause declaration available at BRICS 2017 SUMMIT DECLARATION

*48. We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir.*

I’m fairly certain that China and Pakistan were aligned on this text prior to the announcement.

And to me, it appears the rationale is simple.

For China it is imperative that her OBOR project and CPEC are not put at risk under any circumstances.

All militant organizations named in the announcement have the potential of doing so in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Russia and China.

For China this is very important, especially in the context of India Pakistan relations.

To them, any activities in Indian held Kashmir by any groups with ties to Pakistan, formally or informally, have and will continue to result in Indian actions inside Pakistan. Balochistan and CPEC being two easy targets. Earlier it was FATA through the TTP.

India nearly took over Pakistan through Nawaz Sharif. And for this betrayal of Pakistani interests must Nawaz face capital retribution. He and his family must never again be trusted with Pakistan’s governance.

Pakistan has now fully committed itself to China and CPEC (really an extension of Chinese policy) has to do two things.

1. Align to Chinese advice and direction because like it or not, the die is now cast.
2. Ensure that we now move on from our previous position and approach in using Jihadi outfits as instruments of  State Strategy and Foreign Policy.

Hence this announcement now gives Pakistan a very strong cause belli to begin the very difficult and complex task of defanging these two outfits, LeT and JeM  using China’s public position in support of these actions.

It is a very complex task, laden with serious potential consequences because of the nature of these groups.

They are highly motivated, very well armed, heavily funded from across the length and breadth of Pakistan, but primarily by the Punjabi metchants and the fact that they are predominantly Punjabi with roots in the heartland of Pakistan, Punjab.

But most importantly because of the fact that they symbolise a very emotional cause, close and dear to a large part of our population, Kashmir.

So if the disengagement turns nasty, just Imagine two heavily armed militias comprising predominantly Punjabis and Kashmiris, in the heartland of Punjab, turning rogue.

It’s not easy but has to be done and must be done.

We have to fight for Kashmir on every forum possible, except through such non state actors.  Because the consequences and outcomes of such a strategy will certainly not be an independant Kashmir or a Pakistani Kashmir,  but a weak Pakistan.

We must thank our lucky stars that Gen. Bajwa is our Chief, awowedly against using the Jihadist strategy as an instrument of state policy and publicly against all forms of militancy and non state militias.

However, this announcement is no reflection on the larger congruence between Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran on a common strategy towards Afghanistan to counter rhe USA of containing China and de-nuking Pakistan.

China is very smart. They do not want to jeopardise their $45 Trillion OBOR and want to woo India away from the USA, because India can potentially cause great harm to CPEC in its efforts to undermine Pakistan.

Therefore wants to remove all stumbling blocks between Pakistan and India to stop Indian attempts to scuttle CPEC.

The BRICS announcement was China’s carrot to India and a go ahead to Pakistan.

And because beggars can’t be choosers we have to now listen to the Chinese.

We’ve now cast our lot with the Chinese. Lock stock and barrel.

This is the deepest ingress we’ve allowed into Pakistan. Much much beyond Badaber, Shamsi and the largest CIA station in Islamabad.

And the government who negotiated the CPEC terms is still in power and no one knows what has been given and signed away.

We know nothing except that the Chinese will dominate most if not every aspect of our lives in the forseeable future.

Welcome to Pekingistan!

Makes sense?

-Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

Trumpistan! The Trumpeter’s policy on Afghanistan is really their Policy on China.

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

My late father, Col S.G. Mehdi M.C, would oft say. “Understanding a country’s history, especially events in the recent past and a Map is all one needs to understand their national interests, strategies and tactics.

The USA has no intentions of leaving Afghanistan ever unless it’s like the last soldier clinging onto a helicopter lifting off from the rooftop of the USA embassy in Saigon. This is a bold assessment based on what drives their national interests.

Picture this.  In the last 30 years the USA, both Democrat and Republican administrations, have  waged 13 wars, intervened in over 100 countries, spent over $14 Trillion, of this $1 Trillion alone in Afghanistan and caused 3 million deaths.  2 million in Afghanistan and 1 million in Iraq. Their own casualties. Barely 7000 of their own.  A ratio of 1 to 400. Does this look like a country which will leave Afghanistan?

Why does the USA do this? Why do they wage war all over the world? To answer this in detail is a subject for another time, but for the time being, sufficeth to say that global economic domination is the overriding national interest driven by its most dominant sector, the defense establishment. Annually, the USA spends more money on military spending than next 10 countries combined.  Their current 2018 defense budget is $652 billion. The combined military budgets of the next 10 countries ($660 Billion).

Here are the current defence spending bills for the top 11 countries.
1. USA – $652 Billion ($885 billion if veterans, civil defence and military aid included).
2. China – $215 Billion.
3. Russia – $69 Billion
4. Saudi Arabia $64 Billion.
5. India – $56 Billion.
6. France – $56 Billion.
7. UK – $48 Billion.
8. Japan – $46 Billion.
9. Germany – $41 Billion.
10. South Korea – $37 Billion.
11. Italy – $28 Billion

For context, Pakistan’s defence budget for 2017 is about $9 Billion.

The total current annual global military expenditure is nearly $1.7 trillion ($1,7000,000,000,000) and the USA has a whopping 50% share of global defence expenditure.  America has been in an uninterrupted cycle of war for nearly 80 years since the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. Today, inarguably, it is the biggest, the most powerful, and the most violent war mongering nation on the planet.  And this is the country Pakistan faces as an adversary in Afghanistan and the Region.

But and it’s a happy but. They have suffered defeats in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq. Because even if you’re the world’s mightiest military machine on ground, air and sea with the most sophisticated munitions, you still cannot defeat a determined population defending their homelands. You can blow up the whole country but you can’t blow up their ideologies and passion to defend themselves and so it is with the Afghans. And this the USA understands.

So then why will the USA not work towards a peaceful resolution to Afghanistan’s seemingly intractable problem, knowing that they cannot be defeated into submission?

Why should Trump say that the US objective in Afghanistan is not “nation building again but killing terrorists”? Knowing that in 16 years of war and with a 130,000 US troops they could not do it.

The answer – China’s race towards Global economic leadership.

According to Steve Bannon, the former Chief White House Strategist, a role especially created for him and even today considered by many Washington insiders to be Trump’s closest political advisor, China is the biggest threat to USA’ world domination.

He believes China, if not checked by the USA, will become in the next 10 to 15 years the world’s pre-eminent and dominant economic power, ahead of the USA.  And this is what the USA fears most!

Also militarily, while USA defence expenditures have remained fairly constant in the $600 billion to $650 billion range in the last 10 years, with increases above $700 Billion from 2009 to 2012, China more than doubled its military budget from about $100 Billion to $215 billion today.  And if China continues to increase its military budget at the same rate, not only will they gallop ahead of the USA economically, but be very close to matching the US military might.
So stopping China’s economic outreach is the overriding USA strategic objective and thereby its military prowess as well.

The question is how will the USA attempt to do that and the answer lies in OBOR – China’s One Belt, One Road program, Its most ambitious economic initiative to date. An estimated spend of $5 Trillion across 64 countries in Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe, is what keeps the USA awake at night. And OBOR’s three major flagship projects are the $46 billion CPEC, China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a 3,000km high-speed railway connecting China and Singapore, and gas pipelines across central Asia.

USA military presence in Afghanistan provides them the perfect staging ground and opportunity to attempt to disrupt, scuttle and eventually destroy CPEC and thereby significantly dent China’s OBOR strategy.  It’s really as simple as that.

The USA are not there to kill the Taliban as said the Trumpeter, but will be happy to, wherever and whenever they can find them. And simultaneously trying to negotiate mineral mining rights for the estimated $3 Trillion in precious metals and minerals in Afghanistan.

They have no desire to turn Afghanistan into a peaceful country at peace with its neighbours, because then Afghanistan will become an essential extension of OBOR and CPEC.

They have no desire to talk peace with the Taliban and to form an inclusive government of all warring groups, because then it will mean a China and Pakistan friendly Afghanistan.

They know that no “safe havens” exist in Pakistan anymore, given that nearly 50% of Afghanistan is under Taliban control and that, today, they have not been able to find a single Taliban training camp inside Pakistan.  A challenge the Pakistan Army Chief, Gen. Bajwa threw to Gen. Nicholson and all visiting US military and civilian leaders who trooped in recently, to find such a camp, using all their sophisticated wizardry and drones.

They are not here to ensure that terrorists do not attack America because that is now near nigh impossible.  They know that the Taliban have agreed to all conditions to participate in Afghan reconciliation, including accepting the Ghani government, laying down arms, participating in free and fair elections, except one proviso.  The USA must leave Afghanistan.  And this they cannot.

They know that Pakistan has played an extremely constructive and positive role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table, but that is not their intent. They know that Pakistan and its Army are no longer playing a “double game” if one can call looking after one’s own interest, that.  And admittedly this part of our strategy and policy was handled extremely ham handedly in the past.  But then hindsight is always 20/20.

But for the USA to acknowledge that the Taliban want peace.  To acknowledge that Pakistan also wants a peaceful Afghanistan. To acknowledge that all countries in the region, China, Russia, Pakistan and Iran, except India, want a stable Afghanistan is totally contrary to their goals of defeating China.

To accept this means giving China a free hand in the Region and its march towards global domination.

To accept it means that they can no longer feed US and Global public opinion with the narrative that Pakistan is fermenting trouble in Afghanistan and hence the need for US troops to keep Afghanistan “stable and safe”.

To acknowledge full Taliban participation in a peaceful reconciliation of Afghanistan means that a future Afghan government will look east towards Pakistan and China and not west towards the USA. Hence whenever there are serious moves forward to bring the Taliban to the table their leader is bumped off.

And it serves President Ghani of Afghanistan to echo the USA narrative of a Pakistan attempting to destabilize Afghanistan, so they can remain in power and not admit the abject failures to reconcile the warring elements

It is in this context that we must evaluate and analyse Trumpistan as a USA strategy, laden with horrifying consequences to defeat China.  Pakistan is thus in their cross hairs because of CPEC.  The tragedy is that the USA will not succeed in this attempt but in trying to achieve their goals they will wreak havoc on Pakistan.

And this where they are currently out Trumped! How do they get back Pakistan into their sphere and out of China’s grasp? How do they scuttle the CPEC project? And lurking as a close second is their other strategic objective which is totally Pakistan centric. How do they de-nuclearize Pakistan, seen as a potential and catastrophic threat to them, India and Israel?  So good old Pakistan has a handful to deal with and is likely in for a period of serious turmoil and instability.

It is then we understand the prime reason behind the very close USA and India partnership with common and aligned objectives.  Defeat China and de-nuclearize Pakistan.

It is then easy to see why Baluchistan is in turmoil, with India using its Afghan and Iran ingress to attack CPEC.

Iran’s geo-political interests are today closely aligned to China, Pakistan, Russia and for a peaceful Afghanistan.  Iran must realise that allowing India any further ingress into Iran will only be counter productive. Their interests lie in de-linking their relationship with India and reaching out to Pakistan and becoming close friends as they had been in the past.  But the sectarian regional rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia has been a major factor in stopping this re-conciliation. But now with the Saudi influence in Pakistan fading, the time is opportune for Pakistan and Iran to reconcile and adopt a common strategy to counter the USA threat.

In my view the Saudi Arabia as we know it now, is more a question of when and not if. As are the other Gulf states, especially the UAE.  As is now fairly common knowledge that the UAE has been actively attempting to sabotage the Gwadar port because it directly impacts their trade lifeline and free ports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The USA actively supported by India and with help from the Afghan government, will take full advantage of Pakistan’s current political turmoil to instigate even greater instability and violence.  One can expect them to attack our sectarian, religious, social, ethnic and, provincial fault lines to create unrest and armed conflict.

They will try and bring Pakistan to its knees, economically and then ask for their pound of flesh.

They will unleash Quislings like Husain Haqqani as the poster insider of Pakistan establishment and use his invective and poison to feed US public opinion. It is now easy to connect the dots and understand why a two bit hustler, albeit an intelligent two bit hustler like Husain Haqqani says and writes what what he does.  He should be ignored and shunned and castaway in the garbage heap of history as another who sold his soul!

They will also unleash other similar  moles, hidden deep inside our political, civil and military organizations and our media to create turmoil.

We are our own worst enemies.

I don’t think the US will militarily attack Pakistan. Some drone attacks, certainly.  But will do everything to destabilize us politically and destroy us economically.

Our best bet is a strong government and a regional pact between China, Pakistan, Russia and Iran. I think China has too much at stake to let us drift, despite our own best efforts to destroy ourselves. I think China may be able to prevail upon Ghani that the USA bear hug will be their death.

India will up the ante. Europe will not fall for the American narrative. Turkey as well. So lots in our favour except our own desire to commit suicide. Lots of moving parts.

And I can go as far as to hazard that they will attempt to create circumstances of such turmoil and massive civil unrest with the hope that the Army will take over and hoping, as in the past with Zia and Musharraf before to buy off the new strongman!

This is a ploy and a trap our Army and Gen. Bajwa must not fall for and into. They will use you and Pakistan and discard you once the night is over.  They will destroy the country and de-nuclearize us and leave us at the mercy of the dogs of India!

Beware the Greeks bearing gifts!

-Syed Haider Raza Mehdi