Pakistan’s Corona Options?

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

There’s a battle raging in Pakistan over the Corona crisis, especially on the strategy.

Whether we should go for a soft mitigation strategy of self imposed social distancing or through a harsh state mandated suppression strategy of forced lockdown.

While there’s limited data on eventual outcomes, so far we know that harsh suppression is far more effective in slowing down the infection and mortality rate, as compared to the gentle mitigation, being advocated by PM Imran.

The choice is not a black and white, binary right or wrong, but one which gives us the best fighting chance to tackle this Black Swan event. Deaths will occur in both scenarios.

While we can understand the argument of the negative economic impact on the tens of millions of daily wage earners and micro businesses who literally survive on their daily earnings to make ends meet, the consequences of a soft, gentle mitigation strategy are horrific in terms of infection, loss of life and the overwhelming of the National health care system.

And the most at risk will be the daily wage earners and the poor, with no help coming their way from our already crumbling health care system, as they are afflicted in the millions.

This is clear from countries which went the mitigation strategy way like Italy, Spain, Iran and the USA, where it didn’t work. All are now moving or have moved to lockdowns.

On the other hand the harsher lockdown suppression approach will give us, as we saw in China, South Korea, Singapore a lessening of the rate of infection, less mortality without overwhelming health care systems where doctors, like in Italy, having to make terrible choices of letting people die because of lack of medical facilities and care.

For Pakistan, without qualification, we need the harsher lockdown strategy to stop the virus infecting tens of our millions and consequently, as we know, our already hopeless health care infrastructure, will crumble in no time.

We need to buy time!

This will give us breathing space to upgrade our health systems, chances that a vaccine may be available to limit its genocidical impact and also develop and implement strategies and plans to address the economic impact on our most vulnerable segments.

One of Pakistan’s leading medical health professional shared this with me when I asked for his views.

*”…….PM Imran and Pakistan needs a very high powered body and think tank of highly competent healthcare, economic and social experts with powers to immediately implement decisions. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. Total lock down with volunteers and army making sure the daily wagers are fed without leaving homes…..”*

So our challenges are two fold.

Enforce a lockdown, for which our military, our law enforcement agencies and civic volunteers are mobilized. This is easy. Especially if a National Emergency is declared so decisions are not challenged and made redundant by spoilers in courts of law. Even fundamental rights may have to suspended.

Private sector must be engaged, by law, on a war footing to upgrade our healthcare infrastructure to provide and or produce much needed medical equipment, supplies, medicines, to take advantage of the breathing space achieved from the lock down.

Based on infection data, plans must ensure that less exposed cities, towns, districts etc are fenced off, creating safe havens in case of an out break in other areas.

Intercity movement can be strictly regulated and controlled only allowing for needed supplies and emergency vehicles.

The second and bigger challenge is to address the issues of those economically impacted by the lockdown. In this situation, the most effective institutions with the necessary geographical footprint and experience are those who’ve been working in poverty alleviation across the country.

Organization like Akhuwat with over 800 offices in over 440 cities, towns and villages. The Saylani Trust. The Government’s Ehsas Program, The Aga Khan Rural support program the National Rural Support Program, The Sarhad Rural Support Program and scores if not hundreds more.

People like Dr. Amjad Saquib of Akhuwat, Qazi Azmat Isa of PPAF, Masood ul Mulk of SRSP Shandana Khan, Shaheen Atiqqur Rehman of Bunyad, Dr. Naseeruddin Mahmood of Child Life Foundation and many more need to be consulted and made partners in this project to successfully implement.

This is not the work of politicians, bureaucrats and military officers alone, but of domain specialists and experts.

Pakistanis have always risen to the call to help its fellow citizens. We’ve seen the massive support when afflicted by Earthquakes and Floods.

Our philanthropy is legendary. Estimates of food requirements for about 60 million of the most impacted range from Rs 100 to Rs 300 billion for a 6 month period. Between the government and our people we will easily come up with this amount.

An easy way out. Reduce the State Bank discount rate by 4% and the saving on debt servicing provides a much bigger cushion.

This is war! We have to save our people. The economy we will rebuild if we come through less scarred.

Our richest must come forward and donate generously. The 70 odd members of the Pakistan Business Council, our largest business magnates who contribute 11% of our GDP, must step forth and take the lead!

It is now for PM Imran to decide and take actions quickly and not be drowned in a cacophony of confusion, helplessness, misguided advice and analysis paralysis.

He must lock down the Country and put in place plans to address those most impacted by the lockdown.

This could be his finest hour as he rallies the entire resources of the country, its young and old, rich and poor, behind him to save the Country from calamitous consequences.

  1. PM Imran needs a “War Cabinet of Competence” not the current pack of jokers, busy in palace intrigues, currently around him.

“Ambivalence” – An interim perspective on PM Imran Khan’s performance

“Ambivalence” – An interim perspective on PM Imran Khan’s performance (published on 07 Dec 19)
By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Not sure if there’s such a phrase as positive ambivalence.  Something bordering on lack of clarity with some glimmers of hope. Or negative ambivalence with confusion wrapped in pessimism!

Been back and busy seeking insights, views, opinions, perspectives from a wide cross section of people.  Politicians from across the spectrum, members of our rich, corrupt & spoilt elite, crony capitalists, comrades in khaki, business people, social activists, technology gurus, serving and retired bureaucrats and that most important stakeholder, the salt of the earth, the person on the street. So has anything changed for the better since I was here 6 months ago?

And that’s where the “ambivalence” comes in as I attempted to seek answers. Has PM Imran, finally come of age?

Does he now understand the science and art of governance enough to provide the kind of leadership expected from a PM? The kind of leadership that goes beyond long lectures and motivational talks during cabinet meetings. Is he less stubborn around issues which bedevil even his closest advisors and confidantes.  Buzdar and Firdaus Awan being two such enigmas.

 The former in whose hands lies the political fate of Imran and may I daresay the future of what may be our best fighting chance for our country. Or Firdaus, a face that “turns off a million TV sets”. Somebody who does an outstanding job, much superior to anything Ahsan Iqbal and Maryum Aurangzeb  can ever do, in destroying Imran’s and his Government’s image.

Is he beginning to make the right people choices in appointing quality people, at least in positions over which he has total discretionary powers? Or is the cronyism we’ve seen in some cases of appointing friends to head crucial government bodies coming to an end with horror stories of one such crony usually found inebriated night and day? Or putting square pegs in round holes.

Will his flagship programs like Ehsas for poverty alleviation, Naya Pakistan Housing, Kamyab Jawan, and the most recent one on Digital Pakistan be game changers, or flashes in the pan?

I attended the last event and expected a bit more, beyond the rhetoric of a Digital economy, which for the last decade or so is fairly common knowledge. When are we going to move beyond the *”what is the problem”* to *”here is how we’ll fix it”* or better *”here’s how we’ve fixed it”.* Has Imran seriously begun to look at the negative impact many of his cabinet members have on his and his Government’s image? Is he serious in bringing sweeping changes and bring better people from his party into the cabinet? Is he becoming more statesmanlike or still stuck in his Dharna mode?

Are we seeing a tapering off in the angry, harsh, conflict laden rhetoric that he employs in his various speeches or is it becoming more shrill, negative and counter productive, which he thinks plays to his constituents? Are we seeing any early signs of green shoots after nearly 17 months in power? Are the economic and business indicators of reduction in the current account deficit, fiscal deficit, increase in exports, a rocketing stock market, Moody’s outlook change from negative to stable, Internationally a “buy” advice on the Pakistani Rs, with anticipations of a stronger Rupee in the forthcoming quarters, harbingers of a genuine recovery based on strong fundamentals or are flashes in the pan?

Has governance in Punjab and KP improved?

In 17 months have we seen any structural changes and improvements in health care delivery, in the manner in which the police deals with people, in quality of education, in the judicial system, especially the lower judiciary? Is there any evidence of improvement in government processes resulting in more efficient and effective delivery of public services? Does the common person feel any change? Any change, at all! Will Imran’s latest experiment in Punjab, as I’ve heard, of handing over pretty much all administrative and executive powers to the newly appointed Chief Secretary and IG, be successful in improving good governance in Punjab?   And will he continue in his stubbornness to impose Buzdar on a hapless, Punjab.

Is the tax reform resulting in behaviour change of people paying more taxes? The evidence says, yes!  Has political interference stopped or significantly reduced in the functioning of the police and bureaucracy ? Has the Zardari / Nawaz culture of friends and family members accompanying state delegations on foreign visits stopped, especially to China? I’ve seen disturbing evidence of such people accompanying the PM to China. Perhaps without his knowledge or perhaps with!

Do we see conflict of interest involving his cabinet members diminishing or do foreign firms find partnering with commercial concerns owned by advisors and people close to him, the easiest means to land lucrative contracts? Will the new NAB ordinance change the way people are arrested, investigated, forced to plea bargain, simply to get out?

I’ve personally witnessed a horror story of a man arrested without any complainant, who is being forced to plea bargain, because there’s no case which will stand up in court, and because of the very large percentage of the plea bargain amount, which officially goes to NAB staff. Will we see more genuine accountability and less victimization?

Will we see less double speak from the Government’s anti corruption point person, as we saw in the recent £190 million funds transfer from the UK, where he desperately tried to whitewash, “Angel” Malik Riaz?

How will the recent run in regarding the Army Chief’s terms of appointment, extension, with the superior judiciary, pan out?  How has this impacted civil military relations and Imran’s ability to govern effectively? How badly has the Army Chief’s reputation and his office been affected by this event?  Is the entire military leadership on the same page with their current Chief?

Is it more of the same, with an odd good thing here and there or are we seeing a weakening of the status quo?

Finally the universal messages I received. He’s working incredibly hard. Harder than any other person in his team! Excellent!  The question is. Is that enough The bigger question is. Does he have a team that can deliver?

In my humble view, Pakistan’s and Imran’s biggest challenge is still “Governance”. Nothing else.  We have to get the right people, make correct policies, fix processes. But as one senior government functionary told me, hitting me with an uppercut.  “Haider it’s easy to write analytical articles sitting comfortably on the sidelines and something entirely different to be in the arena!”. I agree. There’s much merit in what he says and perhaps also some merit in an armchair analyst, like me, asking questions to gain insights.

I also agree that the entire system is polluted and changing it is a Herculean task! And that Imran has limited choices! But having said that!  There’s nothing stopping Imran to up his own game and even more importantly bring in a much much better team, to give Pakistan a fighting chance!

All we wanted and still want from him were and are two things. Meritocracy and appointing the right people in the right places to deliver good governance.  For this ask from him I don’t have to be in the arena. All I have to do is look at the people he’s surrounded himself with! For these two things, he alone is responsible and answerable! Meritocracy and the right person in the right role!

This is what he promised. This is what he must deliver. 

CJ Khosa’s swan song – The  Army Chief Extension “Suo Moto”

CJ Khosa’s swan song – The  Army Chief Extension “Suo Moto” (published on 26 Nov 19) By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

In my view and in the larger scheme of things and in the long term, the SC temporary suspension, highly contentious and suspicious, of the COAS extension notification, is a good thing, whatever their motivations. This order will certainly give rise to highly polarized views, great confusion and insecurity and conspiracy theories of attempts to oust PM Imran and weaken the Army and a treacherous stab in our efforts to come out of our current mess.

Many are aware of my perspective and very strong support for the military in its efforts to help rebuild civilian institutions and my considered view that it will take time for their footprint to be reduced and that it will not happen, overnight. But I have also maintained that PAKISTAN can only develop if its civilian institutions begin to assert themselves and in so doing send signals that the influence of the Army and its senior leadership beyond their mandated role, has boundaries.

I do not believe the CJ is trying to upend Imran or bring down the government or has been “bought” by Nawaz etc.  But the timing of this “suo moto” is very awkward and looks extremely suspicious, especially given that he’s rarely taken a suo moto. He denies that it’s a suo moto.  But it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims like a duck.  It’s clearly a duck or a suo moto!

And if ever there was an opportunity for a suo moto, then it was to stop Nawaz from traipsing off to good old London land, after the Punjab High Court allowed him to do so or in the least maintaining the Rs. 7 billion bond

While CJ Khosa is not anyone’s hand maiden, nor is he up for sale and is an extremely tough guy, my only question is “why now” and “why this issue? This has certainly cast a huge shadow around him! His recent public spat with the PM, does of course put a huge and serious question mark on the “objectiveness” of this order, coming at this time.

Having said that, I was always against the extension, and in my most recent commentary had requested the Chief to ride away in the sunset with dignity and grace and at the peak of his success. Were that to happen and a new Army Chief appointed, it would be good for PM Imran to focus even more on rebuilding civilian institutions and not have to rely, as is the perception, on one particular individual to plug in where needed, and lull him into a sense of complacency.

If there’s a new Army Chief, even he will and should extend full support of the institution to him and his government, wherever needed and required. And required it is!

Therefore, in my opinion,  this suspicious short order suspending the extension may actually turn into a good omen for Pakistan, long term!  Many will disagree and see this as a dark conspiracy against PM Imran and weakening the Army and an extension of 5th generation warfare against the State.  I don’t. I actually see this strengthening him and the civilian executive

And even if the suspension is withdrawn, a warning shot has been fired across the bows indicating no individual is omnipotent and that due process cannot be flouted. And if I were Gen. Bajwa, given this temporary suspension and even before its withdrawal, were that to happen, I would decline the extension and, like I said earlier, ride away into the sunset, with grace and dignity and the satisfaction of having done an outstanding job.

But the question of “Why now” and “Why this” will forever haunt CJ Khosa’s legacy and his motives, given that he’s picked at a “procedural lapse” at a time when the petitioner wanted to withdraw it, and unilaterally converting it into a suo moto! Had he taken it up, as a suo moto, say, on 22 August, 2019, no one would have questioned his motives!

Another mystery in our never ending conspiracy theories.

The “Insider Crowd”

The “Insider Crowd”

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi (originally published on 18 Nov, 2019)

So there’s this amazing group of people, all pretending “to know” having the “inside story”  on what’s going on in Pakistan. Boldy they claim to have been informed by “someone” who is an “insider.”  Often this implies a senior politician, a cabinet minister, a senior bureaucrat, a High Court or Supreme Court judge and that clincher of all clinchers, a “very senior serving military general” and one that even tops that “a senior officer from Aabpara”.

I became acutely aware of this sickness in the last 5 years as I ventured into the shark infested waters of political activism. Especially last one year when I was active in Pakistani media. Mainstream and Social Media have unleashed this cruel monster of unbelievable pathetic political discourse and opinions which haunts Pakistan 24/7. Pseudo analysts like me and pretentious TV anchors, sit on top of this dung heap, attempting to bless their highly questionable narratives with this “stamp of authenticity” of getting it from an “insider”.

Flaunting words like “Pindi” “Islamabad” “Boots” “Aabpara” tapping their shoulders to imply military rank etc. Their statements usually start with a phrase ” a very senior person told me…..”  Many amongst us are victims of the massive power of Social Media to build completely fake narratives, mixing half truths with outright falsehoods and pressing our political, religious, ethnic hot buttons, to power a very believable perspective.

Then we have these legions of politicians, business people, serving and retired bureaucrats, retired military officers who meet the same people saying the same things everyday in the same clubs (Sind Club, Boat Club, Karachi and Lahore Gymkhana, Punjab Club, Defence Club, Islamabad Club, Press Clubs etc etc). Please excuse me if I’ve missed your club. These people, after hearing the same thing over and over again,  actually end up believing what they’ve been saying to themselves and to each other.

One person, a highly successful businessman,  in particular continues to share his “inside nonsense”  with me, despite having been proved wrong every single time over the last 5 years.

Such is the power of a false narrative and how intelligent, educated, successful people can lap up this gutter crap! Not surprised this happens. Just look at Trump’s America. 97% of Republicans still believe he’s a great guy!  So why wouldn’t people in Pakistan lap up this garbage about Nawaz and Zardari being innocent.  That Bilawal and Maryam are great leaders. That the Army is calling the shots and Imran is a puppet.

But there’s a more dangerous crowd!

Today a large group of  people, with seriously dubious credentials and  backgrounds and integrity, credibility and ethical issues, have somehow catapulted from nowhere into a positions of influence & wealth, which itself is highly suspicious and are at the forefront of spewing this nonsense. You usually find them projecting themselves on Social Media, rubbing shoulders with power brokers, politicians, government officials, worming their way into military circles and portraying themselves as “insiders” with high level contacts with “Pindi” etc.

These types are very dangerous and most subversive because they deliberately use their platforms, forums, groups and positions to sow dissension, create confusion and spread fear and negativity.  Many are ripe to be turned by foreign intelligence agencies because of their clout and influence, their absolute absence of patriotism and their lust for wealth!

Then we have this smirking, smug, patronizing group of intellectuals, social activists, many still waging the “Cold War” against “Zia’s Army” and still not understanding that this is not your Dad’s Army.  That the institution is changing and will continue to change as civilian institutions become stronger. This group fails to understand that the shadows of 33 years of military rule cannot be undone in a few years. And that the rape, loot and plunder and near total destruction of civilian institutions at the hands of ZAB, Benazir, Nawaz, Zardari, will not be fixed in a few years. That Imran is hamstrung by a near bankrupt economy a devastated public sector, an incomptent and corrupt bureaucracy, an entrenced elitist mafia which is fighting back.

That change will take time!

So here’s the list of things I’ve heard in the last 5 years.

1. Zardari will be President. Deal done with Gen. Bajwa.

2. Shahbaz Sharif will be PM. Deal done with Gen. Bajwa.

3. National Government for 3 years. Gen. Bajwa will head it.

4. A coalition government with Zardari as President and Imran as PM. Gen. Bajwa has agreed.

5. The Army will never allow Imran to become PM.  “They” are scared they won’t be able to control him.

6. Gen. Bajwa is Nawaz’s man. Just wait. Nawaz will never go to jail.

7. Saqib Nisar is Nawaz’s man. Just wait. Nawaz will never go to jail.

8. The Army installed Imran. Just wait and see. (Wait for What?)

And now.

9. Imran is a puppet. All decisions are made by Gen. Bajwa.

10.  Fazlur Rehman’s Dharna was sponsored by the Army. Just wait and see.

11. The Army has decided that Imran has to go. Just wait and see

12. Finally. “Pindi” facilitated Nawaz’s departure. ( Seems it was true)

Well folks here are a couple of things as an “outsider”.

There is no “They” “Pindi” “Boots” “Aabpara” “Military Establishment”.

There is just one guy! Yes! One guy! And he’s called the Chief of the Army Staff. What he says, goes! Period! And today, that guy is Gen. Bajwa.

One may have views about him, but from what I know and see, as an outsider, three things about him are absolutely crystal clear.

1. He believes in civilian supremacy and authority. Not now but ever since he was a young officer.

2. He has ZERO ambition to control government policy or take over.

3. Imran trusts him and both have a very strong personal and professional relationship.

 Imran has actively sought his and the Army’s help in rebuilding civilian institutions and providing interim support till these institutions become strong. Those who know Imran will vouch that he will never ever play second fiddle to anybody. He would much rather resign and leave.  Those who know Gen. Bajwa will vouch that Gen. Bajwa is genuinely and passionately committed to civilian supremacy and overlordship and will never overtly or covertly attempt to exercise control. He will only do what he’s ordered and asked.

Despite the fact that one wants the Army to reduce its footprint and influence, it will take time as they remain visible in helping build civilian institutions. My only plea to Gen. Bajwa. Do not allow corrupt serving Generals to go unpunished.  This is your Achilles heels. We must understand that the corrupt, elitist mafia that has reigned supreme in Pakistan is fighting tooth and nail to survive.  And their two biggest enemies and targets?

1. Imran and his reform agenda.

2. Gen. Bajwa and the Pakistan Army.

So their best strategy is to malign and bring into disrepute both individuals and their efforts. Hence my unsolicited advice to Gen. Bajwa.

There’s still time to not accept the extension even if Imran insists.

You’ve played an excellent innings. Leave at the peak of your career with honour, grace and dignity. Let the system continue. This will also take the wind out of every argument labeling Imran a puppet of the Army and Gen. Bajwa and the Army calling the shots. The Army has to make up for its sins of omission and commission. It is responsible for our state of affairs today and these corrupt politicians. Your not accepting the extension will be one such atonement!

Not that it will stop the Pakistani version of the “Trump” supporters to come up with something else.

A Final comment!

Every single time I’ve asked these “insiders” to name their “Pindi” source or other sources, the answer, vast majority of the time without fail is “Oh I can’t disclose it”. And the reason they refuse to share is because there is no insider source!  It’s the echo chamber echoing the same garbage!

People of Pakistan be careful. This is The Battle for Pakistan and our future.

Nawaz Sharif’s Departure – The “Death” Word…..!*

Nawaz Sharif’s Departure – The “Death” Word…..!*

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi ( this article was  published on 11th November)

While the Nation awaits whether Nawaz will fly out on Monday or not, or will the Mulla blink, a much bigger tragedy may unfold.

The tragedy is not the one defined by Nawaz Sharif’s brown nosing, spineless courtiers and vested interest driven supporters, of a “critical ill person” desperately needing expert medical intervention in foreign lands!  No, the tragedy is not even that between him and his brother, in the 35 odd years that they exercised power, these two vulture like robber barons couldn’t build even one outstanding medical institution to treat him in Pakistan. Even with the trillions in public funds they had at their disposal.

And guess who built three with people’s donations?

The tragedy is not that a blackmailing self styled, despicable, graceless, machavellian Mulla, can talk about destroying Pakistan and paint a grim picture of killing and violence and death, sitting in the comfort of his sofa while his ignorant, illiterate, misled supporters freeze in the cold.

The tragedy is not that a thirty something good for nothing pretentious molly coddled kid can be foisted to head a political party, simply because of biology and have educated, literate segments of our so called liberal intelligentsia look up to him as a beacon of democratic credentials.

The tragedy is that our educated and aware will run down our Army. They will criticize and demean any and all efforts to change this putrid status quo. They will support corrupt looters and plunderers like Nawaz, Zardari in the name of supporting democracy.

The tragedy is that unless we completely revamp our electoral and governance model to allow a much higher quality of educated experts and specialists to enter our legislatures and high public office, we will continue to witness the aforesaid.

And clearly the bedeviling question is the “How”. Our current environment will never allow and should not allow any sort of military or quasi military, autocratic intervention to “reform” our political order.  No. We do not want a “National Government for 3 years”. None of that nonsense.  No we certainly do not want an overt or latent behind the scenes military dictatorship leading to fascism. They have failed and will fail again. Guaranteed.

How do we then get out of this mess, without resorting to extra constitutional measures, which will set us back several decades. So hence the cul de sac!

In my view, the answer to revamping our electoral process, our politics and our governance model lies in good governance and in using the current system to uproot it. This includes, very importantly, reducing the military’s overwhelming footprint, and near asphyxiating strangle hold on our society!

The answer likes in strengthening our civilian public sector institutions, by appointing competent leaders at the helm, meritocracy, strong sustainable organizational processes and procedures and massive use of technology.

This is not easy, given the total mess left behind, the whole-scale destruction of our civilian institutions and now, Imran’s and his team’s, inexperience, ignorance, incompetence and arrogance!

However, as Imran grows in his role, begins to understand it better and masters the art and science of governance and public service, his decisions and the consequential outcomes will hopefully and progressively improve and have improved.  We do see some green shoots of some good work put in place. Economic indicators, Tax reforms. Poverty alleviation.  Its not a huge lot. But still something noteworthy, indicating we are directionally on the right path.

But the common man has yet to experience the benefits of Imran’s Naya Pakistan, currently reeling under inflation and a slow economy. This is crucial if he is to succeed! In my view, Imran’s faces two challenges. His weak team which he must fix. CM’s Buzdar and Mahmood are two of the most visible and sore examples of this!

Imran, whatever his justification and his own reasoning, in stubbornly sticking to his Buzdar decision, one being that he doesn’t want to repeat a KPK Khattak, is totally and completely wrong in continuing with Buzdar.  But there’s another threat that he fears.  If Buzdar goes, his Punjab and perhaps even his federal hold ends. But Buzdar is a disaster! Period!  And Imran does not have time on his side to continue with this failed experiment. Certainly not in Punjab! So he has to wither up his own game to start delivering in Punjab and or compromise with power brokers and get a better person on board!

Then we have the many questionable characters in his cabinet.  Advisors, special assistants, hangers on etc, some with serious issues of financial integrity and facing serious charges of corruption. He just cannot afford this confederation of the corrupt and incompetent dunces around him!

Externally, he faces the forces of a corrupt rancid political status quo and a degenerate plutocratic, kleptocratic order. Today, represented by the likes of Nawaz, Zardari, Bilawal, Fazlur Rehman, Asfandyar, Achakzai, Siraj Ul Haq and those like them. All desperate to get rid of him as they see in him the potential to destroy a political system and gravy train, which gave them access to political power, wealth and Influence.

This we see in Fazlur Rehman flexing his muscles.

In the manner the nation is being deliberately divided by spewing venom and hatred against the Army, because the Army, read Gen. Bajwa, is fully supporting Imran in strengthening civilian institutions and in breaking the stranglehold of the corrupt status quo mafia on every aspect of Pakistani society.  This is a battle which will determine our future. And a battle we must win*

If Imran,  were to prevail over his challenges, both of getting a better team and overcoming the forces of status quo, then over the next several years, our public sector institutions will begin to deliver outcomes, especially to the economically challenged segments of our society.  We should then see improvements in healthcare, education, employment, justice, law and order, social and economic equity, poverty. We should see transparent and authentic accountability across all sectors. We should see the beginnings of what will eventually become a professional bureaucracy.

A huge win will be a surging economic engine, delivering higher GDP, more taxes, more jobs, increased exports and raising our standards and quality of living, especially of the poor! It will also deliver an economic surplus and break the chains of indebtedness to foreign countries and institutions. It will safeguard us against external machinations and conspiracies to keep us weak and unstable and poorly governed.

This is what can and will happen if Imran succeeds.

And it this massive reform agenda that the status quo is targeting with a vengeance, especially so the common man does not get relief and will come out on the streets.  But and this is where the battle is, were Imran to succeed by the time the next elections come around, the masses will vote him in with a massive majority.  It is then, that Imran using the mandate he receives, changes our electoral and governance models!

This dear country people is how it should happen and will happen. It is this which keeps Nawaz, Zardari, Bilawal, Fazlu, Asfandyar, Achakzai their courtiers and vested interests, the elite of Pakistan who have looted and plundered at will, awake at night and soil their clothes!

Imran’s success in delivering good governance is our only way to transforming our society. He must, must, must fix his team. And the Nation and all its institutions must support him!

This is for us, for our children, for our future! This is not about our politics, our political party, our baradari or our selfish economic interests.

Hence the  “D”word about Nawaz’s Death. Death is in Allah’s hand! The issue is not whether Nawaz lives or dies. Or whether he stays or leaves!  Or whether his illness is really life threatening!

The real issue for us is that our current electoral, political and governance system must be totally destroyed and uprooted so people like Nawaz and Zaradari and their children cannot loot and plunder at will and when caught, still manage to fly away to live and die in comfort and luxury !

Nawaz must not be allowed to leave (unfortunately he was)*.  He must get his treatment here in Pakistan, unless our laws allow every convict, who can afford it to get bail, to go abroad for medical treatment.  The hypocrisy and double standards of many members of our Superior Judiciary, adopted in this case, is nauseating! This is not being cruel. This is being fair and just. Let Nawaz be treated by a system he ruled over for 35 years.

But, this terrible system must be destroyed and uprooted, if Pakistan is to survive!

More critically, Pakistan cannot afford Imran’s failure!

The Day of The “Diesel”!

The Day of the “Diesel”!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi*

As the political temperature rises and falls in Islamabad, there is still confusion, ambiguity, ambivalence, perhaps even a fear of violence and unrest as a result of an intemperate action by Fazlur Rehman or his cohorts.

That Fazlur Rehman is way over the line. Any line, is absolutely clear!

Whether its political, moral, ethical, electoral or diesel, it’s not even worth repeating, how wrong he is in what’s he doing.

Or how wrong he is in attempting to blackmail the country, peace loving citizens, the government, Imran, the Army, with his implied threat of unleashing his goons and hounds on Islamabad!

I don’t think there’s anybody who actually likes him!

His political allies don’t, but they know he’s useful in bringing people on the streets, which none of them could.

And he’s also consistently blackmailed them with his half a dozen or dozen or so seats!

Nawaz and the PMLN, the most aggrieved, don’t like him, reluctant fundamentalists, them, but they go along, hoping his anarchy may save them!

Nor does the PPP like him! PPP is a party most at risk and tottering on disintegration as the Zardari / Faryal hold weakens and the Bhutto magic fades. And Bilawal continues to make a fool of himself, embarrassing himself and others and Pakistan, as soon as he opens his mouth, to try and emulate his grandfather’s demagoguery.

But, sadly, making a pathetic spectacle of himself in attempting to be seen as a firebrand political leader.

I shudder to picture what international leaders think as they see our political stalwarts brown nosing and sucking upto this thirty something, whose only claim to fame is biology!  From what we know he’s not done a day’s honest labor on his own merit, or has any other accomplishment to his credit, academic, professional, political or any other!

Hmmm! Well perhaps? But let me not go there!

Perhaps his only other claim to notoriety, is knowing the details of all off shore bank accounts left by his mother and his father, where the siphoned off corrupt booty is stashed!  Allegedly the one other person, other than Asif Zardari and Bilawal, it is said, who has most of that information is Monsieur Rahman Malik! It is also said by many, that NAB may uncover some interesting insights were the “Honourable” Rahman Malik saheb receive an MBS type “hospitality” shakedown for some days and nights!

But I have lurking and sad feeling that Mr. Malik may perhaps be “working” for some “people” and hence walks free! And unbeknownst to Master Bilawal is reporting everything to “them”! Even his highly questionable actions on the day Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, haven’t caused him grief!

So he’s clearly got someone looking out for him!

But really it’s a national tragedy that Bilawal can become a leader of a major political party.  But a bigger tragedy is how he is propped up by his courtiers, so they can continue to remain politically relevant and leech off and ride the political gravy train.

Tragic and shameful that many educated and aware people amongst us actually believe that Bilawal is a political leader.  As tragic as those who suck upto Maryam and Hamza as heir apparents!

And our biggest tragedy?

While one can forgive the ignorant, the poor, the exploited to fall into believing that Bilawal, Maryam, Hamza etc are political leaders, but the educated and the aware?  The less said the better!

 And that, dear Pakistanis, is our biggest political tragedy!

And the PPP is also in a quandary.  It is most at risk of losing power in Sind were they to fall into Fazlur Rehman’s trap of resigning from the assemblies.

And then we have Diesel’s other allies! Die hard secularists and leftists in bed with him!

What a horrible sight! All pretence of political values thrown to the winds as they publicly exchange vows, hugs, embraces and who knows what else!

Look at “Brave” Asfandyar Wali Khan, who “didnt” run away, when the going got tough! (He did!)  Himself another symbol of this terrible hereditary political order or moroosi siyasat, as we call it in Urdu, leeching off his Grandfather’s legacy, as did his father, Wali Khan.

And not to be forgotten that Bacha Saheb, his grandfather, opposed Pakistan, was a Leader of the Indian Congress Party and till his death never accepted Pakistan and asked to be buried in Afghanistan.

He and his supporters did not participate in the referendum for Pakistan because, they objected that it did not offer them any choices of either declaring themselves an independent country or join Afghanistan.

While he acquired significant political stature and was known as the Frontier Gandhi etc, the reason to share these facts is not to belittle him but to illustrate his position and views about Pakistan. A political legacy inherited by Wali Khan’s NAP and Asfandyar Wali’s current ANP!

It is no secret that the NAP under Wali Khan openly and continously advocated an Independent Pashtunistan and also had very close ties to India.  It is not commonly known that the ANP under Asfandyar Wali, tried to Trojan themselves into creating near anarchy and civil war, through the PTM. Mohsin Dawar, the PTM leader, formerly being their Youth wing, President.

This is how PTM was able to draw all these crowds. it was mostly the ANP rank and file. A dupliticous and most dangerous game they played!  Finally when confronted they had to kick out Bushra Gohar and Afrasiyab Khattak, two senior ANP leaders, who were openly supporting, siding and were seen at the forefront of the PTM!

Or take Achakzai. Another Fazlu supporter.

 Another symbol of hereditary dynastic politics living off his father, Abdus Samad Khan Achakzai’s legacy, another Congressite who also never accepted Pakistan!  Achakzai was also at the forefront of supporting the PTM, not for their rights but their ability to create anarchy.  When this great so called “democrat” acquired political power, amongst his first acts was to get his brother appointed, Governor, Baluchistan!

And our good old Fazlur Rehman? Another symbol of hereditary politics, living off his father’s legacy, Mufti Mahmud. As legend has it. Even his father was very vary of Fazlur Rehman’s shenanigans!

It is commonly said that as CM of Balochistan, Mufti Mahmood had publicly informed and advised his entire cabinet and the bureaucracy to be careful of Fazlur Rehman and to immediately bring to his notice any attempt by Fazlur Rehman to use Mufti Mahmood’s name for any financial or political gain!

So there you have it!

Really no one likes Fazlur Rehman!

But all have been blackmailed by him as a result of his political strength emanating from his father’s legacy, now diminishing, plus the petrodollar largesse to his party and madrassahs to counter Iranian influence, now also drying up.

Internationally he had no qualms sucking up to the then US Ambassador to Pakistan, Ann Patterson, swearing utter loyalty to the USA, in exchange for being appointed PM.

What a guy! What a guy!

And all these tricks, got him 17 odd years occupancy of a cabinet minister’s house and the Chairmanship of the Kashmir Committee which he fully milked with foreign junkets and privileges plus cabinet slots for his brother!

One could go on and on, endlessly, to describe his “virtues” and of those whose cause and survival he’s fighting for. Other than his own, of course.

But to the current situation!

Fazlur Rehman, in my view, because of his ability to get several thousand fierce looking, stick brandishing people in Islamabad, is spearheading the  desperate and hopefully last ditch attempt of a deeply entrenched exploitative and corrupt system, represented today, most visibly in Pakistan, by the likes mentioned earlier.

But here’s the roll call again, lest we forget!

Sharifs, Zardari, Bilawal, Maryam, Hamza, their families and their infamous courtiers.

And the so called secular left.  Achakzai and Asfandyar, and others like them and then finally the obscurantist religious right of the likes of Diesel!

Let us be very clear, my dear country people! These people and the forces and political interests they represent are the remnants of centuries of despotic, exploitative, extractive rule by small groups of elite.

Plutocrats, kleptocrats, foreign invaders, military dictators, imperial colonists, religious charlatans, especially those who purveyed religion and their souls for political power. Fazlur Rehman belongs to this last category.

In recent times, rapidly joining this exploitative elite capture of Pakistan are our bureaucrats, our businessman and traders, our Army and Police, the lawyers mafia and the entire judiciary, and tragically, our media as well, especially media owners and most TV anchors.

They have all milked, raped, looted, plundered and exploited this wretched nation at will! Without exception!

But my harshest criticism is for our so called liberal intellectuals who’s anger, venom and bile against the Pakistan Army is more akin to Modi’s, and who do not understand that this is also an institution in transition as we are a nation in transition.

That this is not the army leadership of Gen. Zia or even that of Gen. Musharraf but of an avowed believer in civilian supremacy and democracy and the constitution. Gen. Bajwa.

I could be wrong and he may be hiding his Bonapartist intentions well, or he may have changed his views, but I’m fairly certain I’m right about him and his democratic credentials.  And in any case any Bonapartism overt and covert will not last in today’s Pakistan

That our so called intelligentsia must understand that the only way to decrease the Army’s massve footprint and overbearing influence is by strengthening civilian public sector institutions and not supporting crooked criminals and looters and plunderers like the Sharifs or Zardari and others.

That Imran, whether you like him or hate him, is still our best fighting chance to break this terrible status quo in partnership with Gen. Bajwa!

That despite his many follies, early foibles & inexperience and some questionable team appointments and political compulsions, Imran is still the man we need!  I have a whole laundry list of issues against Imran, but the more desperate I see the opposition become, the more militant Fazlur Rehman’s calls,  the more I’m convinced that Imran beginning to crack the foundations of the old order!

That by supporting the so called democratic system, which in fact is a monarchical political order, these so called liberals give oxygen to these corrupt forces represented by the Sharifs, Zardari, Bilawal, Asfandyar, Achakzai.

They do not understand that they are consciously destroying any fighting chance Pakistan has to be rid of this evil, putrid, rancid order, which has sucked the lifeblood of the poor!

And it is my considered opinion, that in a manner of speaking, Gen. Bajwa may perhaps do a “Gorbachev” not in presiding over the disintegration of the Army as an institution, but in ensuring that civilian institutions are strengthened, meritocracy prevails, civilian supremacy is regained and the Army’s influence and footprint considerably reduced.

But let me also add!

It will take a decade or more of continous civilian institutional rebuilding, a new electoral and governance model, before we stop seeing and hearing sermons from ISPR or hushed whispers about the DG ISI running his own circus, etc!

And more importantly seeing an Army Chief, firmly under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence and not a supreme power unto himself.

Where corrupt generals, serving or retired are also put in chains, deprived of rank and privileges, sentenced to class C jail and not side kicked into lucrative appointments to head civilian institutions!

And if Gen. Bajwa is reading this, he knows who I’m talking about!

But, and as it should be and as we see in all first world countries as well, the military and security establishments will always be an extremely powerful force and voice in matters of national security and national power!

But today we cannot wish away the Army’s massive footprint.

33 years of military rule and a decade of quasi will not vanish overnight! Unfortunately, yes, unfortunately the Military is today our only functioning institution. In a perverse reversal of fortunes, PM Imran and Gen. Bajwa may be presiding over the baton change as Gen. Bajwa uses the military to strengthen civilian institutions.

Some may find this hard to believe, but if ever there was a chance towards civilian supremacy, it’s under Gen. Bajwa.

And if I may hazard another intuitive thought.

I believe never has a time been more opportune to revamp our political and electoral process to get rid of the current fossilized electoral system, hijacked by these kleptocrats to be replaced by one which engages subject matter experts and specialists, who otherwise would never make it to parliament or to high public and policy making office to handle the most complex art of political governance in a highly complex, technology driven world.

And also never has a time been more opportune to revamp our judicial system, especially our Superior Judiciary, who allow criminals to go free, using the letter of the law and sadly, also playing god!  It is this destruction of the current order and privilege and elite capture which everyone fears!

The desperation is very high. The stakes massive. Financial, political, social power, all up for grabs.

Were Imran, despite his own struggles and challenges, succeed in uprooting this putrid status quo and rid our society of its elite capture, it is clearly the end of the road for these guys and these institutions in their current shape and form.

And it is in that context that we must view the antics of Fazlur Rehman and his comrades in arms and why they are so desperate to get rid of Imran!

Is Fazlur Rehman dangerous? Is a cornered animal dangerous? Is a rotting order seeing its destruction, dangerous? Yes!

So will he go all the way or slink away? My sense of the man and his history says, he may slink away. But looking at the stakes and the fact that these guys may be finally put to sleep, the chances are that Fazlur Rehman may go beyond his usual blackmailing and brinkmanship!

I’m not a soothsayer and can’t say what will happen! But I can hazard, what should happen!

In my humble opinion, the Diesel has had his day in the sun. This is now the time to take him on, fully and without fear! His bluff or his act must be called.  It may result in violence or may not. But the Mulla has to be put down, politically, once and for all times to come! Were he to walk away today with some sort of a victory or even a draw, or even some egg on his face, to fight another day, he and the forces he represents will be further emboldened. It is a tough call to take him on or call his bluff!

But if Pakistan has to be saved and given a fighting chance for a better future, we must finally rid ourselves of these vermin. This is our only option! No pussyfooting and no compromise!

And it is the only way to also defend ourselves from the conspiracies of foreign powers like the USA or India and others who would love to keep us continuously unstable, weak and nuclear defanged and not allow us to unleash our potential and use people like The Diesel!

And Fazlu seems to be  playing their game! If I were PM Imran and Gen. Bajwa, I would ensure Fazlu has had his final day in the political sun!

This is what I would be planning to execute!

Yemen’s Deafening Silence

30th Nov, 2019- Yemen’s deafening silence.
By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi
The UN fire and Brimstone speeches were silent on one of the biggest human tragedies taking place in Yemen.
All those who so righteously railed against India for their atrocities in Kashmir and rightly so were convenient silent on Yemen.
Especially the 3 leaders of the Muslim World, Imran, Erdogan and Mahathir.
While one highlighted the hypocrisy of the world in turning a blind eye in Kashmir for economic interests, the same person turned a blind eye in Yemen for our economic interests and even traveled in a plane offered by the person who instigated,  initiated and is directly responsible for this horrifying blood bath.
Selective morality, Selective outrage, Selective values,
Total Hypocrisy.
Here are the horrifying numbers of tragedy since it started in 2015..
91,600 killed including 12,000 civilians. As per ACLED.  Armed Conflict Location and Data Center
49,960 wounded, including 10,768 civilians.
3,154,572 people made refugees. UN report
84,701 children died of starvation. Save the Children report.
*Children of a Lesser God?*
Be ashamed! Be very ashamed

Daring Greatly – “President Imran Khan”

 

by Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

(Urdu Translation, kind courtesy Nusrat Mirza saheb,  at the end of this English Version)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”. (Theodore Roosevelt)

The above quote so aptly reflects armchair analysts like me who offer opinions or criticism on Pakistan’s political journey, Imran’s governance and our future, either from the safe comfort of foreign shores or sitting on the sidelines like “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”

It also defines people like Imran where “……credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again….” ……who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

So with a heavy heart, deep sadness and relief, this armchair critic, this “cold and timid soul” for perhaps the last time offers an opinion about someone “who is actually in the arena”

Sadness that my struggle to fight for a better Pakistan, last 6 years being most intense, 5 through my writings and a year “in the arena” in Pakistan comes to an end, as I realize that people like us are irrelevant, can never make any impact, because we have neither money nor political legacies nor personal friendships with the Khan, and most importantly no political ambitions or desire for political or government office.

Hence, we are the proverbial caravan barking dogs, who no one pays attention to and in the process we pick up many enemies and lose or taint some deeply cherished relationships.

As one friend put it.

“Haider you’re an equal opportunity offender, having offended everybody on all sides of the political spectrum, including the Military….and that’s quite an achievement….”

But also, great relief, that I will no longer undergo sleepless nights, suffer serious emotional upheavals and near nervous breakdowns and be constantly bombarded with severe criticism from political foes in the PMLN and PPP a well as former comrade in arms and my one time supporters in PTI.

But sad to see Pakistan’s best fighting chance, under Imran, going waste and hopes of a great rebuild, fast diminishing.

So with this, here goes the Last Post!

Firstly, in my mind, there’s absolutely no doubt about Imran’s honesty, commitment, intent, sincerity, tenacity, passion, leadership charisma, rock star status.

Shaukat Khanum and Namal would not have been possible without his charisma and the above qualities. Likewise PTI would never have come into power without him, despite all what people may say about the “support” he got from some quarters.

His unwavering, 22-year struggle against corruption is an outstanding example of what one man’s tireless efforts can achieve, especially breaking into an entrenched two-party system.

And for this one act alone of saving this nation from the clutches of the corrupt Sharifs, the Bhuttos and Zardari, Imran will earn a great place in history!

Getting rid of the corrupt from power was a difficult task, but he managed to do it. Bringing the corrupt to justice is even more difficult as we are seeing.

But the most difficult was and is to pre-empt the recurrence of corruption, rebuild state institutions which the Sharifs and Bhuttos and Zardari destroyed with a vengeance so they could loot and plunder at will, and finally institute good governance not just by Imran but by others who will acquire political power long after he is gone.

Here’s really what we want!

1. Rebuilding State Institutions.

2. Delivering Good Governance

And for this to happen the only way forward is to ensure that competent leaders of integrity with all the necessary skills and experience are appointed to the right roles.

We routinely hire cooks, drivers, office boys, tea boys, cleaners, mechanics, plumbers, teachers, lawyers, accountants, engineers, scientists, doctors, IT experts, etc because they have the skills and experience to do certain roles and deliver results, but when it comes to governance and political power and authority we appoint a whole circus of monkeys.

And this is Imran’s big issue!

In the one year he has been in power he has repeatedly failed to convince his well wishers like me and die-hard supporters with brains in their heads and not their ankles that he has appointed the right people to the right roles.

Before people start to rip this point let me say clearly.

No one expects a miraculous economic turnaround in 1 year.

No one expects that Pakistan will become a first world country in 1 year or even 2 or 3 or 10

No one expects that the police will be reformed in 1 year.

No one expects that the health care & education systems in Punjab, KP and Baluchistan would become shining examples.

No one expects the lower and superior judiciary to be the beacons of truth and exemplary justice in 1 year.

But we did expect one thing from Imran.

We expected him, wherever possible and wherever he was not hamstrung by political compulsions of coalition partners etc, that he would appoint competent people of integrity on merit, in an open and transparent manner.

And in this he has failed miserably!

And it this which destroys all hope for revival.

Because if we do not have the right people in the right roles, say goodbye to any development, any rebuilding, any good governance!

Imran, despite his honesty, passion for change and sincerity, unfortunately has two huge millstones around his neck, which pose existential threats for Pakistan and for his own government!

The first is his weakness for flattery.

It is fairly common knowledge that he loves people who suck up to him, build him up, flatter him and fawn all over him, feeding his huge ego. And these are the ones who worm into key roles, the others sit on the sidelines, twiddling their thumbs.

People like Najeeb Haroon, Shibli Faraz, Andaleeb Abbas, his own party legislators and at least a dozen more sit out while people like Fawad Ch, Vawda, Swati, Firdous, Gandapur, Zartaj Gul, some others who are my friends and may feel offended if I name them, and advisors like Yousaf Beg Mirza, who squirm and worm their way in

I am a witness to a conversation where Yousaf Beg Mirza’s name was shot down as MD, PTV, by Imran himself in Imran’s early days when Yousaf had expressed a desire for that role, because of his allegedly very dark and sordid past reputation, and by association would have cast a dark shadow on Imran. Little did I know what was in store!

And then Imran Ismail & Shah Farman as Governors and CM’s Buzdar and Mahmood.

And very recently he appointed another friend to head a government institution tasked with bringing investment into Pakistan. That person would never have passed a rigorous, transparent, merit-based appointment process. Some people close to him swear that some powerful and influential people around him deliberately don’t allow good talent to come near him as it weakens their hold over him.

But where he somehow appoints or is made to appoint the right person to the right role one can see positive change and results happening in months, not years.

Shabbar Zaidi, Chairman, FBR, is a rare symbol of outstanding, competent, professional, ethical leadership in the cabal of cronies & toadies in positions of authority, power, policy, influence that surround Imran, all appointed by him!

My heart bleeds not at this array of incompetence and sycophancy which surround Imran, as much as it bleeds in the knowledge that it is Imran who appointed them. This is the man who said he will never compromise on merit and transparency in appointments.

There’s a huge disconnect in what Imran says and does. The dictionary defines it as “hypocrisy”.

The second piece is his own inexperience, ignorance, incompetence and serious lack (still after 1 year) of understanding of governance and management.

His advisors and cabinet members continuously mislead him and take him for a ride because of his inexperience and ignorance.

The recent GIDC fiasco is a case in point. It was a perfectly above board and clean initiative to break the gridlock that had tied down the government in litigation with several business sectors. I will not go into the merits of the case but only illustrate how it was mishandled and how Imran and his government were caught with their pants down and face in the mud!

When the summary was being prepared for the cabinet and before the Ordinance was promulgated.

No one picked up on the fact that the media will term this Rs. 300 billion waiver as brazen corruption by elements in the Government.

No one had “war gamed” potential questions and answers from the media to address all the issues. This was apparent from the hastily called very embarrassing press conferences addressed by Minister Ayub, Advisor Nadeem Babar and Advisor Firdous

No one thought of calling Asad Umar, who is not in Imran’s good books nowadays, and ask him to explain the whole rationale behind the GIDC issue.

No one thought of flying a few trial balloons before the Ordinance with “friendly” anchors in talk shows to test the waters.

No one thought of a detailed off the record briefing to the key two dozen or so key media anchors on before the proposed GIDC ordinance, to answer all their questions. In my view and from experience it iscsafe to say that 60 to 70% would have been satisfied and defended it on air, while the other 30% or 40% may have been satisfied but because of political compulsions may still have spun a negative story line, or perhaps not.

While someone would say this is hindsight 20/20, those who know media narrative management will tell us the above is basic standard media narrative management 101

Poor Firdous Awan was a fish out of water clueless about the issue as was Minister Ayub who wanted the floor to swallow him. Nadeem Babar was left with the unenviable and unsuccessful task of fending off the baying hounds.

Another recent decision hot of the press and barely two days old. The PM (read competent authority) orders the establishment of a Task Force on Innovation headed by a someone who manages to sweet talk his way into every government since President Musharraf. Members include a retired bureaucrat, a serving bureaucrat, an IT entrepreneur and a water specialist.

Their mandate. FIX PAKISTAN! I swear I’m not joking. One just has to read the 8 TOR’s to go into a tizzy. And this is in addition to the scores of Task Forces under various Ministries, Imran’s own Prime Ministers Strategic Reforms Unit, overseen by Jehangir Tareen and Dr. Ishrat’s massive reform program!

How does this kind of screw up happen?

Don’t know for sure, but knowing the politics around him, some advisor wants to outdo another close aide and try and weaken their mandate and create their own parallel body to exercise influence.

They then get hold of a smooth talking used car salesman type con man, as they did in this case, present him to the King, promising the moon and voila the “Competent Authority is pleased to…..”

And Imran just doesn’t get it.

He doesn’t understand that a task force is not a think tank. Task forces are project delivery teams, specialized by sector or industry or technology, etc, staffed by experts and subject matter specialists and mandated to deliver very specific time bound objectives!

Not the biryanis his team conjures up!

As I said in a recent tweet.

Questionable decisions, ongoing crony appointments, sea of incompetence, ignorance, inexperience & arrogance, surrounded by an ocean of sycophancy. This defines King Khan’s Camelot!

So what now!

Either Khan saheb becomes better at his job, realises that his tried and trusted leadership style of 22 years in political opposition does not work in government. This realization that he is ill equipped for his role as PM is critical for any change and betterment.

One powerful and effective method is for him to have an executive personal coach and mentor who literally shadows him all the time, hand holds him daily and builds his management capability and governance leadership competencies. This person can come into his inner circle disguised as his Chief of Staff.

But given his arrogance and hubris it is unlikely that he will accept that he “doesn’t know, that he doesn’t know” and start learning so he can do the job better.

Also I’m not sure how long Pakistan has the luxury of a ” Prime Minister in training”, especially when after one year we hear him say in his full blown arrogance, that his Buzdar decision was correct and he will remain CM as long as PTI is in power.

His blind cultists believe that his decisions are infallible, they quote, sometimes in mystical magical terms how his decisions turn out right.

Yet they forget a certain lady he wedded, who nearly destroyed him and his career!

Listen, folks cruel as it may sound, he is not infalllible.

On the contrary he has made serious errors of judgement all his life. And he knows it. But where they don’t effect him personally, he does not undo them because of his ego and arrogance.

CM Buzdar and CM Mahmood fall into this latter category!

Therefore one comes to this very painful and sad conclusion after witnessing his confusion, his being overwhelmed by the challenges of his job, appearing clueless and like a drowning man clutching at straws or firing blindly at the enemy, like a panicking soldier, that this role is beyond him.

And that his incompetence, ignorance, inexperience, arrogance, hubris and the sycophants surrounding him are existential threats for Pakistan.

And that he is also handicapped by those who were part of his 22 years political opposition and hence the need to oblige them. Something completely contrary to his oft publicly stated view on the subject, that all positions would be given on merit and no one should expect government office simply because they have struggled with him.

Or he should have a very strong Chief of Staff who manages him day to day, vets infornation coming in and going out, stress tests his decisions, ensures con men are kept at arms length, party politics are minimized, ensures he has a competent PS not the current very ambitious incumbent who behaves like a Cabinet Minister or a Deputy Prime Minister

But it seems unlikely that someone could fill that role or Imran would accept a strong sensible advisor who would actively challenge him.

So the best way out for Pakistan and a better future is for him to become President, where he continues to motivate the nation, rally support through his immense charisma, and leave the day to day management to a more competent and equally honest person and who also fully subscribes to his vision of a corruption free well governed Pakistan.

Given the current lot, somebody like Asad Umar, seems most suited for the role, who for one will not be encumbered by Imran’s political baggage and obligations to others and in my view appoint better people to the appropriate roles and govern much more effectively.

And this is how we

1. Rebuild State Institutions.

2. Deliver Good Governance of equal opportunities of security, health care, education, employment, freedom, human rights, peace with our neighbors and a society free of corruption, misrule, exploitation of the weak and the poor!

Please let us remember that Pakistan is no one’s fiefdom or Jagir.

People like Imran who acquire political power must view it as a trust bestowed upon them by the people of Pakistan. It is not a “bundar baant” to oblige cronies and toadies or satisfy ones’s ego or manifest one’s inexperience, ignorance and incompetence!

So PM saheb, with my sincere apologies, kindly either shape up or ship out!

And that’s all for now folks. The caravan moves on, this barking dog stops.

But perhaps this time the barking dog was warning the caravan of a gathering storm!

Or the King proves me completely and very happily wrong!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

 Urdu translation of

“Daring Greatly – President Imran Khan”

-Haider Mehdi

ہمت مرداں۔ صدر عمران خان
سیّد حیدر رضا مہدی

ایک سابق امریکی صدر تھیوڈر روزویلٹ نے جواں مردی اور ناقدین کی بات یوں کی ہے۔ زندگی میں جیت نکتہ چینی کرنے والوں کی نہیں ہوتی۔ نہ ہی جیت ان لوگوں کی ہوتی ہے جو بہادر انسان کے لڑکھڑانے کاسرعام چرچا کرتے ہیں۔ نہ ہی وہ لوگ جیتتے ہیں جو کہتے ہیں کہ میں یہ کام اس سے بہتر کر سکتا ہوں۔ دراصل ہمیں اس آدمی کو سراہناچاہئے جو اکھاڑےمیں موجود ہے۔ جس کا چہرہ مٹی ،پسینے اور خون سے لتھڑا ہوا ہے۔ جو جستجو کر رہا ہے۔ جو غلطیاں بھی کر رہا ہے۔ جو بار بار کوشش کے باوجود منزل تک نہیں پہنچتا۔اس لئے کہ ہر جستجو میں کچھ ناکامیاں بھی لازم ہیں۔ لیکن چونکہ وہ جوانمرد جوش سے لبریز ہے اور ڈٹا ہوا ہے۔ وہ اپنے ایمان کا پکا ہے اور اپنے ہدف کو حاصل کرنے کی تگ و دومیں لگا رہتا ہے۔ ایسے ہی جوانمرد کو فتح مبین اور کامیابی حاصل ہوتی ہے۔اگر کامیابی نہیں ملتی تب بھی وہ اپنی جستجو اور اپنی کاوش کی وجہ سے سراہا جاتا ہے۔ ایسا آدمی ان کمزور اور ڈرپوک لوگوں سے بہت بہتر ہے جنہوں نے زندگی میں نہ تو کبھی جستجو کی اور نہ کبھی ہار یا جیت دیکھی ہو۔

مندرجہ بالا قول میںمیرے جیسے ان ناقدین کو خوبصورتی سے بے نقاب کیا گیا ہے جو بیرون ملک اندرون ملک آرام دہ نشستوں پر براجمان ہوکر گھر بیٹھے پاکستان کے سیاسی سفر ، عمران خان کی حکومت اور ہمارے مستقبل کے بارے رائے زنی کرتے رہتے ہیں۔یہی وہ کمزور اور ڈرپوک لوگ ہیں جنہوں نے کبھی جیت یا ہار کا مزہ نہیں چکھا ہوتا۔

اس قول کے مطابق عمران خان جیسے لوگ ہی شاباش کے مستحق ہیں جو میدان عمل میں ڈٹے ہوئے ہیں۔ جن کا چہرہ مٹی، پسینے اور خون سے اٹا ہوا ہے مگر وہ بہادروں کی طرح ڈٹے ہوئے ہیں۔ جن سے غلطیاں بھی سر زد ہوتی ہیں۔ کئی بار ان کی کوششیں بار آور ثابت نہیں ہوتیں۔ اگر وہ کبھی ناکام بھی ہو جائیں تو ملال نہیں ہوتا کیونکہ انہوں نے کامیاب ہونے کی سرتوڑ کوشش کی۔

میں بذات خود کمزور اور ڈرپوک لوگوں کی طرح سہل پسند نقاد ہوں۔میں بوجھل دل اور بڑے دکھ کے ساتھ میدان عمل میں ڈٹے ہوئے جوانمرد عمران خان کے بارےآخری بار لب کشائی کی جسارت کر رہا ہوں۔

ملال اس بات کا ہے کہ میں نے پاکستان کی ترقی اور بہتری کے لئے چھ سال ان تھک محنت کی۔ پانچ سال اپنی تحریروں کے ذریعے اور ایک سال سیاسی میدان عمل میں رہ کر جدوجہد کی۔ یہ سلسلہ اس وقت رک گیا جب یہ احساس ہوا کہ ہم جیسے لوگوں کی کوئی اہمیت ہے نہ وقعت۔ کیونکہ ہماری جیب میں نہ پیسہ ہے ، نہ ہمارا کوئی سیاسی خاندانی پس منظر ہے اور نہ ہی ہماری عمران خان کے ساتھ ذاتی علیک سلیک ہے۔ سب سے بڑھ کر یہ کہ ہمیں کوئی سیاسی یا سرکاری عہدہ پانے کی کوئی حاجت ہے۔

ہماری حیثیت قافلے پر بھونکنے والے کتوں کی سی ہے جن کو کوئی قابل توجہ نہیں سمجھتا۔ اس دوڑ دھوپ میں ہم کئی دشمن بنا لیتے ہیں، کئی عزیز ترین رشتوں سے محروم ہو جاتے ہیں یا ان رشتوں میں دراڑ آجاتی ہے۔

میرے ایک دوست نے کہا
حیدر تم لگا تار ترقی اور آگے بڑھنےکے مواقع ضائع کئے جارہے ہو۔ تم نے سیاسی میدان میں کود کر سب سے مخالفت مول لے لی ہے یہاں تک کہ فوج سے بھی۔ کیا یہی مقصد حاصل کرنا تھا!

دل کو یہ اطمینان ضرور ہے کہ اس فیصلے کے بعد اب نہ میری راتیں بے خواب ہونگی، نہ جذبات بر انگیختہ ہوں گے اور نہ نروس بریک ڈاؤن کا خطرہ درپیش ہوگا۔ مسلم لیگ نون، پیپلز پارٹی کے سیاسی مخالفین اور پی ٹی آئی کے جیالوں اور اپنے فوجی دوستوں کی آئے روز کی تنقید کے ہتھوڑوں سے بھی نجات مل جائے گی۔

افسوس اس بات کا ہے کہ عمران خان کی سربراہی میں پاکستان بہتری کے مواقع کھو رہا ہے۔ اُس سے تعمیر نو اور بہتری کی جو امیدیں وابستہ کر لی تھیں وہ تیزی سے دم توڑنے لگی ہیں۔

اس طرح یہ آخری موقع بھی شائدضائع ہونے جا رہا ہے۔

پہلے یہ عرض کردوں کہ عمران خان کی ایمانداری، استقامت، خلوص، عزم، ولولے، اس کی کرشماتی قیادت اور مقبولیت کے بارے مجھے رتی بھر شک نہیں۔

اگر عمران میں یہ خوبیاں نہ ہوتیں تو شوکت خانم ہسپتال اور نمل یونیورسٹی کا قیام نا ممکن تھا۔اسی طرح دیگر ذرائع سے ملنے والی مدد کے باوجود پی ٹی آئی عمران خان کے بغیر کبھی اقتدار میں نہیں آسکتی تھی۔

عمران خان کی کرپشن کے خلاف غیر متزلزل جدوجہد ان ثمرات کی درخشاں مثال ہے جو اس کی بائیس سال کی ان تھک محنت کے بعد پاکستان سے دو جماعتی نظام کو اکھاڑ پھینکنے کی شکل میں ملے۔

قوم کو شریف، بھٹو اور زرداری خاندانوں کی کرپشن سے نجات دلا کر عمران خان نے تاریخ میں اعلیٰ مقام حاصل کر لیا ہے۔

کرپٹ عناصر سے جان چھڑانا بلا شبہ مشکل کام تھا یہ معرکہ عمران نے بخیر و خوبی سر کر لیا۔ مگر ہم دیکھ رہے ہیں کہ ان مجرموں کو انصاف کے کٹہرےمیں لاکر سزا دلوانا انتہائی مشکل کام لگنے لگا ہے۔

شریف ، بھٹو اور زرداری خاندانوں نے جس طرح جی بھر کر لوٹ مار کی ۔ ان کی کرپشن کے دور کی واپسی کا سد باب کرنااور برباد ریاستی اداروں کی بحالی اور ان کی تعمیر نو بہت مشکل کام تھے ۔ ایسی اچھی طرز حکومت کا کے قیام کا کام سب سے مشکل امر ہے جو نہ صرف عمران کی حکومت بلکہ اس کے بعد اقتدار میں آنے والوں کے لئے بھی طویل مدت تک کارآمد ثابت ہو۔ اس مقصد کے لئے جو چیزیں ضروری ہیں وہ ہیں:
1. ریاستی اداروں کی تعمیر نو
2. اچھی طرز حکمرانی

ان مقاصد کے حصول کا ایک ہی راستہ ہے وہ یہ کہ ایماندار اور اہلیت کے حامل افراد کو ان کی مہارت اور قابلیت کے پیش نظر ریاستی اداروں میں امور سلطنت سونپے جائیں۔

عام زندگی میں خانساماں، ڈرائیور، چپڑاسی، چائے پلانے والے، صفائی والے، مستری، پلمبر، استاد، وکیل، اکاؤنٹنٹ، انجنیئر، سائنسدان، ڈاکٹر یا کمپیوٹر ایکسپرٹ کی ضرورت ہو تو ہم اُن افراد کا چناؤ کرتے ہیں جنہیں یہ مہارت اور تجربہ حاصل ہو۔ لیکن جب معاملہ سیاسی اقتدار ، اختیار اور حکومت سونپبے کا ہو تا ہے تو ہم سب کچھ سیاسی شعبدہ بازوں کو سونپ دیتے ہیں۔

عمران خان کا بھی یہی المیہ ہے۔

اسے اقتدار میں آئے ایک سال ہو چکا ہے مگر وہ اپنے دانشمند جیالوں اور میرے جیسے مداحوں کو باور کرانے میں بار بار ناکام ہوگیا کہ اس نے کاموں کی درست انجام دہی کے لئے اہلیت سے بھرپور لوگوں کو تعینات کیا ہے۔

پیشتر اس کے کہ لوگ اس معاملے میں کود پڑیں ایک بات واضح کر دوں:

کسی کو بھی ایک سال میں معاشی معجزے رونما ہونے کی امید نہیں تھی۔

کوئی بھی یہ توقع لگا کر نہیں بیٹھا کہ ایک، دو، تین یا دس سالوں میں پاکستان کا شمار اول درجے کے ترقی یافتہ ممالک میں ہونے لگے گا۔

نہ کسی کو یہ امید تھی کہ ایک سال میں پولیس کی اصلاح ہو جائے گی۔

کسی کو یہ توقع نہیں تھی کہ سال بھر میں پنجاب، خیبر پختونخوا اور بلوچستان صحت اور تعلیم کے میدان میں درخشاں مثالیں قائم کر دیں گے۔

نہ ہی کوئی یہ آس لگائے بیٹھا ہے کہ ایک سال میں اعلیٰ اور ماتحت عدلیہ سچا اور بے مثال انصاف فراہم کرنے لگ جائیں گی۔

ہمیں عمران خان سے ایک امید تھی وہ یہ کہ سیاسی اتحادیوں کے دباؤ اور جبر کے باوجود وہ ایماندار اور اہل افراد کا شفاف انداز میں تقرر کرے گا۔

اس معاملے وہ بُری طرح ناکام رہا ہے۔

اسی ناکامی کی وجہ سے عمران سے لگائی گئی ملک کی بہتری اور ترقی کی امیدیں دم توڑنے لگی ہیں۔

اس کی وجہ یہ ہے کہ اگر ہم موزوں اور اہل افراد کا انتخاب نہیں کرسکتے تو ہمیں تعمیر نو، ترقی اور اچھی طرز حکومت کے خواب بھول جانےہوں گے۔

عمران خان کی ایمانداری، تبدیلی کی خواہش اور اس کے خلوص کے باوجود اس کے گلے میں دو طوق پڑے ہوئے ہیں جو پاکستان اور خود عمران کی اپنی حکومت کے لئے مہلک ثابت ہو سکتے ہیں۔

اس کی پہلی بڑی کمزوری خوشامد پسندی ہے۔

بالعموم عمران کو وہ لوگ پسند ہیں جو اس کے ساتھ چپکے رہیں ۔ اس کی بڑائیاں بیان کر کے اور حد سے بڑھ کر خوشامد کر کے اس کی انا کو تسکین پہنچائیں۔ اس طرح کے کاسہ لیس لوگ کلیدی اسامیاں اچک لیتے ہیں اور محروم رہ جانے والوں کو ٹھینگا دکھا کر زچ کرتے ہیں۔

نجیب ہارون، شبلی فراز، عندلیب عباس اور پارٹی کےدرجنوں ممبران اسمبلی باہر بیٹھے پیچ و تاب کھاتے رہ جاتے ہیں اور فواد چودھری، واڈا، سواتی، فردوس عاشق اعوان، گنڈاپور ، زرتاج گل، یوسف بیگ مرزا اور میرے بہت سے دوست جن کا نام لینے سے وہ بدک جائیں گے عمران کے کمرے میں گھس جاتے ہیں۔

میں ایک موقع پر موجود تھا جب پی ٹی آئی حکومت کے ابتدائی ایام میں عمران خان نے یوسف بیگ مرزا کی خواہش پر ا س کی پی ٹی وی کے مینجنگ ڈائریکٹر کے عہدے پر تقرری کی درخواست اس کے تاریک ماضی ، مذموم حرکات اور خراب شہرت کی وجہ سے رد کر دی تھی کیونکہ اس کی قربت سے عمران پر منفی اثرات پڑ سکتے تھے۔اس سے زیادہ میں کچھ نہیں جانتا۔

اور پھر عمران اسمٰعیل اور شاہ فرمان کا بطور گورنر اور محمود خان اور عثمان بزدار کا بطور وزیر اعلیٰ تقرر حیران کن تھا۔

حال ہی میں عمران خان نے پاکستان میں بیرونی سرمایہ کاری لانے کے لئے اپنے ایک دوست کا ایک ادارے کے سربراہ کےطور پر تقرر کیا ہے۔ اگر اہلیت اور شفافیت کی کسوٹی پر پرکھا جائے تو وہ دوست یہ عہدہ نہ لے پاتا۔ عمران سے شناسائی رکھنے والے کہتے ہیں کہ کچھ با اثر اور طاقتور لوگ اس کے گرد جمع ہیں جو با صلاحیت لوگوں کو عمران کے قریب نہیں پھٹکنے دیتے کیونکہ اس طرح عمران پر ان کی گرفت ڈھیلی پڑ جائے گی۔

لیکن جب بھی عمران نے کسی بڑے عہدے کے لئے موزوں شخص کا تقرر کیا اس کے ثمرات سالوں میں نہیں مہینوں میں ملنے لگے۔

شبر زیدی جیسے اہل ، ماہر اور با کردار شخص کی چیئرمین ایف بی آر کے طور پر تقرری قابل تحسین ہے۔ جب کہ عمران نے اپنے اطراف میں موجود جن خوشامدیوں اور کاسہ لیسوں کی خود اعلیٰ عہدوں پر تقرریاں کی وہ اپنے اختیارات کا غلط استعمال کرکے پالیسی سازی پر اثر انداز ہو رہے ہیں۔

عمران کے گرد چاپلوسوں اور خوشامدیوں کی مسلسل موجودگی پر میرا دل خون کے آنسو روتا ہے۔ دل کا گھاؤ اور گہرا ہو جاتا ہے جب معلوم ہوتا ہے کہ ان نا اہلوں اور کاسہ لیسوں کی اعلیٰ عہدوں پر تقرریاں اس عمران خان نے خود کی ہیں جو کہتا تھا کہ تعیناتیوں کے سلسلے میں وہ شفافیت اور اہلیت پر کوئی سمجھوتہ نہیں کرے گا۔

عمران خان کے قول اور فعل میں زمین آسمان کا فرق ہے جسے اخلاقیات کی لُغت میں منافقت کہا جاتا ہے۔

عمران کے گلے میں لٹکتا دوسرا طوق یہ ہے کہ ایک سال گذر جانے کے بعد بھی عمران خان کی نا تجربہ کاری، لا علمی، نالائقی اور حکومتی امور کو سمجھنے میں ناکامی کا ہے۔

اس کی نا تجربہ کاری اور لاعلمی کی وجہ سے اس کے مشیر اور کابینہ اراکین اس کو گمراہ کرتے ہیں اور اس پر دباؤ ڈالے رکھتے ہیں۔

جی آئی ڈی سی(گیس انفراسٹرکچر ڈویلپمنٹ سیس) کے معاملے میں ہونے والی خفت کو سامنے رکھتے ہیں۔ یہ کئی تجارتی حلقوں کی جانب سے حکومت کے خلاف مقدمہ بازی کی بھرمار سے گلوخلاصی کرانے کے لئے شفاف اقدام تھا جس کا مقصد عدالت کو اعتماد میں لے کر معاملہ حل کرانا تھا۔اس اقدام سے حاصل ہونے والے فوائد سے قطع نظر میں یہ سمجھانے کی کوشش کروں گا کہ کس طرح عمران خان اور اس کی حکومت نے اس معاملے میں اپنا منہ کالا کروالیا۔

کابینہ کے لئے صدارتی آرڈیننس کے اجراء سے پہلے جب سمری تیار کی جارہی تھی تو کسی کے گمان میں بھی نہیں تھا کہ میڈیا اس معاملے کو 300ارب روپے معاف کرنے اور حکومتی عناصر کی کرپشن کےکیس کے طور پر پیش کرے گا۔

کسی نے اس مسئلے کے بارے میڈیا کی جانب سے اٹھائے جانے والے سوالوں جوابوں کی پیش بندی کرنے کی ضرورت نہیں سمجھی۔جلد بازی میں بلائی گئی پریس کانفرنس میں وزیر توانائی عمر ایوب ، مشیر برائے توانائی ندیم بابر اور مشیر اطلاعات فردوس عاشق اعوان کے چہروں سے عیاں تھا کہ وہ میڈیا سوالات کا جواب دینے کی تیاری کرکے نہیں آئے تھے۔

کسی نے عمر اسد سے رابطہ کرنے کا بھی نہیں سوچا۔ گو آجکل عمران خان اسد عمر سے گریزاں ہیں تاہم وہی بتا سکتے ہیں کہ جی ڈی آئی سی ریفنڈ کے پردے میں کون سی منطق پوشیدہ تھی۔

کسی کے ذہن میں یہ خیال نہیں آیا کہ صدارتی آرڈیننس کے اجراء سے پہلے معاملے کا جائزہ لینے کے لئے آزمائشی طور پر ٹی وی ٹاک شوز کے اینکروں سے اس بارے رائے لی جائے۔

کسی سرکاری افسر نے زحمت نہیں کی کہ صدارتی حکم جاری کرنے سے پہلے اس سلسلے میں دو درجن میڈیا اینکروں سے ہونے والے آف دی ریکارڈ مباحثے کے سوالوں جوابوں کی تفصیلات جمع کرکے دیکھی جائیں۔میرا تجربہ کہتا ہے کہ ان میں سے 60-70% اینکروں کی تشفی کردی گئی تھی اور انہوں نے میڈیا پر سرکاری موقف کی حمائت بھی کی تھی۔باقی 30-40%اینکر متفق تو تھے مگر سیاسی مصلحت کے پیش نظر وہ مسئلے کے منفی پہلو پر بحث کرتے رہےیا انہوں نے اس مسئلے پر کوئی تبصرہ نہیں کیا۔

کئی ایک نے اس معاملے کو سو فیصد فہم و فراست اور بصیرت کا مرقعہ قرار دیا۔ جو لوگ میڈیا بیانیہ کی گردن حسب منشا موڑنے کا گرُ جانتے ہیں انہوں نے اسے میڈیا بیانیہ کو کنٹرول کرنے کا فارمولا نمبر 101قرار دیا۔

بیچاری فردوس عاشق اعوان کو معاملے کی باریکیوں کی شُد بدھ نہیں تھی پھر بھی وہ بن پانی مچھلی کی طرح تلملاتی رہیں۔ جبکہ وزیر توانائی عمر ایوب کا اصرار تھا کہ ان کے موقف کو من و عن تسلیم کیا جائے۔مشیر توانائی ندیم بابر کو میڈیا کے بپھرے بھیڑیوں کے سامنے سرکاری موقف کے دفاع کا ناخوشگوار فرض سونپا گیا جسے نبھانے میں وہ بری طرح ناکام رہے۔

ابھی دو روز سے ایک حکومتی فیصلے کا میڈیا پر بڑا چرچا ہوا ۔ وزیر اعظم نے (مجاز اتھارٹی) حکومتی امور میں جدّت لانے کی غرض سے ایک نئی ٹاسک فورس قائم کرنے کا حکم صادر فرمایا ہے ۔اس ٹاسک فورس کی سربراہی جن صاحب کو سونپی گئی ہے وہ جنرل مشرف کے زمانے سے اپنی شیریں گفتار کے لئے مشہور ہیں۔ٹاسک فورس کے باقی ممبران میں ایک ریٹائرڈ بیوروکریٹ ، ایک حاضر سروس اعلیٰ افسر کے علاوہ آئی ٹی اور آبی مہارت رکھنے والے دو ممبران شامل ہیں۔

ان لوگوں کو فِکس پاکستان کا فرض سونپا گیا ہے۔ان کے ٹی او آر پڑھے جائیں تو میٹر گھوم جاتا ہے۔ یہ کوئی مذاق نہیں اور میں قسم کھا کر کہتا ہوں کہ یہ ٹاسک فورس بھی ان بیسیوں ٹاسک فورسوں میں ایک اضافہ ہے جو پہلے ہی کئی وزارتوں اور وزیر اعظم کےاپنے سٹریجک ریفارمز یونٹ کے تحت کام کر رہی ہیں جن کی نگرانی جہانگیر ترین اور وسیع ریفارمز پروگرام کے ذمہ دار ڈاکٹر عشرت حسین کر رہے ہیں۔

یہ گڑ بڑ کس طرح واقع ہوئی!

زیادہ تو علم نہیں لیکن جس طرح عمران خان کے قریبی حلقوں میں سیاست ہورہی ہے اُس کے ایک مشیر صاحب دوسرے بہت قریبی مشیر کو ہٹانے، اس کا اختیار کم کرنے، اپنا اثر و رسوخ بڑھانے اور اس کے مقابل اپنا ادارہ قائم کرنے کے لئے کوشاں ہیں۔

اُس مشیر نے ایک گھاگ بھیدی کو قابو کیا جو پرانی کاروں کے بیوپاری کی طرح خوشامد انہ گفتگو کرنے میں ماہر تھا۔ اُسے مکمل اختیار کے سبز باغ دکھائے بادشاہ کے حضور پیش کر دیا۔مجاز اتھارٹی نے بھی اس کو بہت پسند کیا۔

عمران بھی اس معاملے کی تہہ تک نہیں پہنچ سکا۔

عمران خان کو یہ ادراک نہیں کہ ٹاسک فورس کسی تھنک ٹینک کا نعم البدل نہیں ہو سکتی۔ٹاسک فورس تو کسی منصوبے کی تکمیل کرنےوالی ٹیمیں ہوتی ہیں جن میں مختلف صنعتی شعبوں کے ماہرین اور تجربہ کار ملازمین ہوتے ہیں جن کو مقررہ وقت پر پراجیکٹ مکمل کرنے کی ذمہ داری دی جاتی ہے۔

تھنک ٹینک بریانی ٹیم کی طرح شعبدے نہیں دکھاتا۔

جیسا کہ میں نے اپنی حالیہ ٹویٹ میں لکھا:
قابل اعتراض فیصلے،پرانے دوستوں کی روز افزوں بھرتیاں، نااہلی، جہالت، نا تجربہ کاری، تکبر اور خوشامد کے سمندر میں گھرا ہوا عمران خان ۔ یہ ہے ریاست مدینہ کا قبلہ۔

اب کیا کرنا ہوگا!

اپنا کام احسن طریقے سے انجام دینے کے لئے عمران خان کو سوچنا ہوگا کہ بائیس سال تک حزب مخالف کے طور پر جدو جہد کرنے والی قیادت کا طور طریقہ حکومت میں آنے کے بعد ناکام ہو گیا ہے۔ حکومت چلانےاور وزیر اعظم کے فرائض نبھانے کےلئے وہ مطلوبہ لوازمات سے لیس نہیں ہے جو بہت خطرناک بات ہے۔

ایک موثر اور کارگر طریقہ تو یہ ہے کہ عمران خان کے لئے ایک مضبوط ذاتی ٹرینر اور گرُو کی خدمات حاصل کی جائیں جو سائے کی طرح اس کے ساتھ رہے ۔ جو اس کی انگلی پکڑ کر حکومت کرنے کے رموز سمجھائے اور عمران کی انتظامی اور قائدانہ صلاحیتوں میں اضافہ کر۔ یہ شخص چیف آف سٹاف کی شکل میں اس کے قریبی حلقوں میں ہر وقت موجود رہے۔

عمراں کے گھمنڈ اور منہ زوری کی وجہ سے ممکن نہیں کہ وہ کہے کہ مجھے کچھ پتہ نہیں اور پھر وہ سیکھنا شروع کر دے تاکہ وہ اپنا کام بہتر انداز میں انجام دے۔

میں یقین سے نہیں کہہ سکتا کہ پاکستان ایک زیر تربیت وزیر اعظم رکھنے کی عیاشی کب تک برداشت کر سکتا ہے۔خاص طور پر جب ایک سال گذر جانے کے بعد بھی وہ بڑے فخر سے کہہ رہا ہے کہ اس کا عثمان بزدار کو وزیر اعلیٰ کے طور پر لگانے کا فیصلہ بالکل درست تھا اور جب تک پی ٹی آئی بر سر اقتدار رہے گی بزدار ہی پنجاب کا وزیر اعلیٰ رہے گا۔

عقیدت میں اندھے عمران خان کے جیالوں کا ایمان ہے کہ اس کے فیصلوں میں غلطی کا امکان نہیں ہوتا۔ انہوں نے بڑے پہنچے ہوئے سائیں بابوں کی طرح عمران کے فیصلوں کو درست ثابت ہوتے دیکھا ہے۔

وہ جیالے ماضی قریب میں عمران کے عقد میں آنے والی خاتون کو بھول جاتے ہیں جس نے عمران کی ذات اور اُس کےسیاسی سفر کا تقریباً خاتمہ کر دیا تھا۔

دوستو میر ی بات بری لگے گی مگر جان لو کہ عمران غلطیوں سے مبریٰ نہیں۔

عمران نے زندگی میں فیصلے کرنے میں انتہا ئی غلطیاں کیں جن کا اس کو پتہ ہے۔ اگر ان غلطیوں سے اس کی ذاتی زندگی متاثر نہیں ہوئی تو وہ اپنی ضد اور ہٹ دھرمی کی وجہ سے ان غلطیوں کا تدارک بھی نہیں کرے گا۔

وزیر اعلیٰ عثمان بزدار اور محمود خان کے تقرر کا شمارعمران خان کی ثانی الذکر بڑی غلطیوں میں ہوتا ہے۔

ہم اس کی بد حواسیوں کے پیش نظر اس تکلیف دہ نتیجے پر پہنچتے ہیں کہ وہ وزیر اعظم کے منصب کے جھمیلوں میں الجھ کر بے دست و پا ہو کررہ گیا ہے ۔وہ ڈوبتے ہوئے شخص کی مانند ہے تنکوں کے سہاروں کی تلاش میں ہے۔یا پھر وہ خوفزدہ سپاہی کی مانند اندھیرے میں اندھا دھند گولیاں برسا رہا ہے۔ ان نے وزیر اعظم کے طور پر جو کام اپنےذمے لے لیا ہے وہ اس کی استطاعت سے بہت زیادہ ہے۔

عمران کی نا اہلی، لا علمی، ناتجربہ کاری، اکڑ فوں، منہ زوری اور خوشامد پسندی سے پاکستان کو درپیش حقیقی خطرات میں اضافہ ہو گیا ہے۔

عمران خان ان لوگوں کا ممنون ہے جو 22 سالہ سیاسی جدوجہد میں ا س کے ساتھ کھڑے رہے۔ وہ ان لوگوں کی دلجوئی کرنا چاہتا ہے مگر اس کا عوامی موقف آڑے آجاتا ہے کہ تمام عہدے اہلیت اور قابلیت کی بنیاد پر دیئے جائیں گے۔کس کو کوئی سیاسی اور سرکاری عہدہ اس بنیاد پر نہیں ملے گا کہ وہ سیاسی جد وجہد میں عمران کے شانہ بہ شانہ کھڑا تھا۔

عمران کو چاہئے کہ وہ کسی مضبوط آدمی کو اپنا چیف آف سٹاف مقرر کرے جو اس کے روزمرہ معاملات کی دیکھ بھال کرے، معلومات کی آمدورفت پر نظر رکھے اور اس کےفیصلوں کی نزاکت کا جائزہ لیا کرے۔ عمران کا پرسنل سیکرٹری قابل اور مضبوط شخص ہونا چاہئے جو دغا باز حواریوں کو اس سے دور رکھے اور پارٹی معاملات کم سے کم زیر بحث لائے۔یہ ایسا شخص ہونا چاہئے جو موجودہ سیکرٹری کی طرح خود کو ڈپٹی پرائم منسٹر یا کابینہ کا وزیر نہ سمجھے۔

یہ کام نا ممکن نظر آتا ہے۔ کون ہوگا ایسا شخص جو یہ کام کما حقہُ کر سکے۔پھر عمران ایسے سیانے اور مضبوط شخص کو کیسے قبول کر پائے گا جو اس کے غلط احکام پر روک ٹوک بھی کرسکتا ہو۔

پاکستان کے بہتر اور روشن مستقبل کے لئے بہتر ہوگا کہ عمران خان پاکستان کے صدر بن جائیں۔ اس طور وہ قوم کی رہنمائی کر سکیں گے، اپنی کرشماتی شخصیت سے عوام کی ڈھارس بھی بندھائیں گے۔ انہیں چاہئے وہ اپنے روز مرہ کے کام ایسے شخص کے حوالے کردیں جو اہلیت اور ایمانداری میں ان کے ہم پلہ ہو اور کرپشن سے پاک پاکستان کے بارے عمران خان کے وژن کو ملحوظ خاطر رکھے۔

عمران خان کے ساتھیوں کی موجودہ کھیپ مں سے اس منصب کے لئے اسد عمر بہترین انتخاب ہوگا۔اس کے کندھوں پرعمران کی طرح سیاسی قیادت کے فرائض کی ذمہ داریوں کا زیادہ بوجھ بھی نہیں ہوگا۔ اسد عمر کے لئے اہم سرکاری فرائض کی ادائیگی کے لئے اہل اور قابل افراد کا تقرر کرنا بہت آسان ہوگا۔

اب ترجیحی طور پر یہ کام کرنا ہوگا!
1. ریاستی اداروں کی تعمیر نو۔
2. اچھی طرز حکمرانی کا فروغ جس میں سب کو یکساں تحفظ، صحت ، تعلیم، روزگار، آزادی، انسان حقوق اور سہولیات دستیاب ہوں۔پڑوسی ممالک کے ساتھ دوستانہ تعلقات بڑھائے جائیں۔ معاشرے کو کرپشن ، بد نظمی، غریبوں اور کمزور طبقات کے استحصال سے پاک کیا جائے۔

یاد رہے کہ پاکستان کسی کی جاگیر نہیں۔

عمران خان جیسے لوگ بر سر اقتدار آجائیں تو ان کو سوچنا چاہئے کہ ان پر عوام کی طرف سے اعتماد کا اظہار کیا گیا ہے۔ یہ موقع اس لئے نہیں ملا کہ اپنےکاسہ لیسوں اور خوشامدیوں میں سرکاری وسائل کی بندر بانٹ کی جائے۔ اپنی انا کی تسکین کی جائے اور اپنی ناتجربہ کاری، جہالت اور نااہلی کا مظاہرہ کیا جائے۔

اس لئے جناب وزیراعظم آپ سے دست بستہ درخواست ہے کہ آپ یا تو سدھر جائیں یا ہٹ جائیں۔

دوستو اس کے ساتھ ہی مضمون کا اختتام ہوتا ہے۔ قافلے کا سفر جاری ہے مگر یہ سگ خاموش ہو گیا ہے۔

شائد سگ اس سے پہلے قافلے والوں کو بڑھتے ہوئے طوفان سے خبردار کرنے کے لئے صدائیں دے رہا تھا۔

یا پھر بادشاہ سلامت اپنی بہتر کارکردگی سے مجھے غلط ثابت کر دیں تو بڑی خوشی ہوگی۔

 

An open letter to President Donald Trump on the Illegal Annexation of Kashmir by India!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 21 August, 2019

Dear President Trump,

I’m sure you’re being briefed on this long running tragedy in Indian Occupied Kashmir. But Mr. Modi is NOT in Control and is NOT a Bilateral issue between Indian and Pakistan!

I’m not sure if you or many others understand that we are potentially seeing the start of a human tragedy of massive proportions and the potential of nuclear conflict!

What we are witnessing today is the start of a deliberate, brutal and violent ethnic cleansing and complete marginalization of the Muslim community in Indian Occupied Kashmir who are being and will continue to be put in vast concentration camps as were Jews in Nazi Germany.

And President Trump, this will lead to much more violence on all sides with countless innocents killed. This is a very very important factor that you must bring into the equation, whatever Mr. Modi, assures you. Please understand that it will be near nigh impossible for Pakistan to stop non state actors from jumping into the fray to help their beleaguered brethren and kith and kin and this could lead to very very tragic consequences. We can expect to see very high levels of violence of all sorts cropping up across not just Kashmir, but across mainland India as well and the loss of many innocent lives.

And most seriously it could very easily head towards a potential India Pakistan conflict, two highly antagonistic, nuclear armed, bitter foes. A war which will, without any doubt, be initiated by Mr. Modi who will blame Pakistan for the inevitable severe backlash and violence, which will surely follow, as alluded to above.

President Trump, Mr. Modi is an emotionally unstable individual with dreams of the superiority of the Hindu religion which like Hitler he’s translated into a superior race. This is a concept called HINDUTVA, similar to Hitler’s “Master Race”, the philosophy of the RSS, the political militant organization, founded in 1925 from which the current ruling BJP was formed, and the people who assassinated Gandhi, because of his secular approach. These people believe in a “Hindu Master Race”

All therefore all his rhetoric, symbols and actions are uncannily similar to Hitler and like him, Modi has touched a huge angry chord in the Hindu mindset, who have been seething with anger against the Muslims because of 800 years of Muslim rule over India. They consider it their “religious belief and duty” to either kill, convert or push out all Muslims from India.  Kashmir is their first serious attempt towards that evil goal!.

This is very similar to the anger Hitler had drummed up against the Jews in Nazi Germany, calling for their physical elimination! Mr. Modi and his supporters advocate and do the same as manifested with public lynchings of Muslims and Christians!

Mr. Modi’s emotional instability manifests in many ways. He seriously claims that Hindu doctors were plastic surgeons several thousand years ago and that’s how an elephant’s snout was transplanted on Lord Rama’s face!!!!! Another one. Hindu spaceships went to space thousands of years ago, referring to mythical chariots showing mythical creatures flying across space!!!!

And this is the crazy insane guy at the helm of affairs in India.

President Trump, like Hitler or an insane Caligula, Mr. Modi, will wreak tremendous havoc, violence, immense damage, and genocide , if he’s not stopped now.

President Trump, the International community, especially the USA must act, NOW! Otherwise there may not be any community on Earth, blown away in a nuclear holocaust!

The answer is simple. You and other leaders must step in directly to facilitate a resolution based on an open referendum in Jammu and Kashmir to determine their will as per UN Resolutions and India’s own commitment to them.

Thank you very much, President Trump.

Kind Regards,
Haider Mehdi

Gen. Bajwa’s Extension …….a Historical gallop – Part 2 of a 3 part series on Civil Military Relations in Pakistan

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 21 Aug 2019

 Alea iacta est “The die is cast”!

Gen. Bajwa remains in the saddle for three more years and the air is rife with pros and cons including those who hold, private, their counsel!  This isn’t a simple black and white binary issue but reopens the whole issue of civilian vs military supremacy in the affairs of the State and our history of Martial Laws.

Hence, here’s a  perspective about military rule, their power and influence and the issue of Gen. Bajwa’s extension.

Most Pakistan Army Chiefs, since Gen. Ayub, barring Gen. Musa and Gen. Tikka and the operational heads who administered the Army during Martial Law regimes, like Gen. Arif, Gen. Iqbal, etc, have all been powerful & exercising influence and control, beyond their mandate.

So, let’s get this reality out of the way and not quibble further that four Martial Laws, 33 years of military rule, a series of very weak and corrupt civilian administrations, always looking askance at the Army to bring down the “other guy” have resulted in this current state of affairs.

But in my view, perhaps the more important question, is, whether these military takeovers were simply a consequence of unbridled personal ambition by the individuals who undertook them or were their significant extenuating circumstances which lead to such acts, all clearly illegal and unconstitutional when undertaken and before they were validated by a spineless and pliant judiciary.

And let’s also not forget, in all cases widely welcomed and acclaimed by the people on the streets and the political class whose political enemy was removed!.

So let’s rewind back to the 1947 -1958 period before Gen. Ayub’s Martial Law.

In our first 11 years  from 1947 to 1958, we had 7 Prime Ministers, with tenures ranging from 4 years to 1 month.

If PM Liaquat’s 4-year period is excluded, we had 6 Prime Ministers in 7 years, averaging 14 months per Prime Minister.

India had 1 Prime Minister for 13 years, from 1947 to 1964. 

Here’s the roll call!

  1. Liaquat Ali Khan

14 Aug 47 -16 Oct 51.

Tenure: 4 Years 2 Months, 2 Days.

Reason tenure ended: Assassinated.

  1. Khawaja Nazimuddin

17 Oct 51- 17 Apr 53

Tenure:  1 Year 6 Months.

Reason tenure ended: Dismissed by Governor-General Malik Ghulam Muhammad who also dissolved the Constituent Assembly.

  1. Mohammad Ali Bogra.

17 Apr 53 to 12 Aug 55

Tenure: 2 Years, 3 Months, 26 Days.

Reason tenure ended: Dismissed by Governor General Ghulam Mohammed.

  1. Ch. Mohammad Ali.

12 Aug 55 to 12 Sep 56,

Tenure: 1 Year.

Reason tenure ended. Removed by his own party through vote of no-confidence.

  1. Hussain S Suhrawardy

12 Sep 56 to 17 Oct 57.

Tenure: 1year 1month

Reason tenure ended: Resigned because of a revolt in own party and withdrawal of support from coalition partners

  1. I I Chundrigar;

17 Oct 57 to 16 Dec 57

Tenure: Shortest: 1 Month, 29 Days.

Reason tenure ended: Vote of no-confidence by own party and coalition partners.

  1. Sir Feroze Khan Noon

16 Dec 57 to 7 Oct 58

Tenure 9 Mo, 21 Days.

Reason tenure ended:  Dismissed by Governor General Iskandar Mirza who declared Martial Law and appointed himself President

So!

One assassination, three dismissals by Governor General, three removed by own party.

The tenures getting shorter, dismissals more frequent and political infighting at its worst. This was democracy at work in Pakistan in its earliest years! A bunch of cats and dogs squabbling over political power!

While many of us haven’t personally lived through this period, but by researching and seeking primary insights from those who have, clearly the country was fed up and tired of this gory, cut and thrust and palace intrigues between a squabbling bunch of power hungry politicians, pouncing on each other in the dog eat dog political arena of Pakistan.

Gen. Ayub’s Martial Law – 1958.

While its hard to predict a hypothetical future of what may have happened had Martial Law not been declared by Governor General Iskandar Mirza in October 1958, appointing himself President and then being unceremoniously dismissed 13 days later by the Army Chief, Gen. Ayub Khan, who was Minister of Defence in his Cabinet and declaring himself President, but here’s a hypothesis worth reflecting upon.

In my considered opinion, given what was happening in the political landscape of Pakistan as briefly narrated above, Iskandar Mirza’s and Ayub’s Martial Laws and takeovers were inevitable. If Gen. Ayub had not taken over in 1958 he would have done so in 1959 or in1960.

This military takeover was inevitable, especially given that Gen. Ayub had been already been brought into the Cabinet as early as 1954, as a serving Army Chief, and had been witnessing first hand the serious political instability and infighting that ensued and of course supported by our “good friend”, the USA.

USA had decided that Pakistan was to be their “front line state” against the spread of Communism in Asia, with India having cast its lot with the then USSR.

Hence for them a military strongman was a much better option than a bunch of squabbling cats and dogs to deal with.

They clearly had a huge hand in Gen. Ayub’s takeover and the subsequent red-carpet treatment he got on his visit to the USA, videos of which we so proudly share nowadays, were nothing but to flatter and fan Gen. Ayub’s ego and not a testimony to our “greatness”, as we mistakenly  assume!

Pakistan was a classic USA foreign policy strategy which they have followed for decades, and visible even now, in their support of the many monarchist and quasi dictatorial governments in the Middle East.

But to 1954 to show how it all started!

After Governor General Ghulam Mohammed, dismissed PM Khwaja Nazimuddin he also dismissed the legally elected Constituent Assembly to prevent it from changing the constitution, and restrict his powers as Governor-General.

In so doing he sought the support of Gen Ayub, who provided troops to control communications with London and avoid any possibility of the Queen being advised to replace the Governor-General.

Gen. Ayub, was also inducted in the subsequent “Cabinet of Talents” as it was called, as Minister of Defence.

And then treachery!

Our Courts, weak kneed and spineless as always, supported Khawaja Nazimuddin’s illegal dismissal and in an inglorious shameful judgement by Justice Mohammad Munir, the then Chief Justice, who in my opinion along with Governor General Ghulam Mohammed have been two of the biggest villains of Pakistan’s political history, far greater than any Military dictator, upheld the illegal dismissal as “lawful”.

These two wretched creatures stabbed deep into the entrails and soul of this young fledgling nation and upheld this terrible unconstitutional act under the infamous “Doctrine of Necessity” which formed the legal Casus Belli” for subsequent military takeovers by Generals Ayub, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf, against legally elected governments, weak and corrupt they may be.

Justice Munir had to go back into canons of British law dating to the 13th Century to justify this constitutional murder and Ghulam Mohammad’s illegal dismissal of the Prime Minister and the Constituent Assembly.

This man, Munir, quoted amongst other things the Maxim by Henry De Brocton’s, an English jurist of the 13th Century (1210 to 1268)  “that which is otherwise not lawful is made lawful by necessity”, and the Roman law Maxim of Sir William Ivor Jennings, a British lawyer and academic (1903 to 1965) that  “the well-being of the people is the supreme law”.

In my opinion, Governor General Ghulam Mohammad’s and Justice Munir’s citizenship and all privileges, honors and awards be withdrawn, they should be posthumously tried, and convicted for High Treason.

Their names and any references removed and blacked out from all official records.

So the civilian Governor General invites the proverbial Camel, Gen. Ayub Khan into his tent in 1954, make him the Defence Minister in the Cabinet member, ask him to do a lot of his political dirty work and then stupidly expects him to quietly ride away into the “sunset”.

That’s why, in my view, the civilian rulers of Pakistan simply invited Gen. Ayub’s inevitable 1958 Martial Law! And this of course in no way condones or supports this illegal act!

Also lets not forget our intellectuals who have been part and parcel of conspiracies against elected governments.

In the famous but failed 1951 Rawalpindi conspiracy by Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan, against PM Liaquat Ali Khan, we had the great Faiz Ahmed Faiz, our famous poet laureate, who we quote endlessly, as one of the main co-conspirators, along with several other civilian left wing intellectuals like Sajjad Zaheer other writers, poets and a sprinkling of left leaning military officers.

Unfortunately, the seeds of dissension, discord and conspiracies are embedded deep in our psyche, whether it is a military general, a politician, a Judge, or an intellectual.

Iss humaam may sub nungay haen!! 

There’s an interesting end-note to Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan. He subsequently, in Dec 1971, went on to become Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s National Security Advisor and the architect of his two infamous fascist jackbooted semi military organizations, the Federal Security Force and the People’s Guard. In early 1972, Gen. Akbar visited our house in Islamabad and asked our father, Col. S. G. Mehdi, a former SSG Group Commander, then retired, to establish these two organizations for Bhutto. Our father refused saying that they would turn into Hitler and Mussolini type Brownshirts and Blackshirts, which they did and the FSF becoming the ultimate cause of his hanging!

So, hence, should we also, like was done to Cromwell, dig up their bones, put them on trial and hang them as we demand of others, who we condemn for subverting Pakistan’s democratic order?

Gen. Yahya’s Martial Law – 1969.

Of the four military takeovers, in my opinion, this had the weakest credentials and pretensions of being forced upon the Army.

This was a clear grab of power by one man, Gen. Yahya.

After 11 years of Gen. Ayub’s rule, there was in place some sort of a semi democratic order and a functioning government and parliament.

When pressured to resign by Gen. Yahya, Gen. Ayub, who should have handed over power to the Speaker of the National Assembly as per his own Constitution, did not, but as is said, asked Gen. Yahya to take over, because Gen. Yahya did not allow him to hand over to the Speaker.

I differ.

However weak and powerless he may have been, he should have had the moral courage, something he always lacked, to even make this last token act of handing over power to the Speaker, at least in writing and at least earning some respect in history. But he didn’t and will forever be remembered for this lack of moral courage!

Gen. Yahya’s Martial law was a disaster.  We lost half the country. Our Army defeated, and a devil incarnate in the shape of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Bhutto and Gen. Za’s Martial Law – 1977

For starters, Bhutto was our first and hopefully last Civilian Chief Martial Law Administrator.

Using these draconian powers, Chief Martial Law Administrator Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, at the stroke of midnight on 1st January 1972, nationalized our entire Industrial, Business, Health Care and Education sectors, a Caligula type act of total insanity, from which we have never really recovered and also disenfranchised all Urdu speaking migrants from India, living in Sind, mostly Karachi, from their evacuee property rights.

He appointed a weak pliant loyal yes man, Gen. Tikka Khan, as his Army Chief, but was eventually trapped in his own Machiavellian web when in March 1976, he appointed another seemingly innocent, very loyal, very pliable, Lt. Gen. Zia ul Haq as the Army Chief.

He did so by superseding 7 generals, thinking that Gen. Zia would be as loyal and pliant as Gen. Tikka Khan.  The reason being the obsequiousness and flattery the then Lt. Gen Zia had apparently showered on Bhutto when he had earlier visited Multan in November, 1974, for his installation ceremony as the Colonel in Chief of the Armoured Corps, another “honour” bestowed on him by Gen. Tikka Khan.

Rumour has it that Gen. Zia never forgot the insults meted out to him by Bhutto on that occasion as Bhutto mingled with officers and guests with Lt. Gen Zia, following close behind, holding Bhutto’s glass of Scotch Whiskey, from which Bhutto would periodically sip and then arrogantly hand back to Gen Zia to hold and not the waiter with the tray.

This must have been very humiliating for Gen. Zia, himself a teetotaller, and known for his outward religious piety and 5 times daily prayers! But some say he did it readily and willingly to ingratiate himself with the Prime Minister.

In March 1977, Bhutto massively rigged the national elections and faced huge street protests and nationwide agitation. He declared Martial Law in three cities, Karachi, Lahore and Hyderabad, imposed an Emergency in the country and acquired vast dictatorial powers. Three Brigadiers refused to carry out orders to fire against civilian demonstrators and the Army for the first time faced serious mutiny in their ranks.

On 5th July, Gen. Zia, reluctantly, as quoted by Gen. Faiz Ai Chisti, Gen. Zia’s closest advisor then, ousted Bhutto in a coup, declared Martial Law and became the Chief Martial Law Administrator.

Gen. Chishti famously narrates how Gen. Zia told him when the coup was being planned. “Murshid Marwa na dayna” “…..My Teacher, hope you don’t get us killed!……”

So again, yes the Coup was clearly unconstitutional and illegal! But was it inevitable?

If you know your history and understand how Pakistan was heading towards a one-party fascist state, under a very ambitious and megalomaniac individual with dictatorial intent then clearly yes!

In my opinion it was Bhutto, through his own unbridled ambition and  actions, who we must hold directly responsible for Gen. Zia’s takeover and for the terrible dark years of Gen. Zia’s regime!

Civilian Governments – 1988 to 1999 and 2008 and 2019

The Army has by now been in power for 25 years, very powerful with influence across all sectors of the Pakistani state. Its Chief continuing to exercise immense power and influence and becoming the “mediator” in the political and palace intrigues between the PPP and PMLN Government.

Basically Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, both highly corrupt and deliberately weakening State institutions so they could loot and plunder at will.

It is sad to hear from PPP supporters and many others as well, many well educated, about “Benazir the Democrat” who valiantly fought against the “vile dictator” Gen. Zia, from the safe confines of overseas exile, leaving her people to be jailed and whipped, but being totally deaf, dumb and blind to her and her husband’s corruption, her misgovernance and her deliberate destruction of civilian institutions.

And Nawaz. Oh that odious man!

Except for his most ardent supporter whose pockets have been filled with Nawaz’s largesse or those whose entire political and business interests are aligned to him and his family, who today can look me straight in the eye and say that Nawaz is an honest man?

In my view he perhaps has been the most destructive of all our civilian rulers!

This odious man consciously, systematically and deliberately dismantled the infrastructure of all our civilian state institutions to the extent that today in 2019, they are completely dysfunctional.

But the 2008 to 2018 period will perhaps be long remembered as one of total institutional destruction of state institutions and unbridled loot and plunder by both Zardari and Nawaz, in complete control of all State institutions except the Army!

Gen. Kayani, arguably, perhaps our most brilliant and effective military Chief, who basically won the war on terror by clearing 6 of the 7 agencies of the TTP and the terrorists, was a major influence during Zardari’s period, including bringing the lawyers movement to an end!

Unfortunately, his personal reputation has been deeply scarred by the alleged corruption of his brothers or at least one brother. My only request to him is that he must come out and publicly clear his name and not sit silent, provided he is not guilty of any personal misconduct either directly or in facilitating those of his brothers.

His silence is deafening!

Gen. Raheel, who seemingly seemed to exercise a lot of influence over Nawaz, thanks to ISPR and his own physical persona, really didn’t. Nawaz had him wrapped around his fingers! And, as is common knowledge, owes his Saudi assignment to Nawaz Sharif!

But post Musharraf, the Army Chief had acquired even more power as evidenced from Gen. Kyani’s 6 years as Army Chief.

So the questions is why did Gen. Musharraf take over?

Was he a power hungry ambitious general hell bent on taking over, or a well meaning albeit an ambitious military commander who wanted to solve the Kashmir issue via Kargil, tactically brilliant but strategically and politically stupid and unworkable, which set him and Nawaz on a collision course and the inevitable consequence of the October 1999, coup!

1999 – Nawaz Sharif and Gen. Musharraf’s Martial Law!

This is now post Kargil and the relationship between the PM and Army Chief, Gen. Musharraf is frosty.

Nawaz has already had two unsavory encounters with two previous military Chief. Once with Gen. Waheed Kakar, who mediated in the spat between him and President Ghulam Ishaq and made both resign in 1993 and then later in 1998, forcing Gen. Jehangir Karamat to resign as the Army Chief.

What happened on October 12th, 1999 is a dark episode in our history. A sitting Prime Minister orders that the plane in which the Army Chief is returning from Sri Lanka should not be allowed to land in Pakistan, endangering not just his life but all the other passengers. He then appoints another Lt. Gen as his Chief.

Constitutionally and legally Nawaz was absolutely in his rights to appoint a new Army Chief, but the way he did it was extremely dangerous and could have potentially incited a mutiny within the Army.

So again, sadly, what happened subsequently was inevitable!

The Army, as is its DNA, stood by its Chief and removed an elected Prime Minister!

Why does the Pakistan Army follow its Chief, right or wrong is a question many ask!

The answer is simple!

Indoctrinated in their core DNA is the phrase “Ours is not to question why but to do and die”

I say this not for cheap hurrahs but to make a non military mind understand that if officers and troops in an army start to question the orders of their superiors then the Army splits into rogue militias as we see so often in Africa, the Middle East and earlier in South America and results in civil war, killing, violence and destruction.

Imagine a Pakistan in which we have our military generals fighting each other across the length and breadth or Pakistan, a nightmarish doomsday scenario!

Gen. Bajwa’s extension

It is controversial.  My opinion voiced many time earlier, is that no Army Chief should be given an extension and the institution must be stronger than the individual!

But the question is why the extension?

Here’s my view.

Gen. Bajwa, ever since he was a young officer, has publicly advocated civilian supremacy over military rule.  He was very critical of Gen. Musharraf’s take over and stated it many times as a young Lt. Col, risking his promotion and future career prospects. In fact, the main reason he was appointed Army Chief by Nawaz was because of these views and his strong criticism in Corps Commander meetings during Gen. Raheel’s tenure of any actions to interfere or take over whenever such talk surfaced!

As Army Chief he’s walked a very difficult line, studiously avoiding interference, wherever possible, especially in the post Panama period.

Like many even he was not aware of the level of corruption that Nawaz had done.

He and the army have been the victim of a very powerful and malicious campaign, orchestrated by Cambridge Analytica through a $20 million consulting assignment given to them by Nawaz Sharif, before they shut down in the scandal.

But even today, Cambridge Analytica, now under another name, continue to provide Maryam Safdar and the PMLN, the anti Imran and anti Army narrative which feeds and has fed the social media pipelines for several years. “Wardi kay peechay Dayshath Gardi” and “Khalai Makhlooq” and “Selected” were coined by Cambridge Analytica types, as were many others.

Gen. Bajwa has a sterling reputation of being clean, authentic and transparent.  Sometimes too transparent as he has shared his concerns about Pakistan and its future in addresses to military gatherings.

Like many Pakistanis, he believes that PM Imran is sincere and a great hope for Pakistan, despite his and his governments many challenges and inadequacies and they have both developed an extremely close and strong personal and professional relationship based on mutual trust and respect!

He also believes that non state actors should not be instruments of state policy and hence the Afghan deal with the USA achieved great breakthroughs under his watch! He has been a strong advocate for peace with India,  and but for Modi, we would have had much better relations!

Consequently, PM Imran values Gen. Bajwa as one of his most effective and closest advisors, and given the paucity of competence around the PM, this is a rare silver lining amongst the pack of jokers surrounding the PM!

PM Imran also believes that Gen. Bajwa has displayed and in some cases delivered on his clear intent to help strengthen and rebuild civilian institutions and doesn’t want to stop this momentum by bringing in a new green behind the ears Chief.

Gen Bajwa’s international reputation is also a plus for the PTI government, were he not to turn rogue.

Will he?

I cannot answer this definitively, but my gut and what I know of him, says, no!

But if he did, then we can say goodbye to all that he and Imran have worked towards, which is civilian supremacy and rebuilding Pakistan!

So hence the extension gets a wary and qualified yes, even though past extensions do not give us much comfort. But only time and Gen. Bajwa’s conduct will tell us if PM Imran made the right decision.

Downsides. Every new Chief brings in his own team. At least a dozen positions are re shuffled which brings in dynamism, renewed energy & vigour. Extensions do not as the incumbent relies on his old team!

And extensions strengthen the individual over the institution.

What now?

I think this is the best opportunity for the government to institute the five-star, Chief of Defence Staff position and elevate Gen. Bajwa to this role when his current terms expires in November, 2019 with full operational authority over the three service, including the Army so he retains operational control.

And also create a 4 star Vice Chief of the Army Staff position which acts as the CDS’s second in command and a 4 star Chief of Strategic Command (our nukes) post.

In the current scenario these two can easily be filled by the two senior most Lt. Generals. Nadeem Raza and Sarfraz Sattar, in November 2019, and hence doesn’t stop the upward movement of promotions.

One great benefit of this system in the long run is that the CDS, who must be from the Army, given their overwhelming preponderance will invariably be filled by one of the 4-star Army posts, hence ensuring continuity.

Gen. Bajwa, the nation watches with bated breath, the trust entrusted to you!

Your tasks are to help rebuild Pakistan, strengthen civilian institutions, restrict military footprint to their constitutionally mandated role and ensure civilian supremacy in all affairs of the State!

For this, a grateful nation will forever be indebted to you!

Haider Mehdi