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!

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

The Myth of the “Deep State”! Part 1 of a 3 Part Series on Civil – Military Relations in Pakistan

 

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 4 August, 2019

It’s time to take this ‘Deep State” bull by the horns. But first a full disclosure.

I’ve served in the Pakistan Army from 1974 to 1981, resigned as a Captain, and have a very soft corner for the institution. My father served it with distinction, as did my uncle and scores of other family members. I am very proud that I and my family have served Pakistan in this manner!

I think it is, without question or doubt, our finest, most professional, most well led, most merit driven, most process driven, most reliable and the least corrupt, of all our state institutions.

Its is my considered opinion that if every able bodied young man and woman of this great nation could serve two years in the military and undergo the physical and emotional experiences that the rank and file undergo, Pakistan and Pakistani society would be far better and it’s enemies, both internal and external, would not be able to mislead our people, especially our youth against this institution.

For this, I urge PM Imran, Defense Minister Khattak, Human Resources Minister Zulfi Bukhari and Army Chief, Gen. Bajwa to institute this great public service.

I think if there is one institution that has been saved, thank God from the massive institutional decay suffered by other institutions, it is the Army!

I also think that a major factor which saved them from the destruction faced by civilian institutions were the repeated Martial Laws and their 33 years in power, leaving them as the proverbial last man standing and all powerful!

Sad but true!

And here is where I must admit that military rule, despite the strong economic growth during the three military governments, has been the major cause of most of our problems. To name a few

1. The rise of a corrupt coterie of politicians.

2. The the elite capture of Pakistan and all its sources of power, wealth and governance.

3. The hijacking of a very weak electoral process by this small mafia like coterie of political kleptocrats and plutocrats symbolized by the political dynasties and the likes of the Bhuttos, Sharifs, Zardari, Ilahis, Khar’s, Fazlur Rehmans, Achakzais, Bizenjos, Mengals and many many others, who like the ladies of the night would and still bed any party, any leader, as long as they could stay in power.

4. The systematic destruction of all state institutions. This last was perhaps the deepest cut! Nearly fatal!

Once these groups had captured power, such as Benazir in the post euphoria of Gen. Zia’s terrible dark years, or Nawaz Sharif, propped by Gen. Zia or Zardari through Gen. Musharraf’s infamous NRO, all of them, Benazir, Nawaz Sharif, Zardari, systematically set about weakening and destroying every major state institutions, so that not only could they rule like feudal monarchs, but loot and plunder the nation’s wealth, at will, and not be held accountable.

They systematically hijacked, bribed, cowed, destroyed and weakened the entire Federal and Provincial infrastructure, the superior and lower judiciary, the law enforcing agencies, institutions which hold public office holders accountable, like the NAB, FIA, Anti corription. Economic and planning and development institutions like the FBR, SECP, State Bank, Planning Commission etc.

They did this by deliberately appointing corrupt cronies, corrupt and weak officials on positions of authority, power and influence, who would do their bidding.

All these politicians and their families, with very few exceptions, have walked, lived, eaten, slept with every mistress or master. Whether it was Gen. Ayub, Gen Zia, Benazir, Nawaz, Gen. Musharraf, Zardari and Imran.

This includes our so called intellectuals, symbolized in persons like Mushahid Hussain and Najam Sethi, the vast majority of our media anchors and journalusts (yes journaLUSTS) and many others who have and still are willing to sell their souls for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver!

This political mafia launched large scale massive infrastructure projects, not because of economic or developmental or social priorities, but because it was easy to skim off huge amounts from these massive projects.

Funds were not invested in major public impact sectors like clean drinking water, public transportation (not one bus or train service for a few cities) empowering local governments, low cost housing, education, schools, colleges, heath care, hospitals, population control, agriculture and very importantly in improving the capability and capacity of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

The last used as personal militias to extend monarchist and fascist like control.

No effort was undertaken to reform the judiciary, because it served their purpose of buying judges and judgments whenever they so wanted.

It is my considered opinion that our judicial system, both the Superior and the Lower judiciary, has been one of the greatest causes of the greatest misery inflicted on the poor people of Pakistan!

Enrobed in their dark robes, they daily and darkly inflict death by a thousand cuts on our society.

And for all this mess, I hold the 3 military dictators directly responsible. Not the Army, but these three individuals.

Gen. Ayub because he short circuited the evolving political process of this agrarian feudal newly born country, blundered us into the 1965 war and worst of all, handed power over to another military dictator, Gen. Yahya, rather than to the Speaker of The National Assembly, a symbol of his own created political system.

Strangely, though, Pakistan’s fairest elections were held under Gen.Yahya in 1970 but under whose watch we also lost half our country and suffered a humiliating military defeat. The causes for the latter requires another article!

But perhaps Gen. Ayub’s greatest sin during his 10 year rule, was in creating a class of self serving, corrupt politicians who were willing to truck with military dictators and who have subsequently trucked with every civilian and political ruler since.

The genuine, true blue blooded democrats, starved of political power and platforms just died, politically! As did Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, the Quaid’s sister who was cheated out of a Presidential win by Gen. Ayub.

And it was then that we also saw the emergence, for the first time, of dynastic politics, at the head of state level in the shape of Gohar Ayub Khan, Gen. Ayub’s son!

So this is how people like Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, gained access to prominence and political power in Gen. Ayub’s cabinet.

This subsequently provided him the springboard to launch his political career and his party the PPP, by literally stabbing his benefactor, Gen. Ayub, in the back.

But for Gen. Ayub, ZAB would possibly not even have won a councilor’s election from Larkana and we would have been spared his administration which set us back 50 years in terms of our economy, education and health care, because of his ill thought through and disastrous policies of nationalization.

And lest we forget, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is the same person, who before he started sucking up to Gen. Ayub, calling him uncle, wrote to then President Iskandar Mirza, in his now infamous and public letter, calling him a leader greater than Quaid e Azam.

Let me say it without mincing words to those who are so still enamored in their love for Bhutto.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was NOT A DEMOCRAT but a FASCIST!

Yes he did come into power through the ballot as did Hitler and many others who destroyed their countries, by the way.

There’s no doubt that ZAB was brilliant, perhaps touching genuis. He was very charismatic and an outstanding orator. And he used these attributes to craft a very powerful message of hope of a better future for the most exploited segments of Pakistani society.

They loved him and he cheated them.

For in reality he was a truly evil man, part Devil, part Saint. Unfortunately the Devil won!

He was a fascist through and through, a haughty, arrogant, brutish autocrat, and as most autocrats, extremely petty and mean and very very vengeful!

This may shock those who do not know. But such was this person’s nature that he had the aging J. A Rahim, his own Party’s Secretary General, and co founder, sodomized by a jail sweeper, simply because J A Rahim saheb would not put up with his autocratic pretensions.

He had similar treatment meted out to Maulana Tufail, the then Amir of the Jamaat e Islami.

He had his own nominated successor Mairaj Mohammed Khan brutally tortured in jail. Mairaj saheb never really fully recovered from the physical and emotional trauma and inhumane treatment he met at ZAB’s hands! Hundreds, perhaps thousands of political opponents suffered great physical torture during his period.

ZAB’s and Zia’s periods were our darkest periods of political repression

Many of our young today do not know about a Para Military force called the Federal Security Force, established by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

A personal note here.

Our father, the late Col. S.G. Mehdi, considered an SSG pioneer and its third Commander, was approached by Gen. (Retd) Akbar, Bhutto’s National Security Adviser, in January or February 1972 to set up this Federal Security Force for the Government and the People’s Guard for the Pakistan People’s Party.

Our father Col. Mehdi refused the offer, saying that these militias would turn into Hitler’s Blackshirts or Mussolini’s Brownshirts and will lead to a fascist state and urged him to advise Bhutto not to go this route.

But Bhutto did.

And they did become his fascist militia and ironically also the eventual cause of his hanging!

For it was the FSF, who on his orders, while attempting to assassinate Ahmad Raza Khan Kasuri, a dissenting PPP party MNA, killed his father!

While I agree that the case did not warrant a death sentence, simply because Bhutto did not pull the trigger or commit the act himself, but as they say, one day our sins catch up with us and Nature has its own ways of delivering justice!

Gen. Zia’s present to Pakistan in the shape of Nawaz Sharif and Gen. Musharraf’s in the shape of Zardari and the NRO is recent history, so don’t want to dwell too much on them.

Sufficeth that what Benazir, Zardari, Nawaz, Shahbaz and company, subsequently did to Pakistan is now no secret!

Their loot and plunder is now public knowledge. Panama, Corruption, Money laundering, Fake accounts etc are there for everyone to see, except those whose political and business interests and futures are tied to these criminals and hence are blind, deaf and dumb

And for all this.

Yes, I’m afraid, a large part of the responsibility lies with Gen. Ayub, Gen. Zia and Gen. Musharraf! And we haven’t even discussed our involvement in the Afghan Jihad or the War on Terror, or giving space to sectarian and Jihadi outfits and using these non state actors as instruments of State and Foreign policy!

So there we have it.

Corrupt politicians, a broken hijacked electoral system, weakened or near destroyed civilian institutions, a bankrupt economy, a dysfunctional society polarized on ethnic, linguistic, religious and sectarian grounds.

But the most serious issue today are the attempts to polarize Pakistani society on pro and anti ‘Establishment” basis (read Army).

This is fraught with extremely serious and even existential consequences for us.

Yet it is the same institution, along with other para military institutions which successfully defended the country against terrorists for 9 years, giving tremendous sacrifices.

It is the same institution which responds most effectively to every natural and man made calamity, disaster or security situation, we face everyday.

It is the same institution, despite its terrible past and despite its current inordinate influence, which believes that the future of Pakistan lies in strong civilian institutions, not dominated by the Military.

It is the same institution which believes Pakistan’s well being is best served by a strong and corruption free governance model, fully representing the will of the people, their hopes, desires and aspirations of a just, equitable society where everyone has the same opportunities.

It is the same institution which is very clear that non state actors, militant jihadi outfits and sectarian religious groups have no role in the affairs of the State and will never and should never be used as instruments of State policy.

It is the same institution which believes that we have punched well above our weight in the Region and that we must live in peace with our neighbors, especially India and Afghanistan!

It is the same institution which believes that Pakistani has been grossly misgoverned and sucked dry by all its past leaders, military and civilian and they must do whatever they can to support the current PTI government, despite its weaknesses, to cleanse the system, so we have a fighting chance to rebuild the Nation!

It is the same institution whose current leadership realizes the terrible effects, a military coup has on the Country, its People and its Institutions!

It is the same institutions whose past two leaders, Gen. Kayani and Gen. Raheel, despite their weaknesses, and the current Chief, Gen. Bajwa, have studiously stayed away from directly interfering in the affairs of the state, but, and we must and should say, have exercised or attempted to exercise indirect influence to try and limit the unbridled loot and plunder that prevailed under Zardari and Nawaz Sharif.

But for Panama, no government institution, no individual, no judiciary, no media would have been able to stop Nawaz from coming back in power by hijacking a highly compromised electoral process, using the entire force of the State machinery at his disposal.

In fact, on 29th May, 2018, then PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, a day before their government was dissolved, told a senior diplomat, “Don’t worry we will be back in July”. So sure where they of their total grip on the electoral process and their ability to rig the results!

So what is this “Deep State” or the “Security Establishment” that we throw about with abandon?

Well in simple terms it is no different to the ones existing in the USA or UK or the democracies of the Western World or India, with one difference.

Because of our past military rule of 33 years and the consequent destruction of our civilian institutions, the Army Chief, who heads your so called “Deep State” or the “Security Establishment” or whatever name you want to call it, seemingly exercises greater influence as compared to other countries.

However the ground reality is that agencies like the CIA, MI5, MI6, RAW, MOSSAD or the Defence establishment of countries like the USA and India exercise huge behind the scenes influence on every aspect of society in their countries.

Does that justify the influence the Pakistan Army Chief exercises. Of course not.

There is no deep state! There is no “establishment”.

Its just the Army Chief heading an extremely powerful monolithic well run military machine, which happens to be the only functioning state institution, today!

But do not forget that there is also a very very dark and dirty side to national and international politics and someone has to do the dirty work as well!

So today we have a dysfunctional state a near bankrupt economy, civilian institutions in ruins and just “one man standing” The Pakistan Army!

And if you were an enemy of Pakistan like Modi or you wanted to regain political power like Nawaz or save your dad from imprisonment like Mrs. Safdar or Master Bilawal, and thought that the Pakistan Army or Imran Khan stood in your way, what would you do?

Well if you were Master Bilawal or Mrs. Safdar, or Modi or other enemies of the country, you would do everything in your power to weaken the Army, weaken Imran and bring them both down!

And how would you do it.

You would polarize the country against the Army and Imran.

You would attack the Army and Imran in direct and indirect ways.

You would launch slogans like “Khalai Makhlooq” Dayshath Gardi kay Peechay Wardi Hay”.

You would ridicule imran with labels of “selected”.

You would fund, launch and support movements like the PTM, under the garb of democracy and freedom of speech.

You would employ Cambridge Analytica type tactics to fill mainstream and social media, that Pakistan’s problem is not corruption, not misgovernance, but its Army.

You would buy media anchors and hacks to promote this theme of the Army running the country. That Imran is a puppet and continuously building resentment and animosity against Imran and the Army.

You would use the likes of Master Bilawal and Mrs. Safdar, to attack the Army. Two biological absurdities of zero ability, zero achievements, zero experience, terrible values, propped up by their Rasputins, because the entire status quo of the corrupt mafia, their political future, financial wealth, power and influence is at stake.

You would use the slogans of “Democacy” and “freedom of expression” to sully the name of the Army!

Or like Hasil Bizenjo, himself a beneficiary of Rs. 5 lakh from the ISI in 1988, boldy name the ISI chief as being responsible for not being elected Senate Chairman. By the way quite a cheapskate to sell his soul for a mere Rs. 5 lakhs, I must say!

And By God, you would have a lot ammo because today the economy is in a slump, thanks to Nawaz Sharif and Zardari, prices are sky high, people have lost jobs, there’s been significant erosion of wealth, a significant economic downturn and loss of business confidence.

On top of all this the military’ footprint and influence is quite visible and ISPR ensures we dont forget it!

But!

And, and it’s a very very very important BUT for us to understand.

In an environment which has been raped, looted, pillaged and plundered by Nawaz Sharif and Zardari, we have no option but to rely on an institution like the Army to tide us over this extremely difficult period in our history simply because no other institution today stands strong and firm!

It is difficult for me to say this because, like the vast majority of Pakistanis, I strongly object to the way the Army exercises its influence and is not held accountable and answerable!

Also like the vast majority of us, I abhor Martial Laws and military dictatorships, and in fact joined Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s, Tehrik e Istiqlal, immediately after I left the Army in 1981, to campaign against Gen. Zia’s rule.

But, I know that today, whether we like it or not, we have no option but to successfully navigate through these very difficult times.

We have to work diligently to rebuild and strengthen our civilian institutions and the Country.

And for this the Nation needs the whole hearted support of the very institution which we ironically also must, when the task is done help retreat and confine itself to its constitutionally defined role. The Pakistan Army.

It’s not going to be an easy ride. No individual or institution gives up power and influence easily, but this is the only way and it will take time.

We cannot undo the consequences of 33 years of military rule and 35 years of loot and plunder by the Sharifs Bhuttos and Zardari in one or two years.

My assessment is that this transition will take anything from 5 to 10 years before we have very strong civilian institutions, a revamped electoral process, based on proportional representation, which allows for competent professionals, specialists and subject matter experts to come into politics, legislatures and government so we don’t have to elect the same corrupt politicians from the same gutter over and over again.

But most importantly that we have complete civilian, legislative and executive oversight and control over all affairs of the State, including the Military!

And despite my personal aversion to any extension to the Army’s current Chief, Gen Bajwa, I think between PM Imran and Gen. Bajwa, the stars could not be more auspiciously aligned for Pakistan to get us to that state!

A lot is riding on the PTI government to deliver good governance and on the military to help rebuild Pakistani institutions.

And hence a lot is riding on the shoulders of PM Imran and Army Chief, Gen. Bajwa!

A piece of unsolicited advice for the Chief and his ISPR.

Please keep a low profile. Do not keep reminding us and the world how powerful and influential you are. Everyone knows it.

Just focus and help in rebuilding Pakistan and at the same time ensure that the Army is also accountable.

If a serving 2 star Maj. Gen or 3 star Lt. Gen is found to be corrupt, kindly revoke his commission, strip him of his rank, privileges and benefits, name him and shame him. Publicly indict him, prosecute him and convict him as harshly as you can and then send him to jail in handcuffs in the full glare of media publicity so you make an example out of him, so that the people of Pakistan know that there are no sacred cows!

But for God’s sake, don’t give him a cushy job to head a civilian institution!

So before I end, let me repeat what I said earlier, lest we’ve forgotten.

I think, the Pakistan Army, is without question or doubt, our finest, most professional, most well led, most process and merit driven, most reliable and the least corrupt, of all our state institutions.

It is my considered opinion that if every able bodied young man and woman of this great nation could serve two years in the military and undergo the physical and emotional experiences that the rank and file undergo, Pakistan and Pakistanis would be a far better country and society

Pakistan’s enemies, both external and internal, Master Bilawal and Mrs. Safdar, especially, would not be able to mislead our people, especially our youth against this institution.

This is the Pakistan Army, not the Indian Army, for God’s Sake

I urge PM Imran, Defense Minister Khattak, Human Resources Minister Zulfi Bukhari and Gen. Bajwa to institute this great public service.

And now Kashmir on the brink of a major conflagration!

Time to dump Master Bilawal and Mrs. Safdar!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

Nov 2017 Longest Media Interview – PM Imran Shares his Plans for Pakistan

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 29th April,  2019

Nov, 2017 – PM Imran sharing his plans on Pakistan in his longest media interview ever 

In November 2017, 9 months before he became PM, a very upbeat and confident Imran Khan, perhaps gave his longest and most wide ranging TV interview ever. 1 hour and 7 minutes.

We discussed his questionable choice of electables to bring Tabdeeli.

How he plans to reform institutions, especially the Punjab Bureaucracy.

His views on then MD PTV, Ataullah Qasmi and I can’t help but contrast this with his treatment of his own handpicked MD, PTV, Arshad Khan, who he threw under the bus.

How Sharifs destroyed institutions by appointing incompetent, inexperienced people to senior posiitions and his plans to address this.

His views about Jehangir Tareen and Aleem Khan and the criticism that Jehangir Tareen controlled him and basically ran the party.

His plans to address the economic crisis, the fiscal and current account deficits, FBR reform, increase taxation and exports.

The charge of being a Taliban sympathiser.

His plans for civil service reforms.

Criticism about the Peshawar BRT.

Review of CPEC projects.

Now 9 months into his Prime Ministership it is interesting to see how successful he’s been.

But in all fairness to him and his government, many are long term.

To me of particular interest were his comments about merit and competence in appointments, economic reforms, reforming the Punjab bureaucracy and Police, FBR and Civil Service reforms.

While I’ve temporarily moved away from political commentary, but believe that this interview is a must watch to understand the contrast between being in opposition and in power and the current situation in Pakistan.

Also its worth noting, that, to date, Imran has not given a single one on one interview to any Pakistani anchor since taking oath. One of his media handlers, who earlier was rejected by him for the post of MD, PTV, because of his tainted past in the same role, now periodically “selects” groups of “gentle” anchors.

A huge contrast and departure from Imran’s bold free wheeling confident chats and interviews when he was in opposition.

While I’m not amongst the chosen who have access to him, although Imran personally promised me, thrice, his first interview to a Pakistani anchor, after being elected, I hope he comes out of his cocoon and the Castle his handlers have captured him in and plead his case to the people who had, perhaps still have faith in him, as well as all others in Pakistan!

But clearly from the interview we can see that IK had, perhaps still has, his heart in the right place. And he may yet pull an “Imran rabbit” out his hat, as he has done in the past.

We hope he is able to understand better, the art of governance, gets a group of extremely competent advisors around him to fill his inexperience gap and as per his own criteria, appoint the right people for the right roles!

Buzdar, anyone?

But the Jury is still out on him and his government, as they’ve 4 years to go.

Our hopes and prayers for Pakistan.

Salaams and Prayers.
Haider Mehdi

Is Imran still our best fighting chance?

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

5 month’s into administration, is the jury still out on IK and PTI?

Or are we witnessing a sad meltdown not just of governance but of the hopes of the millions who voted for the Khan?

Are we witnessing the tragic spectacle of a group of inept and inexperienced novices, at sea on how to administer this complex country called Pakistan?

Are we seeing the growing footprint of an establishment silently trying to plug this lack of capacity and capability in governance?

Are we fated to see the continuous erosion of civilian public sector institutions and deliberate acts of ommission and commission by other state institutions, keeping these civilian public center institutions on ventilators? Ineffective, weak, toothless!

Are we tragically fated to be administered by silent behind the scenes forces and not through legislatures and governing bodies and civilian institutions peopled by persons of integrity and competence?

Are the early missteps and floundering of a first time party in power at the Center, existential to governance and the Country?

Are we fated to have massively fouled up this best fighting chance in so short a time of taking back the nation from the clutches of the kleptocrats and plutocrats so starkly exemplified by the Sharifs, the Bhuttos and the Zardaris and decades of misrule and loot and plunder, including the periods of military dictatorships?

Are we fated, as a Nation to revert to a rule of charlatans, crooks, robber barons, mafiosi, looters and plunderers, garbed in “democratic robes”?

The same “Democrats” who in the same breath and in a most bizarre manner foist their biological offspring on this wretched nation, in a macabre display of democracy and shamelessly defended by their democratic pretenders?

Are we fated to see the incredibly painful public spectacles of the educated and the aware amongst us, spinelessly and shamelessly, slave worshipping, boot licking and brown nosing Maryam, Bilawal, Hamza?

This Roll of Dishonor is long and painful.  Leading jurists, former superior court judges, military generals, landed feudals, leading business people, multi billionaires, renowned journalists, poets, writers, left wing secular liberals.

All make up this bizarre collage of the shameless!

Other than a pure lust for power, money, influence, and other crumbs that feed the ego, nothing else rationalizes the personal choices these people make in the obsequious manner they humiliate and insult themselves in front of a Bilawal or a Maryam!

So here’s my reality check!

Tragically we are a bloodthirsty lot. We love mayhem, criticism, confusion, blood, gore.

Our prime time TV shows, of which I’m a part, put to shame the Roman Gladiatorial encounters!

Here’s my view of our society after 5 months of being in the thick of things or the opportunity to see and experience things at very close quarters.

1. The entire Pakistani society, from top to bottom is corrupt, ill disciplined and completely self centered and selfish. We do not not operate under any process. Formal Processes being mere facilitators of the “informal process”.

This goes for all of us.  You and me. Each one of us. Rich or poor.

Anytime we have a problem or need some work done or undone, whether right or wrong, especially in Government, we pick up the phone or contact somebody, directly or indirectly.

We either use money or power and influence or our network to get our job done or escape punishment from our misdeeds.

Each one of us regularly, every day, corrupts and pollutes the very system we criticise.

Ungortunately in this jungle, the poor and the weak, suffer the most, held completely hostage by an extractive, cruel, rent seeking environment.

2. The entire government machinery, rare and honourable exceptions aside, has been so politicised and brutally raped by everybody, both civilian and military administrations included, that it has very limited capacity, capability and desire to execute.

They operate on the time old tested principle of  either covering their backsides or making as much money as they can.  Mostly both!

3. For the last 70 years, since partition, our political governance has been in the hands of a corrupt coterie of plutocrats and kleptocrats, comprising rich politicians, landlords, feudals, businesspersons, who were part of every administration, whether civilian or military.

The military dictators, Ayub, Yahya, Zia, Musharraf, all using them to perpetuate their own rules. And civilian administrations using them as handmaidens to loot and plunder

This kleptocracy / plutocracy deliberately weakened our civilian institutions and hijacked our electoral processes, so they could retain political power and loot and plunder at will.

For this dishonorable class of vagabonds, most disguised as upholders of democracy and defenders of the parliament, changing parties is as easy as changing diapers.

They owe no allegiance to any ideology or values but one. How do we remain in power and continue to loot and plunder?

And it is this last value which defines the slavish behaviours of those licking the boots of a Bilawal or a Maryam.

4. Then is the very powerful footprint of our security establishment seen in every sphere of life. This is a natural consequence of 3 decades of military rule and the near death of our public sector civilian institutions.

Its a sad Chicken and Egg story.

But this influence is a reality and in my opinion, very detrimental to civilian public sector institutions becoming strong and effective and for Pakistan’s strength and stability in the long run.

In a counter intuitive way, Pakistan’s future strength, security and stability, lies in our security establishment voluntarily reducing their footprint to allow civilian institutions to breathe, grow strong and prosper.

Recently, I was appalled to read a comment from a retired three star laying down “conditions” under which the Military will cooperate with a Political government.

While we all value the tremendous work and sacrifices of the armed forces in the war against terrorism for which they have our eternal gratitude and prayers.

While we all appreciate and admire the discipline, professionalism and patriotism of the institution.

While we all admire their efficiency, effectiveness and ability to execute.

None of the above justifies in any form or shape their determining the destiny of the nation. Period! As partners, Yes! As Masters, No!

There is and can never be any justification, whether qualified or unqualified to support anything contrarian to this perspective.

When a military spokesperson waxes, however eloquently, on every issue under the sun, be it military, which they should, or economic, political, foreign affairs etc, which they should not, not only do they damage the reputation of the institution, but the Government and the Country.

And perhaps their biggest damage is the fodder of a “Praetorian State” they provide to our enemies inside and outside. The recent article in The Economist magazine being a case in point.

This kind of thinking also provide political lifelines to our plutocrats and kleptocrats like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari, who distort it to serve their own political objectives and ends.

Having said the above, the massive influence of the miltary establishment is a reality.

It is for them to realise that we have a rare once in a blue moon opportunity of a fighting chance under Imran Khan to strengthen our civilian institutions, break the back of the corrupt mafia of plutocrats and kleptocrats, and make this country strong.

This can only happen if they begin to limit their interference as much as possible and start to reduce their footprint which extends into the exclusively civilian domain.

This they must do in close partnership and collaboration and under the authority of a competent and an honest Executive.

For starters,  they should speak less and be seen less!

So it is in this extremely complex context and very challenging environment environment that Imran has come into.

A corrupted, ill disciplined society.

A corrupt, inefficient, ineffective public sector.

A bunch of rich and powerful politicians who have hijacked the electoral process and a stranglehold on political power.

An overwhelmingly powerful security establishment which influences and exercises power in most if not all key spheres of governance, inhibiting the growth of civilian institutions.

And in all this, if there’s hope in an individual who can overcome the above odds, despite his and his team’s weaknesses and inexperience, it is Imran. Of this I have no doubt.

And the reason for my optimism stems from five things.

1. The efforts by the Government to address root causes. Especially on the economic front. To paraphrase Napoleon. A Nation marches on a full stomach.

2. Imran’s and his inexperienced team, learning the ropes and making better decisions. And hopefully we see some better people coming into the cabinet and some bad eggs leaving

3. The cracks appearing in the power structures of the political mafia. Nawaz in jail. Zardari under pressure.

4. Governance reforms, albeit slow.

5. A genuine realization in our military leadership that this is a rare moment of opportunity to get the country back on track. This thinking will hopefully set in motion a reduction of power and influence and support the strengthening of civilian institutions

Whether he succeeds or not, is another issue. But my money is still on Imran!

And that’s why I believe he’s still our best fighting chance.

*-Haider Mehdi*

Naya Pakistan !

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

This is not a comprehensive review of Imran and PTI’s barely 7 days in office.

While the dung beetles will head for the filth and the non issues or the minor ones, Honeybees will flock to the flowers in the garden!

But what has Imran bought to the table?

First and most importantly! Hope!

Hope for a better, brighter, Pakistan. Last night at a dinner, 4 of 10 people I met have decided to head back to Pakistan.  All extremely comfortable in their lives here in Canada with outstanding professional careers.

What will you do? I asked.

Something. Anything. Teaching. Technology. Social impact projects.

I’m certain similar scenes are being played out all across the non resident Pakistani diaspora.

There is “Hope” with a capital “H”.  Hope  that he and his administration and many others in the millions who have waited all their lives for such a day, will work tirelessly to course correct and steer this very massive ship, slowly but surely, in the right direction and to the shores of a wonderful Pakistan.

People voted and flocked to Imran because of what they believed in about Pakistan. They came for themselves, for their children for their children’s children. For their futures of a safe, secure, merit driven, fair, just and equitable Pakistan!

Euphoria!

Another sentiment that he’s evoked. A feeling of great well being, a surge of happiness, a sense of pride in being a Pakistani!

Recently, a blue blooded white Canadian friend told me “…Your new PM is an awesome dude…..”

Even the optics elate us. The austerity measures, the clear stance on issues, the measured and balanced tones, the sense of purpose and above all a feeling that finally the key to the coffers is in the right hands!

And PTV. My God! Everybody I know is also watching PTV. Just this by itself is a miracle!

While his detractors will continue to criticise the occasional hiccup and relish the odd stumble by him or his administration, one must not forget that he and his administration has to do what they can, with what they have. And what they have is far from perfect. In fact it’s a royal mess.

Èven the images of the old guard on media, Shahbaz, Zardari, Diesel, Ahsan Iqbal, Asfandyar, Achakzai, Kaira, Sherry et al is like this terrible nightmare where one wakes up sweating and trembling!

The contrast is surreal, almost unreal!

He has five huge challenges.

1. Economic revival and stability.

2. Good governance which is transparent, merit driven, especially the elimination of corruption and bringing back the looted wealth.

3. Social equity, especially safety, security, justice and equitable opportunities for all.

4. Foreign policy, especially peace with our neighbours.

5. And perhaps the most challenging is to eradicate the terrible poison of sectarianism, extremism, violence and terrorism and bring the nation together.

These are herculean challenges! And the seas are rough and the storms, massive!

But If anyone can address them, its Imran.  He needs the support of all patriotic Pakistanis.

Those who want him to fail, for whatever reasons are merely cutting their noses to spite their faces!

Even in organizations, sustainable change takes a minimum of three years. I know. I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years

Year one is about planning and putting in place the right implementation architecture, the right people, the right processes and the right technology.  And pilot testing!

Year two is about implementation. And the period of greatest resistance from the old status quo, which is desperately fighting to defend the old putrid order. This is the period of greatest risk.

Year three is seeing the fruits of the change. This is at a minimum .

Give him and his team, time. A minimum of three years!

Those before him had ample opportunity to do the above. But instead of fixing the system, they consciously and deliberately destroyed the system.

They weakened institutions by appointing corrupt and dishonest people to key posts and deploying processes which allowed them to siphon off our wealth!

They consciously eroded the authority of institutions which could hold them accountable, so no one could hold them accountable!

Can anyone in their right minds believe that Imran would knowingly appoint corrupt and dishonest people on key roles in government?

Can anyone expect that Imran would deliberately weaken institutions so he and his associates can indulge in unbridled loot and plunder?

Can anyone expect that Imran’s personal interests would ever overtake national interests?

I’ve been criticized for going overboard in my support of Imran. That I deliberately turn a blind eye to his shortcomings! That I’m not objective in criticizing him and his actions!

Well the short answer is. Yes!

I am overlooking the minor hiccups and stumbles, because I believe they are inconsequential to the larger objectives stated above.

I believe that honest mistakes and wrong decisions will be made. I understand that the insights and experiences from governing a province by proxy vs the whole country will be challenging. I understand that he’s not surrounded by angels. Many are dyed in the wool old timers who will continue to attempt to go back to the old ways.

Some wrong appointments will be made, not consciously but perhaps because due diligence was not done properly. But given time, as facts emerge, these will be corrected!

But I do know that he is incredibly honest, incredibly committed and also incredibly ruthless.

He may allow himself and his people the occasional honest mistakes or error of judgements or wrong decision, which can be fixed and rectified, but he will not spare anything which speaks of deliberate and wilful sabotage of his agenda.

So while he and his team are fixing Pakistan, do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are.

If you live overseas, and can, go back to Pakistan and see what you can do!

If you have money, set up a business and create jobs for the poor.

If you have money, provide micro finance funding to poor people who have skills so they can come out of abject poverty.

If you have money, fund scholarships for poor children.

If you have money, adopt a government school.

If you have money, fund those who are making a difference especially in health care and education.

If you have money, set up food kitchens to feed the hungry and the poor.

If you have talent. Teach and train the poorest so they can get jobs.

If you have time, volunteer to help the most deprived segments of your society, in government hospitals, schools, colleges.

If you have people working for you, treat them fairly, with honour and dignity! Whether in your homes or in your businesses!

If you can, avoid taking or giving a bribe!

If nothing else, at least support him with your written and spoken words!

There’s so much you can do!

This is your contribution to Naya Pakistan.

*Salaams and Prayers*.
*Haider Mehdi*

“The Speech!”

-By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

As PM Imran Khan finished his 77 minute inaugural address to the nation, one thought crossed my mind!

Where does one position “The Speech”?

I don’t know. I don’t know, because it’s so different and so refreshing. Simple in content and delivery and so matter of fact, with every word and syllable coming from the heart that it seemed almost anticlimactic !

It ranged from the really Big Picture to the fireside chat format of sharing deeply touching details of stunted growth in Pakistani children to the heart wrenching intimacy of the widow’s letter to him, written in her blood.

Did it belong to the Churchillian *”……We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender….”*

Or John F Kennedy’s *”….Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country…..”*

Or Martin Luther King’s stirring *”….I have a dream….”* speech

Or Quaid e Azam’s 11th August 1947 speech
*”……. You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state…..”*

Or Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s *”……We will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own (nuclear bomb)…. We have no other choice!…..”*

I saw and heard it twice to get a sense of the genre and then it dawned on me that Imran had actually created a new genre of inauguration addresses by Heads of States and Governments! At least those I had heard or read, in our part of the world!

It was unlike any of the above or what we had heard from our past rulers.

No stirring phrases, no hyperbole, no fiery phrases, no lofty sermons!

It was an intimate, one on one, from the heart, fireside chat, directly to those who matter most to Imran. The most deprived segments of our society for whom he had fought for and struggled for and sacrificed everything for.

And who didn’t like it and silly picked and said?

What no foreign policy? Nothing about India, Afghanistan, USA, China, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia etc. And nothing on terrorism. And what blasphemy! Not a word about Kashmir or CPEC? Yes. Correct. He covered them in two words. Peace and National Action plan, having earlier expressed his thoughts on these issues in his victory speech, just after the elections. I’m sure he will address them later as well!

On this occasion his message and vision was not for the pudgy fingered, 1% fat cats who had lived off this raped, looted and plundered land.

This time it was for the other 99% of Pakistan. The poor, the weak, the dispossessed, the socially and economically disadvantaged and the most at risk. The struggling lower and middle classes desperately trying to make ends meet and fighting a losing battle to keep their self respect, intact.

And boy oh boy, did his words resonate with them as he peeled back the layers of hypocrisy and hyperbole adopted by former rulers, and said it as it is, straight from the heart. He told us what was wrong, symbolically giving examples of the hypocrisy and ugliness and the pomp and show of past governments of this impoverished nation. And laying out his plan of how to fix things!

And yes it did not resonate with the rich, the well fed and those who’s lives and lifestyles don’t change a whit, irrespective of who is in power!

These sharks continue to encircle and enrich themselves, taking advantage of their social, economic and political status, their network of connections and their wealth to get their work done.

Whether it’s a  military dictator or crooks like Nawaz and Zardari or charlatans and frauds like Diesel or Asfandyar or Quislings like Achakzai who acquire power, life goes normally for the privileged elite!

When they fall sick they buy the best health care. They and their children attend the best schools and universities inside and outside the country. A phone call to a friend gets their children the choicest jobs! Another phone call hushes up a legal issue! What a wonderful life!

And when the going gets tough this same group of the rich and the famous, including crooks, criminals, corrupt businesspeople, over and under invoicers, tax evaders, crooked politicians, generals, judges, bureaucrats, all with their destination weddings and expensive vacations and millions stashed away in off shore accounts, escape to safer pastures in Dubai, Europe, North America.

It’s not surprising that many amongst the rich and the privileged found his speech uninspiring, because hidden behind their veiled cynicism lies a bigger fear.

How will I survive in this new world that Imran envisions? How will I continue to make 50% to 60% financial returns per year? Will I now have to pay my due share of taxes? Will I still be able to launder my wealth? Where will I hide my ill begotten wealth skimmed off government contracts and dubious business dealings? How will I buy and sell government officials, judges, generals and politicians at will?

These groups can’t relate to these issues except in an abstract and theoretical way as they continue to enjoy the best privileges this country offers!

And what of the poor?

These wretched souls live a life of terrible poverty and sub human existence, pining away miserably and finally helplessly crumbling away, unable to withstand the cruelty and the injustice of this terrible system that prevails in PAKISTAN!

And in all this, another brilliant segment of Pakistanis silently leaves the country to seek safer futures for themselves and their children. People who can’t join the loot and plunder or do not have the social and economic advantages of the others. But have the skills and opportunity to escape what seems to them a certain death trap!

These are some of our finest. To them Imran’s words hit home! To them it spoke of a Pakistan where they could return and become highly effective and productive contributors!

Imran had a very clear and loud message for those he had fought for, struggled for and sacrificed for!

Folks we are changing the rules of the game. We are changing the entire context and operating framework in which Pakistanis will operate. We will change our behaviour by policies, procedures, systems which are merit driven, authentic and transparent.

We are creating an environment where good is rewarded and evil punished.

We are creating a Pakistan where every citizen will have equitable fair and transparent opportunities and access to public services, to safety and security, to clean drinking water, to health care, to education, to employment and to speedy justice and to respect and dignity!

A Pakistan, where one day, in the not too distant future no person would require Zakat!

But it’s not an on off switch. The harvest comes when it comes in its ordained time after the seeds are planted. It will not blossom earlier, however much you increase water, fertilizer and effort.

Give him and all the good people working for a better Pakistan, time!

Insha Allah, Pakistan will become a model country and Insha Allah, as the good man said, one day our Zakat will go to other countries!

I think it was an outstanding speech. An absolutely extraordinary speech!

I think it was the speech of a man on a mission!

Pakistan Zindabad! Ilahi Aameen!

*Salaams and Prayers*
*Haider Mehdi*

The Inaugural National Assembly Session!

Haider Mehdi

Fire and Brimstone!

But first. Congratulations to the man who worked tirelessly for 22 years, supported by those who didn’t lose faith in him, and finally achieved his dream of becoming PM and start the most challenging task of turning this country around!

What a session!

Imran, in his moment of glory, unfortunately, couldn’t retain his cool after being heckled and harangued and abused for nearly an hour. It was very very petty of the PMLN. Not today!

Imran’s could have delivered what should have been a great speech of magnaminity, large heartedness and reconciliation.

A speech which would have included his agenda of eradicating corruption and bringing the looted money back and offering no NRO to the corrupt and the looters and plunderers. It would have been a wonderful speech for the new House, for Pakistanis and for the International audience!

While it’s easy to advise Imran on keeping cool from the confines of my armchair, but then this was his moment, his hour, his day and one can only lament on what could have been!

But Imran’s core message was and is clear.

We will govern well!
We will not spare the corrupt!
We will bring the looted money back!
We will not give any NRO to the corrupt!

Shahbaz and PMLN set a shameful standard which put even their already gutter values to shame. First by going back on their agreement to allow Imran to speak after 15 minutes of agitating and then to the garbage of his own speech.

Shahbaz and his cohorts represent a degenerate and corrupt status quo, breathing their last and hence the anger and desperation.

And Bilawal!

Well, I’d be petty not to admit that it was a very good speech!

But before we go gaga over his fine words and his cool and calm delivery, lets not forget that Bilawal has no trophies on the wall.

He’s but a mere twenty something, silver spooned, pole vaulted privileged young man who hasn’t done a day’s work in his life. Has no achievements to his credit. Has no struggles. No experience.

So what does he have?

A biological accident or incident of privileged birth, a political legacy in which he has ZERO contribution except being to “The Manor Born”, a reasonably nice face, a reasonably decent education, but nothing outstanding, and absolutely no decent school or college achievements, worthy of any mention, even in a private social setting!

He’s a just a regular, pampered, privileged, overly well fed, rich kid with acquired, affected, cultured social graces, a fluent English accent which only the affected and pretentious South Asians put on.

But more importantly, he has access to his father’s seemingly unlimited looted and plundered wealth, the best speech tutors and speech writers money can buy, hundreds of brown nosing, butt kissing hangers on surrounding him day and night, many who would put to shame their past credentials!

And then, like a schoolboy, prepped and propped up to deliver his speech!

In summary, he symbolises the hypocritical and pretentious social privileges and ambivalence that plagues South Asian politics!

And the speech?

There are tens of millions of kids like him, privileged and underprivileged, who can deliver a similar speech or better if given the same opportunity and wealth! Watch any Hollywood movie of highly effective and moving High School speeches by any Valedictorian and you know what I’m talking about.

And that is our tragedy, as we forget the real things that matter but go all warm and fuzzy and mushy over his speech!

But for the record. This is nothing personal about or against Bilawal, before the Jiyalas atrack me! I’m sure personally he’s a most charming, personable and nice person. But so are hundreds of millions of others. But that doesn’t make him or them potential leaders for Pakistan.

Would have been nice if somebody like Bilawal would have earned his spurs working his way up the party ranks. But this will never happen now, as he rides on the coattails of the political legacies of his grandfather and mother and the looted wealth of his corrupt father. He’s now unfortunately doomed to live the life of a political puppet, with nothing to show of his own!

However his personal pettiness and shallowness came through when he called Imran the “PM Select”. A behaviour worthy of the pettiness of his grandfather and parents! And of those petty souls who tutoured him to say this phrase!

While he has no option but to play act his role, the tragedy is to see the likes of Sherry Rehman, Aitizaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani, Khurshid Shah etc, stand behind Bilawal, hands folded, in a display of shameless and abject slavery and servility.

To display such a level of slavish servility in today’s day and age is much worse than those our ancestors showed to the conquerors who swept through this wretched land centuries ago.

Shame on these pygmies who sell their souls for petty crumbs of power, money and influence!

But the great news for Pakistan is this.

Imran’s day has come. And I have no doubt he will deliver what he’s promised. Insha Allah.

As I’ve said ad nauseum, this is not about partisan politcs or about Imran.

It’s about the future and well-being of Pakistan and its people, especially our poor, our exploited, our socially and economically disadvantaged and underprivileged!

Insha Allah! Ilahi Aameen!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi