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

There’s still time to redeem yourself!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Just look at the enemies attacking Imran, the Supreme Court, NAB and the Army!

Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, Asfandyar Wali, Achakzai, Fazal Diesel, Altaf Hussain.

Then the misguided and the misinformed.

Then those whose political, economic and social stakes are wedded to this terrible status quo of corruption, loot, plunder and institutional destruction.

And most dangerously those who want a weak Pakistan ruled by the corrupt. A Pakistan with a weak Army. A nuclear defanged Pakistan.

They certainly don’t want a progressive, forward looking, democratic Pakistan with strong institutions and strong leadership, working for its people and not the current rich and corrupt elite!

And then look at the media and writers and intellectuals who make fun of him. Deride him. Run him down.

And they do it so very cleverly. They cloak their daggers in silky narratives of “Saving democracy” “Army political meddling” “Judicial Activism” ” NAB witch hunt”, “Religious obscurantism”!

They are blind to the efforts of institutional reform in KP. They are blind to the massive efforts in the police, in healthcare and education. In strengthening the local bodies. And blind to their impact.

Not perfect, I agree, but substantial enough for everyone to see.

All they can see is the resignation of the Ehtesaab Chief.

But none will highight that for 4 years NAB was under a Nawaz toady called Ch. Qamarruzaman and were unable to investigate and or file a reference of any substantial corruption or wrongdoing in KP or against those who are close to Imran.

They lambast the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice for exceeding his mandate, but forget that the same Court, disqualified Jehangir Tareen.

They forget that with all state institutions lying on a death bed, the SC had to step in.

They question the Panama and accountability court’s judgements but forget the criminality of the Sharifs and the Zardaris and their terrible and abject deliberate misgovernance and criminality.

They question Hanif Abbasi’s conviction as a witch hunt, forgetting that this man has possibly been responsible for sending tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands into the dark abyss of lifelong drug addiction and abuse!

And Shaukat Siddiqi. The evil maniac one who calls himself a Judge! Muddying the waters of his corruption and misuse of authority and nearing his convuction, wants to die as a political martyr in a hail of his own calumny! A petty, hypocrital liar, worthy of nothing but contempt.

They question Imran’s monetary handout to Sami ul Haq’s seminary as evidence of his support for Taliban like organizations.

So, if that’s true is KP now a more radicalized province then it was before?

I also questioned him on this in my interview. His answer which he has shared publicly hundreds of time.

Do we leave the hundreds of thousands of madrassah kids, failed by the State, to the mercies of obscurantist thought or do we attempt to exercise oversight over them and teach them skills so they become positive contributors in our society vs being brainwashed into a life of intolerance, guns and violence?

So yes we paid them to establish a teacher training college, upgrade their facilities with computers and curriculum to teach non religious subjects.

In return we got membership on their board and management control and most importantly, authority of approval of their curriculm and complete oversight by the KP Board of Education.

Sami ul Haq also countered the Fatwa by the TTP/DAESH/AL QAEDA, supported by Fazal Diesel, that polio drops were haraam. Sammy’s people accompanied polio teams to address this Fatwa.

But who wants to talk about the rationale and the impact?

Who wants to talk about the crippled life that awaits those thousands of children without polio drops, because their parents and guardians were brainwashed by an obscurantist thought?

And finally lets get real. Sammy and Diesel are political enemies. What would you do if Fazal was your political enemy?

Internationally just look at the Indian and Western press and segments of our own media!

Look at the slander and the pettiness of the filth being heaped on our Judiciary, our Army, the NAB and Imran by his political opponents and many so called enlightened and educated!

So here are my questions to all who have joined this battle to defame Imran and hit out at our Judiciary, our Army and the NAB!

Why would you support known criminals, crooks, plunderers, money launderers like Nawaz and Zardari?

Why would you NOT support people and forces who are desperately trying to save Pakistan from collapsing and anarchy?

Why are you all pointing your guns at the Supreme Court, NAB, Imran and the Army?

Why are all of you desperately trying to scuttle and sabotage efforts to strengthen Pakistan?

Where were you alongwith all anti Imran, anti Judiciary, anti Army political forces when the wholescale loot and plunder in Pakistan was taking place these last 10 years?

Where were you when all our institutions were being royally raped and destroyed by Zardari and Nawaz from 2008?

Where were you when cronies and toadies were appointed to powerful posts so they could loot and plunder with abandon?

Why on earth would you support criminals like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari?

Why for God’s sake? What have they given us, except deprivation, destruction, corruption, loot and plunder and large projects to fill their own pockets?

You are either ignorant, misinformed, or have deep political, social and economic vested interests with the current mafia like status quo.

And many amongst you with full stomachs, wealth, power and access to state power are not directly affected, so far by this massive institutional destruction and plunder of our wealth.

Woe the day when the pain and the cries of the anguished and underprivileged burst out on the streets!

They will douse your lights, loot and plunder your wealth, burn your houses and end your lives!

Woe that day which is not far off, if this system continues.

Many of you, like me living overseas, in safe environments, are completely oblivious to the horrors, our poor and exploited face everyday.

You the rich and powerful and privilged, are untouched and unfazed by the cries and agony of the millions who suffer everyday.

You do not hear the cries and death throes of the hungry, undernourished malnutritioned poor child, man and woman.

The only cries you hear are of two convicts. The criminal Nawaz and the forgerer Maryam!

You do not suffer the agonies nor do you hear the cries of the millions of suffering sick as your sickness is attended to by the expensive private hospitals in Pakistan!

Or like Nawaz, Shahbaz, Kulsoom, Zardari, Asim Hussain and others like you, you fly off to hospitals in Europe and North America to save your blighted health!

Your ignorance of what’s happening, deliberate or unconscious, is a curse on your insensitive skins, your conscience and your souls.

Your ignorance and insensitivity is a far greater curse then the curse of ignorance which millions of our youth are blighted with. Our schools and colleges failing them, providing an education which offers them nothing. No skills. No competencies. No employment!

Your ignorance pervades because you do not face the fascism of our police and others, either buying your way out or using your influence.

You are a miserable, sick, prostituted lot.

Prostituted by your arrogance, your power, your wealth, your egos, your privileged lifestyle, your vested interests and above all your insensitivity and your ignorance!

And because you’ve sold your souls, your self respect, your honour and your dignity, you will do everything in your power to bring down the man and the institutions, who for once in a long long time, in a rare moment in our blighted God Forsaken history, are desperately trying to fix our corrupted body politic and fight for the under dog, the poor, the marginalized and the socially and economically disadvantaged.

You want to kill this rare moment in our history!

If God Forbid, we are unsuccessful now in changing our system then please remember it was you who stabbed Pakistan in the back!

And then cry not when the flames engulf us all!

But there is still time to redeem yourself.

Please Vote for Pakistan and not this terrible band of looters and plunderers of the Sharifs and the Zardaris!

*Salaams and Prayers*
*Haider Mehdi*

Pakistan’s transformation from a Kleptocracy /Plutocracy to a Democracy and the onslaught on the Army!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Given the massive onslaught on the Pakistan Army by International media, specifically USA and India and parts of our national media as we saw recently in Hameed Haroon’s recent BBC Hard Talk interview, a historical gallop is essential.

Historically one thing is clear. Our military interventions have sorely impacted the evolution of our State into a genuine and strong democratic polity

Notwithstanding the fact that we had the strongest economic performances during the three military regimes of Ayub, Zia and Musharraf, they used the same category of carpetbagger politicians to further their individual rules. Each blundered us into conflicts which had major impact on our political evolution and development.

Take our five military adventures under our military rulers. 65 war under Ayub, 71 war under Yahya, the Afghan cauldron under Zia, and most recently Kargil and the war on terror under Musharraf.

All these Military interventions grossly weakened the State.

Internally their administrations nurtured and strengtened the political mafias represented by the likes of the Bhuttos, the Zardaris and the Sharifs and gave rise to this kleptocratic and plutocratic class of politicians.

Kleptocracy and Plutocracy means a governing order of the rich and the corrupt, ruling a country!

This evil order has deliberately weakened and destroyed our state institutions, so they could loot and plunder unchecked, leading to the near social and economic collapse we face today.

Thus the responsibility for our current state lies squarely on the shoulders of both our military rulers and our politicians.

So lets get this “but what about the Army….” out of the way!

But today’s Army and its military leadership is starkly different.

The rank and file have been bloodied in a 14 year long conflict, sadly and as a consequence of decisions by its own leaders in the past.

But It has sacrificed with blood, sweat and tears, as have our law enforcement institutions and tragically, as have we, the people of Pakistan.

It has been steeled and forged in battle. It has the highest officer to troops casualty ratio in the world.

This is an Army that has paid and is still paying for the sins of their forefathers and in the process have saved the country from near destruction and total anarchy.

It has withstood the onslaught that destroyed civilian institutions, partly because its leaders ruled for 33 years and partly because it defended its turf jealously even under civilian rule. And thank God for their institutional discipline, for God forbid, had it gone the way of our civilian institutions, I shudder to think of the consequences.

This is a different Army with a different leadership and mindset.

They have seen the follies of their own myopic decisions in 1979 and 2004, as the current Chief has publicly stated.

This is no longer an Army with a “security mindset”. It is now truly a national army, which has come of age.

There is absolute unainimity of views in the Army that Pakistan’s future lies not in any military intervention nor in any backdoor manipulation, but in deep systemic internal reform and long term peaceful relations with its neighbors, especially India and Afghanistan.

Apologies for this tangent.

But its important to share this insight of the so called military economic complex, especially for many civilians brought up on a brainwashed diet of the Army’s domination of the economic sector!

Today our Defence expenditure is 2.5% of GDP vs 5.8% in 1960 and 9% of total expenditure vs 28.3% in 1960.

The collective value of all military owned businsses is a mere 4% of total market capitalization on the stock exchange. A drop in the ocean.

Their main military conglomerate is Fauji Foundation running 18 enterprises.

Four are wholly owned. Fourteen are associated companies. Another nine are public unlisted companies.

The Foundation earned dividends of Rs.13 billion in 2016. Of this Rs.11 billion was spent on ex servicemen welfare. Rs. 1 billion on Corporate Social Responsibility welfare projects. Only Rs. 1 billion was retained as earnings and another Rs. 1 billion on administrative expenses. No money goes into making anybody rich.

The Defence Societies have overwhelmingly benefited the civilians in a housing starved society!

So why do they exist?

These military businesses exist because the State of Pakistan does not provide any post service support to ex service people, except pension.

There is no “Veterans Program” as exists in the USA and all other developed western democracies to cater to the needs of ex-servicemen!

Unlike the private sector and the civilian bureaucracy, where everyone retires at 60, the vast majority of armed forces officers retire at the prime of their life at age 45 and troops at age 37, with no means of income, other than a very small pension, usually a growing family, with children still in school or college or university.

The entire military economic complex caters to these people by providing jobs, health care, education, retraining and most importantly, financial and employment support to the families of shaheeds.

And all this because the State cannot.

The Foundation runs 11 hospitals, 103 medical centers, 104 schools, 2 colleges and 77 technical and vocational training insitutes.

All business enterprises are not money making exercises to fill the pockets of serving officers or troops. Nor is this an attempt to control our economic engine.

No business owned by any armed forces foundation is exempt from taxes, other than what is directly attributable to verifiable welfare spend. The same as for any civilian welfare project.

In 2016 Fauji paid Rs 17.8 billion in taxes. Employing tens of thousands of people. Both civilians and ex service. *Their welfare activities impact over 10 million people, directly and indirectly.*

Can you imagine the disaster if the Army had not catered to their ex employees?

While one can criticise Martial Laws and military interventions as I have done, the terrible propaganda unleashed against the institution is a very deliberate effort to divide the country, sow serious dissension and conduct highly inflammable politics, as Nawaz is doing.

So here we are in 2018, with Nawaz convicted and imprisoned!

Let’s understand one thing clearly.

Nawaz is no innocent lamb or brave gladiator, valiantly fighting the cause of democracy and civilian supremacy over the military.

He is desperately fighting not just to save and his daughter’s political future and his wealth, but to save the sordid and evil kleptocratic/plutocratic order that he, Benazir and Zardari, presided over in turns.

Over 14 articles have been written in the US press and 27 in the Indian press in recent weeks and countless in our national press, all criticising the Army for political interference in the electoral process.

But strangely not a word about the wholescale corruption, loot and plunder and destruction of State institutions by Nawaz Sharif or Zardari.

Not a word about questioning the snowflake defence offered by Nawaz in defence of his Avenfield properties.

Not a word about his and his brother’s misrule and misgovernance. Nor anything about foisting their children on the nation!

Hameed Haroon’s BBC Hard Talk interview was perhaps the lowest depths that the once mighty Dawn has fallen. A media house which was once the pride of our nation, where I also once worked. And sadly, from a person who I’ve known personally, worked under and respect deeply.

A strong Pakistan with strong leadership is not something the USA or India relishes, despite their hollow protestations.

The USA would much rather have a malleable person like Nawaz or Zardari, or even a military strongman, who are easy to manage. But not a strong democratic order!

Internally those whose political and economic stakes are wedded to this mafia, including those in the media, have also come out in their support, masking their financial interests with high sounding defence of democracy, protestations!

And then those tragic souls who are still fighting a Don Quixote “cold war” against militarism, which they commenced during Zia’s rule! A sad and misguided lot, living in cuckooland!

These are the gangs that Nawaz has rallied to his “cause”!

Let’s get real folks.

The kleptocratic /plutocratic mafia has a stranglehold on Pakistan’s body politic.

Nawaz sits on top of this mafia. Zardari a close second!

They will not go easily and certainly not willingly. They will fight till the end, even if it means creating dissension in the country. Even if it means throwing the country into unprcedented turmoil, even civil war.

They will use every ruse, every trick up their sleeve to turn this battle against an evil order into one against “democracy” and “civilian supremacy”.

They will attempt to turn the nation against the Army, using all resources and people in their fight for survival.

And while all this is happening, does anyone seriously expect the Army to sit demurely, hands folded, like a shy blushing bride, while Nawaz, his misguided supporters, and sections of the media and our society, misinformed and ill informed, go on the rampage, putting the State’s existence and future at stake?

Well. Apparently not! And let’s leave it here! This is not a picnic we are talking about. This is about our survival and our future!

Clearly a strong, democratic, well governed and corruption free Pakistan is a political death warrant for Nawaz and Zardari!

Hence the battle!

So where do we go from here?

Pakistan’s salvation lies not in individuals be they Imran, Saqib or Bajwa or any others etc.

Our salvation lies in building strong public institutions, rigorous regulatory regimes with strong accountability and parliamentary oversight.

Our salvation lies in empowered legislatures and local governments.

But most importantly our salvation lies in the alignment of our four key institutions. The Executive, the Judiciary, the Legislatures and like it or not, the Army.

All four standing shoulder to shoulder and fully aligned towards the clear goal of a better governed and corruption free Pakistan.

Yes the Army, has become the fourth pillar in our country with influence far beyond its mandate. Something not to relish and a sad reality!

And it is my considered view that when the three real pillars of the state become strong, the Army’s role as the fourth will automatically diminish and eventually finish and should and must finish.

It won’t happen overnight, but sooner than most expect.

And if Imran wins, this will be the first time in Pakistan’s civilian history that we will have this strategic alignment between these key State institutions which matter!

And herein lies our salvation and transformation from a kleptocracy /plutocracy to a democracy!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

In conversation with Ehsan Ali Malik, CEO, Pakistan Business Council

Assalaam Alaykum,

Posted below is the first in a series of interviews, also on my Youtube Channel

These are with subject matter specialists and experts of Pakistan. In a wide ranging conversation with Ehsan Ali Malik, CEO of Pakistan Business Council, Pakistan’s largest business advocacy group we discussed the challenges and solutions facing Pakistan, especially possible solutions on how to kick start Pakistan’s economy and industry.

Should we go to the IMF? What has undermined local industry and possible solutions? Why have countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam sped ahead of Pakistan? How to broaden the Tax base, improve exports, reduce imports? CPEC and its impact; Kick-starting the Agriculture sector. What measures can be taken to generate employment for the 3 million entering the work force every year?

While It is a long interview, but very insightful about the above issues. Please do watch and spread it so we get substantive and informed insights on our challenges and solutions, well beyond the superficial chatter we hear on mainstream media and social media.

Thank you.
Salaams and Prayers