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

The Khan USA Visit….Veni Vidi Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) Plus a lot of work to do at home!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 25 July, 2019

So first the euphoria!

Never felt so good, so proud, head held high, to be a Pakistani as we did watching the Khan weave his magic in all his public interactions in the US.

The Presser with Trump; The Fox Interview, the USIP Dialogue, the Talk at the Capitol and of course the “Dharna at The Arena!

And in his private meetings as well!

The World Bank President went away in awe as quoted by an insider

* …..The (IMF) President is happy with the discussions….. felt that there is a genuine leader who cares about the country…..*

This is the impression Imran left people with. A genuine leader who cares about his country

I think this is perhaps his second “finest hour” since his election as PM!

This is what he does best when he speaks from the heart, with honour dignity and huge amount of self respect.

This is what he does best. Articulating an uplifting powerful message and a wonderful vision of the future!

So were there any tangible outcomes from the visit.

Perhaps a few by my count!

1. A strong personal relationship and direct communication between Imran and Trump. Hopefully ensuring that Trump and his administration are not misled about Pakistani actions or intentions by the anti Pakistan lobby, especially the Indian lobby!

2. In 3 days he’s quite literally changed the perception about Pakistan in a large part of the US administration, especially with hawks like Pompeo and Lindsay Graham, in the US Media and perhaps even amongst think tanks and opinion makers. Something we’ve not been able to do in decades.

3. A possible resumption of $1.3 billion US annual aid, enhanced trade and investment, and repayment of outstanding Coalition Support Funds, estimated at $9 Billion, owed to us by the USA. I think CSF repayment and aid will likely follow a successful deal with the Taliban and the USA’s withdrawal from Afghanistan

4. Renewal of military ties!

But perhaps an invisible benefit is the ouster of India from the Regional policeman role, given to it by the USA, especially in relation to Afghanistan and USA withdrawal.

Mediation on Kashmir? I’d not take it seriously!

As the joke doing the rounds when Trump asked Modi “Yo Mo you should relax more…you got bad bad body odour” (this after the embrace) Modi replies “I do meditation in Kashmir” “Oh, Mediation on Kashmir” said Trump…No..no Meditation says Modi.

“..Mediation, Meditation same thing says Trump” and the rest, as they say is, history!

But here’s a word of caution about Trump! Imran probably already knows this but worth reiterating.

Trump is known to be all sweet, honey and charming face to face, and then can bite back via a sarcastic tweet and throw his best friend under the bus.

Tillerson, Mattis and scores of other corpses litter the White House as Trump ruthlessly dumps people he finds no longer useful to his interests or serve his objectives.

He’s a “man of the moment” and clearly relished the limelight which he got from Imran’s visit and used it to greatly benefit his domestic electoral agenda.

He has a two point interest in Pakistan.

1. Save American money, by pulling out of Afghanistan and save American lives from Terrorism in mainland USA, after the pull out.

For this he needs our help in getting the Taliban as part of a stable Afghan government, post USA withdrawal. It also gives him huge political and electoral mileage.

2. Sell as many American goods and services to Pakistan to help create more jobs in the USA and dilute Chinese, political and economic influence over Pakistan. Also giving him domestic political benefits.

Both helping him in his relection campaign in 2020.

But the Afghanistan withdrawal and post withdrawal stability is the Crown Jewel, Trump desperately needs for his re-election. Chinese influence, vis a vis Pakistan for now takes a back seat, for a while!

The more realistic the expectations Pakistan sets with him about what we can or cannot do in Afghanistan, the greater the possibility of remaining on Trump’s right side!

So there you have it on the US trip and Trump!

Imran shouldn’t get too overawed or taken in by Trump’s charm. He has the values and ethics of a Cattle Rustler!

And now to the realities facing PM Imran at home!

1. The Economy. Especially Industrial and agricultural growth, exports and increased revenue. Reducing 1.7 trillion of circular debt, 1.4 trillion of state subsidies to high loss incurring and mismanaged State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s). This is a make or break factor. Existential if we fail. People are under back breaking high prices!

One leading private sector businessperson whose huge empire pays all taxes and doesn’t under or over invoice, wistfully told me last night. Every economic decision that the government has taken, when viewed individually, makes perfect sense. Rupee devaluation; Tax reforms; IMF loan; Reducing external account deficit, removing subsidies from electricity and gas, etc etc. But collectively we are just not getting the traction we’re waiting for.

And we’re still waiting! He said with a sigh!

Imran is a great visionary but greatly hampered by a weak team who are unable to integrate and implement his vision, because implementation, operational expertise and integration is not his strength, he said quoting Gino Wickman, founder of the EOS framework!

2. Rebuilding our completely destroyed civilian public sector institutions by appointing competent persons of integrity to leadership roles who in turn bring in similar professionals, implement effective and transparent operational processes and technology to pre-empt corruption and deliver quality public services to the common man.

Shabbar Zaidi, Chairman, FBR, is an example of one such person and what he’s doing in FBR.

Imran must now get similar competent professionals and subject matter experts and not rely on friends and cronies or the permanent Islamabad group of mercenaries to fill professional leadership slots, simply because “he or she is very bright” but have zero experience or achievements in that area.

Dr. Sania Nishtar heading Ehsaas, his flagship Poverty Alleviation program, now sexily renamed Poverty Graduation, and several others, some whom I know personally (they will know who they are when I write this) are cases in point of not putting the right person in the right slot.

Appointing an ex Army General, a recently retired Adjutant General of the Army, as Chairman of Naya Pakistan Housing Authority, is in my opinion, also a questionable decision. While understanding that the AG looks after Army Housing and has insights and expertise that could be useful, my view is that he has some really competent people in his own party with expertise in this area, such as Najeeb Haroon, the MNA from Karachi to head this. There are many other ways of seeking Army’s expertise and insights in this area.

I think he should task a team headed by Jehangir Tareen, Ehsan Malik (CEO of Pakistan Business Council) MNA Najeeb Haroon to source top talent for our Public sector institutions!

3. Fixing relations with India, Afghanistan, Iran and the USA. Afghanistan and USA is on an upward trajectory. India is a long haul. But given the final delinking with the Jihadi outfits and USA’s new found love for Imran, there may be some minor moves forward with India.

But with Modi around, forget any serious discussions on Kashmir. Trade yes! Kashmir No!

Iran is complex. At a minimum we cannot take sides. We must not allow our territory to be used against them. And if we can, to try and mediate between them and Saudi Arabia and perhaps even the USA.

4. Returning the balance of power from the Army to the Civilian Executive!
The Army is today the only State institution which has fortunately escaped the rape by our politicians, considerably helped by their 33 years in power. But also, as people forget, by having a very merit driven system of promotions, placements and transfers.

Their best and brightest go as Instructors to the premier training institutions, PMA, Staff College, NDU, ensuring that the trainees learn from the best. Compare this to the police and the civilian bureaucracy, where instructional assignments are “punishment” posts.

Hence today by default, because civilian institutions are dysfunctional, the Army’s footprint is overwhelming and overpowering! And the ISPR makes sure we do not forget this for a moment. It is unbelievable how those guys, living in an echo chamber, don’t understand how they’re polarizing public opinion about the Army and Gen. Bajwa.

But let’s be real. But for the Army, we would today be in a far worse situation then we are!

That’s reality! So lets move on from here!

Gen. Bajwa has done a marvellous job in cracking down on non state actors, putting his and the institutions full weight and support behind the civilian administration!

In my opinion he’s as committed to a corruption free Pakistan as is Imran and wants Imran to succeed for the sake of Pakistan.

As an interim arrangement, this is essential for our survival today to help tide over these very difficult times and defeat the current very powerful and corrupt status quo.

Take the USA visit. Gen. Bajwa’s presence and discussions with the US military High Command were essential to give USA comfort.

But in the long term this continuing influence in the civilian realm is very harmful, even existential for Pakistan as it will move us towards a harsh, fascist society!

The big white elephant in the room?

Should Gen. Bajwa get an extension? Should he be offered one? Should he accept one?

My personal opinion is a NO to all three.

While he’s done an outstanding job, I think he should retire gracefully, let the system continue and let the institution continue to support the Executive as its doing now! He could continue to serve as a National Security Advisor or Minister of Defence!

Having said that, there is a strong argument in many circles that because of his deep understanding of the issues facing Pakistan and his strong relationship with Imran, there’s a case for him to continue on.

But my view is that there will always be exceptional circumstances. There will always be an argument to break a rule! But the system must go on!

I have NEVER heard of a retiring Lt. General being given an extension! Never an extension to an Air Chief or the Naval Chief!

So why the Army Chief?

In summary, Imran faces a huge Herculean task at home!

We are a hugely dysfunctional society and country.

Our institutions do not work effectively.

Our past rulers, both military and civilians have systematically destroyed our institutions resulting in the elite capture of all our institutions and sources of power by a small group of corrupt, rich and powerful people, who’ve either used the hypocritical garb of democracy (our politicians) or the Doctrine of Necessity (our military rulers) to grab and hold onto power.

This elite capture has resulted in an environment of desperate survival by the poor and the exploited, desperately latching on to those who represent this corrupt ststem to seek recourse, justice, employment and succour.

Just sheer survival!

The masses accept as a given, a system of plunder, loot and handouts as symbolised by the Sharifs and Zardaris and their courtiers and hence accept the status quo, because their self interest and survival are now also interlinked to this corrupt system.

They do not believe that Imran or anybody can change the system to a more equitable one with equal opportunity for all!

Their hopes have been dashed to the ground again and again! Bhutto, Zia, Musharraf….now Imran!

This is a battle for the Soul of Pakistan and our future and those of our children and beyond.

It is a battle to provide equitable opportunities of healthcare, education, employment, entrepreneurship, business etc.

We hope this rotten political and electoral system is destroyed which continues to elect from a small, corrupt coterie of looting, plundering mafia like Plutocrats and Kleptocrats!

We hope no son, daughter, brother, nephew, uncle of any politician gets into power simply because of a biological event!

Mrs. Safdar and Master Bilawal being two of the ugliest most evil symbols of this terrible accursed system!

We hope our civilian institutions are strengthened so our Army retreats into its defined role and does not exercise the immense and inordinate power they exercise now, directly and indirectly and their support is indispensable to remain in power.

We hope we have a media of serious objective analysts, journalists and anchors who do not sell their souls to the highest bidder.

We hope of a judicial system which dispenses quick and fair justice and holds everyone accountable, high and low. We hope sons and daughters, sons and daughter in laws, nieces and nephews of former and serving Judges are not the only ones elevated to our High Courts and the Supreme Court

We hope we have an electoral process which allows people of competence and integrity to get into positions of power, authority, governance and into our legislatures.

Mrs. Safdar and Master Bilawal do not represent these hopes for Pakistan.

PM Imran does!

With all his inadequacies, which he is fast overcoming, he is still our best fighting chance!

The poor await a Pakistan where they live in peace and security, get quality healthcare and education, earn a decent livelihood and get speedy and fair justice!

Today they are burdened with massive back breaking inflation, high prices, but they still wait patiently!

Now its time for you to conquer Pakistan, PM Khan!

And you can only do it if you have competent people of integrity around you. A great team that can execute and implement effectively!

Because its a long hard tough battle and there is no such thing as “Spontaneous Combustion”, or a “Magic Wand”, PM Khan!

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

The General’s Visit to the Senate!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

The General came, presented, answered questions and left. The questions were petty. As petty as the people who asked them.

The General’s briefings were detailed and deeply insightful with a message. Kindly get your act together.

His briefing to the Senate is being termed as a triumph for democracy and elevates its Chairman Raza Rabbani to the status of a near god and as the “true conscience” of Parliamentary democracy in Pakistan. Here’s my view about this so called great democratic pretender and conscience keeper.

 How can we call this elitist, egotistical, pretentious, hypocritical person the “conscience” of parliamentary democracy?
A man, who smilingly and obsequiously,  twiddles his thumb, standing slavishly behind a twenty something idiotic twit, and calls him his party leader?
A man who will condone the corruption, rape, loot and plunder of Asif Zardari and his sister and his cronies and continue to accept him as his party leader?
A man who will allow dynastic rule in the PPP and not oppose it so he can conveniently enjoy the perks and privileges and power of office?
A man who has had it good cannot be what people say he is. This is not being a conscience keeper of Parliamentary democracy. It is being a gravy train beneficiary and a boot licker, leeching off a corrupt system and enjoying it’s power, perks and privileges.
Either we need to redefine parliamentary democracy or conscience to justify these accolades to the Senate Chairman.
Raza Rabbani and  people like him are even more dangerous because they enrobe themselves in the holy garb of democratic pretenders and many good and well meaning people fall for these wolves in sheep clothing.
He and all those like him are hypocrites who have supported a putrid, decayed, morally and financially corrupt order and system.
If this is our definition of a representative  democratic order, then may we be saved from this stinking system and from painting these crooks as honourable people.
The quicker these people are dead and buried along with this terrible system they represent and perpetuate, the better for Pakistan.
-Haider Mehdi

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