Daring Greatly – “President Imran Khan”

 

by Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As one friend put it.

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

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

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

So with this, here goes the Last Post!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s really what we want!

1. Rebuilding State Institutions.

2. Delivering Good Governance

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

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

And this is Imran’s big issue!

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

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

No one expects a miraculous economic turnaround in 1 year.

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

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

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

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

But we did expect one thing from Imran.

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

And in this he has failed miserably!

And it this which destroys all hope for revival.

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

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

The first is his weakness for flattery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does this kind of screw up happen?

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

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

And Imran just doesn’t get it.

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

Not the biryanis his team conjures up!

As I said in a recent tweet.

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

So what now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CM Buzdar and CM Mahmood fall into this latter category!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this is how we

1. Rebuild State Institutions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or the King proves me completely and very happily wrong!

Salaams and Prayers
Haider Mehdi

 Urdu translation of

“Daring Greatly – President Imran Khan”

-Haider Mehdi

ہمت مرداں۔ صدر عمران خان
سیّد حیدر رضا مہدی

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

عمران خان کا بھی یہی المیہ ہے۔

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

اس معاملے وہ بُری طرح ناکام رہا ہے۔

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

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

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

اس کی پہلی بڑی کمزوری خوشامد پسندی ہے۔

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

یہ گڑ بڑ کس طرح واقع ہوئی!

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

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

عمران بھی اس معاملے کی تہہ تک نہیں پہنچ سکا۔

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

تھنک ٹینک بریانی ٹیم کی طرح شعبدے نہیں دکھاتا۔

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

اب کیا کرنا ہوگا!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

یاد رہے کہ پاکستان کسی کی جاگیر نہیں۔

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tread carefully Khan saheb! A short note!

 

 

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 27 July, 2019

Khan saheb,

Our key challenges are

1. Economic recovery so our people can get relief from back breaking inflation, business confidence is restored, industry is revived, exports and taxes increase and foreign direct and local investments restart.

2. Rebuilding and strengthening state institutions and improving governance. This also means reducing corruption and holding crooks accountable. But this also does not mean we use heavy handed and harsh measures to crack down on political dissenters and low life’s, however third rate they may be. This also means the delivery of quality services to our citizens! Health, Education, Employment, Safety and Security etc!

3. Reforming the Judiciary and law enforcement agencies so our poor can get quick and real justice.

4. Strengthening the Executive and ensuring the Army’s influence is limited to its defined security related roles. So we’re not headed towards a dark dystopian, fascist future. This is a hugely polarizing phenomena in Pakistan even amongst your supporters!

5. Rebuilding our relationships with our neighbours.

6. Reforming our electoral and governance system to allow people of competence, skills, subject matter expertise into positions of governance, power, policy making and legislating!

This is crucial so that you and future administrators are not held hostage by the small corrupt coteries from which we elect our lawmakers and cabinets under the garb of parliamentary democracy! Something quite unsuited to us.

So that we have professionals making laws and policies and overseeing and managing public sector institutions with professional expertise.

So that Pakistan is saved from the “Elite Captured” claws of this small bunch of corrupt rich and powerful!

So we forever bury the Sharifs, the Bhuttos, Zardaris, Asfandyars, Fazlur Rehman’s and who they represent!

This in a nutshell is what we need, Khan saheb!.

Please do not open too many fronts to take your eyes off these goals.

Do not take on others Estates like the media. Now is not the time and place for this battle.

Like the rest of our society our media is also like a Mafia. Yes, they’ve been bought over by the corrupt mafias of the Zardaris and the Sharifs. Yes they must be held responsible through strong libel laws and strict punishnents!

But do not allow the kind of media optics and very poor handling of arresting and handcuffing a 78 year old journalist, on charges as flaky as a snowflake, despite his questionable character and third class attributes.

Do not allow the opposition to get to you, upset you, rile you with personal attacks and and use of words like “selected”. If they do, they’ve succeeded. Because it takes you away from fixing Pakistan.

Because our entire institutional infrastructure is dead, dysfunctional, corrupt, inefficient, ineffective, very weak, the task is huge, complex and very challenging.

But if anyone can begin to tackle it, its you, Imran.

You cannot afford to waste this great opportunity for the sake of Pakistan.

Tread carefully, Khan saheb!

Not fearfully, but carefully!

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

“……And we missed the Boat!!!…..

 

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi – 13 June, 2019

Earlier today, a friend and former classmate sent me a short news report on the quality of Indian graduates of the IIT, established by Nehru, in the early 50’s, soon after partition.

Our story was very different and how we in Pakistan, missed the boat, not just in developing strong public sector institutions but in establishing similar high quality science, technology and engineering educational institutions.

It’s my considered opinion that a key reason was that at Partition, a cabal of hereditary, rich, corrupt and powerful, landed feudals “elite captured” all sources of Pakistani power, simply to perpetuate their hold over the people. They had no love for Pakistan, or its people or its future, except their own selfish interests.

The vast majority already lived in the geography which later became West Pakistan. They sacrificed nothing for Pakistan. They lost no property, no fathers and mothers, no sisters and brothers, no sons and daughters but in fact, acquired even more power and wealth as a consequence of the infamous evacuee property scams!

By and large this evil cabal of plutocrats and kleptocrats still exists today.

Today, these rural political heavyweights, are joined in the merry plunder, by the urban merchant elite, the bureaucratic elite and that most elite of elites, the Pakistan Army General.

Our political and social contract has always been of an “elite cabal” lording over poor masses. Imran and PTI included.

Despite Imran’s desire and protestations to the contrary, his desire to clean up the mess, I do not see him succeeding, unless this stranglehold of the Elite Mafia, is broken.

Unless he is able to, as a start, throw out this mafia like cabal of crooks, self seeking carpetbaggers, power brokers, corrupt and crooked cabinet ministers, advisors and, special assisstants who have leeched onto him.

Not all, but certainly the vast majority!

We need a new Republic!

A new political and social contract.

Perhaps an anarchic revolution, if not a real revolution. But anything, literally anything, which will uproot the existing order.

We need something so harsh, so cruel so painful that the wounds make us think twice before allowing another crooked cabal like mafia to take over.

Last week I saw a documentary series on The American Civil War by Ken Burns, on Netflix. A strong must see.

Made me realise why they’re the most powerful and influential nation on earth.

1. 4 million people fought against each other in over 10,000 place over a 4 year period. And over 160 years ago!

2. 620,000 died to defend what they stood for. Their State, their way of life, their values. For and against slavery!

3. 4 million black slaves were released from bondage.

4. A President was assassinated for not giving in.

Father against son, brother against brother. Former classmates and childhood friends mowed each other down in cornfields and cotton plantations.

That is how this Nation was forged in the most painful way.

The vast majority of the people of Pakistan got this country handed to them on a platter on the morn of 14 August by one of our greatest leaders, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

But for him we would have still been living in even more abject misery as a marginalized ghettoized community, much like the Muslims of India today.

If anyone lives in some fools paradise of a united secular India with Muslims and Hindus living together in communal harmony, they need to look at Modi, the BJP and what’s happening to Muslims in India.

Those who migrated to Pakistan, and sacrificed their all had to start from scratch.

Those who spoke one of the regional languages, and came from East Punjab, mostly Punjabis, assimilated well.

Those who were alien to the land and spoke Urdu were and are still hounded for calling themselves Mohajirs.

Interestingly, have yet to come across a single Punjabi, Sindhi, Balochi or Pathan who identifies himself as a “Pakistani”.

Who are you?

I’m a Balochi, a Sindhi, Makrani, a Punjabi, a Pathan/ Pakhtun, Baltistani, Kashmiri, Gilgiti etc etc or some even call themselves Afghans. Then the tribes, sub tribes, clans, sub clans etc etc.

But we berate the Urdu Speaking community for trying to establish their own identity, bereft from the one they left behind and because no one will take them as their own.

The solution?

No idea!

Perhaps a revolution or sheer anarchy with marauding unruly mobs, finally fed up, go on a looting and plundering rampage. Centuries of anger hurled on the riches of the privileged.

Mobs looting and plundering those living in the comforts of the Bahrias, the Defence Societies, the Gulbergs and even the privileged no go areas of our most powerful elite, the Army Generals, living in the fortified safety of their palaces in pristine Cantonments and colonies.

And Golf Road in Pindi, perhaps symbolises this most ugly and visible symbol of this elitism, alongwith their luxurious residences, gilded huge offices and palatial messes.

Perhaps a major calamitous event which breaks the stranglehold of the elite.

Perhaps a mad dictator.

Perhaps a complete change in our electoral process which allows highly educated, committed people to come into positions of governance and policy making.

I don’t see any of this happening, hence my temporary “retirement” from political commentary and activism and media.

But that IIT report just compelled me to pen this!

Alas and Sigh!

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

The day “Conscience” died!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Black robed, stern-faced, frowned and steely eyed, the lordships who “dispense” justice, with the scales of blind justice towering over their bench, but not their conscience, delivered a most devastating, perhaps even an existential blow to not just justice but to their own consciences and to the hopes of this nation, hoping against hope that maybe now the high and mighty would not escape their just desserts!

Stern men, having spent their lives studying law. Having spent decades sermonizing that justice must be seen to be delivered. Some quoting Khalil Gibran and extracts from the “Godfather”. Some launching their fire and brimstone tirades on a hapless soul who unknowingly stepped out of line in court, casually allowed a criminal to go free under a line of argument which brought tears to our eyes, shamed our hearts and destroyed our hopes.

Hopes that perhaps now this country could perhaps see the dawn of a time where no one, big or small, was above the law. Where poetry and literature quoting Lordships brought hope of a system in which justice was truly blind.

Where, whether you were a pauper, a prince or an ex PM, you would be dealt in the same manner as all others!

Where we desperately nurtured a hope, that perhaps, now, perhaps once in a blue moon, perhaps in a rare beam of sunlight stream, we have people with spines, with conscience,  with strength of character, with moral courage, to stand up for justice and do the right thing!

But to expect roses from thorn beds, milk from gutter, justice from a place and a system where everything under the sun was fair game.

Where their highest had time for everything under the sun. From bottled water to hospitals to school fees and God knows what else.

To expect fair play, where except for high-sounding hyperbole delivered in self-righteous hypocritical sermonizing anger, there wasn’t even token, even hypocritical, even mildly pretentious effort to reform their own terribly dilapidated, terribly corrosive, terribly destructive institution, would be foolish and stupid.

How could we be so naive to expect justice from a system which is so evil, so terrible, so mafia like, causing untold misery, distress and devastation to tens of millions of this country’s citizenry in the name of law and justice?

How could we ever expect that the high and mighty of this land would suffer the same indignities as all others?

How could we have hoped that we have finally turned the corner?

We hang our heads in shame, in sorrow,  in hopelessness, as we see the death of the collective conscience of what goes for Justice in Pakistan!

The Sahiwal Encounter- A shory sad note

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

While Sahiwal casts a huge shadow and a sad question mark, it merely manifests in the most stark, cruel and tragic way the absolute destruction and breakdown of our institutional processes, competence, accountability and governance structures.

If anything it gives us a huge warning of a potential unstoppable meltdown, where even those in the bureaucracy, who are competent, will not take action, as is happening now.

It reflects institutional breakdown, lack of merit, lack of competence, lack of training, lack of process and lack of controls.

And the consequences are horrific.

A future encounter with a terrorist now runs the risk of inaction.

Such is the situation we are in.

It also manifests, in this case, the consequences zero accountability of the infamous police encounters introduced by Shahbaz Sharif and Asif Zardari! The Abid Boxers, Omer Virks, Rao Anwars etc.

The solution.

Reform, reform and reform. Will not happen overnight, unfortunately.

50 years of destruction of governance structures and institutional breakdown will not be fixed overnight.

But we will have hope if at the least, we see actions which tell us we are heading im the right direction and we see competent administrators at the helm.

A Governance reforms committee under Dr. Ishrat, and CM Buzdar in Punjab, does not give us that hope and comfort.

-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*