Hazara! Lambs to the slaughter and Imran’s Shame!

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

They are said to have been part of the great Mongol hordes of Changez Khan as they swooped down from Central Asia into South Asia!

Now mostly living in the heartland of Afghanistan and contestably comprising berween 9% to 20% of Afghanistan’s population, the Hazaras as they are known have a history of being violently persecuted, because of their religous beliefs!

From being serfs and living in slave like conditions to the highest political offices in Afghanistan and an occasional high military office in Pakistan, Gen. Musa being one, these people have been over centuries been repeatedly subjected to persecution, violence and mass killings both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, where they number about half a million, mostly in and around Quetta.

Converted to 12 Imam Shiaism during the Safavid rule in 16th Century Iran and living in predominantly Sunni Afghanistan and later Pakistan, they have been singularly targeted because of their religious beliefs and their distinctive physical features distinguishing them from non Hazaras!

Their targetted killings in Pakistan and of other Shias have been the natural consequence of the terrible, violent, obscurantist, exclusive, militant interpretation of Islam adopted by extremist groups, funded by petrodollars, mainstreamed by Gen. Zia ul Haq and violently propagated by militant preachers originating from the terror following the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the Saudi Iran proxy war, both in that calamitous year of 1979.

The Hazaras of all communities are the most vulnerable living in an extremely hostile environment in Quetta, Baluchistan, because of the extremist sectarian militant outfits that appear to operate with impunity in a province which in all manner of speaking has been under strict military control for over 20 years.

Hence it is extremely strange for such a terrible, tragic, cruel, heartbreaking incident to take place in supposedly the most militarized province and city of Pakistan.

Where is the State?

Where are the Security agencies?

Where is Prime Minister Imran Khan?

Where is the PM who would tweet and roar and shout at the then Prime Ministers for their indifference, their lack of empathy, their lack of sympathy,  their lack of courage and spine when the Hazaras were earlier targetted by sectarian terrorists?

And all our “brave” PM could come up with was a pitiful tweet? A Tweet?

He should be ashamed of himself!

Some say he was advised against travelling because it would be a security risk!

A security risk?

He should be ashamed of himself if he listened to this advice. He should have said “I’m going, you take care of security” boarded his plane and been there the same or next day.

What sort of PM are you Mr. Khan?

Where’s your courage?

Where’s your Spine?

If ever the Nation wanted you to grasp a leadership moment, it was now!

If nothing else, you could have helped wipe their tears and shared their sorrow!

What a fall, PM!

“A little piece of Heaven” in Pakistan

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi*

While the chattering, thumbing, typing, opinionated, full stomached, overly wealthy, overly stupid and ignorant, so called elite of this country bitches and moans every day on WhatsApp and Facebook in drawing rooms and meeting rooms, many angels quietly slog away at making a difference in the life of the extremely vulnerable, poor and most at risk, in Pakistan!

They impact the lives of the very very poor who belong to a socio economic status that perhaps may shame even the shameless.

Mohra Fatima is a small hamlet on the road to Chakwal, where a dedicated team of local and foreign qualified doctors have been providing free health care to people suffering from severe emotional and mental disabilities.

“80% would either commit suicide or kill somebody if they hadn’t been treated by us” says Dr. Shakil, Consultant Psychiatrist at Sussex Hospital, UK, the person behind this effort and now based in Pakistan.

I spent a day there a few weeks ago. What I saw would melt the hardest heart. These were people who were extremely poor and in great mental and emotional distress.

“Many were tied in chains by their families, because they didn’t know what was wrong and how to deal with them”.

“Then other doctors take advantage of them prescribing wrong medicines, keeping them hooked as potential earning assets, till these poor people run out of money, and either kill somebody, commitv suicude or end up in chains and die.”

“Pakistani Society is suffering from serious psycho -social toxicity. The violence and trauma we’ve suffered these last 40 years has corroded our society, destroyed families and normal social interaction. And the most impacted are the poor and the underprivileged who have no safety nets, financial, family, social and emotional”

How can we fix it, I asked? Is there a solution?

“Yes, we can.”

“We have to address this at the levels of our schools, colleges and universities. We have to equip our teachers on how to address this phenomenon, how to weave it into our teaching curriculum.  Federal and Provincial education authorities, Higher Education Commissions, University Vice Chancellors etc, should seek advice from people like us on how to weave this into our curriculums.”

“We must educate our political, public and private sector leaders and our military leaders about this terrible social bomb which is exploding all across our country.”

*”Institutions like the Civil Services Academy, the Pakistan Institute  for Parliamentary Services,  National Defence University, Staff College, Pakistan Military Academy, Police Training institutes, Pakistan Institute of Management, etc must get insights. We are also planning to establish an institute to take this forward!*”

What about children suffering from mental and emotional disorders?

“They really are the most at risk. Many are abused.  They are unable to participate and learn. They cannot become productive members of our society. So in a humble effort we’ve started a school, free of cost for such children.

I visited this school yesterday in Gulzar Colony, Rawalpindi and saw my little piece of heaven.

Children with severe disabilities being looked after, cared for and taught by people with hearts of gold, the patience of Hazrat Ayub and the virtues of Saints.

How do you support this?

“Our own funds, friends and family and well wishers.  One lady in the UK didn’t use her car for a month and biked to work, and then donated the fuel money she saved.”

“You don’t have to be wealthy to donate or care, just have to have a heart that cares!”

Any support from our government poverty alleviation organizations. BAIT UL MAL etc?

He just smiled and offered me a cup of tea!

*-Haider Mehdi*

A short note on the CJ LHC reprieve to Hamza!

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi.

In a truly messed up society like ours where either nothing or everything works depending on who you don’t know or know!

Anything is possible! Including Hamza’s reprieve !

Where a PM can drag on a never ending nasty feud between his minister (Fawad) and his Special Assistant (Naeem ul Haque) involving his own personally hand picked extremely honest and competent PTV MD (Arshad) without intervening!

Anything is possible! Including a totally screwed up narrative of your own creation!

So why blame your opponents!

Where a PM appoints idiots and carpetbaggers to cabinet, advisory and special assistant positions while brilliant honest people from his own party are sitting on the sidelines, because he has no idea about the skills required. And because he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Anything is possible!

So why not the continous disasters one after the other?

Why pick on a Judge, who’s clearly biased, when every morning Imran calls for a razor sharp axe to hack at his own foot!

Therefore anything is possible!

So why blame the opposition for having a go at you when you do it to yourself, every day!

I dont blame the Judge or the putrid screwed up system but the PM who we voted in to do the right thing.

And I’m talking about the many many things that he could have done right, but isn’t because he’s inexperienced, ignorant and incompetent and refuses to listen to sane and good advice!

So anything is possible, when you don’t know, you don’t know!

Including turning a blind eye to the obvious!

Buzdar is a royal disaster. So is Mahmood in KP.

Even his closest advisers can’t figure out why he’s continuing with these.

So anything is possible!

So why blame others! When you insist on insisting that your decision was right!

So forget a small fry like the Punjab CJ. He’s part of a terrible system which has been tainted, poisoned and destroyed by decades of institutional decay!

But focus on Imran who really is his own worst enemy!

So anything is possible!

One hope and prays his learning curve and understanding of governance, management and identifying the right people, out runs the disasters chasing him. Many of his own creation!

And hopefully then perhaps, good things are possible!

One piece of unsolicited advice, Imran.

*Get someone like Shafqat Mahmood as your Chief of Staff, so you can get at least some sane piece of advice, currently completely non existent from the Qaseeda Khwaans you’ve gathered around you.*

For me, I give up!

Somewhere between….we grew up

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

The following inspired by a Facebook post!

Somewhere between knowing a dear one will break your fall and knowing they were the cause, we grew up!

Somewhere between a sibling opening their hearts to closing them and their homes, we grew up!

Somewhere between dropping in unannounced and being welcomed with open arms to “you should have called” we grew up!

Somewhere between accepting a yes as a yes and then as a no or a maybe, we grew up!

Somewhere between open hearts and closed doors, we grew up!

Somewhere between getting up at 2 am to help a friend to “yaar may bohath busy hoon” we grew up!

Somewhere between real love to a pretentious “how lovely” we grew up!

Somewhere between unsuccessfully having to choose between clamouring relatives demanding we stay with them, when visiting another city, to a hesitant you should have stayed with us and to a cold room in a hotel or club, we grew up!

Somewhere between a dozen dinner invitations to a cold pizza in a hotel room, we grew up!

Somewhere between Khuda Hafiz and Allah Hafiz, we grew up! (Kind courtesy Jamil Janjua)

Somewhere between pithu garam and candy crush, we grew up!

Somewhere between a “Kulli Sawari” Tanga and a Careem, we grew up!

Somewhere between hope and hopelessness, we grew up!

And somewhere between everything and nothing, we grew up!

Releasing the Indian Pilot -Weakness of Wisdom?

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Did PM Imran Khan do the right thing in releasing the Indian Wing Commander in Pakistan’s custody?

Was it a sign of weakness or a statesman’s leadership act of great wisdom? Or was it something called the “weakness of wisdom”.  A wise act appearing like a weakness!

We can argue both perspectives with cogent arguments, very forcefully and sway the conclusion to our desired end.

But really, the biggest issue that should determine the label of, weakness or wisdom is whether both countries were ready for a war?

Conventional or Nuclear!

Whether this would have remained confined to short and limited engagements, as we saw, or quickly expanded to a larger, perhaps even a full scale military conventional engagement or even our worse nightmare, the  horrifying spectre of an existential nuclear conflict?

This, to me, is the defining narrative, and reality that confronted us these past few days.

More importantly both countries must have war gamed and scenario planned a spectrum of possible scenarios ranging from a “least likely to happen with no damage”, meaning that no country would attack the other and no damage would be inflicted on either side.

To the other extreme spectrum of a worst case scenario of “most likely to happen and worst outcome”. Which in this case would mean attacks and counter attacks by both countries, expanding to a larger conflict and leading to a suicidal nuclear war.

This latter scenario was clearly what both countries must have concluded.

It did appear for a heart stopping 24 hours that Modi’s brinkmanship or miscalculation, call it what you may, of pushing his luck and striking Pakistan with conventional missiles, especially after the public humiliation of the two downed planes and the captured pilot, may well have scripted through to Armageddon!

This would have been compounded by Pakistan’s clear intention communicated to India of a 3 to 1 counterstrike, which meant for every 1 strike by India, Pakistan would hit 3 targets.

And thus the fires of hell would have rained on both countries as they initially unleashed their conventional arsenals and then their nuclear.

So where and how did this slide of insanity down the slope of a  nuclear holocaust stop?

Perhaps two things. And one can debate which came first or had more impact.

But clearly the decision to release the pilot greatly mollified the terribly bruised Indian ego, humiliated in their own country and outside.

And secondly then of course Big Brother USA who stepped in and said. Ok guys, that’s enough.

But I think, and this is a pure assessment, a third factor may also have played a role. I think the Indian military leadership may have, and I say may have been reluctant to follow Modi’s midnight madness.

It is in all that one can safely conclude that PM Imran Khan may have averted a very likely nuclear disaster by demonstrating great sagacity, tremendous magnanimity and most importantly, brilliant statesmanship in releasing the pilot!

We’re not out of the woods. The Indians are still smarting. They are angry and hurt. They feel insulted, humiliated.

Despite Modi’s putting up a brave face, he’s clearly got egg all over his face. This is not to gloat over their discomfort or misadventure, which I would love to do, but simply to state the obvious. They screwed up, royally!

But, tragically these events also showed how isolated we are, today.

Not one country, including *Taller then the Mountains and Deeper then the Oceans, friend forever BFF China, so called brotherly Ummah Muslim countries, Saudi Arabia and UAE, the latter host to “Guest of Honour, Sushma Swaraj, what a kick in our backsides, except Turkey, condemned the Indian attacks and pointed at Kashmir as the root cause.*

Not one!

*Our Foreign Policy is in tatters. Let’s not kid ourselves folks!*

All these recent foreign junkets by the PM and the Army Chief, and the chest thumping PR of how successful this person did this thing and that thing and saved the day etc etc are, in my opinion, in the final analysis, complete foreign policy failures.

Yes we did manage to get some money, but also a kick on our faces and on our backsides, with UAE’s invitation to Sushma as Guest of Honour, perhaps alongside “et tu Brute” go down in history as another most sad act of treachery, given the recent bonhomie between Pakistan and UAE!

But here is the light at the end of this dark tunnel. The silver lining. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Name all the cliches one can but this truly is *Pakistan’s best opportunity to cleanse our Augean stables of all the filth and crap we’ve collected and nurtured for decades.*

Call them what you may. Strategic Assets. Non State Actors. We don’t need them! We must root them out mercilessly or they will be responsible for our destruction, God Forbid!

And the World, rightly or wrongly, now just doesn’t have the patience to listen to our stories.

Beware the proverbial Ides of March has yet to come! Let’s fix our house before it’s too late! It’s only then that Kashmir will get a willing ear and we may have another friend or two!

*-Haider Mehdi*

The Modi Miscalculation!

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Modi had 3 reasons to resort to this brinkmanship by either orchestrating Pulwama as a false flag operation or taking advantage of a completely indigenous occupied Kashmiri action in their fight for self determination and freedom!

1. Gain Political mileage for April elections.

2. Tell the West that Pakistan continues to sponsor militancy in occupied Kashmir.

3. Hence, Kashmir has been militarized and therefore we, India have to crack down harshly with an Iron fist. And when we do, please don’t accuse us of human rights abuses, as western governments and organizations have been doing so lately.

But he grossly miscalculated Pakistan’s response, as we did in Kargil, as well as the uncontrollable hype created by the Indian media. The latter putting him in a very difficult situation of now taking action. Pretty much damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

So he did, hoping the “non-action on a deserted hill side will not provoke Pakistan to retaliate”!

But the reaction was sharp, swift and disastrous for India and its mad jingoism and media optics.

The damage to their collective national ego is colossal. The two downed aircrafts and the two captured pilots do not show themassive mourning that’s hit the Indian Nation!

What was planned as a cake walk by Modi has turned into a terrible PR disaster and an embarrassment and humiliation of olympian proportions.

So he either suffers the terrible humiliation of keeping quiet after receiving a Pakistani backhander and kick in the curlies or he responds to save some face! My sense is that the chances of an Indian action are more than not!

And it is this Indian retaliation which is worrisome because here is where things can go out of control.

The most desirable action by the Indians is call it a cease fire. But it seems that there are greater chances that the Indians will try and sneak across the LOC to attack an isolated Pakistani border post and try and bring back a Pakistani officer or two as captive, to even the score of the two Indian pilots in Pakistani custody and try and redeem the public humiliation they’ve suffered.

This can escalate to a much more large scale ground attack supported by Artillery, Amour and Air in Azad Kashmir or the Shakargarh salient, our most vulnerable defended area because of its peculiar geography.

We have to be vigilant!

They won’t give up easily with all this egg on their faces and the abject humiliation they’ve suffered.

*- Haider Mehdi*

The TLP Case Judgement!-A personal view!

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

While directionally, I think the judgement is powerful and correct, but also sadly, the obvious biases of His Lordships against Imran and the Army are there for everyone to see and read, as well!

We were and still are in exceptional circumstances which required exceptional responses.

In the future when we have robust and strong civilian institutions, strong political institutions, strong governance structures and implementation architectures, the military’s footprint will and should recede automatically.

We can of course argue till the cows come home about the chicken and egg.

Who is responsible for our Mess?

Martial Laws or incompetent and corrupt politicians?

Was it the first Martial law, which opened the floodgates of subsequent ones, the consequence of political causes and corruption or was it vice versa?

My personal view supports the former.

In my view, our Martial Laws are directly and indirectly responsible for the kind of corrupt political leaders that acquired power in Pakistan and the consequential governance mess, loot and plunder and weakened civilian institutions!

BUT and this a big BUT, like it or not, the Army, today, is THE ONLY strong, disciplined surviving institution and hence has progressively filled the vacuum left by weakened civilian institutions.

Many, as stated earlier, through their own creation, directly or indirectly!

They will only vacate, recede and reduce their footprint as we start to strengthen our civilian and political institutions.

To that extent the judgement is futuristic, directionally correct and powerful.

But the language used in penning the judgement betrayed the Honourable Judge’s very obviously bias!

While covering a large historical canvas from 2007 to 2018, the Honourable Judge did not deem it fit to even give a passing mention to the loot, plunder and rape wreaked on this hapless nation by the Zardari and Sharif administrations and to the total destruction and havoc they deliberately wreaked on civilian institutions!

And that is why this terribly weakened civilian edifice gave the military a power vacuum which they filled! And hence the heightened and very visible and prominent role of institutions like the ISI and MI etc.

They did not feel the need to mention the sedition of a Husain Haqqani, living in the President’s house, the then President harbouring a person charged with high treason, which caused serious concerns about National security.

They did not deem it appropriate to even give a token passing mention of the loot of Nawaz, the rape by Zardari. No Sir! Not at all!

It is as if the Army was the cause of all our ills. As if we lived in Lala land under Zardari and Nawaz, these 11 years, flowing with rivers and honey.

Of course the military has overextended itself.

Of course it must confine itself to its mandate.

But for now it’s in the saddle in areas it should not be. Like it or not!

Therefore it’s a journey and we will get there! But it will not happen overnight.

For now, our enemies are out to defame and weaken our Army, knowing, sadly that they really are our “last man o woman standing”!

Get them, for now, and you get Pakistan!

We must not fall into this trap of weakening the Army, sowing doubts in our own youth, to further our politics as Nawaz and Zardari are doing. Or as India and Afghanistan are doing, including Ashraf Ghani.

We must not fall into the trap of furthering those who fan the flames of conflict and sedition as in PTM, playing and preying on genuine grievances!

We must work towards strengthening our civilian institutions.

And my request to our current and future military leadership. Please do everything you can to strengthen civilian institutions and reduce your footprints in areas where you can, so others in the civilian space can breathe, stretch and grow.

Let’s not forget that the peace and freedom all of us enjoy today, including the freedom our Honourable Judges enjoy to write this judgement is because of the blood and tears of those whose dying breaths kept the flag fluttering when the terrorists were 100 kms from Islamabad!

Let none of us ever forget those sacrifices.

We sleep well today, because they sleep forever!

Salaams and Prayers.
Haider Mehdi

The Rumour Mill!

Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

Three huge rumours are doing the rounds. In my opinion, all quite serious, worrying and not good for the State of Pakistan.

*Rumour 1*Nawaz Sharif is being facilitated “out of Pakistan” under that terrible, now so cliched term, made famous by Gen. Musharraf, an NRO.

*Few questions, if true!*

Who is facilitating this and to what end?

Why should a criminal who has looted and plundered this country, alongwith his cronies, and his daughter, be the beneficiary of an NRO and escape their punishment and jail time?

Why should this criminal not be treated like any other criminal and left to rot in a jail cell, he fully deserves?

Why should any person or persons or any institution in their wisdom not allow due process and in the “interest of the country” deem it wise to let this man and his daughter off the hook?

One sincerely hopes this rumour is untrue!

If there’s even a remote possibility of some backdoor engagement, then this Nation looks at CJ Khosa to not allow this cataclysmic tragedy to happen, irrespective from where it emanates.

*Rumour 2*
A one year extension for the soon retiring COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa (Nov 2019).

And a variation.

Increasing the Army Chief’s tenure to 4 years from the existing 3 years. This is to be implemented with the current incumbent, Gen. Bajwa who will consequently become the first beneficiary and get another year on the job!

If both true, then here’s a brief comment. Gen. Bajwa has been a very balanced Army Chief. He is a down to earth person, very humble, no pretentions and this has been manifested in the cool and calm manner he has handled his ship. He has a lot to do with Pakistan’s current internal and external stability. Of course he has detractors and one can, may and should fault him where he faltered. But he has played a very good solid, positive and productive innings. And that really is his legacy.

After over 40 years of great service to this institution and to the country, he, I am sure, even if offered an extension, will not accept and retire gracefully. And in my opinion, an extension should also not be offered.

If there is talk of increasing the Army Chief’s tenure from 3 to 4, then this should be applied from the time the new Chief is appointed and not during Gen. Bajwa’s incumbency to avoid the impression of changing an institutional policy to oblige a person.

The institution is and should always be bigger than the person. And from what I know of and about Gen. Bajwa, he will insist that this new policy be made effective for the new Chief being appointed in November, 2019.

*Rumour 3*
The recent busting of a major spy ring involving very senior people. If true, they must be punished publicly and let not the case be hushed up in the interest of *”institution ki baysthee ho gee!”*

-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*

25 December thoughts – Wither Accountability in Pakistan?

By Syed Haider Raza Mehdi

3 times former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif convicted to 7 years imprisonment yesterday on his birthday!

A damning JIT investigation report submitted in the Supreme Court against a former President, his sister, his cronies and that incredibly colorful maverick, Malik Riaz of the wheels on file fame.

Quite a day!

It’s wonderful to see this happen.

Wonderful to see the highest and the mightiest in the political realm facing accountability, however imperfect.

But its a start. A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step! So there’s much to celebrate

Wonderful to see how these looters and plunderers, conjured and conspired and concocted amazingly complex webs of financial deceit and subterfuge to route, moneylaunder and hide their ill-gotten wealth.

Wonderful to see how the scores of good men and women of this great country, diligently and painstakingly attempted to unravel this mass of deceit so marvellously planned and laid out by Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari through their children, cronies and henchmen!

Wonderful to see that perhaps for once the corrupt, not yet caught, may perhaps be having a sleepless night or two.

Wonderful to hear the current PM vowing not to relent on holding the corrupt accountable.

And so are these indicators of a better tomorrow?

Are we headed towards a time where everyone faces the guillotine?

Can we hopefully see a future where corrupt and crooked generals, judges and other “protected species” will also be arrayed in civilian courts like Nawaz and others and not receive the kids gloves treatment they get from their own institutions?

Why shouldn’t a serving or retired General or a sitting or retired Justice of the Superior Judiciary have a NAB reference filed against him or her and like Shahbaz Sharif, Saad Rafique, Fawad Hassan Fawad, Ahad Cheema etc, be summarily arrested, sent on judicial remand and interrogated?

Why shouldn’t these people face the full force of public accountability in a NAB accountability court under the glare of 24/7 media spotlight and talk shows, if they are charged with corruption and corrupt practices?

Why shouldn’t their families face the same public humiliation of being spouses, children, siblings, parents and relatives of a corrupt and crooked military officer or a judge?

Why should these people be held accountable *”by their own internal system of accountability?”*

This is a common argument one hears from former military colleagues or the arguments one receives from friends in the judiciary. Oh our internal accountability processes are very robust and strong!

If that be so, I say, then please show me an Air Marshal, a Rear Admiral a General, a Justice of a Hight Court or the Supreme Court who has been indicted, convicted and sent to jail when in service or even after retirement for corruption and corrupt practices?

Admiral Mansoor ul Haq being the one dishonourable exception who was tried and convicted under the NAB law and not by the Navy’s internal accountability processes! Though he was arrested by Naval Intelligence!

So why haven’t we seen more such cases?

My friends in the Army talk about, and that too in hushed whispers about *”that general and this general “sent home without benefits”. Or “so and so general paid back x amount, and has been “prematurely retired”.*

What nonsense! Why aren’t these corrupt crooks not publicly tried, convicted and sent to jail?

Oh because it will negatively affect the morale of the Army, is the incredible answer, I receive from people who one would safely categorize as being certified sane!

Effect the morale of the Army negatively because they caught a General with grubby fingers, his hands in the till and held him accountable, I ask again, incredulously?

And how may I ask with what perverted logic you make this claim?

Oh because the young officers and troops will lose faith in the system and this will greatly affect military discipline and morale if they find out that our leaders are corrupt!

SubhanAllah. Masha Allah. Wah! Wah! Wah!

It’s quite amazing that in a predominantly Muslim society where personal accountability, integrity and honesty are its most fundamental tenets, there is this perverted logic of defending the guilty in not being punished publicly.

Let me warn these simple souls that if they continue to not hold their guilty accountable and publicly and in the same manner as we have started to do with our politicians and civil servants, we will destroy the institution!

If we do not make an example of all the generals, serving or retired of corruption and corrupt practices, in time this great institution will be as corrupt as any other and headed for a disaster.

And woe betide the day that this institution crumbles!

I’m not familiar about how many High Court or Supreme Court judges have been found guilty of corruption and corrupt practices, arrested from their offices, sent on judicial remand, interrogated, convicted and sent to jail?

I’m not even familiar with how many judges have been found guilty of corruption and corrupt practices by their own accountability forum, the Supreme Judicial Council?

By I do know that the numbers are dismally low!

Why shouldn’t these people, found guilty of corruption and corrupt practices, be stripped of their ranks, titles, privileges and serve rigorous imprisonment like common criminals, which they are?

Let us remember that any departmental or institutional accountability rules or processes are subservient to the law of the land!

No military process of punishing the guilty or Supreme Judicial Council proceedings can and or should override or be superior to the accountability laws that deal with corruption and corrupt practices.

The NAB law MUST bring under its purview of corruption and corrupt practices, all serving and retired personnel of the Armed Forces and the Superior Judiciary, and the laws applied to them in the same impartial manner as is applied to other segments of society.

If Allah Can Hold his Prophets Accountable.

If He can Hold Humanity Accountable.

If Caliphs can be held publicly accountable.

If Prime Ministers and Presidents can be held publicly accountable.

If Civil Servants and businesspeople can be held publicly accountable.

Why can’t Judges and Generals be held publicly accountable?