(The reviewer is a former academic with a doctorate in modern history)
Book title:Pakistan, the Garrison State: Origins, Evolution, Consequences, 1947-2011
Author: Ishtiaq Ahmed, Publisher: Oxford University Press, Karachi (January 2013)
Hardcover: 508 pages Price: Rs 1,295
The military domination of Pakistan’s body politic and the country’s tortuous, yet close relationship with the United States have been the subjects of many a book, but it is the first time that both have been comprehensively dealt with in one volume. Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed is pre-eminently qualified for the task, and he has, for the first time, systematically demonstrated that the roots of the creation of Pakistan are firmly anchored in the last-minute British military’s decision to that effect. As to the haste with which Lord Mountbatten effected partition, in his incisive book Shameful Flight, the Last Years of the British Empire in India (OUP, 2006), Stanley Wolpert blames it fo..... Read More
HERE comes part two of Pervez Musharraf’s nightmare. In his heyday as Pakistan’s military ruler, he had vowed that his two civilian predecessors, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, would never again sully the corridors of power.
Only her tragic assassination forestalled the former’s third stint as prime minister, after Musharraf had been pressured into conceding the possibility of cohabitation, and her widower was able to manoeuvre him out of the presidency and into exile within months of the PPP’s success in the 2008 elections.
Five years later, it is Nawaz Sharif’s turn. Musharraf, meanwhile, remains under house arrest, having returned from exile under the absurd assumption of a homecoming worthy of a would-be national saviour.
He overthrew Sharif in 1999, after the latter sought to oust him as military chief — and tried to prevent a commercial flight conveying Musharraf home from a visit to Sri Lanka from landing.
The coup was a travesty, but it..... Read More
The writer was Pakistan’s ambassador to the EU from 2001-2004 and to the US in 1999
Months of frenetic campaigning and weeks of saturated print and electronic advertisement, as well as heated television debates have, thankfully, come to an end. The nation now expects both winners and losers to close the chapter on electioneering frenzy and work together to strengthen the democratic policy. The winners need to show magnanimity in victory; the losers to avoid sulking in defeat. Moreover, both need to recognise that the elections represent a watershed in the country’s political evolution. In coming out in record numbers, the people defied threats hurled by terrorists, while also spurning exhortations of the boycott lobby, proving their abiding faith in the democratic system.
The media, barring a few notable exceptions, played a critical role in arousing a sense of pride in the process, galvanising voters to recognise the value of their votes. Consequently, political lead..... Read More
The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN.
OVER the course of history, many foreign armies have entered Afghanistan; almost all have left in disarray or defeat. America’s exit will be no exception.
In the run up to the US presidential polls, Vice President Biden said: “We are leaving [Afghanistan] … there are no ifs, ands or buts.” In his re-election victory speech, President Obama declared: “a decade of war is ending”. The promise of an American withdrawal by 2014 is likely to be fulfilled.
It is possible that in the post-election period, some Washington hardliners, military and civilian, may demand a final attempt to wrest at least some form of military or political advantage, to salve the emotional if not strategic wounds inflicted on America by the Afghan adventure. They are unlikely to succeed. Nor will they change the American public consensus that it is time for the US to depart from the ‘graveyard of empires’.
The questions..... Read More
The writer is working as a research analyst, programme consultant and editor at the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad along with pursuing his Higher Studies in Public Policy and Conflict from Germany.
It is no longer a secret that the US is going full throttle to push Pakistan for releasing Dr Shakeel, a medical doctor who allegedly helped track down Osama bin Laden, after he was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison on a charge of treason by a tribal court. The Pakistan army as well as the intelligence agency, ISI, is so far rigid on giving no relaxation to him.
When asked earlier in September, the ISI chief, Lt-General Zaheer-ul-Islam, even ruled out any possible barter of Dr Afridi for Dr Afia, a Pakistani scientist imprisoned in the USA for her alleged links with al Qaeda. Dr Afridi was arrested two weeks after the Osama bin Laden operation (in Abbottabad) from Peshawar and reportedly confessed to helping the CIA track bin Laden by running a fake..... Read More
The writer is a former general of the Pakistan Army
Pakistan is trying hard with its meagre resources to achieve self-reliance in military hardware needs. However, in this field, efforts are made only by the government, and private participation is insignificant and limited to sub-contracts for minor parts. Unless we attract private entrepreneurs, our defence production industry will remain a heavy burden on the national exchequer. A restricted local market and tough competition abroad for our indigenous defence products lead to under-utilisation of our plant capacities and consequent loss to the state. Against this backdrop, the Gulf States are heavily dependent on Western sources for military hardware. They seem to be unaware of the perils of total dependence on the import of weapons, and especially rapid consumption items like ammunition and spares, on Western sources.
There is a feeling that our inadequacy in defence is somewhat attributable to lack of integrated pl..... Read More
The writer is a former member of the Pakistan Foreign Service.
The attack on Malala Yousafzai was an act of primitive barbarism and is utterly reprehensible. Equally condemnable is the “justification” offered by the Taliban for the gruesome deed and their threat to repeat it. They have now claimed that she was targeted not for her advocacy of girls’ education but because she was supporting Taliban’s enemies. Even if that were true, nothing whatsoever can extenuate the gravity of an attempt to take the life of a minor unarmed girl who was determined only to pursue her education.
Malala is an extraordinary person, courageous, bright, intelligent beyond her years, engaged, cheerful and full of idealism. She has become a model for other girls who want to pursue their education in the face of age-old prejudices and of obscurantist interpretations of religion. The whole country has condemned her shooting with one voice and prays for her full recovery. But neither the sh..... Read More
The writer is the publisher of Criterion quarterly.
Only children are blessed with the priceless gift of spontaneity. They have the ability to express their innermost thoughts, their fears and their hopes in simple words that stir the soul. A few weeks before Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), she said: “I think about it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are doing is wrong…” In no civilised society would any citizen, least of all a child, be perpetually haunted by such fears.
Malala’s brave words, so replete with dreadful forebodings, were not encumbered by any ornamental turn of the phrase but were articulated with the precision of mathematics. The 14-year-old school girl from Swat refused to be intimidated by the death threats from the TTP for merely seeking her right to education. But despite this, the state failed in its obligation under the constitution..... Read More
The writer is South Asia adviser, US Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C.
PAKISTAN is infested with a variety of Islamist militant outfits: transnational groups, nationally focused anti-state groups, and sectarian organisations, among others.
Out of these, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), linked as it is to some of the transnational and sectarian groups, has posed the greatest threat to the Pakistani state. It demonstrated its disruptive potential in the 2007-09 period by taking over parts of Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. And while the state claims that the group’s back has been broken for good, the TTP was never really dislodged from its Fata strongholds (they are also believed to be operating from Afghanistan) and Mullah Fazlullah and his militants appear to be raising their head again in Swat.
So what does this mean for our future? Leave the nuanced arguments aside — what about the questions an average Pakistani has on his or her mind: is the TTP coming b..... Read More
Since the mid-1990s, when Imran Khan decided to embark upon a political career, the general consensus until last year — taking into account his performance — has been that he is not a politician by nature and that he cannot take on the conniving, corrupt and largely amoral politicians who have been his contemporaries or have been around for almost a decade since he arrived on the scene. It was felt that he would do better to stick to the good work he has done in the hospital and school field, work that has benefited many a deprived citizen of Pakistan.
He persevered in the field foreign to his nature — neither corrupt nor a schemer and plotter, bearing none of the traits that make a successful politician in the land of the pure — and come last year and the ongoing excesses of the present government in corruption, non-governance and a healthy disdain not only for the national exchequer but for the nation at large, he underwent a sea change and began to make his mark...... Read More