Attack on Pakistan’s military by book

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By Dr Shahid Qureshi : –

“We are dying for you and you are praying for us”, said an Israeli soldier to an orthodox Jewish Rabbi, that’s the kind of relationship people of Pakistan have with their armed forces.

“People of Pakistan are quite sensitive towards their armed forces and keeping in view the reviews and reactions it seems that you have been very insensitive in your writings, research and your book seems loaded, your data is five to six years old which is not expected from a scholar like yourself and I think you need to work hard on that.

You admitted that you have been misunderstood due to poor English, than why you choose to write in English? Who is your audience, who are you talking to? You are not talking to Pakistanis who can not understand English? Could you tell me the total percentage of military economy in the total economy of Pakistan”? I asked Dr Ayesha Agha on the launch of her book again in London’s prestigious (IISS) International Institute of Strategic Studies on 13th June 2007.

Dr Ayesha said, ‘if you could get me the latest data’, ‘I told her that I am finishing my own book actually’. Her response was quite poor which one do not expect from a highly qualified person. She seems to think that journalists don’t understand things as clearly as academics.

That’s why probably IISS declined invitation to me and Rauf Kalasra a senior journalist currently based in London. I was surprised to see an email response from IISS that, ‘unfortunately all the places are booked and no place would be available’. I spoke to the press officer who told me that the room is small and due to health and safety regulations I am unable to accommodate you.

I called and send an email to Dr John Chipman, director general of the IISS, who is married in the royal family and quite approachable. He was out of country for a day but I left a message with his secretary. I received a phone call from the press officer with the same response but she agreed a swap with some one else who don’t wish to attend. It was the strangest media policy on this occasion. They should have accommodated journalists so ‘book launch’ story could reach thousands in the relevant regions instead of an exclusive bunch of few dozen! They should welcome free media coverage.

I have been a research scholar in a prestigious university therefore I clearly understand academic mindset but I am unable to accommodate a badly researched book with a seemingly hidden agenda. I have no doubts in Dr Ayesha Siddiqa’s sincerity and love for Pakistan. I wish she could be more honest and clear in her motives and instincts of writing this book.

She seems to be a typical member of pseudo intellectual elite of Pakistan who go abroad, come back with a degree and try to implement western ideas, policies in Pakistan without doing full risk assessment, risk management, understanding the ground realities. May be that’s why she said, ‘unfortunately I was born in Pakistan but I love my country’. It seems like a woman in a love marriage but don’t want children. Confused! The activism of the Indian lobby was quite significant in the launching of the book?

People of Pakistan love their armed forces but they do object the actions of individuals. The institution has been through many ups and downs throughout its history. British loyalists’ class jumped the side after partition and became Pakistan loyalist because that was the only way they could stay in power.

It was them who never had any geographical constituency and country never had a constitution for two years. Their London return sons and daughters joined the politics as a family business and Pakistan had a coconut elite class, brown outside and white inside, that’s what Lord Macaulay, wanted in undivided India.

On the other hand Pakistan’s military was the only institution where working and middle class could grow. The military closely watched the drawing room conspiracies of the British loyalist former unionists. Those who should have been hanged for treason and conspiring with the colonialists become the leaders of the country. They signed meaningless, one-sided military agreements like SEATO and SENTO with their former masters. That is how western powers become too close to Pakistan and its armed forces.

Pakistan is changing and no one can stop that change. Its best if honest, loyal and Pakistan based leadership be allowed to flourish. The political leadership of the current regime is corrupt, clumsy, weak and opportunist. They panic after seeing opposition gatherings of few hundred or few thousands.

President Musharaf’s government does not need an opposition. Its useless herd of minister and advisers are doing that job very well. But these cone heads have no vision, no political sense and no common sense at all. Don’t worry if President’s rating goes down few points due to an opposition rally, it will come back. Stop over reacting and let the people and opposition breath!

General Musharaf should start listening to the people of Pakistan for the sake of country and armed forces. He has more enemies of Pakistan inside than outside apart from Altaf Hussain.

I am not aware of any Muslim ruler who died fighting in the battle field for its country after Tipu Sultan two hundred years ago instead they let the country die.

General Musharaf has to do two things, keep Pakistan on the right track and Pakistan armed forces professional and not mercenary.

(Dr Shahid Qureshi is award winning senior investigative journalist and writer on international terrorism, security, and foreign policy based in London)

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