Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Imran Khan: Can He Swing the Political System of Pakistan? -By Iftikhar Chaudri

Longing for almost fifteen years for ‘Better Pakistan’, in political arena of Pakistan, Imran Khan fights back to get his place in the mainstream politics of the country, by demonstrating the power of his muscles in an unprecedented public congregation at Lahore, stunned both the main political parties, PPPP and PML-N.
The hard-hitting Imran Khan, who is also desirous to get ‘two wickets’ with a ball, asked the rulers to declare their assets and threatened a civil disobedience movement and a countrywide blockade if they did not do so. The roaring Imran, vociferously asked them “Declare your assets or face the wrath of people,” He said declaration of politicians’ assets was necessary for a transparent governance. If politicians did not do so, the PTI would set up a commission to prepare a list of politicians and their assets and take it to court, he said.
In a separate move, the former Foreign Minister , Shah Mehmood Qureshi, joined Imran Khan’s Team , in a handsome gathering at Ghotki , Sindh, though mostly dominated by the followers (Mureeds) of his Spiritual Clan and Gaddi of Hazrat Bahauddin Zikria Multan. Shah Mehmood Qureshi tendered his resignation from the lucrative slot of Foreign Minister, when he was, allegedly asked by president Asif Ali Zardari to declare , American Spy , Raymond Davis , as a diplomat , which he refused. Raymond Davis was forced to release, under the controversial garb of Islamic law of ‘ Diyat’, facing multiple murder charges and under arrest with Punjab Police and intelligence agencies.
The resignation from the minister's slot and membership of National Assembly,
Qureshi also strongly criticized the performance of the government saying one thousand billion rupees have been wasted in granting bail out packages to Railways, Pakistan Steel, PIA and WAPDA. He said the restructuring plan of strategic assets given by Shaukat Tarin has been thrown into the waste papers basket. He termed President Zardari as national security hazard and maintained that under his command, the nuclear assets of Pakistan are not secure. The resignation of the Former Foreign Minister is a major dent and shock for already losing popularity, PPPP, especially from specially from Seraiki belt , and home town of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani, to be more specific.
At the surface, Imran Khan is, vehemently criticizing , the leaders of both main political parties PPPP and PML-N for their alleged massive corruption and eroding the development structure of whole Pakistan. His principal slogans, getting approval, with growing mandate, of masses especially youngsters . The poor and wretched citizens of Pakistan, who are worst hit of unprecedented price-hike , Electricity shortage, energy mismanagement, lesser opportunities for young educated persons, institutionalized Corruption, lawlessness, terrorism , are seeking any ‘emancipator’ to rescue them from the grim situation.
“Pakistan is losing over Rs3,000 billion a year in tax corruption. If it can be tapped, the country does not need foreign aid. Once the government wins the confidence of people, economic woes would simply go away” Imran outcried. PTI Chairman claimed that his party, if comes into power, then it would end corruption, declare an education emergency, improve tax collection, pursue an independent foreign policy, bring Balochistan into the mainstream national politics, end the war on terror and protect rights of minorities and women. The Corruption of ruling elite is ruining the infrastructure of the state . Imran Khan said a country that had “over 180 billion tons of coal reserves could not in any way be called an energy starved state”. There is an equally great potential in hydro-electric resources. “If the PTI can run thermal units even at 70 per cent of their installed capacity, currently running at 25 to 30 per cent, the country will have no energy crisis,” he said.
Pakistan’s Foreign policy , is mainly , allegedly dictated ‘ by the Military Establishment, especially , on Kashmir, Afghanistan , India and USA. Even it has been reported in the press that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and civilian Presidents or Prime Ministers, either were not allowed or to be discouraged to visit all the nuclear installations of Pakistan. Since the creation, Pakistan’s foreign policy, is mainly tilted towards Americanization, with the handsome approval of both Military and civilian authorities of the successive regimes. While Pakistani Nation, by virtue of its social thinking , are anti-Americans, in majority. They have witnessed the series of worst experiences and betrayal at many critical stages of Pakistan’s history. The ‘seventh Naval Warship’ was never reached to support Pakistan Army during Indo-Pak War in 1971, in which Pakistan was divided. USA masterly planned to defeat USSR, another counter-part super power by using expertise of Pakistani Security and Intelligence Agencies in Afghanistan. The Afghan War led Pakistan to multiple international and national crises.
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s Military Establishment and ISI became the principal targets of terrorism and international subversion. The primary reason was; due to blind following the ‘orders’ of Capitol Hill. The present series of ‘ following the orders ‘ was started when 9/11 incidents happened and the then Chief of Army Staff and President Musharaf , bent down to the wishes of USA. On the other hand Pakistan suffered immense loss to this ‘so-called’ War against Terror , lost almost 40 thousand civilians and security personnel. Recent NATO attacks on Pakistan Army Check Posts is an eye-opener for Pakistani Military Establishment, forced everybody at the helm of all affairs to block the supply-line of NATO and asked USA to leave the Shamsi-base. Imran is of the view that American highhandedness and accesses is due to the ‘ blind-following’.
Imran Khan is the principal protagonist of an ‘Independent Foreign Policy’ , to be controlled by elected governments. On foreign policy, he said the focus should be on “independence, not slavery: the PTI will want friendship with everyone, including the Americans, but on the basis of equality. The Americans will be told that Pakistan cannot fight their war and Pakistan Army cannot do its bidding. “Ties with China will form the cornerstone of PTI’s foreign policy. I am leaving tonight for China at the invitation of the Chinese government and friendship with them will be pursued to the fullest.”
To form an independent foreign policy , is an uphill task for Imran Khan, if he is elected on top slot. Imran, once blue-eyed of General Musharaf, is allegedly considered as ‘ brainchild’ of Inter Services Intelligence and Army, by his opponents maintained that drone attacks were part of the problem rather than a solution. “They are feeding terrorism. The PTI bigwigs believe that they are pushing over one million armed Pakhtuns to the other side of the divide. Once Pakistan quits the US-sponsored war on terror, these one million armed tribal people will take care of militancy and terrorism in their areas. It is simply a matter of making the right choices.” He has personified his repentance on his certain affiliations with former dictator General Musharaf , whose political party APML, is still in the offing to take off.
It is very difficult to understand . that if Army or ISI , as alleged by most of the analysts, is supposed to form foreign policy and pursuing the alleged American Agenda, then how they can support Imran Khan ?? If the latter is principal protagonist of an anti US led War in the region against Terror and a ‘ well-defined role’ of Army as laid down in the Constitution, how can Military Establishment accept to leave ‘dictating civil governments’ on Foreign policy matters . It will be acceptable by Army and ISI that they quit the role of forming policies, though due to corrupt and weak governments. When asked by a journalist that Imran khan is being supported, funded and patronizing by ISI, PM Gillani maintained “ Agencies are working under Prime Minister, not under Imran Khan” . In fact , Imran Khan responded well to the ‘ irritating question’, stated, “ More the politicians accuse me of having patronization of ISI, more people throng to join PTI”( as ISI is considered as source of Power in the political circles) .

Recently, Military Spokesman Maj General Ather Abbas also rejected a news item appeared in the national press that Imran Khan met US Embassador in the presence of DG ISI, Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha .“The allegation is an attempt to divert the attention of the people from the fast-declining popularity of PML-N because of the failure of its government in Punjab and its anti-people policies that it practiced during its two tenures in the federal capital,” said Dr Arif Alvi a leader of PTI maintained. Imran Khan must be ready to face moral corruption charges and allegations of a primary figure for elections, patronized by Jewish lobby, besides ‘ man of the match’ candidate of Army and Agencies.
A cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan, who has been in the political wilderness of sorts, has matured in the last three-four years. His popularity graph has shot up only recently. Until a few weeks back he was known for being a single-man political party. He has to play a long innings , he is accused of gathering the ‘ turn-coats’ in his team, which included Mian Azhar, a former governor of Punjab, EX-MNA Faiz Tamman some ex- MPAs and members of former Uninion councils. He needs to demonstrate utmost leadership political qualities to keep intact all segments of the PTI tiers. It is fact, ’ There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip’ before going for general Elections . As soon as, the popularity graph will jump, some more turncoats are expected to join, simultaneously he must be prepared , that there might be possibility of some desertions too. As it is rumored that PTI leader , Shireen Mazari is thinking to quit PTI, who was aspiring an ‘ an Apple’s Eye’ position in PTI. During the early days, Journalist Naseem Zehra also quitted PTI , when it was in an embryonic stage.
Pakistani politics is roaming around SHO Police and ‘ patwaari’ , which supports the landlords and feudal mindset. Every elected representative, has an earnest desire to manage the appointment of police officers and revenue officers in their respective constituencies, to influence the voters and maintain their threat perception or ‘tyrannical policies’. The next Election will also be subservient the subject vicious circle. To break this circle is a Herculean Task - A circle, in which all tycoons from Civilian and Military Establishment may directly or indirectly involve. Though Imran has planned to computerize all the Revenue record, but he will face immense resistance from all the corridors of power.

To get sudden surge in political popularity is just termed as his ‘Maiden Century ’. He has to play, while keeping an eagle’s eye on every political ‘fielder’ of the Political ‘Ground’ with the ‘opponents’ , also to dispel the image of an ‘arrogant’ Captain for his rapidly growing magnitude of his Team-mates. Any midterm Elections in country will be harmful for him. Imran Khan , so far, did not chalk out policy , how to pitch candidates in rural areas, as it has different standards and political game-plan. Secondly, in the absence any ' independent Election Commission', will be available to ' play' a fair 'game' or otherwise, that too under the aegis of President Zardari? Political pandits have to observe , how Karachi behaves him on 25th December 2011, where he is scheduled to address the public. So far he has managed to clip certain definite votes from almost every constituency of at least Punjab province. He has very limited choices to have political alliances with the present political parties , but the possibility of some settlement with lesser parties like JI , cannot be ruled out. However, he is the most popular leader in overseas Pakistanis and he can expect immense support from them during the general elections, as compare to that of any other political leader.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NATO Attacks - Can Pakistan Sustain Pressures?? By Iftikhar Chaudri

Pakistani Military Establishment is under severe pressure of the Pakistani Nation after the un-provoked attack by NATO gunship helicopters on Pakistani troops that allegedly killed as many as 28 soldiers, including one Major and one Captain each, also left several critically injured. Apparently a willful and well-calculated attack, two km inside Pakistani territory , on a military check post Salala, must have clear approval of the Capitol Hill. It will further deteriorate already tense multilateral relations between the USA, in the recent chronology of events which begins from the forced evacuation of US Spy , Raymond Davis and then Killing of Osama bin Laden , after violating the Air borders of Pakistan. Ridiculously the western Media claimed that it was an act of self-defence. While, the question of military preparedness has also arisen , that why Pakistan Air Force didn't react to the 'US Operation' and shoot down helicopters, which remained in Pak Air space for ninety plus minutes. Similar, security lapse was observed during OBL case in Abbotabad.

The claim, which is highly incredible , personified and referred to ‘the Kabul-based official, a joint US-Afghan force operating in the mountainous Afghan frontier province of Kunar was the first to come under attack in the early hours of Saturday morning, forcing them to return fire. There was no physical authenticity of the ridiculous claim was unearthed nor it was ever reported to Pakistani Government .
The high death toll from an incident between two ‘supposed; Military allies suggests NATO Gunship helicopters and jets strafed Pakistani positions with heavy lethal weapons.

Pakistani Nation , which demonstrated severe reaction against her own Defense Forces and Inter Services Intelligences , after failure to protect the Air Space violation by US Authorities in OBL operation and Naval airbase attack in Karachi, will consider it a fuel to injury , if there is not effective measures may be taken practically. More than forty thousand Pakistanis including troops from security forces , were killed in the alleged ‘ so-called’ War on Terror. Almost all political parties , including newly ‘revitalized’ political force , Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf, led by glamorous Imran Khan, vehemently opposed the US policy and becomes principal vocalist to revise, rather to take U-turn towards US WAR in Afghanistan , which is allegedly hampering with security issues of Pakistan. Pakistani Government can not afford opposition to a highly charged anti-US Public feelings , which may further aggravated with the due course of time.

Visibly furious over the NATO attacks on Salala post, the government on Saturday reacted sharply , called emergency meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC), the country’s highest forum for defence policy consultation and coordination. The meeting was convened to discuss the NATO air strikes and make strategies for a response. The retaliatory decisions , included closure of supply routes used NATO forces in Afghanistan and once again asking the United States to vacate Shamsi airbase, within 15 days . Shamsi airbase originally is owned by UAE and previously used for drone operations. The government also said it would carry out a thorough review of its cooperation with the US and NATO.

The DCC also decided that the government will revisit and undertake a complete review of all programmes, activities and cooperative arrangements with US/NATO/ISAF, including diplomatic, political, military and intelligence,” said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office after the meeting. Reportedly, it is believed, It was originally proposed to unilaterally terminate the NATO supply route, but ultimately the DCC settled for keeping it indefinitely closed even as it had been squelched soon after the incident and the decision by the country’s top civilian and military leadership appeared as a formal closure announcement. The decision which moved from permanent closure to just termination , may apparently show, a liberal way-out for the expected “visits of top US officials” for luring Pakistani Government or may be Military Establishment to sit on a table for more ‘perks’ in the ongoing “war against Terror’ or to re-negotiate the ‘ terms’. Earlier the Pakistani Government witnessed a stormy visits of US top officials , including , Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry and Mullen, when the former took a stern stance against the US wishes in Raymond Davis and OBL Killing cases, though succumbed to US pressures, later. Even Pakistani Government failed to negotiate the terms of release of Dr Aafia Siddidue in lieu of Raymond Davis’ release.
Earlier , the supply route remained closed for 11 days last year after NATO helicopters penetrated into Pakistani airspace and fired at a paramilitary force, killing two soldiers. The issue was resolved after apologies from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NATO generals. The sudden stoppage of supply through Chaman and Torkham border crossings will paralyse the NATO operation, as 40% non-weapon transportation was being routed through the Pakistan which are the preferred routes for being economical and easy approach.
Moreover, NATO has developed an alternative, though too expensive, northern route through central Asian states as a contingency for a situation where the Pakistani route is closed due to variety of reasons.
Pakistani Military establishment and government , who are visibly disturbed over the revelations of Pakistani –turned US national business tycoon, Mansoor Ejaz, in which, allegedly , Pakistani Envoy to USA, Hussain Haqqani was made Scapegoat, to avoid possible tussle between the powerful state institutions, may get an opportunity to reunite and sit together to face the US hostility on the same pitch with a joint will. It was for the third time this year that the US has been asked to vacate the Shamsi airbase, 300kms southwest of Quetta. But this time it has been given a 15-day ultimatum for leaving the airfield, which is under the United Arab Emirates’ control.
The two previous occasions when similar demands were made from the US were after the CIA operative Raymond Davis episode and then in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden denouement. Drone operations from the base were believed to have ceased in April and the facility is now supposedly being used for logistic purposes. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Saturday strongly condemned NATO’s helicopters and fighter aircraft’s unprovoked firing on two Paki-stan Army border posts in Mohmand Agency resulting in loss of 24 security forces officials.

He said that the “NATO/ISAF’s blatant and unacceptable aggression resulted in loss of precious lives of Pakistani soldiers, said an ISPR press release. While lauding the effective response by the soldiers of Pakistan Army in self-defence, he directed that all necessary steps be taken for an effective response to this irresponsible act. The release said that on the night of November 25 and 26 NATO helicopters and fighter aircraft carried out unprovoked firing on two Pakistan Army border posts in Mohmand Agency.

Keeping in view the giving scenario , Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar may cancel her trip to Bonn for a conference on Afghanistan and the country may be represented there at a lower level. A final decision may depend on how Washington moves to prevent the frayed ties from taking yet another slide.
A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was "highly likely" that aircraft which had been called into the area to provide "close air support" to troops on the ground was responsible for causing casualties among the Pakistani soldiers.

The Pakistani nation rejected the Obama administration’s promise to conduct a full investigation. Earlier, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, and Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, issued a joint statement saying they had each spoken to their Pakistani counterparts to express their condolences for the loss of life.

Some political analysts believe that US has tried to check the pulse of Pakistani Military Establishment as to take revenge against ISI and Pak army, which curtailed the CIA operations by imposing strict Visa sanctions and security clearance. In the recent weeks, Pakistani security agencies have strict surveillance of US vehicles , which are plying outside Islamabad without assigning any plausible reasons. Many US vehicles were sent back by Pakistani Authorities to US Embassy in Islamabad. On many occasions, Pakistani Security forces confiscate illegal weapons from US embassy vehicles en-route to KPK and Punjab provinces.

Pakistan has to redesign its foreign policy towards its relations with USA. The meager 'perks' in shape of Kerry- Louger Bill, so far didn't pay any dividend to immense losses to Pakistani Nation, while its National security , rather its existence is threatened. In case, Military Establishment and Pakistani government role-back their decision due to expected immense pressure from US Authorities or to strike a deal for more ‘ perks’ in the name of national Interest ; it will not only further damage the confidence of Pakistani nation over its defense Establishment , rather Nation will plunge into a chaos of deprivation, which will be a national disaster.