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YOUNIS MARRI Thursday, March 10, 2011 03:17 PM

dawn 10-3-11
[SIZE="5"]Pakistan’s mega-crisis[/SIZE]

THE brutal murders of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, both key figures in the government, within a few weeks and both in the supposedly well-guarded capital city, and the variety of public responses to these murders prove that the threat to the state is far more serious than generally assumed.

The central issue is neither the blasphemy law nor the murmur of protest against faith-related intolerance. These are only ploys to secure legitimacy for an all-out bid to capture the state. Therefore, the government`s affidavits against any move to change the blasphemy law and all its pathetic disowning of the voices of reason will be in vain. And while the government continues to thus divert itself the extremists will be free to raise their strength to the level required for a final assault on the dilapidated citadel of power.

The outlines of this grim scenario have been clear to all discerning observers for quite some time. An additional factor brought out by recent developments is the somewhat alarming disclosure of the considerable pockets of support the extremists gunning for the state have acquired.

The large mass of the people occupying the ground between the state and the insurgents, that has often been written off as a mute majority, is no more irrelevant. Quite a few elements in this huge population have now become bold enough to proclaim their sympathies with the militants — by declining to condemn acts of terrorism, by refusing to join funeral prayers or make gestures of condolence for victims of absolutely indefensible murders, and by lionising an assassin. This has significantly altered the nature of Pakistan`s mega-crisis.

The people are being wooed by two contending forces — the state as represented by its three organs and the militants who want to replace it. The force that is supported by a majority, covertly or overtly, will win. Which side will the people back?

The points in favour of the state, apart from legitimacy, are that it is based on democratic assumptions which alone can lead to its flowering as a federation, which will be at least theoretically capable of meeting the aspirations of a pluralist society and the demands of peaceful coexistence with other members of the human family.

However, at the moment the state`s debit column is much longer. Its democratic credentials are suspect. It lacks cohesion as its organs — the executive, the legislature and the judiciary — are pulling in different directions apparently unmindful of the threat to all of them. A variety of factors have catapulted a department of the executive — the armed forces — to the position of final arbitrators, even in political matters that lie outside their domain, a role in which they have repeatedly been found wanting.

The challengers are indigenous soldiers (by their appearance they look more indigenous than Pakistan`s rulers) who attack the state because they accuse it of having reneged on its Islamic ideology and of supporting a foreign power that, according to them, is at war with Muslims and their faith. jahiliya

They have expropriated not only the standard of Islam but also the idiom of down-to-earth religious missionaries. They promise the ordinary people freedom from imperialist oppressors and corrupt and self-serving rulers, all of which appeals to the people, especially the disadvantaged majority. And they explain away their excesses as a reaction to atrocities committed against them. They claim that they kill only renegades in Islam and those who have fallen into and are not Muslims.

The citizens have an instinctive distaste for the orgies of killing which is the extremists` main weapon with which to terrorise the people into submission. They are also afraid of substituting a system they know with something of which they have scant knowledge. However, they have little inclination to support a state that has, in their view, abandoned its social contract with them by abdicating its benevolent functions — as the provider of security of life, liberty, employment, education, health and justice — and that is becoming more and more brazenly coercive.

The situation was summed up by a senior bureaucrat when he said that the state of Pakistan has all along been at war with its people. A large number of Pakistanis are today likely to endorse this view. The alienation of the people is the biggest factor unfavourable to the state and the biggest source of strength to the extremists.

Thus anyone who is serious about ensuring Pakistan`s transition to a genuinely democratic, pluralist federation must call for clarity of objectives and their resolute pursuit in both the military and civil components of the struggle against extremism.

The adage that war is too serious a problem to be left to generals alone should never be ignored. The Pakistan Army leaders themselves have often said that they can only undertake operations that are backed by the nation. However, this backing must be meaningful and collaborative across the board.

While dealing with insurgents the troops must not ignore the humanitarian rules of conduct. They should win over their opponents to the state`s side and not vice versa. They must also remember that the religious militants present more formidable an opposition to Pakistan`s armed forces than did the Tamil Tigers to the Sri Lankan high command, for instance.

Even more urgent is the need for the government to put its house in order. This is not the time for endless debates on issues that only make the common citizens bitter about the neglect of their concerns. The state has to re-establish its credit with the people. This means much more than effective interventions to relieve them of the burden of inflation and unemployment and fears bred by lawlessness and disorder.

It is time to begin attacking the iniquitous socio-economic order by granting peasants ownership of the land they till and the workers a fair reward for their labour, by launching more substantial campaigns to achieve gender justice, and by making children`s dreams of realising themselves achievable. n

Above all, the state should start engaging the people in a discourse for mutual good as hitherto it has been much too selfish to be able to survive, or even to command respect. These measures will give the state greater security than can by secured by any amount of military aid or number of bullet-proof vehicles that can protect only those who do not come out of them.


YOUNIS MARRI Thursday, March 10, 2011 03:18 PM

dawn 10-03-11
National policy for energy

RECENTLY, there have been numerous calls from various political parties for a national consensus on major issues. This is welcome for the need is to take a cohesive stand on the challenges the country faces.

In this respect, the energy crisis is one of the biggest challenges Pakistan faces today. It demands a broader national consensus. The issue should be on the list of priorities for the subjects to be discussed at any conference with national representation. In fact, the energy crisis is too big a problem to be addressed without concrete consensus and demands a national energy agenda.

While the energy crisis continues to pound the socio-economic fabric of Pakistan, both at the micro and macro level, the initiatives taken so far by the concerned authorities have not shown the ability to arrest the problem. The crisis cannot be addressed unless one of the most devastating and chronic issues — the short-sightedness of successive governments — is not addressed. It is imperative that the authorities concerned realise the importance of sustainability of an energy agenda.

A usual problem in Pakistan`s official circles is the absence of vision and a sense of responsibility. The energy history of the country reveals that, barring a couple of exceptions, no government has served this sector well. The short-sightedness of governments over the last three decades has had a detrimental impact on the energy sector. They have failed to look beyond their tenure in office.

Moreover, a project-oriented approach rather than a goal-oriented one is visible. The focus has been on ad hoc and quick-fix solutions. There are no trends of long-term and sustainable planning. Value-engineered and cost-effective solutions are unheard of in the corridors of power.

Energy projects in general require rigorous planning and huge investment. Unfortunately, reluctance to develop sustainable energy projects has been the main reason behind the current energy crisis. This attitude has to change if the gigantic energy challenges the country is facing is to be adequately addressed.

Two fundamental requirements towards finding a sustainable solution to our energy problems are the development of a vibrant and coherent energy policy and the stringent implementation of the policy.

There have actually been several energy policies in the country over the years. Unfortunately, none have been able to deliver. The country is yet to see a comprehensive and visionary energy policy. The energy policies produced so far have been quite narrow in scope. The famous 1994 power policy, for example, focused mainly on independent power production, ignoring other energy resources and technologies.

In much the same way, the 2006 renewable energy policy, as the name implies, focused on renewable technologies alone. There have also been hydel policies and oil and gas policies. But all have fallen short of encouraging a robust and coherent approach to national energy issues. The need is to formulate an integrated and comprehensive energy policy that covers all major aspects including oil and gas, hydropower, coal, nuclear power, renewable energy, energy conservation and management, energy security and energy trading.

While comprehending the true nature and intensity of the challenges, the policy should also meticulously explore the range of available opportunities to deliver both short-term and medium- to long-term solutions. In an era of globalisation and free-market economies, the national energy policy must take regional and global trends into consideration.

Meaningful implementation of whatever energy policies there have been is a major issue. It is not just a lack of commitment on the part of the pertinent authorities but also political instability that has caused governments to change frequently. Poor implementation of policies deteriorates the confidence of foreign as well as local investors.

The main point of a well-thought-out energy policy should lie in its long-term approach — it should be designed to cover at least 25 years, obviously incorporating periodic reviews that would enable decision-makers to correct any lapses. It can only be accomplished by containing a certain degree of rigidity as well as flexibility — the goals and targets, for example, must be categorical while the route taken to accomplish these could be flexible.

The policy should be framed with all stakeholders on board, most importantly the mainstream political parties. Other political forces with provincial or regional manifestoes and advocacy groups also need to be taken into confidence. Inter-provincial harmony and agreement has to be at the heart of the policy.

Once agreed upon, the designed policy should be given constitutional protection so that future governments do not jeopardise it for the sake of vested political interests as has been the case in the past. Such a move would be logical when one sees the nature of investment required to secure the energy future of the country.

According to the Medium Term Development Framework (2005–10) of the Government of Pakistan the demand for electricity generation will increase by a factor of eight, from 19,540MW in 2005 to 163,000MW by 2030. n

In view of the slow economic growth rate, even assuming a third of the figure above, an additional capacity of 48,000MW would be required. Energy technologies vary considerably in their economics. However, assuming a benchmark price bracket of $1m to $1.5m per megawatt, Pakistan would need a gigantic investment of $48bn to $72bn by 2030 which can only be assured by unwavering commitment to a strong national policy on the part of all stakeholders.

The writer is a lecturer at the Glasgow Caledonian University, UK. He is the author of Energy Crisis in Pakistan: Origins, Challenges and Sustainable Solutions.


m.furqan08 Friday, April 29, 2011 03:00 PM

Pakistan’s choices By Shahid M. Amin
NATIONS, like individuals, often have to make choices. When the choice is between good and evil, the decision is easy to make. Unfortunately, quite often, the choice is between two bad alternatives. The sensible thing then is to opt for the lesser evil.

There are many people in Pakistan who want the country to change the present course of its foreign policy, more precisely, by moving away from the US `war against terror`, the codeword for the current US and Nato fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Pakistan has been a key ally in this war since 9/11. It has a large number of troops engaged in fighting the extremists in its tribal areas and elsewhere; and Pakistan is also providing a vital logistical link for the supplies needed by the US and Nato forces deployed in Afghanistan. Delinking Pakistan from the war against terror would probably mean putting an end to both kinds of help.

Sections of the Pakistani media and some populist politicians have been seeking to project Pakistan as being exploited by the US, which is seen as both selfish and anti-Islam. It is argued that Pakistan has lost $40bn or more due to its involvement in the US-sponsored war. The breakdown in law and order is also a direct consequence of the war.

However, let us visualize what will happen in the scenario in which Pakistan changes course and stops its alignment in the war against terror. [B]The immediate result would be that Al Qaeda and the Taliban would get a free hand to operate, particularly in our tribal areas.[/B] Its international consequences can be predicted. [B]The US and Nato forces would come under more attacks in Afghanistan, and the possibility of more 9/11-like incidents would increase.[/B]

[B]Under the circumstances, the US and Nato would probably resort to bigger operations against the militants based in Pakistani territory. There will be not only more drone attacks but also unilateral military strikes including landing by troops. Pakistan would come under severe criticism for allowing the terrorists to operate from its soil.[/B]

[B]Economic and military aid to Pakistan would be immediately curtailed perhaps even totally ended[/B]. International bodies like the IMF where the US has considerable influence would also become less receptive to Pakistan`s needs.

[B]Internally, the religious extremists would be emboldened and increase their violent activities all over Pakistan. The Talibanisation of Pakistan would gain momentum. [/B]There is no secret as to what would happen if the Taliban gain power. They will [B]do exactly what they did in Afghanistan from 1994 to 2001 and in Swat, Dir and Malakand two years ago.[/B]

Women will be confined to their homes and will not able to hold jobs. There will be no education for women and they will be required to wear the shuttlecock burka. There will be no television or films, no music, no freedom of thought, association or assembly and no political parties and no independent judiciary. [B]Religious extremism of this kind poses an existential threat to the Pakistani state and society. It is in our own interest to fight such extremists.[/B]

[B]We must do what is good for Pakistan.[/B] Foreign policy decisions must be based on a hard calculation of national interests and a realistic assessment of the ground realities. Emotionalism and illusions can only lead to disastrous consequences. In our present situation, it makes little sense to jump from the frying pan into the fire.


m.furqan08 Friday, May 06, 2011 09:50 PM

The emperors’ clothes
PAKISTAN this week has been confronted with a deeply unsettling question.

[B]Could the self-appointed custodians of the national interest themselves be the greatest threat to national security?[/B]

There is no joy in asking this. Pakistan exists in a tough neighborhood. A strong and vibrant army is necessary and desirable.
But as the initial shock and disbelief wears off, there is a deep, deep sense of unease here.

Did they know he was here? Surely, they knew he was here?

Nobody has come out and said it openly yet. It’s too early, the story still unfolding. Ask the question in private, though, and with hand on heart, no one will say anything but, yes, they knew he was there.

Some do try and clutch at straws. Maybe they didn’t know. Maybe they’re so daft they didn’t really take this whole business of pursuing Al Qaeda seriously. Maybe they just didn’t think it was their problem.

But those voices, unconvinced by their own words, quickly trail off … They knew. They knew he was there.

It’s too frightening to make sense of. The world’s most-wanted terrorist. A man who triggered the longest war in American history. The terrorist mastermind the world’s only superpower has moved heaven and earth to track down. A decade of hunting. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent. The blood of countless Americans and others spilled.

And when he was finally found, he was found wrapped in the bosom of the Pakistani security establishment.

Away from the bleatings of the ghairat brigade — the paranoid schizophrenics marching this country into the abyss — theshock is profound. Grim questions are etched on anxious faces, but so is fear of the answers.

Proud men and women, people who love and serve their country, have cried as they connect yet another dot in the horrifying trajectory this country is on. If we didn’t know, we are a failed state; if we did know, we are a rogue state. But does anybody really believe they didn’t know?

Why would they do it? What did they hope to gain? Pakistan has nothing in common with Al Qaeda. They serve no purpose to us; there is no confluence of interests that can be imagined.

Did we think we could produce him like a rabbit out of the hat when we needed to? Did we think if we turned him over, the American attention span would lapse and they’d move on, leaving us unable to suckle at the teats of the superpower?

Or, assured in our assumptions about the world around us, did we simply think we could get away with it?

It makes no sense. And yet, perhaps there was an inevitability to this. Did the 1965 war make any sense? It was hard to find any sense to it then, even less so today.

Did Kargil make any sense? Not then, not today.

Did hawking nuclear paraphernalia on the international market make any sense? Buying did perhaps, but selling? And now we
have the world’s most-wanted terrorist recovered from the bosom of the Pakistani security establishment.

So maybe it does make sense after all. The establishment has flirted with irrationality in the past. Now it appears to have
perfected it.

Where do we go from here as a country?

As long as national security and foreign policy remain in the hands of a cabal of generals — unaccountable and untouchable, a
lay unto themselves, and in thrall to their own irrational logic — what future can this country have? Surely, not much of a

Is self-correction an option? Good luck trying to find anyone in the homeland or beyond with even a modicum of knowledge
and understanding of the institution who believes it is capable of reforming itself.

What you will find are retired officers who will tell you what it feels like to be the masters of the universe, part of the inner core
of the establishment. How your feet leave the ground as the world gathers beneath you, bowing and scraping for crumbs
thrown their way. The view from the inside, the inner core, is of limitless power. The view from the outside is of a perch almost
designed to abjure humility and rationality.

What you will find are bureaucrats with decades of experience who ultimately concede that peace with India is unacceptable to the army on any terms. What you will find are diplomats who scoff at the possibility of Musharraf being able to seal a deal on Kashmir with India. Being Numero Uno at home requires having Enemy No 1 across the border.

Zia’s army, Musharraf’s army, Kakar and Karamat’s army — it may seem difficult to reconcile the differences. But while they were very different men, the strategic orientation of the army has more or less been the same. Some addressed the strategic imperatives from a religious angle, others from a more secular angle, but it has always been the army’s angle.

Can anything be done?

The outside world can’t fix us. In fact, even now the US is probably a better friend of the Pakistan Army than of the Pakistani people. Soldiers and intelligence networks are more useful than an under-educated and impoverished population. Double-gamers and duplicitous allies at least have something to offer; what can the wretched Pakistani people offer myopic Americans?

Can we fix ourselves? Take a look around. Does anyone think Asif Zardari has what it takes? Nawaz Sharif may have the chutzpah, but does he have the nous? Beyond them, what is there but a fetid pool of opportunists and political mercenaries?

So maybe that’s the answer after all. They knew. They knew he was there. And they knew they could get away with it.

The writer is a member of staff.



Last Island Thursday, May 19, 2011 11:51 AM

Peace for the Baloch
[B][FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=5][COLOR=Blue]Peace for the Baloch[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/B]

By I.A Rehman

A REGIONAL consultation on intra-state conflicts in South Asia, caused by some minority communities’ assertion of their right to autonomy, offered Pakistan’s policymakers and students of politics a great deal of food for thought, especially in view of a lack of serious discourse on the subject in this country.

The consultation organised by the South Asian Forum for Human Rights discussed conflicts arising at the time of state formation on the inclusion of certain territories in new states and their demand for self-determination, dissatisfaction with the existing social contract and the growth of democracy deficit in highly centralised states, and the rise of minority demands for ethnic homelands.

The focus was on an audit of peace accords negotiated for the resolution of some of the conflicts in South Asia, such as the agreements with the Nagas, the Mizos and the Bodos in India and with the tribal population of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Also discussed were the autonomy movement in Madhes, Nepal, that has received a boost during the country’s search for a new constitution and the nationalist upsurge in Balochistan.

The discussion on Balochistan was based on a fresh study that argued that peace in Balochistan is meaningful, even possible, only if an end to violence is accompanied by justice in terms of a change in the status quo by establishing fair power relationships between the civil and military authorities, the centre and the province, and the elite and ordinary people.

The immediate measures suggested for giving the peace process a promising start include: cessation of military operations and human rights abuse, withdrawal of the army and the FC, recovery of the ‘missing persons’, an end to the state’s plans to rule the province through its co-opted elite, and facilitating productive economic activity.

While these suggestions are generally in harmony with the domestic democratic opinion on Balochistan a disturbing finding was that although the unrest in that province has been on the national agenda for more than six decades there has been no peace accord between the Baloch and the state. This point was not one of the main issues on the agenda of the recent consultation but it needs to be addressed by all those who wish to secure peace and justice in Balochistan.

History supports the view that each Baloch uprising has been suppressed by the state through force and without any peace settlement. The first uprising (1948) was suppressed through a quick military operation and its leaders punished. The second uprising (Ayub regime) was crushed through a mixture of force and chicanery, and a festering sore was created when the state reneged on its pledge of amnesty given to Sardar Nauroz Khan. The armed struggle of the 1970s was ended by Ziaul Haq’s offering palliatives to its political leaders but without any settlement on the issues that had caused the conflict.

Gen Musharraf not only ignored Baloch national aspirations but also looked down upon them and threatened them in the language of an insolent bully. He believed, more or less like Ayub Khan, that development projects could persuade any people to forego their autonomy demands. The present government has added political and economic concessions to Balochistan (the 18th Amendment, the reform package and the NFC award) to the policy of settling issues through force. That this strategy can’t deliver is manifest for the simple reason that no package has been given shape in consultation with the people.

While the state has never considered the Baloch dissidents worthy of negotiations across the table, it has also largely been indifferent to non-state initiatives to establish peace and tranquillity in Balochistan. The Bhutto-Bizenjo accord of 1972 was wrecked by Bizenjo’s rivals in his own party and Mr Bhutto himself. The memorandum of understanding signed by the MRD parties in the 1980s was never taken seriously by the signatories except for the Baloch.

During the Musharraf regime, the Senate committee made some sensible proposals but lacked the will to attach to the matter the priority it deserved. Thus, the Baloch believe that besides being oppressed by the state they have also been abandoned by the country’s political parties and the people in general.

The harmful consequences of not having a peace accord with the Baloch people are fairly evident. The state’s lack of interest in negotiating a settlement with the nationalists, including those that are labelled as insurgents, amounts to a denial of their status as citizens who are entitled to be party to any social contract on which the state must be based. This leads to the Baloch people’s alienation from the state.

Besides, in the absence of a peace accord the parties to the conflict are without any legitimate framework or context for their demands and assurances. Focus on specific issues becomes difficult. The people outside Balochistan have no measure with which to judge the legitimacy or otherwise of the Baloch nationalists’ demands or the state’s policy of denial.

If it is possible for the powers that be to realise that a peace accord with the Baloch nationalists is necessary, the next step is identification of elements with whom a compact would be meaningful. There certainly are elements in Balochistan who believe that the time for a settlement within a federal framework has passed and if they are so numerous as to make the rest politically irrelevant, then too an accord with them will be necessary, only its terms will be different from those of an intra-federation settlement.

The trouble is that the state is not talking even to elements that are prepared for accommodation within the federation provided that their rights as an autonomous unit are fully secured. The present Balochistan Assembly does not have the requisite credentials. For one thing, the 2008 polls were boycotted by the nationalist parties and for another the present provincial government enjoys little real authority.

Unless the state can find a way of bringing all the diverse elements in Balochistan to the peace table, an early election to determine the people’s genuine representatives will become unavoidable. The essential fact to be realised is that peace cannot be established in Balochistan without an accord on democratic self-government.

One should not be unmindful of the obstacles on the road to a peace accord in Balochistan. The custodians of the security state would go to any length to deny the Baloch nationalists their right to speak for themselves. The bureaucrats would be loath to give up the powers they have enjoyed for ages. The consequences of recognising ‘outlaws and criminals’ would be presented in lurid detail.

But a surrender to the vested interest would only mean adding to the agony of the Baloch people and undermining the state’s capacity to deal with the crisis in future. The risks in allowing the present drift to continue are far greater and more serious than those in seeking peace by accommodating the angry, dispossessed and the deeply hurt Baloch.

[url=http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/19/peace-for-the-baloch.html]Peace for the Baloch | Opinion | DAWN.COM[/url]

Arain007 Thursday, May 19, 2011 06:23 PM

Time to revamp foreign policy
[B][U][CENTER][SIZE="5"]Time to revamp foreign policy[/SIZE][/CENTER][/U][/B]

[B]By Mohammad Waseem[/B]

THE American operation in Abbottabad has put the role of Pakistan’s security apparatus in question in world capitals causing the latter to ask whether it knew about Osama’s hiding place in the city.

The CIA chief pronounced a harsh verdict on Pakistan for being an accomplice or incompetent, though Washington has not directly implicated the country.

What should be done to take Pakistan out of the morass of diplomatic embarrassment given the acute trust deficit that has defined USPakistan relations for several years now? For one thing, there is more to it than the procedural matter of the exchange of information between the two intelligence agencies at the two ends of the spectrum before and after the Abbottabad operation.

There are hard-core substantive issues revolving around the priorities of Pakistan’s foreign policy that need to be reevaluated and possibly revised. There is a lack of direction in the domestic, regional and global strategies that often contradict one another.

The security apparatus is selective about hitting the Taliban. Some Taliban hit Pakistan. They are the targets of the counterterrorism operation. Others hit Afghanistan, such as those in North Waziristan. They are off the radar of the security establishment. That has rendered Islamabad’s commitment against terror suspect in the eyes of the world.

The controversy about the 2008 Mumbai attacks refuses to go away. Pakistan’s diplomatic stance of insufficient data provided by India has been taken with a pinch of salt. The relative freedom of action ostensibly enjoyed by the banned Lashkar-i-Taiba, especially after Lashkar operative David Headley’s plea bargain in Chicago, along with the related court cases going nowhere, has put the country in a tight corner in the diplomatic world.

One of the standard justifications of Pakistan’s sincerity of purpose has been the human loss in the war against terror, running into thousands of dead military officers and soldiers along with policemen and the general public. Unfortunately, this has been wearing thin, because it has been counter-balanced by allegations of duplicity of Pakistan’s security apparatus emerging from western sources in general.

The contradiction between the US and Pakistani responses to the CIA operation against Osama bin Laden reflects the grim situation on the ground. American lawmakers, intelligence personnel and media have been asking questions about Pakistan’s complicity in hiding Osama close to the military academy.

At home, politicians and the media have been asking the opposite question about the inability of the security apparatus to safeguard the country’s sovereignty.

The US and Pakistani public are poles apart in terms of their respective positions on this issue. According to the western profile of Pakistan’s foreign policy, the country wants to put the Taliban in Kabul in any post-Nato arrangement.

It supports the operations of armed non-combatants in Afghanistan and India. It abets the militant discourse of jihadi parties through education and media within Pakistan. It continues to operate as a place for the training of potential terrorists abroad.

This ugly profile has cast its grim shadow on several aspects of national life. First, it has dried up foreign investment that has brought down the rate of growth to less than two per cent in recent years. Second, it has isolated the country. Major western airlines have withdrawn from Pakistan. The diplomatic community is under siege in Islamabad, which has rendered Pakistan a non-family station. The image of a ‘failed state’ has stuck to Pakistan despite the best efforts of diplomats, scholars and media persons.

Third, the country has suffered from religious and sectarian cleavages. It has become a battleground for rival ambitions of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Finally, and most gruesomely, Pakistan is understood as an exporter of terrorism. Both India and Afghanistan have been critical of Pakistan on this count, with Iran occasionally incensed. China came down heavily on its Islamic insurgents who were allegedly supported by elements from Pakistan.

The current foreign policy has failed. There is a need to revamp our foreign policy objectives and the means to achieve them. The predominant current of thought in the country understands the whole issue in terms of the dichotomy between Islam and the West underscored by the spirit of the Crusades and concerns about national sovereignty, Indian designs in Afghanistan and the US-India nuclear alliance.

What is required is a change in evaluation of the country’s national interest along realistic lines. The state must shun reliance on non-state combatants in pursuit of its policy.

The option succeeded in the 1980s in Afghanistan because one superpower defeated the other. It failed in the 1990s in Kashmir because there was no superpower support for it. Indeed, the presence of thousands of well-trained and wellarmed non-state combatants within the borders of the state can only be disastrous for any political system. They can turn their guns any time in the direction of their sponsors.

Previously, there was a role for Pakistan in three triangles: US- Pakistan-China, ChinaPakistan-India and USPakistan-India. Over time, Pakistan lost its crucial role in all the three triangles, as the other two protagonists in each triangle opened up to one another by way of trade, diplomacy or strategic relations.

Across the Gulf, the Saudis have not been forthcoming either in recent years. In this way, the three traditional pillars of Pakistan’s foreign policy — Washington, Beijing and Riyadh — have been shaken. Already, Obama’s plan to visit Pakistan seems to have run into difficulties. One likes to believe that there is scope for neutralising the hostility of India and Afghanistan, and removing the possible sources of alienation for Iran and China. Pakistan needs to grow out of its extreme insularity in order to cultivate acceptance and accommodation of its legitimate interests by the US, the EU and regional countries.

It needs to recast its national goals commensurate with its status as a responsible power. It must move forward from an overly ideological and conspiratorial worldview to a rational, pragmatic and resultoriented foreign policy

[B]Source: [URL="http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/19/time-to-revamp-foreign-policy.html"]Time to revamp foreign policy[/URL][/B]

Last Island Friday, May 20, 2011 06:50 PM

State of the economy
[CENTER][FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=5][COLOR=Blue]State of the economy[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT]

[B]By Sakib Sherani[/B]

RECENT numbers depict a painful picture of the economy, the relative prosperity of the farm sector notwithstanding. Private investment has sunk to an all-time low, while the surge in inflationary pressure is at a historic peak.

The economy has recorded its second lowest per-capita income increase (close to zero) in any three-year period since independence. While a substantial contribution to this state of affairs has been made by external developments, weak governance and poor management have exacerbated the challenges. A review of the numbers makes the story clearer.

The economy is estimated to have grown 2.4 per cent in the current year, well below the long-run trend rate of growth of over five per cent. The commodity-producing sectors of the economy have posted an anaemic 0.5 per cent increase. While last summer’s unprecedented floods affected the economy, the impact on growth was far less than initially feared — and more ambiguous. Other than major crops, all other sub-sectors of agriculture have done well.

Similarly, other than urea production, many manufacturing sub-sectors have benefited substantially from the rural economy’s prosperity due to a surge in crop prices. Nonetheless, despite strong output growth in important sub-sectors such as cars, motorcycles and sugar, the overall tone of large-scale manufacturing is one of weakness, with growth slowing down to a mere one per cent.

In fact, public administration and defence has provided a significant fillip to the overall growth number, without which the economy’s performance would have been even weaker. In addition, the use of a fixed inter-censal growth rate of 7.5 per cent for small-scale manufacturing, a ‘plug’ number which has increasingly appeared out of sync with reality, provides a false signal on the economy.

The average expansion in the economy over the past three years is down to 2.6 per cent a year. With a population growth rate
of around 2.1 per cent, per-capita income has grown, on average, at less than 0.3 per cent since 2008, the lowest increase since 1951 (barring 1998-99). While export performance has been a bright spot, it is already unravelling with the ongoing price crash in textiles.

The situation with regard to investment, especially private investment, is even more alarming. While overall private investment grew by 1.1 per cent in 2010-11, as a per cent of GDP it has sunk to a new low of 8.5 per cent. More worryingly, investment in large-scale manufacturing, the driver of job-creation in the economy, has contracted 27 per cent in the current year, over and above a contraction of 14 per cent the year before.

Were it not for a purported big jump in investment in the electricity and gas sector, notorious for the fickle and unsubstantiated numbers it produces, total fixed investment would have shown a net decline in the current year.

Controlling inflation constitutes one of the principal challenges for the government. While there has been some relative respite in inflationary pressure over the past few months, with non-food inflation pulling back into single digit, inflation continues to be in uncharted territory, in my view. For the past three years, monthly inflation has remained stubbornly in double digits, strongly entrenching inflationary expectations. It is no coincidence that a large part of the public sector is out on the roads demanding higher wages. While public-sector employment does not constitute as large a part of the total as it did in Latin America when it tipped into a wage-price spiral, and trade union activity is fairly restricted by comparison in Pakistan, the current wave of demonstrations for higher wages by public-sector employees is nonetheless a dangerous marker of sorts on the slippery road to yet higher inflation. The uncertain outlook for public finances, as well as global commodity prices, adds to the concern on the inflation front.

Clearly, in an environment of falling growth, rising inflation and contracting investment the economy is unlikely to be creating many new jobs. Official data depicts an increase in unemployment (to 5.7 per cent), but only a muted one. As in previous years, the category of ‘unpaid family help’ has managed to contain the rise in reported unemployment. Nonetheless, unemployment in urban areas and among women has shown a sharp rise over the past two years.

While official data on poverty has not been released for several years, it is natural to expect a fairly significant increase since 2007. However, the situation is not as unambiguous as suggested by some commentators with regard to poverty, since those
rural households not affected by last year’s floods, have benefited from sharply higher crop prices as well as a dairy boom.

Other households appear to have benefited from rising remittances from abroad, while deserving beneficiaries of cash transfers under the Benazir Income Support Programme and the Watan Card scheme have been provided an important offset.

Nonetheless, if early results from the poverty scorecard exercise being conducted in the rural areas is anything to go by, the
next official number on poverty could depict a shocking increase.

Taken together, this is amongst the ‘weakest’ economic data recorded in Pakistan’s 64-year history, confirming the view that Pakistan’s economy is stagnating compared to its own past record, while it is firmly in ‘relegation league’ when compared to other dynamic economies.

While the economy is operating under several constraints, prima facie, the two major constraints are the internal security situation and the energy deficit. In reality, weak governance, which is amplifying the energy crisis, is the single biggest constraint to higher growth and investment. The magnitude of this constraint can be gauged by an examination of financial losses in just three areas where it operates with the greatest impunity under the current regime: tax administration, the power sector and public-sector enterprises. This issue will be examined in greater detail in a subsequent piece.

The writer heads an economic consultancy based in Islamabad.

[url=http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/20/state-of-the-economy.html]State of the economy | Opinion | DAWN.COM[/url]

Saleeqa Batool Thursday, May 26, 2011 09:27 AM

State of Denial:Dawn Editorial
ET`S face facts once and for all and stop living in denial. It is unfortunate, but not surprising given the staggeringly delusional outlook of many in this country, that the deadly assault on the PNS Mehran airbase in Karachi has engendered a plethora of conspiracy theories even before the matter has been fully investigated. As is nearly always the case, the finger of blame is being pointed at the usual suspects: the United States, India, Israel or, in more vague terms, `foreign elements`. To their credit, the government and military brass have made no such public claims — at least not yet anyway. Instead, it is some political figures, egged on by certain television anchors, who are refusing to acknowledge the very real presence of the enemy within. For them, almost every act of terrorism is the work of outside forces that wish to `destabilise` Pakistan in nebulous ways or, more specifically, seize our nuclear assets. It could be that such statements are meant solely for public consumption, and short-sighted political gain, in a country where anti-Americanism has picked up even greater pace in recent weeks.

The militants who attacked the airbase knew about a key `blind spot` and how to gain access to the premises without early detection. Also, they fired on vehicles used to evacuate US and Chinese personnel from the base, which suggests that they may have known in advance of their presence at PNS Mehran. Though nothing has been confirmed as yet, such calculated moves imply that an inside job cannot be ruled out at this stage. It is up to the military and civilian authorities to launch a thorough probe into this aspect of the incident and establish the facts. But if insider knowledge did indeed facilitate the attack, it is far more likely that the sympathiser within, if any, would be passing on information to local militants rather than any `hidden hand`.

Also consider the fact that the Pakistani Taliban, who most would agree are not American, Indian or Israeli agents, have claimed responsibility for the attack. Then there is the reality that foreign militants come to their Pakistani counterparts for training, not the other way round. Our recent bloody history of suicide attacks on mosques, schools and bazaars, not just military installations, leaves no doubt that the enemy lies within, not without. Clearly, there is no shortage of diehard local terrorists who wish to `destabilise` the country. It is time we collectively shook off this state of denial. Otherwise, we will not be able to devise a common strategy to fight militancy and terrorism.


Last Island Saturday, May 28, 2011 09:17 PM

Obama and Palestine
[CENTER][FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=5][COLOR=Blue]Obama and Palestine[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/CENTER]

PRESIDENT Barack Obama consistently disappoints those who expected him to depart fundamentally from the policies of George W. Bush. Whether it is regime change (Libya) or the Guantanamo torture camp, the policies remain the same, for two reasons. He shares the national outlook and the prejudices that go with it. Besides, he needs to win acceptance.

Anyone who imagined that his muchtouted Cairo speech was a prelude to change, must be disillusioned after the four days (May 19-22) during which he capitulated to the hard-line prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.

Just before boarding a plane to Washington, D.C. on May 19, Netanyahu said that he expected “to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of American commitments made to Israel”.

This was a reference to a letter of April 14, 2004 by President Bush to Israel’s then prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

He wrote, “In the light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major population centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949. … It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.” Israel thus acquires a veto on change and a US endorsement of its stand that its settlement on the West Bank (“these realities”) must not be unduly disturbed.

This is in wilful violation of the UN Security Council’s Resolution 242 of Nov 22, 1967, in the wake of the Six-Day War in June, “emphasising the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” and calling for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”.

Netanyahu held “an angry phone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday [April 19] before Obama delivered his speech that day”.

Ethan Bronner of The New York Times reported that “he demanded that the president’s reference to 1967 borders be cut”. While US officials denied that Obama altered “anything under Israeli pressure”, they admitted that he “made changes in the text that delayed his appearance by 35 minutes”.

In the speech he actually delivered, on May 19, Obama asked the Palestinians not only to accept Israel’s right to exist but to abandon “efforts to delegitimise Israel”. To the Palestinians, the establishment of Israel, on May 14, 1948, was Al Nakba, the catastrophe. They are being asked, as price of a settlement, to rewrite history and accept the forcible occupiers of their lands as its legitimate owners.

This is the real significance of Netanyahu’s demand, ever since he won the February 2010 elections, that Israel must be recognised by the Palestinians as a Jewish state. This would affect the rights of Israel’s Arab citizens, who comprise one-fifth of its population, and the refugees’ right to return. A million and a half Palestinian Christians and Muslims will become aliens in their own home. Obama explicitly endorsed Israel’s demand that Israel be accepted “as a Jewish state”.

Obama added that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on 1967 lines” but “with mutually agreed swaps”. Was this qualification the last minute change which delayed him by 35 minutes? Israel will have a veto on the extent of the “agreed swaps”.

Obama thus accepted the lines Bush supported in his infamous letter to Sharon in 2004. Palestine will be a nonmilitarised state at the mercy of Israeli might. So much for its ‘sovereign’ character. Obama left out the future of Jerusalem and “the fate of Palestinian refugees”. Netanyahu’s anger at Obama dissipated.

The next day (May 20) they met when both reiterated their agreed positions; except that while Obama expressed his concern at the Fatah-Hamas accord, on May 4, Netanyahu declared that Israel “cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas”.

Soon after he won the Democratic nomination as candidate for the presidency, Obama went to the powerful Israeli lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to declare his support for a united Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He went to AIPAC on May 22 to dispel any doubt on his full support to Israel, a “national security interest” of the US. “Agreed swaps”, he explicitly clarified, meant “a border that is different from the one that existed on June 4, 1967”.

Two days later on May 24, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of both Houses of the US Congress. Almost every sentence of his received rapturous applause; almost every second sentence won a standing ovation.

Towards the end, Netanyahu defined his terms with clarity and finality. Israel must be accepted as a Jewish state. Palestinians who were evicted in 1948 will not be permitted to return to their homes in Israel. They are free to go “out side the borders of Israel”. Jews will be free to immigrate to Israel. There will be no return to the borders of June 4, 1967 and “no division of the united capital of Israel”, Jerusalem. The Palestinian state will be demilitarised. Israel will have a “military presence along the Jordan river”. All this was packaged as “creativity”.

The former US president Jimmy Carter said on April 2, 2008 that Hamas leaders assured him that they would accept a peace settlement negotiated by Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas “on the 1967 borders”.

In his book A Place Among the Nations (1993) Netanyahu equated the Palestinian’s demand for statehood with Nazism. In 2011, he offers them a Bantustan alleging, on May 16, that they were out to extirpate Israel. The acclaim he won in Congress would confirm to Obama that, besides his own pro-Israeli position, he lacks the capacity and the domestic support for any stand that deviates significantly from Israel’s stand.

It is a dismal situation. The only hope lies in the awakening of the Arab masses and the Palestinian leaders’ resolve to forge a united front to evolve a peaceful strategy for political struggle.


Last Island Monday, May 30, 2011 06:08 PM

Calling America’s bluff
[CENTER][FONT=Book Antiqua][SIZE=5][COLOR=Blue]Calling America’s bluff[/COLOR][/SIZE][/FONT][/CENTER]

HAS Obama unwittingly called his own bluff? The spooky so-called mastermind Osama Bin Laden is rubbed out, courtesy a Hollywood-style hit squad operation. What more is there to say?

Everything, actually. But nervous authorities want to curb jubilation so as not to give the exasperated American public any funny ideas about pulling their stupendously expensive military apparatus out of battered Afghanistan.

Many American tycoons are profiting from these perpetual small wars and, with those profits, calling all the shots in Washington. Yet Bin Laden was apparently out of the active terrorist equation since almost 9/11 itself, cut off from real command except for his role as a symbol for a tiny contingent of angry Arab youth. Can the troops, ‘kill squads’, drones and all please go home?

The quick answer from impervious, imperial Washington is, nothing has changed since Bush told us that everything had changed. The top brass and the arms dealers are addicted to hunting monsters largely of their own making everywhere. That’s a pricey enterprise for a US leadership that tells its citizens that the country is broke, as if it is the citizenry’s fault and not that of the bankers, brokers and other sleazy-money magicians.

The few Americans who still swallow the official line that the US is in Afghanistan solely to destroy Bin Laden’s organisation are about to face the stark fact that the government has been lying. By poll data, at least two-thirds of Americans want to withdraw troops from Afghanistan now. The declared purpose of the ‘war on terror’ was to snuff out the reputed leader and financier of 9/11, not to crush the Taliban or install the phony democracy Afghanistan now has. George W. Bush showed remarkably little zest in ferreting out the alleged culprit — ‘alleged’ because the US could not prove anything at the time. Here was a serenely arrogant empire doing what it pleased, gunslinger-style, to destroy an ultimately pathetic, if widely hated, figure.

According to their own ever-shifting accounts, American spokespersons found Bin Laden himself really posed no threat. Al Qaeda was a brand name anyone could adopt. So Bush probably had a point: Bin Laden really wasn’t worth fretting about anymore except as a mobilising figurehead to keep enough of the American public on the government’s side — a war for feeding vast profits into Wall Street, energy companies and other well-connected industries.

Bin Laden was doing invaluable service for American elites by staying alive. Accidentally or not, he fulfilled the dearest desires of Washington’s second-rate right-wing ideologues. Bin Laden and Bush, and their allies, played happily into each other’s hands at the cost of the rest of us. The former sensed that his arrogant enemies would pounce on the opportunity to attack Muslim lands, gut civil rights at home and bankrupt the economy. Once any ‘mission’ is set in motion, as any bureaucrat knows, a hundred additional reasons are concocted to enable it to continue beyond the stated goal.

Yet the US cannot afford to act as the world’s policeman nor even the world’s hit man. The US economy remains on its knees, or at least for 90 per cent of the citizens who find they do not count anymore. Americans reside in a class society where the rules, once somewhat fair, have been reordered to award the rulers total licence. Bin Laden was an excuse, not the reason, why the US plunged so deeply into the Middle East and South Asia.

Does Pakistan owe the US an abject apology for Bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad? Must amends be made? Why exactly? Never forget that Bin Laden surfaced during the 1980s’ Afghan war under the patronage of the US and the Saudis. Bags full of high denomination dollars were stuffed into the tattered pockets of Afghan refugees in Pakistan to lure them to serve the holy cause of expelling the Russians. Later, and not without many warnings, Bin Laden turned against his masters. During the mercifully short rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, an Islamic mini-caliphate on the model of the earliest Islam was imposed. Scarcely anyone wants to relive that miserable experience but, foremost, Afghans now want Americans and Nato out.

Bin Laden was briefly a major figure among the Taliban but soon, for his own authoritarian reasons, had to distance himself. Reporter Robert Fisk met him several times and noticed that Bin Laden preferred Fisk be escorted by his own Al Qaeda guards. Bin Laden clearly felt safer in Pakistan than in Afghanistan, where he was dependent on the fickle Taliban.

Now that he is beneath the waves, there is no central figure to direct the movement, although there will be groups of Muslims who will assume a franchise on Al Qaeda. The next phase will likely be an armed version of Trotskyism, one that will acquire its devotees both among the upper-class and ordinary Muslims without the remotest chance of success.

Bin Laden left no concrete or coherent legacy, except for a vague exhortation to form an Islamic caliphate. Obama never had a better chance to end the military mayhem in Afghanistan yet he looked intent on passing it up. Pakistan owes the US the most abject of apologies only if US forces depart soon. If they don’t, then Bin Laden never mattered and it will be the US that ought to be doling out apologies for all the lies its spokespersons have been telling about its motives in the region.

[url=http://epaper.dawn.com/ArticleText.aspx?article=29_05_2011_008_013]Calling America[/url]

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