This Article appeared in Daily Dawn on April 13th, 2012.
THE avalanche under which 124 soldiers of the Pakistan Army and 11 civilians have been buried at Gayari in Siachen is nothing less than a catastrophe.
While rescue efforts are still under way, given the realities of the region there is little chance of any of these men being found alive. In all the years that troops have been stationed in Siachen, the weather and inhospitable terrain have claimed more lives than actual combat. Yet this is probably the most tragic event where so many lives have been lost in one go.
The disaster should serve as a wake-up call for Pakistan and India to revisit the Siachen issue, and delve into the logic of why troops are there at all.
This Article appeared in Daily The News on April 10th, 2012.
The US plan for a drawdown from Afghanistan by 2014 had always appeared to be dictated more by US domestic political compulsions, rather than the on-ground situation in that country, which is why its success looked doubtful. These plans have hit serious snags lately. President Obama and his advisers thought that by increasing the number of troops in his “surge” they would be able to bomb the Taliban to the negotiating table, and at the same time, enable the Afghan army and police to take over the country’s security responsibility by the drawdown deadline. The Americans are nowhere near these ambitious objectives.
Recent events like the killing of French and British soldiers, the desecration of the Quran, the shooting of two senior US officials by an Afghan intelligence officer and the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians by Staff Sgt. Bales have shaken the US, even though Washington is putting a brave face. There are differences among Mr Obama’s political team, the Pentagon and the State Department, and deeper ones between the United States and Nato countries on the Afghan issue.
Article written on 20th March 2012.
Some quarters view the discussions on this important issue of Pak-US relations in a shortsighted perspective which would be myopic and imprudent to say the least. Considering that the issue is only opening of the NATO supply route to Pakistan or not and or insisting that drone attacks on tribal areas must be stopped will be ill-advised and imperceptive. The issue needs to be viewed both in its past context and the present situation both in the region and in a world view. The relations with US whih are marked by over dependence on US to normal relations between two sovereign state and the element of Aid has to taken out of this equation.
We threw in our lot with the US in early 50`s. We joined SEATO and CENTO as against remaining neutral and possibly joining Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) subsequently. Over a period of time we have been closely identified with US interests . When we permitted US to establish a secret base at Badabher Base not only earned us the ire of USSR ; another super power of the time but we literally became a US client state in this region. The crux of the debate in the Parliament should be whether we have gained or lost out of this relationship both materially and in stature as a stature. Our stance on Kashmir; a core issue for us has become weaker or stronger. We failed to gain any advantage of Indo-China War of1962 under US advise/pressure. We failed to get Kashmir in 65 War. US failed to give us any assistance even on diplomatic front and it was USSR which brokered a peace agreement between us and India. 1971 war is before us. US support on diplomatic has remained mostly ambivalent. Although there are so many other factors for our weakening of our state, it’s a golden opportunity to take stock of our special relationship with US at this stage. We were used against USSR in Afghanistan 1979-1984 and then abandoned and are facing the consequences in terms of criminalization of our society through Jehadi culture and Kalashnikov culture. Again we were pressurized into aligning ourselves with US policies and becoming their front line ally in this so called “War On Terror”. We have sacrificed over 5000 of our valiant soldiers and over 35000 lives of our civilians including children and women. The loss to our infrastructure is approximately over 70 billion US dollars which is more than the total US aid that we have received from US since 1947 till to date. In spite of all these sacrifices Pakistan is being painted as almost an enemy and possibly a terrorist state in US media. Our territories are being violated at will. Raymond Davis case, May 2 violation of our territory and the Salala Pass brutal massacre cannot be obliterated from the memories of our public.
Article written on 2nd December 2011.
The November 26th ruthless NATO strike on Volcano and Bolder posts in Silala Pass, Mohmand Agency is a much bigger event than May 2nd US violation of Pakistan’s territory in which reportedly Osama Bin Laden was killed and is likely to have a longer shadow on the course of events in this region than is thought at present. The attack also highlights sadistic, savagery and barbaric attitudes prevalent in US/NATO/ISAF forces. Their Governments normally overlook these tendencies and do not punish the perpetrators in their armed forces so that their aggressiveness does not get restricted. The incidents at Abu-Ghuraib (Iraq), Sudan and Afghanistan are examples of their perverted minds.
The geographical location and the sequential events of the attack on these posts suggest that it was a deliberate and premeditated brutal attack part of a bigger game. The Government of Pakistan has sufficient evidence to prove and conclude with convictions that the attack was not incidental but a deliberate one. These posts have such a sharp decent into Kunar river to such an extent that it is impossible to climb this height from that side therefore the possibility of some rogue elements straying across the border in this area is ruled out. There is no evidence that any ISAF/ANA troops were operating in this area. The first aircraft arrived in the area at 0015 hrs on night 26/27 and our Military Headquarters informed the ISAF Headquarter in Kabul of the presence of these aircraft in the area as per agreed SOP and they replied that they were pulling back . These aircraft returned at 0115 hrs and attacked ‘Volcano’ post without any warning with such ferocity and sustained manner that the communication with the post broke down The Company Read more
This Article appeared in Daily The News on April 1st, 2011.
Lately the creation of a southern province in Punjab is being debated in the media and in our political circles. The incommodious attitude of certain political parties of avoiding open debate on this significant issue of considerable public import is incomprehensible and manifests an escapist attitude.
Punjab is the biggest province of Pakistan with a population of 81, 330, 531(over 81 million) which is about 47 percent of Pakistan’s total population. It encompasses an area of 2, 05, 344 square kilometres. Out of a total of 342 National Assembly seats; Punjab has 183 MNAs, Sind 75, KPK has 43, Baluchistan 17, FATA 12, minorities 10 and Islamabad Capital Territory two MNAs. If the number of 183 MNAs from Punjab is seen in juxtaposition to 171 MNAs from all the other three provinces and other groups put together, it shows a very unpleasant comparison. Without any bias, prejudice and sounding parochial, the small provinces are living in a state of perpetual minority vis-a-vis Punjab. And certain vested interest groups and parties have been using this anomaly to their advantage. Using the Sind ‘card’ and some statements by sub nationalist parties in KPK and Baluchistan manifests this dangerous trend due to this anomaly. Even the erstwhile East Pakistan saga finds connections to this disproportionate administrative structural deficiency phenomenon. The people of Punjab are very open minded and hearty people. People hailing from other provinces and working in Punjab do not face discrimination. Yet Punjab gets a bad name when it suits certain vested interest groups and parties. Punjab in spite of being very accommodative gets discredited simply because of its size as compared to other federating units. This anomaly, therefore, needs to be addressed at the earliest.