” Beggars can’t be choosers “

via H Balakrishnan published on October 28, 2009


Dear Sir,

Anees Jilani’s ” Story behind the bill” – (TNIE – 28 OCT), highlights the mindset of many Pakistani intellectuals who blame all and sundry in general and India in particular for the mess, Qaid e Azam’s Pakistan finds itself at the present juncture. They will be loath to admit that is a mess of their own making, and correctives need to come from within Pakistan.

However, there are still some straight talking and no-nonsense intellectuals who find space in the Pakistani media and elsewhere. I will cite just two of them, there are many more, and their views on the Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB), which had kicked up a dust storm in ‘ parched ‘ Pakistan in the recent past.

Ahmed Rashid is an internationally renowned Pakistani journalist and author of the well researched best-seller :

” Descent into Chaos: The US and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia”.  In a hard-hitting Article in the media, entitled ” Fight for Waziristan’s survival “, Rashid wrote:
” Neither the army nor the politicians seemed to notice that the country was nearly bankrupt, barely subsisting on life support loans from the International Monetary Fund of $11.3 billion. Pakistan has been holding out a begging bowl for the past year, while factories, farms and schools are shutting down because of a chronic shortage of electricity, which is off in major cities for up to 10 hours a day “.

Continuing, Rashid wrote: ” The army and the civilian government are once more at odds over the policy towards the US and India, the insurgency in Baluchistan, and how to deal with militant Punjabi groups that are linked to the Taliban. Moreover, still unresolved and now an issue of growing international concern is the sanctuary being given to Afghan Taliban in Pakistan. Moreover, several within the militant leadership had direct connections with the army or the ISI. The so-called Dr Usman, the leader of the nine-man group that attacked the army’s general headquarters on October 10, was himself a member of the army’s medical corps. Police officials say that the Rawalpindi and Lahore attacks had help from inside because the terrorists were able to bypass the stringent security measures in place and had knowledge of the layout of the complexes. Last week, at the height of the suicide attacks, army chief General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani chose that moment to blast the civilian government for agreeing to a $7.5-billion, five-year aid package from the US for civilian and developmental purposes.The army was furious that the government had agreed to US-imposed conditions, which only insisted that there be civilian control of the army, democracy be maintained and the fight against extremism continued. The army, with its deep tentacles in the Pakistani media and among opposition politicians, whipped up a storm of public opinion against the deal, with some commentators accusing the government of President Asif Ali Zardari of treason.

Lastly, ” However, it is the worsening relations between the civilians and the military over domestic issues that are causing growing consternation at home. It is unlikely that
General Kayani would like to overthrow the civilian government, but the army is resisting any attempt by the civilians to change the broad ambit of foreign or domestic policy”.

Does Jilani see the ‘crooked shadow’ of the Indian Foreign Service in this Pakistani mess??

Kamran Shafi, a former Pakistani Army Officer and at present a regular contributor to the Karachi based English daily Dawn, wrote an Opinion on 20 Oct 2009 entitled : ” The Bad Old
KLB “. He was scathing of the Pakistani establihment- civil and military !! He wrote:

” If I know my English, we received a well-deserved kick in the pants when the Americans said right at the outset of the ‘explanatory’ note that all they were attempting to do was to explain the language of the bill. Indeed, two hours after Shah Mehmood’s claim that the explanatory note would be attached to, i.e., become part of the bill, the White House spokesman said no way was that happening. As veteran aid receivers (!), we should know that the US, or for that matter any aid-giving country, will attach conditions to that aid. The important, indeed critical, question to ask is why we make such fools of ourselves at regular intervals, making a spectacle of ourselves before the world which well knows us and our shenanigans? “

And to call the bluff of Jilani, on the KLB, Shafi wrote: ” Why do we, most particularly our Guderians and Rommels, forget that during all the years of the Afghan jihad of the 1980s President Reagan used to annually certify to Congress that Pakistan was not in the process of producing nuclear weapons? Where was our ghairat (honour) then? Where was our ‘fury’? Or is it merely the case that there was no grandstanding then because one of their own was ruling the roost?”

Lastly the ‘Kayo punch’ : ” Or is it the case that the only reason the American boot has landed on the proverbial cat’s tail is because the US Congress wants to see more civilian control of the military; its budget; its promotions to higher ranks et al, all of which happens in democratic, civilised countries? (By the by, in India, promotions and postings of brigadiers/commodores/air commodores and above are subject to approval by the civilian authority.) But no, not in our country where the army considers itself above all else, and arrogates to itself the right to rule supreme. It forgets, of course, that its sycophant’s songs of praise notwithstanding, it has always left the country in a bigger mess than it was in when it took over “.

Pakistan is getting a well deserved taste of its own medicine that it has dished out against India for decades. The Frankenstein it created and fed, is now biting the very same hand. Lastly, Jilani would do well to understand the adage : ” Beggars can’t be choosers ” !!

I suppose even that state to which Pakistan has been reduced, would be blamed on our ‘Superhuman Foreign Office’ mandarins !!

Cheers !!


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