Jul 31, 2009

Of wills and bequests

By Dr Riffat Hassan

It should be noted in the light of the foregoing analysis of the Quranic stipulations with regard to inheritance that though the share of a son is twice that of a daughter, it is possible for parents to provide, in their lifetime, for the special needs of the latter through a bequest recorded in the legal will. –File Photo
In order to fully understand the intent and content of the Quranic prescriptions regarding inheritance stated in Surah 4:11-12 and 176, it is necessary to note that it is stated four times in these verses that a person’s assets are divided ‘… after (the deduction of) any bequest he may have made, or any debt (he may have incurred).’
What this means is that when a person dies, from what he/she leaves behind, bequests that he/she may have made in a will, as well as any debts that may have accrued, have to be deducted before the inheritance is divided according to the Quran.
A very important implication of the cited statement is that every Muslim who leaves behind any material possession is required to make a will as enjoined in Surah 2:180 which states: ‘It is ordained for you, when death approaches any of you, leaving behind wealth, to make a bequest for the benefit of his (her) parents and (other) near of kin, in accordance of what is fair: this is an obligation on all who are conscious of God.’
The Quran has enjoined not only the making of a will, but also its witnessing, as stated in Surah 5:106-108: ‘O you who have attained faith! Let there be witnesses between you when death approaches you and you make bequests: two persons of probity from among your own people; or two other persons from (among people) other than your own, if you are travelling in the land (and are far from home) and the visitation of death befalls you. Take hold of the two after the prayer, and each of them shall swear by God, if you are doubtful, ‘We will not sell it (the truth) for any price, even if it were (a change that may benefit) a near kin, nor will we hide any of what we have witnessed in God’s presence, for then we would surely be among the wrongdoers.’
‘But if it be discovered afterwards that both of them have committed a wrongdoing, then two others — from among these (the heirs of the deceased) whose rights have been hurt by the (initial testimony of the (former) two — shall take their place and swear by God, ‘Our testimony is indeed truer than the testimony of these (former) two, and we have not transgressed the bounds of what is right, for then we would assuredly be among the evildoers.’ Thus it will be more likely that people will offer testimony properly (in accordance with the truth), or else they will fear that their oaths may be rebutted after they pronounce them.’
Regarding the stipulation that the will should be witnessed by two persons of good repute, Dr Fathi Osman aptly observes, ‘It is significant that no differentiation between male and female witnesses is mentioned with regard to the two witnesses required for hearing the oral statement of a will.’
As stated earlier, bequests (and debts) mentioned in a will must be deducted before the inheritance can be divided among the heirs. Stating that bequests should be made in the light of the special needs and circumstances of the heirs of the deceased person, Dr Fathi Osman observes: ‘In general a personal will which would be designed according to the special circumstances of the family of the deceased, is given priority to the general mandatory rules given by the Quran in the verses 4:11-12, 176. These general mandatory rules have to be applied to the whole legacy of the deceased person if he/she has not left any valid will, and they have to be applied to part of the legacy’ when there is a valid will in which bequests have been recorded.
It should be noted in the light of the foregoing analysis of the Quranic stipulations with regard to inheritance that though the share of a son is twice that of a daughter, it is possible for parents to provide, in their lifetime, for the special needs of the latter through a bequest recorded in the legal will (wasiyya). As stated earlier, a bequest, along with any debts, would be deducted from the legacy of the deceased before distribution amongst heirs.
Explaining that in Islam the legal responsibility for maintaining the family rests on the man, Dr Fathi Osman points out that ‘every female has a man to provide all her needs, be he a father, a husband, a brother or a son, and thus her share in the inheritance will be something additional for her personal disposal while her needs are fulfilled by the nearest male kin who is legally responsible for such maintenance. When this is not the case, and the woman has to earn her own living, and fulfill her own needs, the personal will can respond specifically to different circumstances.’The foregoing account demonstrates that if the Quranic prescriptions regarding inheritance are understood in their historical and cultural context, they do not discriminate against women. In fact, if properly implemented, they would greatly enhance women’s economic empowerment.
The writer is a scholar of Iqbal and Islam, teaching at the University of Louisville, US.

Supreme Court strikes down Nov 3 emergency

In what has been billed as a verdict that may change the course of the country’s political and judicial history, the Supreme Court on Friday denounced successive military takeovers over the past four decades and their endorsement by the superior judiciary and then went ahead to declare Gen Pervez Musharraf’s Emergency Order of Nov 3, 2007, and most of the actions taken under it, including the appointment of over 100 superior court judges, as illegal and unconstitutional.
In a judgment that has no precedence in the country’s judicial history, a 14-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, declared unconstitutional Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar’s appointment as the Chief Justice of Pakistan after the imposition of emergency. The court decided to refer to the Supreme Judicial Council the cases of Justice Dogar and other judges who had defied the order of a seven-judge bench on the same day and took oath under the PCO.
The verdict was quite clear on many points. It declared Gen Musharraf’s action of declaring emergency on Nov 3, 2007, as illegal and unconstitutional, but refrained from passing any order against him.
It also declared all appointments of judges since Nov 3 taken in consultation by, what it described as an unconstitutional chief justice, as illegal and that they ceased to exist as judges with immediate effect.
The court declared that creation of the Islamabad High Court under the emergency order was unconstitutional and that its judges would cease to remain as judges. However, the bench made it clear that the present dispensation, including parliament, will remain intact.
It decided not to insist that President Asif Zardari take a fresh oath from a de jure chief justice. Justice Dogar had administered oath to President Zardari.
The bench said that although it had reservations about the way the issue of presidential ordinance was handled by the Supreme Court during the emergency period, it decided that instead of undoing them, including the controversial National Reconstruction Ordinance (NRO), the present government should be given 120 days to regularise them through parliament.
It was an amazing day in the courtroom No 1, where after several days of hearing, the chief justice announced that the verdict would be handed down by 3.30pm. But it turned out to be a long wait. The 14 judges arrived in the room after five hours. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry handed down the verdict in front of a packed courtroom.
By that time several senior lawyers, including Supreme Court Bar Association President Ali Ahmed Kurd, had taken the front seat. In fact, there was not a single soul in the courtroom who was opposed to the position taken by the bench. If there were any, they must have decided to lie low.
The room burst into slogans as soon as reading of the verdict began. But on the chief justice’s orders, sanity was restored. Soon after the judges left, the courtroom reverberated with slogans in support of law and justice and against Gen Musharraf.
The slogan-chanting lawyers then marched outside the court and started more catchy slogans like death for the former military ruler.
The order declared that the office of the CJ had not fallen vacant on Nov 3, 2007, and, therefore, the appointment of Justice Dogar as the CJ was unconstitutional and of no legal effect. However, the administrative or financial acts performed by him in the ordinary course of affairs of the office would not be affected, it said.
The order said that judges appointed to the Supreme Court while holding the offices as judges of any of the high courts would revert as judges of the respective high courts subject to their superannuation and likewise the judges of the high courts who were district and sessions judges would go back to their old positions.
Those judges of the Supreme Court (Justice Faqir Mohammad Khokar and Justice Javed Buttar), the chief justice and judges of the high courts who had taken oath in disobedience to the Nov three order of the seven-judge bench would be proceeded against under Article 209 (SJC) of the Constitution.
The law secretary would take steps in the matter accordingly, the order said.
It said that judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) would also cease to be judges, except its CJ, and its officers and employees would be sent to the federal government’s surplus pool for their further appointments or return to their parent departments.
However, the court suggested to the government to establish such a court or a federal court for the federal capital territory as it might be a desirable act, but the IHC was set up through an unconstitutional and a highly objectionable manner.
The order asked the government to add a new clause to the Code of Conduct prescribed for the judges of superior courts in terms of Article 209 of the Constitution, commanding that no judge would offer any support in whatever manner to any unconstitutional functionary who acquires power otherwise the Constitution and that any violation of the said clause would be deemed to be a misconduct.
The court acknowledged and respected the mandate given by the sovereign authority (the elected government) and said it would continue to jealously guard the principle of trichotomy of powers enshrined in the Constitution. The judgment vowed to defend, protect and uphold the Constitution.
The order praised the present representatives by saying they firmly believe in strong and independent judiciary and the democratic system, recalling that the deposed judges of the Supreme Court, high courts and the de jure Chief Justice of Pakistan were restored retrospectively from Nov 3, 2007, implying that they considered the actions of Gen Musharraf as invalid.

Musharraf's emergency illegal

The Supreme Court on Friday declared unconstitutional the steps taken by former military ruler Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf on November 3, 2007 including the imposition of emergency, promulgation of Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) and sacking of as many as 61 judges of the higher judiciary.Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading the 14-member bench that heard the judges’ case, announced the unanimous verdict to this effect in a court full of lawyers, journalists, and political and civil society activists.The apex court also declared unconstitutional the appointment of Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar as the Chief Justice of Pakistan, thus nullifying all the appointments made in the higher judiciary with his consultation. The PCO judges were found guilty of misconduct, were suspended and were thereby referred to the Supreme Judicial Council. The total number of Judges of the Supreme Court, after yesterday’s verdict, now stands at 16 plus the Chief Justice.The present democratic dispensation, however, is protected in the judgment and the general elections of February 18, 2008 and the government formed as a result of the elections has been declared constitutional.The larger bench invalidated the Supreme Court judgment in Tikka Muhammad Iqbal case, which had validated the imposition of emergency and promulgation of PCO by Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf, thus invalidating all the steps taken by former dictator during the suspension of the 1973 Constitution during November 3, 2007 and December 15, 2007.The SC judgment in Tikka Iqbal case had also declared the ordinances promulgated by Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf or by governors of the provinces during or before the November 3, 2007 emergency as valid laws, hence not requiring approval of the Parliament or the respective Provincial Assemblies in terms of Article 89 or 128 of the Constitution.However, the larger bench’s judgment invalidated ordinances relating to the higher judiciary promulgated during the above-mentioned period including the Constitution (Amendment) Order, 2007, the Constitution (Second Amendment) Order, 2007, the Islamabad High Court (Establishment) Order 2007, the High Court Judges (Pensionary Benefits) Order, 2007 and the Supreme Court Judges (Pensionary Benefits) Order, 2007.The remaining ordinances were, however, referred to the Parliament, stating that the period of 120 days and 90 days mentioned respectively in the Article 89 and Article 128 of the Constitution, would be deemed to commence from Friday, July 31, and directed that these ordinances be placed before the Parliament or the respective Provincial Assemblies in accordance with law.The verdict held that all the judges deposed on November 3, 2007 should be deemed to have never ceased to be judges. The verdict also declared that the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan never fell vacant on November 3, 2007 and therefore the appointment of Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar as Chief Justice of Pakistan was unconstitutional and invalid. It was, however, declared that the unconstitutional appointment of Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar should not affect the validity of any administrative or financial acts performed by him or of any oath made before him in the ordinary course of the affairs of the said office.

Dushanbe Summit

The summit meeting of leaders of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Russia in Dushanbe has called for an increase of foreign investment in hydropower projects, construction of transmission lines and development of transport infrastructure. The joint statement, which was issued after President Asif Ali Zardari, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai held important meetings, highlighted the importance of the development and strengthening of economic and trade relations among the four countries. The four leaders have also made a decision of creating a favourable climate of investment in their respective countries and promote direct ties among their business communities. While President Zardari has said the meeting would “help the coming generations” President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged the meeting is the first important step for more cooperation in peace and development of the region. President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon rightly said that the joint statement reflected the aspirations of not only the four leaders, but also the nation and the people they represented. The presidents showed their concern over the increased illicit traffic of drugs as a main source of terror funding. The leaders have also asked the World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs) to give assistance for the implementation of economic projects in the region. The Central Asian republics (CARs) are rich in oil and other mineral and energy resources that can be utilized by the landlocked Afghanistan and energy-starved Pakistan. In Pakistan, for instance, electricity is the major need of both industrial and domestic consumers. People had been told last year that agreements were in final stages to generate 1500 MW electricity within a year, besides buying 1,000 MW from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Pakistan needs to generate an additional 5,500 MW by the year 2010. In 2006, the US had planned a project to transmit electricity from Central Asia across Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. Under the plan, a regional power grid stretching from Almaty to New Delhi would have to be fed by oil and gas from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and hydropower from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The way in which energy is used is one of the defining characteristics of an economy. Growth of an economy requires energy, and high growth rates require high levels of consumption of cheap and abundant energy. Pakistan needs energy like a human being needs oxygen to breathe. For our economy to keep breathing, energy is a must, and no stone can be left unturned in this endeavour. If Pakistan is planning on importing electricity from Central Asia via Afghanistan, it first needs to make sure that the situation in Afghanistan is settled down completely. There is no guarantee whether the situation will be settled soon. Even if all is well, there remains the problem of pricing. The idea of importing energy should be looked into as four or five years down the road the demand for electricity would have increased. Tajikistan can help meet Pakistan’s energy requirements. If the agreements envisaged come to pass in future, Pakistan would be able supplement its income with the transit fees that might accrue from the supply of Central Asia’s surplus gas and electricity resources to India and China. At the same time, via the proposed land routes to Central Asia, Pakistan could be provided just the right edge to market its own agricultural and industrial products. The more quickly the projects are started and completed, the better it would be for the whole region.

Strategic stability in South Asia

By Tariq Osman Hyder
The launch of India's first missile-capable nuclear submarine, the latest proliferation of lethal WMD in the region, has serious implications for South Asia and beyond. It poses response choices for Pakistan to avert strategic imbalance. India must also reflect on what kind of an overarching architecture of relationship it wishes in the long term to evolve with Pakistan. How far is India's strategic and conventional build-up a consequence of its threat perceptions or motivated by the objective of threat projection and hegemony. Furthermore the international community must reassess its responsibility for this deterioration and how it should act in future to support peace and security in South Asia. Pakistan continues to perceive that, while socio-economic progress and combating extremism constitute core objectives, its main existential threat continues to emanate from India. An India in which core policy makers and influential segments continue to regard the creation of Pakistan from "mother India" as a historical mistake, which at best may still be undone and till then Pakistan should be dealt with so that it gives up its support for Kashmiri self-determination and acquiesces to a subordinate role in South Asia.Pakistan, though a significant middle order country, has always faced an asymmetrical imbalance and threat in the conventional field from a much larger India. Pakistan's hard won nuclear capability has kept the peace by providing, through a credible minimum nuclear deterrent, strategic stability in South Asia.The peace process, the composite dialogue which was set in motion between the two countries in 2004 was an effort to manage the different facets of this difficult relationship with the objective of resolving disputes in a peaceful manner acceptable to both sides so that both countries could increasingly concentrate on improving the lives of their peoples in a region which had increasingly fallen behind the rest of the world.As part of the composite dialogue expert level talks were initiated on both nuclear and conventional CBMs. In the first Nuclear CBMs meeting in June 2004, both sides agreed that the nuclear capabilities of each other, which are based on their national security imperatives, constitute a factor for stability. Two main agreements on pre-notification of ballistic missile tests and reduction of risks of accidents related to nuclear weapons were signed. Even before India broke off the peace process after the Mumbai incident, the peace process had slowed down. There was no concrete movement on the core issue of Kashmir and no promise of movement on Siachin, Sir Creek and the Indus Waters which provide Pakistan's life blood. While the nuclear CBMs agreements continue to hold, there was no forward movement and India wanted to de-link itself from Pakistan even in this nuclear CBMs field in which India reversed the maxim of thinking globally and acting locally.In this India has been encouraged by a number of developments. The US-Indo nuclear deal was the high water mark of this bilateral strategic partnership. The United States lost the opportunity of encouraging nuclear restraint in South Asia while providing civil nuclear power to both fossil fuel deficit countries. The agreement enhanced India's strategic capability, freeing its limited uranium reserves for military use and keeping eight reactors out of safeguards with the ability to produce fissile material for 280 nuclear weapons annually, apart from its equally un-safeguarded 13 breeder reactors programme.The US, Israel and Russia agreed to cooperate with India for its ABM programme which would further destabilise the strategic balance and force Pakistan to increase its missile throw weight. India rejected and the international community did not support Pakistan's proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime with its three interlocking elements of conflict resolution, nuclear and missile restraint, including non-introduction of ABMs, and conventional balance, to avoid an unnecessary arms race.Russia over almost two decades supported India's nuclear submarine project through technology, technical advice and leasing of nuclear submarines. India's cruise missile Brahmos was jointly developed with Russia.The first stage of India's nuclear submarine project is to build five submarines carrying 12 nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles at first with a range of between 300-700 kilometres and then of 3500 kilometres. The two Akula class submarines to be leased from Russia would carry some 48 ballistic missiles between them. Hence, this submarine-based part of the ambitious India nuclear triad of land-, air- and sea-based nuclear weapons would have some 100+ nuclear weapons at its disposal. The other air launched gravity nuclear weapons, land launched ballistic missiles, tactical nuclear weapons and land, air and sea launched cruise missiles would make up a formidable nuclear delivery capability.India justifies this build-up as it claims that it faces potential threats from China as well as from Pakistan. While US wants to build up India as a counter to China's growing influence, and Russia may wish to do so to a lesser degree apart from maintaining its strategic partnership with India in the face of growing American influence, given the growing economic and political relationship between India and China, no objective strategist has been able to postulate any credible conflict scenario between the two countries. On the other hand, 95 percent of India's military potential is targeted against Pakistan. The planned nuclear submarine fleet with its short range ballistic missiles or cruise missiles is Pakistan-specificDespite policy statements of wanting better relations with Pakistan, India's "Cold Start" or proactive military doctrine aims at giving India the ability of rapidly seizing parts of Pakistan while remaining under the nuclear threshold. Hence, while the nuclear submarine-based fleet has been justified to provide India with an assured second strike capability, which it claims is necessitated by its "no-first-use" doctrine, it will be used to reinforce the "cold start" objectives by reinforcing pressure on Pakistan not to use nuclear weapons, tactical or strategic, to deter or counter any Indian thrust into Pakistan.Pakistan's response has been that it will take all steps to safeguard its security and to maintain strategic balance in the region. What should Pakistan do? First of all develop its own second strike nuclear submarine based capability on which it must have given some thought having been long aware of the Indian programme. Secondly, equip its conventional submarines with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Thirdly, as the Russian assistance to India for this project, and the lack of any objection from the US or any other party has shown that both leasing of nuclear submarines and technology for their production are completely compatible with the global non-proliferation regime, Pakistan should explore such possibilities. Fourthly, the most important lesson for Pakistan, a latecomer by necessity as a nuclear state, is that while it does not have to match India, nuclear weapon by nuclear weapon, even so, to maintain strategic stability in these changing and adverse ground realities, it will need to continue its modest fissile material production in the foreseeable future and cannot brook any developments or negotiations counter to this vital national security requirement. Hence, faced with these escalating threats Pakistan must oppose the initiation of negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, which countries, with their own comfortable fissile material stockpiles and who have also helped arm India, want to begin and prioritise in the conference on Disarmament in Geneva, specifically at Pakistan's expense, and if negotiations begin, not to accept any outcome detrimental to Pakistan' strategic and energy security. If our policy makers and negotiators in Geneva do not live up to this task they will never be forgiven by the nation.The writer, a former diplomat, headed Pakistan's delegation in talks with India on nuclear and conventional CBMs (2004-2007). Email: ambassador.tariqosmanhyder@ gmail.com

The law prevails

It was a long wait but the verdict came in the form of a short order at about 8.15 in the evening. There had been increasingly fevered and uninformed speculation as to the reasons for the delay and the verdict had been expected towards the end of the afternoon — but in the end it turned out that the delay was because the fourteen-member bench sitting with Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had been doing their job thoroughly. Occasionally, the use of hyperbole is justified, and this is one of them. The decision by the Supreme Court that the actions of then-President Musharraf on November 3, 2007, were unconstitutional is almost seismic in terms of the effect it is going to have in the near term, and perhaps for the nation as a whole for many years to come. He is described as a subverter and usurper of the Constitution and must have watched developments from London with a degree of apprehension. All of the institutions of state are going to feel the fall-out from the verdict and it may alter the shape of our political landscape too.The bench had to deliberate on the possible consequences of their decision in respect of the 37 ordinances promulgated under the emergency (a state of emergency which we should remember that Musharraf admitted himself was illegal and unconstitutional) and will also have been much-exercised by what their decision was going to mean to those judges who had taken the Kings Shilling and signed themselves into illegality. There are some sixty PCO judges, and if they are all shown the door in the near future it will leave Balochistan, for instance, entirely without a senior judiciary. Appointments made by the de-facto Chief Justice Dogar are now deemed unconstitutional, including those he made to the High Court and the Supreme Court.Whilst the verdict clarifies the constitutional position regarding Musharraf’s actions it opens a Pandora’s Box of troubles and a blizzard of questions. Does the verdict open the way for Parliament to take action against Musharraf, and should Musharraf be the only one to answer for actions that were taken by a collectivity of people not a single individual alone? If the PCO judges are all to be removed who is to replace them and what is the validity of any verdicts they may have delivered both during the time of the past government and the current one? Precisely why was Aitzaz Ahsan visiting the Chief of Army Staff and what were they discussing — and could it have been connected to the fate of General Kayani’s past boss? Some questions we will get answers to in the near term and others we may never get to hear the truth of. Answers aside, we saw the rule of law prevail on this day, and quiet celebration is in order. On Friday July 31 we were able to demonstrate to the world that we have a free and independent judiciary prepared to take difficult decisions. It is a step along the democratic road that was worth the wait — we now wait to see if the political establishment has the courage of the judicial, and follow the path they have signposted for us as a nation.

Legal Horizon | Rule of law in Pakistan

Akhtar Ali Kureshi

As citizens of Pakistan, we are committed to the principle that society must be ruled by law, not by the passions of the mob or the ambitions of powerful leaders. The imperative of protecting and advancing human rights and freedom through the rule of law is rooted in both al-truism and pragmatism. Our commitment to liberty and equality is driven by the ideals infused in our Constitution. But we also have learnt through painful experience that societies not governed by the rule of law, are more likely to engage in tragic violence. As law knowing and abiding citizens, we should promote the rule of law in the country for economic reasons. Transparent and stable government institutions, corruption free system and access to justice not only protect human rights; but also are a great source to encourage the public as well as foreigners to invest in Pakistan.For these reasons, one could be confident that these collective efforts toward advancing the rule of law in our society, are among the most impressive and important projects. The entire nation should try to follow it and this noble cause of advancing rule of law will get soon at a higher level of public at large. The newly created atmosphere for rule of law by the SC’s initiatives is coordinating and expanding the programming of a good justice system in future. The appreciations may be a source to enable the SC to promote the winds of judicial reforms at all level in order to help and develop an independent legal system and legal education, combat corruption and human trafficking and promote gender equality, among other activities.The present perception of the SC and its important work is made possible for thousands of Pakistanis who were helplessly waiting for justice and the lawyers, who are assisting the court in advancing the rule of law, indicate an incredible dedication. By conservative estimates, we are heading towards a judicial revolution which will change the fate of the entire nation. We have good reason to be proud of the SC for their great work and its efforts for a new era leading towards success, including the re-activation of some important institutions. Initiatives of public interest litigation and suo motu actions of the SC have given a strong gesture to those who failed to realise that wrong doer will not go scot-free so much so a sense of judicial review gives a serious call to the legislature to act prudently. The open eyes of the SC’s working to make the judicial system more accessible to all, particularly women and the poor who are already suffering a lot. This piece of work gives satisfaction to the general public for upbringing the law and human rights and the SC adds luster to its reputation as the leading voice on the rule of law.The Supreme Court is also a convener of nation and individuals dedicated to advancing the rule of law, as demonstrated by its judgments in which new ways were opened by setting new precedents for the High Courts and subordinate judiciary. The traditions of full court meeting for taking administrative decisions, Law Commission, Supreme Judicial Council, etc. is remarkable decisions and new milestone in our judicial history. This new trend brought together judges, lawyers, government officials, philanthropists and NGOs leaders of the country to discuss how the rule of law can help solve our pressing problems i.e. terrorism, corruption, nepotisms, and poverty. Justice delayed is justice denied, at the very least, slow and cumbersome legal process holds back the wheel of commerce. The globe is shrinking by the day and unless a country which does not keep pace with the development around, it is bound to be left behind. Legal development plays an important role in shaping the country and provides favourable environment to prospective investors. Bringing appropriate changes to legislation by introducing or enacting new acts to replace the obsolete enactments is necessary to legal development. As members of the global community, we must work closely with other nations to achieve goals and aspirations. Many professions, including legal emerged as global profession. Any attack on the independence of a society in one country is an attack on all countries. Any harm to the people of one country because of the failure of the rule of law is harm to all of humankind. As Pakistani we must continue to remind our government that promoting the rule of law locally as well as internationally must begin at home. We must do all in our power to ensure that Pakistan never relinquishes the moral high grounds of adhering to the rule of law. The concept of generality implicit in the rule of law does not require that all laws must have universal application. However, the rule of law does require a rational and non-arbitrary basis for differential treatment of individual or groups. Rationality and legitimacy of legislative classifications can often raise difficult questions. The distributional contents among interested groups that characterize modern democracy generate many controversies concerning differential treatment. There is absolutely no constitutional device that can wholly eliminate irrational or arbitrary classifications. The principal devices that in combination have proved successful in this regard are the separation of powers, representative democracy, federalism and effective guarantees of basic rights. It needs to be stressed that these devices may exist as part of the constitution in the real sense though formally expressed in a constitutional text. Yet, when an opportunity for substantial constitutional application and its improvement presents itself, a nation should seek to entrench a constitutional structure that is most favourable to the maintenance of the rule of law. Pakistan is at the threshold of such a historic opportunity and should weigh its option with utmost care in reaching to its intact constitutional return and moving towards rule of law through courts, for an ultimate destination.The writer is a practicing Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, law Professor, member of International Bar Association, London and former Assistant Advocate General Punjab

One million children face threat to education: UN

The United Nations warned on Thursday that one million children could have their education interrupted in Pakistan, where conflict with the Taliban has damaged or turned schools into civilian shelters. Around 600,000 out of an estimated 2.2 million people displaced by fighting between government troops and the Taliban across the northwest have returned home, a UN spokeswoman told a news conference.“It is encouraging that some 600,000 people have returned but we are still looking at a very large number who have not,” said Stephanie Bunker. Schools used as a temporary refuge for the displaced are scheduled to re-open for the new academic year on September 1, but getting all children back into education “poses a massive challenge,” the UN warned. “According to official sources, 187 schools are destroyed, 318 schools are partially damaged — 313 of them schools for girls,” said a UN statement. “Schools being used as shelters must be repaired and equipped... while for IDP (internally displaced person) children returning to their places of origin, temporary structures... will be needed.“If not, an estimated one million children could face interruptions to their education,” the UN statement added.UN officials said that 1,167 schools out of 4,739 sheltering the displaced had already been vacated, and that the government hopes to clear out the rest within two weeks.More than 600,000 children enrolled in schools in Malakand, where the fighting has been concentrated in three districts, have missed up to one school year due to the conflict, the UN said. In the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), only 22 per cent of women and girls older than 15 are literate. Only seven percent of women and girls older than 10 are literate in the semi-autonomous tribal areas, the United Nations said.

Europe loves Obama

Barack Obama’s star may be fading slightly at home but it is still so bright in Europe that he outshines the leaders of Germany and France in their own countries, according to a poll that shows a remarkable global shift in attitudes towards the US since he took office. The question is: does it matter? First, the statistics. The latest Pew Global Attitudes Project, a widely respected survey that has tracked anti-Americanism around the world since 2002, polled 26,397 people in 25 nations in May and June and found that the image of the United States had improved in all but one (Israel),reflecting, it said, “global confidence in Barack Obama”. The most dramatic before- and after-Obama changes, from 2008 to 2009, were noted in Britain, France, Germany and Spain. In Germany, 93 per cent of those polled expressed confidence in the US president’s leadership compared with 75 per cent for German chancellor Angela Merkel. In France, the score was 91 per cent for Obama and 53 per cent for Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2008, just 31 per cent of Germans saw the US in a favourable light. This year: 64 per cent. In France, the favourability rating jumped from 42 to 75 per cent, in Britain from 53 to 69 per cent and in Spain from 33 to 58 per cent. In short, “old Europe,” as former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld used to call it, is head-over-heels in love with Obama. The reason for this, and the general improvement in the American image, depends on who does the explaining. For former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who co-chairs the board of the Pew project, it is a mixture of “admiration for Obama and respect for the country that elected him”. Albright is a Democrat. Former Senator John Danforth, the other co-chairman of the project, says Obama love stems from “telling people what they want to hear” and apologising for past American actions. In his view neither Obama’s popularity abroad nor a better US image have resulted in concrete actions. Danforth is a Republican. He and others making that argument underrate the importance of public opinion in international relations but they do have a point.

Education reforms

By Dr Masooda Bano

With the present government having first stayed embroiled in dealing with the judicial crisis and later with fighting the threats of the Taliban, the mainstream development reforms have largely been ignored. The education sector, which is critical for any brining any meaningful change, is yet to receive any attention. The donor aid commitments to the education sector in Pakistan have increased from as little as $14.51 million in 1999 to $316 million in 2007. However, it is difficult to see any significant change on the ground. Pakistani children whose parents cannot afford schools remain faced with the dual challenge of inaccessibility of schools as well as poor quality of education. There is a myth that Pakistani parents from conservative families are not keen to send their girls to school. However, in a recent round of field visits to schools in many areas, it was interesting though also saddening to see the high levels of unmet demand for education for girls even in apparently conservative communities. One does not have to go as far as the tribal belt or the Cholistan desert, even in such central places as outskirts of Sheikhupura there were communities where the mothers were desperately requesting the government agencies to extend the existing primary government school to secondary level as otherwise the girls had no option for further education, but there was no positive response. Some of the families had gone to the extent of hiring a teacher to teach the girls who have completed primary in a room in one of the houses. However, as the mothers very convincingly argued, this arrangement did not guarantee the girls a reliable access to middle or secondary level education nor did it provide the girls the grooming that comes by being part of a formal education system. These communities were actively lobbying the relevant government authorities to secure the upgrading of their schools. They also had the support of a prominent NGO. However, the support had not arrived to date. This was not just one case but even in limited fieldwork one is repeatedly confronted in Pakistan with a desperate demand on the part of the poor and low-middle income communities to educate their children but the state is failing to respond to it. The schools either do not exist or the quality of education being imparted is so poor that the children hardly learn anything meaningful in schools. The government in general, as noted by an official in Punjab, has even adopted a policy to not to establish new schools. It is only considering requests for upgrading a selected number of primary and middle schools each year. For a country, with a two percent population growth rate, this means that the already inadequate number of state schools is expected to cater to this rapidly expanding population. This means that the situation in future will be even dire than now. The expectations of some major donors and the government of Pakistan that the private sector schools will be the answer to the educational needs of the poor have already proven exaggerated. Many poor and low-middle income communities might be desperate to get education for their children but most of them don't have the financial resources to send their children to private schools, even if they have low fees. The challenge of education provision for all cannot be brushed aside by setting unrealistic hopes from the private sector. The state has to feel its responsibility to provide education for all. And the public should make the state accountable. The large inflows of aid to education sector since September 11 have clearly not trickled down to the Pakistani schools. At the same time, the government needs to seriously think about improving the quality of its existing schools. The main challenge within the school is good quality of teachers. However, the problem is not purely of technical nature. True, the teacher training institutes need support to train better teachers. However, the main challenge to improving quality of education in state schools is the political appointments and transfers of teachers. This problem is not linked to lack of resources; it has all to do with the political commitment of the government. Why cannot a government, if it is committed to education reforms, put in place mechanisms that ensure merit-based rather than political basis of appointment of teachers and head teachers? A lot can be done to reform the education sector only if the state showed the political will. Resources are for sure not the primary problem.

Jul 29, 2009

Why Musharraf alone?

By Murtaza Razvi

The cacophony surrounding the demands to bring the former president-general to justice makes a spectacle of the way we do politics. Retribution, when it is a one-sided affair, is vendetta; and justice cannot be served by certain individuals in power bent on settling scores, albeit with a wrongdoer.

It is a sorry commentary on our system that an independent judiciary should now appear to succumb to popular demands as opposed to the wishes of autocratic rulers in the past. In doing so the so-called ‘doctrine of necessity’ will still seem to be playing itself out, where the popular will can be seen as replacing the shackles put on the judiciary by autocratic rulers earlier on. It is well worth asking: what, then, has changed since the dawn of this new brave era of democracy, post-Musharraf?

Public memory anywhere is short-lived. In Pakistan it is also steered by the shortsightedness of those who insist on erasing it from the record altogether. The transition to democracy is hardly a fait accompli as we speak. Democratic institutions weakened by Gen Musharraf’s tinkering with the constitution are far from being stable entities today. While anyone in their right mind must blame the general for the mess at hand, the judiciary should also show the moral courage to shoulder its part of the blame.
The fact that it was the Supreme Court headed by the same honourable chief justice which gave Gen Musharraf the right to amend the constitution single-handedly in May 2000 cannot be overlooked. This was far more than what the then chief executive had expected to get from the apex court; he had just sought indemnity for the circumstances under which the Oct 12, 1999 coup took place. The general himself did not stage the coup from mid-air, aboard a PIA commercial flight which was not even in Pakistani airspace when the 111 Brigade struck to depose the prime minister.

How could the same judge(s) now be prevailed upon by those wishing to settle vendetta against the general to indict and punish him for a deed, and all that followed it, for which he was only partially responsible? When the dust kicked up by Musharraf’s opponents settles, public sensibilities based on moral grounds can equally challenge the judiciary’s acquiescence in the whole sordid affair. Can the judiciary survive yet another fall from grace in the public eye that history books will ultimately assign it if it succumbs to the temptation of punishing someone who was also its tormentor?

Speaking of tormentors and violators of the constitution, and of public trust, there have been many. Any attempt at retribution in the past has only remained just that. Remember the post-1971 Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report, which has only gathered dust all these years? No one, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s fiercest opponents, has had the courage to act on the facts ascertained in that document, and bring those held culpable to justice. Before that, the Liaquat Ali Khan murder and subsequently, the Zia plane crash still remain shrouded in mystery. What the very expensive UN commission on Benazir Bhutto’s murder will accomplish in real terms will be also there for all to see.

In the 1990s — that brief interlude when democracy struggled to strike root — we also saw the then discredited policies pursued by the elected leaders who were readily manipulated by the civil-military establishment to their own disadvantage. In the process, besides using the judiciary to set up their rivals in courts of law, presidents and army chiefs were removed, the Supreme Court was attacked, a chief justice was humiliated and thrown out of office.
Then, the removal of the last army chief proved a case of one too many; the army for the first time struck as an institution, and not as an instrument of its commander’s ambition to pack up a democratic order that had become more of a disorder. The tragedy is that Pakistan’s elected leaders have also acted like autocrats.

While no military coups can ever be justified, especially when our ambitious generals have overstayed their welcome every time they overthrew a government in the past, the popular perception of politicians’ failings has also remained a sad constant. Democracy does not mean a free-for-all arrangement; it means first and foremost, living up to the people’s expectation, leading to good governance. It also means engagement and dialogue aimed at consensus-building among political and social stakeholders, which should lead to effective and transparent governance that is accountable to voters.

Given our sudden zeal for retribution, and the sense of urgency that some are attaching to bringing the autocratic Gen Musharraf to justice, what an ailing polity like Pakistan really needs is a consensus-based truth and reconciliation commission if the demons of the past are to be exorcised. Such a commission must be representative of all political parties and opinions, including those of marginalised and consistently wronged sections of society. Among such groups, the poor, women, the religious minorities, the Baloch and the Ahmadi community readily come to mind.
If the urge is so strong today to start with a clean slate, all old and new holy cows must be brought to the altar of justice which, when dispensed, must also be seen by all to have been done.

The writer is the author of Musharraf: the years in power, a political biography.

Unesco, archaeology dept urged to save Buddhist stupa

Officials of the regional department of archeology and museums have urged the Unesco and federal department of archaeology to save the Buddhist stupa and monastery from the illegal digging and excavations.
The request was made after the two officials of the federal department of archaeology and museums sub-regional office, Taxila, found illegal excavation and theft of the ancient artifacts from the Buddhist monastery.
In a report submitted to highups of Ministry of Culture, the officials said the stupa and the monastery had been badly damaged by the excavator s digging the sites with heavy equipment.
‘And, most probably they have also taken away two or three small statues of Buddha,’ the officials reported.
The officials said if the proper excavations under official patronage were carried out, it would not only help to preserve the cultural heritage but also promote tourism in this area where researchers, students of archeology, tourists and scholars from across the world come to visit the ancient civilisation.
It has been learnt that the police were informed by the local people about illegal digging and excavations and a police party reached the spot but did not stop the illegal activity.Also, the sub-divisional police officer and SHO Hazro also reached the site and arrested 15 diggers but freed all of them after two hours without taking any legal action against them.
The report said SHO Hazro police station had misguided officials of the archeology department and did not tell the exact location where illegal digging was being done by the land grabbers.
They said the police were protecting the illegal diggers and asked the police highups to take action against those officials responsible for this situation.
When contacted, Muhammad Bhadur Khan, deputy director federal department of archaeology and museums, confirmed the massive destruction of the Buddhist site. He said a report of the illegal digging by influential mafia in league with the police had been submitted to the department headquarters and police authorities.
He strongly advocated for the preservation of the site from the illegal diggers who, he said, were bent on destroying the national heritage.

Book review: Revisiting Jinnah’s legacy

by Ashfak Bokhari

There has never been so great a need to revisit Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s legacy as now, under the changed circumstances, to renew our resolve to adhere to his ideals, his principles and his vision of Pakistan. Nor has there been so much urgency to disseminate and popularise the political philosophy of Mr Jinnah — the Quaid-i-Azam to most of us — which has now largely been either ignored by the political community or hijacked by obscurantist forces and even distorted by Islamists to suit their designs.
Given the atmosphere charged with narrow-minded religious zealotry in the country, not many would be willing to endorse Mr Jinnah’s secular polity and accept that he created Pakistan not to establish a theocratic Islamic state, but a democratic and secular state. Equally disagreeable for many is the fact that he struggled for a separate homeland where Muslims would be able to live in accordance with their social customs and religious traditions — but the polity would be non-religious in which there would be no discrimination between a Muslim and a Hindu.
In fact, the Quaid now seems to be an outsider in Pakistan. He seldom figures in public debate and political discourse on issues of vital importance to the future of the country, although his father-figure image remains intact and he is accorded the respect he deserves but as a ritual only. His advocacy of democracy and rule of law is acceptable, but not his firm belief in secularism.
The conservative political community, which has grown in size, tends to ignore his ideas about polity. However, there are still many in the community of liberals, progressives and the educated segments who are vocal in asserting the primacy of Mr Jinnah’s vision in tackling political and constitutional matters and seek to re-establish ‘Jinnah’s Pakistan’.
The artistically designed coffee table book titled The Jinnah Anthology can, to some extent, serve the need to make some segments of the population familiar with the Quaid’s legacy, virtues of his character, qualities of his leadership and how others thought of him.
The book is an admirable effort by the Jinnah Society whose presidents Liaquat Merchant and Sharif Al Mujahid conceived the project and implemented it so gracefully.
The anthology which was first published in 1999 — this is its second edition — is meant to provide readers a quality selection of works on the Quaid’s life, his politics and achievements.
The new edition, which is an important contribution to the body of literature on Mr Jinnah, is much more enlarged, more methodically planned and better designed.
The first section of the 14-section anthology contains original essays on the father of the nation.
The contributors include Stanley Wolpert, S.M. Burke, Kuldip Nayar, Ayesha Jalal, A.G. Noorani and Pervez Hoodbhoy. Their write-ups cover critical aspects of his politics and leadership such as the constitutional structure of the country visualised by him, his relationship with the princely states and his role in institutionalising civil liberties and women’s empowerment.
Section 2 presents a collection of quotes from the Quaid which reflect his vision of Pakistan. Section 3 consists of excerpts from his speeches and highlights his emphasis on civic freedoms, his concern for the welfare of Muslims and his guidelines for running the affairs of state.
The book also includes impressions of notable figures about the Quaid. They include Beverley Nicholas, Edgar Snow, Lady Wavell and Aga Kan III. Lady Wavell considered Mr Jinnah to be ‘one of the handsomest of men I have ever seen; he combined the clear-cut, almost Grecian features of the West with Oriental grace of movement.’ To the Aga Khan, of all the leaders he met and worked with, including Clemenceau, Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Lord Curzon and Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Jinnah is the most remarkable.’
The anthology also includes the obituary published in The Times of London on September 13, 1948, two days after his death. It noted that: ‘Mr Jinnah was something more than Quaid-i-Azam, supreme head of the state, to the people who followed him; he was more even than the architect of the Islamic nation he personally called into being ... Few statesmen have shaped events to their policy more surely than Mr Jinnah. He was a legend even in his lifetime.’
Five years ago, during his visit to Pakistan, Indian right-wing leader L.K. Advani made remarks about Mr Jinnah’s secular credentials that caused havoc in BJP circles and surprised many in both India and Pakistan. Mr Advani described the Quaid-i-Azam’s speech to Pakistan’s constituent assembly in 1947 as a vision of a secular country, not the Islamic state that it is today.
The remarks also led to a revival of interest in books about the Quaid. So much so that even an old book offering a unique perspective on the ancient history of the region that is now Pakistan was republished with a new preface. It is hoped that even more books about the founder of the nation will be forthcoming.

No smoking!

The causal linkage between smoking cigarettes and cancer was established over fifty years ago. Smoking-related diseases cause millions of deaths worldwide annually and governments everywhere are gradually bringing in legislation to restrict the sale of tobacco products to minors and to limit the places where smoking is permitted. Legislation aimed at protecting the population from its own follies has fared poorly in recent years – remember the motorcycle helmet law? – and now we have the government once again trying to do something sensible by prohibiting smoking or the use of tobacco in any form in any place of public work or use. All very laudable and the usual suspects have clapped and cheered and congratulated the government saying this will help protect the health of non-smokers and better enforce existing laws – except that it won't. As with so much other well-intentioned legislation in Pakistan it will founder on the reefs of non-enforcement and apathy. Not only is there little inclination towards compliance, there is equally little by way of enforcement. Are there armies of public health inspectors about to fan out across the land to make sure that the new ban is being observed? We think not. Will the police be clapping in irons those found in breach of the legislation? We doubt it. There is nothing wrong, nothing at all, with this piece of good public health legislation. However, laws like this which are difficult – indeed virtually impossible – to enforce will only find compliance if they are backed up by long-term health education programmes. A wise government would invest in such – but enacting toothless laws changes nothing unless minds are turned in the direction of acceptance.

Pak-Tajik strategic dialogue planned

Pakistan and Tajikistan on Wednesday agreed to initiate a strategic dialogue on regional peace, security and development, besides cooperation in energy sector.President Asif Ali Zardari and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon in their wide-ranging talks held at Qasr-e-Millet - Palace of the Nation, also agreed to establish regional electricity networks and early implementation of the Central Asia South Asia 1,000 MW project. The two leaders also vowed to explore and establish transit and transportation corridors, including direct air flights to link the two countries. President Zardari, who is in the Central Asian Republic on a three-day visit, also had a joint press stakeout, along with his Tajik counterpart and termed terrorism and militancy as the biggest threat to the 21st century. “We stand together against this threat and have decided to cooperate in other areas as well,” President Zardari said. He said the two countries have agreed to enhance cooperation in banking and transportation sectors, with the sole intention to bring the two people closer. President Zardari and President Rahmon also stressed the importance of having greater interaction between the private sectors of the two countries. He said Tajikistan has rich natural resources and the two countries can gain a lot from increased cooperation. President Zardari said Tajikistan can make a use of Pakistan’s land routes and ports, which will bring trade and economic benefit to the nations. President Zardari and the Tajik president also had an exclusive meeting before the delegations of the two sides joined them at the bilateral talks.During the bilateral talks, President Zardari was assisted by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Minister for Industries and Production Mian Manzoor Ahmad Watoo, spokesman for the President Farhatullah Babar and senior officials. A joint statement issued at the end of the talks said the two countries will take joint measures to realise full potential of their bilateral trade and economic relations on mutually beneficial projects. The two countries also agreed on the need of expediting and establishing regional electricity networks. They stressed for early implementation of the CASA 1,000 MW project. “Both sides agreed to undertake further studies and measures needed for its implementation and invited international organisations and financial institutions to contribute funding to the project,” said the joint statement that was signed by the two leaders at a ceremony here after the talks.The foreign ministers of two countries also signed two bilateral documents, including a Protocol on the exchange of Instruments of Ratification of Agreement between Pakistan and Tajikistan on the Promotion and Protection of Investments; and an agreement for cooperation — in different areas of bilateral interest — between their ministries of foreign affairs for the years 2009-2012.The presidents of Pakistan and Tajikistan witnessed the signing of bilateral documents. Separately, the two sides also signed a framework cooperation agreement between the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Tajikistan Chamber of Industry for strengthening bilateral cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries. The Joint Statement said both President Zardari and President Rahmon expressed their desire to further improve brotherly relations and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. The two leaders affirmed that strengthened Pak-Tajik bilateral relations will contribute to regional peace, security and development. The two sides also took into consideration the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, the May 2004 Joint Declaration of Pakistan and Tajikistan on further development of friendly relations as well as other bilateral documents. The two sides agreed that shared cultural affinities and historic experiences, economic complimentarities and geographic proximity have made Tajikistan and Pakistan virtual neighbours. Better relations were in mutual interest of both countries and region, the joint statement said. To comprehensively upgrade cooperation in all spheres and fields, the two sides will enter into an enhanced partnership based on the principles of the UN Charter, including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. The two countries agreed to initiate a strategic dialogue on regional peace, security and development, with a view to developing greater understanding on issues of common interest and mutual benefit. Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said Pakistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan are resource-rich neighbours and there is a need to exploit these resources through mutual cooperation which will lead to region’s prosperity. Speaking at a banquet hosted by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon for the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Asif Zardari said the friendship between the three countries will further strengthen regional cooperation. “It is ages old wisdom that you cannot change your neighbours. It is time for Central Asian countries and the countries of south Asia to sit together and improve their relations and enhance cooperation for the benefit to its peoples,” he said. “The three countries can make a difference in this world.” President Zardari appreciated Tajik President for the efforts which brought them together in Dushanbe and said the friendship of the three countries will go a long way in promoting regional cooperation and prosperity. “You will not find Pakistan lacking in all its endeavours,” the president remarked. He said Pakistan will cooperate in every way to augment the efforts for regional cooperation so that the three countries can realise their potential in economic and various other fields. And, President Asif Ali Zardari and Tajik Prime Minister Okil Okilov discussed bilateral relations and other matters of mutual interest, as the latter called on him here on Wednesday.The two sides discussed various issues of mutual interest with focus on strengthening their bilateral ties in diverse fields including trade, energy and communication and transportation.The two sides expressed their strong desire to bolster their bilateral relations through increased cooperation and collaboration in different fields and economy for mutual benefit of the two brotherly countries.Also, President Asif Ali Zardari held a meeting with the Chairman of Upper House (Majlis-e-Milli) of Tajikistan, Makhmadsaid Ubaiduloev here at the Parliament building on Wednesday and discussed bilateral as well as matters of mutual interest. During the meeting, the two sides stressed the need for increased cooperation between their parliaments and the exchange of parliamentary delegations to strengthen their historic ties and bring the parliamentarians of two countries closer. The Chairman of Tajik Upper House, who in Tajik system is number two in hierarchy after the President, briefed President Zardari about the functions of parliamentary institutions in Tajikistan particularly the Upper House.

Pakistan most important country, says Holbrooke

US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke said Pakistan is the most important country of the world adding that It is still unclear if Pakistan's offensive in Swat has killed off Taliban insurgents or simply scattered them, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday, adding a note of caution to U.S. praise for the effort.After being accused by the United States of "abdicating" to a Taliban insurgency that has heightened concerns about nuclear-armed Pakistan's stability, the Pakistani government launched an offensive in Swat in late April and says it has since killed 1,800 militants.Independent estimates are not available and critics say few guerrilla leaders have been eliminated, making it possible for the insurgents to regroup."We don't know exactly to what extent the Pakistani army dispersed or destroyed the enemy," Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters after returning from a trip to the two countries."The test of this operation is, of course, when the refugees return. Can they go home? Are they safe? And we're just going to have to wait and see," he added.Security forces are nearing the end of an operation launched close to three months ago in the Swat valley and the nearby districts of Buner and Lower Dir, but they still face pockets of resistance in some areas.Close to 2 million people were displaced by the fighting, and authorities have started helping many of them return home.Holbrooke praised Islamabad for shifting troops from its eastern border, where they face Pakistan's traditional enemy India, and sending them to the western border, where the United States has long wanted greater Pakistani involvement to try to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan and to destroy al Qaeda.Speaking as she met Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in Phuket, Thailand, on Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as is typical of U.S. officials, had little but praise for Pakistan's efforts."I must say ... that the progress that your government is making in this effort, of the significant return of people back to their homes because of the success of the government policy and military action, has been encouraging and impressive," Clinton said as she met Qureshi at an Asia-Pacific gathering.

Jul 28, 2009

Owning Balochistan

Ahmed Quraishi

A college chemistry professor is murdered in cold blood at his house’s doorstep in Quetta, the latest in a long list of educationists cowardly assassinated by terrorists claiming to stand for the great Pakistani Baloch. And yet no one in the PPP-led federal and provincial governments is willing to condemn the terrorists. Last month they planted a bomb on a train leaving Karachi and detonated it just half an hour away from Quetta, killing an innocent Pakistani Baloch. No condemnation then too.The sheepish and apologetic attitude of the government is inexplicable. Just a few days ago this government gave the Indians and the Americans damning proof on how Indian spy outfits were using the Afghan provinces of Helmand and Kandahar to target Balochistan. The central role of a grandson of the late Akbar Bugti has been mentioned by the Pakistan government as playing a leading role in this terrorist enterprise. As much as eight foreign spy agencies are cramming this Pakistani territory. And yet the Pakistani state is reluctant to call a spade a spade.Instead of putting a politician-turned-terrorist on a pedestal, it is time to ask the question: Was Akbar Bugti acting on foreign guarantees when he launched without notice a blitzkrieg of rocket fire on vital installations one fine morning in January 2005? His grandson Brahamdagh has been photographed meeting Indian intelligence officers not just in Kabul but also in New Delhi. So, why does the provincial government of Nawab Aslam Raisani avoid condemning these terrorists? More stunning is the reply of Interior Minister Rehman Malik in the Senate when questioned about how a Pakistani television station was allowed to air an interview with a London-based member of the Brahamdagh terror group. Mr Malik said the interview was taped in London and “you know there is freedom of speech there.” What a joke. Britain is providing a sanctuary to people who finance and support terrorism inside Pakistan and all our powerful security czar can say about this is to cite Britain’s speech laws. Is there a conflict of interest here between Mr Malik’s personal life and interests in the UK and his official duty to level with the Brits on their duplicitous policy? Major grievances aside, there is no direct discrimination against Pakistani Baloch on ethno-language grounds from anyone in the rest of the country. The level of education of Pakistani Baloch denies them opportunities to climb the social ladder. And the blame for this rests squarely with both the federal government and Balochistan’s tribal chieftains. And there is no hope in sight that those running the federal government – the PPP now or the PML in the future – can change anything on the ground.Washington is desperate now in Afghanistan and this has given Pakistan some breathing space. But there are lobbies in Washington that would like to see their failed war expand now into southern Punjab and Karachi after NWFP, Balochistan and the northern areas. Unfortunately we have people here who parrot the lines created by propaganda artists elsewhere. We need a practical, nationalistic and visionary federal administration that can take monumental steps to reorganise the state and provinces. We need creative minds at the top to unlock the initiative of the Pakistani people. We need change. But let’s begin with condemning the terrorists who have taken ownership of Balochistan without any contest from the government.

Balochistan and India

Hamid Mir

Why Manmohan Singh is under fire in India? He is the first ever Indian prime minister who is being blamed by the Indian opposition and media for surrendering to Pakistan in Sharm el-Sheikh. Many Indians are not happy over the reference of Balochistan in the joint statement released in Sharm el- Sheikh after the meeting of Indian and Pakistani prime ministers. Some Indians think that Manmohan stabbed them in the back by accepting the Indian interference in Balochistan. There are reports that Pakistani prime minister pressurised Manmohan in Sharm el-Sheikh by handing over a dossier of alleged Indian cross-border terrorism in Balochistan and that was how Indian prime minister was forced to accept the word Balochistan in the joint statement.I was present in Sharm el-Shekh. I remember that many Indian journalists were shocked after reading the joint statement. They started asking me that why Balochistan is mentioned in the statement? In fact many of them were not aware like many common Indians that what is going on in Balochistan. Within a few hours I started receiving calls from many Indian TV channels that what evidence was shown by Pakistan to Manmohan Singh about the alleged Indian involvement in Balochistan? In fact the Pakistani prime minister did mention Balochistan to Manmohan Singh but he never handed over any dossier to his Indian counterpart.The situation in Balochistan came under detailed discussion during the first meeting of the foreign secretaries in the evening of July 14 in Sharm el-Sheikh which took place two days before the meeting of Manmohan and Yousaf Raza Gilani. Pakistani foreign secretary Salman Bashir told Shiv Shankar Menon that India must delink the talks from terrorism otherwise Pakistan will be forced to produce at least “three Indian Ajmal Kasab’s” in front of international media who were directly or indirectly part of the terrorist activities in Balochistan and Pakistan will easily establish that Indian consulate in Afghan city of Kandhar is actually a control room of all the terrorist activities organised by the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army. Salman Bashir told Indian foreign secretary that both Pakistan and India cannot afford a blame game right now. If Pakistan will come out with evidence that Indians are responsible for attacking Chinese engineers in the Gwadar port city it may damage Indian credibility on one side but it will also spread more anti-India feelings in Pakistan and extremist forces will be the ultimate beneficiaries. First of all this new blame game will only help those extremist forces who successfully organised attacks in Mumbai on Nov 26, 2008, just to derail the India-Pakistan peace process. Secondly it will also harm relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US does not want any tensions between Islamabad and Kabul at this stage because NATO forces are trying their best to conduct a new presidential election in Afghanistan in coming few weeks. Thirdly the PPP led coalition government is aware that Balochistan is not a serious dispute like Jammu and Kashmir, it’s a problem of provincial rights and instead of internationalising the problem Islamabad should address the problem realistically. Islamabad cannot get away by just blaming India for unrest in Balochistan. Behind the scene talks with many Baloch militants are going on and good news may come out soon in this regard. Pakistan is making noise against the Indian involvement in Balochistan insurgency in a very careful, well-calculated and “limited manner.” Recently a prominent US magazine Foreign Affairs (March 2009) published the report of a roundtable discussion on the causes of instability in Pakistan. Christine Fair of RAND Corporation clearly said in that discussion that “having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, Iran, I can assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity. Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Balochistan.”This allegation came from a very credible American scholar who recently visited Indian consulate in Zahedan. Now where is Zahedan? It is the capital of Iranian province Sistan-o-Balochistan bordering Pakistan. More than two million Balochis live in the Iranian side of Balochistan. Iran is building a big port of Chabahar in the same area with the active help of India. Top Iranian leaders have alleged many times that American CIA is supporting Iranian Balochis to destabilise the Islamic Republic. Famous American journalist Seymour Hersh admitted in July 2008 that Bush administration gave million of dollars to a separatist Iranian group “Jandallah” which is responsible for violence in Iranian part of Baluchistan.The presence of China in Pakistani Balochistan is also a problem for US administration. The Chinese are accused of using Gwadar as a listening post for monitoring US military activities in the Persian Gulf. If Pakistan will play India card in Balochistan, many anti-US forces in Pakistan will ask that why Pakistan is silent over the role of CIA in Baluchistan which is using Jandallah against Iran? We must know that Balochis are Kurds of South Asia. Kurds are divided in Iran, Turkey and Iraq while the Balochis are divided in Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Separatist groups in Pakistan and Iran want the unification of the Baloch areas which is not acceptable to both the countries. Musharraf gave the Gwadar port city to Chinese for development in 2003.That was the beginning of a new problem. Three Chinese engineers were killed and nine were injured on May 3rd 2004 in a remote controlled car bomb attack. Two months after that incident, Pakistan claimed on July 2nd 2004 first time that India was involved in that bomb attack. Local Baluchis were not happy over the employment of many non-Baluchis in the main development projects of their province. They also wanted a fairer share of royalties generated by the production of natural gas in their province. Instead of addressing their griviences, Musharraf regime launched a third military operation against them in 2005 which further aggravated the situation. Why Indians must discuss Balochistan with Pakistan? Balochistan will be the route of at least two multinational gas pipelines. One will come from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan; the other will come from Iran to Pakistan. India could be a beneficiary of both the gas pipelines. These two pipelines could be extended from Multan to New Delhi. I think there is no harm for India to discuss Balochistan with Pakistan because stability in Balochistan will ultimately benefit India.Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, China and India should join hands with each other, stop proxy wars in Kashmir and Baluchistan as soon as possible and they can change the fate of the whole region.

Cooperation on security

Nasim Zehra

The writer is an Islamabad-based security analyst
Finally after an eight-month hiatus Delhi decided to return to the dialogue table and the prime ministers of the two nuclear neighbours met in Sharm el-Shiekh. The subsequent joint statement carried no surprises. It recognises terrorism as a major issue on which the two governments must cooperate. But returning to the dialogue table will not translate into significant bilateral engagement on all bilateral issues. As is already evident the primary focus of engagement will be terrorism. Specifically, India will demand action against those Pakistani groups and individuals involved in the Mumbai attack. Pakistan’s refrain will be that India provides evidence that is admissible in a court of law. Meanwhile, Delhi, Washington and, most importantly, many Pakistanis too are expecting action against those individuals whose involvement in the Mumbai incident was uncovered by Pakistani institutions. Equally, there is now a realisation that without substantive steps to resolve the Kashmir issue, terrorism and militancy will survive, if not thrive, in the region. In the last couple of years the widespread non-violent civilian Kashmiri protests in Indian-held Kashmir has demonstrated the political legitimacy, and indeed the political autonomy, of the Kashmiri demand that their political future be settled. Kashmiri participation in the elections is no substitute for the more fundamental issue of the political status of Kashmir and the Kashmiri self-determination. It was in acknowledgment of this reality that Barack Obama in his presidential campaign acknowledged the linkage between dealing with terrorism and the solution of the Kashmir dispute; a fact that UN Security Council Resolution 1172, passed immediately after Pakistan and Indian conducted their nuclear tests, did recognise as it called for the solution of regional disputes, specifically Kashmir. Even if Obama, the president, was forced because of political expediency and diplomatic correctness to not publicly reiterate the terrorism-Kashmir link there is realisation within the Obama administration that the unresolved Kashmir issue will sustain autonomous and perhaps even state-patronised militancy within Pakistan. On July 21 the US ambassador-designate to India, Timothy Roemer, told the Senate Foreign Relations panel that “I think, it (Kashmir) has been an extremely sensitive hotspot for the world and for the region, where we’ve almost experienced thermonuclear war on several occasions.” On the US role Roemer said, “it’s important to try to make sure that, where we can, in front of the scenes, behind the scenes, through diplomatic channels, encourage them to talk about this issue (Kashmir) and hopefully resolve it between their two countries.”The Obama administration has been instrumental in getting the Indians back to the negotiating table. For Pakistan the abiding flip side of India’s terrorism complaint has been the Kashmir issue. Whatever the level of antagonism and distrust between the two, massive destructive power has paradoxically ruled out full-fledged wars between the two. Multiple near-war situations emerged between 1989 and 2008, yet none translated into battle. Between the two neighbours military force has principally become one of the elements in the toolkit of compelling diplomacy; a toolkit that India has reverted to. Interestingly, two abiding and interlinked features have determined the dynamic of this relationship. One, there is an asymmetrical size and military power equation that works in India’s favour. Two, multiple problems, including Siachin and the water problem that mostly undermine Pakistan’s interests, have emerged from the unresolved Kashmir dispute. Increasing asymmetry and a growing list of problems has merely deepened bilateral distrust. The cumulative impact of this has been on the deepening distrust between the security establishments of the estranged and indeed embattled neighbours. Hence, virtually no substantive breakthroughs were achieved in many rounds of bilateral dialogue. In 1998 the framework for a structured dialogue framework with eight working groups for eight issues to resolve disputes was agreed upon. These included confidence-building measures, Kashmir, Wullar Barrage, promotion of friendly exchanges, Siachen glacier, Sir creek, terrorism and drug trafficking, and economic and commercial cooperation. What the composite dialogue has ensured has been continued bilateral engagement and in some cases helped to zero in on the issues in a systematic and informed way. For example, the economic and commercial group has commissioned studies on hurdles to bilateral trade. The Sir Creek group has had a credible study conducted. However, the composite dialogue framework has failed to make any breakthrough on substantive issues. In the last decade substantive progress has only been possible through top-level political intervention. For example, progress on Kashmir was made through the back channel because the back channel worked directly under the supervision of the political leadership. While the Foreign Offices on both sides were kept in the picture, Gen Parvez Musharraf and Prime Ministers Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. Against the backdrop of unresolved Kashmir issue and India’s active participation in causing the 1971 breakup of Pakistan, Pakistan has indirectly or covertly created and aided forces to change the status quo principally on issues like Kashmir. Frustrated with a recalcitrant India, Pakistan opted for the wars and covert methods of conflict resolution. None worked. However the developments of the last decade slowly but surely have given birth to a global realisation that there is a linkage between terrorism and militancy and an unresolved Kashmir dispute. Now at the high table of policymakers the Obama administration has initiated the double nudge. It is nudging the Pakistanis to roll back Pakistan-based militancy linked to the Kashmir issue. The Indians, meanwhile, are being gently and discreetly nudged to get back to the Musharraf-Manmohan first-step Kashmir settlement formula. That formula, finalised in end 2007, called for a tripartite joint administrative framework in Kashmir. It was a starting point on which there was consensus emerging on both sides of the border and of the LoC. Significantly, the regional and global environment and players now appear more ready than before to substantively address the twin problem of Kashmir-terrorism. Given the havoc terrorism has wreaked in sheer death and destruction within Pakistan, and increasingly in the shape of communal violence within India, the interest of the two neighbours to jointly fight terrorism now conflate. As Pakistan begins to demonstrate its willingness to cooperate with India on the Mumbai terrorism inquiry, Pakistan has offered direct contact and cooperation with their Indian counterparts. As part of the government’s policy to cooperate with Delhi at all levels, the ISI has expressed its availability to meet with the Indian agencies. Only direct negotiations between security establishments will ensure that the accusations and counter-accusations of each other’s involvement in the Mumbai terrorism, the Balochistan insurgency, the Samjhota Express bombing and the FATA militancy can be genuinely addressed. Earlier, during Prime Minister Vajpayee’s trip in 2004, Indian national security advisor Brajesh Mishra had then established direct contact with Pakistan’s ISI chief, General Ehsanul Haq. The purpose was anti-terrorism cooperation on terrorism. Now the Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism, set up in 2006 in Havana, could be reactivated if genuine inter-agency cooperation begins. Ultimately it is the scope and texture of cooperation between the two security establishments that will determine the overall direction of the bilateral relationship. The extent to which suspicions of the two security establishments recedes the chances of settling the issues of trade, transit rights, the oil pipeline and settlement of other outstanding disputes would likely increase. Security has trumped all other considerations and indeed the security establishments of the two countries have largely determined the direction of this relationship. It is time that the two security establishment come on board as partners for conflict resolution and peace between the two countries. Battle time is long over. Global and regional developments, as well developments within the two countries, also rule out a cold war as an option for either. Dialogue, which includes active participation of the two security establishments, is the only way forward.

Bhutto, GIK and Kahuta

Random thoughts
Dr A Q Khan

Mr Shafqat Mehmood, analyst, columnist and former senior civil servant, wrote a column (July 10) about the meeting between Mr Bhutto, Gen Zia, Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Gen Arif (COS to Gen Zia), at which Gen Imtiaz, military secretary to Mr Bhutto, was also present. Mr Mehmood mentioned that Mr Bhutto was in a bad mood and very annoyed and Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan was rather rude to him (no handshake, no greetings, etc.). While I don’t doubt Mr Mehmood’s observations, I would like to make some of my own. I came to Pakistan on vacation in 1976 and stayed on at the personal request of Mr Bhutto to work on Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Right from the beginning I had regular meetings with Mr Bhutto, Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan (SG Defence), Mr Agha Shahi (SG Foreign Affairs) and Mr A G N Kazi (SG Finance). The atmosphere was always relaxed and friendly. In the very first meeting Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan requested permission to smoke – he was a chain smoker. Mr Bhutto immediately gave a nod of approval and, to put him at ease, lit a cigar himself. There were many subsequent meetings and never once did I sense any tension between Mr Bhutto and the three gentlemen. My guess is that, since Gen Zia insisted that Mr Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan accompany him to Murree to meet Mr Bhutto, Mr Khan must have felt very awkward and tense, feeling that Mr Bhutto would probably consider him a traitor and accomplice of Gen Zia, hence his strange behaviour. Soon after taking over, Gen Zia appointed his old colleague in the British Army, Lt Gen S Ali Zamin Naqvi as security advisor for the PAEC and KRL. Gen Naqvi and I used to meet Gen Zia late in the evenings to discuss the progress of work at Kahuta. After the imposition of martial law, Mr Kazi was sidelined and Gen Arif started participating in the board meetings. Gen Arif was very intelligent, sharp and efficient, and a no-nonsense person. He had a tremendously good memory. Gen Zia’s successful tenure was, to a great extent, due to Gen Arif’s excellent capabilities and Gen Zia used them to the full. It was a pity that Gen Arif was not given the opportunity to show his worth in his own right. I had an extremely cordial relationship with Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan. I respected him as if he were my own father and I felt that he reciprocated my feelings. He had given instructions that I was to be allowed to see him without prior appointment. At that time he lived in a rented house near the old China Market. I often went to see him at 9 a.m. and would immediately be let in by his elderly servant. We would discuss the problems over a cup of tea and then I would leave to go to the office. Once I asked him about Gen Zia’s takeover. He told me that, on July 5, while he was taking a shower in the morning, there had been a call from the GHQ, which his wife took. When he called back he was put through to Gen Zia who told him that a coup had been staged, the government was dismissed and the Assemblies stood dissolved. He was asked to go the GHQ to discuss the future course of action. Upon reaching the GHQ, he had told Gen Zia that this action was going to harm the country, but since it could not be reversed, they should do their best to salvage whatever they could. I myself witnessed many instances where Ghulam Ishaq Khan openly differed with Gen Zia on policy matters.Here I would like to relate an interesting episode that took place in August 1976. I had just been appointed project director of the Engineering Research Laboratories, an independent organisation. My first priority was to find a suitable site. After visiting many places, I decided on Kahuta. We had a meeting with Mr Bhutto soon after and I informed everyone present about my selection. Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan immediately proposed the formation of a committee to evaluate the site and then make recommendations, to which Mr Bhutto smilingly replied: “Khan Sahab, neither I nor you or any other person knows about the requirements of the site. If Dr Khan is satisfied, it is fine with us. These committees for everything have made a mess of our country.” With that the matter was closed. At the meeting I also requested the prime minister to give me a small team of army civil engineers for construction of the plant. When Mr Bhutto asked why civilian contractors could not be used, I informed him that civil works was a domain infested with corruption – anything up to 50 percent. If the army officers did anything wrong, the COAS would sort them out. Mr Bhutto asked Gen Zia (then COAS) to take care of the matter. After the meeting Gen Zia asked me what type of officer I required. I told him a smart, efficient brigadier with a few other officers to help. The next morning Brig Zahid Ali Akbar Khan (later Lt Gen, corps commander and chairman WAPDA) reported to me. He was a tall, handsome and dashing officer. He complained about having been pulled out of the main service, but when I explained to him the purpose of the plant he was raring to go. We first went to Kahuta in his jeep and looked around. The next day we flew over the site in a helicopter. In two or three days he had made the line drawings and measured the area. He then went to see the defence secretary, Gen Fazle Muqeem Khan. Within a week the whole area had been acquired for defence work. I made it a point to stipulate that those effected by the project should be paid handsomely and promptly and Mr Kazi arranged to do so immediately. Another interesting episode involving Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan is related to the powers I was given. I had prepared the papers in consultation with Brig Zahid. In one of the meetings Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan observed that the powers mentioned were enjoyed only by the prime minister. I explained that only with those powers could the project be rushed through. Mr Kazi then interjected: “Ishaq, if you want to create another PWD, then cut those powers. Let us allow him to do his job as instructed by the prime minister.” I stressed that since we would be holding meetings every month and they would be briefed about all matters, there would be no scope for anything illegal. They then agreed to post Mr I A Bhatty, a Grade 21 officer from the Finance Division to the project. I appointed him as DG Finance and Administration and all bank accounts, local and foreign, were maintained and operated by him. Finally, I would like to emphasise that during my long association with Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Mr Agha Shahi, I never once heard any critical or sarcastic remarks against Mr Bhutto. I worked very closely with them, even to the point of being allowed to take some liberties. May Allah Almighty rest the souls of Mr Bhutto, Mr Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Mr Kazi and Mr Agha Shahi in eternal peace for laying the solid foundation of our nuclear programme. Ameen.

India’s Arihant — upping the psychological ante

Shireen M Mazari
While Pakistan’s decision makers squabble over whether to go ahead and implement the 2008 decision of buying German submarines or alter course and seek more French subs instead, India has put its prototype nuclear powered submarine, INS Arihant, into the waters. Incidentally, those in Pakistan who have been ranting for years over the use of Islamic warrior names for our missiles seem absurdly mute in commenting on India’s aggressive usage of Hindu mythology warrior names not only for its missiles but now also for its nuclear-powered submarine. Of course, the reality is that the nuclear reactor of this submarine will not go critical till 2012, so at the moment Arihant is more of a symbolic reflection of where India is headed in terms of its nuclear arsenal. Nevertheless, the development has signalled the nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean by a littoral state – since nuclear weapons have been present in this Ocean through the military presence of the external nuclear powers, especially the US.That is one major reason why the US, France and UK always opposed the UN General Assembly’s efforts to make the Indian Ocean a weapon-free “zone of peace” – as reflected in the first UN GA Resolution of 16 December 1971(2832:XXVI). Ironically, along with the Soviet Union, India was a major force behind this Non-Aligned Movement-supported UN resolution. But then this has been the hallmark of Indian security policy: seeking time through multilateral diplomatic moves while it builds its military capability. In contrast to the Indian position on the Indian Ocean as a Zone of Peace resolution, the US, France and the UK always voted against this idea and in 1989 they chose to withdraw from the 44 member UN committee on this issue that had been set up in 1972. The US in fact demanded that the committee be eliminated so as to reduce UN spending and we know how this whole issue simply died for lack of visible progress. Now that India has also moved towards nuclear militarisation of the Indian Ocean, it will be difficult to see any revival of the zone of peace proposal for this region in the future. With the launching of the Arihant, India has moved still further away from being a proponent of nuclear disarmament to being a projector of nuclear force. Strategic rationality makes it incumbent on Pakistan to seek to restore the nuclear balance for the future.However, this should not be a major issue for us even in financial terms, as long as the lure of commissions does not distort or destroy our strategic interests. We already have conventional submarines including the Agosta-type which are not only capable of carrying nuclear warheads, but can be upgraded to being fitted with air-independent propulsion technology (AIP) specifically designed to allow conventional subs to remain submerged for longer periods. That is the main advantage of nuclear-powered submarines, along with the speed element – they do not need to surface like conventional subs that need to surface after short periods of being submerged and therefore become vulnerable. AIP technology is specifically designed for conventional subs and the Germans have been in the forefront of this technological development, although the Agostas can also be upgraded. It is unfortunate that Pakistan’s purchase of subs has been delayed apparently over the commissions lure, because now the international community will make it harder for this country to acquire these subs. Have we learnt no lessons from what happened to Pakistan in 1974 after the Indian nuclear test? India tested and Pakistan was penalised! The Canadians withdrew from KANUPP despite IAEA safeguards and a legal agreement. There is nothing to suggest that things will be different this time round – given how Hillary Clinton practically blessed Indian militarisation with a new defence pact. Besides Pakistan’s pathetic record of asserting legal agreements with its allies makes us easy victims of foreign pressure and diktat – remember the replacement of F-16s with wheat and soya beans? Not only did we lose our money, but before the US finally retracted on the deal, we were made to pay parking charges for these F-16s also! But we always forget US abuse and present ourselves for more of the same whenever the occasion arises!Coming back to the Indian nuclear powered submarine – it should be pointed out that we do not yet know how it will perform once its reactor goes critical. Will it actually have the speed and capability – given that it has been built with Soviet/Russian technology and the fate of many Soviet/Russian subs lies at the bottom of the seas – taking a heavy toll of human life and reflecting the limitations of Soviet weapon systems? A major disadvantage of nuclear-powered subs is that they are noisier because they have to keep the reactor powered on all the time so if conventional subs can acquire longer submergeable capability through AIP technology – although it will still not be the same as a nuclear-driven sub – the imbalance can be offset to some extent. Sea-launched nuclear missiles are central to second strike capability which acts as a stabiliser in the context of nuclear strategy since it reduces the imperatives for first strike. In this context, although Pakistan has not officially made any declarations regarding the development of this capability, it is now fairly well-established that we are already on the way to ensuring this second strike capability. It is also now recognised that we have had more success with missile development than India – probably because we have kept our missile ranges and types limited and focused more on developing solid fuelled delivery systems (which, again, are more stable) and reducing circular error probabilities. India, on the other hand, chose to have a wide-ranging missile programme including seeking the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). While we have stabilised our cruise missile as well as moved towards the beginnings of sea-launched ballistic missiles, from all accounts, India has not been too successful in both these fields – especially with the Sagarika (which is to be its sea-launched missile) in surface tests. So if India is to gain any advantage from its nuclear-powered submarine, assuming it will perform as expected once its reactor goes critical, it will have to work more on its delivery systems.For Pakistan while there is no need to go into panic mode, we will have to stop sacrificing good deals simply because of the greed over commissions. The fact that a French inquiry has hinted at commissions lying at the root of the death of the French engineers in Karachi should be a sobering moment for any leadership. But the brazenness with which our successive decision-makers have been proceeding, with scant regard for propriety and wastage of limited national resources, shows that no lessons have been learnt – nor is there any desire to learn from even recent history. Worse still, our rulers are full of bombast but are unwilling to take proactive concrete actions. Take the case of Balochistan. Political leaders of all shades have been repeating ad nauseum the need for political healing and economic investment in that province but why have the first steps in that direction not been taken beyond publication of reports and statements? Why is the leadership so hesitant to declare a general amnesty for all Baloch political figures and the release of all political prisoners? When we can talk to militants (and we should if they are our own people prepared to accept the writ of the state) and be allied to the Americans who continue to kill our people through drone attacks, why are we so unwilling to begin the healing process with the Baloch people and their leaders? Why are we allowing our detractors to provide support for the dissidents instead of taking the punch out of their dissidence by granting them a one-time amnesty if they accept the writ of the state? How can we rise to external military challenges posed by countries like India and the US when we are unable to deal with our own people? Our weakness lies within ourselves reflecting a psychological confidence deficit which makes the rulers aggressive and non-accommodative with the nation and timorous before external players. The Indians and Americans are exploiting this well which is why the Indian’s are making grandiose statements about a submarine that has yet to show how it performs!