A LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF
Mr. President Sir,
Assalaam O Alaikum,
Your mailing address was sent to me by my brother, who wished that I write to you regarding my father’s entitlement to 33 or so acres of land committed by the Govt of Pakistan for his distinguished service as member of the armed forces in the 1965 war.
Instead, I turn to a different theme, a theme that involves you and Pakistan; both, in your turmoil and agony.
One of the rumours doing the rounds during the recent emergency clampdown was that, you were under house arrest and it was amusing to hear that. What will not be amusing though should be that reality is no different. See, you live under heavily guarded conditions, under airtight security, you cannot go anywhere except under armed escort and every movement of yours is monitored. Aren’t you a prisoner in the literal sense?
This is not characteristic of the head of an Islamic state. A state that was carved out of the idea of providing sanctuary and safety and hope to the millions of Muslims of an undivided India. The Lal Masjid episode should stand out as the blackest chapter in an already darkened story. It is reported that your minister Aijaz ul Haque wept openly and so did I, as indeed countless others when I heard that the components of one of the mightiest armies had gone into the Mosque against a rag tag of what, perhaps a few thousand maybe. These are no criminals, they are your people a people with convictions. A conviction that has withstood its test of time through the ages, even as it stands up now to the mightiest army of our times. What did you hope to achieve by sending your troops into the mosque and into Swat and Waziristan?
I have no doubts about your courage, and neither do your countrymen. But courage devoid of wisdom is something entirely different. The courage of the weak is in engaging the strong, and the courage of the strong is in restraint.
The people of Pakistan would have loved to see you take centrestage in the Lal Masjid crisis to defuse the situation through your personal presence or on the airwaves in which you could have engaged the Maulana on a one to one basis, something that could have gone like this:
President: Maulana sahib, aaiye baat karte hain. Kiya takleef hai aap ko?
The Maulana would invariably have responded by saying that their demands are to have Islamic Govt along with his personal grievances.
President; Arey Islami hukumat to hum bhi chahte hain, lekin aap ke terikon se aitraaz hai hum ko.
And so perhaps it could have dragged on until the Maulana was smoked out of his wits.
This should have had an lasting impact not only for your esteem in the eyes of your people, which is not of paramount concern, but towards a reconciliatory process in the larger healing that Pakistan so desperately needs.
Alas it would be one that will live forever in infamy.
Seen from another angle, you couldn’t do otherwise, Pakistan was destined for the doom it is heading for, as in my address to the Iranian President I said Pakistan never had a chance to begin with. How else do you explain the phenomenon of a situation in which you leave the country as Chief of Army to attend a conference in Colombo and land back in total control of the country. This was none of your planning and neither were you prepared for it. And the soon to follow war on terror in which Pakistan joins on the frontlines of the coalition as they call it, in beating up a people still living in stone age.
A political leadership, however inept, would have found a way to wiggle out of this impossible situation, perhaps by taking refuge behind its people.
This in no way implies that you didn’t mean well or wanted the best for Pakistan. You chose what was the best of the options for Pakistan’s survival, and six years down the road the best of the options turns out to be the worst, threatening to tear the country apart with vultures sitting around to pick up the carcass.
And the irony of it all as it stands out in a classic Greek tragedy is, that you, who wanted to give the best of yourself to your country will now stand condemned of presiding over the end of a saga begun more than half a century back.
Perhaps you could have been more mediocre in your choice by staying closer to your instincts and values. Pakistan had nothing to do with the attack on America and was in no way beholden to lend total support to a country whose duplicity was all too obvious and whatever it may have done for Pakistan would be in its own national interests. India’s stepping forward in the breach, of unqualified support by way of offering bases and logistics to America, while you deliberated, was no more than a bait that you took. If you take a good look at the map again. You might be surprised to find that there is no way into Afghanistan from India without overflying Pakistan One of the options open to you at that time would have been to take your people into confidence, with a complete picture of the situation with all its implications and let your people decide through a consensual process. Of course the overwhelming reaction would have been a resounding - NO!!
With your people behind you Pakistan could then have hunkered down for the consequences. It is preposterous to think that America would have bombed Pakistan- a nuclear armed state to stone age as they threatened. But there would have been boycotts and sanctions and Pakistan would have survived those, intact. And come out stronger as a nation.
Now the situation is more than complicated, it is impossible. The Army has cold feet fighting its own people, and quite rightly so, threatening the integrity of the Army and in the ensuing melee the militants gain ground inch by inch, home by home.
More than three decades back the same Army rampaged and trampled over their own people like pests in then East Pakistan and there was nothing but shame, humiliation and disaster for them, and this time too it could be no different except that they have nowhere to go. The army is not a robot it has real people and they can think too. How does the 5 lakh or so alienated and embittered forces withstand a siege of 160 million.
In the larger tectonic shift of the geo political calculus, in which India looms large as a strategic partner and closest ally against China and the Islamic world, Pakistan and its interests figure nowhere. The only value it may hold will be in its momentary nuisance role in Afghanistan and Iran. But in the ultimate analysis in the West’s eyes Pakistan sitting on nuclear arsenal with an overwhelming Islamic anti American sentiments is a dangerous mix that has to be defused and you as an insurance policy are too flimsy to count on.
About a month or so ago, the West was all over you, the media, the leaders, and it made for some uncomfortable observation. What gave them such liberties? Are you or are you not your country’s President? The Indian leaders would never have allowed such an outrageous thing to happen and the West would not dream of it.
Pakistan can do without the Baksheesh that Bush gives you. It is your self esteem that is more important.
Your realization of being Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may have come late in the heels of your own undoing, but it was inevitable. And nonetheless crucial in which you can now feel free to play the West at its own game
The actual game, if you have not figured out by now, could range anywhere from creating a flux in the process of foisting Benazir Bhutto in a mock democracy to lead Pakistan, an illusion enacted for the Pak nukes to do the disappearing act through any number of scenarios in the CIA’s inventory to feign an extremist takeover for a hasty handover of the weapons for safekeeping. And maybe you too are an obstruction towards that end. Too headstrong and stubborn to give up the toys.
With the toys out of the way, Pakistan can now come into the full circle of an extended theatre of operations in Afghanistan. With no effective leadership and itself rocked by civil unrest to ransack whatever integrity it might still have Pakistanis can do the rest of the job all by themselves without the need of any outside help. If you have seen the redrawn map of Pakistan doing the rounds of the policy circles in Washington you will know what I mean but you can be sure that it is not the final version. And India couldn’t have asked for more.
The democracy that the West peddles is an opium for us to dull the senses in which the real issues get drowned by the superfluous. Bangladesh has had more democracy than Pakistan can ever hope for, and each successive regime has led us deeper and deeper into the morass we find now. Pakistan with its sporadic democracy has not got any luckier, necessitating armed takeover at regular intervals .and there’s little reason to hope for otherwise. In other words democracy is like a leaking ship for us. While the leaks provide for the pent up tensions to release it also sinks the ship in the long run.
One problem the ruler always faces is how to control the domestic population. The Great Beast that Alexander Hamilton called the people. They are always a problem. It’s a spin off of the Hume’s paradox. David Hume an English Philosopher pointed out in his writings on political theory a couple of centuries back. He describes the paradox that ‘in any society, the population submits to the rulers, even though force is always in the hands of the governed’. If the people won’t accept things the rulers are finished, no matter how many guns they have.
This is not my own concoction but comes straight from the works of Noam Chomsky.
Now, this does not underestimate the resources of violence, which can hold off the situation. But at what cost? And to get a feel of the consequences, you do not even have to look far. In the West was the shah of Iran, who couldn’t find sanctuary in the USA and to the East in then East Pakistan.
The peoples clamor for elections and Democracy is not about seeing Nawaz or Benazir in power, they have seen enough of them already. The clamor is about change, any change. In retrospect your tenure, though scarred by the exposure to the American expedition, has been one that was genuinely uplifting for Pakistan , both in terms of governance and the fine tuning of the machinery, add to that the peoples’ freedoms and security without the internal squabbles of conventional politics, and it couldn’t get any better.
One of the golden times for Pakistan was under the rule of Ayub Khan, in which the country was stable and made great strides in wherever they were going, and the people even had democracy- his style. But ultimately people were clamoring for him to go. It is the same human nature that likes to see changes, good, bad or worse. So in the ultimate analysis, what is hugely important is to keep doing the right thing.
Nawaz Sharif and Benazir[now her son and husband] will do to Pakistan what someone with integrity like yourself could never bring himself up to do. Our people do not understand democracy and it tends to get distorted in the process. The ways of the West are not our ways. We have to evolve and innovate our own institutions and systems of doing things. Ways that are indigenous, cost effective, practical and ingenious and ways that will work. I was working out on a policy paper on just such a system on governance for my own country in the light of the changed situation in which the Western styled democracies have totally failed. But there’s little chance for it to be adopted here with the West breathing down the necks of our powers that be. For you it is an entirely different situation. Upto your nose and sinking, in following the West’s directives it is a struggle for survival in which you need a life saving drug that takes immediate effect in reversing the collapse. Simply put , it is an about turn. An about turn is about the same thing that we have done over and over again in marches and drills.
Your estrangements with the judiciary which could have had lethal implications, is no more than just a minor blip. The judiciary by its very nature is reactionary. In my country too, the new Govt is reeling from the role of the Judiciary that threaten to upset the reform process. And there’s a growing realization in the top circles of reforming the legal system as well.
In my writings in the localized context I argue the wisdom of hanging on to a system bequeathed by the British and the penal code which is a century and a half old. The very look of the high judges wearing wigs and robes to put on an air of importance and the lawyers dressed in coats and gowns in the sweltering summer heat provides for a comical spectacle in which it would be difficult to take these people seriously
I continue in the same line of thought as to why we cannot go back further into time to an even better code to our Sharia Law or even the Code of Hammurabi. A complete set of 282 dictums from the wise King Hammurabi for his people covering every aspect of conduct, crime and punishment for the inhabitants of that ancient city of Babylon that predates our time by some 4000 years..
Pakistan has been extremely fortunate and honoured to have one of the greatest Islamic thinker, reformer and intellectual Mohammad Asad in their midst and even more unfortunate to have lost him. Asad tried to structure a model of a modern Islamic state for Pakistan. An endeavour in which he was to fail to Moudoodi’s rigid interpretation from which a critical component of Islam, ijtihad or critical thinking, on which Asad laid great emphasis, was to be missing. No doubt the vicissitudes that we face today are the result of that failed contest. It would have been extremely fascinating to see where we could have been today had Asad won out over Moudoodi.
Much of our troubles stem from a nearsightedness of our religious clergy and the tendency for quick fixes and generalisations. This religion goes much deeper than we care to understand and we have only ourselves to blame for having detached from it in a way that leaves the religious clergy as the sole agents of a treasure trove.
Islam is not one of shortcuts and the symbolism stressed by our clergy as opposed to substance, which is at the root of extremism that we face today. We also face similar difficulties with our own clergy which is no different from yours. The idea generally held among them is to ascend to state governance which makes it possible to impose Islamic rule and all the troubles will be over, because this is God’s own laws it has to work. And the effort towards that end follows a range of options from terrorism to following the democratic stream. What is not generally realized here is that in the democratic elections in which the extreme right religious parties, both in Pakistan and Bangladesh participate, these parties never achieve anything noteworthy. Now here is a paradox that should be put under microscopic scrutiny. Both the people of our two countries are majority Muslims, are heedful, extremely religious and God fearing but come the hustings they do not rally behind parties carrying Islamic banners. WHY?
Because the people are smarter than we care to think, they know that the Islam, that the religious parties peddle around is not the stuff that can deliver the goods in a modernistic society. And herein lies the rub. How do we make them grown ups without doing the residual damage? The answer could lie where Asad left off. Critical thinking.
It would make our work easier to remember that Maulana Sahebs and the madrassahs living on easy money and donations who do not have to carry out the existential struggles of daily life would indeed find it difficult to appreciate the finer things of this life, that has become increasingly complex. And contrary to West’s prescriptions of closing down the madrassahs and religious schools, the way ahead will be in upgrading them, with all the paraphernalia of a modern education and then some. So that a graduate of a Madrassah like the cadet colleges is one of the more sought after candidates for an employer, because he is also ethically sound, which our religion provides for.
And on the practical plane in the devolution of the administration, let some of the burden be taken up by the mosques and Imams, that are ubiquitous and proliferate each and every mohalla, township and villages. The judiciary could likewise be added to the set of responsibilities which dispense day to day justice in the locality in accordance with the Sharia law and all the proceedings documented and recorded for reviews and appeals. Pakistan has had experience with Sharia law in the past and it should not be too difficult to enact after smoothing out the rough edges. What could you have against having Islamic form of governance? Pakistan was founded on the basis of theocracy and that is what your people want.
This will have the immediate impact of moving the administration and the judiciary to the doorstep of the people in a simplified form, which they can easily grasp and understand and participate. And second it will have a sobering effect on the Mullahs in a process in which they have to either grow up or give up.
And now on to the most difficult part – the about turn- oh that should be a cinch, if you know what you are doing. In the fighter pilots jargon it is called staying one step ahead of the aircraft, and in this case, the events. America knows, it has you up the tree; you have very little wiggle room, alienated from your people and depending solely on the army which also is showing signs of cracks.
The about turn is about taking your country out of the coalition of the war on terror and there is nothing wrong with that. Spain has done it, Poland is getting out even the British are doing it in phases while distancing themselves from American policies, The war on terror has become terror itself for the poor people of Afghanistan and spilling over into Pakistan.
Go before your people, and tell them in all sincerity that six years back, you chose to join the coalition, in which the sole consideration were indeed the well being and survival of Pakistan and six years down the road that very causus belli has come to stare your country full in the face, this war is threatening to tear your country apart, as it creates tremendous difficulties for the people of Afghanistan as well and the only option that you see is to get out of this divisive, destructive and controversial war .Announce an immediate cessation of all hostile military activities from Pakistan, and any attack in whatever form on Pakistan will be considered an act of war, allow seven days time for the American military and the CIA and other agencies to pack up and leave. Make this announcement all of a sudden without any leakages.
Also, tell your people that they shall have democracy, enough of it and even more than they bargained for. This will not be the Western sponsored representative democracy, but direct democracy in which the people and not their rep have the say. The black and white stone of the earliest Greek democracy in a devolved administration that comes close to the peoples’ doorsteps.
And how do you think your people are going to react? I have my roots that go deep in the Pakistani soil, I know what they will do. They will go wild with joy.
And in the face of such a radical groundshift what is going to be the American response? They are smart, they will of course know that now the NATO position in Afghanistan will be untenable, and you may begin to set out your terms. There will be internal conspiracies though – nothing that you cannot handle.
India would make hay only so long as the sun shines but India will not stand in for America. It has its own interests to grind. India knows that in the current play of geopolitics, it is America that needs India, not the other way round. It can make it on its own, with or without America It is now on a roll and will not like to see any spanner in the works. The rest of the world is irrelevant.
With all of that behind you, now you can even make the Jinns work for you. The jinns are our religious clergy, who co exist with us and are still out of this world and who have tremendous capacities- both destructive and constructive. Solomon had the Jinns work for him in the process of creating a great kingdom.
Knit your ties closer to Iran, the past trespasses not withstanding, Afghanistan will come back in the fullness of time. Make Pakistan a conduit for the Caspian basin energy resources to flow into India and for the Chinese manufacture an access route into India.
And what are your big bombs for if you do not use them? Of course nuclear weapons are not meant for use in the literal sense but as a vehicle to steer across the difficult terrain for the diplomatic heavy lift. Let your nuclear umbrella be a source of security and strength for the hounded Muslims
Draw down your forces from Swat and Waziristan, invite Maulana Fazlullah and chiefs from Waziristan for a tete a tete over a cup of tea.
Constitute a Council of Elders-a guardian unto the nation- from all parts of the country to form an advisory body with powers of veto that straddles across the governmental machinery.
Close your inner circle, take Edhi and Gen Hamid Gul on board., retain Aijazul Haq and Shaukat Aziz. Reinstate the Karachi Div Commander and others that were instrumental in your rise to power and things should fall back into their place.
It may be a climbdown, yes, but any climbdown is much better than a freefall. It is you who climbed your country up the hill and now it should be you to climb it back down again. There is no one better or worst placed than you, in Pakistan right now to lift Pakistan out of the catastrophe it faces or alternatively send it down crashing. Stop living America’s dream which are your peoples’ nightmares, live for your people. The people cannot be wrong and that is what you are there for- your people.
Admittedly it will take a lot of courage for you to do that but I shouldn’t be worried on that count. You can summon any amount of courage when it comes to Pakistan. And should you need any assistance/clarification, just give me a call. I shall be happy to stand by your side all the way.
Prof Michel Chossudovsky writes in his article destabilization of Pakistan, of 30 Dec 2007, on Global research,
‘Continuity, characterised by the dominant role of the military and intelligence has been scrapped in favor of political break –up and balkanization.
The US course consists in fomenting social, ethnic and factional divisions and political fragmentation, including territorial break-up of the country. This course of action is also dictated by US war plans in relation to both Afghanistan and Iran. The broader objective is to fracture the nation state and redraw the borders of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.’
Ahmed Quraishi an investigative reporter has written a well documented article in the new nation dated 12th Dec 07, titled, ‘The plan to topple Pakistan’s military?
Of course you know all these things and more. It would be preposterous for us to assume that you don’t.
Given these broader policy objectives of the US and India, what are you to do?
The Faustian bargain that you made in the first place was fatal enough, and this course will ultimately lead willy nilly, by its own momentum, beyond you or anyone’s control to the target objective of defanging Pakistan of the nuclear weapons and a break-up on more permanent lines that suit India and the US, the joint partners. Thus getting rid of long standing pain in the *** for India, while providing for a seamless access to the Caspian energy basin, effectively cutting off China.
The continued crackdown on the so called militants in Pakistan, inevitably drive these people into India’s open arms, who then equip them to get back at you. It works both ways in frittering your strengths.
And how can you or anyone else blame these people for going into India’s embrace?
These are your people reclaim them back.
Benazir was to be the great white hope and she still is, in her death. And contrary to the prevailing beliefs of the West’s shattered aspirations, she continues to serve the West’s interests of dismantling Pakistan.
Save your country from fragmentation- save your country from disintegration.
Go ahead you can do it lift yourself, your Army and your country out of this siege.
May our Lord have mercy on you
And grant you the wisdom and vision
To go forward.
P.S.; If the tone appears rather harsh and imposing- indeed it should have been harsher for what you have wrought to your country – but that is not the intent and I seek forgiveness. Any other style would have obfuscated the contents and any negativity that it may give rise to will only be counterproductive to the purpose it was intended for. These are options that you may already be in the process of considering, if so, let this letter be the last straw that makes the difference.
I have also written to President Mahmood Ahmedinijad of Iran and President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela outlining the details of a structural profile that forms the basis of alternative paradigms for developmental and growth strategies for the third world in which a new and rejuvenated Pakistan can fit in like a glove.
It is a long long treatise covering a myriad of topics, that you might it find tedious to go through, but much can be gleaned out of it. And if it does interest you, I can send it along, but first – PAKISTAN.
AND MUCH LATER, in the same rhythm and along the same lines one of your own intellectuals Mr. Asim Salahuddin writes in PK ON WEB, his own variation - and can be accessed from the site:
Challenge from Taliban is Ideological - Not Military | PK On Web