Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thought leadership of the century

Thought leadership of the century (on impact of credit maturity cycles on policy planning) - October 16, 2014

Thursday, October 02, 2014

What made Imran capture the nation’s imagination?

Weekly article in Daily Times on rise of Imran Khan.... September 4, 2014

The media and polarisation

Weekly article in Daily Times on Media's role in polarizing societies... Sep 11, 2014

Where indifference can make a difference...

Weekly article in Daily Times on Indo-Pak relations... Sep 18, 2014

Why now?

Weekly article in Daily Times on Bilawal Bhutto's Kashmir statement... Sep 25, 2014

A man who has held the system hostage

Weekly article in Daily Times, Pakistan. Oct 2, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Karachi — moment of reckoning

By some estimates, the Taliban already control one-fifth to one-third of areas on Karachi’s periphery. They are running rings that dominate extortion, bank robberies, kidnap for ransom, paid target killings, drug trafficking and land grabbing in the city

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Talks with Taliban – A false narrative

With clock ticking to a NATO withdrawal end next year, the talk of talks with Taliban in Pakistan is diverting attention from a much needed military operation against militants. Confused by their surreal expectations, political opportunism, and lack of understanding of regional security paradigm, PTI and PML-N are pushing Pakistan to a security black hole.
For one, those advocating the dialogue have got the diagnosis wrong. For successful dialogue, first thing worth knowing is the demand of the other party. And the advocates of talks seem to have no clue of Taliban or their intentions. 
First things first, Taliban are not tribal Pashtuns. True, many Taliban are Pashtun tribesmen but then there are equal number of Punjabis in their ranks and then sizable number from South Balochistan (Jind Ullah recruits) and Kashmir. And then, of course, is the foreign element of Middle East and Central Asia. So bracketing their struggle with Pashtun grievance is a gross mistake, and with it goes the argument of link of terrorism with drones.
Second, Taliban's demands are fuzzy at best. Move out of US's war on terror is one of them. Question one needs to ask is what will be the parameters of disengagement that will satisfy them. Will they be happy if Pakistan stops NATO supply lines? If so, why didn't terrorism end when Pakistan had the supply line blocked for many months post Salala? Will they be happy if Pakistan takes on drones? But drones were few and far between in 2005 and 2006 and a lot happened even then. In fact, some of the bombings took place (e.g. attack on New Zealand Cricket Team) even before the drones actually started. Do they want us to severe diplomatic ties with US and other NATO countries? Or do they want us to actually fight the NATO occupiers in Afghanistan? We do not know what they want and neither their advocates are shedding any light on it. And also, despite this fuzzy/slippery set of demands, even if Pakistan complies, will they be fine with Pakistan Army remaining in tribal areas and operating against the armed militias? Will they lay down their arms as a precondition or alongside? Anyone who answers yes to them is seriously mistaken.
Third demand is closest to their true intention. Agree or not, but they have a system of Islamic Shariah in mind and they want to impose it across the globe. The motives may be political or ideological, but this is the gist of their movement. So let's talk Shariah. For one, are we fine with their interpretation of Shariah and ready to let go our way of living, no schooling for girls, women confined to homes, beard/ dress code imposed? And even if we are and say Nawaz Sharif reintroduces 15th amendment and becomes Amir-ul-Momineen, will their struggle end there? If your answer is yes, you need a reality check. If their guns impose a system, it will be they who will be ruling. So once Shariah comes, next demand will be that Nawaz Sharif or Munawar Hassan or Imran Khan or even Sami Ul Haq, for all their pity, step aside and let the true Men of Shariah (Taliban) rule. If you yield to the demand of the gun, it is the barrel of gun that will rule, it is this simple!
And then, even if all of it is sorted out, are we ready to be fodder of a global invasion through Jihad that they propagate. They surely would not stop at conquering Pakistan. Their ambitions are global and thus we will be dragged into it.
Another key thing to realize is that for their military operations, Taliban rely on a network of drug-dealers, arms suppliers etc. According to estimates of intelligence agencies, Taliban and their local affiliates patronize a drug trade worth US$ 5bn or more per year. Their base is in it for mafia operations. A state can talk with insurgents and separatists but it cannot talk with mafias.
So putting the choice in naive terms of dialogue vs. no dialogue and our men blowing us for their anger against Americans is naive. The real question that we need to ask and the real debate we need to have is: are we ready to let go our way of life to comply with a system of living under Taliban and are we ready to be the fodder of a Global Jihad against the whole world? Or do we cherish our way of living and want to preserve and protect it while being engaged with the world at large? Are we ready to surrender to mafia or the only way out is to fight it? An honest answer is important but from naive or deceitful Imran Khan and Ch. Nisar one must, at least, ask for some honesty in framing the right question.
And then the biggest problem with this dialogue initiative is the timing of it. By the end of 2014, NATO intends to leave Afghanistan. In the post-NATO Afghanistan, to have relevance (and relevance we need there) Pakistan needs to have support of most of 8 key power players there (Karazais, Haqqanis, Mullah Omar, Dostam, Punjsheris, Hazaras, and Kabuli establishment and business class). To reach this, support of Mullah and Haqqani is a must. But if TTP is strong and Pakistan cuts a deal with Mullah and Haqqani, the bargaining hand of the State of Pakistan will be very weak and because of their TTP connections, it will be Mullah and Haqqani who will be dictating terms to Pakistan and forcing us to support them for complete dominance of Afghanistan; a dominance they will eventually use to dominate Pakistan. So it is important for the State of Pakistan to get rid of TTP so that it is State of Pakistan that has a dominant upper hand in dealings with Haqqani and Mullah. With this, it can prevent them from dominating Afghanistan and force them to a broad-based power-sharing agreement that involves at least 5 of 8 power players and can protect its and its allies interests in Afghanistan. Window for that closes in December 2014 and Pakistan needs to break TTP's back before. Those advocating dialogue are buying time for TTP when time is what we do not have. In the guise of peace, to an Armageddon we are being pushed to!!!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Conspi - F***ing - racy..................

Pardon me for my language but I cannot help it. Chairman of PTI, the wizard of Wisdom said that killing of Maj. General Sanaullah is a conspiracy to sabotage the peace talks with Taliban. Conspiracy?, when the responsibility has been claimed by the Taliban officials. 
Who conspired then? You offered Taliban peace talks. If they kill your men, that means they are not interested in peace and are bent on settling old scores. It is commonsense which probably is not taught at Aitchison and Oxford or may be someone was bunking the classes there.  Idiocy and idiosyncrasy cannot go farther than this.
And when PTI is busy in this idiocy, Ch. Nisar was talking to Wazir-Mushir of Taliban, maulana Ansar Chief Justice Abbasi, that certain influential forces in the country (read Pakistan Army) are bent on creating misunderstanding between Govt. and Taliban. And the next day, Taliban oblige him by killing three Army men including a Maj. General?
So may be another explanation to this idiocy is cowardice. Leadership of PTI and PML-N is so scared of Taliban that they want to appease them at any cost. Kill citizens, kill army men, kill Generals, and we will remain silent for please spare us. Way to go tigers (both cornered and white). What Shame!!!!!!! Even more so, what Gelly Spine!!! We, my countrymen, can do better than this lot of tigers.....

Sunday, September 08, 2013

President Zardari - What's ahead?

Today ends the presidential tenure of President Zardari. He leaves the presidency with a mixed bag of achievements, and with the strongest democratic credentials of any head of state yet. But it is the party in shambles he is returning to that makes the event more intriguing for the future polity.
In my last post, I talked about the uphill task that is ahead of PPP if the party wants to revive her fortunes. Yet a very important question for that revival is whether the party should do it with President Zardari or without him? Put simply, is his innings over or not?
So here are my two cents. For one, if PPP has to revive her fortunes, presently, no one can do it except President Zardari. He is the only central figure who has the capital (personal legacy and family link to Bhuttos) and the outreach and connection with party's base. More importantly, he seems most politically apt of the lot that PPP possesses. If this is not enough, he understand the policy agenda better than anyone I have known/ seen in present PPP. Just when Aitzazs and Rabbanis may be more acceptable ideologues, they lack any sustainable policy message. Just when Wattos and Gillanis may be good at political dealings, they lack the broader party vision. And just when President's children may have more appeal with party's base, they lack the experience and political understanding of Pakistan's political minefield for now. So, any hopes of revival of PPP rest on Zardari and it is he who is most likely to revive the fortunes of PPP, if party plays her cards well and has luck on her side.
And apart from analytics, there is one more reason that makes me believe Asif Zardari's real innings has yet to begin. And that stems from my belief (yup, not analytical reasoning) that good intentions are never wasted. President Zardari practiced reconciliation and tolerance, and promoted democracy with a firm conviction and belief. He did it not because he had to but because he absolutely wanted to. He believed in moving economic bounty to have-nots and this, too, was driven by his conviction. And it is these for which he will be rewarded. And so, I believe his and his party's political role is not over.
Well played Mr. President. You have given us democracy and strong democratic traditions, and we look forward to your innings as the one who will deliver other bounties in that democratic system.