Original article by Gen Asad Durrani. Comments in red by Dr Hamid Hussain. Additional comments in blue by Major Amin.
LG Asad Durrani views and my two cents in red.
The Same Page Saga
Lt Gen ® Asad Durrani
The Chief of Army Staff in Pakistan is not just another head of service, nor is he, strictly speaking, a “chief of staff”; the designation that the late Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto believed would deny the man on the horseback the clout to take over the Country. His assumption went ruefully wrong when Zia-ul-Haq, his handpicked COAS, not only putsched but also hanged him. In ‘Pakistan Adrift’, an account of my journey through the corridors of power, I have tried to assess the military’s role in the Country’s polity and an army chief’s special status in the power matrix – in which he often played the ultimate arbiter. For people like me therefore the commotion over the present incumbent’s service extension in the last week of November came as no surprise. The following chronicle however is not about any technicalities of the issue at hand, but about the algorithm of this game of thrones. Continue reading “The “Same Page” saga..”
This is an interesting book and what the author wants to say is something I have always believed and said. However it is essential to examine in detail what Mr Aqil Shah has to say and offer some humble analysis . On page- ix , would like to offer some comments on Mr Ahmad Mukhtar :–
Mr Mukhtar has been an industrialist who belongs to a town close to the military garrison town known as Kharian cantonment.He has always maintained good relations with the army like any good business man and ,frankly like most politicians in this world has no substance. Just like most generals worldwide are men without substance !
Firstly I do not agree with Aqil Shahs argument about Mr Jinnah on page-3 , nor with Aqil Shahs view that military coups and adventurism were not inevitable in Pakistan:–
We hold the view that Mr Jinnah the so called founder of Pakistan apart from British Raj , had inflicted the unkindest cut on Indian Muslims of Bengal and Punjab in 1916 and thereby by doing this had destabilized future politics of Indian Muslims for all times to come,Pakistan being the worst affected.
30 August 2019 I fully understand limitations of retired senior officers. We used to have some eccentric ones who would not care about consequences when advocating for the professionalism of their own institution. Now, the silence is deafening. Bless the British who instilled a sense of professionalism in officer corps that has taken a big hit in successor Indian and Pakistani armies. The most scathing criticism came from Lieutenant General Nathu Singh of Indian army who said, “I have not known a British officer who placed his own interests before his country’s, and I have hardly known any Indian officer who did not”. It is left to some of us to bring mirror into the room; indeed, a heavy burden. When I heard the announcement of General Bajwa’s extension, I recalled two couplets of Urdu poet Ahmad Faraz (for those who understand Urdu); Ghurur-e-ja’an ko merey ya’ar baich detey hein (My friends sell the honor of their beloved) Qaba ki hirs mein dastar baich detey hein (Just the way to get themselves a fancy dress, they wold sell their honor too) Ye loog kiya hein, jo do cha’ar kwahishoon key liye Tama’am umar ka pindar baich detey hein (After all who are these people, who sell their life’s pride for a few crumbs) Hamid
By Hamid Hussain
‘Power lies in the hands of those who control the means of violence. It lies in the barrel of a gun, fired or silent’.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced three years extension of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. This has nothing to do with national security. Army Chief using the power of his institution to favor one political group to come to power and Imran Khan paying back the favor. My view about extension has been very clear that it is very bad for the army as well as the country. Maneuvers about extension usually start quite early and few months ago many interested in Pakistan army asked me this question. I gave my view in the following paragraph written about two months ago:
“2019 looks more like 2007. General Pervez Mussharraf had come under criticism from different quarters of society and in the process army’s reputation was sullied. Change of command provided an exit. General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani slowly consolidated his command by sidelining old guard and then convincing all players that army has turned a page. The possible exit for army is change of command in November 2019. However, personal interests of three key players; Prime Minister Imran Khan, army chief General Bajwa and DGISI Faiz Hamid now converge where extension of General Bajwa is being seriously considered. 1-3 year extension will serve all three parties. Bajwa to enjoy few more years of private jet and being the master gamekeeper at the national park. Imran Khan will be seriously thinking about giving him an extension to make sure that an unknown factor does not come into equation. Imran is faced with enormous challenges. However, he has not been able to put his house in order. Rising economic woes and diverse opposition groups coming closer can cause many headaches. Having army brass in his corner is important to weather any storm. He would prefer to continue with known entity than venture into unchartered territory. In case of three years extension, Faiz will be among top contenders in 2022. After 18-24 months as DGISI, Bajwa can appoint him Corps Commander to make him eligible for the top slot. I’m not in favor of any extension but especially in case of Bajwa, negative fallout for army is manifold. Army is seen no more as a neutral body and extreme polarization of Pakistani polity is now directly affecting army as institution.”
General Bajwa did not just walk into Prime Minister’s office to demand an extension of his tenure. This is done in a way where circumstances are created and messages from briefings and body language are conveyed. It is not a secret that army brass has made a strategic decision to give two terms to Imran Khan and General Bajwa is a fan of Imran Khan. It was not in Imran Khan’s interest to inject an unknown factor in the game by appointing a new army chief. General Bajwa had put his own ducks in a row for this outcome by using promotions and postings of senior officers. In his interactions with British and American interlocuters, Bajwa conveyed the point that he is the man for the hour. The buzz word was ‘continuity’. The promise to British was continued quite along the Line of Control (LOC) and to Americans full support to Doha process for the snake pit of Afghanistan. These are policies of the institution and the right course in current circumstances, but a Chief can present it in a way where he can carve out something for himself (General Kayani in his more than a dozen bonhomie meetings with American Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and General Raheel actively working on his own post-retirement lucrative package are two recent examples). There was possibility that former army chief General (R) Raheel Sharif would complete his three years of assignment in Saudi Arabia and General Bajwa could follow him with a very lucrative post-retirement contract. This door was closed when Prince Muhammad Bin Salman gave Raheel a three years extension as we are in extension season. Now the only option for ‘indispensible’ officer was extension. Continue reading “An Extension for General Bajwa”
Pakistan is at an interesting (and dangerous) juncture today; in 2018 the military used the many levers it has at its disposal to get Imran Khan elected as Prime Minister and GHQ continues to strengthen its grip on power, but that is not the interesting part. That is just the normal Pakistani cycle of semi-civilian rule followed by a phase of more direct military rule, followed by another attempt at civilian government; what is interesting is that a significant section of the emerging Pakistani middle class (“Mehran Man”) has managed to convince themselves that this time there will be a revolution: the violent overthrow of one social order and its replacement by a very different order.
GHQ probably had no such revolution in mind when they promoted Imran Khan and made him prime minister. Some civilian leaders were to be sidelined and some military leaders planned to acquire more direct power, and in order to do this they activated their vast public relations apparatus and talked of revolution and grand transformations, as one does, but no Bolshevik or Chinese revolution was actually in the works. There was probably some fear that the “war on terror” dividend is over and hard times lie ahead, so the state should be prepared for a period of harsher authoritarian rule (i.e. the opposite of a revolution; not a desire to change things but a desire to harden the existing order to meet anticipated challenges). Of course every time GHQ think tanks notice that Pakistan is facing a crisis, they tend to revert to the old “Chakwal solution” paradigm all officers apparently learn during basic training. This PMA version of “how to fix Pakistan” has not changed since the 1950s and includes ideas such as :
Pakistan needs a firm hand (“shoot 5000 people and the country will become an Asian Tiger”)
22 provinces (to break up existing pre-Pakistani identities such as Pakhtoon, Sindhi, Baloch etc)
Get rid of corrupt politicians (ALL politicians are corrupt, but some join military regimes and are therefore excused)
Technocrat government, etc
So I do not doubt that some of the planners at GHQ did have such “reforms” in mind and just as the cart follows the horse, new policy disasters will no doubt flow from the naive implementation of such “reforms”, but even so, no real revolution was intended, just some “tweaking” of the system.
But while the planners at the top may not have intended more than that, their propaganda seems to have created a number of excited middle class social media warriors who sincerely believe a revolution is in progress. They are cheering every extra-legal step, every fake drug bust and every suppression of dissent. And because the geniuses at GHQ are also human, some of this excitement is filtering back to the bosses and even they may get carried away and imagine they are leading the 1949 Communist revolution in China and not some Sisi-level military coup. Which will be a tragedy because this is not a revolutionary party, this cannot BE a revolutionary regime; the same elite that was ruling the country yesterday is ruling it today. The social media warriors screaming for a revolution and “across the board” cleanup are not interested in seeing Uncle Jimmy or cousin Mithoo go to prison; they expect the revolution to hit other people (preferably “corrupt politicians”, i.e. politicians who have not thrown in their lot with GHQ), they do not expect their own friends and family to face some revolutionary tribunal in D-chowk. The status quo is meant to be improved, not replaced.
But humans can get carried away and this lot may have misunderstood their own position rather comprehensively. They may imagine they really ARE carrying out a revolution: the violent overthrow of one class by another. Some of them are surely sane enough to know this is just one more round of military rule and after it fails (as it inevitably must) they will have to compromise again with “dirty politicians” and restart the merry go round at 1988 or 2008, if not at 1970 (i.e. controlled democracy, with continued military domination of the heights of the state), but some of them do seem to be getting carried away. We may end up with the worst of both worlds.. The viciousness and disruptive destruction of an attempted revolution, without the creative energy and opportunities created by any genuine overthrow of an ossified ruling elite.. And if that is the case, then the corrupt status quo will evolve into something even worse: a corrupt narrowly based authoritarian regime that has destroyed existing politics (corruption ridden, but still somewhat responsive to public pressures) and replaced it with naked military rule over an unhappy population with no political safety valves and a worsening economic crisis. They may then find themselves facing an attempt at real revolution.. and that will not be good for anyone.
There is still time. They can step back and let politics take its course and maybe a slightly more competent regime can come into power once PTI crashes and burns. But just writing this sentence is enough to make one realize that they are not going to allow any such soft landing. This time, we will get the full Monty, the chakwal solution in all its glory. It will fail amidst much pain and suffering; you know this, I know this.. but they don’t know this and they will not learn until things fall apart. Sad.
By the way, here is Brigadier Ijaz Shah, GHQs main enforcer in the Imran Khan regime, giving his side of the story.
And here is the full ISPR version of recent events:
Posted on by Omar Ali - Comments Off on Interview: Cecil Choudhry and MG Hidayat Niazi
CECIL WAS EXTREMELY BITTER IN RECOLLECTIONS OF ANWAR SHAMIM WHEN THIS SCRIBE INTERVIEWED HIM AS ASSISTANT EDITOR DEFENCE JOURNAL- GRATEFUL THAT THE INTERVIEW WAS PUBLISHED WITHOUT ANY EDITING BY THE JOURNALS OWNER MR IKRAM SEHGAL—
THIS SCRIBE INTERVIEWED CECIL CHOUDHRY IN 2001 AND RELEVANT EXCERPTS ARE AS BELOW :—
Q. What do you have to say about the assertion that our Intelligence agencies indulge more in petty reporting and in settling personal scores rather than solid intelligence gathering?
What can one say about something that is almost God’s truth. My personal experience during both the wars was that the way these agencies were being made to function was a complete waste of resources. We had no authentic information about our targets that we could rely on in our planning. We were provided information that was 10 years old.
Q. Who was the finest air force professional that you saw in your entire service?
This is a very difficult question to answer because we are covering a wide spectrum. The finest was Sarfraz Rafiqui. The finest Chiefs were Air Marshal Asghar Khan and Air Chief Marshal Zulfiqar Ali Khan in that order. Most professional officers I worked directly under, Syed Mukhtar Ali, Hakimullah and (late) Masroor Hussain. Highly professional officers I worked with were P.Q. Medhi (ex Chief), Aliuddin (present DGCAA) and late Hashmi.
Our Brown Pundit Zachary Latif will hopefully share his perspectives on Pakistani Psychosis soon. Tarek Fatah gives a good synopsis of Pakistani Psychosis and Islamism in the above video. I am not an expert on Pakistani Pysochosis, and cannot validate many of Tarek Fatah’s perspectives on Pakistan. However, with respect to Islam, many muslims (including prominent religious leaders) privately share many of Tarek’s views, but the vast majority are too afraid to share their views publicly. Tarek Fatah is very knowledgeable about Arabic, Islamic scripture and Islamic law. If you have the time, please watch the entire video.
What is Pakistani psychosis? I am not completely certain and look forward to evolving my views with new information. To oversimplify, it is the combination of several things:
From Dr Hamid Hussain. A short note on Major General Akbar Khan (of Kashmir Jihad and Rawalpindi conspiracy fame)
Akbar Khan (1912-1994) was a Pathan from Charsadda area of Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa. He was from the pareech khel clan of Muhammadzai tribe that inhabits the village of Utmanzai. Akbar was from the last batch of Indian officers commissioned from Royal Military College Sandhurst in February 1934. Lieutenant General B.M. Kaul ‘Bijji’ was his course mate at Sandhurst and they became friends during their service. Officers commissioned from Sandhurst were called King Commissioned Indian Officers (KCIOs). Akbar joined 6/13 Frontier Force Rifles (FFRif.). This battalion is now One Frontier Force (FF) Regiment of Pakistan army. He fought Second World War with 14/13 FFRif. (now15 FF). This was a new war time battalion raised in April 1941, at Jhansi. In new war time raised battalions, officers and men were posted from different battalions, usually from the same regimental group. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Felix-Williams, DSO, MC of 1/13 FFRis. was the first Commanding Officer (CO). There were fourteen officers in the battalion and Akbar at the rank of Major was the senior most of the four Indian officers of the battalion. Lieutenants H. H. Khan, Fazl-e-Wahid Khan and A.K. Akram were other Indian officers (Wahid won MC). Battalion was part of 100th Brigade (other battalions of the brigade included 2 Borderers and 4/10 Gurkha Rifles) of 20th Division commanded by Major General Douglas Gracey. Continue reading “Major General Akbar Khan”
India’s wars by Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam is a history of the wars (external wars, not counter-insurgencies) fought by the Indian army from 1947 to 1971. It is a pretty good summary, but does have it’s weaknesses.
The book starts with a bit of the “pre-history” of the Indian army. Interestingly Subramaniam chooses to highlight two distinct streams that he believes should get credit for the internal culture and ethos of the Indian army. One is obvious: the British Indian army, which was the parent organization that was split (unequally) between Pakistan and India to create the Indian army. The second is an angle that would not have been included by an official observer/author in 1950, but that has obviously grown since then to the point that a Pucca Air Marshal gives it near-equal billing in his book: i.e. the armies of the Marhattas and the Sikhs. I think this reflects contemporary politics and cultural arguments in India more than it reflects the reality of the Indian army from 1947 to 1971, but will be happy to be corrected by people who have better direct knowledge of the Indian army in that period. Anyway, the author gives a quick and very brief account of the British Indian army. The origins and growth of that force are dealt with very quickly and summarily, but there is more details about developments closer to 1947. This is not a book that is heavy on relevant numerical data (i.e. this is not the sort of book where you get tables showing “The caste/religious/ethnic composition of the British Indian army from X to 1947”) and this is a weakness that persists throughout the book; the author is not big on tables or data. Perhaps as someone who grew up with some of that history, I did not find it detailed or insightful enough, but most readers may not mind this omission too much. And even if you are a British Indian army brat, the sections on the origins of the Royal Indian Air Force and the Royal Indian Navy are likely to add to your knowledge. Incidentally, many of the early aviators in the Indian air force seem to have Bengali surnames; the author does not comment on this, but I wonder if anyone has more information about this. If you do, please add in the comments section.
Shahid Aziz retired from the Pakistan army after a long and successful career, reaching the rank of Lieutenant General (3 star general) and serving as DG analysis wing of the ISI, DGMO (director general military operations), CGS (chief of general staff) and corps commander (commanding 4 corps in Lahore). After retirement, he served as chairman of the powerful National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the main anti-corruption watchdog in Pakistan. In spite of having been one of General Musharraf’s closest associates (and related to him by marriage; the daughter of one of Shahid Aziz’s cousins is married to Musharraf’s son) he became increasingly critical of Musharraf after retirement and in 2013 he wrote a book that was highly critical of Musharraf and of Pakistan’s supposedly pro-US policies at that time.
In May 2018 there were several news reports claiming that General Shahid Aziz had left his home last year (or even earlier) to join the Jihad against the West and had been killed, either in Syria or in Afghanistan (General Musharraf was the one who claimed he was killed in Syria, most other reports said Afghanistan). While his family has denied these reports, they have not been able to produce any explanation about where he is if he has not actually died on Jihad. So I decided to read the book. Having read it, I think the combination of naive idealism and PMA-level Islamism found in his book makes it very likely that these reports are true. My review follows (please also read this review by Abdul Majeed Abid as a complementary piece) Continue reading “Review: General Shahid Aziz’s Memoir Yeh Khamoshi Kahan Tak”
While browsing through some old material, found an old piece written in 2003 when General Pervez Mussharraf had just completed the political engineering project. It is lengthy and indulges in some theories but gives some context to what is happening now. While pondering over it, I found words of Amjad Islam Amjad as best description;
dairoon mein chalte hein
dairoon mein chalnen se
daire to barhtey hein
fasley nahin ghatey
aarzoen chalti hein
jis taraf ko jate hein
manzilein tammana ki
saath saath chalti hein
gard urhti rehti hey
dard barhta rehta hey
rastey nahin ghatey
subhe dam sitaroon ki
tez jhilmilahat ko
roshni ki amad ka
pesh baab kehtey hein
ik kiran jo milti hey
aftab kehte hein
daira badalne ko
inqilab kehtey hein
Enjoy if you have some extra time on hand.
Forbidden Fruit – Military & Politics
Politics and profession of soldiering has nothing in common. They are totally different but essential elements of any society. Politicians and soldiers have an interesting relationship in all societies. In societies where civilians are in control, military officers act in accepted boundaries though ready to defend their turf against civilian encroachment. In societies where political institutions are weak and there is lack of consensus on legitimate course of succession, soldiers gradually expand their area of influence. They gradually restrict the role of civilians in various areas and sometimes directly take over the state replacing the civilians. This generally accepted model does not mean that military as an institution has no relevance to the important policy decisions. Even in countries where the tradition of civilian supremacy is well established, military has a political role relating to national security, albeit a different one. One commentator has correctly pointed that “the military’s political role is a question not of whether but of how much and what kind”. 
This article will evaluate soldier’s attitude towards political activity and how it develops. This will be followed by the details of Pakistani experience of politicization of officer’s corps and how repeated and prolonged military rules have militarized the politics. In the end, the complex relationship between soldiers and politicians will be summarized. Continue reading “Forbidden Fruit: Military and Politics in Pakistan (and beyond)”