Saturday, 3 October 2015

QOTD: Mushahid Hussain and reforming the armed forces

Nation, Karachi, Pakistan
5 June, 2001
Reforming The Armed Forces
by Mushahid Hussain
It is not perhaps surprising that the military regime's zeal for reform
remains limited to civilian sectors. Since October 12, 1999, the military
regime has been trying to revamp and restructure almost every state
institution with evangelical zeal - the bureaucracy, police, political
system, constitution, laws, sports, post office, railways, CBR, etc. The only
exceptions are the Armed Forces, although as Admiral Mansoorul Haq's case
demonstrates, the 'monitors' themselves need to be monitored and reformed.
Like any institution in a status quo society, the Armed Forces too badly need
reforms. And in a country like Pakistan, only a military regime can undertake
this task. A civilian government will, first of all, not be allowed to do it
and even if it tried, it would be destabilised. Making the Hamoodur Rahman
Commission Report public, sacking Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan or going to India at
the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister are easier for a military regime.
Civilian governments taking these steps would be defensive, promptly accused
of "treason", "sell-out" or being "anti-national". A recent cartoon in an
Urdu newspaper aptly summed up this double-standard: a bearded gentleman is
asked whether it is 'halal' or 'haram' for the government of Pakistan to talk
to India, and he answers "it is 'halal' for the military but 'haram' for the
Top priority needs to be given to military reform in key areas. First, the
issue of accountability and corruption as it extends to the Armed Forces.
News reports in the Pakistani press, which have not been denied, have stated
that in defence deals in the last 20 years, of approximately $ 10 billion in
purchases of military equipment, almost 10 per cent, i.e., $ 1 billion, has
been siphoned off through corruption, commissions and kickbacks. Obviously,
the beneficiaries of such largesse would be senior serving or retired
personnel. Last July, the Prosecutor General of the National Accountability
Bureau (NAB) was on record stating that of the "six dubious defence deals"
NAB was then supposed to be investigating, "in only one deal, kickbacks worth
$ 147 million were paid". Admiral Mansoorul Haq's extradition from the United
States is probably a link in the same chain.
The Admiral's case is somewhat special. He is the first Service chief, a
four-star general, to be caught with his "hand in the cookie jar". He is the
first to have been sacked on charges of corruption, and that too by a
civilian government. He is the first Pakistani to be extradited from the
United States. And he is the first four-star general to face trial in
Pakistan on corruption charges, and that too under a military dispensation.
Given the passion for accountability which the military regime has
demonstrated mostly in the case of civilians - politicians, bureaucrats,
businessmen - in the interests of across-the-board even-handedness, it should
make public the results of the NAB investigation into the six 'dubious'
defence deals that were apparently investigated a year ago, as stated by its
Prosecutor General. This would also belie those cynics and critics who feel
that the Admiral has been made a one-off example, show-cased for public
relations purposes, because as a navy man, he represents the weakest military
The second issue of reforming the armed forces is that of transparency in
non-combat defence expenditures, which is all the more important given
Pakistan's serious economic crunch with annual growth dipping to an all time
low of 2.5 per cent. If civilian budgets are made accountable for the way
money is spent or misused, the defence budget too should be subject to public
scrutiny. And some aspects of khaki ostentation are no longer congruent with
our economic realities, namely, large limousines or spacious mansions and
This transparency should be extended to other areas of policy, which have
wider implications. Even though delayed, the military regime made a good
beginning by publishing the Hamoodur Rahman Report although its contents
showed its military predecessors in a bad light. Similarly, the report
prepared by the Command and Staff College, Quetta, still classified but
available at its library on the 1965 War, should also be made public. These
events are part of our history, and people need to know what happened and
what went wrong.

The third area of reforming the armed forces is its recruitment policy, which,
for the most part, has been a colonial holdover. Recently, in a welcome
change, the Pakistan Army's Adjutant General announced the "first ever
rational recruitment policy" aimed at the interior of Sind and Balochistan.
The recruitment policies of the armed forces were derived from the British
colonial outlook that preferred recruitment from what were termed as "martial
races", a codeword for loyalty to the Crown, which basically meant a few
districts of the Punjab and the Frontier provinces. 
Bengalis, Sindhis and the Baloch were deliberately excluded, with the result
that while the Armed Forces may be national in outlook, ethos and
orientation, their composition has remained quite lop-sided with over 90 per
cent representation to just two provinces. Interestingly, while the Baloch
readily recruit into the Oman Army, they have token representation in our own
Armed Forces. And in over half a century, there has never been a Sindhi
general in the Pakistan Army. It is good that the military regime has
developed an awareness of this problem, and there are serious efforts to
rectify this wrong. Need we recall that one of the major grievances of the
Bengalis was that they were systematically denied entry into the Army on the
spurious plea that they were "physically not fit" to serve since they were
supposed to be short in stature. As one prominent Bengali intellectual
remarked, if height is assumed as an index of a 'martial race', then, by that
reckoning, what about an average Vietnamese being shorter than the average
Bengali! Today, the Bangladesh Army has been the first in South Asia to admit
women to its military academy as cadets.
Military recruitment is an important issue, and given the wider role of the
armed forces, it has acquired a political dimension too. It is no accident
that whenever there is a military regime, the smaller provinces see it as
akin to "Punjabi domination", mainly because of the overwhelming Punjabi
presence in the Army. This needs to be changed as part of a conscious and
clear policy, which should be enunciated publicly as well.
Finally, a caveat regarding a unique feature of the present military regime.
This is the first military regime that is not only ruling but also involved
in actual governance. That role is evident from the large-scale induction of
military personnel in civilian posts, a normal feature of any military
regime. More importantly, an organized, widespread Army Monitoring system now
serves as an autonomous watchdog over various layers of officialdom, somewhat
similar to the role of the Communist Party political commissars that were the
'eyes and ears' of any communist system.
A three-fold danger could result from such a situation. First, the
"civilianisation" of the military, reflected in different ways, all
detrimental to the services: erosion of discipline over time, seeping in of
corrupt practices, and a lowering of espirit de corps as the army interacts
intimately with civilians unlike the insularity of "cantonment culture".
Second, the civil bureaucracy is either supplanted or viewed with suspicion.
Third, restructuring Pakistani society without reforming the armed forces may
create a khaki-mufti divide in an already polarised polity. Military reform
should be a top priority, because when the elected governments return, as
they must by 2002, the armed forces status of a "holy cow", reinforced after
October 12, would preclude any possibility of attempting reform under the

QOTD: Mushahid Hussain

Dug up these old articles by Mushahid Hussain. These should be preserved for posterity.

First up his press conference after Nawaz Sharifs Kargil dash to meet Clinton in 1999,

taken from the Nation Newspaper

Washington Accord a 'giant leap forward' on Kashmir 
LAHORE-The Federal Information Minister and the chief government spokesman Mushahid Hussain Sayed attributes the recent Washington Accord between President Clinton and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a "great leap forward" in internationalising the Kashmir issue.
Speaking at a forum held by The Nation/Nawa-i-Waqt , he came out with a strong defence of the recent initiative of the government and its policies and claimed the logical outcome of it was that, "Kashmir was no longer a status quo issue." From its simmering, dormant position, the recent Kargil conflict has made it erupt like a real volcanic issue which calls for its urgent permanent solution, he declared.
What more positive proof of Kashmir being a live real issue can be had when it has emerged as the main election issue in the current Indian elections, and even encompassing the US to become involved publicly in its amicable solution.
He termed the Indian stance reharding US as a "posture" for public consumption while in fact already some headway has been made in the new emerging policy based on the recent accord and its implications. He also rejected that any compromise has been made on Pakistan's stand on Kashmir or its position to lend moral, diplomatic support to the Kashmiri Mujahideen. The "Kargil conflict", he maintained, was symptomatic to the real issue, which if not resolved, would continue to re-surface and emerge through many more conflicts at other places throughout the Kashmir Valley. Following is the text of Mushahid Hussain's statement at the forum.
Federal Information Minister Mushahid Hussain credits Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with steering the country out of every crisis faced during his tenure. He declared that never before any government had faced so many problems and serious issues and managed to come out of them with success as the present government.
Many governments in the past may have come across serious issues but none faced such a multi-pronged attack of problems like financial, constitutional, political, diplomatic and even national security issues as the present government did and faced at so manfully.
He claimed that each crisis was tackled by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who he said, was quite different from the past leaders. He is not a leader of 'status quo' but with a 'revolutionary agenda' and has been able to get the country through each 'turbulence' with his uncanny ability and guts. Let us face it, the Minister said, that if any leader takes such bold initiatives like making Pakistan a nuclear power, bring about constitutional amendments to strengthen democracy, and moves for the upholding of rule of law, it is inevitable that his path would be paved with resistance. But quite undeterred by such obstacles the present government has managed to navigate the country through record number of crises faced during their two and half years tenure so far, and all through a democratic process. Replying to the question asked about the handling of the recent 'Kargil issue', he said if read carefully the joint statement issued after President Clinton's meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Kashmir issue has been "internationalised", as a result of it. He said that there was no compromise on this issue of national importance in any way as the appeal for the return of Mujahideen was confined only to Kargil Sector. As far as the independence struggle of Mujahideen was concerned in Kashmir, Pakistan not only considers it legitimate but will continue its moral, diplomatic support like before. importantly, he said the accord was able to defuse the situation and the looming threat of an Indo-Pak war was averted. The Minister did not agree with the assessment that there was a visible tilt by the US towards India, and claimed there have been stepping up of activities in the US in support of Pakistan's position on the Kashmir issue. Indians, he said, had already accepted the US mediation in the matter practically. He explained that one must be careful to see through what was "posturing" by the Indians to its actual policy, as for all intent and purpose they have accepted the policy of mediation.
Mushahid made it clear that until the Kashmir issue is solved according to the aspirations of its people conflicts like Kargil, would keep emerging. Today it is Kargil, tomorrow it may be Baramula, or elsewhere in the Valley. Through Kargil, he said, a clear message has been conveyed loud and clear to the world that Kashmir issue is crying for a just and an equatable solution.
The Minister also spoke about the massive and negative propaganda launched by the Indian media against Pakistan grossly falsifying the facts. However, he said, some leading newspapers of India too have come out with objective reports contrary to the official line of the Indian government. Replying to the criticism being directed at the PTV for its inability to rise to the occasion, he countered that if it was so poor why was it jammed and shut down to the Indian viewers by their government. Such a step is unheard of and not even former Soviet Union and Nazi Germany never stooped to such a position which has been taken by India. The stirring up of the war hysteria, he felt, suited the BJP, who effectively used the situation for its election campaign. As against it Pakistan all along has sought peace and the just solution of the chronic problem of Kashmir.
Mushahid said that Indian army was in fact battling against Kashmiri Mujahideen with the Pakistan Army defending the Line of Control, its international frontiers and its air space.
Asked about the diplomatic failure on the Kargil issue, the Minister explained that main brunt of the diplomacy was faced by the ambassadors and the mainstream diplomats with the Ministry of Information and its nominees providing the supporting role. He felt there was a need to beef up the embassies and overall diplomatic effort especially in some key areas where weaknesses existed at present. He conceded that some embassies had shown an absence of professionalism in the crisis. However, he refused to answer questions pinpointed at the utter failure and poor performance shown by the Pakistan embassies in US and UK, whose heads have been under fire by the national Press for poor showing.
Replying to another question he said that unlike India which failed to call a session of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House). Pakistan promptly summoned sessions of both the National Assembly and the Senate and arranged a thorough briefing by Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz. The Opposition was also included in the 'in camera' briefing and the Foreign Minister answered 200 questions to satisfy the members of the Houses, which resulted in unanimous resolutions in support of the government.
Mushahid Hussain said that Kashmir has emerged as the main issue in the current election campaign in India, which is proof enough of our stand that it remains as the core issue in the way of permanent and lasting peace in the Sub-continent. On top of it, Washington has been included in the process of solving Kashmir problem, something which never happened before.
Turning to India, Mushahid said that there are over 17 major movements and armed insurgencies raging across India, spearheaded by Kashmir as by far the biggest one. What is most important that most of these movements have expressed solid support to Kashmiri people, which was a testimony to the success of our Kashmir policy. Defending the government's Kargil policy, which has been widely opposed by various Opposition parties, he said, it was the statesmanship and success of the present government which saw the country through a grave crisis, gave it a new dimension and brought relief to the people by averting a looming war. Under the present circumstances, what else the people could expect from its government, he posed.
The Minister asked about the slanderous campaign launched by the Indians against the Pakistan Armed Forces through paid advertisements in US, said it was not necessary to respond in the same fashion. It is not necessary to answer a $100,000 ad with an ad on the same scale. But, we did take steps to counter it through a vigorous campaign of our own placing articles, write-ups and lobbying at the appropriate levels and other means. In the US a committee consisting of prominent Pakistanis like Dr Nasim Ashraf, Dr Maqsud Shah and Dr Pervez Shah, were in the forefront of a lobbying effort which interfaced with Senators and Congressmen and were able to achieve credible results.
Asked about the vibrations coming out of the PML(N) lately with some prominent members expressing voices of dissent, he said, theirs was a democratic political party. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he said, had implicit faith in democratic process and had the patience and capacity to tolerate and face divergent views. He has been sitting for hours at various forums to listen to the views and suggestions, even criticism, which he feels helps in strengthening the democratic process. The Minister was of the view that there was nothing seriously wrong to come across with strong voices of dissent from prominent party stalwarts which have appeared lately in the media.
The Information Minister and the main government spokesman, also ruled out that the Prime Minister was averse to confiding with his partymen on major issues and facing divergent views. Quite contrary to it, he said, the PM was all the time consulting his partymen and had also held consultations with his party colleagues before proceeding to the US recently. He also said that the proposal of National Security Council had been aired by only one person and at the party meeting no one either supported it or raised it.
Replying to another question about the confidence-building measures between India and Pakistan, he said it was a two-way process. Under the Simla Accord Pakistan and India had only met twice and without any tangible results. India, he strongly felt, needs to move under the recognised international principles to resolve the Kashmir issue. However, he was convinced that the recent events and importantly the Kargil conflict, more than anything else, has proved Kashmir was no more a "status quo issue" a position which Indians held so steadfastly all these years.
Mushahid Hussain also paid tributes to the role of the "Nawa-i-Waqt and The Nation", and notably the efforts of Mr Majid Nizami and Arif Nizami, in safeguarding ideological frontiers of the country.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

QotD: The King, Zia & Black September

'The King asked his friend Zia UK Haq, the Pakistani general - who later became President of Pakistan, and who was in Jordan on a military mission - to travel to the Syrian front and telephone an assessment. Zia Ul Haq introduced the Jordanians to some American slang in his reply, which they did not understand and asked me to decipher. When Rifai asked Zia UK Haq how things looked, he said, "I'm shitting green!" -Kings Counsel

Sunday, 12 January 2014

QOTD: Ayub Khan and Peshawar

'But why single out Qayyum Khan, he is a typical product of Peshawar city and those that imbibe its spirit. Barring a few exceptions it is the breeding ground of devious crooks and cheats. In my younger days I was at one time Brigade Major of the Peshawar brigade, As such I had many duties- amongst them the protection of water supply which came from Bara and was at that time subject to tribal attacks. Someone told me that Bara water was most wholesome for health. I agreed but added that it also provided the biggest crooks on God's earth..'

-Ayub Khan diaries December 1970

Sunday, 24 November 2013

QOTD: Clinton on heresy and faith

This is one of my favourite interviews with an American President.

My answer to that question is from a religious and philosophical point of view is that the heresy is believing that your faith is not only true, which we all believe, but that you can be, as a human being, in full possession of the absolute truth, turn it into an absolutely true political program and then decide that those who don't accept it are less than human and deserving of death.

So my belief is that all religious dialogue is possible if we recognize that we have something to learn from one another. Not that our faith is not true, but that we can't be in full possession of that faith in this lifetime as fallible human beings.
- Bill Clinton  September 23, 2006

Friday, 27 September 2013

QOTD: The murder of Dr Najibullah

Afghanistan's late President was murdered on the 27th of September by the Taliban. Here is an account of his last day ( this account has been edited down due to violence described) 

' Three Taliban entered the UN compound while the driver waited outside. Najib wary greeted them. He offered them tiny, elegantly wrapped packages of Swiss chocolate, joking that they were the only gifts he had on hand. The three Taliban lined up, one after another they knelt down and kissed Najibs handin a traditional Afghan gesture of respect. The Taliban invited Najib to come with them to the presidential palace. Najib enthusiastically accepted.. natural megalomania played into their hands....

By this time the Datsun truck had driven Najib into the palace compound. He was taken into the room inside the Palace, where he was brutally tortuted, castrated and shot.... 

The reported ringleader of the three Taliban was the notorious Abdul Razak, a ruthless Taliban mullah from between Quetta and Kandahar. He was closely associated with the ISI & JUI.'  

- Peter Tomsen : The Wars of Afghanistan page 20 

Friday, 9 August 2013

Afghanistan: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar a profile

'Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is a radical Muslim fundamentalist who believes his divinely ordained destiny is to rule Afghanistan. However his single -minded and ruthless pursuit of power has alienated him from the overwhelming majority of his countrymen. Hekmatyar is the most divisive element in the current attempts to hammer out a successor government in Kabul. His accession to power would be resisted by force by many of the commanders on the ground. Hekmatyars alliance with the most hard line elements of the former Kabul regime and his willingness to assassinate other resistance figures who stand in his way have repelled most Afghans. Hekmatyar is virulently anti-western. He has frequently targeted U.S and western interests in Pakistan. He supported Iraq in the Gulf war despite having long been a beneficiary of Saudi largesse. 

Hekmatyar's espousal of militant Islam was probably a manifestation of his strong opposition to the king, Zahir Shah, which appears rooted in tribal rivalry. Hekmatyar belongs to the Ghilzai Pashtun tribal confederation which traditionally has opposed the Durrani Pashtuns. Hekmatyar's antipathy tithe former King is well known. As is his contempt for traditional Pashtun concepts such as the loya jirga. Hekmatyar's ideas and his organization reflect the strong influence of the Muslim brotherhood ( with which he is in contact according to a subordinate) and the Jamaat-I-Islami party of Pakistan , whose leader Qazi Hussein Ahmad, remains his staunchest supporter. Hekmatyar also supports other international Islamic causes. His training camps reportedly have hosted Kashmiris, Algerians and other Islamic radicals, who after a stint with the resistance in Afghanistan, return home with their newly acquired military and political skills '

- declassified (april 2000 ) 1992 US state department intelligence analysis