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Archive for September, 1994

Mission Impossible

Over the past week, the Pakistan Army has cordoned off three entire areas in Karachi in well-coordinated urban area operations, first the hotbed of Jacob Lines followed by sections of North Karachi and Korangi. During these operations which were kept a well guarded secret, the Army has netted in more illegal arms and ammunition than any single month of Operation Clean Up in the last 30 months. Furthermore, given that over a million people were affected (and discomfited for a day or so), public protest was almost non-existent (and muted at that). Other than weapons, over 200 criminals involved in various crimes were netted. During the whole operation, only one youth was killed resisting arrest in a shootout. Many of Karachi’s citizens have commented that more than two years after its launching, Operation Clean Up has now started in earnest.

After an uneven beginning Operation Clean Up succeeded in the rural areas mainly because a change of command from an atrocious General officer. In the urban areas after a good start it got bogged down, succeeding only in imposing an immediate peace in the city. While it took some time for the general public to clearly identify the reasons for the uneven performance of the Army, for military analysts the reasons were clear. In the rural areas, a clear-cut mission was given to eradicate criminals while in the urban areas, the mission given to the uniformed personnel was subverted by duality in aim, under the guise of eradicating criminal elements, the MQM were the only party so targeted. Though one dare says that MQM’s militants had gone past the fail-safe line, the fact remains that every political party had militant factions running riot. The uniformed Army was further frustrated by the men in mufti whose only mandate was to eradicate the MQM, an impossible task given that this party is representative of the urban majority in Karachi and the Province. All the initial gains made by the then GOC Karachi, Maj Gen Malik Saleem Khan, were compromised by the fact that whereas his was the command to exercise, instructions were issued directly by the Corps HQ and the DG ISI separately. In essence, the principle of military command was violated by the then Army leadership. If it were not for the unbending will of Malik Saleem in keeping the troops under his command restrained, the excesses of the intelligence agencies would have been surpassed by the bloodbath that would have ensued as frustration seeped into his command. This was accentuated by the fact that the civil administration had no socio-economic plan to follow the restoring of the immediate peace. To complicate it further, successive political governments had no political initiatives to offer. Instead of tarring and feathering MQM’s ultimate leader-in-exile Altaf Hussain, the duality of objectives succeeded only in solidifying Mohajir support behind him, including for the first time the community as a whole. Though some people were disenchanted with him they rallied behind him in the greater cause.

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Bombshell or boomerang?

According to a story filed by John Ward Anderson and Kamran Khan of The Washington Post, former PM Mian Nawaz Sharif is alleged to have disclosed to the two WP correspondents that he had refused permission to the former COAS Gen (Retd) Aslam Beg and the former ISI Chief Lt Gen (Retd) Asad Durrani when they had come to him with a plan in 1991 to finance special covert operations by smuggling heroin. It has now been clarified by Kamran Khan that he had conducted the interview alone on May 16, 1994 at Mian Nawaz Sharif’s Lahore residence without John Ward Anderson, the South Asia Correspondent of The Washington Post based at Delhi. Incidentally John’s wife Ms Molly Moore, happens to be the South Asian Bureau Chief in Delhi of The Washington Post and also visits Pakistan often. Given India’s record of not extending the visas of media persons who are critical of India in any manner, the couple is believed to be well wired into the Indian establishment, as would be necessary for their success in the country that they are based in. Both Mian Nawaz Sharif and Mushahid Hussain (who sat in during the interview) have vehemently denied that any such disclosure was made. On the other hand, both The Washington Post and Kamran Khan have stood by their story, WP even threatening to sue Mian Nawaz Sharif for defamation (in a reversal of media-victim roles) and Kamran Khan inviting Mian Nawaz Sharif to take him to court. The purported charges, which are ridiculous and absurd, have been denied by the Army but momentarily it put Mian Sahib in the hot seat in an adversarial role to the Army, to the barely concealed glee of the Ms Bhutto regime.

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