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Archive for July, 2003

Is Everything OK?

Zafarullah Khan Jamali is no Einstein, and he will be the first to admit that he is happy he is no Einstein but he is nimble of foot in politics in the same manner he played hockey in school and college as center-half, almost to the national level. The PM has a bluff, gruff manner that is disarming and misleading; those who do not know him often tend to under-estimate him. As a former school-mate one can confirm he has ample resilience and when riled, can be another personality. Those planning his political demise could find themselves out in the cold themselves, he is a survivor. Recently Jamali has been leaning backwards to show “his Boss” he is anything but a Junejo, and certainly doesn’t want to become one in a hurry.

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Keeping Cool

When instead of the usual knee-jerk reaction “who will rid me of this mad priest?” (Henry 2 in “Beckett” about the Beckett problem) for having the audacity of airing DHA Karachi’s glaring deficiencies and inefficiencies, Commander 5 Corps Lt Gen. Tariq Waseem Ghazi ordered the Executive Committee of DHA Karachi to fix what is clearly amiss, among other things a lack of water, overflowing sewerage, widely strewn garbage, polluted roads, etc, the media gave good coverage to the official handout about his instructions to the DHA executives “to get on with it”. Despite an early surge of optimism the sorry reality on the ground confirms that his message is not getting through to the incorrigibles. Except for more people than usual picking up garbage the status quo remains. The media “shock and awe” tactics may have got Ghazi’s attention as to DHA’s visible failings, it cuts no ice with the hard-bitten, they will always claim that the whole thing is personal. Frankly that is only partly true; one does confess to a human failing is being discriminated against.

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The New “Great Game”

In the first flush of victory contrived by the US for the Northern Alliance in late 2001, the Tajik animosity against Pakistan had bared itself immediately and ominously. Within Kabul, Pakistani-origin Taliban prisoners were summarily executed. Externally Qanooni, Gen Fahim and Abdullah Abdullah took turns visiting the Indian capital and lambasting Pakistan from pillar to post. Qanooni reportedly handed over about 125 Pakistani “Taliban’ prisoners to India for use as terrorism’s cannon fodder, e.g. the Dec 13 attack on Indian Parliament is widely suspected to be a Polish border-type incident staged by Indian intelligence. As the US-led Coalition imposed a UN-sponsored interim set-up in Afghanistan, the Tajik became more sophisticated, their rage against Pakistan was kept under wraps for international public consumption, but only just. With late Ahmed Shah Masoud’s cronies holding the vital portfolios of governance, Interior, Defence and Foreign Affairs, the “broad-based” Afghan Interim Government is simply a front for the Tajik-dominated Northern Alliance.

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“Afghanistan First” Policy

Is it a coincidence that within a few days after three Uzbek/Tajik-looking terrorists attacked a Imambargah in Quetta, killing 50 and injuring scores of others seriously, the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul was ransacked by an armed mob of a thousand or so who turned up “spontaneously” in trucks and buses for what clearly was an “officially sponsored” riot? His belated regrets notwithstanding, one is used to Abdullah Abdullah, the Tajik – origin Afghan Foreign Minister, and his constant “companion” Omar Samad, spouting anti-Pakistan vituperatives at every international forum conceivable, is it also a coincidence that Hamid Karzai has only recently embarked on a scurrilous campaign to blame Pakistan for his own government’s increasing failure at extending the Afghan Government’s authority in any meaningful manner beyond Kabul? And even while tendering his government’s apology, Karzai had some cheek asking Musharraf to explain why the President remarked recently that Karzai’s authority did not extend beyond Kabul, are we to understand that warlords Ismail Khan in Herat and Rashid Dostum in Mazar-I-Sharif are very much in Karzai’s control? For that matter, does Qanooni, the Advisor-in-charge of Home Affairs, or Gen Fahim, Afghan Defence Minister, really answer to his authority? When recently Karzai tried to rein in Dostum by appointing him to an “advisory post” in Kabul, Dostum very publicly declined. If it hadn’t been for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul and the significant US military presence in and around Kandahar and other Pashtun areas bordering Pakistan, Karzai would not be able to enter Kabul, even with his US Government-supplied bodyguard detail. Karzai should take Chou En Lai’s advice to Kissinger in 1971, “do not forget the bridge (meaning Pakistan) you have used once, you may have to use it again”.

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The Visit

As far back as one can remember all the visits abroad by our various Presidents and Prime Ministers over the years have been very “successful”. With the US figuring prominently on everyone’s diplomatic screen, that segment has always been “outstanding”, this even when Mian Nawaz Sharif was receiving his (from Kargil) marching orders in July 1999 from Clinton in extremely tense talks in Blair House (a very deliberate slight given that Blair House is across the road from the White House). Soon after 9/11 Pervez Musharraf was in sync with the US tune in total contrast to our rather convoluted foreign policy perceptions about Afghanistan. That it suited us is only added comfort, how else would we have the courage to go after a whole range of terrorists of various kinds that seemed to come out of the woodwork? Hard-core terrorists have even been caught taking refuge with activists of mainline factions of the MMA, where does that leave them, rather where does it leave the image of Pakistan in the present international environment? Musharraf was due for accolades in the premier foreign capitals, that he deserves and that he got!

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