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Archive for September, 2004

Defence Housing Authorities

Gen Pervez Musharraf recently inaugurated Pakistan’s first power cum desalination plant in Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Karachi. A full 15 years ago a similar co-generation project was proposed for DHA Karachi with electricity and water offered at far lesser prices, Rs 36 per thousand gallons compared to the Rs 100 proposed now. However even an enthusiastic PM with as strong a personality as Ms Benazir could not overcome a myopic personal jealousy. If the “desal scheme” had come into fruition in 1994 it would have been a real economic force-multiplier to the beleaguered anarchy-ridden city of Karachi. Because of the present DHA Project Karachi will have an additional source of electricity and drinking water to cope with any city-wide electricity and/or water shortage emergency. It will also mean that many more “housing starts” in DHA Karachi, a tremendous economic force-multiplier boon having implications far beyond Karachi.

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Dovetailing Equipment Needs

One of the noticeable features of IDEAS 2004 was the commonality of defence arms and equipment in the Turkish Armed Forces as displayed by Turkish manufacturers. As a member of NATO Turkey has access to wide range of US and European defence material on grants and easy credit besides offset purchases, etc. However it was really heartening to see indigenously manufactured tactical trucks, armoured vehicles, communication equipment, etc having pride of place in the Turkish inventory. This speaks volumes for Turkish commitment to indigenisation, at least “commission agents” have not overwhelmed their integrity. Pakistan has progressed in many areas in indigenisation particularly in the past four years, the discrepancy in certain areas is too glaring to ignore. There is no real coordination in national planning to ensure commonality within the Armed Forces and outside in the civilian field, we could have easily get economy of scale in manufacturing as well as standardization because of the vast numbers involved. Nowhere is this more apparent than in transportation where a virtual plethora of vehicles are in the military’s inventory. As for the civilian side, the liberal import regime has allowed vehicles of all types onto the roads of Pakistan, with spares and maintenance thereof problems galore.

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The Idea Behind “IDEAS”

International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) 2004 is being held in Karachi from Sep 14 to Sep 18, 2004 , the inauguration of the Exhibition is preceded by a Seminar on Sep 13, “The Changing Global Security Environment”. IDEAS 2004 is the third in a series which began with IDEAS 2000, IDEAS is an idea that has been 30 to 40 years overdue for implementation in Pakistan.

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Combating Internal Dangers

Alongwith multiple external threats Pakistan needs to guard against dangers which threaten to overwhelm our inner boundaries. Besides the threats of sectarianism, extremism and terrorism, we are beset with the very real challenge of intolerance permeating every level of our society. In the absence of developed national institutions despite five decades of independence, it becomes the responsibility of the Army by default to take stock of the problems facing Pakistan and not only create awareness about the dangers among the intelligentsia and the masses, but be prepared to physically contain the damage inflicted on the national fabric by these problems. This may not conform to the mores of purists with respect to democracy but failure to take up this challenge would be irresponsible.

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Good Governance?

The sheer size of the Shaukat Aziz Cabinet is staggering, 32 Federal Ministers with another 26 Ministers of State added on Saturday. Add a number of perennial, long-serving advisors and architects will remain busy designing a mezzanine floor to accommodate one-and-all, Cabinet meetings could go on for days. As for the headaches of security staff, what’s to stop some enterprising media person slipping into a Cabinet meeting as a Minister of State? The all-time record for Pakistan has already put paid one’s personal expectations of our technocrat PM, that he would not be dictated to. Having to pander constantly to virtually all “special interest” individuals and groups, will a hamstrung Shaukat be able to rule effectively? If one has to compromise constantly and on all issues, “good governance” is hardly possible by throwing ministers at the problems.

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Defending Pakistan

To this day most Pakistanis believe that on Sep 6, 1965, thirty nine years today almost to the day, the massive attack across the international borders that the Indians launched to capture Lahore and Sialkot was a surprise. It certainly seems to have been surprise for our military hierarchy, and in fact probably surprised the Indians more as to how and why we were surprised. In the words of Col (Retd) S G Mehdi, MC, “neither the Supreme Commander (Field Marshal Ayub Khan) nor the C-in-C (Gen Musa) and his General Staff, viewed the chances of a full scale war with India as “probable”, leave alone warranting the cancellation of leave”. Col Mehdi goes on, “it was a gross misconception and miscalculation of the operating factors which sent the Pakistan Army into battle on Sep 6, 1965 with 25% of its strength on annual leave, it was inexcusable because the C-in-C Gen Musa and his General Staff knew fully that the entire Kashmir Valley had been ablaze for over a month and ferocious air and land battles were being fought in Chamb-Jaurian sector, involving large formations of armour, infantry and artillery”, unquote.

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