Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Former 'Warrior' says: Musharraf’s a threat to Pakistan.

Over the nearly sixty years of Pakistan’s existence there are perhaps a handful of remarkable individuals that have impressed your Blogger with their ability, integrity and intellect. And one of them is Air Marshal Nur Khan, who proved himself in the PAF, then the PIA, and in the management of national cricket and hockey and, not forgetting, as governor of what was once West Pakistan.

During the crucial 1965 war it was his command of the Air Force that led to a remarkable victory in the air, while the Army plodded into near defeat (causing the self-inflated Field Marshal to enter into psychological gloom that he never completely recovered from).

As Pakistan faces yet another crisis created by yet another egotistical General, here is what Nur Khan has to say about it.

(This should be especially read by those monotonous people who regularly bandy the word ‘traitor’ at the drop of a hat)

Killing of Bugti a blow to national unity: Nur Khan

ISLAMABAD, Aug 29: Former Air Force chief Air Marshal Nur Khan has roundly condemned the ruling Muslim League leadership, specially its president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and its secretary-general Mushahid Hussain Syed, for continuing to serve the Gen Musharraf regime even after the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti at the hands of a contingent of Army.

They claim to have been very good friends of the late Bugti. Shujaat never tires of expressing his indebtedness to the Nawab for saving his father’s life when Z.A.Bhutto, the then prime minister, had reportedly instructed Bugti, then governor of Balochistan to have his father Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi who was then in the provincial jail, killed. And look at Mushahid. He was among the three whom Bugti had named for hearing his case and had promised to accept whatever their verdict. Is this how one pays back trusted friends? asked Nur Khan.

The two seem to be running with the hare and hunting with the hound, he added bitterly.

Nur Khan said, it was the PML which is providing the military junta the all important political life support, without which, Gen Musharraf would not last single day.

“But without Gen Musharraf the PML will not last a single minute and that perhaps is why it feels compelled to go along with the military dictator no matter what the moral and political price”, he added.

Nur Khan, who as the governor of the defunct West Pakistan, had negotiated with the estranged Baloch Sardars, including Akbar Khan Bugti, in the late 1960s and brought them back into the mainstream politics, said he had found all these Sardars to be highly patriotic and devoted to Pakistan.

“I would trust them more than I would trust any other Pakistani to die for Pakistan”, he said.

They were alienated because of the way the
Centre was treating them and their people. Because of the continuous neglect a
sense of deprivation had taken hold of them. They needed to be given a sense of

“They were all men of honour. So, it was not all that difficult for me then to negotiate with them and get them back into the mainstream”, he added.

He said Bugti’s death would add a new and perhaps even a violent urgency to the demands of provincial autonomy by the smaller provinces and the Centre would ultimately be forced to concede to the very demands for which Bugti and his clan had taken up arms against the Musharraf regime.

Referring to Musharraf’s warning that whoever wanted to harm Pakistan nationally or internationally would have to fight him first, Nur Khan advised the president “to have a look in the mirror”. He would find that he himself is the guilty party.

He said Bugti’s murder had dealt a severe blow to the unity of the country.


I wholeheartedly agree with the honourable Air Marshal. Musharraf should either start a serious fight with himself or better still summarily sack himself.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Murder of a Proud Baloch

It would be fair to say that the killing of the Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti has shocked many if not most of Pakistan – the 99.65% civilian part that is.

The general feeling is that this was one step too far for Musharraf to take.

Many people believe – including your Blogger – that the little man in Musharraf was incensed by the derision Akbar Bugti often directed towards his burgeoning sense of self-importance. This was made obvious when he made pejorative references to Nawab Bugti as a ‘pygmy’ and ‘non-Nawab’ in his televised speeches.

The first attempt to kill Bugti was made on 17th March 2005 when high-tech TOW missiles rained all around the Nawab as he moved around his private grounds in Dera Bugti. Then luck was with him as several of people accompanying him perished in the sudden aerial attack. Sadly seventeen Hindus of Dera Bugti, who had taken shelter nearby, also died after being subjected to a direct hit.

The second attempt to assassinate him took place in
early July 2006 when after some PAF bombing sorties and dozens of helicopter gunship missile attacks, elite SSG commandos were dropped near Bugti’s mountain hideout. In the ensuing firefight in which the commandos suffered heavy casualties, Nawab Bugti made a successful escape and sought sanctuary, as we now discover, in the Bhambore hills, between Kohlu and Dera Bugti.

On Saturday the
Army said their interception of a satellite phone call led security forces to Bugti’s latest lair. A ferocious firefight took place in which it is believed that 25 commandos and between 24-37 Baloch rebels died – including the venerable Nawab Akbar Bugti. Upon hearing the news of Bugti’s death, Dawn reported, Musharraf was quick to congratulate his troops.


Not surprisingly the news of Nawab Bugti’s killing led to a frenzied response in Balochistan as the whole province came to a standstill amid public protest.

Caught on a hop Musharraf began dissembling. No, said the ISPR spokesman, Bugti had not been a target – which is pure piffle. Then came an extremely muddled response from the usually glib ex-Jamaati Minister for Information. Durrani prattled on about a cave which had seemingly collapsed with the Nawab in it, ‘We are now searching for his body’, he said.

Hang on, Akbar Bugti was an eighty-year old man incapacitated with a muscle-wasting disease and unable to walk. How could the army have so confidently announced that they had killed him if he had been trapped within the depths of a cave?

On the other hand the account of the BLA spokesman Azad Baloch, broadcast last night on BBC’s Urdu Service, is much more credible. According to him, having tracked down the Bugti chief on a hillside the commandos and the Baloch engaged in a bitter battle out in the open. Outnumbered the Baloch were all killed and Akbar Bugti’s body was identified among the slain. The army has no intention of handing over the deceased Nawab’s body to his heirs, hence the subterfuge about digging out the cave searching for a body that will not be found.

And, why is Musharraf so scared of handing over the body to the Nawab’s family?

Simply because his grave will become a focal point, a shrine for all the Baloch as they vent their rage over the army’s merciless actions in Balochistan.

Your Bloggers parting comments:
1. Nawab Akbar Bugti was a man who was prepared to die for his beliefs. He will be eulogized by the Baloch, even by the unborn Baloch generations yet to come.
2. Musharraf is a disaster for Pakistan. He is a little man wearing boots of a size much too large for him.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Coming Farce is Already Upon Us...

One cannot fault the Establishment’s competence in one choice discipline – the pre-rigging of elections.

A year before the 2007 elections this activity is apparently in full swing in the rural constituencies in most parts of Pakistan, with particular emphasis in the key province of Punjab and Sindh.

So far I have been able to establish three separate strands of these going-ons.

1. Intelligence Agencies are currently engaged in the business of vetting and pre-selecting candidates for the Establishment.

Rather than go into detail, I’ll just quote what Imtiaz Alam, the current affairs editor of The News, recently reported:
As it is quite clear, even much ahead of the next elections, the powers that be are preparing for a far worse election than were held in 2002. Surveys of districts and interviews of the candidates are being conducted by the ISI and other agencies. Provincial and district administrations have been equipped with unprecedented resources to undertake popular schemes. The king's parties are being geared up to have a total sway…

2. Unity of Command – All of the Establishment’s candidates will be chosen expressly by Musharraf.

During my latest travels I came across a PML (Q) office holder from a district in Punjab who told me the following:
Recently all PML(Q) district office holders in the Punjab were summoned to a meeting in Lahore which was addressed by a senior retired bureaucrat. The message he gave to us was crystal clear: All party tickets for the forthcoming 2007 election for both the National and the Punjab provincial assemblies will be handed out by the Presidency, which will be the sole deciding authority. Any dissent against the Presidency’s decision will not be tolerated and be harshly dealt with.

3. The new voting lists are being fixed to favour Establishment candidates.

Considering the voting lists for the 2002 elections were collated and prepared under the auspices of the Musharraf regime why is it necessary to prepare a fresh voting list? All that is required is to ask those who have come of elective age since 2002 to come forward and register (as is done in every democratic country around the world) – but this simply won’t do and the answer is pretty obvious.

Ask anyone in Pakistan what the chances are of the Musharraf regime winning a free and fair election in 2007 and you will quickly understand why Islamabad feels the urgent need for fresh voting lists.

The first step in compiling a fresh voters list is a process called khana-shumari or housing census. Once all the households are enumerated in a particular area, all the adult residents of these households are then called upon to apply to be entered on the voting list.

However there is a hitch. If one’s house has not been counted in the housing census the chances of then getting on the voting list is less than zero.

So what’s now being witnessed in large swathes of rural Pakistan is that many villages and smaller settlements are being effectively ‘erased’ from the public record. Why? Apparently the inhabitants of these places have been traditionally known to vote against PML(Q) candidates.

Obviously in the 2007 elections there will be a dramatic drop in real voting. To avoid this embarrassment the Establishment will most likely resort to a traditional remedy – a number of polling booths set up in the remotest part of a rural constituency, where massive stuffing of the ballot boxes will then take place to counter the drop in voting numbers.

Voila and there you have it!


Your Blogger’s Forecast

The way things are being engineered we will witness a virtual reality election in 2007 which will quite ‘transparently’ provide the Musharraf regime with a majority thanks to a well thought out plan of pre-rigging, particularly in the rural areas of Punjab and Sindh.

So what’s new?

But as I’ve said before, and will repeatedly keep on saying: The rigged elections of 2007 have a strong potential of creating violent destability within Pakistan.

Simply put, the newly fashioned vast disparity of wealth has created a deep and perilous social chasm.

The urban poor – which now include many salaried people – are confronting a nightmarish existence. One only has to take note of the steep price increase of basic edibles such as dal, milk and sugar to realize the enormity of the dilemma these people face simply to feed their families.

Columnist Kamila Hyat recently opined:
The obscenity of a society in which the very rich nibble on food flown in from other continents while the very poor quite literally starve, where demonstrations of sycophancy are of supreme importance to bragging rulers, cannot persist forever. Somewhere in the future, widespread violence spurred on by rage may not lie that far away, and in a system where access to justice is increasingly denied, where the rule of law has broken down and where a deep-rooted sense of unfair play prevails, there is no telling quite what form this surge of anger may take.
As I mentioned in a previous blog:
...the rigging of the 2007 elections [might] backfire and set off a protest movement that will quickly get out of the control of the democratic forces and pass into the hands of organized extremists. And woe betide Pakistan then.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Don on the Great Oaf

(Sorry to have been away for so long…it was due simply to work, work and more work!)

Like most cricket fans (and as a Pakistani) I was bitterly disappointed at the manner in which the 4th test at the Oval disintegrated into disastrous shambles.

Rather than engage in a personal denunciation of Darrell Hair I would much prefer to rely on what the commonly acknowledged greatest of cricketers once said about him.

It was during Sri Lanka's 1995-96 tour to Australia that Darrell Hair began the rather distasteful controversy over the bowling action of Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, whom Hair blatantly accused of ‘chucking’.

Notably on 26th December 1995 at the MCG Hair declared seven of Muralitharan's deliveries to be illegal 'no balls'.

Well this is what Hair’s countryman
Sir Donald Bradman had to say about Darrell Hair's talents as an umpire at the time of this contraversy.
“This was the worst example of umpiring that I have witnessed and against everything the game stands for”.
Bradman also added:
"I believe Hair's action - in one over - took the development of world cricket back by ten years."
One does not need much imagination to work out what the great Don would have said if he had lived to witness Hair’s gross ineptitude at the Oval the other day.