Friday, October 2, 2020

Why Do Most Pakistanis Favor the Military? Is it Fear of Chaos?

Multiple polls conducted over many years in Pakistan have consistently shown that the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis have high confidence in the Pakistani military. This is in sharp contrast to significantly lower levels of confidence they have shown in the country's politicians and bureaucrats. These results appear to reflect the Pakistanis' fear of chaos...the chaos which has hurt them more than any other threat since the country's inception in 1947.  Indian Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar has described this situation in the following words: "Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage .....the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge". Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos. Chinese, too, fear chaos. "In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos", writes Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book entitled "Has China Won".   

PILDAT Survey 2015

2015 poll conducted by Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development (PILDAT) found that 75% of respondents trust the country's military, a much higher percentage than any other institution. Only 36% have confidence in Pakistan's political parties.  

Gallup Poll Findings in Pakistan. Source: Gallup International

Here's a 2014 snapshot of how Pakistanis see various other institutions, according to Gallup International

1. Institutions - Less than one-third of Pakistanis have confidence in the national government, local police, and honesty of elections, and the ratings for those institutions have declined over the last six years. Pakistan's military is the one institution that has retained the confidence of an overwhelming majority (roughly 80%) of people in the country. 

2. Corruption - Eighty-one percent of Pakistanis see their government as rife with corruption. This is an increase of 13 percentage points over the last six years. 

3. Leadership - Approximately one in three Pakistanis approve of the leaders in the city or area where they live. Their approval of national leaders is lower - approximately one in five Pakistanis approve of them.

Popularity of the the military among Pakistanis' appears to reflect their fear of chaos. Pakistani military has helped the nation defy the most dire predictions of Pakistan's demise. Political, military, religious, ethnic, sectarian, secular, conservative and liberal forces are constantly pushing and pulling to destabilize it but Pakistan remains resilient with its strong nationalism that has evolved after 1971. 

A recent example is Pakistan Army's efforts to defend the state by its anti-terror operations Zarb e Azb and Radd ul Fasad that dramatically reduced the level of violence and significantly improved security in the country. It resulted in increased confidence of businesses, investors and consumers in the economy.  Another recent example is the military's active role in Pakistan's success against  pandemic caused by the deadly coronavirus

Terror Stats in Pakistan. Source:

Here's how India's ex cabinet minister Mani Shankar Aiyar has described Pakistani military's role in defending national integrity:  

"Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state" Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage, linguistic and regional groups pulling and pushing, sectarian factions murdering each other, but the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge." 

Pakistanis are not alone in their fear of chaos as being their biggest enemy. Chinese too fear chaos, as described by former Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani in his recent book "Has China Won":

"In Chinese political culture, the biggest fear is of chaos. The Chinese have a word for it: luàn. Given these many long periods of suffering from chaos—including one as recent as the century of humiliation from the Opium War of 1842 to the creation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949—when the Chinese people are given a choice between strong central control and the chaos of political competition, they have a reflexive tendency to choose strong central control". 


Syed said...

If it weren't for Pak Army we would have been another Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen etc

Moh said...

people like them because they are the firemen, the sanitation department, the road builders and the red crescent and much more. whenever some thing needs doing contract and tenders, civvy contractors (relatives of politicians) always run-off with the money then it is the Army that comes to do the actual work

samir sardana said...

Y does Pakistan love its military ?

It is Culture,DNA and the Innate Traits,of the Human Race

Innate Traits of the Human Race

Humans ascribe values and standards of morality and ethics, to individuals & organisations, which the humans as a collective whole, or in person DO NOT HAVE and will, never have.It is a model of Outsourcing character and values,to a distant reality,and then raising that to a pedestal,or a God or a Religion.dindooohindoo

This is what Christians did with Jesus (and that is why the Jesus story was,and is never repeated), and that is also,why the Jews consider be a fantasy tale

The same logic warp,applies to the military.The values and concepts of honour, discipline, ethics, valor, probity, honesty, sacrifice, selflessness, chivalry, martial psychosis and excellence associated with the military,are virtues absent,in 98% of the human race.

Of course,the perceptions of the public,about the military,are fantasy land stories – but then,that is where the public wants to be.The same applies to Pakistan,South and East Asia,and all militaristic societies,like Russia,Israel,Iraq etc.

The public also derives an insane psychotic satisfaction of their martial past,and what they had been,and what they might be,and their role in fulfilling religious and political prophecies – which ultimate prove that,they are a special race !


Mencius,Confucious and Buddhism are a natural BLEND,INTO the Chinese DNA.It is the subservience of the individual,to ORDER and a LARGER METAPHYSICAL GOAL and the INTERESTS OF THE COLLECTIVE WHOLE, and NOT THE INDIVIDUAL.

This is documented in the 5 classics of Chinese Literature (Shu King/I Ching etc.).Hence, the transcendent Gene,in Buddha (who was a Mongloid – and NOT AN INDIAN), captured this essence,and so the Mahayana Buddhism,was a logical corollary,of the life of Buddha.

The Chinese,thus,have always OUTSOURCED their choices and freedoms to a POWER CENTRE,for material and temporal gains.It is assumed that the POWER CENTRE (even if,in the form an atheist – CCP) has TEMPORAL SANCTION.

Hence,for the Chinese to fall in love with the Tang Emperors ,or the CCP is easy money. It is a synergistic natural selection,of a race,which chooses its philosophy and leaders (And vice versa).Thus,the Chinese blind faith on the State,and its organs,and ESPECIALLY THE MILITARY.

DNA – The Indian Context

The Indian caste system and society,represents a fatalistic,pathetic and despondent triangle of gloom and misery, for 100s of millions of Indian Destitutes.This virus had permeated every section of its society,and its polity.On Dialectial principles, the anti-thesis of this gutter of evil, manifested in a classless cult – with no bar on age,sex, class,creed,religion,idelogy,philosphy,caste – OSTENSIBLY lies, in the Dubious Indian Military.

The Philosophy is the same – the mechanics differ. The values that are ABSENT in society,are seen by A DIVINE CONGRUENCE OF INTERESTS, in OTHERS, and then, EXALTED TO A DIVINE STATUS – like an unreachable paradox.

Of Course, such exaltations of the military,are also a menial method,to vent the impotence and frustrations,of the people

At the end of the day,The So called Humans with So called sentience,are ROBOTS – and ROBOTS love to watch ROBOTS IN MOTION – which is the MILITARY – and which is Y – AI started with the military, and will end WITH THE SO CALLED HUMAN RACE.

Once HUMANS ARE RATIONALISED, there will be no need for a military.

Ahmed said...

Dear Sir

Thank you for sharing such useful articles ,the reason according to me why most of the people of Pakistan have confidence over millitary is because of the level of honesty and administrative qualities which they have shown when ruling the country .

Now most of the people of Pakistan don't want millitary to take over the country as rulers but they still have confidence mashallah over its millitary because Pakistanis know that if their is anyone who can save the country and the people from any threat that is Pakistan army .

Also this fame of Pakistan army in Pakistan increased after when PAF shot down 2 MIG aircrafts of Indian Airforce on 27 Feb 2019.

Riaz Haq said...

There are good reasons for the army’s popularity in Pakistan

Pakistan has long been led by poorly-run political parties full of opportunistic and dynastic careerists. When parliamentary democracy and civil bureaucracy are found wanting, the military is often blamed for holding democracy back. Liberals even allege that the fathers of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, over-exaggerated the Indian threat in order to legitimize attempts at centralizing state power. However, Indian aggression in 1971, its sponsorship of insurgent groups in Balochistan and its ill-treatment of Muslim masses in Kashmir and other areas prove that in Pakistan we need to remain vigilant and keep our military strength up.

Pakistan’s army is popular throughout the country because it draws the bulk of its officers and men from the middle class. It has effectively restored law and order in Karachi and Malakand, and in tribal areas. It has deterred terrorists and managed to retain popular support among those with religious inclinations. There was no surprise when the army smoothly evicted the recent sit-in by extremists at Faizabad, after the civilian government failed to relieve the suffering of people in Islamabad for 17 long days.

Riaz Haq said...

Declan Walsh on #Pakistan: #ISI is omnipresent but certainly isn’t omnipotent. I was really struck by how much freedom we had to report pretty much what we wanted to and, with some exceptions, to travel around the country pretty freely as well. #NYTimes

When I was there, I found myself torn between other reporters who were either incredibly critical of Pakistan and believe that the [intelligence agency] ISI was at the root of all evil. And that the military was all powerful. And that Pakistan was essentially a kind of malevolent place.


And, while the ISI and the military have very tight control over certain things, and they are very good at doing certain things, there’s a lot of things that they do not have tight control over. And there’s a lot of things, frankly, that they’re not great at controlling either. And so within that space, there was quite a lot of room for someone like me, and that was part of what really excited me about being there.

I came to the conclusion that the ISI is an intelligence service that is immensely powerful, of course, and in some respects, is very competent, and even very good at what it does. But in many other respects, it is a part of the Pakistani military and a part of Pakistani bureaucracy like any other and it is afflicted by the same weaknesses, the same bureaucracy, the same bungling, the same corruption.


If you had to summarise for the reader, what took you to Pakistan? And what eventually drove you to write this book?
Well, you know, I went to Pakistan, really, as a bit of a naïf. I mean, I’m Irish. So unlike British people, I do not have the kind of cultural memory of South Asia, India, Partition – all of that – that I think a lot of my British counterparts had. And I arrived in Pakistan from Kenya, where I’d been living for five years working as a journalist.

I arrived there not knowing a huge amount about the country. It was 2004. Of course, I knew that this was a country that was strategically very important. It was the place where many people presumed al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden were based. It had a military ruler.

But beyond that, I didn’t arrive with a whole lot of preconceived notions about the place, or, indeed about its history. And I remember for the first couple of years and there’s a little bit of this in the book, I wasn’t hugely impressed by Islamabad. I arrived in the middle of the summer, it was incredibly hot. I found it to be not very dynamic at all. And in fact, the whole setup at that particular time, was a little bit stagnant.

It was really a midpoint in the Musharraf years. He was very much in control. He was doing a strategic dance with the Americans. The country was relatively calm in comparison to what would follow just a number of years later. And it was a relatively quiet posting for a lot of foreign correspondents. They were much more intrigued by what was happening across the border in Afghanistan.

And so, that was my introduction to Pakistan. After a while, I discovered that this was actually a far more interesting country than I had realised. And I really started to get around. I started to meet people, and I discovered a lot of things that I found absolutely fascinating. And then three years in came the protests against Pervez Musharraf in March of 2007, which kind of came out of nowhere.

Tariq A. said...

Four generals died on the same day in Pakistan. Coincidence?

Gen Usmani
Gen Naseer Akhtar
Gen Raheem Bux
Gen Naseereul Islam

Lt. General (R) Naseer Akhtar was acting as commander of 5 Corps (Karachi Corps) from 1992 to 1994 when a clean-up operation named ‘Blue Fox’ was launched against MQM. The operation which was participated by Sindh Police, Rangers with support of Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies was started by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif government and also pursued by Benazir Bhutto government.

Lt. General (R) Muzaffar Husain Usmani as Karachi corps commander was instrumental in the October 12, 1999 military coup against then prime minister Nawaz Sharif. He took control of Quaid-e-Azam International Airport and ensured General Pervez Musharraf’s aircraft at Jinnah Terminal.

Mush aircraft drama by military. He could have landed at paf bases

Riaz Haq said...

Tariq: "Mush aircraft drama by military. He could have landed at paf bases"

Longest runways at two PAF bases in Karachi are 7,000 feet.

The C-130 transport plane can land on a 5,000 feet runway.

Boeing 777-200 requires a minimum 8,000 feet to land.

Riaz Haq said...

It’s ironic to see Maulana Diesel as the head of “Pakistan Democratic Movement”! We all know he’s no democrat!! Nor are PMLN or PPP leaders. Neither party has internal democracy or real internal elections. Both are family enterprises.

samir sardana said...

The Pakistani People are not assessing the worth of their Military.Besides being a source of pride,and a pincer of Islamic Prophecies,it is a limitless reservoir,of highly specialised skills and talents.

Besides generic jargons,regarding of management and administrative skills,which initiated from the Military itself - right from the time of the Pharoahs - the Pakistani has some rare skills,epsecially in the current context of the world.dindooohindoo

The Pakistani Military skills of Strategic and Operational Planning,and the integration of varied technologies/platforms/thought processes,as well as,identification of synergies in operations - can yield exponential gains,to the Pakistan Industry,and the Pakistan Government.

Thereafter comes in,the skills of the Pakistani Military,in the flawless execution of the above.

After an epicycle of a decade or so,a Military intervention is required in the nation,so that the Nation can take quantum leaps into the future,by taking hard and critical decisions, for the nation - such as large infrastructure (Dams and N-power),Asset Seizures, Land Redistribution,Abolition of Landless Farmers,Nationalisation etc.No Politcal Party can take these steps,as their party members would be severely impacted by the same.

In addition,since the Pakistani Military,is at the cutting edge of AI,Nano,Robotics and Technology - the Way Forward for Pakistan,in identifying the economic,industrial,service sector,Education and agri strategy and policies,to be made by the Pakistani state,for the future - CAN BE CONCEPTUALISED AND EXECUTED THE BEST, ONLY BY THE PAKISTANI MILITARY

The advantage of the Political Interface,of the Pakistani Military - provides an Alt-Reality to the "Cocooned and Marooned" Military lifestyle of Armies,of Banana Bania Republics, Like India.This Al-Reality,leads to Alternative Processes of Thought - which lead to intellectual and ideological evolution - and which, in turn,leads to military and geo-political success

So what the World saw in the PAF Air Raid on the IAF and Indian Army in 2019 - was that Process of Thought in Action.

The Indian Military is an utter and abject failure in Integration,Planning and Identification of Synergies.It has incompatible platforms and technologies,and Indians have a hollow cranium.Any Solution derived by the Indians,is thus,sub optimal and bogus. Perfection is thus,neither an ideal or an achievable goal for the Indians - and thus,they are far away from the cusp of Zeno's Paradox.

That is Y they shot down their own Chopper in Bugdam,as the radar clutter by Pakistani EW units,blinded and muted,the Indian Nincompoops.This was on the Indian Side of the border, and IT WAS A NO WAR SITUATION. What will be the PRC do,to these clowns ?

It is all EVOLUTION.The Indian Clowns are still praying to the monkey gods,of 3000 BC ! They treat this as a sign of a Priori Transcendental Truth - which never changes - and this captures the hollow cranium and brain,of the Indians.The Change of Heraclitus,never touched the Indian.They are doomed by definition,history and geography.

Contrast - Pakistan - From Pagan wprship,Babylonian.Assyrian Influences,Hindooism, Atheism, Budddhism and then,Islam.

This is EVOLUTION.That is Y nations with the OLEST civilisations,are all in RUINS - except those,which EVOLVED like PRC - evolved from Buddhism to Confucius and then to Atheism and then to Communism.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's #economy recovers as #COVID19 #lockdown eases. Large scale #manufacturing up 5.5% from last year, up 9.4% sequentially. #FDI up 300% in July-Aug 2020. #Remittances up 37% in 3 months. FBR tax revenue exceeded Rs. 1 trillion in Q1 FY 2020.

The industrial sector, which was badly affected due to coronavirus, rebounded and witnessed a considerable positive growth as the Large Scale Manufacturing Industries (LSMI) production grew by 5.02 per cent on a year-on-year basis during the first month of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding month of last year, according to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).
On a month-on-month basis, the industrial growth witnessed increase of 9.54 per cent in July 2020 when compared with the indices of June 2020.
The highest increase of 2.25 per cent was witnessed in the indices monitored by the Ministry of Industries, followed by 1.77 per cent increase in indices monitored by the Provincial Board of Statistics and 1 per cent increase in the products monitored by the Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC).
On the external front, the country’s exports also witnessed positive growth during the month of September and grew by 6 per cent on a year-on-year basis as compared to the same month of last year. According to official sources, the exports are expected to grow further during the month of October.
During the first two months of the current fiscal year (July-August) the country’s merchandise trade deficit witnessed reduction of 7.48 per cent as compared to the deficit of the corresponding period of last year.
According to official sources, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country also witnessed an increase of 39.9 per cent during the first two months of the current fiscal, recorded at $226.7 million against the direct investment of $162 million during July-August (2019-20), according to latest figures of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
In absolute terms, the FDI into the country increased by $64.7 million during the first two months compared to the last year. On a year-on-year basis, the direct investment increased by 23.5 per cent to $112.3 million during the month of August 2020 as compared to the investments of $90.9 million in the same month of 2019.
The portfolio investment into the country increased by 310.1 per cent to $76.3 million during July-August (2020-21) against the investment of $36.3 million during the corresponding period of last year. During the month of August 2020, the portfolio investment increased 112.6 per cent from $2.4 million in August 2019 to $3.1 million in August 2020.
The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has also done remarkably well in the 1st quarter of the current fiscal year and collected revenues of Rs1,004 trillion, exceeding the given target of Rs. 970 billion by a margin of 34 billion.
The Income Tax collection for the quarter stood at Rs358 billion while the collection of Sales Tax, Federal Excise Duty and Customs Duty remained at Rs426 billion, Rs56 billion and Rs164 billion respectively.
This is for the first time that FBR managed to cross the figure of 1 trillion in gross as well as net collection in the first quarter of a fiscal year. The gross revenue stood at Rs1052 billion. The surplus collection was despite the issuance of refunds of Rs48 billion and sluggish performance of the economy in the wake of on-going Covid-19 pandemic.
The State Bank of Pakistan has also kept the policy rate unchanged at 7.0 % due to improved business confidence and growth outlook. It had predicted average inflation to fall within the previously announced range of 7 – 9 per cent during the fiscal year 2020-21.

Riaz Haq said...

Breaking an old taboo, Pakistan begins to reckon with its powerful military

Sharif shocked the country by denouncing the army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, at the first rally of the Pakistan Democratic Movement. In a stunning departure from Pakistani norms, the three-time premier accused Bajwa of backing his removal from office on corruption charges in 2017 and rigging the 2018 elections. It was the first time an establishment politician had ever made such accusations.

“General Qamar Javed Bajwa, you packed up our government and put the nation at the altar of your wishes,” Sharif said in Urdu. “You rejected the people’s choice in the elections and installed an inefficient and incapable group of people,” leading to an economic catastrophe. “General Bajwa, you will have to answer for inflated electricity bills, shortage of medicines and poor people suffering.”


There are also signs that some alliance members are not comfortable with Sharif’s anti-military diatribe. On Saturday, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party and son of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, called the military establishment “part of history” and said it was “regrettable” that Sharif had mentioned any of its generals by name.

“We do not want their morale to go down,” he said of the armed forces. “We want a real and complete democracy, but we do not look to the umpire’s finger, we look to the people’s signal.”

Even Sharif’s outspoken daughter, Maryam, who lives in Pakistan and whose husband was arrested briefly Monday after the rally in Karachi, has stressed that she is not “anti-military.”

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst in Lahore, predicted that while the current confrontation could weaken Khan politically, it might actually increase the military’s influence.

“Traditionally, Pakistan has been a security state whose survival was the foremost concern,” Rizvi said. He noted that even today, “inefficient” civilian rulers continue to rely on the army for emergency and humanitarian interventions.

“The political forces were always weak and divided,” he said. “Now this division is getting wider, which will harm democratic institutions, too.”

Riaz Haq said...

Kishore Mahbubani, author of "Has China Won?":

US media is insular

Major American newspapers and TV channels reinforce each other in US distortions about the world

Last 200 years of western domination is an aberration in terms of the long human history of the world. It is coming to an end.

Many American intellectuals and policymakers don't seen to understand that China does not do this.

When it comes to analyzing political systems, American analysts tend to veer toward a black-and-white view of the world: open or closed society, democratic or totalitarian society, liberal or authoritarian. Yet, even as we move away from an aberrant two-hundred-year period of Western domination of world history, we are also moving away from a black-and-white world. Societies in different parts of the world, including in China and Islamic societies, are going to work toward a different balance between liberty and order, between freedom and control, between discord and harmony. The Chinese thinkers were also once convinced that the only way to succeed was for China to replicate Western societies. This is why, at the moment of greatest despair for Chinese society, in the 1920s, many Chinese intellectuals said (like the Japanese reformers in the Meiji Restoration) that the only path ahead for China was to copy the West in all dimensions. The Chinese historian Chow Tse-tsung documents: “Lu [Xun] declared that the Chinese should live for themselves instead of for their ancestors. To learn modern science and Western knowledge was more important than to recite the Confucian classics. […] Rather than worship Confucius and Kuan Kung one should worship Darwin and Ibsen. Rather than sacrifice to the God of Pestilence and the Five Classes of Spirits, one should worship Apollo. […] Lu [Xun] was sincere from his realistic and utilitarian point of view; if the new was more useful than the old, he asked, in effect, why should one bother whether it was Chinese or foreign?”* One hundred years later, China no longer lies prostrate. It has stood up and become self-confident. After all the recent travails in both Europe and America, few in China believe that China’s destiny in the twenty-first century is to mimic the West. Instead, they believe China should follow its own road.

Mahbubani, Kishore. Has China Won? (pp. 164-165). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

The TED website describes Kishore Mahbubani, a career diplomat from Singapore, as someone who “re-envisions global power dynamics through the lens of rising Asian economies.” This description is not just apt for Mahbubani but also for his new book, “Has the West Lost It?” The title may appear controversial to a reader unfamiliar with world politics and history, but is is a treatise for the future. In less than 100 pages, the author carefully puts together reasons for the Western world’s demise and suggests a three-pronged solution for a better world, where the gap between East and West is bridged to a large extent

In “Has the West Lost It?” Mahbubani dispels myths around Asian countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which have achieved tremendous growth in the last 30 years. On the other hand, the Western world has failed to take care of its working class, which has been forced to the fringes. Mahbubani argues that the rise of countries like China and India mean that the West is no longer the most dominant force in world politics, and that it now has to learn to share, even abandon, its position and adapt to a world it can no longer dominate.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of "Has the West Lost It?" by Kishore Mahbubani

This is also why many Asian countries, including hitherto troubled countries like Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines, are progressing slowly and steadily. In each of these four countries, various forms of dictatorship have been replaced by leaders who believe that they are accountable to their populations. Many of their troubles continue, but poverty has diminished significantly, the middle classes are growing and modern education is spreading. There are no perfect democracies in Asia (and, as we have learned after Trump and Brexit, democracies in the West are deficient, too).


Pakistan is one of the most troubled countries in the world. Virtually no one sees Pakistan as a symbol of hope. Yet, despite being thrust into the frontlines by George W. Bush after 9/11 in 2001 and forced to join the battle against the Taliban, ‘Pakistan experienced a “staggering fall” in poverty from 2002 to 2014, according to the World Bank, halving to 29.5 per cent of the population.’25 In the same period, the middle-class population soared.


When countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan have begun marching steadily towards middle-class status for a significant part of their populations, the world has turned a corner. Indeed, the statistics for the growth of middle classes globally are staggering. From a base of 1.8 billion in 2009, the number will hit 3.2 billion by 2020. By 2030, the number will hit 4.9 billion,27 which means that more than half the world’s population will enjoy middle-class living standards by then.


No other region can show such a sharp contrast between its dysfunctional past and its functional future, but Southeast Asia is not an exception. South Asia, another strife-ridden area, now probably has only one dysfunctional government, Nepal. As documented earlier, even Pakistan and Bangladesh are progressing slowly and steadily. In the neighbouring Gulf region, the news focuses on the conflict in Yemen. Yet, next door to Yemen, another nation, Oman, has been gradually making progress for decades. Oman’s per capita GDP has increased from US $9,907 in 1980 to US $15,965 in 2015.33


Take the Islamic world, for example. They feel that the West has become trigger-happy since the end of the Cold War, and they resent it. Even worse, most of the countries recently bombed by the West have been Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This is why many of the 1.5 billion Muslims believe that Muslim lives don’t matter to the West. As indicated earlier, the West needs to pose to itself a delicate and potentially explosive question: is there any correlation between the rise of Western bombing of Islamic societies and the rise of terrorist incidents in the West? It would be foolish to suggest an answer from both extremes: that there is an absolute correlation or zero correlation. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. If so, isn’t it wiser for the West to reduce its entanglements in the Islamic world? Some of these entanglements have been very unwise. During the Cold War, the CIA instigated the creation of Al-Qaeda to fight the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The same organization bit the hand that fed it by attacking the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. Sadly, America didn’t learn the lesson from this mistake. In an effort to remove Assad in Syria, the Obama administration transported ISIS fighters from Afghanistan to Syria to fight Assad.58 To ensure that the ISIS fighters had enough funding, America didn’t bomb the oil exports from ISIS-controlled zones in Syria to Turkey. Through all this, America declared that it was opposed to ISIS. In fact, some American agencies were supporting them, directly or indirectly.59


Riaz Haq said...

If there is no revolutionary mood among the masses in the heartland of Punjab, revolution also seems highly unlikely in the face of the power of Punjab’s entwined landowning, business, military and bureaucratic elites, and the deep traditionalism of most of the population. Nevertheless, Punjab has also long been home to very strong strains of Islamic revivalism. The headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat, the world’s greatest Muslim preaching organization, is in Raiwind, 20 miles to the south-west of Lahore. The Tabligh have always stressed their peaceful and apolitical nature; but 10 miles to the north-west of Lahore is Muridke, the headquarters of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, mother organization to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which played a leading role in the jihad against India in Kashmir, and carried out the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai.

Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (p. 271). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

There does seem to be a sort of loose community of sentiment favouring Punjab among many senior Punjabi army officers and bureaucrats – though one which is endlessly cut across by personal and political ties and ambitions, and by considerations of qaum (community) and religious affiliation. As a senior official in Islamabad told me: You have to argue twice as hard to push through any project in one of the other provinces; and if I want to push through a project to help a city in one of the other provinces, I always have to be careful to balance it with one helping a Punjabi city; but it doesn’t work the other way round. Any Sindhi-based national government has to lean over backwards to show that it is not disadvantaging the Punjab in any way. Concerning official jobs, according to the quota Punjabis have less than their proportion of the population, but they are over-represented in the senior jobs. That is partly because they are better educated on average – and that also means that they dominate the merit-based entry and the quota for women. He also said that I should be aware that he is a Mohajir, and therefore possibly biased himself. The closest Pakistan came to a united Punjabi establishment was under Zia-ul-Haq, when a Punjabi military ruler created a Punjab-based national political party under a Punjabi industrialist (Nawaz Sharif). However, the alliance between the military and the PML(N) frayed in the 1990s and collapsed completely when General Musharraf overthrew Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999. Since then, relations have been at best extremely distrustful. In turn, there are deep differences between northern Punjabi industrialists (who tend to support either the PML(N) or military regimes), and southern Punjabi ‘feudals’ (who tend towards the PPP). Punjabi industrialists, however, cannot dominate military regimes, as witness their failure to achieve their infrastructure and energy needs under both Zia and Musharraf. Finally, the Muslim religious leaders in Punjab are so fractured along theological, political, personal and regional lines that it does not make sense to speak of them as an establishment at all.

Punjabis from north-central Punjab certainly feel superior to the other nationalities in Pakistan, and this feeling – of which the others are well aware – helps to keep ethnic relations in a permanent state of mild tension. The Punjabis from these regions are quite convinced (and it must be said, with good reason) that they are harder working, better organized and more dynamic than anyone else in Pakistan except the Mohajirs; and while Punjabis respect Mohajirs, since the latter are not farmers they cannot really be fully fitted into the traditional Punjabi view of the world (as a very unkind saying about the Punjabi Jats has it: ‘Other peoples have culture. The Jats have agri-culture’). For the Sindhis, Punjabis tend to feel a rather amused and tolerant contempt, as for pleasant and easy-going but lazy younger relatives. For the Baloch there is contempt without the tolerance, as primitive tribesmen sponging off Punjabi charity. For the Pathans, however, Punjabi sentiments are very different, in ways that may have an effect on their attitudes to the Taleban and the war in Afghanistan.

Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (pp. 282-283). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

The (Pakistani) military therefore provides opportunities which the Pakistani economy cannot, and a position in the officer corps is immensely prized by the sons of shopkeepers and bigger farmers across Punjab and the NWFP. This allows the military to pick the very best recruits, and increases their sense of belonging to an elite. In the last years of British rule and the first years of Pakistan, most officers were recruited from the landed gentry and upper middle classes. These are still represented by figures such as former Chief of Army Staff General Jehangir Karamat, but a much more typical figure is the present COAS (as of 2010), General Ashfaq Kayani, son of an NCO. This social change reflects reflects partly the withdrawal of the upper middle classes to more comfortable professions, but also the immense increase in the numbers of officers required. Meanwhile, the political parties continue to be dominated by ‘feudal’ landowners and wealthy urban bosses, many of them not just corrupt but barely educated. This increases the sense of superiority to the politicians in the officer corps – something that I have heard from many officers and which was very marked in General Musharraf’s personal contempt for Benazir Bhutto and her husband. I have also been told by a number of officers and members of military families that ‘the officers’ mess is the most democratic institution in Pakistan, because its members are superior and junior during the day, but in the evening are comrades. That is something we have inherited from the British.’18 This may seem like a very strange statement, until one remembers that, in Pakistan, saying that something is the most spiritually democratic institution isn’t saying very much. Pakistani society is permeated by a culture of deference to superiors, starting with elders within the family and kinship group. As Stephen Lyon writes: Asymmetrical power relations form the cornerstone of Pakistani society . . . Close relations of equality are problematic for Pakistanis and seem to occur only in very limited conditions. In general, when Pakistanis meet, they weigh up the status of the person in front of them and behave accordingly.19 Pakistan’s dynastically ruled ‘democratic’ political parties exemplify this deference to inheritance and wealth; while in the army, as an officer told me: You rise on merit – well, mostly – not by inheritance,inheritance, and you salute the military rank and not the sardar or pir who has inherited his position from his father, or the businessman’s money. These days, many of the generals are the sons of clerks and shopkeepers, or if they are from military families, they are the sons of havildars [NCOs]. It doesn’t matter. The point is that they are generals.

Lieven, Anatol. Pakistan (pp. 181-182). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said...

@ejazhaider employs the Quaid I Azam University’s struggle against illegal occupation of its land to illustrate the complexity of the civ-mil equation. Having approached all civilian fora without success, who else is left to appeal to but the military?

Years ago, I had coopted Dr Ilhan Niaz for a report on civil-military relations. After we had finalised the report, he sent me an email with some very interesting points. Here’s a gist: There are three types of states. The first are civilian states. The military is either no longer or never was integral to the political order of the state in the domestic sphere. Ilhan’s point was that many of the theorists I had cited in the report belonged to such states and regarded “their exceptional circumstances as normal and desirable.” His second type was civilian-led states. In such states “the military remains an integral component of the political order of the state, a major aspect of the ability of such states to maintain their coherence, and a guarantor of the ultimate state writ and sovereignty.” He cited the example of the French Fifth Republic, Russia, constitutional-democratic India, and market-socialist China as politically-diverse examples of this second type. One can say that many of the Latin American and South East Asian states would also fall into this category.


n its 73- or 74-year-old (depends on which school of counting one prefers) chequered political history, this country has constantly grappled with the issue of civilian control and supremacy. We currently have the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a loose opposition alliance of ideologically disparate political parties, agitating the issue against the sitting government which is referred to, pejoratively, as a ‘hybrid’ set-up.

However, neither the PDM nor the sitting government offers us a definition of democracy and civilian control. The Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) government is essentially a hybrid both in how it was conceived and how it has worked since its conception. That fact notwithstanding, it claims that it won the elections and, therefore, is a legitimate government. It also claims, not without irony — given the hybrid sobriquet for it — that it has the support of all institutions wherein it is quite right. Whether that serves to enhance its legitimacy or otherwise depends on whether one is a PTI or a PDM supporter.

The PDM, on the other hand, starts by making the same claim: vote ko izzat dau (respect people’s electoral choice). But by this it means something quite different — i.e., former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified and ousted under a plan, PTI was made to win according to the same plan and Mr Sharif pushed to the sidelines because he wanted to exercise the control that is constitutionally due a prime minister without interference from a praetorian army. In other words, civilian supremacy.

At this point, the PDM’s narrative also gets traction because of the poor performance of the PTI government. Barring the dyed-in-the-wool partisan, even informed PTI supporters acknowledge that this government hasn’t covered itself in glory.

So, if civilian supremacy does not automatically give us democracy, what exactly is democracy? PDM says it’s about people’s electoral choices. Is that enough? Are we referring to someone or a system giving people a choice as a standalone, decontextualised virtue? What if I am given 10 choices, neither of which is to my liking? Should we then, before we begin to use certain terms, define them more carefully not only for what they must contain intrinsically but also with reference to the context? Put another way, if a system is structured badly and offers a bind, does it even matter how many choices one might get within that system.

Riaz Haq said...

Richard Harris vs George Fulton: Two white men battle out their 'love' for Pakistan

As we have conversations about white privilege, gora complex, fake accounts pretending to be tourists, and the weight of the opinions anyone with a lighter skin tone holds in the country — two white men living in Pakistan, Richard Harris and George Fulton, have decided to debate who is allowed to have an opinion about the country.

Before announcing the 'Mother of All Debates,' both men had been critiquing each other on social media. They finally decided to face off in a debate and decide once and for all whether they should be allowed to speak about Pakistan as much as Pakistanis.


"What really got to me was that when someone accuses someone of being paid to push a narrative or express their views, I just find it very offensive," Harris began.

"Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that someone can have a right of centre view of Pakistan, someone can be pro-fauj or someone can have what people say, extra patriotic views about Pakistan? What's so strange about that? Can these views not be held independently? Is Pakistan so unlovable that if someone expresses these views, people are surprised by it?" he questioned.

Belgian Harris went on to reveal that he came to Pakistan as a seven-year-old and is Pakistani. Since his kids are living and studying here, he is passionate about the country's conditions, transitioning from London to Lahore during Covid period.

Fulton, who is a Brit, is in a similar situation. Having been here for 20 years, he referred to the country as a "child" he'd want to see succeed and wish the best for. "At times you are critical of it and at times you tell it off for making mistakes and those who say you can't criticise a country are only advocating nationalism."

The audience was clearly enjoying the debate

Riaz Haq said...

Richard Harris vs George Fulton: Two white men battle out their 'love' for Pakistan

As we have conversations about white privilege, gora complex, fake accounts pretending to be tourists, and the weight of the opinions anyone with a lighter skin tone holds in the country — two white men living in Pakistan, Richard Harris and George Fulton, have decided to debate who is allowed to have an opinion about the country.

Before announcing the 'Mother of All Debates,' both men had been critiquing each other on social media. They finally decided to face off in a debate and decide once and for all whether they should be allowed to speak about Pakistan as much as Pakistanis.


"What really got to me was that when someone accuses someone of being paid to push a narrative or express their views, I just find it very offensive," Harris began.

"Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that someone can have a right of centre view of Pakistan, someone can be pro-fauj or someone can have what people say, extra patriotic views about Pakistan? What's so strange about that? Can these views not be held independently? Is Pakistan so unlovable that if someone expresses these views, people are surprised by it?" he questioned.

Belgian Harris went on to reveal that he came to Pakistan as a seven-year-old and is Pakistani. Since his kids are living and studying here, he is passionate about the country's conditions, transitioning from London to Lahore during Covid period.

Fulton, who is a Brit, is in a similar situation. Having been here for 20 years, he referred to the country as a "child" he'd want to see succeed and wish the best for. "At times you are critical of it and at times you tell it off for making mistakes and those who say you can't criticise a country are only advocating nationalism."

The audience was clearly enjoying the debate

Riaz Haq said...

Meanwhile, the country’s military – always a key player in Pakistan’s politics – receives stunningly high ratings. Fully 87% say the military is having a good influence on the nation, up from an already high 79% in 2013.

Riaz Haq said...

Christine Fair: “For Pakistan to collapse, it is basically the Pakistan Army which has to collapse. For better or worse, I do not see that happening.”

Riaz Haq said...

Military got tap equipment illegally, says V.K. Singh

Published : January 26, 2013

The Indian military acquired phone tapping equipment illegally, said former Army chief General V.K. Singh in an interview with The Sunday Guardian, but claimed that he had nothing to do with it. He also owned up for the first time to a shadowy spy agency — the Technical Support Division (TSD) — which has been accused of misappropriating secret military funds and bugging the political leadership. However, the general, who is now a political activist, strongly protested his innocence and insisted that the spying charges against him were the result of a conspiracy to tarnish his image. He alleged that sophisticated phone tapping equipment, including off-air interceptors, was acquired by “one particular DG DIA” without the government’s authorisation and that he was not responsible for it.


Snoop List Has 40 Indian Journalists, Forensic Tests Confirm Presence of Pegasus Spyware on Some
Those on leaked list of potential targets include journalists at Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Wire, Indian Express, News18, India Today, Pioneer, besides freelancers, columnists and regional media.

The phone numbers of over 40 Indian journalists appear on a leaked list of potential targets for surveillance, and forensic tests have confirmed that some of them were successfully snooped upon by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, The Wire can confirm.

The leaked data includes the numbers of top journalists at big media houses like the Hindustan Times, including executive editor Shishir Gupta, India Today, Network18, The Hindu and Indian Express.

The presence of a phone number in the data does alone not reveal whether a device was infected with Pegasus or subject to an attempted hack. However, the Pegasus Project that analysed this list believes the data is indicative of potential targets identified in advance of possible surveillance attempts.

Independent digital forensic analysis conducted on 10 Indian phones whose numbers were present in the data showed signs of either an attempted or successful Pegasus hack.

Of equal importance is how the forensic analysis shows a strong correlation between the time a phone number appears in the leaked records and the beginning of surveillance. The gap usually ranges between a few minutes and a couple of hours. In some cases, including forensic tests conducted for two India numbers, the time between a number appearing on the list and the successful detection of a trace of Pegasus infection is just seconds.

Pegasus is sold by the Israeli company, NSO Group, which says it only offers its spyware to “vetted governments”. The company refuses to make its list of customers public but the presence of Pegasus infections in India, and the range of persons that may have been selected for targeting, strongly indicate that the agency operating the spyware on Indian numbers is an official Indian one.

Riaz Haq said...

Kishore Mahbubani makes several points in his interviews:

1. The United States with about 240-year history likes to pass judgement on China which has over 2,400 year history. What makes the US think China would listen to the American advice?

2. The West is in the habit of judging everyone, including the Chinese. The Chinese have just had the best 30 years of their history. Would the Chinese listen to the American advice on "democracy" and political freedoms after they have seen what happened to Russia when the Russians decided to adopt democracy in 1990s and their economy collapsed?

3. More than 120 million Chinese tourists go to other countries freely and willingly return to China every year. Would they return freely if China was an oppressive stalinist regime? The fact is that while the political freedoms have not increased there has been an explosion of personal freedoms in China over the last 30 years.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpt of Our Man, Richard Holbrooke's biography by George Packer

Pakistan’s generals, not its politicians, defined the national interest. General Ashfaq Kayani, the chief of army staff, and General Shuja Pasha, head of the ISI, were Punjabis from the lower middle class. The military offered a path upward to hardworking Pakistanis like them, and it taught them to despise the civilian politicians as privileged, selfish, undisciplined. Kayani was a chain-smoking golfer with a strategic mind that remained stuck in the 1950s, when the existential threat to Pakistan came from India. He had studied at Fort Leavenworth and admired the U.S. armed forces. He had all the time in the world for his American counterpart, Admiral Mullen, who made twenty-seven trips to Pakistan as chairman of the Joint Chiefs and always dined alone with Kayani at his house in Rawalpindi, the cantonment city next to Islamabad, patiently trying to understand what Pakistan wanted from the United States. Kayani had less interest in seeing Holbrooke.

Packer, George. Our Man . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.