The GHQ has got it wrong!

Violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty includes foreign elements which the army and government continues to ignore.


Khaled Ahmed May 14, 2011

The Pakistan Army has turned Pakistan isolationist on the principle of ghairat (honour). Everyone knows it runs the country’s foreign and security policies. Look closely enough and you will find that it runs practically everything.

The TV channels emphasising ghairat, back the army. Last week, when outspoken journalist Rauf Klasra began spelling out the dominance of the army on a TV talk show, the lady anchor cut him off, not willing to go into the Abbottabad fiasco from that angle.

The Foreign Office which is the closest state institution to the army, because of the latter’s monopoly over foreign policy, used an interesting formulation in its post-Abbottabad statement:“The government of Pakistan and its armed forces consider the support of the people of Pakistan to be its (sic!) mainstay and actual strength. Any actions contrary to their aspirations, therefore, run against the very basis on which the edifice of national defence and security is based (sic!)’.

The Supreme Court, too, took this line when it went activist after its restoration, and it has not been good for Pakistan. Why is ‘going with the people’ not good? Why is ghairat not a good principle to follow in foreign policy?

Democracy is often mistaken with ‘direct democracy’ and today its legal manifestation is only in referendum. Why do referendums — direct consultation with the masses — lead to trouble? We know the case in Pakistan when General Zia and General Musharraf resorted to them. In the US, the state of California alone resorts to them and has bankrupted itself in the process.

Athens was directly ruled by the people, not by a government of their representatives. Plato and Aristotle ended up condemning it. Why? Because they discovered that popular opinion was mostly emotion-based and extreme. It was this lack of moderation of ‘direct democracy’ that made it unpopular in the West, where its ‘representative’ variant finally evolved as the ‘best available’ mode of governance.

What the Foreign Office should have referred to was the government, not the government and the army as institutions subservient to the people and their passions as expressed on the TV channels.

It is folly to adopt ‘state sovereignty’ as the flag of revolt against the world. First of all, it is a myth and secondly, it is used incorrectly. It is used against the US alone, while those who violate Pakistan’s sovereignty include foreign elements that Pakistan ignores.

All things being relative, it is not the CIA which is dangerous for Pakistan’s existence but al Qaeda and its local affiliates. The truth is that the people of Pakistan are with al Qaeda, and al Qaeda has a blueprint for the country’s takeover. If the people and the army don’t mind al Qaeda then Pakistan can become dangerous for the world.

The danger comes from Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. The CIA is said to be after Pakistan’s bomb, but there is no evidence for that. There is evidence, however, that Pakistani nuclear scientists had made early contact with Osama bin Laden after 2001.

Left in the hands of the PPP or the PML-N — both were ousted in the 1990s for dabbling in foreign policy — Pakistan can get out of trouble. They represent the people, yet they know that international affairs demand realistic adjustment to the exigencies of power relationships in the world.

The GHQ is wrong in embracing ghairat as expressed in ‘sovereignty’. It has gone wrong in the past — remember Kargil? — and it is wrong again. And this time the masses need ‘welfare’ even if it comes with a little bit of tweaking of ‘honour’.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2011.

COMMENTS (25)

Khurram | 10 years ago | Reply In normal countries respect and "ghairiat" comes on the basis of economic development while in Pakistan, thanks to the "ghairiat brigade" we believe we would achieve respect by shuning economic development and eating grass, literally!!! What more proof of collective national psychosis does anybody need!!
observer | 10 years ago | Reply @Khalid Masood States and Foreign Policies are always run by BEST BRAINS available. So shall we say ZAB and NS had the BEST BRAINS till the BEST BRAINS got transplanted in Zia and Musharraf respectively.I am sure that makes Pakistan the only country to have BEST BRAINS transplant technology.Congratulations. If out best politicians are busy in minting money then who else then Army is available to run the show ? Whatever happened to the permanent civil bureaucracy,specilly the Foreign Office? In how many countries during your travel or in how many polities in the course of your readings have you found the military in charge of running the show? Instead of condemning Army there is need to see who is NOT doing his job and he is to be blamed and that is our worthy politicians. But didn't you just say that the Army was running the show? In how many countries that you have travelled through have you found politicians manning non-functional radars? Make another attempt at finding those NOT doing their job. Army did not push anyone away for supervising foreign policy… they filled the gap just to secure safety and honor of Pakistan. An elected PM invites PM of another country and both of them profess friendly relations, the Army Chief thinks otherwise and launches agression against the other country. Pushing or filling? The President of country X eschews 'first use of nuclear arms' , the Army Chief openly overturns the stated policy. Pushing or Filling? And where else such people will survive, let alone prosper. Looks like all your travelling and reading was like a rolling stone that gathers no moss.
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