Will the posturing never stop?

Published: December 1, 2011
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

And will our brass hats not learn that merely striking attitudes is never enough? Take the matter of the Shamsi airbase which the Americans have been asked to vacate inside of 15 days after Nato helicopters attacked a border post in Mohmand Agency, killing 26 of our troops, including an officer. Hang on, though… didn’t Pakistan publicly ‘order’ America to remove all of its personnel and drones from the airfield in June 2011, also, as ‘punishment’ for finding and killing the terrorist (who was the direct cause of thousands of Pakistanis being killed and horribly maimed), Osama Bin Laden, in Abbottabad Cantonment?

So, why are they still there? Is it not the case that those who hold sway over our security establishment say one thing for public consumption to keep the hapless elected government on notice, and do quite another to keep those lovely $s and toys for the boys coming in? Certainly seems to be the case, for this is what the Washington Times, a favourite of all Pakistani dictatorships for its conservative leanings, had to say on November 26, the day of the attack, on the Mohmand post: “Pakistan has cooperated secretly with the US on several war-fighting missions in an odd-couple alliance that also sees factions in Islamabad backing the fiercest American enemy.

“The uneasy relationship is being put to the test again, as Pakistan accused Nato on November 26 of unleashing a helicopter strike on a Pakistan army border outpost and said 24 soldiers were killed. US military personnel who have served in the region tell the Washington Times that Pakistan does far more in secret than either side acknowledges. It wants money from Washington to keep flowing, yet fears a democratic Afghanistan could one day align itself with arch-enemy India, analysts say.

“Pakistan’s dual objectives help create this odd alliance. Last summer, as then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen was castigating Pakistan in public for aiding the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network, the CIA was launching predator drone strikes from Pakistani airbases on suspected militants. The US military has deemed Haqqani its greatest threat, ranking it above the Taliban and al Qaeda”.

Be that as it may, back to the instant case of the attack on our post. There is much righteous indignation, with the jingoist propagandists of the Deep State gnashing their teeth and hurling threats here, there and everywhere. From burning down the world and all who live in it with our bums, to sending everyone to an early grave, they ‘leave no stone unturned’ in looking for and finding the worst ever terminology for doing other human beings harm.

In typical fashion, not one of them raises any question at all about the non-response from our side, even on a very local level, to the attack! Credible witnesses, quoting the wounded in the Civil and Military Hospital (CMH), Nowshera, now say that the attack lasted for five-six hours. Five-six hours? Our ‘sovereignty’ was being violated for that long and not one Pakistani fighter aircraft, not one American-supplied attack helicopter with night capability took to the skies in an effort to dissuade Nato from continuing with the attack? Indeed, if it was as unprovoked as we say it was, why weren’t the intruders, at the very least, challenged even three or four hours into the attack? But, hold on to your seats readers: what does the GHQ say in a briefing in which the foreign press was excluded for reasons best known to ISPR (for the whole world got the news an hour after the briefing ended): “The rules of engagement have to be formulated by the [civilian] government.”

Oh, yeah? Really, now? The civilian government has to ‘formulate’ the ‘rules of engagement’ even in case of a sudden attack across our borders, eh, when our Rommels and Guderians have made it clear to all of us hapless citizens of the Land of the Pure that they are the ones really in charge of our security, indeed of our ‘ideological frontiers’ too? Recall, that the GHQ itself had already announced that the government was informed of the attack ‘the next day’.

May I also remind our Sahib Log that no such compunction held them and their ISPR back when they formulated (in a Corps Commanders Conference aka ‘The Forum’!) and issued a rebellious news release on the Kerry-Lugar Bill? Remember that, sirs?

I have said it countless times before, I will say it again: Our Rommels and Guderians are full of bluster and hot air and false braggadocio, designed only to keep us lay Pakistanis in awe, and our weak-kneed and perpetually destabilised (by them) civilian governments on notice. Why else do they strut about the national stage, chests ablaze with far too many, mostly undeserved, medals and gongs and sashes and girlie accoutrements such as that ridiculous gold and silver and red cummerbund with tassels at the end (can they not get the Sam-Browne belt back please?), glaring at all those that disagree with them? And doing worse to some, as we well know?

Which reminds me. Whatever happened to the inquiry into Saleem Shahzad’s brutal murder, My Lord Saqib Nisar? It’s been long enough, Sirji!

Might one ask, too, why the media is deathly silent on that atrocity? Silly question, for we know the selectiveness with which it works: it is ludicrous is it not, that it lighted upon Mansoor Ijaz’s allegations against Husain Haqqani, pillorying him incessantly, even asking the Honourable Supreme Court to step in, and completely ignoring the quite inflammable allegations Ijaz laid at the door of the ISI and its ‘S’ Section? I mean, the man actually said that the ISI and its ‘S’ Section were the “scourge of radicalism”, a “cancer”, and a “sponsor of terrorism”.

There is no justice in the world is there?

The Deep State wins. All of the time…

P.S. I continue to believe that this is as much our war as it is the Americans’. And that once they leave, we will be in direr straits.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (26)

  • Jp
    Dec 1, 2011 - 11:18PM

    Why dont all 3 of them ( Defence minister, Army General & Intelligent chief ) resign from their post accepting moral responsibility for the death of 24 soldiers who were abandoned by the whole est & govt on that night. If pakistan is a democratic country all these 3 has no moral authority to continue in their posts.


  • kashfi
    Dec 1, 2011 - 11:24PM

    OMG ,who r u,where r u,and what do u want,whatever please take agood care of you


  • faraz
    Dec 1, 2011 - 11:30PM

    We lost all wars against India and we are struggling against rag tag groups in our backyard but still a vast majority is awestruck by the supposed might of the army. ISPR is indeed the real elite formation of the army.


  • Babloo
    Dec 2, 2011 - 12:06AM

    When USA attacked Iraq, Mr Sadaam Hussain ordered his figter jets to be flown to Tehran, so that USA does not attack them and destroy those expensive toys. Well Iran took those free toys and has not returned them.
    Moral of the story, the army does not want to lose its toys in a fight with USA in which it will lose badly. What if US gets mad and bombs army HQ at RawalPindi ? Those toys are for bombing insurgents in Baluchistan , to fly on defense day and other army holidays and to shock and awe TTP.


  • Zed
    Dec 2, 2011 - 12:15AM

    Brilliant as ever, KS


  • SaneVoice
    Dec 2, 2011 - 1:59AM

    Kamran Sahib,

    As always sir a job well done.


  • Aliyah
    Dec 2, 2011 - 2:12AM

    Mr. Shafi, this “Deep State” spiel is getting quite tiresome and stale.
    This ridiculous obsession you seem to have with the army/ISI is really quite odd. Dialogue and rationality are needed to solve Pakistan’s many problems, not conspiracy theories about Pakistan’s armed forces!


  • Maverick
    Dec 2, 2011 - 2:47AM

    Bravo Mr KS. You will find an opportunity to bad mouth Pakistan Army in any situation. Full marks at least for being consistent.


  • Ali Wazir
    Dec 2, 2011 - 3:56AM

    “P.S. I continue to believe that this is as much our war as it is the Americans’. And that once they leave, we will be in direr straits.”

    Odd the lack of any sympathy for your fellow army jawans. I am sure you think they got their cumuppence.

    How sanguine and wise of you sitting in Britain to give your stamp of approval to this “very successful” 10 year nightmare imposed on us. I am sure you also supported other follies of Musharraf.(LalMasjid, Akbar Bugti killing, Operation in Baluchistan, Drone strikes,CIA running amok in the country, Military operation in tribal areas, Missing persons and rendition program)

    Well the Americans are leaving we will soon find out things get better or worse.


  • Spud
    Dec 2, 2011 - 4:49AM

    When army generals carry out a coup against the civilian government as they have done many times before in Pakistan where was their purity as stated in their statement “The rules of engagement have to be formulated by the [civilian] government”.
    Mr. Shafi has hit the nail on the head in this article.


  • Akthar
    Dec 2, 2011 - 6:13AM

    For sure, you might have got a few calls from blocked numbers.

    Kamran Sahib, you are try to change something which you cant. Life`s precious. Be careful.


  • N
    Dec 2, 2011 - 6:42AM

    Rules of Military engagement are to be formulated by the civilians! But they don’t control the military!


  • Dec 2, 2011 - 7:05AM

    According to the foreign press it was Pakistanis who started firing first. So depends on who you believe. The truth is the first causality as they say. Anyway we’ve lost of hundreds of civilians over the years to drone attacks and not a word from the Army. Are the lives of 24 soldiers really that big a deal? I am sure they’ll get used to attacks like these soon enough.


  • indian hindu
    Dec 2, 2011 - 9:47AM

    u have written a good article. a different perspective than the mainstream.every society needs such introspection.


  • Parvez
    Dec 2, 2011 - 2:14PM

    Nicely written, strong stuff. Credibility is not an issue Recommend

  • K B Kale
    Dec 2, 2011 - 2:51PM

    What a brilliant piece, Shafisahab, with facts & sarcasm wonderfully blended for ultimate effect!
    But do look left & right and always use a rear-view mirror to see oif anybody is lurking to ‘do you in’!
    I equally enjoyed “I’m a ghairatmand Pakistani” by Ms Atika Rehman.
    Keep the good work going!
    K B Kale, Jakarta


  • Meekal Ahmed
    Dec 2, 2011 - 2:54PM


    Today they are saying that the PAF could not scramble because of a “communication failure”.

    We have paid a very high price in human lives for a communication failure.


  • Dec 2, 2011 - 3:52PM

    i’m not sure if they can take this criticism anymore, but we can’t lay down our pens, we can’t do away with the our brain cells left. we have to keep up, untill they give this time as there is no more for either of the two i.e. either their jingoism trying to covet the country into a taliban pit or our conscious to bring her out of this quagmire. Thank you so much for writing and keep on writng, it’s not going unheard anymore..


  • Zeeshan Ahmad
    Dec 2, 2011 - 7:57PM

    It is hard to believe anything that comes from the current (or other) government, given the recent leaks which revealed Gilani publicly condemning the drone strikes on civilians, whilst winking at the US to continue.

    This latest saga seems to be more of a stage show to placate the angry public, than any real desire to receive justice for the 24 soldiers and their families.


  • Mirza
    Dec 2, 2011 - 8:06PM

    @Meekal Ahmed:
    I am shocked that Pakistani army is admitting a “failure”. My initial comments on this Op Ed were not published. Thanks for another great read KS. Just wanted to tell you how much we progressives appreciate your writings.


  • Dec 2, 2011 - 8:28PM

    Fruits of Strategic Depth-Death.USA,UK,UAE,Saudi Arabia, India, Iran, Russia, Central Asian all are adding some fuel to play the game in Afghanistan but not within their countries on the cost of their ordinary citizens, but our BRAVOS are themselves playing the game In their country on the cost of citizens,civilians, soldiers and officers-belonging poor,middle class back ground. They have not learned anything from the history. AlaaaaaaaaaaaaasRecommend

  • Nadeem
    Dec 2, 2011 - 11:14PM

    It is true that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Pakistan Army has enjoyed absolute power for 53 years and now its leaders, the generals, have thoroughly lost their integrity. They openly tell us lies and have taken a once-healthy country to the abyss. They foolishly think they can forever continue with their domestic and international games. Their day of judgement is close when they will be asked about their innumerable misdeeds


  • MarkH
    Dec 2, 2011 - 11:28PM

    Maybe they should stop giving him good opportunities to do so.


  • Ishrat Salim
    Dec 3, 2011 - 4:28PM

    3 ( aka intel failures )Communication failures….OBL, Mehran & Salalah post….?? whom are these guys fooling….??

    KS….thnx….if the Army has so many faults…why did you join them in the first place…??Recommend

  • ayesha khan
    Dec 4, 2011 - 1:36AM

    @Maverick: “Bravo Mr KS. You will find an opportunity to bad mouth Pakistan Army in any situation. Full marks at least for being consistent”

    You are criticizing Kamran saab for speaking up. But you are unable to point to any inacuracy in what he is saying. So basically you want him to be a today like many others who highlight the smallest faul of elected leaders and ask for accountability but are woefully silent when it comes to army’s failures.


  • Omar
    Dec 4, 2011 - 2:22PM

    CMH is ‘Combined’ Military Hospital, not civil! Major saab, I’m sure you’re still enjoying its benefits, please remember what the letters stand for!


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