Some more on drones ...

Published: October 11, 2012
The writer is a senior journalist and has held several editorial positions, including most recently at The Friday Times. He was a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and is currently senior adviser, outreach, at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute

The writer is a senior journalist and has held several editorial positions, including most recently at The Friday Times. He was a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and is currently senior adviser, outreach, at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute

Imran Khan just marched against the drones as he said he would. Good. At least he delivers on a promise, regardless of the innate quality of the promise. Politics, laced with a normative belief in an idea, always makes for greater credibility. He believes that drones kill innocent people and he also believes they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. That’s the government position too. Reports from two premier US law schools also make for good citations on the issue if one is out to batter drone strikes.

There are moral and legal-normative problems, of course. The news that the US president has a “kill” list hasn’t helped. That the US president with the kill list is a former law professor or that the administration is arbitrarily interpreting international law provisions to justify drone attacks on the soil of countries that do not permit them makes the situation worse.

This is the problem when states fight a different kind of war or employ a new weapon system. But leaving all else aside, war will continue to determine human affairs and technology will continue to determine the conduct of war.

Maj Gen JFC Fuller, a brilliant though terribly controversial military thinker, regretted the loss of the ‘gentlemanly’ ways of fighting post-French Revolution. He also thought that employing the sword in a direct contest of arms was more chivalrous than the use of bow and arrow. But as Fuller knew and his own writings on tank warfare show, technology will continue to impact the conduct of war.

When Charles VIII descended on northern Italy, determined to march on Naples, the principalities and dukedoms in Italy had to make a decision: fight the diminutive French king or waive him onto Naples. The decision was helped in most cases by what the French artillery could do!

The stirrup allowed cavalrymen to wear heavy armour and still be able to charge and fight; the longbow and the Swiss pike helped infantrymen to more than match the cavalry, as did the musket and later the machine gun. The balance between offence and defence keeps changing. The list of technological changes and their impact on war and by extension politics is long and unending.

But what of law, of just and unjust wars, the elaborate body of literature that is supposed to determine jus ad bellum (right to go to war) and jus in bello (right conduct within war)? As with other aspects of human life, in this, too, shall law follow the politics of war? Let it be said, however, that no state — or a collection of people — will let go of an advantage and most definitely not in times of perceived or real security threats.

So the Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) is here to stay. At least 44 states are in various stages of developing drones and before long will have deployable and employable assets. In any case, the UAV technology has been around and is not very sophisticated. Pakistan develops short-range drones for reconnaissance and surveillance. It doesn’t have long-range UAVs or strike vehicles. What if we have the capability?

If we were using our own strike vehicles that would take care of the sovereignty issue but not of targeting: would we agitate the problem of targeting — who decides the target and on what basis? Would it be okay if our president had a kill list? And our president has not been a professor of anything, let alone law. Does that make it easier to have a kill list?

These questions are important to put the issue in a perspective. The normative position says drones are bad, weapons are bad, war and violence is bad. I agree. But the position has no policy relevance. The other two reference points are political and operational. At the political level, and given the public sentiment in Pakistan, no government can sell as helpful the idea of drone strikes by the US in any way. At the operational level, area commanders thought personality strikes — few and far between and precise — were acceptable in some cases, especially when conducting against high-profile targets. The increased frequency of the strikes, especially ‘signature strikes’, based on suspicious behaviour and assembly, has changed that.

So the question is: are we opposed to the use of drones per se or their use by the US? The fact that some of our political luminaries, the latest being Mr Rehman Malik, continue to ask the US to give  ‘drone technology’ to Pakistan should be taken to imply that it is their use by the US which we do not like. In our hands it would be great to have the system. We could employ it with precision against the elusive TTP terrorists. That does have a good ring to it.

There’s a slight problem, though. The US could not, even if it wanted to, give us the drones. The system requires two-way communication between the drones (the remote platform) and the ground control station. Once beyond the line of sight, this can only be done through satellite communication, which is why, according to the US department of defence description, “A fully operational system consists of four Predators (with sensors), a ground control station (GCS) that houses the pilots and sensor operators, and a Predator primary satellite-link communication suite.”

This is what a Pakistani engineer who has worked abroad on the technology wrote to me: “The challenge lies in beyond line of sight communications. To control any remotely-piloted device, there has to be secure communication between the control platform and the remote platform. This is established via microwave communication. The problem, however, is that to ‘control’ the remote platform after it goes beyond line of sight, a mechanism is required to provide input to (trajectory, altitude, etc) and receive output from (video feed, targeting information, etc) the platform. The only solution to that currently, is via satellite communication … Since we cannot afford our own satellite programme, ‘drone technology’ cannot be ‘given’ to us and we cannot be granted access to the US MILSAT network.”

If we want to have UCAVs, we need our own MILSAT network. That will take some doing.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2012. 

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Reader Comments (48)

  • Cautious
    Oct 11, 2012 - 12:53AM

    Old subject — USA will never give you drone technology – trust deficit is too great. Further – drones may not be perfect but they are infinitely more accurate than Pakistan’s favored weapon – artillery. The solution to drones is simple — quit allowing terrorist to use your territory to launch attacks on your neighbors and allies.


  • Liberal
    Oct 11, 2012 - 12:53AM

    I can see liberal warmongers getting active again .. media is doing what it did just before SAWAT and south waziristan Operation …. creating a level playing field .. soon we will see another operation in North Waziristan … and more destruction ..


  • Tariq Bashir
    Oct 11, 2012 - 1:05AM

    Dear Haider Sab- an excellent piece of literally discourse on drones. I think issue is now far beyond of drones as a weapons of choice or necessity, rather “targeting indiscriminately”, which is adding fuel to the file. Like Donald Rumsfeld said once “are we killing more talibans than creating them”? Eliminating “talibans-only” is the real issue, not using drones or any future “ultra rays” from space-based satellite. I think this can only be done using the “classic spy network” with the help of locals AND absolute commitment of the civilian/military authorities. But what do I know. Last, please don’t deprive the urdu readers of this country from this valuable piece of literary excellence.


  • Ali
    Oct 11, 2012 - 1:08AM

    and now we shall get the drones even if we have to eat the soil left behind,after eating the grass.


  • gp65
    Oct 11, 2012 - 1:47AM

    Statement 1by Rehman Malik (which was also said by Hina Rabani): Drones are good but if used by Pakistanis, not US

    Statement 2: By Ejaz Haider: Drone technololgy cannot be used for eliminating militatnts by countries that do not have their own military satellites. Since Pakistan does not have military satellites, Pakistan cannot have drones.

    So questions that arise are:
    1) If drones in the hand of Pakistan are good, what makes them bad in the hands of US?Is it because they may taget Haqqanis whom you want to save?
    2) Will the collateral damage inherent in drone technology go away if Pakistan uses it instead of US?
    3) What is the author suggesting –
    option a) continue use of drones by US to get the benefit and accept collateral damage since Pakistan cannot operate them for technical reason
    option b) discontinue usage of drones alltogether since use byPakistan is not an option.

    If it is option 3b that author is recommending, exactly what options is he offering to US to address the terrorist problem in NWA where the military has dragged its feet over conducting n operation for the past 3 years.


  • Mirza
    Oct 11, 2012 - 1:56AM

    @gp65: I agree with you. I don’t think that the author is providing any solution.


  • Tariq Bashir
    Oct 11, 2012 - 2:13AM

    Not every article is written to provide a solution. Author has raised some valid points relevant to the discussion brewing in media. In a lighter note, mentioning of Rehman Malik in this intellectual discussion is an insult ot of us here. Regards-


  • mahakaalchakra
    Oct 11, 2012 - 2:25AM

    @ Author

    All these armed Mujahideens or terrorists operating in neighboring countries and remote-controlled by the Pakistan army/ISI are low-tech drones of Pakistan.

    You did tell one basic truth. You do not want Pakistan’s “assets” such as Haqqani group and other Afghan Taliban to be protected for their use/misuse by Pakistan.

    Pakistan wants only TTP to be destroyed by drones while USA wants terrorists of all hues and shades right from Afghan Taliban, TTP, Lashkars, including LeT who create murder and mayhem in the neighboring countries, be destroyed by Pakistan army first and if not by drones.

    Keep droning on and on!


  • sabi
    Oct 11, 2012 - 2:43AM

    Americans need drones because there is no other option left to kill or capture terrorists.Why Pakistan be needing drones when it’s army has foot on ground.Go and chase them (terorrorists) who stop you (pakistan).If there is a will FC is enough to crush these beasts let alone massive army.


  • realist
    Oct 11, 2012 - 3:06AM

    Ha! I think he is asking for military satellites for Pak.


  • gp65
    Oct 11, 2012 - 3:08AM

    You are funny Ali. Good one.


  • gp65
    Oct 11, 2012 - 3:30AM

    @Tariq Bashir: “Not every article is written to provide a solution”

    Agree 100%. But such articles either offer a new insight or perspective. What does this OpED provide?
    Plus even if there is not a solution at the end, I would at least like to understand the author’s point of view. I could not understand it and hence asked the questions I did. If you understand it, would certainly be interested in hearing from you.


  • Anjum
    Oct 11, 2012 - 3:34AM

    I read other day that India is also developing this drones technology. They are advancing rapidly because of their own satellite programme and their programme’s success rate is very high. Why we in Pakistan don’t have our own satellite programme. We always talk about poverty in India but its worst here in Pakistan. There is corruption India but again, its worst here. We have to start our own indeginious programme and achieve new heights.


  • pl
    Oct 11, 2012 - 6:36AM

    thanks for teaching islamabad some new ways of wasting my taxes.


  • F
    Oct 11, 2012 - 6:40AM

    Do not worry about India, please. The best friend India’s enemies have is their DRDO and MOD. One cannot produce a credible weapon system and the other can’t procure one. DRDO has a nose longer than Pinochio’s and MOD a procurement process longer than DRDO’s nose. Just a few examples from the citadel of science:
    – Arjun tank – 30 years in the making
    – LCA fighter – 35 years and still testing
    – AWACS – 20 years and in imaginary skies
    – INSAS rifle – 35 years in redesign.
    Now some future gems of imagination that ought to make you tremble
    – AMCA
    – Space Plane
    – Catamaran Air Craft Carriers
    – new network centric infantry soldier


  • Pervez Khan
    Oct 11, 2012 - 9:56AM

    Mr Haider, There are solutions without a MILSAT in the Pakistani context but would require some indigenous effort.


  • sidjeen
    Oct 11, 2012 - 10:57AM

    the question is not whether drones should be used or not. its whether they are effective or not. i say they are because in some parts of the tribal areas drones are called “da talibano plar” which can simply be translated as father of the taliban.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Oct 11, 2012 - 11:28AM


    I have a nagging suspicion that this article could be easily written within 250 words without any loss of gist and impact.

    P.S.: Longbows were effective on lightly armored and relatively less mobile infantry. Their penetration power and accuracy was insufficient against more heavily armored and mobile cavalry. Archers were more effective against infantry.
    Columns of pike-men were the most effective ploy against charging heavy cavalry due to reach and accuracy, especially given the high momentum of a heavy cavalry charge.


  • harkol
    Oct 11, 2012 - 12:07PM

    Mr. Haider:

    You should rejoice that US president (one of the brightest US has had in a long long time) has a kill list. He would’ve poured over document to personally approve the thugs who are in it. I am sure his kill list includes folks who maintain a kill list of their own.

    You may object to that Kill List, if Pakistan honestly made emergency laws to reduce the thresholds of evidence needed to prosecute the folks who maim/kill folks like Malala. If your law enforcement agencies went after these folks, brought them to justice, there won’t be a need for US President (no less) to make a kill list.

    When you have cancer, you get Chemotherapy. Those antibodies kill all cells – but they kill cancer cells more. Because it may kill good cells would you not go for Chemotherapy?

    Would you deny Pakistan is infested with Cancerous extremism?


  • shrmz
    Oct 11, 2012 - 12:39PM

    @Anjum: Waterkit settalite:)


  • Raza
    Oct 11, 2012 - 2:07PM

    Technology and warfare go hand in hand, but…u acquire certain technologies when you have exhausted the ones you’ve been using or if they are ineffective. Taliban use basic ammunition and shoot people down. Very simple. We have an army much larger then the Talibans and all they need to do is shoot the buggers down. We have enough tech to do that. Thanks Ejazhaider for keeping many issues alive with insightful text – continuously.


  • david smith
    Oct 11, 2012 - 2:19PM

    In other words, if Pakistan had advanced drones (with the guidance technology), it would target the “elusive TTP terrorists”, that’s it?


  • observer
    Oct 11, 2012 - 3:10PM

    Two Questions haunt me.

    A. If Pakistan had its own Drones, then would the Khan have marched to Islamabad?

    B. If at a future date Pakistan deploys its own will the Khan still march?


  • Zoro
    Oct 11, 2012 - 4:11PM

    Even if Pakistan gets the new drone technology … will they assure that the missile fired thru will only kill the bad taliban and not even touch the bystanders ??


  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Oct 11, 2012 - 4:20PM

    Author is trying to create public opinion for increase in defense budget so that Pakistan can develop its own drone technology or buy these toys for its army. First Pakistan spends money to create good and bad Frankenstein monsters. Then she wants to develop technology to kill the bad Frankenstein monsters and save the good ones.

    Why not save taxpayer’s money and stop funding to Frankenstein monsters and than there is no need for technology to kill them? Use the money saved for buying expensive energy sources so that industries can operate to its full capacity. Pakistan’s priorities are mixed up. End of the day It Is (still) Economy Stupid.


  • Khan Jr
    Oct 11, 2012 - 4:25PM

    I think Mr Ejaz Haider is an expert on drones. He has made it a habit of droning on just about everything, endlessly.


  • Learner
    Oct 11, 2012 - 4:37PM

    @gp65 (Gauravi)

    I do not think you are here for sincerely understanding this author’s or anyone else’s, who does not openly criticise Pakistan, point of view. That would be asking for too much. Any comments on the spate of rapes in Haryana? Oh, but I forgot, India is a status quo country. It can’t do any wrong to others, and never has done any. As for its own citizens, such acts must be dismissed as the wrongs committed by a very very very small minority. Rest is all hunky-dory! BTW, do you see any chance of your favourite ‘politician’, Narendra Modi, becoming PM?


  • Babloo
    Oct 11, 2012 - 5:11PM

    Why this Pakistani obsession with drones ? Why not with lw and order, electricity, education, agricultural rpoduction ?


  • Oct 11, 2012 - 5:12PM

    Or maybe we can have waterkit drones, communicating with water streams…no need for satelites. This technology can be perefected and waterkit launched rockets can also be put in space.


  • Polpot
    Oct 11, 2012 - 8:08PM

    @Tariq Bashir: “Not every article is written to provide a solution. ”
    Many articles are written to see ones name in print and/or supplement ones income.
    Do I need to point out examples?


  • It Is (still) Economy Stupid
    Oct 11, 2012 - 8:25PM

    Sexual crime against women is shameful act but part of all civilization including army man deployed on UN peace keeping duty in Congo. The difference is what law enforcement agency does once a crime is reported. In India, including Haryana accused are arrested, put to trial and if convicted sent to jail. India’s rape rate is 1.8/100,000 compared to 93/100,000 for Botswana and 27/100,000 for USA.

    It will be helpful to see Modi from secular eyes and learn the development model he brought to that part of the world. Pakistan can learn from Bihar and Gujrat governments development model to bring prosperity for their own citizens. His crime is between him and his god. He will be judged for his deed on a chosen day, just like you and I. People are very forgiving when their stomach is full and some cash in the pocket, that is why Court award monetary compensation for pain and suffering and not more painkillers. End of the day It Is (still) Economy Stupid.


  • gp65
    Oct 11, 2012 - 8:33PM

    @Learner: This is not the first time you have attacked me personally without any reference to the ideas that I am expressing. It is unclear why. The questions you raised have no bearing on this OpEd, so I have to wonder how your post complies with ET guidelines. I know why I come to ET and I do not need your approval to do so. Unlike you though I have never made an ad hominem attack on anyone nor made comments that are unrelated to newsitem/editorial that I am commenting on.

    Still I will respond (ET, I have been personally and directly attacked – pls. allow response):
    1) Rape is never ‘OK’ but it happens throughout the world including Pakistan. Hwoever with the Hudood laws you have, the likelihood of a woman complaining are greatly reduced, so your official statistics do not represent the incidence of rape in your country. Rapists should be tried and convicted. India’s rate of conviction for rapists is about 30 times that of Pakistan’s. Unsure that there is any international angle to this.
    2) Narendra Modi is an Indian citizen and is eligible to be an Indian PM. I don’t know whether he will become but it is the Indian citizens that will decide one way or another. The fact that Pakistanis dislike him will have no bearing on the issue.


  • Californian
    Oct 11, 2012 - 9:12PM

    Elsewhere in this paper there is a report of a drone strike on a house, which as the author points out, is the culmination of major technological advances and resources acting in concert.

    Also, in this same issue, there is the story of the ingenious use of a donkey to bomb people.

    I say, who needs satellites, just tie drones to donkeys and be among the world’s military elite.


  • Oct 11, 2012 - 9:51PM

    “that the administration is arbitrarily interpreting international law provisions to justify drone attacks -“

    “Arbitrary” as in by random choice or personal whim? I think not. UNSCR 1373 established in international law the binding sovereign obligation for Pakistan to combat terror control in its territory; failing that, Pakistani sovereignty no longer applies and the area becomes an open battlefield with regards to terrorists. That terrorists have effective control in the areas under drone attack is not in dispute. That the terrorists threaten U.S. forces and, through Al Qaeda, the U.S. itself is not in dispute.

    Thus the only “arbitrary” interpretation here is the one that calls U.S. drone attacks on terrorists based in Pakistan illegal.


  • observer
    Oct 11, 2012 - 10:20PM


    Any comments on the spate of rapes in Haryana?

    Yes, the moment I finish crying over the fate of 13 four year old girls of Vani.

    BTW, do you see any chance of your favourite ‘politician’, Narendra Modi, becoming PM?

    If Emirul Momineen Zia can, so can Modi. With one difference though, Modi will not have to hang the outgoing PM.


  • Polpot
    Oct 11, 2012 - 10:39PM

    We have to depend on the friendship higher than the Himalayas and depth deeper than the oceans…

    maybe we should use their satellites….so will they give us their drones?


  • Jat
    Oct 11, 2012 - 10:49PM

    @Polpot: The lower than low friend haven’t been able to steal the tech from the Americans or the Russians. They do have a cardboard model…


  • Polpot
    Oct 11, 2012 - 10:55PM

    @gp65: Madam You are fortunate to be living in India outside the reach of people who can serve the same treatment as they have served to Ms Yousefzai


  • ITs (still) Economy Stupid
    Oct 11, 2012 - 11:19PM

    @Learner: BTW, do you see any chance of your favourite ‘politician’, Narendra Modi, becoming PM?

    If Modi becomes the PM he will have same respect as Pakistan offered to Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq with a history of killing 10,000 and 25,000 Palestinians in operation called Black September-Jordanian army attacks. He was rewarded with car, money and Presidency of Pakistan.

    On September 15, King Hussein declared martial law. The next day, Jordanian tanks (the 60th Armored Brigade of the Jordanian Army) attacked the headquarters of Palestinian organizations in Amman; the army also attacked camps in Irbid, Salt, Sweileh, Baq’aa, Wehdat and Zarqa.

    Then the head of Pakistani training mission to Jordan, Brigadier Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (later Chief of Army Staff and President of Pakistan), took command of the 2nd division. However, the Jordanians could not devote all their attention to the Palestinians. The 3rd Armoured Division of the Iraqi Army had remained in Jordan after the 1967 war. The Iraqi regime sympathised with the Palestinians, and it was unclear whether the division would intervene on the part of the Palestinians. Thus the 99th Brigade of the Jordanian 3rd Armoured Division had to be retained to watch the Iraqi division.

    Arafat later claimed that the Jordanian army killed between 10,000 and 25,000 Palestinians,


  • gp65
    Oct 11, 2012 - 11:33PM

    @Polpot: “Madam You are fortunate to be living in India “

    Indian living in US my friend. But agree out of Taliban reach.


  • Learner
    Oct 12, 2012 - 2:40AM

    I am not surprised at how I raised the hackles of so many Indians commenting here. Obviously, they cannot tolerate even the slightest suggestion of a criticism on their beloved motherland. But again obviously, Pakistan and Muslims are fair game. And the most snide remarks about Pakistanis are in good faith, not to be construed as ad hominem by those stupid people who don’t understand that “it’s (still) the Economy”. Coming as it is from a great Indian mind, we should immediately submit to this wisdom.

    As for statistics, in 2008 India was the third worst offender in rape cases after US and South Africa according to expressindia. I am sure the figures haven’t improved since then.

    It is fairly easy for you to see Modi “from secular eyes” for that is the kind of twisted logic one can expect from his defenders. After all, he is neither a Muslim nor accused of killing Hindus.
    So secularism work here. Pakistanis can surely learn a lot from Modi and Gujrat. I for one
    can murder all my neighbours and build highrises and parks with all the amenities. Some
    idea of development! BTW, Hafiz Saeed’s crime too is between him and his God. So let’s
    move on.


  • Learner
    Oct 12, 2012 - 2:54AM


    I have nothing against you on a personal level. My comments about you are based on my observations. I have been reading ET for quite some time and your comments never escape my attention. My comments are not unrelated; they point to a disturbing trend in the comments’ sections. Unfortunately, Indians have made a habit of exhibiting a holier-than-thou attitude here and, barring a few exceptions, do not come across as genuine or sincere. Just as you suggested that instead of aman ki asha, we should leave each other alone, may I suggest that you may as well leave Pakistanis alone? Criticism can come from both a friend or a foe, but it’s the manner, intention and motive that dictates it’s purpose. Unfortunately, most Indians here do not seem to fall in the first category. I am willing to change my stance if you change your approach.

    Hafiz Saeed is a Pakistani citizen and Pakistani courts will decide whether he is guilty or not. The fact that Indians dislike him will have no bearing on this.


  • Learner
    Oct 12, 2012 - 3:07AM


    This is precisely the reason why I posed the question about rapes in Haryana. Exactly the kind of stuff you people engage in when commenting here. Rather than being constructive, all you do is belittle and insult Pakistan and Muslims at every possible instance. Always applauding any criticism of Pakistan and never failing to put down any positive opinion. You did exactly the same in responding to my comment. I am seriously not concerned about what goes on in Haryana, apart from the obvious grief that one feels on reading about such incidents. But you people come here to enjoy the misery of people and add insult to injury.

    As for Modi, my comments about him in the other two responses suffice. If you people were even remotely unbiased and just, you would have given a very different response on Modi. But then, that’s asking for too much.


  • gp65
    Oct 12, 2012 - 5:57AM

    @Learner: Thank you for taking the time to reply. On a Pakistani newspaper, naturally I am going to respond on stories listed here. I am not sure why that makes you think that I (or others like me) are not aware of the challenges India too faces? Holier than thou would come into picture if I criticized your religion and said mine was superior. I do not believe I have done that ever. If you saw the note where I talked about the 2 countries leaving each other alone, you must have read the rest of it where I stated that both have a very large number number of deprived citizens to take care – the operative word being both.

    When it comes to India, I have the chance to actually do something besides just posting on blogs about the problems India has i.e. I volunteer for causes I believe in. You have assumed a lack of sincerity and on occasion accused me of being venomous. But I do not feel any hatred towards the ordinary Pakistani. though I am frustrated by the double speak of your army and ISI and whose jang-ju mentality bleeds both our countries of money that could be used for the benefit of its hapless citizens. IF you re-read any of my posts without assuming an underlying hatred, you will find that the comments are just my objective assessment of any given situation.

    Oh and as for Haafiz Saeed – isn’t that exactly what is happening anyway? All that Indians ask is for Pakistani government to investigate the 26/11 plot with sincerity and prosecute those involved (don’t bring up Samjhauta express because colonel purohit IS in jail). But ofcourse the problem in your country is that no terrorist (including those that kill Pakistanis) gets punished by your judiciary isn’t it? Your own army and ISI have a problem with that. Some day I am sure people in your country will stand up to ALL terrorists who are killing you and your neighbours in your schools, bazaars and mosques and take the fight to them by saying ‘Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai, dekhna hai zor kitna bazzoen qatil me hai’.

    Best Regards


  • sabi
    Oct 12, 2012 - 9:13PM

    Let us show guts and accept all kind of crticism.I have been reading posts by indian friends and I feel nothing insecure by these posts.I infact appriciate indians for giving their time and share their feelings with us. I also admitt that I’m learning a lot from these posts in positive sense.I would like more indians join this forum to share with us scopes and ideas to build better societies on both side of the borders-Cheers Indians.


  • Learner
    Oct 13, 2012 - 12:37AM


    Thanks for your response. As I said before in different words, my brother or sister can point out my flaws and criticise me for not doing the right thing or not doing things right, but his/her manner, tone and approach would be entirely different from say someone who wants to see me down in the dumps. In most cases, when people belonging to different ideologies, religions or worldviews engage with each other, especially with a bitter past, the purpose is to go one up and find smug satisfaction in winning points by finding faults. This biased attitude is difficult to disguise.

    There was at least one Indian commentator here, I forget his name but I think someone said he/she should start writing a blog and you seconded it, who mostly came across as genuine, learned and unbiased. I usually haven’t felt the same about your comments, so may be some introspection is not a bad idea.

    Let me be very clear that I condemn the Taliban and all those terrorists who extinguish innocent lives without any remorse. But I am equally critical of MQM, the secular terrorist party that has held Karachi hostage for too long. When I sit with my friends and family, I am very critical of Pakistan army and its shenanigans. But absolving India, its army or intelligence and positing them as the epitome of justice and uprightness just does not cut it. I don’t believe one should be held hostage to the left-right ideological divide. Neither should a misguided notion of nationalism and patriotism, on which Hobsbawm and Gellner should be read, force us to betray the higher virtues of justice and fairness. Let me also say that I have been to India twice and enjoyed being there. The people I interacted with were mostly nice and hospitable. I have had Indian friends as well and they were well-meaning people. Somehow, most of those who comment here and on Hindustan Times, which I have been reading for ten years, disappoint. I can only hope that things will change for the better.

    As for Hafiz Saeed, I brought him up only because of the way you and others defended Modi and his ilk. It’s funny that Pakistan’s right wing is to be excoriated but India’s right wing is to be defended. And please don’t make any comparison with PML(N) for that just does not work.
    I do not want to play the your-monster-is-worse-than-mine game (even if we agree on who the monsters are). I think it is not correct to say that terrorists are not punished because the Pakistani courts by and large don’t want to. In many, if not most, cases, the prosecution is too weak in terms of furnishing incriminating evidence, and law can take its course only based on evidence. Of course the ineffective and corrupt police and in some cases judges are complicit too, but that is a problem Pakistan and India share. Whether the army and ISI want the terrorists to be punished after so much water has gone under the bridge can be debated. I can retort by saying that many politicians and influential people don’t want Modi to be punished. But we will again fall in the same trap.



  • gp65
    Oct 13, 2012 - 3:19AM

    @Learner: Appreciate yourdetailed reply. It is possible that you preferred the communication style of some other Indian more than mine. You have a right to your preferences. I know that I do not have any malice towards Pakistanis and like you, I too have many Pakistani friends. Also I do not come hear to gloat – as you seem to think. You may believe me or may not – I have no control over that. Also, unlike what you believe I have not claimed that everything is hunkydory in India. It just happens that India has a very different set of problems from Pakistan – so in a specific area that Pakistan has a problem, I may feel that India does not have a problem or the scale of problem is miniscule compared to Pakistan. For example the problem related to female foeticide is widely prevalent in India compared to Pakistan. Since the issue is not discussed on these boards, you are unlikely to see my views on that subject here.

    I however do believe that people in Pakistan are less open to constructive criticism than India. Here I am not referring to criticism that may come across the border but rather the fact that people like Najam Sethi, Nadeem Paracha, Marvi Sirmed, Asma Jehangir are automatically branded as CIA agents because they attempt to show a mirror to the country. In India for example, Amir Khan did a series called Satyamev Jayate where he focused on various socioeconomic problems of India. He was hugely appreciated (in fact even landed on the cover of Asia Pacific edition of Time magazine) and a lot of grass-root changes have been initiated based on his research and recommendations. No-one called him an ISI agent.

    Also while people in power will always try to lie to stay in power, in a democracy the safety valve is the opposition. They along with a free media will let people know of the wrongdoings of the party in power. In Pakistan due to the years when dictators were in power and when they also muzzled free press, I feel that Pakistanis have been lied a lot -especially with regards to India and many of these lies have been institutionalized through lies propagated in Pakistan studies. If India and Pakistan have a problem, no-one can believe that India is 0% wrong and Pakistan is 100% wrong but the split is not 50-50 either – at least in the eyes of us Indians.

    As for Modi, I will not debate him with you. IF you and I are using a completely different set of facts to evaluate the man, it is unlikely we could come to an identical conclusion no matter how long we debated here.

    Best Regards


  • Learner
    Oct 13, 2012 - 7:13PM

    An umbrella body of 21 medical institutions got very upset with Aamir Khan. According to Hindustan Times this show “has landed Aamir in the bad books of the Indian Medical Association (IMA)”. No one had to call him an ISI agent because the issue was not of such a nature. If someone were to raise similar issues in Pakistan, and many people do, they are not branded CIA agents but nonetheless receive their share of flak. While I agree that many Pakistanis are prone to blaming America, India and Israel for most of their woes, the reaction people anywhere show in general against criticism is not positive.

    At least three of the four people you have mentioned as those who “show a mirror to the country”, are in my view fairly imbalanced and one-sided both in their approach and the substance of their critique, even while I agree with some of the points in their commentaries. So while I would be quite critical of their liberal worldview, I don’t brand them as CIA agents.

    I think lies are propagated in all modern nation states, but more so in our part of the world. This is not just about Pakistan Studies. This is a function of the manner in which the idea of nation state and nationalism has come to inhabit peoples’ consciousness. I am not defending it but pointing out the underlying cause. Even in a democracy, there are certain things on which even the opposition and media will not stray from the official line.

    While Indians can believe that the split is not 50-50 when it comes to apportioning blame to India and Pakistan, this belief or opinion may be contested by Pakistanis. One may say that on some issues, Pakistan is more at fault and on others, it’s India.

    I would request you to show the same level of open-mindedness with regard to “facts” and their “evaluation” about Pakistanis whom you view particularly negatively or on Pakistan, as you do in case of Modi. After all, we all rely on secondary sources of information.



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