We must face our demons

Published: August 1, 2013
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 [email protected]

It is quite incredible that though we are in our late-ish sixties, both our country and its people are still casting about looking for bogeymen and scapegoats and men in black trench-coats out to do the country harm: foreign agents, spies, Mata Haris, you name it.

Just so long as we can deflect attention away from ourselves, the real perpetrators of all that is wrong with us, we are fine, no matter that in the next day or two all our home-spun tales come back to haunt us, making us look like utter fools.

Whether it was the shame and the embarrassment of the attack on GHQ itself; attacks on our ISI’s buses and offices in three (now four, cities); the Parade Lane Mosque massacre; the OBL raid deep into Pakistan; the Mehran Naval Base attack; or the Kamra airbase attack, we always have someone else to blame. We never look within ourselves: no one gets fired, even disciplined.

Take the DI Khan jailbreak about which the K-P government was duly informed a full 24 hours before it happened. The response from the government was zero as could be expected from a stultified bureaucracy, but which has defended itself well by referring to the PTI government not making up its mind whether the TTP is friend or foe.

I must here add that it was astonishing to read the remarks of a minister of the K-P government, Ali Amin Gandapur, actually calling K-P police officers and constables ‘cowards’ who ‘hid in sewers’ as the attack progressed. Could it be that the PTI government’s own policy of making appeasing noises about the terrorists took away whatever remained of the K-P police’s spine?

But back to the main story of the latest in the saga of poor old Pakistan at the cruel mercy of no-good spies and agents and saboteurs.

The latest to get some of my course-mate’s (36th PMA) knickers in a twist is a post someone saw on a site out of Canada and which when I could not find it was kindly sent to me by Mr Zafar Bangash who runs the website. Before you go to the story please note that it was picked up from a local paper, the Ummat of January 16, 2013, a full six months ago and was printed nowhere else in the press. Yet, our warriors took note of it a week ago with indignant, frothing-at-the-mouth emails, hurling wild accusations at everyone, particularly yours truly; yes, being a paid spy myself just because I said that if the man was roaming around the country doing so much damage, the blame lay on us!

The story in short goes something like this according to my friends:

“Recently a local, spying for Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was arrested from the posh DHA locality of Lahore who has spilled some alarming facts which led to unearthing an elaborate network working against the country. He was a jihadi who had been handed over to the Americans during the early Musharraf years and was held at Gitmo where the Israelis got him and after two years of indoctrination, rich inducements and final training at an American base in Afghanistan was finally released into Balochistan.”

And on and on it goes, telling us how the Baloch insurgent Sardars are being paid from across the borders; how our young soldiers are being killed by subsonic weapons in Tirah, etcetera. But where is the great mystery where the Baloch Sardars are concerned? Those that are in exile, when asked by our own TV channels many years ago if they were getting help from foreign sources have said in so many words that they will take aid from any country that offers it to them. Where is the secret then?

As for this ‘local’ who is now a Mossad agent, he must be Superman himself, now supplying ‘subsonic’ weapons to the TTP, now flying to Balochistan to equip the rebellious Sardars there; then whizzing to Kamra and Mehran and Abbottabad and GHQ and even the Chenab river near Gujrat!

But who in heaven’s name is this Superman? If he has been ‘arrested’ and his ‘elaborate network unearthed’ why are he and his fellow spies/suppliers of ‘sub-sonic-weapons’ not paraded on television in handcuffs and shackles; court-martialled; and locked up in Macchh jail for 399 years?

When, for God’s sake will we grow up, have faith in ourselves as a self-reliant and confident and alive and fearless nation? When, for heaven’s sake, will we stop looking for bug-bears and vampires and the walking dead out to haunt us? When will we face our real enemies who have just destroyed DI Khan jail?

Enough! I must here felicitate Mr Mamnoon Hussain for getting elected as the next President of Pakistan in an election that could have been better managed but which nonetheless is another step by our dear country on the path of unadulterated democracy. May he remain safe; and may he do good for the country.

A rap on the knuckles now for those elitists who look down upon him as the ordinary Pakistani that he is: well, the pox on you, and good for him, specially when we hear that he is a good man and a responsible member of society. More power to you, Mr President-elect.

In the end, the unseemly discussion on the next army chief that is raging in the press. All I will say is that, 1) names should not be named, and 2), that the principle of seniority for promotion to the highest ranks is not a cardinal principle in any country of the world. Yes, it is wrong to promote a mediocre because he cringes before you; yes, it is wrong to promote someone on parochial basis.

But there is nothing in the world wrong with promoting someone junior by a few numbers who has an excellent record of service; and who has shown that he is brave and courageous. Remember, a brave man will always be an honourable man!

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2013.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (24)

  • Drones?
    Aug 1, 2013 - 11:00PM

    According to most Pakistanis, TTP (bad talibans) are killing and bombing civilians because of the drones, If that is the case, how many have they themselves shot down? Hope PTI can answer.


  • Thinktank
    Aug 1, 2013 - 11:06PM

    Two important per-requisites for facing-the-demons is to have humility and respect for others. The others include people of other religions. Until you have these two, you can never see the demon, let alone face it…


  • dasmir
    Aug 2, 2013 - 12:11AM

    A scared nation sees snake in place of rope!


  • Anon
    Aug 2, 2013 - 12:28AM

    Could it be that the PTI government’s own policy of making appeasing noises about the terrorists took away whatever remained of the K-P police’s spine?

    Could it be that the police, like all government institutions have been rendered almost useless by the past five years of grossly incompetent and corrupt government in both the center and the province, not to mention the decades of neglect before that? Did that one occur to you Mr. Shafi? Or is that too much of a ‘conspiracy theory’ for your liking?


  • Parvez
    Aug 2, 2013 - 12:45AM

    Now that was both a fun read and a bit of a serious read.
    First the serious part : fully agree with you on our new President Mr. Mamnoon Hussain.
    On the D.I. Khan jailbreak I feel that PTI has talked the talk long enough and now its time they proved they can walk the walk, as well. On the choice of the army chief, the PM should logically do exactly the opposite of what he did last time.
    Now the realy serious part : you sir got me confused, then intrigued, then astonished and then worried on the Superman tale.


  • mahmood
    Aug 2, 2013 - 2:22AM

    Demons? What demons? It’s all the fault of India, Israel, Afghanistan, U.S.A., UK, and the kaala jinn – all of whom want to keep us from becoming a role model for the world’s nations.


  • RAW is WAR
    Aug 2, 2013 - 3:50AM

    now Afghanistan also joins the nation trying to bring down Pakistan.. sorry Baksitan?


  • irfan khan
    Aug 2, 2013 - 5:19AM

    Men in uniform can only grow up or mature if atleast they are not fed lies in history books of their training institutions.


  • Ali
    Aug 2, 2013 - 8:38AM

    Being a PTI supporter, i believe we should be open to criticism and i really think PTI needs to lift it’s game despite the fact that you can’t clean the mess in 2 months that has been created in 65 years. Writer of this column cannot be taken seriously though as i have NEVER seen a SINGLE and i repeat a SINGLE word of appreciation for Imran Khan ever.

    I believe we can’t give these Talibs free hand any longer so it’s either peace talk on our terms or a massive military action (this is where i oppose Imran Khan). I don’t think we can sit back and expect this issue to be resolved itself. On the other hand it’s absolutely idiotic to call Imran a Talib sympathizer as he has no role in creating, supporting or praising them ever. His strategy of talks may not be perfect solution but you must be mentally unstable to actually blame him to an extent that Imran is the reason we have been unable to resolve terrorism problem.


  • Ali
    Aug 2, 2013 - 8:42AM

    As for people claiming that Imran has said all terrorism is due to drones is biggest pile of rubbish i have ever heard. Imran has always said that these people use drones and WOT as excuse to launch attacks (why they think like that is not Imran’s problem) and we must not give them any reason to use these excuses so it is genuine demand to stop the drones. Imran’s solution of peace talks may not be perfect but he has been the only one who has at least tried to resolve the issue??? Each step counts and he has campaigned to stop drones, peace March to Waziristan etc? It’s better than keyboard warriors demanding to kill these people like some button needs to be pressed to eliminate them?


  • pun
    Aug 2, 2013 - 10:20AM

    Brave man is always an honorable man…
    Would you say that for Musharraf who brags no end about his commandoship and bravery


  • Javed
    Aug 2, 2013 - 10:21AM

    Blaming others will do us no good. PTI needs to stand up to the mistakes it makes otherwise it will be no better than other parties. We as a nation need to realise that the struggle for imrpovement is a continuous process which begins with self assessment. Criticising others can be non productive and a waste of time.


  • observer
    Aug 2, 2013 - 10:56AM

    According to Khaled Ahmed the world view of the youth in Pakistan is increasingly converging with that of the Al Qaeda and its associates like LeJ, LeT, SSP,TTP etc. In such a scenario the views of IK, PTI and the Tsunami Brigade makes sense.



  • NK
    Aug 2, 2013 - 11:49AM

    @RAW is WAR – have a sense of humour yaar – @mahmood: was just being sarcastic


  • Aug 2, 2013 - 11:57AM

    Thank you Sir for just good articulated article. Now i ve the arguments to defend against those mindsets always paining Asfia siddiqui and Qadri as heros

    [email protected]


  • Haroon
    Aug 2, 2013 - 2:11PM

    Pakistan Army had a policy of good taliban and bad taliban and when a civil government tries to negotiate a deal with them, they suddenly feel their domain is being threatened and then writers like kamanai shadi come out against them.


  • Author
    Aug 2, 2013 - 6:50PM

    @pun: I think the Commando has proved his bravery by running from the court-room!!


  • K B Kale
    Aug 2, 2013 - 8:45PM

    The bravery of Pakistani Military top brass is only against unarmed common man but when they come face-to-face with well-trained, battle-hardened soldiers, we have often seen what the outcome is!
    There are “ballads” on Mush’s bravery during his ‘swift’ escapade from the court, “Q: bhaga, bhaga, kaun bhaga?”
    “A: Commando bhaga, commando bhaga.”


  • nrmr44
    Aug 2, 2013 - 8:49PM

    Isn’t it better to believe in the hand of Israel, India, US, Afghanistan, Uruguay, Chad, and the Republic of Burundi? Otherwise you will have to unravel who is fighting whom, for what cause, and towards what end, and the whole thing is a hopeless mess. At least it is a comfort to know that the mangled infant in the market place is a RAW agent, and the one blown up yesterday was a Jewish plant.
    To suggest that Pakistanis are throwing bombs at each other of their own volition, and there is no foreign hand ……….., well, there’s another diabolical move, this time by a purportedly home-grown writer, in the hallowed columns of ET itself. Those wicked Lithuanians!


  • shahid
    Aug 2, 2013 - 9:21PM

    Drones have nothing to do with Taliban actions.Talibans are a part of Mistaken Global jahidis/Criminals Who are ready to go to any extant for thier goals. Bokoharam is killing innocent people in Nigeria,exploding bombs attacking schools in the name of religion. simlarly same type of groups recently burned libraries,mosques in Mali and terrorised common people in the name of Jihad. There are no Drones in these countries so it is the most lame excuse or argunent one can come up with, to defend the terrorist activities.


  • KBK42
    Aug 3, 2013 - 1:27AM

    Dear Shafisahab,
    What a wonderful article again!
    But here Pakistan is not alone! In India also, not only police, but even top-level bureaucracy is being politicised & systematically demotivated. Just a couple of days ago, an upstanding IAS lady officer (yes, a lady officer) was suspensed in Uttar Pradesh for being bold enough to take on a local mafia! Instead of praising her & promoting her, she has been suspended & is likely to face further disciplinary action! What a shame!
    I agree with you that after the OBL raid deep into Pakistan, preceded by the shameful Mehran Naval Base attack & the Kamra airbase attack, some seniormost officers from Armed Forces-including your COAS-responsible for these incidents should have been shown the door. That didn’t happen. But what surprised me the most was that none from Military top beass resign out of sheer shame!
    I feel that the only section in Pak Armed Forces that does a really wonderfu job is ISPR who eulogise these people for doing some imaginary ‘gallant’ work when they don’t deserve it!
    Coming back to your article, who is this Mossad agent & where can we read the article that you got from your Canadian friend? Would love to read it!
    Anyway, please carry on the good work you are doing!


  • KBK42
    Aug 3, 2013 - 5:15AM

    Shafisahab, I agree with you that after the OBL raid on his fortress right next to PMA, preceded by the shameful Mehran Naval Base attack & the Kamra airbase attack, some seniormost officers from Armed Forces whoever responsible for these incidents, and that may include your COAS, should have been shown the door. That didn’t happen. But what really surprised me the most was that none from Military ‘top brass’ resigned out of the sheer shame of any ONE of these incidents!
    I feel that the only section in Pakistani Armed Forces that does a really good job is ISPR that keeps eulogising non-existent gallantry of these members of general staff for executing some imaginary ‘gallant’ tasks!


  • KBK42
    Aug 3, 2013 - 1:03PM

    When it comes to politicizing the police force, Pakistan is not alone! In India also, not only the police force, but even top-level bureaucracy is being politicized & systematically demotivated.
    Just a couple of days ago, an upstanding IAS lady officer (yes, a lady officer) was suspended in Ulta Pradesh for being bold enough to take on a local mafia! Instead of praising her & promoting her, she has been suspended & is likely to face further disciplinary action! What a shame!
    But the lady officer didn’t cower down & posed a counteroffensive. Her colleagues also stood by her & now UP’s CM Akhilesh is doing some damage control!


  • Prabhjyot Singh Madan
    Aug 3, 2013 - 2:03PM

    Grow up, the author is talking sense here. Please don’t be a ostrich with his head in the sand. Rab rakha


More in Opinion