Jatoi and jackboots

Published: October 9, 2010


The former minister of state for defence production Abdul Qayyum Jatoi is our version of Indian actor Salman Khan — punished and harassed for saying things which are on everyone’s mind. Although one can have an issue with his style that may not be extremely palatable to the educated urbanite, there was nothing exceptionally sacrilegious in what he said. Isn’t it true that we pay the military for defending our borders? Isn’t this a historical fact that the armed forces have used excessive power against their own people despite the fact that they are trained to fight an external threat? There shouldn’t be any issue with the fact that the army killed Nawab Akbar Bugti. Go ask Pervez Musharraf and he will give the details as he is fond of doing these days. As for Benazir Bhutto’s killing the UN Commission report says a lot about that which the foreign minister has chosen to ignore for understandable reasons.

I don’t see the reason for people taking offence to the minister’s statement regarding corruption being everyone’s right because if we were to decipher this well, what he meant was that distribution of resources should be more equal. Some region’s people get more opportunities, both legal and illegal, to exploit resources. Surely, he said it most crudely as he did with the issue of the chief justice’s domicile. All he was probably trying to say was that the chief justice did not become an indigenous Baloch, just like hundreds of others who have used a Baloch domicile to get a job in the government. Let’s face it, having the right kind of domicile makes a world of difference in getting into the bureaucracy.

Qayyum Jatoi is certainly not madder than Musharraf. In fact, both men are quite sane. While the former president seems to be selectively spilling the beans to market his capacity for governing the state, Jatoi’s ramblings were meant to deliver a message to the judges and jackboots about the present PPP leadership’s capacity to fight back. The option for the military establishment is best indicated in an Urdu sentence written on the backs of many a truck that plies on G T Road — it says ‘Ya pass ker ya bardasht ker’ (either overtake or tolerate). The GHQ can either overthrow the present political setup through some older methods (as applied in the case of the two Bhuttos) or continue with some signaling to the political leadership.

It’s quite possible that the army has found its match in the present civilian dispensation which, thus far, has proved as fox-like as jackboots. The government has cleverly created stakes in its own survival by extending the tenure of the current army chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. This may have created unhappiness inside the GHQ which is to the political government’s advantage. The recent news regarding the army chief’s unhappiness with some ministers doesn’t mean a lot. There may be some changes here and there which are not necessarily driven by the army chief’s displeasure.

Probably, one of the benchmarks of the political government actually making efforts to make the army happy would be the removal of the interior minister. But why would the interior minister be sacked or changed since he is one of the top performers of the government. Notwithstanding the content and quality of his work, Rehman Malik is an operations man who is fairly visible after a crisis making statements which we may or may not agree with.

But there is always the possibility of the government finding another scapegoat like Qayyum Jatoi to deliver its own list of undesirable people inside the GHQ or of their questionable performance. For instance, not too long ago there was news about the Pakistan Ordinance Factories, Wah asking for capital injection as it was underperforming. Surely, no one has dared ask the army chief to remove or revamp the POFs and other  defence production facilities which are supposed to be better managed. Or how about pulling up the major-general in charge of the Defence Export Promotion Organisation.

It is possible that the jackboots have begun to realise that Musharraf’s Kamal Ataturkish formula regarding a formal role for the army in politics may cost a lot more than it can actually afford to pay.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Oct 9, 2010 - 11:25PM

    All of the recent events seem so stage managed. It all seems like an exercise in maintain the status-quo. Its a win-win situation, the PPP remains in power, the Army, riding on the back of the perception of poor governance of the current dispensation laps up praises, and junior ministers are thrown to the wolves. Who are all these leaders of ours kidding, nothing more than poorly disguised self-gratification. Recommend

  • Asim
    Oct 10, 2010 - 12:09AM

    Whats with Ayesha Siddika and Musharraf? Whats with her and democracy? Does she even know what democracy is? I suggest she gets her hands on Sabiha Sumar’s ‘Dinner With the President’ to get a real picture of Pakistan’s democracyRecommend

  • AzA
    Oct 10, 2010 - 12:13AM

    Ayesha, your analysis is spot on. Cannot agree with you more.Recommend

  • Usama Zafar
    Oct 10, 2010 - 12:56AM

    This is the worst thing I have ever read on Tribune!!Recommend

  • Sonia Khan
    Oct 10, 2010 - 1:31AM

    I have to agree with Usama. Substandard analysis like this one will decrease Express’ readership.Recommend

  • Asim
    Oct 10, 2010 - 2:27AM

    The problem with people like you is that you have one track mind. Oppose Military at all costs.

    Here are some accomplishments of Jatoi. Which you glaringly failed to mention.

    1) He wants the rapists of Mukhtaran Mai to be set free
    2) He wants corruption to legalized as right of landed feudal aristocracy.


    I am myself a critique of establishment. But, I have to say that you have lost all sense of perception in your crusade to ‘expose’ establishment.

    Jatoi embodies the worst of feudal culture and your wish to provide him cover for his rumblings is an injustice to people like Mukhtaran mai and poor exploited women of brothels of Islamabad.Recommend

  • A Khan
    Oct 10, 2010 - 5:36AM

    Same story different wording. Madam you and Kamran shafi should write something new once in a while.Recommend

  • Raja Akram
    Oct 10, 2010 - 7:35AM

    Ayesha Siddiqa seems to be obsessed with Musharraf. She can’t seem to write a single article without somehow bringing-up or linking Musharraf. She also seems to have a beef with the military.Recommend

  • Bilal
    Oct 10, 2010 - 8:28AM

    This lady likes comparing apples with mangoes and entirely unrelated contexts and disciplines – and there has to be one party that is army.

    I am afraid this country is facing worrying drought of capable analysts and writers the same way as it does not have any able politicians and leaders. This truly points to a larger decline of a society … go on psuedos!Recommend

  • Farrukh
    Oct 10, 2010 - 9:02AM

    Brilliant and honest.. excellent columnRecommend

  • Yousuf Nazar
    Oct 10, 2010 - 9:14AM

    I could not agree more. The problem is that due to long years of military rule and manipulation of the media by the state, we don’t have many who can speak and write about the Army’s role in a bold manner. Most of today’s media (and their NGO cousins finanaced mostly through American or European sources) are in the pay of different local and foriegn agencies or are too afraid to speak the truth or are not allowed to by the bosses.

    Bugti was killed on Musharraf’s specific orders. Benazir’s murder was covered up and the media is guilty of in that it has taken the eye off the ball.

    No one questions billions spent on the defence budget, mysterious things like RS 5 billion released to the ISI before 2008 elections, wasteful imports like F16s, thousands of yards of land given to generals at throwaway prices, Recommend

  • Oct 10, 2010 - 9:44AM

    Bibi Ayesha has x-ray vision and extra sensory percetion. She has seen through the game. Her article has a lot of substance, which must have put a damper on many predictions and hypotheses of our TV talk show guests and the print media write-ups.

    Bibi Ayesha, this blogger agrees with you.

    Salams and best wishes.Recommend

  • Sanwal
    Oct 10, 2010 - 10:06AM

    President should appoint an independent inquiry commission headed by the CJ of Baluchistan High Court and Sindh High Court, KURD and independent officers to investigate the allegation against the fake domicile of the Chief Justice Chaudary Iftikhar. CJ Ch. Iftikhar should have scruples to welcome independent inquiry commission againt fake domicile allegations. It is easy, Ch Iftikhar was born, raised, educated and lived his most of the life in particular city of domicile in Baluchistan , than his domicile’s authenticity can be proven. Otherwise, it would be difficult for highest justice of supreme judiciary to dispense justice if any serious allegation has been aired by the former defence minister. CJ should clear his name. CJ Ch Iftikhar being a PCO judges gave the impressions that he is champion of fairness and justice, he should prove himself.Recommend

  • ArifQ
    Oct 10, 2010 - 3:33PM

    Dear Ayesha,

    Spot on! This country needs more people like you, honest and objective in their views and expression. Please keep writing.Recommend

  • Oct 10, 2010 - 5:13PM

    I agree with usama ZafarRecommend

  • khalid.aziz
    Oct 10, 2010 - 6:55PM

    Brilliant and brave- Congratulations Ayesha, for writing down the real issues we face as a nation. It will be great if you could write here about the “corporate interests” of our Fauji Junta as you did in your very well written book “Militiary Inc”. Wish you all the very best. I don’t see a single person in Urdu print media to expose army’s political and corporate role in our country. Recommend

  • Saeed
    Oct 10, 2010 - 8:00PM

    Zabardat and a opportunity for Govt to setup a truth commission with mandate start from 1947. Recommend

  • R. Querieshi
    Oct 10, 2010 - 8:03PM

    Wonderful as usual. Dr Ayesha’s analysis is never dull!!Recommend

  • Atiq Rehman
    Oct 11, 2010 - 10:06AM

    The Riddlers obsession with Batman cost him his sanity.

    The author seems to have a similar obsession with the army. Get over it and move on. How about doing some research on the trillions stolen by the politicians? Or the trillions stolen by the babus. Talking continiously about and against the army dilutes the initial message. Recommend

  • saadi
    Oct 11, 2010 - 11:41AM


    i think your naive, middle class, philistinism is very obvious by your comment.
    I think you need a stronger understanding of politics before lashing out like a child. Recommend

  • Ed
    Oct 11, 2010 - 8:36PM

    I agree with Dr. Siddiqa 100%.
    …I think that the video of Mr. Jatoi available on the internet, showing him being dragged by police has also been fabricated by the jackboots! I’m sure that Mr. Jatoi was only there to convince criminals to abandon their vile ways.Recommend

  • aasim
    Oct 11, 2010 - 8:59PM

    Respected Aysha,

    I feel it is a fair comment and as desired by Benazir a at least a Truth Commission should be established to enable us to find some honest people.Recommend

  • Sufi Shams
    Oct 11, 2010 - 9:11PM

    @Asim: no one is glorifying Jatoi.The sacked minister is as much a mouthpiece as anyone in the lqrger political system. Please see the article again. You have missed the point entirely. And p[lease don’t forget that Musharraf is no different from Jatoi because he said that women in Pakistan get rapped to get American and Canadian visas. Where’s the difference between the two men? Recommend

  • Mawali
    Oct 11, 2010 - 11:05PM

    Akbar Bugti got what he deserved; deal with it!Recommend

  • Asim
    Oct 12, 2010 - 2:30AM


    Hhahah .. So now you want to defend your ‘Baji’ by calling others ‘Naive’ and ‘middle class’. Dude. Go back to grammar school and learn to make arguments rather then throwing labels on people that are not demeaning to people outside of your own little bubble called ‘not a middle class’ but a burger.

    From now on I have no respect for this Analyst Ayesha Siddiqa. Now I can clearly see that her analysis is skewed and is meant for political junkies and not for an average reader like me who desire fair and balanced analysis based on facts.Recommend

  • Muhammad Farooq
    Oct 17, 2010 - 4:09AM

    I totally agree that AQ Jatoi has brought up those subjects for public debtate which are considered taboos e.g. undue role played by army beginning from Martial Law imposed by Iskandar Mirza, rampant corruption etc. Of all the ministers, advisers and high ranking politicians AQJ seems to be the only man with sufficient courage to call a spade a spade. And there is a saying that goes like this, don’t bother who has written on the wall, just see what has been written on the wall. As a person he may have his weaknesses, but he is absolutely right on the subject. And he paid a price for it; I am not surprised at all. We need more of AQJs in Pakistani politics, however grotesque may be his style he is better than many hypocrites who do not practice what they preach. Ayesha Siddiqa i wish you best of luck; please keep u your good work. Salam.Recommend

  • Ishaq Narejo
    Oct 22, 2010 - 3:42PM

    Great. Ayasha and Kamran shafi doing great job for pakistan. we in karachi need so brave people to expose racist and facist elements.Recommend

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