Pakistan Under Musharraf

The Janus State

Pervez Musharraf came to power on 13 October 1999 in dramatic circumstances which could almost have been scripted in Bollywood. Nawaz Sharif’s attempt to sack him in a national television broadcast and ‘hijack’ his plane en route from Colombo to Karachi enabled the Chief of Army Staff to pose as a reluctant coup maker. In reality, tensions had been growing between the army and the Pakistan Prime Minister since the Kargil conflict in July in which Musharraf was a leading strategist. The former company commander of a commando battalion and member of the elite Special Service Group had been promoted to Chief of Army Staff in October 1998 because, like Zia before him, he was seen as an apolitical figure without a power base in the army. Both coup makers were from partition migrant families in a Punjabi-and Pashtun-dominated institution. It was there, however, that the similarities ceased. Musharraf lacked Zia’s Deobandi-influenced piety and was more of the old-style Pakistan army officer, not averse to Scotch and soda and as at home on the golf course as the parade ground. He was thus far more like Ayub than Zia. His liberalism had been nurtured by family background. His father, Syed Musharrafuddin, was educated at Aligarh. His mother, who held a degree in English Literature from Delhi’s Indraprastha College, was equally liberally educated. Musharraf, because of his father’s posting to the Pakistan Embassy in Ankara, had spent seven years of his childhood (1949-56) in Turkey.

Despite Musharraf’s liberalism, he shared the army’s traditional disdain for politicians. He possessed public relations skills, but lacked the political skills to overcome the lack of legitimacy accorded to a coup-maker. While Musharraf possessed a liberal tinge, he was schooled in the instinctive authoritarianism of the Pakistan army. He thus became increasingly ruffled and impatient when his policies were questioned. He surrounded himself with loyalists who gave the advice he wished to hear. He eventually blundered into the situation in which he needed to declare an emergency following his suspension of a popular and independent-minded Chief Justice. Musharraf, who had declared himself the saviour of Pakistan’s democracy, was badly caught out. This action in November 2007 dealt a final blow to his international standing. Washington had grown weary of his ‘Janus-faced’ approach to militancy, after initially enthusiastically embracing him as an ally in the ‘War on Terror’. The Pakistan public also increasingly opposed his calibrated approach to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ militants. A liberalized media exposed Pakistan’s President to claims that he was a Western ‘stooge’.

The atmosphere had been very different at the outset of his regime. Musharraf, both in terms of his personal liberalism, being photographed with his pet dogs and in his taking the title of Chief Executive rather than Chief Martial Law Administrator, had sought to differentiate himself from Zia. Musharraf’s role model in early speeches, in keeping with his childhood and mid-career training in Turkey, was Kemal Ataturk. Enthusiasts for his regime continued to view him as the ‘second Jinnah’, committed to the founding father’s vision of a ‘moderate, progressive Muslim society’. Islamic moderation remained a watchword throughout the Musharraf era, although much less was heard about the ‘good governance’ agenda which he had vowed would replace the ‘sham democracy’ of the 1990s.

Despite the rhetoric, Musharraf did not modernize the taxation system, or roll back the Islamization legacies of the Zia era. Administrative reform shook up local government, but did not free rural society from the thralldom of patrimonial politics. There was little headway in tackling misogynist practices arising either from tribal custom or from the Hudood Ordinances. Musharraf’s attachment to a ‘good governance’ agenda, Islamic moderation and composite dialogue with India thus failed not only because of external economic and political buffetings, but because of the internal weaknesses and contradictions at the heart of the Pakistan state.

Reports which focus on his personality traits to account for the failings miss the vital point that Musharraf, like earlier Pakistan military rulers, needed to co-opt political allies. In doing so he lost the ability to introduce wide-ranging change and was as much in thrall to the vested interests of the religious establishment and the feudal class as were elected leaders. Military-backed rule thus once again proved unable to modernize Pakistan, even with a liberal and progressive-minded figure at its helm. Even the surging rate of economic growth proved to be an unsustainable bubble because of the failure to tackle long-term structural problems.

The Musharraf era exemplifies three long-running themes in Pakistan’s post independence history: firstly, that military governments are ultimately unable to modernize society, governance and the economy because of their lack of legitimacy; secondly, that Pakistan’s utilization of Islamic proxies has derailed relations with its neighbours and come at an increasing domestic cost; thirdly, the military rule is likely to increase ethnic tensions within the smaller provinces of Pakistan. The Musharraf era also reveals the complexities in Pakistan’s development which can puzzle if not elude headline writers and analysts alike. For here was a state in which a military ‘dictator’ could pursue more liberal media policies than his elected predecessor; one in which Baloch tribal chieftains with the absolute power of life and death over their dependants could represent national struggle from state ‘exploitation’; a state which is simultaneously remarkably resilient and ‘soft’ in terms of its ability to implement basic economic and administrative functions.

9/11 and its Aftermath

9/11 and the US’ and its allies’ subsequent ‘War on Terror’ exerted as profound an impact on Musharraf’s Pakistan as had the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on Zia’s regime a generation earlier. In both instances, Pakistan found itself a front-line state in a struggle whose ramifications reached far beyond the region. While 9/11 restored Musharraf’s international standing and brought a massive influx of resources, it also threatened the state’s established security policies. Reversal of support for the Afghan Taliban and a toning down of support for the Kashmir jihad would have in themselves alienated sections of Pakistan opinion. The accompanying military action from 2004 onwards in the Tribal Areas set the regime not only against its former proteges, but firmly against the tide of public opinion. This would not have mattered in former times, but Musharraf had made a point of liberalizing the media to provide ‘democratic‘ credentials for his regime.

There are many colourful and contrasting depictions of the circumstances in which Musharraf brought the powerful army corps commanders round to the policy of opposing their former Taliban proteges in Afghanistan. Economic weaknesses, with debts of $38 billion, along with strategic threats possibly from both the US and India, lay behind the decision. It was subsequently referred to as the ‘turnaround‘ in official circles. Superficially this was accurate, as Pakistan had been one of just three countries which had formally recognized the Taliban regime in Kabul. We have seen earlier that the Taliban were regarded as a means of securing Pakistan’s strategic interests and at least in part owed their rise to power to military and security assistance from Islamabad. However, the Taliban had proved not compliant neighbours for Pakistan. A goodwill visit by a Pakistani football team to Kandahar ended in the humiliation of public head-shaving after the visitors had violated the Taliban dress code by wearing shorts. Despite Islamabad’s appeals over the fate of the Bamiyan Buddha statues, the 2,000-year old sculptures were blasted from their cliff face in February 2001. Ultimately, however, the Taliban lost their value as a ‘strategic asset’ to Pakistan because of the growing influence of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, after they were forced to abandon Sudan.

Pakistan supported the Operation Enduring Freedom in November 2001 by granting over-flight and landing rights to the US, by sharing intelligence and facilitating the logistical supply of forces engaged in Afghanistan. In return, it gained leverage and acceptance from the international community when its standing was low not just because of the military seizure of power, but also the issue of nuclear proliferation. The US understood the egotistical Dr. A.Q. Khan, whom Musharraf had removed from his position as head of the nuclear programme in March 2001, and later placed under house arrest, was not simply a lone ‘rogue’ element in his secret dealings with Libya, Iran and North Korea. The inflow of foreign military and economic aid boosted Pakistan’s flagging economy. In 2000, Pakistan’s fiscal debt was 5.3% of GDP and its total debt stood at 92% of GDP. It is true that Pakistan had been granted an IMF standby credit of US $596 million before 9/11. Bit it was the country’s post 9/11 international standing which led to the inflow of foreign aid, higher remittances from overseas Pakistanis and the rescheduling of debt by the Paris Club of donors to help the accelerating growth rates. President Bush’s removal of economic sanctions, which had been in place since the nuclear tests and the Musharraf coup, paved the way for over &600 million in economic support funds to be received in 2002. The improving economic outlook saw annual rates of economic growth rise from an average of 3% at the beginning of the Musharraf era to a peak of over 6%. The parlous foreign exchange reserves, which were only sufficient to cover one month’s imports at US 908 million in 2000, rose to around 1 billion by 2004. One striking piece of evidence of the increased prosperity was the expansion of mobile-phone use in the six-year period 2001-07: from 600,000 to around 50 million.

Musharraf was unable, however, to make rapid economic growth sustainable, by tackling structural weaknesses in the economy. These included not just low taxation rates and poor physical infrastructure, but low human capital. Pakistan lagged most of South Asia with respect to Human Development Indicators such as infant mortality, primary school enrolment and expenditure on education. As the Human Development Report for 2007 summed up, ‘Economic growth in Pakistan is yet to be adequately linked with human development by deliberate re-distributive public policy. Indeed, the predicament of Pakistan lies in the utter divorce of income distribution policies from growth policies’. With a third of the population living below the poverty line and over half having no access to education, basic health services or sanitation, growth remained captive to exogenous favourable events and to the continued provision of credit for wealthier consumers. Critics of Musharraf’s economic reforms were justified in their stance that macro-economic improvements with respect to indebtedness and foreign reserves were primarily the result of a one-off windfall arising from Pakistan’s stance post 9/11.

Musharraf, like Zia, had been given political as well as economic breathing space by the turn of international developments. He won kudos by opening licences for private TV and radio broadcasting, and allowed newspaper editors free rein. This policy provided a veneer of liberalism to his regime. It may also have been prompted by notions that the state-run TV system had lost Pakistan the media war with India over Kargil, and that local private channels could usefully compete with foreign satellite providers who were increasingly threatening old-style policing of television. The new media however gave discursive space not only to liberal voices, but to spokesmen of militant groups. It also reported on the ‘collateral damage’ arising from military action in Waziristan. It is unlikely that Musharraf would have become so universally unpopular because of his ‘pro-American’ stance if the old restricted media had survived. Ultimately private TV companies such as GEO fell foul of the government in 2007 when they sided with the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in his struggle with Musharraf. The introduction of the emergency which curbed both the media and political opponents did immense harm to Musharraf’s international standing. It coincided with both Washington and London’s increasing frustrations with the ambiguities surroundings Pakistan’s response to the threat of trans-national terrorist activity in the region. During his final period as President, Musharraf came under increasing pressure to replace his system of military-backed rule with a fully-fledged democratic system. This was seen by both Western analysts and liberals in Pakistan as holding the key to tackling not only the country’s chronic instability, but the terrorist threat which was seen as emanating from its porous border regions with Afghanistan. The sentiment was summed up by Zahid Hussain when he wrote, ‘The war against militancy and Islamic extremism can be best fought and won in a liberal democracy.’

Post 9/11 the Pakistan state engaged in increasingly complex and fraught responses to the militant groups which had either traditionally operated out of sanctuaries in its territory, or had crossed into Pakistan in the wake of the US toppling the Taliban government in Afghanistan and the capture of Al-Qaeda’s Tora Bora redoubt in December 2001. While security and later military operations were undertaken against ‘foreign fighters’ and leadership cadres of Al-Qaeda, the Pakistan state did not pursue the Afghan Taliban or Kashmir jihadists. Some ISI operatives and military commanders undoubtedly sympathized with the Afghan Taliban whom they had nurtured. The policy of providing sanctuary however primarily reflected Musharraf’s pragmatism and commitment to the long-term Indo-centric security strategy. The US overthrow of the Taliban regime represented a major setback as it brought non-Paktuns to the corridors of power in Kabul who had traditionally looked to India for support. Increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan raised fears of encirclement in some security analysts’ minds. This was not a totally irrational response, as Pakistan intelligence claimed Indian involvement in the growing insurgency in Balochistan. Pakistan also sought to counteract India by continuing to provide sanctuary to Kashmir jihadist organizations, more to keep up pressure on New Delhi than in a post-Kargil anticipation that Kashmir could be wrenched from India through a military victory.

Afghan Taliban from bases in Waziristan increasingly infiltrated into Afghanistan as the West diverted its attention from that country to Iraq. For many years Afghan Taliban leaders freely operated from headquarters in Quetta (the so-called Quetta Shura). Cross-border infiltration into Kashmir also continued during 2001. The bold move by Pakistan-based LeT and JeM to expand their jihad from Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian heartland by attacking the parliament in New Delhi on 13 December 2002 forced the Musharraf regime to readjust its policy. Both LeT and JeM received logistical and financial support from the military and ISI in their past development. This had not gone unnoticed either in New Delhi or Washington.

The high-profile attack on the Indian parliament brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war. It resulted in Musharraf’s banning not only LeT and JeM but the militant sectarian SSP and TNFJ organizations. The security operations against them were largely ineffective and in some instances desultory. According to one report, while the head of LeT, Hafiz Saeed, was under arrest following the attack on the Indian parliament, he still had access to an international telephone and was in touch with supporters and sympathizers in the US. Banned organizations could reform under new titles and by adopting legitimate business covers as charitable organizations. The SSP for example operated as Ahle Sunnat-wal-Jamaat; JeM as Tehreek-e-Khaddim-ul-Islam; and LeT as Jamaat-ud-Dawa. They provided jobs for militants returned from the jihad front and assistance for the families of those martyred. JuD was to provide humanitarian assistance to the wider population in the wake of the 2005 earthquake in Azad Kashmir and following the 2010 flood disaster.

In a striking departure, the army and Frontier Corps began military campaigns in the Tribal Areas in 2004. The aim in the face of mounting pressure on Western forces in Afghanistan was to root out Afghan Taliban who had close ties with Al-Qaeda and ‘foreign forces’ (mostly Arabs, Chechens and Uzbeks) who had found sanctuary in South Waziristan. The operations were marked by military setbacks, and growing resistance from local tribesmen who not only sympathized with the Afghan jihad cause, but tenaciously upheld long-term commitments to independence from outside intrusion and Paktunwali codes for revenge for deaths to kinsmen caught in the crossfire and protection of ‘guests’. A combination of increased resistance and hostile public opinion led to a series of peace deals in South Waziristan. The first was the so-called Shakai Agreement in April 2004. Later in February 2005 another peace deal was signed in South Waziristan with Baitullah Mehsud (Sra Rogah Deal).

Local pro-Taliban militant support was eventually institutionalized in 2007 with the formation of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by Baitullah Mehsud. The move was a direct response to the Pakistan army’s seizure of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad on 10 July 2007 in a bloody battle which claimed over 150 lives. The TTP brought together local militant commanders from the various Tribal Agencies, some of whom were committed to the local Islamization of society, others who were much more closely committed to Al-Qaeda and the international jihad. The extent to which the Deobandi mosques and schools alone provided the ideological motive for militant recruitment will be explored later. In addition, the TTP’s generous financial inducements, charitable support for militants’ dependants which has echoes in the army’s formal Fauji Foundation and the veneration in which the martyrs are held, seen in the pilgrimages to the tombs of Shaheeds, all played a part. The TTP helped fund its activities through local taxes, which had more overtones of a protection racket than Islamic charitable giving. Despite its decentralization, the TTP was capable of unified and sustained operations. Outside the Tribal Areas, the long established Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) operated under its umbrella in Swat. JeM, SSP and LeJ formed what became known as the Punjab Taliban. In all as many as 40 militant groups were brought under the TTP umbrella. While it remained committed to the Afghan jihad, it was increasingly drawn into conflict with the Pakistan state and sought to usher in an Islamic revolution. The Afghan Taliban focused its efforts across the Durand Line, and its sanctuaries in Pakistan were not engaged by the security forces.

The fighting was bloodiest in South Waziristan, reaching a peak in the winter of 2007-8. There was also conflict in North Waziristan in October 2007, which led 80,000 people to flee their homes. Over the course of 2008, government forces also fought militants in the Bajaur and Mohmand agencies. Military activity in FATA was to increase greatly in the post-Musharraf period, after a lull following the ANP’s assumption of office in the Frontier which saw further abortive peace agreements. The launching of operations in Waziristan was accompanied by growing terrorist blasts in Peshawar, which were eventually to spread to Punjab. Some Western analysts once again raised fears that Pakistan was a ‘failed’ state. Despite their immense human toll, such outrages did not presage an Islamist takeover of the state, which continued to rest on the twin bulwarks of the army and the economic, cultural and political commitment of the Punjabi population to the Pakistan state project.

Washington also had its long-term strategic interest in the stability of Pakistan, now a nuclear power as well as an ally in the ‘War on Terror’. As we have seen, it poured huge resources into the country post 9/11. The Bush presidency for many years feted Musharraf, thereby strengthening his own position. This policy was not universally supported by such prominent US critics as the veteran South Asia specialist, Seleg Harrison. The US also exerted influence to pull back India and Pakistan from the brink of war in 2002 and encouraged the reopening of diplomatic dialogue. In the later years of Musharraf presidency, however, relations with Washington became strained over the extent of Pakistan’s commitment to the ‘War on Terror’. The activities of the Quetta Shura were noted, as was the fact that the arrest of known militants frequently followed Western pressure, and although such leading figures as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (Al-Qaeda number 3 figure) and Mullah Obeidullah (the Taliban regime’s Defence Minister) were netted, and militants like Aby Hamza Rabia and Mushin Musa Marwalli Arwah were killed, many others remained at large. Leading militants such as Fazlur Rehman Khalil (HuM) and Maulana Masood Azhar (JeM) were released during 2002-4. It was especially irksome for Washington that Osama bin Laden remained at large.

The Musharraf regime responded to US criticisms by reporting that by May 2006 over 600 Al-Qaeda members had been arrested in Pakistan and perhaps as many as 1,000 had been killed. The effect that this had on organizational capacity can be gauged by the fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri repeatedly called for an uprising against Musharraf and for his assassination as an enemy against Islam. There were many attempts on his life. Worryingly, information began to emerge of some servicemen being implicated in the two bomb attacks in the space of less than a fortnight in December 2003 and 6 July 2007 attack at Rawalpindi airport.

The US response to what it saw as Islamabad’s half-hearted commitment to halting the flow of militants into Afghanistan was to use remote control missiles (drones) tp attack militant bases in Pakistan and even to threaten ‘hot pursuit’ of militants into Pakistan soil. This stance further inflamed anti-American sentiment in Pakistan which was running at a high level despite US economic largesse. The drones did not always hit their military targets but caused civilian casualties in the Tribal Areas. The hatred of America was deeply corrosive of Musharraf’s standing. It was probably in to shore this up that Islamabad complained in public about the drone attacks, while privately supplying intelligence information which enabled the successful targeting of Al-Qaeda commanders and such notable Pakistan Taliban figures as Baitullah Mehsud. While only rhetoric was deployed against drone attacks, the ‘hot pursuit’ policy raised the real danger that there might be engagement between Pakistani and US ground forces. It was not until the post-Musharraf period, because of Taliban excesses in Swat and terrorist attacks on ‘soft’ civilian targets, that public opinion began to shift away from the notion that Pakistan was being asked to fight America’s war and was suffering therefore. Washington’s unilateral action in the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad reversed this trend.

Relations with India

Pakistan’s relations with India veered from the edge of war to the brink of a major breakthrough on Kashmir. The high points were the Agra summit of July 2001 and the meeting between Musharraf and the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee during the Islamabad SAARC summit in January 2004. The low point was the military stand-off following the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament. In the event, the Musharraf era closed with no decisive change to the decades-long enduring rivalry. The prospect of apeace dividend’ for the region remained as tantalizing as ever. Throughout this period, Islamabad’s foreign policy remained fixed on the Indian ‘threat’, despite the pressure to reverse its strategy in Afghanistan. The overthrow of the Taliban represented a major strategic setback. The US-backed interim government of President Karzai brought members of the anti-Pakistan Northern Alliance who had previously been supported by India, Russia and Iran to the heart of government in Kabul. Rather than Afghanistan providing strategic depth, there was now the possibility of a two-front threat from India emanating from the country. Islamabad claimed that the new Indian consulates opened in Kandahar and Jalalabad were part of a growing Indian presence which had security threats attached to it. Similarly, there were allegations that India was fishing in the troubled waters of Balochistan through its consulate at Zahedan close to the Pakistan-Iran border. Undoubtedly India, through its humanitarian assistance and involvement in reconstruction projects, established a growing influence in post-war Afghanistan. Pakistan’s tolerance of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s network, which launched operations against ISAF/NATO troops from its base in Miranshah in North Waziristan, was a response to the Afghan Indian threat, as Islamabad wanted leverage with a future Paktun moderate Taliban grouping. While requiring a stake in any post-Karzai Afghanistan, Pakistan’s earlier experiences with the Taliban rule made it aware that a client state was an unrealistic aim.

The US worked hard to get Islamabad and New Delhi to improve their relations so that Al-Qaeda could not provoke war between the nuclear-armed South Asian powers. The US also had a vested interest in ensuring that tensions with India did not result in the reduction of Pakistan forces on the border with Afghanistan. In addition to US pressure, the lessening of cross-border infiltration from Pakistan into Kashmir from 2002 onwards paved the way for India to agree to a resumption of the composite dialogue process which had been abandoned following Kargil.
Musharraf was an unlikely partner for dialogue, as he was seen in New Delhi as the architect of the Kargil war which had claimed over a thousand lives. However, he displayed far greater flexibility than previous civilian leaders in his suggestions for unlocking the logjam of the Kashmir dispute. He not only declared that the UN Security Council Resolutions which had been the centre point of Pakistan diplomacy over six decades could be ‘set aside’, but in December 2005 raised a series of proposals which included soft borders, demilitarization, self-governance and joint mechanisms of supervision for the Kashmir region. Alongside these public pronouncements, the Musharraf regime engaged in back-channel diplomacy which by April 2007 had made progress in the settlement of the Kashmir dispute. India as the status quo power was more inclined to put Kashmir on the back burner, while encouraging a range of confidence-building measures. They included the opening of a bus service with much fanfare between the two sides of Kashmir in April 2005. In reality, the Pakistan military still regarded India as the main strategic threat, despite the improvement of diplomatic relations from the nadir of 2001-2.

Political Developments

Pervez Musharraf termed the post-Zia era a period of ‘sham democracy’. It was, he maintained, marred by corruption, economic incompetence and disunity. He identified this litany of failure with the personalities of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, thereby having a ready-made excuse for their political exclusion. Benazir in political exile in London and Dubai. Nawaz Sharif was found guilty in July 2000 of charges of corruption, kidnapping and hijacking. He was allowed to leave Attock jail in December and go with family members to exile in Saudi Arabia. Although Musharraf was initially adept at speaking the language of an internationally acceptable ‘good governance’ agenda, with its vocabulary of transparency, accountability and empowerment, the attempt to build a ‘real’ democracy boiled down to the tried and tested approaches of the country’s previous military rulers: namely, a process of accountability to discipline political opponents, rather than root out across-the -board corruption; the curtailing of political activity; and the attempt to build direct links with the populace by means of local government reforms which bypassed the influence of the political opposition. While these measures temporarily weakened opponents, they were unable to secure legitimacy for a regime which faced mounting criticism at home and abroad. It thus had to restart a quasi-democratic political process. This involved alliances with the more opportunistic elements of the religious and feudal elites. From the attempt to bypass patrimonial politics, Musharraf was back to square one, relying for example on the manipulations of kinship networks and patronage by the Chaudhrys of Gujrat to underpin his power in Punjab.

Musharraf transformed Nawaz Sharif’s Ehtesab commission into the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). This was tasked under the Chairmanship of Lieutenant General Syed Mohammad Amjad to investigate corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen. Its closed courts and snaring of opposition politicians in a string of cases led to the charges of its being a partisan body. Significantly, politicians who were known for corruption, but who had switched allegiance to pro-establishment parties were not investigated. This led to some accusations that the Musharraf loyalist PML(Q) was created by NAB. Undoubtedly the fear of being involved in court cases led to defection from the PPP with some 20 members forming the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian Patriot group. Its post-2002 election alliance with the PML(Q) was crucial in ensuring that Musharraf loyalists a majority in the National Assembly. While the NAB set about its political witch hunt, significantly only 8 of the 522 people who were prosecuted in its first four years of activity came from the armed forces.

Political activity was curbed not just by the NAB, but by sedition laws and the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance. Freedom of association was curtailed from 15 March 2000, when an order was introduced banning public rallies, demonstrations and strikes. It was only shortly before the October 2002 polls that the ban on political activities was lifted. Even then rallies and processions were forbidden. The mounting problems besetting the Musharraf regime in 2007 led to a further period of curbs. On 3 November a state of emergency was introduced through a Provisional Constitutional Order. This was ended on 15 December, just one day before the campaigning for national elections was due to begin. In the event the polls were delayed until February 2008, following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

Local government reforms were overseen by a new National Reconciliation Bureau headed by Lieutenant General (retd) S. Tanwir Naqvi. The new district administration system gave considerable power to the elected district Nazims at the expense both of the bureaucracy and the provincial-level politicians. Significantly, the old Ziast ploy was adopted of holding the local elections on a non-party basis. Nazims were unconstrained as to how they spent government block grant funding allocated to their district, which bypassed both the bureaucrats and the provincial legislators. In the long run, the Nazim were unable to provide a bulwark for the Musharraf regime as were the Basic Democracies for Ayub. Some Nazims cashed in their new-found opportunities for wealth and rose to become provincial-level politicians. the reforms further encouraged patronage rather than issue-based politics.

The reforms did not increase administrative efficiency. On the contrary, the weakening of bureaucracy and the failure to follow through the promised police reform promulgated in the ordinance of 2002 contributed to a further decline in governance. This was marked by both inefficiency in the delivery of services and waning confidence in the state’s ability to sustain the rule of the law. Transparency International’s 2007 report maintained that the 350,000-strong police force was the most corrupt public sector agency in Pakistan. Such scholars as Alan Krueger and Jita Maleckova maintain that the resulting sense of marginality and frustration is even more significant than poverty itself in providing a breeding ground for terrorism.

Administrative reforms localized politics and further politicized local administration. Depoliticization at the provincial level boosted the politics of identity and patronage-based politics, as had happened in the Zia era. The kutchery style of politics was extended upwards from the local bodies. Simultaneously, local administration was politicized to an even greater degree than previously. This undermined government efficiency. Rather than addressing the issue of weak institutions which had beset the state since its foundation, Musharraf contributed to what has been termed the ‘graveyard of institutions’ in Pakistan. Alarmingly by the close of the Musharraf era, there was a decline in the reach of the state, not only in the traditionally lightly controlled FATA region, but in parts of the North West Frontier Province abutting the Tribal Areas and in South Punjab. This encouraged the activities of militant groups who had been initially patronized by the state, but increasingly pitted themselves against it.

Musharraf, like Ayub and Zia before him found it impossible to engineer legitimacy for his regime. His power base lay with the army not through the ballot box. Attempts to secure some degree of popular legitimization brought further problems. The June 2002 referendum designed to legitimize his presidency had many of the hallmarks of Zia’s 1984 rigged referendum. Indeed, Musharraf was led to apologize for the patent interference which had delivered 98% of the votes in his favour. The opposition parties maintained that the turnout was a mere 5% of the electorate. The official government figure was 70%. The New York Times neatly summed it up when it declared that ‘the balloting had actually diminished Musharraf’s stature’. The irregularities certainly dispelled the favourable impression created by the political reforms which increased the number of seats for women, reduced the voting age to eighteen, and stipulated that only those who held degrees were eligible for election to the National Assembly. The most far-reaching reform, however, ended separate electorates, thus enabling the return of minorities to the political mainstream for the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

The national and provincial elections in October 2002 were in fact stage-managed similarly to the referendum. The Political Parties Amendment Act of 28 June, which set eligibility requirements for parties, turned the clock back to the Zia period. Another Presidential Ordinance issued the following month limited Prime Ministers to two terms in office, thereby ruling out Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. In the event neither of the two most important opposition leaders returned to Pakistan to campaign. Musharraf further armed himself against possible opposition by issuing the Legal Framework Order which established a National Security Council and restored the President’s power to dismiss the Prime Minister.

At the same time as restricting opponents, Musharraf cultivated ties with the Islamic parties and the more opportunistic elements of the Punjab’s rural elite. The religious parties’ unprecedented electoral success, which saw them gain 45% of the votes and 29 National Assembly seats in NWFP, arose in part from the inflaming of Pashtun sentiment following the US military intervention in Afghanistan. It will be recalled that no Islamic party had previously obtained more than 5% of the national vote. The six-party MMA coalition was also greatly assisted by the neutralization of the mainstream parties and support from the military establishment. This was seen most visibly in the lifting of legal cases against religious leaders. The other beneficiary of official support was the so-called ‘Kings’ party, the PML(Q), which emerged with 77 National Assembly seats and formed the largest party. It mainly comprised pro-establishment former members of the PML(N).

After a period of horse-trading following the election, the PML(Q) took office under the leadership of the Baloch politician Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali. He was as much a puppet of the President as Mohammad Khan Junejo had initially been under Zia. Jamali was to be replaced, after a brief transitional period under Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, by Shaukat Aziz, a former Citibank executive. Aziz had even less political standing, but was the technocrat type of public figure preferred by military leaders from Ayub onwards. Following his swearing in as Prime Minister, he promised to seek ‘guidance’ from the President in order to provide ‘good governance’ for the people.

Musharraf maintained a tight control over the PML(Q), although he did not join it as Ayub had done with the Convention Muslim League. The President arbitrated in its internal disputes and eased tensions with allies such as the MQM when they arose. As Ayesha Siddiqa has perceptively remarked, this approach ‘Instead of strengthening democratic institutions, as Musharraf claimed . . . encouraged clientelism’. Factionalism within the ranks of PML(Q) was an inevitable result. The most powerful group comprised the followers of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Parvaiz Elahi, which was cemented around landed and biraderi ties. The generally weak political position of the PML(Q) was revealed in the 2008 elections. In the absence of rigging and with Musharraf’s star on the wane, the PML(Q) saw its support eroded by a resurgent PML(N) and PPP.

The MMA proved more difficult partners than the PML(Q). Its JI component was especially critical of Musharraf’s failure to stand down as Chief of Army Staff while holding the dual office of President. The JI was also hostile to the government’s pro-American policy. It finally parted ways with its JUI(F) coalition partner and with Musharraf over the military action against the Red Mosque. The MMA’s limited action in implementing Islamic measures made it open to being outflanked by radical Islamists. At the same time it did little to meet the Frontier population’s aspirations for improved economic conditions. The main consequence of the MMA government was however its inactivity in the face of growing influence of the TNSM in Swat. The provincial government in Peshawar had responsibility for the region but did nothing to quell the increasing vigilante actions within it.

We have noted earlier that military rule has not only undermined Pakistan’s political institutionalization, but has also weakened the ability of civil society to underpin democratization. Musharraf differed from both Ayub and Zia in that, apart from the short-term emergency in November 2007, he did not crack down either on the media or on civil society institutions. Ironically, perhaps the greatest testament to Musharraf’s liberalism was the scope it allowed for civil society organizations led by lawyers to push him out of office.

The State of Islam
Musharraf portrayed Pakistan as a moderate Islamic state which would act as a source of stability in a volatile West Asia region. He launched the concept of Enlightened Moderation at the 2002 OIC conference in Malaya. He also emphasized Sufi teachings as a counter to extremism. In November 2006, he launched a National Sufi Council amidst great fanfare in Lahore. Education sector reforms sought to modernize the curriculum of religious schools, with $50 million allocated to pay the salaries of teachers of non-religious subjects. Mounting sectarian violence, claims by both India and Afghanistan of continuing cross-border terrorism, the involvement of members of the Pakistan diaspora in acts of international terrorism and a rising tide of suicide bombings and fiyadeen attacks within Pakistan belied this image.
Suicide bombings were introduced to Pakistan via the Iraq conflict. The first major attack claimed the lives of a busload of French naval construction workers outside the Sheraton Hotel, Karachi on 8 May 2002. By the end of the Musharraf era such episodes were a weekly occurrence. For an international audience, Pakistan became synonymous with terrorism. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, the number of violence-related deaths rocketed from 183 in 2003 to 3,599 in 2007. The Musharraf regime’s attempts to secure legitimacy subsequently shifted, as it presented itself as a bulwark against the destabilization of a nuclear-armed state.

Government efforts ensured that a number of religious scholars, headed by the Chairman of the Barelvi education board, Tanzimul Madaris Pakistan, issued a fatwa on 19 May 2005 which forbade suicide attacks on Muslims and places of worship and public congregations. Deobandi ulema steadfastly refused to provide a blanket condemnation of suicide attacks. Even more damaging was the government’s inability to clamp down on the mushrooming ‘hate literature‘. The banning of 90 books by the Interior Ministry in 2006 which contained such literature was the tip of the iceberg. Monthly copies of Mujalla Al-Dawa and Ghazwa, the mouthpieces of LeT, continued to circulate in the Musharraf era. These included jihadist articles and glorification of militant actions. Even more extremist materials than newspapers and magazines were the CDs in circulation which included footage of the beheadings of US ‘spies’. These could be obtained quite readily on newsstands outside militant mosques. Extremist messages were also broadcast by radio stations. The most famous of these were run by Mullah Fazlullah in Swat, but there were dozens if not hundreds of other FM stations operating in FATA.

Was the government unable to curb such material, or did it choose not to do so? At the heart of Musharraf’s stance was a pragmatic view of Islam’s usefulness for state policy. He could not break with the religious parties in the MMA, as he needed their support. This set up contradictions with his policy of Enlightened Moderation. Ultimately he would only go so far in risking the opposition of religious groups, which in any case became increasingly disaffected by his pro-US stance. He thus adopted on the whole a cautious approach, whether this was curbing militants, attempting to roll back state-sponsored Islamization, or responding to Western pressures to reform the curriculum of the madaris. Musharraf never abandoned the policy of utilizing ties with Islamic proxies to secure strategic interests in both Afghanistan and Kashmir. He of course had to tread more carefully after 9/11. This involved, as we have seen earlier, distinguishing between militant organizations which had links with Al-Qaeda or were acting independently of the establishment’s control and those which might yet prove useful for the pursuit of national strategic goals.

A combination of Musharraf’s own liberal attitudes, mounting sectarian conflict and the need to secure a favourable international image for his regime led him initially to attempt to roll back some of the Islamization measures, which had been introduced from the Zia era onwards. In May 2000, Musharraf attempted to introduce a limited reform to take away the power of local police officials to respond to blasphemy charges. There had been a number of cases directed against the Christian minority which revealed that the blasphemy ordinance was being used maliciously. Strikes organized by the religious parties led him however to back down. Four years later, he returned to the issue calling for both the Hudood Ordinance and the Blasphemy Ordinance to be ‘studied afresh’ so that they were not misused. The pronouncement was accompanied by the creation of an independent National Commission for Human Rights.

It was not until 2006 that President Musharraf moved to reform the Hudood Ordinance, following mounting pressure from human rights groups and women’s organizations that women who were the victims of rape were being punished while their male assailants were not being prosecuted. Rather than annul the Hudood Ordinance, thereby risking the hostility of Islamic groups, the government introduced the Women’s Protection Bill which, when it became law on 1 December, allowed rape to be prosecuted under civil law. Opponents called the measure mere ‘eyewash’. It failed to protect women, but was useful in burnishing Musharraf’s moderate image in the West.

The Musharraf regime also moved cautiously on the issue of madrasa reform, again seeking to balance the need for international approval against the risk of stirring up domestic opposition. While the government had ridden out the October 2001 street protests against US intervention in Afghanistan, orchestrated by the religious parties, Musharraf subsequently trod warily. The role of madaris in encouraging extremism had come under considerable international scrutiny since 9/11. The initial Western understanding, although this was later challenged, saw the madaris as being the last educational resource for the poor who had been abandoned by the state. Education in these institutions exposed individuals to abuse and to an atmosphere which increased intolerance and militancy. While not all madaris trained militants, they provided an ideological justification for violence. The growing tide of sectarian violence provided Musharraf with his own motivation for exerting a tighter grip. After an initial lull in sectarian killings in 2000, they threatened to get out of hand, as they had done in the closing months of Nawaz Sharif’s rule. It was not until 2002 that he introduced an ordinance making the imparting of sectarian hatred and militancy in madaris a crime punishable by two years’ rigourous imprisonment. The ordinance also drew up a three-year project to provide government funds and technical assistance for the widening of the curriculum to include ‘modern’ general subjects including English and Science. Nevertheless the implementation of reform was slow and large numbers of madaris remained unregistered. Of the 13,000 or so that were registered, the vast majority did not participate in the reform programme, which were seen as being American-driven.

Strategic concerns, as we have noted, lay behind the calibrated response to militancy in FATA. Undoubtedly, however, Musharraf’s need of MMA support impacted on his response to the growing activities of militant groups who sought to impose shari’ah both in the Malakand division and the federal territory of Islamabad.

The spill-over of the Swat insurgency in April 2009 was to herald a major military offensive not only in Swat but later in South Waziristan.  Earlier events in Swat were often seen in the West as heralding the spread of Talibanization from the peripheral border areas to Pakistan’s heartland. What Swat demonstrates is the longer-term roots of contemporary Talibanization in some of the Pashtun areas. The TTP operations in Swat were in reality those of the TSNM writ large. The latter organization had emerrged under the leadership of Maulana Sufi Muhammad, a former JI leader, in response to the legal vaccum created by the merger of the Swat Princely State with the rest of Pakistan in 1969. It had developed in response to the local population’s sense that the old-style riwaj system of law, which allowed disputants to be tried by customary law or shari’ah, had worked but the new provincially administered Tribal Area criminal and civil codes were inadequate. The implementation of shari’ah was sought not only as an Islamization measure but to secure speedy and fair justice for the local population.

Swat’s merger with Pakistan had also been accompanied by increased corruption and tensions between the dominant Yusufzai elite and the Gujjar lower classes. As early as 1995 the TSNM had become engaged in armed struggle with the Pakistan state, so what was to happen in Swat in the following decade was by no means unprecedented. The TSNM not only espoused the cause of legal reform but appealed to the poorer sections of Swat society, most notably the Gujjars and Kammis who had acquired land
at the end of princely rule but were vulnerable to harassment from local leading Yusufzai Khans. Sufi Muhammad had encouraged his followers in 2001 to fight the US invasion of Afghanistan, during which many had perished. When Musharraf cracked down on militant groups following the attack on the Indian parliament, the TSNM was banned and Sufi Muhammad was arrested. His son-in-law, Maulvi Fazlullah, who was to become the Taliban commander in the region, stepped up the campaign to enforce shari’ah. The black turbaned movement grew in strength under his leadership and forged links with other militant groups in the Tribal Areas. This was evidenced when his brother was killed in a US drone attack on an Al-Qaeda compound at Damadola in Bajaur. The MMA government which had responsibility for Swat and the rest of the Malakand division, did not check the expansion of TSNM power, even though this was at the expense of the state functionaries. Fazlullah announced that the TSNM was a component of the TTP follwing its creation in 2007. It was this step, along with the burning of girls’ schools and the continuing use of illegal FM stations to broadcast calls for Islamic revolution, that led to the military operation in Swat late in the Musharraf era. The military operation Rah-e-Haq, in which more than 200 policemen and soldiers were killed in fighting with the supporters of TSNM, drove Fazlullah to take refuge in the hills. The new ANP government in Peshawar was no more committed to defeating the TSNM than the MMA had been. The peace treaty of May 2008 enabled Fazlullah to regroup before temporarily seizing power in Swat from the Pakistan state.

Some Western critics have maintained that the July 2007 Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) affair in Islamabad, if not stage-managed by Musharraf, was the outcome of his deliberately allowing militancy to fester. He could then present himself as the only barrier to a ‘Talibanized’ Pakistan. The reality is more likely that a combination of the need for MMA assistance, knowledge that the liberated media would sensationalize any action and the fear that there would be backlash in the Tribal Areas led to a policy of inactivity. Moreover, the prayer leader of the Red Mosque, Maulana Abdul Rashid Ghazi, had continued links with ISI. These may have afforded him protection as part of the post 9/11 carefully calibrated response to militancy. They may also have been his undoing, leading him to overstep the limits in his campaign to enforce shari’ah and to refuse incentives to surrender as the stand-off developed. Respected Pakistani commentators maintain that it was impossible, given the mosque’s proximity to the ISI headquarters, that the agency was unaware of the stockpiling of weapons and the presence of militants from such banned organizations as JeM within the compound.

The Red Mosque in Islamabad had been constructed in 1965 with the Deobandi scholar Maulana Muhammad Abdullah as its imam. Its close links with the military dated from the Zia era when it had been important in raising recruits for the Afghanistan jihad. The mosque was also associated with hardline Sunni sectarianism. Maulana Abdullah had ties with SSP and was assassinated by Shia militants in 1998. The mosque’s running was taken over by his sons Abdul Aziz and Abdul Rashid Ghazi. The latter, who was a History graduate from Quaid-e-Azam University, had until that point been following a secular path. Despite its former establishment links, the mosque became a focus of opposition to the Musharraf regime when it reversed its security policies post 9/11. Abdul Rashid Ghazi went underground in 2004 after being accused of involvement in a plot to blow up government buildings in Islamabad. He reportedly had close links with such leading Al-Qaeda figures as Ayman Al-Zawahari. Every Friday demonstrations were raised at the mosque in support of Osama bin Laden.

The provocation for eventual military action against the mosque however came as a result of the activities of Maulana Abdul Aziz’s wife Ume-Hassan, who headed the girls’ madrasa (Jamia Hafsa) which was attached to it. Baton- wielding burqa-clad students took over a nearby children’s library and abducted women who they claimed were running a neighbourhood brothel. Their initial protests in January 2007 had been prompted by the government’s demolition of illegally constructed mosques in Islamabad. For many years the Capital Development Authority had turned a blind eye to their expansion. The vigilante actions of the Jamia Hafsa students formed the backdrop to clashes with the male Lal Masjid students, who sought to impose shari’ah by unlawfully destroying CDs and cassettes of local shopkeepers. They also kidnapped a number of policemen. After months of inaction,  troops stormed the mosque on 10 July 2007 and 50 militants were killed, including Abdul Rashid Ghazi. He was soon to be extolled in posters, conference gatherings and on web pages as a ‘gallant warrior’ and martyr.

While the military operation was successful, it resulted in an intensification of the insurgencies in the Tribal Areas under the umbrella of the newly formed TTP. When Ghazi’s brother was released, while he disavowed suicide attacks and bombings, he publicly thanked Allah for bestowing upon people like Fazlullah and Sufi Muhammad the power to enforce the shari’ah. Punjab based sectarian militants not only joined the TTP, but for the first time targeted the state, initially in the Pashtun areas, but ultimately in the Punjab as well. These attacks became increasingly daring and were directed at the army and ISI, which had in the past helped to nurture and protect organizations such as the LeJ and SSP. The immediate of the Lal Masjid operation saw an average of one suicide attack a day during July. Suicide bombers targeted security forces, government buildings and symbols of Western presence in Pakistan, such as the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad which was hit in September 2008. Musharraf survived a further assassination attempt, but Benazir Bhutto was to fall victim to the mounting tide of violence which in 2008 saw over 2,000 terrorist attacks, killing or injuring around 7,000 people.

Insurgency in Balochistan
The Musharraf era did see the completion of one major construction project: Gwadar port. This too, however, generated centre-province tensions. Indeed, it was a contributory factor in the third round of insurgency in Balochistan since independence. The return of a military guided government committed to the development of Balochistan in the national interest provoked long standing antipathy towards the province’s ‘colonial status’. The establishment of cantonments in Balochistan in the wake of 9/11 made it appear that a Punjab-led occupying force was taking over. Musharraf’s encouragement for Pushtun Islamist parties further created a sense of Balochistan marginalization in provincial as well as national politics. The circumstances were thus created for a new phase in militancy. Musharraf appears to have little respect for the Baloch Sardars, believing that they objected to any development in the region which might weaken their autocratic power. From this perspective, their claims to be upholding Baloch rights and interests are merely hypocritical. Security concerns that New Delhi was assisting a low-intensity insurgency may further have encouraged a high-handed attitude which failed to consult Baloch interests when drawing up the developmental projects in the province.
The Pakistan government attached great strategic and economic importance to the Gwadar development. The deep-sea port at the entrance of the Arabian Sea is designed to provide naval strategic depth for Pakistan (it is 450 km further from the Indian border than Karachi). It came into operation in 2008 and is being managed by the Port of Singapore Authority. The economic aim is to make Pakistan a transit hub for trade, especially in oil for Central Asia and the rapidly developing Xinjiang region of China.

Baloch nationalists fear that trade profits will be siphoned off to other provinces. They are also concerned about the influx of non-Baloch labourers in search of employment opportunities. Another grievance is the fact that local land has been acquired by real estate agencies at low prices, subsequently sold on at vast profit to non-Baloch. On 3 May 2004, three Chinese engineers were killed by a remote-controlled car bomb as they made their way to work at Gwadar. Security was immediately stepped up and protection provided to the 450 Chinese technicians. Responsibility for this outrage was claimed by a shadowy organization known as the Balochistan Liberation Army. It has been engaged in a low intensity insurgency since 2000. Its roots can be traced to the 1973-77 insurgency when it was funded by the Soviet Union. Some analysts have claimed that its re-emergence was facilitated by Indian support, alarmed at the Chinese strategic interests at Gwadar.

By 2005, violence had escalated and shifted from Gwadar to the Bugti tribal area, a locality so rich in natural gas that it provides around a third of Pakistan’s energy needs. The Bugtis were not involved in the 1973-77 Balochistan insurgency. The tribal Sardar Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti had traditionally been regarded as loyal to Islamabad. He had for example become Chief Minister of Balochistan in 1988. He founded his own political party which drew mainly on Bugti support: The Jamhoori Watan Party. The rape of Dr. Shazia Khalid was the catalyst for the conflict between the Bugtis and the Pakistan state. She was assaulted on 2 January 2005 by an army officer. The incident occurred at the Pakistan Petroleum Plant at Sui. It was seen by Nawab Bugti as an attack on his tribe’s ‘honour’ as Shazia was a ‘protected guest’. Bugti’s attempt to prevent an official cover up led to mounting conflict and attacks on gas pipelines by tribesmen. Bugti fled his residence at Dera Bugti shortly before it came under attack. From a cave in the Bhamboor Hills he directed what became known an insurgency against authorities. He died a martyr for the Baloch cause on 26 August 2006, when an intercepted satellite phone-call revealed the cave at Tarnai, near Kohlu, in which he was hiding. F-16s and helicopter gunships bombed the area killing the veteran Baloch leader and 36 of his followers. The insurgency had by the time spread from the Bugtis to their traditional Marri rivals. The Marri tribal area became the centre of military activity following a rocket attack on 14 December 2005 on a Pakistan Frontier Corps camp outside the town of Kohlu, which was being visited at the time by President Musharraf. There was also firing on the helicopter which was carrying the Frontier Corps’ Inspector-General Shujaat Zamir. Three days later Kohlu town was bombed along with its surrounding areas. The Marri in these circumstances finally settled differences with the Bugtis, so that there could be a common front in the Baloch struggle.
The Marri tribe provided the main personnel for the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which commenced a campaign directed against security personnel, gas pipes, electricity pylons and railway tracks. On 1 May 2006, the BLA claimed the responsibility for blowing up a railway bridge on the main Quetta railway line in the Kohlu district. In the same month, President Musharraf banned it as a terrorist organization. At least 450 persons, including 226 civilians, 82 soldiers and 147 insurgents, were killed in 772 incidents in Balochistan in 2006.
The attacks continued into 2007: in May, a series of railway line explosions severely disrupted communications between Balochistan and the rest of Pakistan. Punjabi ‘settlers’ became the victim of target killings. The insurgency in Balochistan, because it was not linked with the ‘War on Terror’, attracted far less international attention than that in the Tribal Areas. However, the region is of immense strategic and economic significance for Pakistan’s future development.

Centre-State Relations

Military-backed government raised again the old claim of Punjabization. Musharraf adhered to centralization as much as any previous military ruler, despite his talk of devolution. Indeed the practical effect of the ‘localization of politics’ arising from his local government reforms was as Mohammad Waseem has pointed out, to ‘enhance unbridled centralism’. Yet the Musharraf era revealed the extreme limitations facing a centralizing administration committed to top-down modernization if it lacked political legitimacy. Attempts to develop Balochistan on behalf of the national interest ran into increasing particularist opposition. Similarly, Musharraf was unable like Zia before him to address Pakistan’s mounting water management and electricity supply problems by forcing througfh the Kalabagh Dam project.

As early as the mid 1980s, plans were drawn up for a major dam to be constructed at Kalabagh on the Indus. Its proponents argued that the hydro-electricity produced by it (over 2,000 MW generation capacity) would meet the growing energy ‘gap’, while it would also address the increasing water shortage. Despite promises of international support and the expenditure of vast sums of money on the project plans, provincial opposition to federal government’s proposals prevented the scheme going ahead. The greatest opposition came from Sindh with fears that the dam would reduce the Indus flow with resulting desertification in the interior and increased flooding by sea water

Musharraf sought to cut through this stalemate by announcing in December 2005 that the Kalabagh Dam would go ahead. He could not, however, command the country as easily as he could the army. Within less than six months, the mounting campaigns in Sindh and NWFP forced him to abandon the proposal. This was democracy of a kind in operation, but the problem of water supply and electricity generation would not be so easily wished away. Unsurprisingly the post-2008 PPP-led government of President Zardari did not reopen what would have been a can of worms for its Sindhi supporters. The 2010 flood disaster, however, pointed to the fact that Pakistan faced more immediate problems of water management arising from climate change than it had previously anticipated. The Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, went on record that the flood disaster in Sindh would have been mitigated if the Kalabag Dam had been constructed. Lack of trust, however, continues to threatens timely mreasures such as smaller dam projects, let alone the politically charged Kalabagh scheme whose construction in any case would take around six years.

Civil-Military Relations and Milbus Under Musharraf
The military’s penetration of Pakistan’s state, economy and society has been a constant theme throughout this text. Its emergence as a key interest group which intervened to safeguard institutional interests in the name of the nation’s stability and security dates back, as we have seen, to the early post-independence era. Under Ayub and Zia, the military role in the running of the state grew apace, although its power was never hegemonic, both because military regimes failed to acquire political legitimacy and because they had to rely to a degree on civilian allies drawn from the rural elite, the Islamic establishment and the bureaucracy. Under Musharraf, military control increased at the expense of the bureaucracy, although the Islamic parties remained restive allies in comparison with the more supine landowners.

Before turning to the intensified role of the army in both Pakistan’s administration and economy, it is important to note that Musharraf institutionalized its role at the heart of politics.

This was achieved firstly by restoring the powers of the President to dismiss the Prime Minister and assemblies which had been a feature of Zia’s legacy, but had been removed during Nawaz Sharif’s second stint in office. This measure was important as Musharraf once again restored a direct linkage between the presidency and the military by virtue of his dual office holding as COAS and President. In the early 1990s, civilian presidents had worked closely with the army but always at one step removed. The Legal Framework Order which was incorporated into the constitution early in 2004 ensured presidential power in Pakistan. Secondly, Musharraf gave the military a permanent role in governance through the passage of the National Security Council Act in 2004. The idea that the military should have a permanent presence in deliberation of national policy-making drew inspiration from the Turkish model of civil-military relations. The notion of a Pakistani version was mooted during the Zia era. Musharraf’s introduction of the National Security Council revealed both the long-term suspicion of the army that the state’s functioning could not be left to elected politicians and an established pattern of intervention to safeguard its interests

Despite the misgivings of some of the Islamic parties, the 2002 elections had delivered a National Assembly that was sufficiently pro-establishment to ease through the the legislation. Supporters of the measure stressed that the NSC was merely consultative and that by bringing the army into the heart of governance it would strengthen democracy by encouraging responsibility and removing the need for future coups. This ignored the fact that the NSC not only reduced still further the possibility of the army being held accountable to civilians, but also was reflective of the weakness of democracy rather than a step towards its consolidation.

At the same time as institutionalizing the imbalance in civil-military relations, the Musharraf regime increased both the size of the military’s internal economy and the penetration of serving and retired military personnel in all major institutions. This included not only businesses and commercial undertakings where they may have acquired military based technical skills, but also as heads of universities and think tanks. Within government itself, around 4-5,000 posts were held by military officers.

Long established military enterprises such as the Frontier Works Organization, further extended their activities by seeking private sector partnerships, as for example in the project along with the Habib Rafique Group and Sacchal Construction to build a Lahore-Sheikhupura-Faisalabad motorway. The military’s interest in real-estate development was another marked feature of this period. In 2002, for example, a presidential order enabled the Defence Housing Authority in Lahore to come into existence by taking over the Lahore Cantonment Cooperative Housing Society which had been in existence since 1925. The army was not alone in speculating in real estate which, according to Ayesha Siddiqa, ‘can be considered as one of the primary sources of economic activity in the country, especially after 9/11’, but it remains a ‘major stakeholder’ and most importantly there is clear evidence here of its political power being used to forward economic interests. Property prices escalate in army-run housing schemes because they are seen as more ‘secure’ and have a better infrastructure than civilian-run schemes.

The direct military association with power opened it up to corruption, which reduced its standing in the public’s eyes. This declined further as Musharraf’s own popularity slumped whilst he continued to hold dual offices of President and Chief of Army Staff. The army regained its high standing because of its tackling militancy and the disastrous floods in July-August 2010. Nonetheless it is important not to see the army’s burgeoning economic interests in a totally negative light. Most military enterprises were run reasonably efficiently. The Fauji Foundation’s support for ex-servicemen and their dependents not only provided the conditions for steady supply of recruits, but through, for example, its educational facilities enabled the army to act as the only meritocratic institution in Pakistan. This was evidenced most clearly when General Ashfaq Kayani replaced Musharraf as Army Chief in November 2007. Kayani’s father had been a non-commissioned officer.

Musharraf’s Decline and Fall
Musharraf, like his military predecessors, lacked legitimacy and cast about for ways to secure a popular mandate. He was more adept at political manipulation than Ayub, but lacked Zia’s native cunning. By 2007, the year in which he needed to secure re-election and parliamentary elections were scheduled, he faced mounting unpopularity because of his perceived pro-American stance. At the same time, his Western allies were urging him to come to terms with Benazir Bhutto to shore up democratic and liberal forces in Pakistan against a growing tide of militancy. Musharraf not only shared the army’s mistrust of the PPP, but personally disliked Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari. His initial preference was to secure his position as President before allowing her to return to Pakistan on his terms. He attempted this manoeuvre by securing re-election as President from the loyalist parliament dominated by the PML(Q). The questionable legitimacy of this action encouraged the mainstream opposition parties to boycott the indirect electoral college comprising the National Assembly, Provincial Assemblies and the Senate. This duly re-elected Musharraf as President for five years on 6 October. This did not shore up Musharraf’s position, however, which had already been severely weakened because of his suspension in March 2007 of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on allegations of misconduct and nepotism. The Chief Justice had displayed increasing independence. Musharraf feared that he might pose a legal threat to his re-election process. His action, however, seriously backfired as Pakistan’s lawyers came out onto the streets in mass protest which widened from its concern with the independence of the judiciary into an anti-Musharraf movement. This was the beginning of what was to become the Go Musharraf, Go’ campaign which eventually culminated in his resignation.

Musharraf was unable to prevent Benazir Bhutto’s and Nawaz Sharif’s return to Pakistan shortly after his re-election. Benazir Bhutto had returned on 18 October after an amnesty had been granted and all corruption charges against her were lifted. Her triumphant return was marred by an assassination attempt in Karachi in which a suicide bomber killed 136 people and injured at least 450. Nawaz Sharif returned from his Saudi exile in less dramatic circumstances on 25 November. It was increasingly clear that Musharraf would only be able to preserve his position by working with the leaders of the two parties which would come out on top in the impending elections. In another ill-considered step, however, he painted himself further into a corner by taking the drastic step of declaring a state of emergency on 3 November. This was prompted not by fear of Bhutto and Sharif so much as concern that the Supreme Court would invalidate his recent re-election. The new restriction on the mainstream media which had been given freedom to grow earlier in his regime were epitomized by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Ordinance. The state of emergency was lifted on 15 December in time for parliamentary elections after new appointees to the Supreme Court ratified Musharraf’s election. Earlier on 28 November he had stepped down as Chief of Army Staff, handing control of the army to General Ashfaq Kayani. This decision, which had been long demanded by opponents, did nothing however to restore his credibility and merely further exposed him to opposition without the army’s ‘cover’. The emergency had done irreparable damage to both his domestic and international standing. The Commonwealth had suspended Pakistan from membership on 22 November. Musharraf may have won the battle for the presidency but had lost the wider war of political acceptability. This was amply demonstrated by the concerted attempts to secure his impeachment in the wake of national elections. These had been delayed from January to February 2008 following Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007. political opponents claimed that Musharraf was behind her murder. Subsequent reports have pointed out lapses of security for which he must bear responsibility. In the wake of the revulsion and shock which followed her death, some writers feared for the unity of the Pakistan federation. These anxieties were to be proved exaggerated. The main consequences were to prevent any establishment rigging of the polls. The PPP undoubtedly benefited from the sympathy vote, while the PML(N) returned to power in its Punjab heartland at the expense of the discredited pro-Musharraf PML(Q). The pattern of the pre-2002 elections was restored in which the religious-based parties were reduced to the margins. The ANP was the main beneficiary of this process in the NWFP. In a striking reversal of fortune, the widower of Benazir Bhutto and the new co-chair of the PPP, Asif Ali Zardari, emerged as the key figure in Pakistan politics.
Musharraf’s fate was sealed when Nawaz Sharif agreed to join Zardari’s coalition government. While the cooperation between them was short-lived, they were able to demand the President’s impeachment with a reasonable expectation that they could muster the necessary two-thirds majority in the National Assembly and Senate to pass an impeachment resolution. Musharraf pre-empted this process by announcing his resignation on 18 August. He maintained that the charges against him were false and that his decision was prompted by the need for national unity. Pakistan’s long journey to democratic consolidation was set to enter a new phase.

Conclusion
The mixed legacy of Musharraf’s nearly nine years in office was reflected by the jubilant celebration of political opponents and civil society groups, while the responses of the business classes and of many ordinary citizens were more muted. It may have been this along with an undoubted patriotism which later raised his ambition for a possible return to the political stage through the vehicle of a new party, the All Pakistan Muslim league (APML). By the time of its launch at the beginning of October 2010, the Musharraf era appeared an oasis of relative stability and efficient governance following the chaos and insecurity of the Zardari years. Memories are short in politics so Musharraf’s moves were not greeted with the condemnation which had accompanied his departure from the political scene.

In 2008, however, Musharraf, if not exactly a busted flush, appeared to have a few tricks left up his sleeve. He had promised to improve Pakistan’s governance and economy but had bequeathed a deteriorating situation to his successors. Rather than being the self-proclaimed saviour of the country, he had not begun to address the problems which had bedevilled it since 1947. Political institutions had been further weakened and the issue of provincial autonomy versus centralization still awaited a resolution. Half-hearted attempts had been made to roll back the Islamization measures introduced by Zia. At the same time, the challenge of shariatization had increased, in part because of the ambiguous attitude of the Musharraf regime to Islamic parties and Islamic proxies. The initial hopes for improvement in relations with India had stalled, along with the composite dialogue process. Similarly, the proclaimed empowerment of the masses through political reform had proved a chimera. Perhaps, in these circumstances, the best summary of the Musharraf regime would run along the lines that much was promised but little was delivered. Pakistan still had to resolve the issues which had blocked off its economic and political development since independence. If Pakistan was not a failed state under Musharraf’s stewardship, it remained immobilized. Yet there had never been greater need for structural reform.

By courtesy: Pakistan, A New History by Ian Talbot, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York 2015

Conclusions about Pakistan

It should be clear that Pakistan, though a deeply troubled state, is also a tough one; and that, barring catastrophic decisions in Washington, New Delhi-and of course Islamabad-it is likely to survive as a country. In the long run, the greatest threat to Pakistan’s existence is not insurgency, but ecological change. However, Pakistan’ s farmers are also tough and adaptable, and while some areas like the Quetta valley are likely soon to suffer disastrous water shortages in the country, drought will take several decades to become truly catastrophic. Floods, though devastating in the short term, can also be controlled and harnessed given determination, organization and money. This allows time for human action to ameliorate the impending crisis, if the West, China and of course Pakistan itself have the will to take this action.

Featured image: The aftermath of a suicide attack by the Pakistan Taliban on the Lahore High Court, 10 January 2008

The rest of the world should work hard to help Pakistan, because, long after Western forces have left Afghanistan, Pakistan’s survival will remain a vital Western and Chinese interest. This should encourage cooperation between Beijing and Washington to ensure Pakistan’s survival. By contrast, a Sino-US struggle for control over Pakistan should be avoided at all costs, as this would add enormously to Pakistan’s destabilization.

AL3
A terrorist attack by Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) in Mumbai India, November 2008. The aftermath of the attack on the railway station

In the short term, of course, Western policy towards Pakistan will be shaped by developments in Afghanistan, but this policy should not be dictated by those developments. For Pakistan is in the end a great deal more important and potentially dangerous than Afghanistan. Whatever strategy the US ends up adopting in Afghanistan, Pakistan will be critical to its success. Quite apart from Islamabad’s strategic calculations, this is made inevitable by the fact that more than half of the Pathan ethnicity lives in Pakistan, while maintaining a strong interest in what happens to the Pathans on the other side of the Durand Line.

Whatever happens, Pakistan will therefore insist both that Pathans are strongly represented in any Afghan regime, and that Islamabad has a share of influence in Afghanistan, at least to the point where other countries-meaning above all India-cannot use Afghanistan as a base from which to threaten Pakistan.

No conceivable short-term gains in the Western campaign in Afghanistan or the ‘war on terror’ could compensate for the vastly increased threats to the region and the world that would stem from Pakistan’s collapse, and for disasters that would result for Pakistan’s own peoples. Though many Indians may not see it this way, the collapse of Pakistan would also be disastrous for India, generating chaos that would destabilize the entire region. Western and Indian strategy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan should therefore be devised with this fact firmly in mind.

ALa
Destruction caused by floods in Azalkhel, NWFP, 9 August 2010

This would include recognition, at least in private, that it has above all been the US-led campaign in Afghanistan which has been responsible for increasing Islamist insurgency and terrorism in Pakistan since 2001. By this I do not mean to advocate a humiliating US and British scuttle from Afghanistan, nor to suggest that a Western withdrawal from Afghanistan would end the extremist threat to Pakistan, a threat which has long since developed a life of its own. Nonetheless, concern for the effects of the US military presence in Afghanistan on the situation in Pakistan is one of the strongest arguments for bringing that presence to an end as soon as this can honourably be achieved, and against conducting more wars against Muslim states under any circumstances whatsoever.

AL4
Mehsud tribesmen meet for a jirga to discuss US drone attacks, Tank, 20 April 2009
ALc
A Taliban patrol in Swat, April 2009

This also implies that the US should observe restraint in its pressure on Pakistan. Drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas have killed many Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders, but they have not noticeably impaired the Afghan Taliban’s ability to go on fighting effectively, while causing outrage among Pakistanis–especially because of the very large numbers of women and children who have been killed by the attacks. The US Ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, discussed the risks of the drone strategy in a cable sent to the State Department in 2009 and revealed by Wikileaks. She acknowledged that drones had killed ten out twenty known top Al Qaeda leaders in the region, but stated that they could not entirely eliminate the Al Qaeda leadership and, in the meantime:

Increased unilateral operations in these areas risk destabilizing the Pakistan state, alienating both the civilian government and military leadership, and provoking a broader governance crisis within Pakistan without finally achieving the goal [of eliminating the Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership].

The well substantiated belief that–despite official denials–the Pakistan high command and government have provided information to the US in return for strikes against Pakistan Taleban leaders has also been confirmed by WikiLeaks. As Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani told US officials in August 2008,

‘I don’t care if they do it as long as they get the right people. We’ll protest in the National Assembly, then ignore it.’

Pakistani acquiescence in the drone strikes, however, damaged the prestige of the military in society and the morale of ordinary soldiers, and encouraged the perception of the military as a ‘force for hire’. There should therefore be no question of extending the attacks to new areas of Balochistan or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which would further enrage local society, spread the Pakistani Taliban insurgency to new areas, and reduce existing Pakistani cooperation with the US.

Even more dangerous is the presence of US special forces on the ground in Pakistan. Reports of this in Pakistan are greatly exaggerated. According to the US Embassy cables released by Wikileaks, as of October 2009 only sixteen such soldiers were deployed in Pakistan, to two Pakistani military bases in north and south Waziristan. While they are doing some useful work against the Taliban, they are also potential hostages to fortune, and likely to provoke mass anger at their presence in the population and the military.

Above all, there must be no open intervention of US ground forces in FATA, as this risks outright mutiny in the Pakistani army. This restraint should be observed even if the US comes under new terrorist attack. Britain should use whatever influence it possesses in Washington to oppose any such interventions, which could have the most disastrous effects on both terrorism and ethnic relations within Britain itself.

Pakistan’s links to the Afghan Taliban, hitherto seen in the West overwhelmingly as a problem, should also be seen potentially a critical asset in the search for an exit from Afghanistan. We might as well try to use Pakistan in this way, since, as the US embassy in Islamabad reported gloomily but accurately in September 2010:

There is no chance that Pakistan will view enhanced (US) assistance levels in any field as sufficient compensation for abandoning support to these groups (i.e. the Afghan Taliban and their allies) which it sees as an important part of its national security apparatus against India. The only way to achieve a cessation of such support is to change the Pakistani government’s perception of its security requirements.

The US and other Western countries fighting in Afghanistan should use Pakistan as an intermediary to initiate talks with the Taliban in the hope of eventually reaching a settlement, if, as seems highly probable, the attempt to defeat the Taliban by force does not succeed. Because of its links with the Taliban, Pakistan will have to play a key role in bringing about such negotiations. In 2010 the Obama administration began to move towards the idea of talks, but still seemed very far away from a recognition of what such talks would really entail. In the words of a senior Pakistani diplomat:

The US needs to be negotiating with the Taleban, those Taleban with no links to al-Qaida. We need a power-sharing agreement in Afghanistan and it will have to be negotiated with all parties . . . The Afghan government is already talking to all the stakeholders, the Taleban, the Haqqani network, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and Mullah Omar. The Americans have been setting ridiculous preconditions for talks. You can’t lay down such conditions when you are losing.

Such a Western strategy should also stem from a recognition that Pakistan’s goals in Afghanistan are in part legitimate–even if the means by which they have been sought have not been–and this legitimacy needs to be recognised by the West. The US and EU should work hard to try to reconcile legitimate Pakistani goals in Afghanistan with those of India, and to draw other regional states into a consensus on how to limit the Afghan conflict. China, close to Pakistan and fearful of Islamist extremism, could be a key player in this regard.

The US needs to continue to limit Indian involvement in Afghanistan if it is to have any hope of a long-term cooperative relationship with Pakistan. The West also needs to seek a peaceful solution to the Kashmir dispute, despite all the immense obstacles in both Pakistan and India. As Ambassador Patterson told her government:

Most importantly, it is the perception of India as the primary threat to the Pakistani state that colours its perceptions of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s security needs. The Pakistani establishment fears that a pro-Indian government in Afghanistan would allow India to operate a proxy war against Pakistan from its territory . . . Increased Indian investment in, trade with, and development support to the Afghan government, which the USG (US Government) has encouraged, causes, Pakistan to embrace Taleban groups as anti-India allies. We need to reassess Indian involvement in Afghanistan and our own policies towards India . . .Resolving the Kashmir dispute would dramatically improve the situation.

The overall question of the future of US-Indian relations is far too broad to be discussed here. What can be said is that a balance needs be struck between the economic and security benefits to the West of closer ties to India and the security threats to the West stemming from a growth of Islamist militancy in Pakistan. In the end, not even the greatest imaginable benefits of the US-Indian friendship could compensate for the actual collapse of Pakistan, with all the frightful dangers this would create not just for the West but for India too.

We should also not dream-as US neoconservatives are apt to do–that India can somehow be used by the US to control Pakistani behaviour. The truth, outlined by Ambassador Patterson, is exactly the opposite.

Only Pakistanis can control Pakistan, and the behaviour of the Pakistani security establishment will always be determined by what they see as the vital needs of Pakistan and the Pakistani army.

A new approach to Pakistan over the future of Afghanistan should therefore be part of a much deeper long-term engagement with Pakistan by the West in general, and one tied not to the temporary war in Afghanistan but to the permanent importance of Pakistan as a state. This is crucial for Britain, whose large minority of Pakistani origin retains extremely close ties with Pakistan and forms an enduring organic link between the two countries, and, through Britain to Europe and North America.

Whatever happens, this human link is not going to go away. To help make it a force for good rather than a danger, the west needs to develop a much deeper knowledge of Pakistan, a much deeper stake in Pakistan, and a much more generous attitude to helping Pakistan. I hope that by showing Pakistan in all its complex patchwork of light and shadow, this book will help bring about such a new approach.

General Muhammad Ziaul Haq, military ruler 1977-88; Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Prime Minister 1971-77; Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan; Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, military ruler 1958-69; Poster of the Bhutto-Zardari family 2010; Nawaz Sharif (left) and Shahbaz Sharif 2008

 

AL7

Courtesy of: Pakistan, A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven. Published by Penguin Group, London 2011

 

 

 

Mohammad Asghar Khan

220px-Air_Marshal_Asghar_Khan

Air Marshall Mohammad Asghar Khan (1921- ) First Pakistani Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan Air Force (1957-65 )

Asghar Khan was born on January 17, 1921. He is Pakistan’s veteran aviation historian, peace activist, and retired military figure; a three star air marshal who served as the first non-white commander in chief of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) from 1957 until resigning in 1965,  prior to the start of the air operations of the PAF during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965.

Early life and World War II

Mohammad Asghar Khan was born in JammuKashmir and Jammu (princely state) in British Indian Empire on 17 January 1921. His father was Brigadier Thakur Rahmatullah Khan, an officer of the Jammu & Kashmir State Forces. He and all his brothers, except one, later joined the armed forces of Pakistan.

After attending the Aitchison College at Lahore, he obtained a place at the Prince of Wales’s Royal Indian Military College in 1933, and joined the Indian Military Academy in 1939. Initially, Asghar Khan was commissioned into the Indian Army as a Second Lieutenant, starting his active duty from the Royal Deccan Horse in December 1940. However this was short-lived, as he was attached to the newly established Indian Air Force in 1940, joining the No. 9 Squadron of the Indian Air Force. In 1944, Asghar Khan assumed the command his unit and commanded the aerial missions of No. 9 Squadron in Burma. He took active participation in Burma Campaign 1944–1945, directing and commanding aerial operations against the Imperial Japan.

After World War II, he was sent to United Kingdom where he joined the RAF Staff College at Bracknell, and completed a staff course. Later, he joined the Joint Service Defence College where he gained B.Sc. in military ethics after submitting his thesis on actions involving the Joint Services. He conducted his post-graduate research and studies from Imperial Defence College where he was awarded M.Sc. in Military administration by the college faculty.

Upon his return, Asghar Khan was most-senior officer in the Royal Indian Air Force. He was also the first Royal Indian Air Force officer to fly a jet fighter aircraft—a Gloster Meteor— whilst doing a fighter leader’s course in UK in 1946

  • He became first commandant of Pakistan Air Force Academy in 1947
  • First to head the Directorate-General for Air Operations (DGAO) in 1950.
  • In 1957, he became the youngest to-date and first non-white Air Force commander-in-chief of PAF.

His tenure as air chief saw the extensive modernization of the PAF, in both technical and military equipment, and after resigning in 1965, he was not consulted by President Ayub Khan prior to launch of Operation Gibraltar. On retirement from the air force, Asghar Khan became president of the civilian national flag carrier, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) which he led until 1968.

c-in-c-asghar-khan-awarding-gliding-wings-to-safi-mustafa-356-tempest1

C-in-C Asghar Khan awarding Gliding wings to Safi Mustafa* 356 Tempest House, PAF Public School Sargodha 1961(?)

*Flight Lt. Syed Safi Mustafa, (martyred), Sitara Jurat, East Pakistan,1971

 Personal life: Asghar Khan was married to Ms. Amina Shamsie in 1946 and they had five children, Nasreen, Shereen, Saira, Omar (deceased) and Ali Asghar Khan. He has also authored 13 books, among them:

 Selected books-English

  • (1969) Khan, Asghar. Pakistan at the Cross Roads. Karachi: Ferozsons. OCLC 116825.
  • (1979). The First Round, Indo-Pakistan War 1965. Sahibabad: Vikas. ISBN 0-7069-0978-X.
  •  (1983). Generals in Politics. New Delhi: Vikas. ISBN 0-7069-2215-8.
  •  (1985). The Lighter side of the Power Game. Lahore: Jang Publishers. OCLC 15107608.
  •  (2005). We’ve Learnt Nothing from History. Karachi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-597883-8.
  •  (2008). My Political Struggle. Karachi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-547620-0.
  •  (2009). Milestones in a Political Journey. Islamabad: Dost Publications. ISBN 978-9694963556.

Selected Books-Urdu

  • Khan, Ashghar (1985). Sada-i-Hosh (in Urdu). Lahore: Jang Publishers. OCLC 14214332.
  • (1998). Chehray nahi Nizam ko Badlo (in Urdu). Islamabad: Dost Publications. ISBN 978-9694960401.
  • (1999). Islam – Jamhooriat aur Pakistan (in Urdu). Islamabad: Dost Publications. ISBN 978-9694960852.
  • (1999). Ye Batain Hakim Logon Ki (in Urdu). Islamabad: Dost Publications. ISBN 978-9694960876.

Founding Independence Movement: after leaving the Ministry of Defence (MoD), Asghar Khan criticized and blamed President Ayub Khan and Foreign Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto for the 1965 war with India, and later, he turned the criticism towards General Yahya Khan for the 1971 debacle, which resulted in the breakup of Pakistan; Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s Awami League had won the election, but had not been allowed to form the government.  In protest in January 1969, Asghar Khan relinquished awards of ‘Hilal-i-Pakistan’ and ‘Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam’ against repressive policies of Field Marshal Ayub Khan.

During the Bangladesh war of secession, Asghar Khan did support East-Pakistanis (Bengalis) morally, alleging that West-Pakistan under Bhutto had deprived them from their political and economic rights. He also demanded power to be handed over to the people of East Pakistan. In 1972, after Bhutto was made president, Asghar Khan accused Bhutto for the break-up, later noting that:

“We are living virtually under one party state…. The outstanding feature is suppression.

In 1970, Asghar Khan founded the Tehrik-e-Istiqlal, initially a centrist secular party. He criticized Bhutto on numerous occasions, holding him responsible for tyranny during the 1970 elections. However, he, and his party failed to score any big hits during the 1970 parliamentary elections, failing to secure any seats in the parliament.

 Peace activism: Besides political activism, Asghar Khan has been engaged in peace activism. On various occasion, he called for normalization of Indo-Pakistan relations.  He also renounced the nuclear tests operations conducted by Pakistan, targeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif move for making that move. In 2011 he maintained that:

In the last over 60 years, India has never attacked Pakistan, as it cannot afford it. Indians know well, if Pakistan is destroyed, they will be the next target… It was made our problem that one day India would invade us. But we did so four times and the first attack was on Kashmir, where Maharaja was not prepared to accede to India for he wanted to join Pakistan and waited for this for 21 days. Indian forces came to East-Pakistan when people were being slaughtered there. Moreover, again at Kargil, Indian never mounted an assault…

Asghar Khan also blamed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for Balochistan conflict and the East-Pakistan war, terming it: “inflexible attitude” of Bhutto. Commenting of his political collapse, Asghar Khan accused the civil society for his failure, and marked that: “the majority in Pakistan voted for the (corrupt) politicians, as they also wanted their job done by “hook or by crook.”

He was designated a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, and conferred with the Gold Medal by the Human Rights Commission and Jinnah Award by the Jinnah Society for the cause of democracy. After years of founding the Independence Movement, Asghar Khan merged his party with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, in January 2012.

Activism in national politics–Tehrik-e-Istiqlal: During Bhutto’s rule from 1971 to 1977, Air Marshal Asghar Khan played a major role in opposition to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. During the 1977 elections, he allied his party, the Tehreek-i-Istiqlal with the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) against the People’s Party. It was during this period that he and his party faced frequent attacks by Pakistan People’s Party supporters and from the brutal paramilitary Federal Security Force. He was imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat and Sahiwal prisons from March to June 1977.

He contested two seats, one from Karachi and the other from Abbottabad; despite alleged rigging by the PPP, Asghar Khan was elected by a huge margin from both seats. The PNA rejected the election results as rigged and launched a nationwide agitation against them (results). Asghar Khan resigned from both National Assembly seats as a mark of protest against massive rigging in the elections.

Supporting martial law: While imprisoned, Asghar Khan wrote a much-criticized letter to the leadership of Defence Forces, asking them to renounce their support for the “illegal regime of Bhutto”, and asked the military leadership to “differentiate between a “lawful and an unlawful” command… and save Pakistan”. This letter is considered by the historians as instrumental in encouraging the advent of the far-right Zia regime. However in a television show, Asghar Khan strongly defended his letter. According to him “nowhere in the letter had he asked for the military to take over”, and he had written it in response to a news story that he had read in which a army major had shot a civilian showing him the “V sign”. After the overthrow of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government by the military in the summer of 1977, Asghar Khan was offered a cabinet post by General Zia-ul-Haq, which he refused to join, and withdrew from the PNA after a growing split between the various parties.

 Political activism: After successfully calling for Bhutto’s “judicial murder”, Asghar Khan decided to take on the far-right regime of General Zia-ul-Haq who had announced general elections in 1979. The Tehrik-e-Istiqlal became the most favorite party and benefited with large number of high-profile civilian political figures, including:

  • Nawaz Sharif
  • Khurshid Kasuri
  • Aitzaz Ahsan
  • Rashid Ahmad
  • Javed Hashmi
  • Akbar Bugti
  • Mushahid Hussain
  • Nadir Pervez
  • Gohar Ayub Khan
  • Zafar Ali Shah
  • Ahmed Raza Kasuri
  • Sher Afgan Niazi
  • Manzoor Wattoo
  • Syeda Abida Hussain
  • Syed Fakhar Imam

and many others. These members left Asghar Khan under Nawaz Sharif who founded the largest conservative party, the Pakistan Muslim League (N). However, at the last moment, General Zia-ul-Haq indefinitely postponed the elections, ordering the arrests of Asghar Khan who remained under house arrest for more than five years.

In 1983, Asghar Khan decided to join the left-wing alliance, the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) led by Benazir Bhutto but was detained by the government. He was kept under house arrest at his Abbotabad residence from 16/10/1979 to 2/10/1984, and was named a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. With decline in public approval in 1986, Asghar Khan left the MRD, as a result of which many of the Tehrik’s members resigned in protest. He boycotted the non-partisan elections held in 1985. However, Asghar Khan and his party took full part in 1988 parliamentary elections. But this time, he was accused by Pakistan Peoples Party for having called for Bhutto’s death sentence and the martial law, which Asghar Khan failed to justify.

His party members disintegrated and allied with conservative Nawaz Sharif, a major setback for his career. His public rating plummeted and he faced complete annihilation in 1988 elections. He conceded defeat but again contested in the 1990 parliamentary elections from Lahore. He was once again defeated. Briefly retiring from active politics in the late 1990s, his party faced another one of its many splits. Since 1990, Asghar Khan has not held a significant position in politics.

 Collapse and merging with Pakistan Movement for Justice: As he grew older, he handed over his small party to his equally capable son Omar Asghar Khan, who had for a while joined the military government of General Pervaiz Musharraf, and became minister of Ministry of Environment. After his son’s resignation from the cabinet, he (son Omer) took over Tehrik-e-Istiqlal and subsequently merged it with assorted other non-governmental organization and formed a new party called National Democratic Party, an event which caused another split in the party. Both Independence Movement and National Democratic Party suffered major shock and setback when Omar Asghar Khan was murdered in Karachi on 25/6/2001 prior to the elections. An inquiry into his death was ordered b y the Sindh High Court and despite repeated requests, it was never started.

In a historic press conference on 12/12/2011, Asghar Khan announced his full support to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Imran Khan.  He praised Imran Khan for his struggle and endorsed him as the only hope left for the survival of Pakistan. This endorsement came at a crucial time for Imran Khan, when many tainted politicians were joining his party. After announcing his party’s support for PTI, Asghar Khan resigned as President of Tehreek-e-Istiqlal and left the future of his party in the hands of his workers. Contrary to many media reports, Asghar Khan never joined PTI.

Asghar Khan اصغر خان

Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Air Force In office: 23 July 1957 – 22 July 1965
Presidents Iskander Mirza; Ayub Khan
Preceded by AVM Arthur McDonald
Succeeded by Air Marshal Nur Khan
President of Pakistan International Airlines In office: 20 August 1965 – 31 November 1968
 

Chairman of the Tehrik-e-Istiqlal

In office: 29 June 1970 – 12 December 2011; merged with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
Preceded by Office created
Succeeded by Imran Khan
Personal details
Born Mohammad Asghar Khan
17 January 1921 (age 95) JammuKashmirBritish Indian Empire
Citizenship British Subject (1921-1947)
Pakistan (1947-)
Political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
Other political
affiliations
Tehrik-e-Istiqlal
Children Nasreen Asghar Khan
Shereen Asghar Khan Omar Asghar Khan

Ali Asghar Khan

Residence Abbottabad
Alma mater Royal Air Force College
Indian Military Academy
Occupation Administrator; Politician
Profession Fighter pilot
Religion Islam
Military service
Nickname(s) Night Flyer
Allegiance United Kingdom
Pakistan
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Pakistan Air Force
Years of service 1940-1965
Rank Air Marshal (Lieutenant-General
Unit No. 9 Squadron Griffins
Commands Pakistan Air Force Academy
No. 1 Stryker GroupPeshawar AFB Directorate-General for the Air Operations (DGAO)

Precision Engineering Complex

Assistant Chief of Air Staff

Battles/Wars World War IIBritish War in BurmaIndo-Pakistani War of 1947
 Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

 

 

Straight shooting on the 1965 war

As we honour the men who fought against all odds in 1965, we must also acknowledge the miscalculations of the army’s high command. Air Commodore Retd. Sajjad Haider sets the record straight.

Come September, Pakistanis are told how the gallant Pakistan Armed forces fought and thwarted the Indian Juggernaut which invaded Pakistan in a surprise move on September 6 ‘without any provocation’. For 49 years, the nation has been regaled by the stories of valor and ‘victory over the evil enemy’. These stories are true, but the whole truth has not been told.

Seldom has any attempt been made to tell the nation that the fighting elements of the armed forces achieved this spectacular success not because, but in spite of the vision-less leadership which had perpetrated this senseless war on a flimsy, unprofessional and immature hypothesis. A soldier’s duty is to obey commands; theirs’ is not to question why. So it was for 99 per cent of the Pakistani armed forces, professional fighting men who obeyed orders, often paying the ultimate price, while the one per cent issued orders from their safe bunkers and palaces, far from the discordant sound of guns, planes and the rattle of tanks. These knights in shining armour gave their lives so that their leaders, wearing suits of rusted mail, could cover themselves in glory.

 

SS8
A scene inside a field air ops room during the Indo-Pak War 1965. Squadron Leader M M Alam is seen in the centre

In India, there is now a clear and coordinated attempt to paint the 1965 war as a great victory. Encouraged by the Modi government, which seeks to reverse historical humiliations by rewriting history, the Indian armed forces, top media outlets like the Indian Express and India Today, along with even renowned writers like Kuldip Nayyar are going all out to ‘prove’ that India came out on top in the ’65 war. This is an uphill task, given that even histories recorded by renowned Indian scholars say the opposite. Ignored is the defeat of the Indian 31 brigade at Kanjarkot, the Indian losses in the Kutch skirmish, the capitulation of its fighters to PAF interceptors in May 1965. The hopeless performance of the IAF in both the East and West, and the strident drubbing it received at the hands of a PAF that was one-third its size in particular stands out when you consider that our air force inflicted several times the attrition caused by the IAF.

 

SS7
The Pathankot team of Sherdils

The official IAF losses are chronicled in an award-winning air war history by military historian P.V.S Jagan Mohan and Samir Chopra, which details the 66 IAF operational aircraft lost to PAF action and the nine aircraft lost to accidents. By contrast, PAF attrition was 12 aircraft destroyed due to enemy action and five lost to accidents. This means that an air force 3.5 times the size of the PAF suffered an attrition ratio of 5:1 in favour of the PAF. Thus, the ‘Big Picture’ that sections of the Indian media is trying to project vis-à-vis the ’65 war is in fact an ‘unreal picture.’ One can understand their frustration and the need for Indian Prime Minister Modi to rewrite history, but such fabrications cannot stand in the face of facts.

But let’s leave India aside and focus on the facts about the war that we have not been told in Pakistan. After all, the first step in learning from your mistakes is to acknowledge those mistakes in the first place, and that is something we have not done. Having been in a key operational command in both 1965 and 1971, I say with full confidence that irrespective of which branch of the armed forces they served in, the fearless spirit and valor of our fighting men was exemplary. Sadly, the laurels of victory in Pakistan were placed largely on undeserving heads, while the real achievers and heroes still remain deprived of their due accolades. This was done due to the efforts and the pervasive propaganda unleashed by those at the highest echelons of the army and all the ‘King’s Men’ who, immediately after the cease fire, set out to successfully create a massive cover-up to bury deep the blunders that cost thousands of lives even before September 6. This may come as a surprise to many because the secret of those martyrs sent on Operation: Gibraltar, a one way mission to capture Kashmir, does not find mention during the celebration ceremonies.

Who was it who thought that an operation to capture Kashmir would not invite ferocious Indian action? It was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who, with Aziz Ahmed in tow, propounded

“The plan to create an Algerian type revolution in the vale”,

a plan that field marshal-turned-president Ayub Khan and his selected Commander in Chief (C-in-C) Musa Khan swallowed hook, line and sinker. Thus, 8,000 or so men (mostly non-soldiers) were thrown into the fray without a thought as to the consequences of this action. These men were recruited largely from the Muzaffarabad area with the guidance of a single regular Azad Kashmir battalion and were interspersed with a smattering of highly trained commandoes. It was a folly reminiscent of Field Marshall Raglan’s ordering the light brigade to charge into the Russian guns during the Crimean War.

 

SS6
A PAF squadron ready to take on an adversary thrice its size

The C-in-C at the time writes in his memoirs that the Azad Kashmiri irregulars were trained for six to eight weeks at Rawalpindi in the art of guerilla warfare. Let that sink in for a moment: six to eight weeks only. Ho-chi Minh, Chou en Li, Ben Bella and Che Guevara must have turned in their graves at this. And so it was that, without a modicum of strategic vision or proper contingency planning or preparation; without any known networking with local elements or even their sympathy, Operation Gibraltar was launched.

SS5
Three Pakistani officers pose for a picture in front of the imposing structure of the ancient Rajasthan Fort at Gotaro. This was one of the chain of forts and other fortifications captured by Pakistan’s Desert Force during September 1965

 

In the last brief at Kharian, I think in late July, the President had asked for a brief on Operation Gibraltar. Two most significant things happened in this briefing, as I learnt from General Gul Hassan as well as General Akhtar Malik separately much after the war. The President asked General Akhtar Malik why he does not go for Akhnur, the sole entry point and the jugular vein of the valley known as the ‘Chicken’s Neck’, and block off India from the Vale. Akhtar Malik replied that he could take Akhnur provided he is given a task force. According to history, the 12 Div. was then allocated additional forces for Operation: Grand Slam. Resultantly, the capture of Akhnur through Operation Grand Slam came on the menu only at that time.

The second point would surprise many:

General Sarfraz, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 10 Division, meant for the defense of Lahore, implored the C-in-C to allow them to take full defensive measures in case of an inevitable escalation. He was curtly told ‘No, do not provoke the enemy; do not escalate a local operation (meaning the occupation of Kashmir)’.

 

SS4

The panic which prevailed amongst the Indian troops while fleeing from Chhamb can be seen from this picture. It shows an Indian Army Truck, a jeep with a trailer and AMX tank abandoned in the middle of the river Tawi. The gun of the tank is facing to Pakistan side ready to fight. But the tank crew along with other occupants of the truck and the jeep would rather choose to run for their life than fire their guns

General Gul Hassan told me years later at my home that he had instructions from the C-in-C that every signal to operational units must end with “Do Not Provoke, Do Not   Escalate”. Thus a disaster foretold ominously was made reality by the national leadership and army high command. They thought in their limited ‘barrack to battalion’ knowledge of military strategy that India will lose Kashmir without a whimper, and will not dare to escalate the war. They believed that this resulting victory would then cement the insecure president’s position and ensure a bright future for all his courtiers.

How ironic that despite all the blunders and the lives lost to their callous incompetence and utter stupidity, yet these men flourished and remained unaccountable. In shameful contrast, the martyrs of Op Gibraltar who were sent on a one way mission were removed from the radar in perpetuity. What about their kith and kin? Should they not deserve the acknowledgement of their martyrdom? Indubitably, the Indian invasion was not unprovoked; it was the  direct consequence of the failed Operation: Gibraltar and the imminent threat posed by Operation Grand Slam to Akhnur, the sole entry and the jugular of the valley known as the ‘Chicken’s Neck’.

General Akhtar Hussain Malik almost achieved that herculean task. In his war diaries, general officer commanding-in-chief (GOC-in-C) of the western front, General Joginder Singh writes:

“General Akhtar Malik had steam rolled over Chamb and was heading for Akhnur with tremendous velocity; Akhnur lay like a ripe plum and undoubtedly he would head for Jammu after securing Akhnur; even today we hang our heads in shame that the officers and men of the 161 artillery regiment, stationed for the main defense of Akhnur had defected after hearing the news of Akhtar Malik’s onslaught on Chamb and heading for Akhnur. But suddenly there was eerie quiet and we wondered what Gen Malik was planning. A whole day passed and Providence came to our help as we heard the news that General Malik had been replaced.”

This has been a heart breaking event which my fingers quiver to write about even today. History would have been very different had the high palace intrigue not deprived the brave General Malik of his red letter day. Brigadier Amjad Hussain, Commander Artillery describes vividly the shock and rage at the removal of  General  Akhtar Hussain Malik and the turning of a victory foretold into a tragedy in perpetuity.

 

SS3
The F-86 Sabre served as the main workhorse for the Pakistan Air Force and virtually ruled the skies during the war

Yahya Khan, in a high intrigue drama was given command. In Yahya’s own words, spoken at the Quetta Staff College when he was the President and questioned by an irate chief instructor on why he did not take Akhnur on Sept 1, he replied curtly,

“Because I was ordered not to do it”.

That day, we lost Kashmir forever, not due to the enemy’s strong riposte but due to the deceit and incompetence of our own leadership. It was not the high command, but the courage and resolute will of the fighting elements of the armed forces that saved the country. As the Indian blitz on the 6th of Sept was developing against the city of Lahore, the heart and soul of Pakistan, it was met with the indomitable spirit, resolve and blood of a handful of soldiers (officers and men) who stood like the rock of Gibraltar to defend the their homeland with their blood, looking death in the eye.

Numerically, India had 4:1 superiority on land and 3.5:1 in the air. Besides, it had great geographical depth and a huge resource fountain. But what the enemy did not know was the fact that they had an unknown advantage accruing from Pakistan’s leadership. It would be instructive to understand the disadvantage our forces had suffered owing to the same failure of leadership and mindset. When Operation Gibraltar was launched, 25 per cent of the army personnel were on home leave. The Divisional Commanders at Lahore, Kasur and Sialkot were not permitted to place defensive mines and other measures for the defense of the border; nor allowed full deployment on the border. The idea being not to provoke the Indians to avoid escalation, as the occupation of Kashmir was in progress. Another colossal mishap requires attention: the president, in his infinite wisdom, along with his army chief decided not to bring PAF leader Air Marshall Asghar Khan, the father of a force he had trained to be amongst the best in the world, into the Kashmir misadventure loop.

 

SS2
Army Chief Gen Musa visiting infantry elements in their trenches during one of his inspection visits

Ayub Khan’s information czar, Altaf Gauhar, writes that the reason was that Ayub knew that Asghar Khan would give meaning and content to the war and make it decisive. I have these comments if anyone is interested.

It was on the fateful day that Asghar Khan was completing his eight years of service on July 23, 1965, and handing the PAF command to Air Marshal Nur Khan, a brave and great fighter himself, but one who had been away for eight years winning laurels for his successes and who only took command when war was imminent. But national security was apparently an idea which had to be the exclusive domain of the supreme commander; everyone in crucial positions had to be amenable to the President. Luckily, Air Marshall Nur Khan inherited a formidable fighting machine.
As opposed to the depleted operational readiness status enforced by the design of the army leadership, the PAF had been kept on Phase 1 Operational Alert since the Rann of Kutch episode and it was buzzing with operational vibrancy. I often felt sorry for our gallant and professional army, where I knew lots and lots of great officers, who were not lucky enough to have leaders like the PAF had since its inception. The PAF doctrine for war had been the master-mind of the visionary Air Marshall Asghar Khan and the operational strategy the work of a team working under the guidance of Air Marshall Rahim Khan, Chief of Operations. We, as young squadron commanders had been summoned to Air Headquarters along with Officers commanding, Wings and Base commanders on June 6, 1965 and given a comprehensive brief into the concept of air operations as the C-in-C opined that he saw war clouds on the horizon. Air Marshall Asghar Khan had no inkling about the Kashmir Committee plan to de-freeze Kashmir.

Finally, each commander present was allocated his war missions. The tactical aspects of mission accomplishment were left to each squadron commander; such was the confidence level of the PAF high command in the junior commanders. This is leadership and the loyalty it evokes in the hearts of fighting elements to do and die for the country. After the air battle over Kashmir, where the IAF lost five fighters, the next air action of the 1965 war came on September 6, at 9.30am. It was the first mission of war assigned to No. 19 Sherdil Squadron, which I had the honour to command. The target assigned was an enemy artillery regiment across the Jassar Bridge in the Sialkot-Shakargarh bulge. The squadron had been custom trained to be second to none. Each pilot wore this dedication to excellence on his sleeve and understood well that excellence was not an option but an instinct in mission accomplishment.

The narrative will prove what I mean here: five minutes away from the target area, the radio crackled and the voice of our Air Defence Commander was discernible. He instructed us that our primary mission is cancelled and that we were to proceed to village Attari area and destroy enemy forces about to enter Lahore. He may as well have transmitted a million watts electric shock to us with the word ‘Lahore’. Here it would be prudent to mention that the Indian Express in its 23rd issue carries an irresponsible and highly manipulative article based on twisted facts which needs a strong riposte. It reads,

“In Punjab, the army reached close to the outskirts of Lahore but did not press on.”

This is yet another fabrication, and a very condescending and flimsy one at that. I don’t want to dwell too much on my own role in a war where so many gave their all, but I was at the scene leading 6 Falcons of 19 Squadron as we were diverted to the GT road. Why would the Indian General Chaudhary risk invading the heart of Pakistan and then circumvent it for some odd reason?

 

SS1
Armour on the move in Chhamb Sector during 1965 war

On the contrary, General Chaudhary had held a conference late at night in which several foreign correspondents, including Mark Tully of the BBC, were invited to the Lahore Gymkhana for a victory drink. What really happened is best described in an account about our air action at Wagah by none less than General Lachhman Singh, Gen Sukhwant Singh and award winning historians Jagan Mohan and Samir Chopra, quoted here in parts:

“No.19 Sqdn. From Peshawar, led by (my name), flew a six aircraft strike mission at 0930 hours against the leading elements of Indian army thrust towards Lahore. The leading battalion of the division, 3 Jat, led by Col. Desmond Hyde had its columns strafed and rocketed by PAF Sabres. The unit lost all its Guns and Sherman Tanks … (Lachhman) …. It was about 9.30 am and the enemy aircraft shot up every vehicle for about 15 minutes undeterred by fire from our troops.”

I also read that after the drubbing at the hands of PAF there was a rout in the leading echelons of the Indian Strike force. Quoting General Sukhwant Singh,

“the C.O. of the battalion ran back with just one sock and one shoe, deserting the battalion. His 2nd in command followed suit and escaped on a bicycle and took refuge in Amritsar.” 

Here’s an interesting anecdote I would like to share:

I was asked by Pushpindar Singh, a top air war historian if I knew whose Flag Jeep I had fired upon at Wagha on the morning of September 6. I replied that I recalled it was my sixth and last attack and while exiting the theatre, I saw a jeep with a flag which I shot at and saw a figure jumping out before the bullets hit the jeep. Pushpindar confirmed that this was Major General Nirindera Parshad, the Divisional Commander who abandoned his Division. Having set out for the Lahore Gymkhana, he instead ended up in Amritsar to be court martialled.

That same evening in our third mission of the day we obliterated the IAF base at Pathankot, destroying 13 fighters as part of the tragically failed magnum opus of the PAF planned by venerable Air Marshall Asghar Khan. It failed because his June 6 strategic plan was not followed through, owing to the negativity of a couple of timid air staff officers who misled the newly appointed C-in-C. Had the plan, which had been fully rehearsed with aircraft and the best pilots of the PAF made available, the IAF would have incontrovertibly lost over 50 fighters. Sadly, the command at two prime bases failed in their mission.

We expect nothing from the Indians, but this nation and its rulers (I didn’t say leaders) owe so much to such few gallant fighters for their strident commitment to their country, a commitment they have always fulfilled with their blood, sweat and the tears of the families. As we fight a different war even today, we must not shy away from acknowledging the mistakes of the past. It is only by doing so that we can secure our future.

By courtesy : Straight shooting on the 1965 war by Air Commodore Retired Sajjad Haider. The writer is a retired air commodore and author of the bestseller Flight of the Falcon: Demolishing Myths of 1965-1971 Senseless Wars. Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 6th, 2015.

Courtesy of Dawn.

The Battle of Chawinda

India/Pakistan War 6 September–23 September 1965

The Battle of Chawinda was a part of the Sialkot Campaign in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. It was one of the largest tank battles since the Battle of Kursk in World War II. The initial clashes at Chawinda coincided with the tank battle near Phillora and the fighting intensified once the Pakistani forces at Phillora retreated. However, the advancing Indian 1st Armored Division was stopped at Chawinda. The battle finally ended due to the UN ceasefire

AREA

Location N32.384; E74.724

 

IMG_1974

Pakistan, Kashmir, India (The Pathankot -Jammu Road straddles the border near the Sialkot salient)

The terrain in the Sialkot area is particularly suited for armour operations, being generally flat and rising gently to the north-east, interspersed with small gullies or ‘nullahs’ that flow from north-east to south-southwest.

 

Select

Chawinda is marked by the pin

ARMED FORCES

Belligerents

 Pakistan

 India

Commanders and leaders
 Maj Gen Abrar Hussain
 Lt Col Nisar Ahmed Khan
 Brig. Sardar M.Ismail Khan
 Brig. S. M. Hussain
 Brig. Abdul Ali Malik
 Brig. Muzzafaruddin
Later:
 Maj Gen Tikka Khan
 Lt Gen Bakhtiyar M.Rana
 Maj Gen Sahibzada Yaqub Ali Khan
 Brg. Amjad Chaudhry
General Harbaksh Singh: C-in-C Western Command

Lt Gen Pat Dunn
Lt Col Ardeshir Tarapore

 

Strength
30,000-50,000 infantry

22nd cavalry (44x M48)

10th Cavalry (44x Patton)

25th Cavalry (44x Patton)

33th TDU sqn (15x Shermans)

19th Lancers (44x Patton)

11th Cavalry (44x Patton)

Total: 132

+150 (tank reinforcements)

80,000–150,000 infantry

4th Horse (45 x Centurion)

16th Cavalry (45x Centurions)

17th Poona (45x Centurion)

2nd Lancers (45x Sherman)

62nd Cavalry (45x Sherman)

Total 225 tanks[

Casualties and losses
44 tanks (Pakistani claim)

Over 518 km2 (218 mi2) of territory lost

29 tanks lost (Indian claim)

120 tanks (Pakistani claim)

 Pakistan: The Army’s 15th Division had to control a front of some  113 miles approximately, aided by the 6th Armoured Division which had seven armoured regiments. It shared defensive duties with the 8th Division comprising four infantry brigades and four supporting armoured regiments. An Artillery Brigade of IV Corps’  was also moved to this sector from Chhamb.

  • General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Armoured Division: Abrar Husain
  • Director Military Operations (GHQ) Major General Gul Hassan
  • Officiating GOC 15th Division: Brigadier Sattar Ismail
  • Commander 24th Brigade: Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik
  •  Commander Artillery 4th Corps: Brigadier A.A.K. Chaudhry
  • Commander 115 Brigade: Brigadier Muzaffaruddin
  • 24th Brigade Armour Regiment Commander: Lt. Colonel Nisar Ahmed
  • 24th  Brigade, 2nd Punjab, Infantry Commanding Officer: Lt. Col. Jamshed
  • 4 Corps Artillery: Brigadier Amjad Ali Chaudhry
  • Farouk Adam, (Sitara-e-Jurat)
  • 15th Division Commander (new): Major General Tikka Khan
  • 2nd Punjab supporting 25th Cavalry attack: Major Mohammad Hussain Malik

India, Indian I Corps

  • 1st Armoured Division
  • 6th Mountain Division
  • 26th Infantry Division
  • 14th Infantry Division

INDIAN PLAN

IMG_1975

The area of operations is the from the centre of the map toward 2 – 3 o’clock 

  • Indian 1 Corps with its 1st Armoured Division and three infantry divisions had orders to secure the Pathankot–Jammu road by launching a riposte to an anticipated move by Pakistan against Jammu; the private plan of Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik that his superiors had thwarted. The aim of the Indian attack was to seize the key Grand Trunk Road around Wazirabad and to capture Jassaran, which would enable the domination of Sialkot–Pasrur railway, thus completely cutting off Pakistani supply line.
  • The Indian 1st Armoured Division would  establish a bridgehead across the international boundary in Pakistani territory, capture Phillora; proceed towards Pagowal and Chawinda to the Marala-Ravi link canal. Meanwhile in a complimentary action, the 14th Infantry Division was to capture Zafarwal and proceed in a north-westerly direction towards Chawinda.
  • The Indian plan was to drive a wedge between Sialkot and the Pakistan’s 6th Armoured Division.

The Pakistani GHQ had ordered all formations to move to their defensive positions on 4th September. The 6th Armoured Division, under General Abrar Husain, complied. When news of the Indian attack came, he was told to move his troops to Pasrur on the night of 6/7 September as a reserve for 1 Corps. The move occurred during the night. Then at midnight, the division’s staff was told to return to their previous position around Gujranwala by 0500 hours on 7 September! This was confirmed by the GOC Abrar Husain who said that the DMO Gul Hassan had given him this order on the telephone. GHQ seemed to be making decisions quite arbitrarily.

But general confusion seemed to reign on the battlefield too. In the Sialkot sector, the 15th Division, apparently based on feeds from the 115th  Brigade, reported that the Indians had broken through in the Jassar area, an improbable feat that would have demanded crossing the River Ravi and then its tributary that was on the Pakistani side of the border. Based on this report, HQ 1 Corps requested the GHQ to give it permission to blow up the bridge at Jassar.

Meanwhile HQ 1 Corps ordered 15th Division, under Brigadier Sardar Ismail,

whom Pakistan military historians were to refer derisively as ‘a Service Corps’ officer, and not someone who belonged to a fighting arm,

to provide assistance to the 115th Brigade. Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik, commander 24th Brigade and Brigadier A.A.K. Chaudhry commander 4 Corps Artillery had been moved from Chhamb to help protect the Sialkot sector.

Gul Hassan credits Abdul Ali Malik’s intuition that prevented him from hurriedly inserting his forces into the confused situation. This allowed Abdul Ali Malik’s 24th Brigade and Brigade Chaudhry’s artillery to remain in their defensive positions around Chawinda for what would eventually become the celebrated defence of Chawinda against the Indian 1st Armoured Division. Abdul Ali Malik recalls getting a call on 7 September from the officiating GOC of 15 Division to say that:

A critical situation had arisen in Jassar area where the enemy had succeeded in establishing a bridgehead on Pakistan’s side of the river. . . He wanted me to move to Narowal and stabilize the situation there by counterattack. I pointed out that a large enemy force with armour was concentrated on the other side of the border opposite my brigade, and could attack at any time.

Such a move Malik said would be ‘quite unsound and dangerous.’ Despite this protest, at 1800 hours he was ordered to move to Narowal. He chose not to do so with his entire brigade, and instead took only his small operations group. On arrival, Malik learned from Brigadier Muzaffaruddin, commander 115th Brigade, that Jassar bridge had been blown up that morning. The Indian enclave on the Pakistan side of the Ravi River had been cleared by the 115 Brigade. Malik’s armour regiment commander, Lt. Colonel Nisar Ahmed warned him that should his regiment be moved to Jassar,

 ‘please do not expect a regiment from me when we get back to Chawinda.’

So, Malik told him to bring only one squadron ‘in case it was required.’ He then asked to speak ‘to somebody who had actually seen the Indians on the Pakistan side of the river.’ No one came forward.

The whole picture was one of confusion and uncertainty,’

writes Malik. His infantry commander, Lt. Col. Jamshed, whose battalion would have to launch the attack, was of the view that:

 ‘due to the uncertainty of the situation about the enemy, it would be suicidal to commit the battalion in a night attack in an unknown area without any daylight recce of enemy dispositions.’

Malik concurred.

A commander carries a heavy burden of responsibility in war for the safety of his men. I was not fully convinced myself that a large enemy force could have come across the river without a bridge to support it. If the Indians had really intended to make a breakthrough in this area, they could have easily used their large Dharam enclave for initial concentration, where they already had a boat bridge over Ravi. But they had easily abandoned that enclave under slight pressure,’ recalled Malik.

While discussions were going on about this with the officiating GOC of 15th Division, Sardar Ismail, an urgent message arrived from Sialkot reporting Indian shelling in Suchetgarh and that an attack appeared imminent.

That settled it’ recalls Malik. ‘I took the GOC aside and told him that Jassar was a mere flap and we were both at the wrong place. I pleaded with him to go back to his headquarters, get our orders reversed, and to move us back to our original positions. He agreed and left for Sialkot.’

On his way back during the night, Malik saw a convoy of guns belonging to Brigadier Amjad Ali Chaudhry’s 4 Corps Artillery heading towards Jassar. He stopped them and told them to return. Lucky for them, they managed to get back before daylight when they could have been sitting ducks for the Indian Air Force.

Even the official Indian historian of the war acknowledges that ‘the picture of false Indian pressure at DBN (Dera Baba Nanak), as painted by Brigadier Muzaffaruddin, the brigade commander before his superiors, led to the initial orders for the move of Pak 24 Brigade from the threatened Chawinda sector.

Had the mistake not been rectified, and had the 24 Infantry Brigade not re-occupied its original position, the Pakistanis could have lost the crucial Chawinda battle. Indeed, India expected Pakistan to take advantage of the Dera Baba Nanak bridge and the Pakistan enclave on the Indian side of the Ravi to launch an attack towards Gurdaspur and Pathankot. But having blown up the bridge because of Brigadier Muzaffaruddin and his division commander’s panicky reporting, Pakistan lost that capability of a counter attack.

One of Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik’s officers, Farouk Adam, (himself a winner of the Sitara-e-Jurat), recalls how Malik first heard about the Indian forces opposite Chawinda from a

‘thoroughly shaken engineer Havildar’

who told the CO 2 Punjab, Lt Col. Jamshed, that

the Indians had attacked and taken all our positions ahead of Chawinda.

Wikipedia: The striking force of the Indian 1st Corps was the 1st Armoured Division supported by the 14th Infantry and 6th Mountain divisions and the Indian infantry seized the border area on 7 September. This was followed by a short engagement at Jassoran in which Pakistan lost 10 tanks and it ensured complete Indian domination of Sialkot-Pasrur railway. The Indian 1st Armoured Division’s drive quickly divided, with the 43rd Lorried Infantry Brigade supported by a tank regiment attacking Gat, while the main blow of the 1st Armoured Brigade was hurled against Phillaura. Pakistani air attacks caused moderate damage to the tank columns, but exacted a heavier toll on the truck columns and infantry. The terrain features of the area were very different from those around Lahore, being quite dusty, and the approach of the Indian attack was evident to the 25th Cavalry by the rising dust columns on the Charwah-Phillaura road.

Brigadier Malik immediately ordered his staff to cut all communications with higher headquarters

‘lest they sow any more confusion in the already confused state of affairs and ordered the brigade straight to Chawinda.’

He was later to confirm his move in a wireless exchange with the new division commander, Major General Tikka Khan. 2nd Punjab, he was informed, would join him as soon as it reached there

This was thus, the solitary infantry brigade at Chawinda, bolstered by an armoured regiment. Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik, on return to Chawinda, took the extraordinary decision to order the 25 Cavalry with its two squadrons of tanks to attack the oncoming Indian armoured division in extended line formation.

Nisar was ordered to put his two squadron in extended line and go over to the offensive…two squadrons of tanks and one infantry company blunted and beat back what was one armoured division and three of infantry! The sheer momentum of such a massive Indian force should have allowed them to do better. But then who could have predicted that an infantry Brigadier would react in quite the manner that Brigadier Ali had done under the circumstances?

The audacity of this move was more than matched by the performance of the Pakistani armour in that encounter. No one would have blamed him if he had put all available troops in defensive positions around Chawinda. But he did not do this. And for the first time in the history of tank warfare two squadrons took on an armoured division. This momentous decision, not recommended in any text book, was to save Pakistan from total defeat.

We advanced all day in short bursts, from cover to cover. The Indians were retreating by the afternoon. We reoccupied Phillaurah, then Godgore, then Chobara. And Major Mohammad Hussain Malik (of 2 Punjab that was supporting the 25 Cavalry attack) asked half in jest, if the Brigadier (Abdul Ali Malik) would have us take Delhi the same day.’ By nightfall, the troops were overextended and fell back from Chobara. Sometimes ignorance is truly bliss. But then it was dusk, and the tanks withdrew to leaguer for the night

 Wikipedia: “Realising the threat, the Pakistanis rushed two regiments of their 6th Armoured Division from Chhamb to the Sialkot sector to support the Pakistani 8th Infantry Division there. These units, plus an independent tank destroyer squadron, amounted to 135 tanks; 24 M47 and M48 Pattons, about 15 M36B1s and the remainder Shermans. The majority of the Pattons belonged to the new 25th Cavalry commanded by Lt. Col. Nisar, which was sent to the Chawinda area. Fighting around the Godgore village between the Indian 1 Armoured division and the Pakistani 25th Cavalry Regiment resulted in the Indian advance being stopped.”

The next day, the puny Pakistani attacking force found a marked map in an abandoned Indian jeep that showed they had been up against the 1st Armoured Division, 6 Mountain Division, 26 Infantry Division, and the 14 Infantry Division!

The Pakistani high command apparently had not anticipated the Indian moves in this sector despite the capture of the dispatch rider on 4/5 September which yielded valuable information about Indian formations and plans. Malik recalls that ‘this lucky find was such an important piece of intelligence that I closed the bag immediately and sent it on to 15 Division for onward dispatch to GHQ . . . However, I was disappointed to learn later that GHQ staff did not consider this intelligence to be genuine. People had read too much military history and considered this to be a plant by the enemy.’ It was only because of the later capture of an operational order in a knocked-out Indian tank that Pakistan’s GHQ could find out the disposition of Indian forces in this sector and their intent. The next day, as Brigadier Malik assessed the situation with his senior commanders, they came under artillery fire. He knew his paltry troops could not hold the territory against a concentrated counter attack. So, he chose to go on the offensive once more, reoccupying Chobara but only to abandon it yet again under a fierce Indian assault.

It took GHQ ‘nearly forty-eight hours to decide upon their next move. Our operational plans had perhaps not taken into consideration all the options open to the aggressor,’ wrote Brigadier Chaudhry, the commander of the Pakistani artillery. The Pakistani artillery meanwhile continued to do enormous damage to the Indian armour and infantry attacks, concentrating fire with speed and accuracy on Indian artillery positions with great effect, forcing the latter to keep well behind the front. Pakistan’s US supplied 155mm long-range guns were especially effective in this regard.

The Indians resumed their attacks on 10 September with multiple corps sized assaults and succeeded in pushing the Pakistani forces back to their base at Chawinda, where they were stopped. A Pakistani counterattack at Phillora was repulsed with heavy damage, and the Pakistanis settled in defensive positions. The Pakistani position at this point was highly perilous, the Indians outnumbered them by ten to one.

Farouk Adam recalls:

We were overextended and so had to abandon Chobara and take up defence around Godgore. The next morning, we discovered a marked map in an abandoned Indian jeep. This showed their entire order of battle… We were stunned by our achievements of the previous day, and made urgently conscious of how pitifully thin we were not the ground. The Indians broke through the position that we had taken back from them and routed our replacement. The signs of defeat were all over—stragglers moving back, some without weapons, some without their helmets and web equipment, without a resemblance of discipline or any sign of cohesion – demoralized troops, defeated. We dug in around Chawinda.

On 11 September, the Indians broke through the Pakistani defences, and Chawinda was threatened again.  But Brigadier Malik stood his ground, indeed moving his own headquarters into the forward lines. ‘Oh my God,’ thought Farouk Adam,

the Old Man is really determined to stake himself out like the Indian Chiefs!’…he assessed that by this time the Indians had come to know exactly what stood against them. They threw everything at us. They often came close to success. Many times, it seemed that our defense had disintegrated, only to be rallied round again…The Pakistani position at this point was highly perilous, the Indians outnumbered them by ten to one…. We held on to Chawinda till the guns fell silent — The News February 11, 1992 By Farouk Adam SJ

However, the Pakistani situation improved as reinforcements arrived, consisting of two independent brigades from Kashmir, 8 Infantry Division, and most crucially, their 1 Armoured Division. For the next several days, Pakistani forces repulsed Indian attacks on Chawinda.

The Indian 1st armoured division managed to capture some territory, but then the armour that was to take part in a pincer movement to reduce Chawinda on 14 September ran into a strong anti-tank screen and a fierce battle occurred with a regiment of Pakistani Pattons. In the words of the C-in-C western command, General Harbaksh Singh:

 ‘The progress of the battle fell far short of expectations. The armour having failed to create the tactical pre-condition for an infantry assault on Chawinda, the attack . . . was called off.

Thus, ended the first battle of Chawinda. In the words of Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik:

This battle . . .  enabled Pakistan to seize the initiative from the Indians and blunted the edge of the massive attack of the powerful Indian armoured division, forcing it to retreat. ‘

The Indian commanders did not give up their aim to capture Chawinda and thus contain Sialkot, and they spent the 15 and 16 September planning afresh. The corps commander reviewed the plans on 16 September along with the commanders of the 1st Armoured Division and 6 Mountain Division, with the 6 Mountain Division being given the job of capturing Chawinda while the 1st Armoured Division and 14 Infantry Division would attempt to get Badiana and Zafarwal. In the runup to the final attack on Chawinda, India got into fierce battles with Pakistani armour and artillery, losing, among others, Lt. Col. A.B. Tarapore of 17 Horse, who was given the highest Indian military honour of the Param Vir Chakra. After that, general confusion took over on the Indian side as misunderstandings arose about the timing of the 35 Infantry Brigade’s move.

  • The Brigade took off on 16/17 September, earlier than planned and was recalled.
  • The attack, originally planned for 17/18 September was thus postponed by twenty-four hours, by when, due to further confusion, the Armoured Division withdrew some troops before the 6 Mountain Division could mount its attack.
  • A large Indian assault on 18 September involving India’s 1st Armoured and 6th Mountain Divisions was repelled, with the Indian 1st Armoured and 6th Mountain divisions taking heavy losses.
  • On 21 September, the Indians withdrew to a defensive position near their original bridgehead, with the retreat of Indian first armoured division, all their offensives were ceased on that front. Pakistani General vetoed the proposed counterattack “Operation Windup.”

By then, the element of surprise had been lost. Pakistan started shelling the forming-up places (FUPs) while the troops were being marshalled for the attack. The operation was in consequence, dislocated from the very beginning. Pakistan’s artillery pounding unnerved the Indian troops, who ended up firing on each other in the confused fog of battle. The two companies of the 4 J& K Rifles that had managed to reach Chawinda were thrown back by Pakistani infantry and armour fire. About 500 J& K Riflemen ‘deserted due to Pakistan’s armour threat, and the remnants of the Gorkhas were found near Lebbe (close to Phillora, already in Indian hands).’The failure to capture Chawinda led to the abandonment of plans to capture Zafarwal and Badiana.

In a stinging indictment of the Indian operations, the Indian C-in-C western command wrote:

The battle is a classic study in command failure and poor execution. Lack of control at Corps level paved the way to defeat—an indifferent leadership at lower levels made disaster inevitable. The depressing combination decided the fate of the battle of Chawinda and foredoomed the outcome of the entire campaign.

Chawinda was a critical battle of the 1965 war, for had it fallen to the Indian attack, Sialkot’s right flank was open and, as Gul Hassan states, India would have forced a fight with Pakistan’s 6 Armoured Division in the closed space on the eastern bank of the Marala –Ravi link canal, depriving the Pakistani armour freedom of movement.

The normally taciturn and modest Abdul Ali Malik writes in his unpublished memoirs that:

If I had not acted as I did on my own initiative on 8 September, to advance and intercept the enemy attack without orders, and perhaps, technically against my orders to stay put at Pasrur, there would have been no battle of Chawinda to talk about. The enemy would have gone beyond Chawinda and Badiana before 1 Corps or GHQ could intervene in the battle. Thus, there might have been battles of Pasrur, Sialkot or Daska, but no battle of Chawinda.’
As it turned out, the Indian attack on a narrow front led to the biggest tank battle since the Second World War. But India’s poor generalship came to Pakistan’s rescue. India kept attacking Chawinda head-on instead of bypassing it. That, combined with the spirited defence of Chawinda under Major General Abrar Husain, commander 6 Armoured Division, the concentrated use of Artillery by Brigadier Chaudhry (according to a fire plan developed by his Brigade Major Aleem Afridi), and the troops of 24 Brigade under Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik, was to save Sialkot from the Indian onslaught. But it was a close call.

Captured_Indian_Centurion_tank_in_1965_War_near_Chawinda,_Sep_1965

Captured Indian Centurion tank in 1965 War near Chawinda,_Sept. 1965

According to the Pakistani C in C the operation was cancelled since “both sides had suffered heavy tank losses……would have been of no strategic importance….” and above all “the decision…was politically motivated as by then the Government of Pakistan had made up their mind to accept cease fire and foreign sponsored proposals”.

Wikipedia: On 22 September, the United Nations Security Councilunanimously passed a resolution that called for an unconditional ceasefire from both nations. The war ended the following day. The military and economic assistance to both the countries had been stopped when the war started. Pakistan had suffered attrition to its military might and serious reverses in the battle at Khemkaran and Chawinda which made way for the acceptance the UN Resolution.

Wikipedia: At the end of hostilities on 23 September 1965, India held about 200 square miles (518 square kilometres) of Pakistani territory in the Sialkot sector including the towns and villages of Phillora, Deoli, Bajragarhi, Suchetgarh, Pagowal, Chaprar, Muhadpur, Tilakpur south east and east of Sialkot city, which were returned to Pakistan after the Tashkent Declarationin January 1966

The CGS at GHQ in Rawalpindi, General Sher Bahadur, was reported by General Gul Hassan to have wanted to distribute the artillery in pockets throughout the front. This would have dissipated its effectiveness. The director artillery at GHQ Brigadier Reilly, and Brigadier Amjad Chaudhry persuaded Gul Hassan not to follow this advice. At the field command level, the hesitancy and panicked responses of the acting GOC 15 Division coupled with the reported suggestion of Brigadier Hisham El-Effendi (who had been posted by GHQ as an advisor to General Husain) to withdraw the 6 Armoured Division from Chawinda could have doomed Pakistan’s defences. It was evident that Pakistan’s senior commanders had been elevated too rapidly to senior levels, without adequate preparation in strategy or even tactics involving large formations. The little training, they had dealt with historical campaigns and the Second World War—on a scale that did not fit the canvas of either India or Pakistan. The 1965 war was more of a slug fest between two equally matched amateur boxers.

Brigadier Abdul Ali Malik: “He had fought in the World War II and won the MBE due to his bravery as a young army lieutenant. Later in the 1965 War, he was awarded the gallantry award, Hilal-i-Jurat, for leading an infantry brigade as part of the 6th Armoured Division that fought the famous tank battle with the Indian Army at Chawinda in Sialkot and halted the advance of the invading Indian troops in Pakistan’s territory.”

1965_War_the_Australian_Newspaper

Courtesy of: Excerpts from Crossed Swords by Shuja Nawaz Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York 2010; Wikipedia.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CONFLUENCES

Allahabad among the oldest cities in India is also, for Hindus, among the most sacred. It is mentioned in the Puranas, or the Hindu scriptures belonging to a period well before the beginning of the Christian era. The Hindus called the city Prayag or the place of a thousand yagnas (ritual fires). Another ancient name by which the city was known was Triveni, from its situation at the confluence of three rivers, the Ganga (or the Ganges), the Jamuna, and the mythical Saraswati. Because the Aryan settlers who gave India its dominant religion and philosophy lived mainly along the river banks, all streams and waterways assumed special importance in Hindu ritual. A point where the three rivers joined together, as they did at Prayag inevitably became sanctified and thousands have visited Allahabad every year for untold years for a dip at the confluence to cleanse themselves of past sins. The city acquired its present name, meaning the abode of Allah, in the fifteenth century, when Akbar, the Moghul emperor built a fort at Triveni to mark what was then the eastern extremity of his empire.

Allahabad is still sacred for millions of Hindus. But no longer is it either the frontier of a medieval empire or, as it was for a long time under the British, the capital of an important province. In 1917, when Indira was born, Allahabad—or at least its Civil Lines—had an air of elegant aloofness. It was the capital of the United Provinces, one of the largest administrative units of British India, and the seat of the provincial High Court (the provincial capital shifted to Lucknow in 1922, but the High Court has stayed in Allahabad). The British had built not only large residences but also numerous beautiful churches. The foreign elite scrupulously avoided fraternizing with almost all Indians, regarding them as socially inferior. It admitted into its small, exclusive, social circle only a few ‘natives’ who, in its estimate, had adequately imbibed Western culture. A contemporary of Indira Gandhi, who is now a judge of Allahabad High Court, recalls how many a time he was chased away by angry guards if he ventured into the park in non-European clothes.

The Nehru family, of course had gained social acceptance in the city’s European community long before Indira’s birth. Anand Bhavan into which Motilal, the hugely successful barrister, had moved in 1900 was not strictly part of the Civil Lines, but it was far enough from Karimganj, the old congested city where the family had lived for many years earlier and where Indira’s father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was born, to be another world.

It was Motilal who built the family fortune and achieved something like social equality with the British—and national prominence. But the Nehrus, Kashmiri Brahmins or Pundits who had left their ancestral homes in the snowy, lake-studded Vale in Northern India, several generations ago and settled down in a few urban centres like Allahabad, had already produced other distinguished lawyers. They also had their share of trials and tribulations usually suffered by people in search of a new place to grow roots.

The Kashmiri pundits constitute what was and still is one of the smallest and culturally closest-knit communities in India, yet its cohesiveness and strong sense of communal belonging may be among the less important of its characteristics. Also typical of the Kashmiri Brahmins are traits as shrewdness, adaptability, an uncanny capacity to judge friends and foes, and a remarkable instinct for survival. (Significantly, these were the very qualities that enabled Indira Gandhi to turn herself from a weak leader of a dilapidated party constantly plagued by ambitious rivals and powerful enemies into a Prime Minister with almost awesome, unchallenged authority.)

It is commonly believed that several centuries ago a number of Brahmins fled from the valley of Kashmir into the plains of the Punjab and beyond to escape the tyranny of the Vale’s Muslim rulers. These Pandits apparently had exercised, as they do in modern Kashmir, political and economic influence far out of proportion to their numerical strength and had thus invited upon themselves the wrath of the Muslim administrators, who were not known for religious tolerance and broadmindedness. On other occasions in the past, many Kashmiri Pandits presumably left their cramped homeland for the big cities and princely courts of India in search of jobs and personal advancement. But the total number of migrants was small. According to one estimate, Kashmiri Brahmins settled outside Kashmir numbered no more than about 5,000 at the beginning of the present century when India’s total population was nearly 300 million. It is a measure of their unusual capacity to adjust themselves to their surroundings and circumstances that once they left their homeland Kashmiri Pandits seldom looked back. When they took up abode in Lahore, Jaipur, Delhi, Agra, or Allahabad, theirs was not a Diaspora that must end in a Return. Jawaharlal often visited Kashmir, but less because Kashmir appealed to some ancestral attachments buried deep in his mind than because he loved mountains and glaciers. He admired the Himalayan ranges of Assam with equal fervor and would probably have visited them oftener had they been more easily accessible from where he lived. His daughter’s attachment to Kashmir was to be even more tenuous and less noticeable.

Like the Nehrus, other Kashmiri Brahmins who migrated to the plains readily came to terms with their new environs, but despite their being a tiny minority and despite a willingness in certain respects to blend with the surrounding scenery, they preserved their distinctive identity. Perhaps the smallness of their community enabled it to maintain its exclusive character. Even in a city of Allahabad’s size, there were no more than a few hundred Kashmiri Pandits. Each of them was known to others. All would be invited to a wedding or any other comparable social event, and most marriages were arranged within the community. Thus, although Motilal had adopted many Western values and practices and his son had studied in Britain, when time came to look for a bride for Jawahar, the search never went beyond the small, restricted circle of Kashmiri Brahmins. (A quarter of a century later, when Indira wanted to marry a Parsi from Bombay, it would require a tremendous intellectual and emotional effort on Nehru’s part to cross the caste barrier involved in the proposed wedding.) That most Kashmiris are fair complexioned, with facial characteristics denoting their Central Asian origin, also helped them retain their separate identity and won them ready social acceptance from the British. Their pale, Occidental complexion prompted many other Indians, with their notorious weakness for fair skin, notwithstanding frequent protestations to the contrary, to regard Kashmiri Pandits with special deference. For their part, most Kashmiris expected to be considered members of a somewhat superior community. As they often justifiably reminded themselves, there was almost no illiteracy among them, their women disdained purdah, and they had produced from amongst them an unusually large number of dewans (prime ministers of former princely states) and distinguished scholars.

Indira’s ancestors left Kashmir in the beginning of the eighteenth century “to seek fame and fortune in the rich plains below,” as Jawaharlal Nehru later wrote. One of them Raj Kaul, was a noted Sanskrit and Persian scholar who had attracted the attention of the then Moghul emperor, Farruksiar, during the latter’s visit to the beauteous valley. It was probably at the invitation of the Moghul ruler that Raj Kaul joined the Delhi court. As a mark of imperial favour he was given a house on the bank of a canal and a jagir, or rights of over lordship, for a number of villages. The location of the house gave the family the name by which it later came to be known—Nehru is a corrupted version of nehar, which means canal. For a long period, Indira’s distant forefathers sported the hyphenated family name of Kaul-Nehru. Later, the Kaul was dropped.

Raj Kaul’s good fortune did not last long. In 1719, when he had barely started enjoying the financial fruits of the jagir, his patron, Farruksiar, was deposed and later put to death by the order of his ministers. The disintegration of the Moghul empire had already started, and in the following century or so its size and authority dwindled steadily under the relentless pressure of the expanding political power of the British East India Company. The decline in the fortunes of the Kaul-Nehrus virtually corresponded with the contraction of the prestige and position of the Moghul court. By the middle of the next century, when Indian soldiers rose in revolt against the company’s control, Indira’s great-grandfather, Ganga Dhar, was Delhi’s kotwal. This post was a senior one in the city’s police hierarchy and probably important, but it was obviously a far cry from the position of feudal nobility that the family had originally occupied.

The so-called Mutiny of 1857 was put down with a firm and bloody hand. In punishment for the Indian soldier’s action in raising the standard of revolt and killing many Europeans residents of Delhi and the nearby city of Meerut, the British deposed and exiled the last of the Moghul emperors, Bahadur Shah, a figure straight out of a Greek tragedy. They also executed by shooting or hanging over twenty princes and allowed their troops to run amuck in Delhi. British soldiers killed able-bodied men indiscriminately as possible rebels and continued looting and plundering shops and private homes for weeks after the uprising had collapsed. Thousands of terror-stricken residents camped temporarily some miles outside the city in the hope of returning when the orgy of killing and looting ended. But many others left the city for good—among them Ganga Dhar and his family. They headed towards Agra, 120 miles to the south of Delhi, and they very nearly lost their lives on the way.

Ganga Dhar died three months before his Motilal was born in Agra in 1861, leaving the responsibility of bringing up the child and looking after the rest of the sizeable family on his two older sons, Bansi Dhar and Nand Lal. The latter studied law and built a big practice first in Agra and later in Allahabad when the provincial High Court moved there. It was he who took young Motilal under his protective wing and established with him a bond of deep affection. Motilal, until he was twelve studied no English, only Arabic and Persian. But once he realized the importance of English in making a successful career under the British Raj, he learned it quickly and well. Influenced apparently by the example of his elder brother and possibly because the bar was the only field in which Indians at the time could expect social advancement and adequate financial rewards, Motilal took to law as a profession. After a three-year apprenticeship in a lower court in Kanpur, he moved to Allahabad, which offered a considerably larger professional pasture. Soon after his arrival in Allahabad, however, he lost his elder brother, Nand Lal, and at twenty-five became the head of and only breadwinner for a large joint family comprising, among others, seven nephews and nieces. He himself was married when he was only eighteen but lost his wife as well as a son born to her. His second wife, Swarup Rani, lost her first son, but in 1889 gave birth to a second who was called Jawaharlal (a name that he, as he confessed many years later, disliked immensely).

Motilal by all accounts, worked exceedingly hard to establish himself as a successful lawyer. It enabled him to fulfill his family obligations–he spent generously on his nephews’ education and the maintenance of numerous other relations—and to live in style that was the envy of many a senior British administrator. His grasp of Indian civil law—he usually disdained briefs involving criminal violations—was stupendous. A strong personal pride was an important trait in Motilal’s characters—a trait that Jawaharlal, and Indira after him, inherited. Another legacy from Motilal was his volatile temper. Jawaharlal could lose his temper almost instantaneously over something as routine and minor as a momentary failure of a loudspeaker system at a political rally he was addressing, just as his father often worked himself into a towering rage over trivial matters.

A relative of Indira’s on her mother’s side once referred to Motilal with a touch of contempt as nouveau riche. Motilal had undoubtedly greatly enlarged the family fortune and some aspects of his life style were rather parvenu, but the suggestion is uncharitable. He lived well, in fact ostentatiously, because he genuinely enjoyed the pleasures of life. Motilal built Anand Bhavan, the house in which Indira was born, large enough to accommodate not only his own family but also numerous guests who came to stay for long periods. Many Indian families, some whose heads were considerably wealthier than Motilal, lived extravagantly. But the Nehrus had a style all their own. They consciously chose to live like sahibs—and yet did not appear to be mindlessly aping the British. The reason for this was simple. When he left Karimganj to live in civil lines, Motilal was not trying to ingratiate himself with the foreign rulers in the hope of personal favours so much as he was escaping from the backward-looking, tradition bound society into which the urban middle class had then grown. But the Nehrus revolted against the narrow-mindedness and insularity of Indian society, not against its fundamental values, and thus, although Anand Bhavan adopted the modern conveniences of a British home, it retained the atmosphere of graciousness and ebullience traditionally associated with Indian families of social standing.

The Nehru family’ first exposure to the west had occurred in 1897, when Motilal’s eldest brother, Bansi Dhar, undertook a round-the-world voyage. Motilal himself visited Europe two years later, invoking as had his brother the wrath of the orthodox community. On his return, he angrily refused to do praiyashchit or religious penitence to ‘purify’ himself after his ‘sinful’ act in crossing the sea and eating with the ‘unclean foreigners.’ When he dismissed the demand as ‘tomfoolery,’ the priests excommunicated him and ordered social boycott of him. That he turned to Britain so often and with such zest was not merely an angry reaction to the tyranny of the foolish and narrow-minded section of the Kashmiri community. His admiration for British culture was genuine and deep-seated. In a speech in 1907 he said of Britain:

England has fed us with the best food that her language, her literature, her science, her art and above all, her free institutions could supply. We have learned and grown on that wholesome food for a century and are fast approaching the age of maturity.

 To those in India who were even then getting impatient with Britain’s niggardliness in responding to the country’s demand for self-government, Motilal spoke reassuringly. He firmly believed, he told them that “John Bull means well — it is not in his nature to mean ill.”

Things were to change and change rapidly. As Allahabad had been built at a confluence of rivers, so Anand Bhavan had been built at a confluence of historical currents. Unlike the waters of the Ganges, the Jamuna and mythical Saraswati, they did not blend—though inside the walls of Motilal’s mansion it had seemed for a time that they might. On that sparkling November day in 1917 when Indira was born to the Nehrus, Anand Bhavan belonged to the Empire. The household had begun to feel faint stirrings of unease about this allegiance, but it belonged. By the time Indu was a bright-eyed, curly-haired little girl of two, her grandfather Motilal had lost faith in the good intentions of John Bull and, led more and more by his son, was turning towards Mahatma Gandhi. The elder Nehru’s love for Britain and its traditions remained unaffected, but his friends among the bureaucrats and senior administrators of the Raj had begun to regret their jovial past associations with the Nehrus.

By courtesy of : INDIRA BY KRISHAN BHATIA, PRAEGER PUBLISHERS INC., NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, 1974

 

 

Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif

Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif  MNA نواز شریف

PrimeMinisterNawazSharif

Nawaz Sharif 

Born into a wealthy Sharif family in Lahore, he is the son of Ittefaq Group founder Muhammad Sharif, and the brother of  Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif.

Early life

Nawaz Sharif was born in Lahore, Punjab on 25 December 1949. The Sharif family are Punjabis of Kashmiri origin. His father, Muhammad Sharif, was an upper-middle-class businessman and industrialist whose family had emigrated from Anantnag in Kashmir for business, and eventually settled in the village of Jati Umra in Amritsar district, Punjab at the beginning of the twentieth century. His mother’s family came from Pulwama. After the movement led by Jinnah and his struggle to create Pakistan in 1947, his parents migrated from Amritsar to Lahore. His father followed the teachings of the Ahle-Hadith.

His family owns:

Ittefaq Group multimillion-dollar steel conglomerate
Sharif Group conglomerate company with holdings in agriculture,

transport and sugar mills

He is married to Kulsoom Butt. The personal residence of the Sharif family, Raiwind Palace, is located in Jati Umra, Raiwind, on the outskirts of Lahore. He went to St. Anthony’s High School.

  • He graduated from the Government College University (GCU) with a degree in art and business.
  • He received a law degree from the Law College of the Punjab University in Lahore.

GC_University

Government College University, where Sharif studied business.

Sharif studied business at Government College Lahore and later law, at the University of Punjab before entering politics in the late 1970s. In 1981, Sharif was appointed by the military government as the minister of finance for Punjab. Backed by a loose coalition of conservatives, he was elected as the Chief Minister of Punjab in 1985 and re-elected after the end of martial law in 1988. In 1990,

Political career

Nawaz Sharif started his political career during the period of nationalization policies introduced by former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. The Sharif family was financially hit after the family owned steel business was nationalized, but soon Sharif was into national politics. In 1976 he joined the Pakistan Muslim League, a conservative front rooted in the Punjab province. He initially focused on regaining control of his steel plants from the government. In May 1980 Ghulam Jilani Khan, the recently appointed Governor of Punjab and  former Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), initiated a search for new urban leaders; Sharif was one of the men picked and promoted quickly to  finance minister of Punjab. In 1981, Sharif joined the Punjab Advisory Board under General Zia-ul-Haq and rose to public and political prominence as a staunch supporter of the military government of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq during the 1980s.

He maintained close relations with Zia-ul-Haq, who soon agreed to return the steel mills. During his political career, Sharif maintained an alliance with General Rahimuddin Khan, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and also had close ties with the Director-General of ISI, Lieutenant-General (retired) Hamid Gul, who played a substantial role in the formation of the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) – a conservative political alliance that supported Sharif.

Sharif invested in Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Arab countries in the Middle East to rebuild his steel empire. According to personal accounts and American historian Stephen Cohen in his book,  Idea of Pakistan: “Nawaz Sharif never forgave Bhutto after his steel empire was lost at the hands of Bhutto; and even after [Bhutto’s] terrible end, Sharif publicly refused to forgive the soul of Bhutto or the Pakistan Peoples Party.” After coming to national power in 1990, Sharif attempted to reverse Bhutto’s nationalization policies, introducing an economy based on privatisation and economic liberalization.

Punjab Advisory Council

In 1981, he became a member of the Punjab Advisory Council under General Ghulam Jilani Khan, the Governor of Punjab. Since the start of his early career, Sharif had been strongly vocal of capitalism and opposed the nationalization. In the 1980s, Sharif gained influence with General Zia-ul-Haq. He convinced the General to denationalize and deregulate the industries to improve the economy.

In the military government of Lt.-General Ghulam Jilani Khan, Sharif was appointed the provisional finance minister and successfully denationalized all of the government-owned industries to private sector. As provincial finance minister, he presented development-oriented budgets to the military government; he gained prominence in Punjab which also supported and extended the rule of Lt. General Ghulam Jillani Khan, as he improved the law and order situation in Punjab. Financial policies drafted and approved by Sharif were backed by General Zia. Punjab Province benefited with improved financial capital, and purchasing power of locals was greatly and exponentially improved. Punjab with Sharif as Finance minister, received many funds from the federal government, more than any other province of Pakistan. This also contributed to the economical inequality between Punjab and other provinces. Due to its huge financial capital in the 1980s, Punjab was Pakistan’s richest province and had a better standard of living compared to other provinces.

Chief Minister of Punjab

In 1985 General Ghulam Jilani Khan nominated Sharif as Chief Minister of the Punjab, against the wishes of Prime Minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo, who wanted the rural candidate, Malik Allahyar. Sharif secured a landslide victory during the non-political parties 1985 elections and became Chief Minister of Punjab with the support of the army. He served for two consecutive terms as Chief Minister of Punjab, the most populous province. Because of his popularity, he received the nickname of “Lion of the Punjab”. As chief minister, he stressed welfare and development activities and the maintenance of law and order.

The provincial martial law administrator of Punjab, Lt. General Ghulam Jilani Khan sponsored the government of Nawaz Sharif, and Sharif built close ties with senior army generals who would remain supportive and sponsor his ministership. Lt. General Jilani Khan made headway in beautifying Lahore, extending military infrastructure, and muting political opposition; while Sharif maintained the law and order in the province, expanded the economical infrastructure that benefited the people of Punjab. In 1988, General Zia dismissed the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo, and called for new elections. All the provisional and the national assemblies were dissolved, but General Zia-ul-Haq retained Sharif as the Chief Minister of Punjab. He continued with Sharif’s support until his death (Gen. Zia) and the elections in 1988.

1988 General Elections

After General Zia’s death in August 1988, Zia’s political party, Pakistan Muslim League (Pagara Group)–split into two factions. Fida Group led by Sharif and Zia loyalists and Junejo Group led by Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo.The Fida Group later became the PML while the Junejo Group was known as the JIP. The two parties plus seven other right-wing conservatives and religious parties united with the encouragement and funding by the ISI to form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI). The alliance was co-led by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi to oppose PPP in the elections. The IJI gained substantial majorities in Punjab and Sharif was re-elected Chief Minister of Punjab.

In December 1989, Sharif decided to remain in the Punjab Assembly rather than hold a seat in the National Assembly. In early 1989, the PPP government failed to unseat Sharif through a no-confidence motion in the Punjab Assembly. Sharif retained control by a vote of 152 to 106.

First term as prime minister (1990–93)

Sharif led a conservative alliance to victory, becoming the Prime Minister; investigation into the election would later reveal that the election was rigged in favour of Sharif by the Pakistani intelligence through channeling millions of rupees into his election campaign.

The conservatives for the first time in the country’s history came to power under a democratic system under Nawaz Sharif, who became the 12th Prime Minister of Pakistan on 1 November 1990 as well as head of IJI. He succeeded Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister.  IJI had been created and funded by Zia loyalists in the ISI; they gave Rs 15 million.  He had campaigned on a conservative platform and had vowed to reduce government corruption focussing on improving the nation’s infrastructure and spurring the growth of digital telecommunication. He privatised government banks and opened the door for further industrial privatisation; disbanding Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s policies. He legalised transactions of foreign money exchange through private money exchanges. His privatisation policies were continued by Benazir Bhutto and Shaukat Aziz in the mid-1990s and 2000s respectively.

Conservative policies

220px-Death_anniversary_of_Fazil_Rahoo

Nawaz Sharif meeting with conservative intellectuals of Pakistan in Sindh Province, c. 1990s.

Sharif took steps to initiate Islamisation. The continuation of conservative change in Pakistan started by Zia-ul-Haq was encouraged. Reforms introduced for:

  • Fiscal conservatism
  • Supply-side economics
  • Bioconservatism
  • Religious conservatism in Pakistan.

He raised the Kashmir issue in international forums and worked toward a peaceful transfer of power in Afghanistan; to help end the rampant trading of illicit drugs and weapons across the border.

  • He intensified General Zia-ul-Haq’s controversial Islamisation policies
  • He Introduced Islamic Laws such as the Shariat Ordinance and Bait-ul-Maal (to help poor orphans’ widows etc.)
  • He ordered the Ministry of Religion to prepare reports and recommendations for steps taken toward Islamisation.

He ensured the establishment of three committees:

  1. Ittehad-e-bain-ul-Muslemeen (Unity of Muslims Bloc)
  2. Nifaz-e-Shariat Committee (Sharia Establishment Committee)
  3. Islamic Welfare Committee

He believed in forming a Muslim Bloc by uniting all Central Asian Muslim countries and so extended the membership of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) to all Central Asian countries. Nawaz Sharif ruled confidently due to the majority he enjoyed in the assembly. He had disputes with three successive army chiefs.

 Domestic issues

Following the passing of the Resolutions 660, 661, and 665, Sharif sided with the United Nations on the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Sharif’s government criticised Iraq for invading a fellow Muslim country, which led to strain in Pakistan’s relationship with Iraq. This strain continued as Pakistan improved relations with Iran, and this foreign policy continued with Benazir Bhutto, and Pervez Musharraf until the removal of Saddam Hussain in 2003.

Sharif concurred with former Chief of Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg over the 1991 Gulf War; under directions from General Beg, Pakistan Armed Forces participated in the conflict and the Army Special Service Group and the Naval Special Service Group was rushed to Saudi Arabia to provide security to Saudi royal family. Sharif also supported the new Chief of Army Staff General Asif Nawaz over paramilitary operation in Sindh.

During his first term, he found it difficult to work with PPP and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a potent force in Karachi. The MQM and PPP opposed Sharif due to his focus on beautifying Punjab and Kashmir while neglecting Sindh.

The MQM, a liberal force, also opposed Sharif’s conservatism. The clash between liberalism and conservatism forces soon erupted in 1992 when political tension began to rise as both party renegades initiated an ideological war against each other. Despite MQM being a part of the government with Sharif, more and more problems surfaced between Sharif and the MQM in 1992. Sharif’s government passed a resolution in the Parliament for launching paramilitary operations to end the cold war between PML-N and MQM.

During this time, the centre left of Pakistan Peoples Party remained neutral watching the cold war between liberal and conservative forces. Prime Minister Sharif also concurred with Chief of Army Staff General Asif Nawaz on the paramilitary operation in Sindh which was launched in 1992.  It brought violence and economic halt in the country that dismantled Sharif’s industrialisation and investment process. Benazir Bhutto, during this time remained silent as she too had opposed the MQM but due to pressure exerted by her brother Murtaza Bhutto, it had come to a halt. The period between 1992–1994 is considered the bloodiest in the history of the city, when many went missing.

Industrialization and privatisation

Shortly after assuming the office of prime minister, Sharif announced his economic policy under the programme called, the “National Economic Reconstruction Program ” (NERP) which introduced a high level of western-styled capitalist economic system.

It was acknowledged that unemployment had become Pakistan’s greatest disadvantage in its economic growth and only industrial and privatization could solve the economic slowdown. An intensified Privatization Program was commenced and presided by Sharif in his vision to “turn Pakistan into a (South) Korea by encouraging greater private saving and investment to accelerate economic growth.”

In 1990, Sharif announced the nuclear policy which aimed to continue peaceful atomic energy benefit for country’s economic infrastructure. Sharif expanded and industrialized nuclear energy program in the whole country and a peaceful economic infrastructure was extensively built by him by the 1990s. Many of the nuclear medicine and nuclear engineering projects were completed under his government as part of Sharif’s Atoms for Peace program.

The privatization programme came as a response to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the Peoples party led by Benazir, and Sharif’s spontaneous programme was as swift as the nationalization programme of Peoples Party in the 1970s. However, Sharif lacked the charisma and personality of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and countered Bhutto’s ideology with full force by aping him. During the period 1990–93, around 115 nationalized industries were put under private-ownership management, but this was controversial as the programme lacked competition, and was largely controlled by favoured insiders.The favouritism shown in privatization of the industrial and banking units by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was to become the hallmark, and the rise of strong business oligarchs who concentrated enormous assets, further increasing inequality in Pakistan and contributing to political instability.

Privatization programme took the GDP growth rate to 7.57% (1992), but it dropped to 4.37% (1993-1998).

Sharif upgraded Islamic laws such as Shariat Ordinance and Bait-ul-Maal (to help poor orphans widows) to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state. Sharif’s family was affected by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s nationalization policy. A number of important industries, such as:

  • Pakistan National Shipping Corporation
  • National Electric Power Regulatory Authority
  • Pakistan International Airlines
  • Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation
  • Pakistan State Oil

were opened to private sector. In 1990, Prime Minister Sharif successfully privatised the National Development Finance Corporation.

He introduced and inaugurated several large-scale projects to stimulate the economy, such as the Ghazi-Barotha Hydropower plant. However, unemployment remained a challenge. He imported thousands of yellow-cab taxis for young Pakistanis; this program came at a cost; few of the loans were repaid to the government and Sharif founded it difficult to keep the taxis at a low rate as the young and poor could not afford a higher price. Sharif privatised these taxis at low rate and the steel industry was forced to pay the remaining cost.

During his first term Sharif intensified policies of industrialisation and privatisation of major industries that were nationalised by former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Undoing what was previously done in the 1970s remained a challenge for Sharif but, despite the slowdown of the economy, Sharif reversed major policies of Bhutto and within a short span of time, 90% of the industries were industrialized and privatized by him. This radical move did have a positive impact on country’s economy and it improved at an appropriate level.

Sharif policies were continued by Benazir Bhutto, who nationalised those industries that needed a government bailout plan, and by Pervez Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz in the 2000s who managed to privatise all the major industries by the end of 2008.

813px-Pakistan_gdp_growth_rate.svg

A line graph indicated policy benefits enjoyed by Punjab.

During his first term, Sharif focused his industrialization on Punjab and Kashmir; few projects were completed in Khyber and Balochistan provinces, while Sindh did not get the benefit. After severe criticism from Pakistan Peoples Party and the liberal-secular Mutahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM), Sharif launched the Orangi Cottage Industrial Zone which was completed and inaugurated by him.

However, prime minister’s reputation in Sindh was badly damaged because of his focus with Lahore and Kashmir’s beautification, and neglect of other provinces. Sharif’s industrialization was also targeted by his opponents as it was focused on Punjab and Kashmir. His opponents argued that Sharif, as prime minister, obtained permits for building factories for his business. Sharif is also blamed for expanding and financing the Armed Forces secret industrial conglomerate. He is held responsible for bribing generals to protect himself.  Sharif strongly criticized former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s socialist economics policies, citing them as “lamentable state of Pakistan”. His privatization policies were also strongly criticised by former science adviser Dr. Mubashir Hassan, who called Sharif’s privatization “unconstitutional”. Other PPP members maintained that nationalization measures were protected by the Parliament which gave them a constitutional status; the Peoples Party felt the privatization policies were illegal and was taking place without parliamentary approval and parliament was not taken in confidence.

Science policy

Sharif authorized the establishment of the Jinnah Antarctic Station in 1991. Sharif took steps for government control of science in Pakistan and the projects needed his authorization.

In 1991, he authorized the Pakistan Antarctic Program of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and Pakistan Navy’s Weapons Engineering Division, and established the Jinnah Antarctic Station and Polar Research Cell.

In 1992, Pakistan became an Associate Member of Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research which was signed by the Science Adviser Munir Ahmed Khan at United Nations. Like Benazir, the ongoing nuclear weapons and the energy program remained one of his top priorities. Sharif countered international pressure, and followed Benazir. He refused to compromise the program in spite of the United States offer of large economic aid to Pakistan. Unlike Benazir, Sharif’s nuclear policy was seen as less aggressive towards India and focused on the atomic programme for the benefit of civil society, and he set forth a nuclear policy to build civil nuclear power.

With this vision, he intensively used the integrated atomic programme for medical and economic purposes; his nuclear policy was viewed by experts as vintage Atoms for Peace program— the United States’ 1950s program to use the nuclear energy for civil purposes, and to promote peaceful nuclear technology in the world as well.

In 1993, Sharif authorized the establishment of:

  • The Institute of Nuclear Engineering (INE) and promoted the policy of peaceful use of nuclear energy.
  • On 28 July 1997, Sharif declared the year as “year of science” in Pakistan
  • He allotted funds for the 22nd INSC College on Theoretical Physics.
  • In 1999, Sharif signed an executive decree, declaring 28 May as the National Science Day in Pakistan.

Nuclear policy

On 7 November 1990, the prime minister announced the nuclear policy on public television. He stated: “the peaceful [atomic] programme which . . . would be accelerated to accommodate growing [nuclear] energy needs and to make up for rising [oil] prices. And, of course, (Pakistan) will construct new nuclear power plants.”

On 26 November, Sharif authorized talks with the US to solve the nuclear crisis after the US tightened the embargo on Pakistan, prompting him to send  finance minister Sartaj Aziz to hold talks in Washington. It was widely reported in Pakistan that the US Assistant Secretary of State Teresa Schaffer had told Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan to halt the uranium enrichment programme.

In December, France’s Commissariat à l’énergie atomique agreed to provide a commercial 900 MW power plant, but plans did not materialize as France wanted Pakistan to provide   funding for the plant. In December, a financial embargo was placed, and the country’s economy felt the effect which prompted Sharif to replace the finance minister. Sharif then used Munir Ahmad Khan to convince IAEA to allow Pakistan a nuclear plant in Chashma, and Khan intensively lobbied with IAEA for that. In December 1990, IAEA allowed Pakistan to establish CHASNUPP-I, signed with China; the IAEA also gave approval of upgrading of the KANUPP-I in 1990.  During his first term, Sharif intensified his non-nuclear weapon policy and strictly followed the policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity which was continued by Benazir.

Responding to US embargo, Sharif publicly announced that: “Pakistan possessed no [atomic] bomb… Pakistan would be happy to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) provided India “first did the same.”

Sharif intensified his move to enhance Pakistan’s integrated nuclear development and authorized projects that seemed to be important in his point of view. He promoted the peaceful nuclear energy programme, and signed for the CHASNUPP-I reactor with People’s Republic of China for commercial electricity use. Sharif also proposed to use nuclear development mainly for economical usage for the country’s benefit. His policy to use the nuclear programme for economical benefit was continued by Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf.

 1992 Co-operatives societies’ scandal

Sharif lost support from Punjab and Kashmir when the co-operatives societies’ scandal became public. Co-operatives societies accept deposits from members and can legally make loans only to members for purposes that benefit the society and its members. However, mismanagement of the societies led to a collapse in which millions of Pakistanis lost money in 1992. In Punjab and Kashmir, around 700,000 people, mainly poor, lost all their savings when the states cooperatives societies went bankrupt. It was discovered that the society had granted billions of rupees to the Ittefaq Group of Industries— Sharif’s owned Steel mill. Though Ittefaq Group’s management hurriedly repaid the loans to the affected, the prime minister’s reputation was tarnished.

1993 Constitutional Crisis

In 1993, Sharif survived a serious constitutional crisis when it was reported that he had developed serious authority issues with the President. On 18 April 1993, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan with the support of the Pakistan Army used his reserve powers under (58-2b, 8th Amendment) to dissolve the National Assembly, the lower house. Khan appointed Mir Balakh Sher as the interim prime minister. When the news reached Sharif, he refused to accept this, and moved the Supreme Court of Pakistan.  On 26 May 1993, Sharif returned to power after the Supreme Court ruled the Presidential Order as unconstitutional and reconstituted the National Assembly immediately. The Court ruled, 10–1, that the president could dissolve the assembly only if a constitutional breakdown had occurred, and the government’s incompetence or corruption was irrelevant. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was the only dissenting judge; he later became 13th Chief Justice of Pakistan.

End of First Term

However, issues with the president over authority increased and a subsequent political standoff occurred between the president and the prime minister. In July 1993, Sharif resigned under pressure from the Pakistan Armed Forces but negotiated a settlement that resulted in the removal of President Ghulam Ishaq Khan as well; Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Shamim Alam and the Chief of Army Staff General Abdul Waheed Kakar forced President Ishaq Khan to resign from the presidency and end the political standoff. Under the scrutiny of the Pakistan Armed Forces, an interim and transitional government was formed and new parliamentary election was held after three months.

Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif was born in Lahore, Punjab on 25 December 1949 (age 41) and served as the Prime Minister of Pakistan from November 1990 to July 1993.

  • Spouse: Kulsoom Nawaz
  • Children: 4
  • Parents: Shamim and Sharif
  • Residence: Prime Minister’s Secretariat
  • Political party: Pakistan Muslim League (N)

 Alma mater   

  • Punjab University Law College
  • Government College University
  • Religion: Islam
  • Website: pmln.org

Chief Minister of Punjab: 9 April 1985 – 13 August 1990

By courtesy:  Schajee – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11747919