Archive for December, 2010

h1

What should be done in Afghanistan

December 19, 2010

Written by Pervez Musharraf – former President of Pakistan

Historical background: Events in Afghanistan took a turn in 1979 with the invasion of the country by the Soviet Union. The Soviets were challenged through a jihad, launched by the Afghans supported by America and Pakistan. The jihad was strongly reinforced by mujahideen, encouraged and brought from all over the Muslim world and also by the Taliban from the madrassas of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It was spearheaded by various religious militant groups and, thus, we saw the introduction of religious militancy in the region which continued for ten long years. The year 1989 saw the defeat of the Soviet Union and its eviction from Afghanistan.

The fruits of this victory all went to the West, with the Cold War ending in the West’s victory, dismemberment of the Soviet Union, liberation of East Europe and the reunification of Germany. Unfortunately, what Afghanistan and Pakistan got after 1989 were a series of three short-sighted blunders leading to complications and perhaps, avoidable turmoil in the region. The rehabilitation and resettlement of the mujahideen brought into Afghanistan was totally ignored.

The first blunder was the abandonment of Afghanistan and Pakistan by the US in 1989. The chaos that followed for the entire decade of the 90s gave birth to al Qaeda and later the Taliban.

The second was the non-recognition of the Taliban government which ruled 90 per cent of Afghanistan after 1997. My idea of the entire world recognising the Taliban government and opening diplomatic missions in Kabul which would be managed from within, was not paid any heed to. Had it been done, maybe we could have saved the Bamiyan Buddha statues and even untangled the Osama bin Laden dispute.

The third blunder was committed after 9/11 when the Taliban, who were all Pashtuns, were defeated with the help of the Northern Alliance composed of three minority ethnic groups (Uzbeks, Hazaras and Tajiks). The Taliban and al Qaeda were dispersed and they ran into the mountains and the cities of Pakistan. Their organisational and command structure was totally dismantled. The military achieved its objective of getting into a dominant position. The logical course of action after this was to change strategy and place a legitimate government in Afghanistan, This implies a government dominated by the Pashtun majority (half of the Afghan population), because historically nobody other than Pashtuns have governed Afghanistan. Not doing this and persisting with a government dominated by a Tajik minority, still in place, was and still is a great blunder.

The Taliban resurgence started in late 2003, mainly, because of the third blunder of not weaning away the Pashtun from the Taliban. My view has always been that all Taliban are Pashtun, but all Pashtun are not Taliban; therefore, we can wean them away from the Taliban. Now, after eight years we are talking of parleys with moderate Taliban, or even Taliban, but from a position of weakness, when we have declared our intention to quit.

The present situation: The terrorist situation has transformed or visibly developed in the region and in the world, in the last few years. Let us see its contours in various countries.

Pakistan faces four menaces from terrorism. Each one requires an in-depth understanding and a different strategy to tackle: The first is al Qaeda which has a presence in the mountains of Fata, though in small numbers, and needs to be evicted. The second is the Taliban presence in Fata, especially in South and North Waziristan, and in Bajaur agency. However, they are our own people and have to be handled with acumen. We need to follow a triple strategy of force accompanied by a political and a socio-economic component. Deals must be struck with the tribal Pashtuns to wean them away from the Taliban and thus isolate the latter, who can then be dealt with militarily. Then there is the Talibanisation in the settled districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and even beyond. This has to be contained with force. The last is extremism and extremist organisations in some pockets of Pakistani society, which are primarily a fallout of Taliban activity in Afghanistan and mujahideen activity in Indian-held Kashmir.

Moderation has to be brought into society through a five-pronged strategy of stopping misuse of mosques for preaching militancy; banning militant organisations and not allowing them to resurface with different titles; ensuring that the curriculum/ syllabus in schools has no content of religious or sectarian extremism and mainstreaming students in madrassas

There is also the issue of mujahideen activity in Indian-held Kashmir against the Indian Army. This is supported by mujahideen groups in Pakistan and has tremendous public sympathy. Furthermore, extremism is on the rise in Muslim youth in India because of alienation of Muslims due to a sense of deprivation and suppression. The situation becomes more alarming due to the nexus emerging between extremists in India and the mujahideen in Kashmir on one hand, and extremists and the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan on the other.

The menace deepens with the emergence of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib centered around Algeria and Mali and, in the Arabian peninsula, centred around Yemen and Somalia. The centre of gravity of all this extremism and terrorism, however, lies in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The future course: Losing at the centre of gravity means losing everywhere. Quitting from Afghanistan without getting into a dominant military position and placing a legitimate Pashtun-dominated government in Afghanistan could spell disaster for the region and also endanger the world.

So what is the winning strategy? In Afghanistan we are still diluted in space but since we cannot send additional Nato/Isaf forces we must increase the strength of the Afghan National Army. However, the correct ethnic balance must also be ensured. Then, we need to identify Pashtun tribes and tribal Maliks who have no ideological affinity with the Taliban and arm them to create lashkars to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda. With such a strategy in place, the drawdown of troops from the area should be effect-related rather than time-related. The effect that we would want to achieve is to be in a dominant force position and have in place a legitimate Pashtun-dominated government in Kabul.

Source: Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2010

h1

Musharraf hails women for uplifting Pakistan

December 16, 2010

By Ashfaq Ahmed

Dubai: Former Pakistan president retired General Pervez Musharraf said that Pakistani women are outperforming men and are playing an important role in the development of their country.

“We need to introduce a new political culture where the educated class, women and youth all come forward and get involved in the political process,” he said while speaking to a group of Pakistani expatriate women in Dubai.

Musharraf talked about the role of women in the modern world and said they can play a big role in influencing the public opinion in Pakistan and make a huge difference at every level — especially in changing the political scene in their country.

Invitation

The former president and his wife Sehba were invited to a meeting by a cross section of Pakistani expatriate women residing and working in UAE.

The event was attended by social workers, professionals, students, teachers and housewives.

Musharraf, who has been gearing up support for his recently launched political party All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), spoke on the importance of the emancipation of women and the role that they have been playing in the development of Pakistan.

Musharraf also highlighted some important steps which he took during his tenure as president to safeguard the rights of women and improve their plight.

Protection

He spoke about the Women Protection Act which his government passed to provide legal protection to women against any kind of harassment in public or at their work places.

He recalled how difficult it was to amend and correct the Hudood Ordinance in favour of Women.

He was congratulated by the audience on reserving seats for women in the legislative assemblies which has empowered women at a grassroots level.

Musharraf told women that he would continue his economic agenda to drive Pakistan’s economy at the same pace at which it grew during his last tenure, if he wins the next elections.

Source: Gulf News

h1

Musharraf hints at pact with Taliban, military takeover to protect Pak from crisis

December 16, 2010

Lahore, Dec 16(ANI): Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said that the country might be forced to take matters into its own hands, which could include working with the Taliban, if it continues to feel alienated by the rest of the world.

Musharraf said that Pakistan was in a terrible state – with its economy in crisis, high unemployment, mass discontent – and having terrorists on its soil.

“Pakistan has to be protected. If you don’t help, if no one helps, or instead is helping the other side, the side which is trying to disturb and destabilize us, well, then Pakistan has to take its own measures,” the Daily Times quoted Musharraf, as saying.

When asked whether it would mean working with the Taliban, the former President replied: “We must know that the protection of Pakistan is everything to us.”

“If someone is disturbing this, I will go to any extent to protect my country, because that’s what I’m meant for. So, you can see the answer yourself,” he added.

Musharraf further said that “there is no bar” against him going back to Pakistan.

“But the conditions have to be right. What should Pakistan do? What should ISI do? What does the army chief do? They’ll make a strategy of protecting themselves,” Musharraf said. (ANI)

Source: Truth Dive

h1

Interview: In high spirits, Musharraf to bank on ‘electables’

December 7, 2010

DUBAI: Being out of power seems to have done General (retd) Pervez Musharraf a world of good. He appeared slimmer, happier and relaxed in a meeting on Monday at his party’s office which is located in a quiet apartment in the otherwise prestigious downtown Dubai area, not too far away from the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa.

Musharraf is visiting Dubai so that party faithful as well as those interested in joining can fly down from Pakistan and meet with him. Musharraf himself has promised that not only will he return to fight in the country’s next elections, but he himself will stand from a number of seats from all over Pakistan. “I am waiting for the right time to make my comeback,” says the former military general and president, adding “my return will create the right momentum for the party.”

He decries the vendetta politics in Pakistan but says that he is not worried about cases being lodged against him. He also says that he takes the threat of militant groups in stride. “In this, I expect the government to provide me security.” The former President dismissed talk of his party not having enough political heavyweights.

“I am looking at second tier politicians – tehsil nazims and union council nazims – who will come on board and win elections for the party.” He added “these are good people. I call them the electables.”

Looking back, Musharraf said that his government – which was doing well in all areas, was brought down by the judicial crisis and the deteriorating law and order situation. The situation in Pakistan deteriorated to the extent that the Indian prime minister continued to postpone his visit. “Had the Indian PM come to Pakistan, we would have signed an agreement based on the four point formula I proposed.” He said that while he had no problem with the current government trashing his initiative, no counter has been put forward in lieu of his proposals.

On the issue of elections, Musharraf said he had already been offered a seat from Chitral. “I am a national politician,” he clarified, adding “I do not want to stand from Karachi only.”

Looking back at his rule, the former president said he regretted introducing the National Reconciliation Ordinance and sending the reference against the chief justice because of the repercussions it caused. These decisions made him unpopular with a number of people. “These were my two mistakes if you can call them that,” he said, adding “but I did nothing illegal.”

On the controversy that has arisen over Wikileaks, Musharraf said that he is not mentioned in any cable as sharing information with the US Ambassador. “It is sad that some people discussed national security matters with the US envoy. I can only condemn it.” But he did not comment on the contents of the cables and said those who were mentioned should reply for themselves. At the same time, he said, some of the statements and assumptions of the US envoy were ridiculous.

Musharraf said he missed friends in Pakistan and socialising with people.  Playing bridge, tennis and golf as well as meeting friends and family is what he says he misses most. The former army chief also said he missed his prizewinning dogs “Che” and “Lara,” two German shepherds. Talking about his house, he said that he had not made a single penny illegally “and I challenge people to prove otherwise.” As president, he said, “I paid for the entertainment of my guests through my own pocket.”

On a more somber note, Musharraf warned against the rising intolerance and extremism in present day Pakistan. “Today Barelvi is fighting Deobandi. They are tearing each other apart.” He said that things have gone from bad to worse but the government was ignoring the situation.

He recalled how one day the DG ISI came out of Sultan Masjid in Karachi’s DHA and caught a young boy distributing hate literature while the police looked the other way. “The police need to be trained to look for extremism and its manifestations. This has not happened.”

Source: Published in The Express Tribune, December 7th, 2010.

%d bloggers like this: