July 23, 2010

General Kayani, Democracy, The US and Us

As I write this, I’ve just seen Danish Kaneria being hit for two consecutive sixes by the last man standing from the Australian side, Steve Smith. There is no doubt in my mind that if Australia wins even this second test match, it would owe a big chunk of their victory to Steve Smith. Let us then raise our hands in supplication to the Almighty, and beg Him to be kind and spare us more humiliation. By all standards, 180 to win with two days remaining is not a difficult target. But once again the mundane occurrences on the cricket field when Pakistan is playing on the center stage are well choreographed.

But let me take a moment of yours and drive your attention to the more pressing matter at hand; or in other words, the raging topic of discussion on all forums (relatively speaking) across Pakistan. The extension granted to the COAS due to extenuating circumstances. The Grim Reaper has reared his ugly head once again. No doubt there are many who disagree with my assessment, but then they are entitled to their own opinions. General Kayani must be floating irrevocably in bliss as of now, knowing that he will live to see 14 generals junior than him retire before he does. What the goons in the Presidency and the PM secretariat were thinking when they decided to appoint him Chief for not one, not even two, but three years beyond his original term is anybody’s guess. To put the mind of the nation at ease, phrases and words such as success in war on terror, confidence, trustworthiness etc were thrown at the general population. Funnily even those commentators and pundits proclaiming Kayani should act like a gentleman and refuse to take the extension have also gone mute.

But the drama aside, are there really any niceties involved? According to some sources (ahem, ahem), to whom I was talking to last night, the real reason of General Kayani’s extension is because a deal has been made between him and the government whereby he pledges to support the government when it comes under pressure to hold mid-term elections, and that Kayani ensures the continuity of the government. The veracity of these claims will soon be tested. As far as I am concerned, I have already made my views over the whole people-going-gaga-over-Kayani ruse quite clear. I do not condone this act of the government in reposing trust in one individual, rather than the institution that he comes from. It is precisely this attitude that has led to the death of democracy in Pakistan on multiple occasions and even today, our democracy is considered an infantile democracy because we have made it a faithful obligation to repose trust in individuals rather than the institutions that they claim to represent; be it Zardari, Benazir Bhutto, Altaf Hussain or Nawaz Sharif. Or be it Kayani or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry. Such acts do not bode well for the merit or morale of the under command.

The Pakistan Army continues to wage a proxy war in guerilla riddled terrain where it has never set foot before. It continues to traverse with people you possibly cannot reconcile (the Haqqani group being the prime example). Who is to stop them from stampeding all over Pakistan while waving a copy of the agreement that they make with either the government of Pakistan, Afghanistan or the Pakistan Army? Not unlike the Swat Shariat-Peace Deal that was made with zealots who would have us live in the Stone Age if their interpretations of Islam are accepted. And to make matters worse for all the parties involved, the US State Department has effectively declared the Haqqani group a terrorist organization. Let’s see what incendiary fireworks this move starts as it torpedoes the progress made in talks between the Haqqani group and the Afghan, Pakistan governments. I’m sure General Kayani will have to say a few words about the whole affair because he does like to say things that our politicians are just so afraid off. But more importantly, if this is the way the COAS wants to slide us out of the nightmare, I must say I disagree completely with him. One simply cannot negotiate with people who justify blowing themselves to achieve personal gains. Once this deal backfires, the consequences will be grave. The terrorists will come back at us even more strongly and powerfully. 

That is all for now. I hope and pray that glad tidings await the fortune of our country and the people. Amen.