Admiral Fasih’s letter to Air Commodore Sajjad Haider
Very sensitive but true sentiments of a patriotic General is being published her for reader consumption
By Zaheerul Hassan
Dear Air Commodore Sajjad,
We have both fought wars for our country and believe that we “are” because Pakistan “is”, and must remain. I recall our many good times together and cherish their memory. I had stopped contributing to blogs and email groups (age and health) but you have mentioned me by name and have so drawn me into the current debate, somewhat reluctantly.
Although there are many brains better than mine on the list, but for what it may be worth here’s my contribution.
Yes, I want democracy, because all Pakistanis are equal and have a right to participate in the determination of their future by consensus, and not be coerced into a future they don’t want by any single power center. I still believe that equality, freedom, and brotherhood, are our best way forward. (Please see the executive summary of PESA suggested National Security Policy that is attached to this email.)
In an honest political dispensation democracy would remain the best way forward. But the current dispensation is not one in which I can see democracy easily take firm root.
After the studies we did in PESA and “Save Pakistan Coalition”, I asked to take over NAB to understand better what ails Pakistan and perhaps contribute positively. I did not understand the political game that was to be played out, or the depth of subversion of the state that had already taken place. It is a complex game with a number of power centers, joining hands for what they see as their common interests, while hoping to achieve supremacy over each other. This does not lend itself to national stability.
The NRO was a foreign brokered amnesty for politicians with a suspect past. It set the stage for the return of the old political dynasties. The “Charter of Democracy” was a compact to join hands to remove any possibility of future military takeovers, indeed to clip the political wings of the military. In an honest dispensation this would be a positive step. However in immature politics “Memo-gate” and the current “Khawajas/Geo” attacks on the military and ISI, both outcomes of the COD, are detrimental to national cohesion and “brotherhood”, especially when the military are shedding blood to save the nation and protect its citizens. Focus on controlling insurgency should have been the priority, rather than attack the institutions that are fighting the insurgency. The maturity and credibility of this strategy obviously raise suspicions among patriots.
The COD was essentially an agreement between two major parties to usher in a two party system that would not allow the smaller irritant parties to survive: with the aim of ushering in a more stable political structure. This may not be a bad aim in itself; but corruption tainted past of both parties raises doubts that this may be a way of establishing dynasties for pelf. Imran Khan may not be off the mark when he talks of “muk-muka” politics.
The history of the current party in power from subversion of the Sajjad Shah Supreme Court continued with the “Long March” to again subvert an obliged Iftikhar Choudhry Supreme Court. The alliance with the Geo-Jang group, and appeasement of the Punjab Taliban, were not objected to by the then ruling party because the COD required that power be transferred to the current party in power. The role of the judiciary at various levels has been questioned by many after the elections. (Please read my letter to the President on the issue that is attached.) I do not regret my role with PESA in the fight for independence of the Judiciary. The last CJP was not the best but many more will come. The independence of the judiciary was a higher ideal than simply reinstating Choudhry. I maintain even today that three steps are essential for Pakistan. Independence of the judiciary to shame and blame transgressors: Independence of the Bureaucracy to give regulatory strength to the Social Contract: and Supremacy of Parliament so that no one center of power can dictate the course of governance.
As far as the depth of subversion of the state is concerned (read the third attachment), political immaturity is again visible in the actions of these politicians who continue to subvert the institutions of state, and state functionaries, and then ask why the state machinery is not responsive!
The PPP government ordered a Ministerial enquiry against me when I went public with the daily losses to the state of Rs. 7 Billion through corruption and negligence (willful in most cases). The internationally recognized most effective tool to fight corruption is “prevention”, which I started in NAB. We were able to focus on over 50 ministries and institutions for Rs. 2.5 Trillion worth of projects and expenditures. With adjustment and rule compliance mechanisms we were able to save wastage of Rs. 250 Billion. These and many other actions upset many power centers, which are unfortunately for Pakistan, too powerful and complicit with each other to allow any upsetting of the status quo.
One major lesson from NAB was that the absolute corruption index of Pakistan has remained 2.5 for the past 15 years. This means that corruption is not party specific, or war/peace specific, or event specific. Our corruption is the direct result of a flawed Constitution (written by those who lost the 1970 elections i.e not truly representative), outdated legal system unable to cope with current and future business/social/revenue demands, and discretionary rules framed under unequal laws.
So, where do we stand today?
Many of the democracies today were born out of an evolutionary process that saw many mishaps and violence before their societies gelled into brotherhood. Some in Asia required the military to instill discipline before society achieved homogeneity, China, Korea, Viet Nam, Turkey to cite a few. There are no standard Democracy 101 courses. The questions we must answer are:
Yes the Politicians will clip the Army and ISI wings through a reasoned (albeit immature) policy, even while we are fighting an existential insurgency that is backed by foreign powers. Do we seek a military takeover?
State institution subversion is at levels that invite further groups to insurgency. Were previous military governments able to reverse the trend or did they contribute to such subversion? Do we seek a military takeover nevertheless?
The writ of state has not been established over the whole of Pakistan by either Civil or military governments. There are too many Sardars/Makhdooms/Maliks/Pirs etc. with their men under arms, who are the law in their own lands. There are too many other armed groups such as Taliban and Baloch splinter groups. Does a military or a civil dispensation have a better chance of inclusionary politics to bring all into the mainstream?
Is a civilian dispensation likely to want to change the Constitution, modernize the laws and legal system, and remove discretion? Not likely since they are enjoying the status quo. Would a military dispensation? When Iftikhar Choudhry gave the chance, it went a begging. Why? Was it because the art of governance is beyond both our past and current crop of military and civilian rulers? Has their focus been self rather than the people they govern(ed). Are we still waiting for a savior after 67 years?
Does Pakistan need a technocrat government (there are many more brilliant Pakistanis not in politics or uniform) backed by the military for 25 years to raise a new 100% educated and disciplined generation who will take on the eventual mantle of democratic rule?
Another military takeover with so many armed groups not yet under control could be a recipe for an even bloodier civil war that our enemies could benefit even more from. Easy repeat of a 1971 type
intervention? Or would this solution be the only way to bring order out of our current chaos?
380 million Americans live in over 50 states and territories. 200 million Pakistanis live in less than 10. Is too much centralization suffocating governance and participation at the grass roots?
Our studies in the Save Pakistan Coalition identified fiscally empowered Local Governments as the backbone of true democracy. This is a major issue. Should pressure be brought on the current governments to hold transparent LG elections at the earliest as a positive democratic step?
There are many more questions, but the bottom line is that we need to unite and find solutions. The blame game must stop. Leave politics to the politicians. If anyone wants to play politics he should join a political party and apply his experience. By all means use social media, or join pressure groups, as a form of dialogue with like minded persons to evolve consensus or directions that political players can benefit from; but we should be contributory not accusatory.
This is already too long so I won’t touch on the impact of international interests on Pakistan, of which you are perhaps more aware than I.
Before closing I will say that it is incumbent on the Government to unite and not divide the nation. Politics should be restricted to resolving issues faced by the people and state, and not immature internal power games that are liable to precipitate early elections/change of government.
As far as media is concerned, it should observe and report, with credible opinion columnists. When media takes on the role of active politics or becomes a trial court or resorts to defamation, it loses its privileged position before the law. The people have a right to information, closure of media houses in therefore an anti-people action. The media has a right to earn profit for providing information. When media earns profit from disinformation/sensationalism it is violating the rights of the people and must be censured as per rules and laws in force.
With respect and best regards,