Dr Akbar S. Ahmed is an eminent scholar of international repute. He is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is ‘The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror became a Global War on Tribal Islam’ (2013). He belonged to the Civil Service of Pakistan and served as Pakistan's High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland.
Q: Globalization is giving rise to advent of a new universal civilization where citizens of the developed and developing countries could easily interact, observe the differences and compare life in different societies. This awareness, interaction and comparison can generate different responses from those who are not satisfied either with the international system or their own governments. How do you see societies of developed, developing and under-developed world reacting to the process of Globalization in the future?
Answer: First let me say what an honour it is to be asked to contribute to Hilal Magazine. I have many links with the army. My younger brother Sikander Ahmed was a brigadier and a proud Commanding Officer of the 1 Frontier Force Regiment and several of my class fellows from my school ‘Army Burn Hall college,’ Abbottabad became Generals. I've also had the privilege of being close friends with two Shaheed heroes of Pakistan Army, Major Shabbir Sharif and Major Sabir Kamal. I have described them as those who “lived simple and honest lives, cared deeply for the problems of the ordinary people, and readily sacrificed their lives for their nation in acts of extraordinary valour…Their motivation, courage, and idealism are second to none compared with that of officer cadre of any army in the world” (The Thistle and the Drone, 2013, p. 178). I wrote a poem in honour of Sabir called “Major Sabir Kamal: The Last Stand.” I had the pleasure of marching with Shabbir Sharif's 6 Frontier Force Regiment when I was attached to the army as part of my Civil Service training. When I called on the new Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, I was pleased to remind him that I had marched with his Frontier Force Regiment the same as that of his brother. It was such a pleasure to meet the General because he reminded me of my friend Shabbir and I felt that Pakistan was fortunate that it got the right man for the right job at the right time in its history.
Now about Globalization: There is often a process of simultaneous attraction and revulsion to aspects of Globalization in the developing world. On the one hand, people want economic development, improvements in transportation, and new products. On the other hand, people are exposed to far-off countries and cultures in real time through global media and this can provoke feelings of anger and alienation when what is seen is perceived as threatening or alien. For example in my book Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (2007), I explained that when those in the Muslim world see the wealth of Western CEOs or idyllic scenes of peace in Western societies on their television screens juxtaposed with the poverty and chaos of places like Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq – many feel anger. Some contend that American culture is invading their societies through the media and a deluge of Western products. Globalization is also characterized by the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming more poorer.
Dangerous gaps are opening between the very rich and the mass of people who are struggling to survive. So, while Globalization is bringing the world closer together and undoubtedly benefits many, it also divides people as many do not feel its benefits, or, are threatened by it. Often those resisting or opposing aspects of Globalization seek to restore their “purity” in the face of perceived threat from outsiders, and conflict and violence can result. It is for this reason that I have dedicated my work to promoting dialogue and understanding between the world's civilizations, religions, and cultures which I believe to be the only way of avoiding confrontation in the age of Globalization. One of the most dangerous ideas that gained widespread currency with the age of Globalization was that there was on-going Clash of Civilizations.
As it happened, I found myself teaching one of my first classes at American University in Washington, D.C. on 9/11. I had just been appointed the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and I looked forward to a long and peaceful innings as a scholar on campus leading a peaceful life. When the plane flew into the Pentagon just a few miles from my university when I was in the class, I knew immediately that my life would never be the same. As a Muslim scholar I knew that the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims would become very wide and that it was obligatory on all scholars, like me, to try to bridge that gap. I, therefore, launched into an unending cycle of lectures, media appearances, interfaith dialogues, and meetings at the White House, Pentagon, the State Department, the think tanks, and also churches, synagogues, and temples. In order for better understanding of relations between US and the Muslim world, I worked on an ambitious series of projects, the fourth part of which I will embark on this summer. Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization was the first, followed by Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam (2010), The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam (2013), and the forthcoming Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Empire. I was also supported by a dedicated and passionate team of young American students/scholars who accompanied me and helped me create a genuine Dialogue of Civilizations. We thus presented an alternative to the widespread idea of the Clash of Civilizations.
Q: The contemporary Muslim World comprised of countries that either remained colonies of Europe, under occupation and influence of Russia, and few other major powers in the past. How do you see Muslim societies in different countries adjusting to prevailing norms of democracy, free market economy, media freedom, human rights and gender equality? How these societies can avoid internal conflicts that come in the way of any great transformation?
Answer: In my book Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization I delineated three models of Muslim response to Western colonization which developed in the 19th century and persist until this day: the modernists, literalists, and mystics. The modernists sought to adapt Islam to Western modernity and include among them prominent figures such as Muhammad Abduh, the Egyptian religious scholar who, in the late 19th century, attempted a programme of reform to adjust to the times, as did, in a different way, the secularist Mustafa Kemal Ataturk of Turkey. In South Asia, prominent examples include Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who believed Muslims should learn Western science and founded Aligarh University on the model of Cambridge, Allama Iqbal who was influenced by western thinkers like Goethe and Nietzsche, and the Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was trained in the British legal tradition and greatly respected Western figures like Abraham Lincoln. These three figures were instrumental in achieving the State of Pakistan within the modernist tradition.
The literalists, the second category, also arose in the 19th century, but instead of attempting to balance Islam and the West, they sought to draw boundaries around Islam. They saw Islam as under attack from the West and attempted to preserve its purity by going back to the holy texts and attempting to interpret them literally. This included attempts to exactly emulate the behaviour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam, for instance by dying their beards. The literalists drew their inspiration from thinkers like the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyya of Damascus, who wrote as the Muslim world reeled from the Mongol invasions and believed that Muslims in every generation must revert to the holy texts rather than applying mindlessly the teachings of current scholars. In South Asia, prominent examples of literalist thinking include Maulana Maududi, founder of the Jamaat-i-Islami, and the influential Islamic seminary at Deoband, which is today linked to various movements across the region.
The third category is the Sufi mystics who see the love of God as the reality underlying all things. Intellectually and spiritually they transcend distinctions of religion and nationality. Their message of sulh-i-kul, or peace with all, resonates with people across the social and economic spectrum in Muslim societies and indeed even in non-Muslim ones. Mystics, who trace their spiritual lineage to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam, often attempt to reach God through chanting and music and are inspired by the great mystic poet Rumi, who said “I go to a synagogue, church and a mosque, and I see the same spirit and the same altar.” The universal message of the Sufis is demonstrated by the fact that Rumi is widely cited as the most popular poet in the United States today. There is a great variety of Sufi movements across the Muslim world, including the Chishti Order of South Asia and the Naqshbandi which originated in Central Asia.
In Journey into Islam, I argued that the perception in the Muslim world that Islam is under attack from the West after 9/11 has meant that the mystics and modernists who wish to engage with the West are pushed aside in favour of literalists. Like the Deobandis in the 19th century, many literalists teach that the purity of Islam must be preserved by adhering strictly to Islamic law and tradition and keeping out foreign influences. The turmoil of the Muslim world today is in part the clash of these positions. Only by speaking and interacting with one another as fellow Muslims and seeing the humanity in each other can this turmoil be resolved. I believe that we must find a balance between Islam and modernity as the great modernist figures mentioned above, all of whom were guided by the example of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam, argued.
Q: How do you see growth of the post-colonial state in the Muslim World? What went wrong that still most of the states have not been able to establish powerful institutions, construct internal cohesion and achieve economic progress?
Answer: In my latest book The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam, I argued that the post-colonial modern state has failed to accommodate its own people. At independence spirits were high across the Muslim world with charismatic founding-fathers such as the Quaid, Sukarno in Indonesia, and King Muhammad-V in Morocco appealing to people in every corner of their respective nations to cast off the colonizer and shape their destiny as united independent people. The problem came shortly after, however, when the unity dissipated and clashes broke out between the dominant ethnic or religious groups at the “centre” of the country and minorities living in the “periphery.” Development was disproportionally concentrated in the centre and sorely lacking in the periphery. People in the centre viewed the periphery as uncivilized and did not grant them their rights as full citizens of the state. In Pakistan this can be seen, for example, in the attitude of the elite who come mainly from the big cities such as Islamabad and Lahore and their attitudes towards the people of the Tribal Areas and Balochistan, and the perceptions of those people towards them. It is my thesis that this clash between centre and periphery has driven conflict since independence, and, after 9/11, terrorism in postcolonial Muslim states from Nigeria to Indonesia. The Thistle and the Drone contains 40 such case studies. In short, for all the talk about national identity and unity, we have seen time and again the modern state failing to provide prosperity, peace, education, security, and democratic representation to all of its citizens. In order to improve the situation and build unity, centre and periphery must be brought closer together. This can only be done by granting the periphery and the ethnic and religious minorities the full rights and privileges of being citizens of the state.
Q: Clash of Civilizations is a West-coined cliché that intrigued the mind of many particularly in the Muslim World. How do you explain the US and NATO presence in Afghanistan, intervention in Iraq and Libya, continuous support to Israel, and, also US support to Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo?
Answer: After 9/11 many commentators in the West argued that a Clash of Civilizations between the West and Muslim world was occurring. This, they claimed, was a war that had broken out at the founding of Islam and 9/11 was only the latest episode in it. These commentators were building on the work of scholars like Bernard Lewis, who coined the phrase Clash of Civilizations, and Samuel Huntington, who popularized it. (I have been in the extraordinary position of conducting one-to-one debates with both). The problem with this theory was that there are many examples in history of Muslims, Christians, and Jews living, working, and producing great works of art and literature together for example, Muslim Spain that do not fit into this mould. And, as the question indicated, there are many examples of the US intervening in support of Muslims before 9/11, such as in Afghanistan in the 1980s during the Soviet invasion and in the Balkans in the 1990s when Muslims faced ethnic cleansing. After 9/11 the US, driven by many policymakers who believed in the idea of the Clash of Civilizations and who possessed an inadequate understanding of the people who had attacked the US as well as Muslim culture and history, went charging into Muslim societies intending to defeat the “terrorists”. In doing so, it linked up with central governments eager to defeat the people on the peripheries they viewed as troublesome. Many nations picked up this global anti-terrorism paradigm driven by the Clash of Civilizations theory. The Muslim world had its own adherents of the Clash of Civilizations, such as Osama bin Laden, which helped propel global conflicts. So while I do not believe that there is a Clash of Civilizations in history between the West and Islam, it is certainly a simplistic albeit powerful and influential idea that needs to be challenged. I have dedicated my life and work after 9/11 to promote an opposite idea, a Dialogue of Civilizations, first proposed by President Mohammad Khatami of Iran, calling for understanding, education, and cooperation across religious, ethnic, and cultural boundaries.
Q: The Muslim World has often been blamed for reverting to the Fundamentalism and Conservatism. However, we also see racism in the West and rise of violent nationalism in Hindu civilization. What is the magnitude of these movements in various societies?
Answer: My friend Karen Armstrong has explained the phenomenon of internal conflict in every major religion in the world between its “fundamentalists” and “moderates” in The Battle for God (2000). While she focused on the Abrahamic faiths Judaism, Christianity, and Islam we can easily apply the same frame to non-Abrahamic faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Today we can see movements that promote the preservation of the “purity” of religious groups and violence against minorities in non-Abrahamic societies in South Asia and Far East Asia. The most important point is to understand that these are global movements affecting all faiths and therefore the moral and spiritual leaders in every faith should work actively towards creating bridges of understanding to promote harmony and peace. The magnitude of these movements in vast swathes of the world is enormous and has implications for the coming time. The violence that has resulted from groups that attempt to enforce purity by targeting others has led to immense suffering. Millions are displaced as a result of the upheavals of global conflict. I dread to think of the millions of young children growing up in refugee camps today after having lost close members of their family. They have little hope of the future and so much despair and anger in their hearts. The world must understand that there will be a cost to bear for the misery that is being caused across the globe to millions and millions of people in this disruption.
Q: Despite a glorious past, the Muslim Civilization has not been able to contribute much in the present rise of a world that is characterized by scientific inventions, technological advancements, and intellectual freedom. What are the main reasons for this decay? How Muslim societies should respond to this decay and construct a better future characterized by knowledge, economic progress, political freedom, peace and social justice?
Answer: A constant theme in my work has been the decline of ilm or knowledge in the Muslim world. This is tragic and unacceptable as ilm is the second most used word in the Qur’aan and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam instructed Muslims to seek knowledge as a religious compulsion. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) stated “The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” A thousand years ago, the library of the court of Cordoba in Islamic Spain held around 400,000 books, while Christian Europe's largest library at that time only held around 600 books. Today the situation is very different. In 2005, for example, scientists across the Arab world produced nearly 13,500 scientific publications, while Harvard University in 2005 alone produced nearly 15,500 scientific publications. With the decline of Muslim civilization following its golden age came a loss of the knowledge ethos and it has cost Muslim society dearly. I mentioned earlier that the post-colonial modern state has failed to accommodate its citizens. A further failure can be seen in its attitude toward learning and knowledge. Leaders like Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Hafez and Bashar al Assad in Syria, Mu’ammar Gaddafi in Libya, and Suharto in Indonesia were more concerned with military glory and eradicating “enemies of the state” than promoting knowledge and education. This has led to the decline of Muslim civilization and a plethora of problems in Muslim countries. In order for the situation to be remedied, there must be a renewed focus on education and knowledge in Muslim countries in addition to what I said earlier about fully accommodating all the state's citizens irrespective of ethnic or religious background.
Q: You have carried out extensive research on the life of Quaid-i-Azam. What in your view was Quaid's vision of Pakistan as a state and society?
Answer: Yes, understanding the importance of the Quaid, both for Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis, I spent a decade of my life conceiving and completing the Jinnah Quartet: Jinnah, starring Christopher Lee; a documentary based on rare archival footage and on interviews given by those who had seen or interacted with the Quaid and were therefore contemporaries; an academic book on the Quaid's life from a sociological perspective; and a comic book, probably one of the first in Pakistan. These different projects were aimed at reaching different parts of society.
I must put on record the tremendous support and affection I received from so many people, both Pakistanis and non-Pakistanis. The readers of this magazine will be interested to know the great support of former Chief of Army Staff General Jehangir Karamat, and many others in uniform. On the other hand, I was maligned and attacked by some, which always puzzled our supporters. Christopher Lee and others would constantly be puzzled as to why Pakistanis were attacking those people who had set out to pay tribute to the man they so respected – the Quaid.
The Quaid envisioned a State which would be a homeland for South Asia's Muslims while also protecting the rights under the law of ethnic and religious minorities as well as those of women. The Quaid cited as his inspiration for these values the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam. In order to understand the Quaid's vision for the nation, Pakistanis should study Jinnah's first speech to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in August 1947. In his speech, the Quaid emphasized the equality of all in Pakistan, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu alike: “If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.”
On religious freedom, the Quaid told the citizens of the new state: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan…You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State . . . We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens, and equal citizens, of one State.” The Quaid was confident about the future if Pakistanis could follow these ideals. He made a pledge: “My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations in the world.” The Quaid in his speeches often quoted a Dutch proverb which encapsulated the values he wanted Pakistanis to have: “Money is lost, nothing is lost; Courage is lost, much is lost; Honour is lost, most is lost; Soul is lost, all is lost.”
Today's Pakistan is far from the vision of the Quaid. In the trying current environment, where there is so much conflict between different religious, sectarian, and ethnic groups in Pakistan, all Pakistanis need to remember the Quaid's vision for Pakistan and work to make it a reality.
Q: How to avoid spread of sectarian divide that is quite visible on domestic political landscape of many Muslim countries?
Answer: When I was growing up in Abbottabad and studying at school the students were almost one hundred per cent Muslim, I had no idea who was Shia and who was Sunni. Yet today I am heartbroken to read about and see on our television sets the violence between the two. I think it is one of the most tragic, and, frankly speaking, it makes no sense. I am quite disgusted to see the deliberate targeting of medical doctors and prominent members of each other's communities in order to destroy the community. Do these people not understand that in doing so they destroy the larger society in which they live? Anyone with any doubts about Shia and Sunnis should recall the Quaid's famous answer when asked whether he was a Shia or a Sunni: He replied, I adhere to the same faith as the Prophet of Islam, and if you can answer whether he was Shia or Sunni I belong to that faith.
Q: The incident of 9/11 brought War on Terrorism to Pakistan's neighbour as well as home front. How would you comment on US/NATO's invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, conduct of the war for last thirteen years, and now pull out by the end of 2014?
Answer: The American invasion of Afghanistan was provoked more by anger and emotion than cold logic. There was little thinking or planning about the strategy and objectives. The Americans, therefore, fell into the same trap that many foreign invaders have throughout Afghan history including the British and the Soviets. That is why you see the paradox of the most advanced and well-equipped army in human history failing to vanquish an impoverished tribal society which had been suffering from a civil war situation over the previous decades. Not only was Afghanistan thrown into war but the effects spilled into Pakistan and as a result an estimated 55-60,000 Pakistanis were killed unnecessarily after 9/11. A state of raging civil war was created, and law and order collapsed in many districts, especially those on the border. We, therefore, see a relatively stable nation like Pakistan which was destabilized and a struggling nation like Afghanistan thrown into uncertainty as a result of the invasion. The Americans too are asking questions as to whether it was all worth it. They sunk billions of dollars into the war, lost thousands of lives, and emerged with fewer friends in Afghanistan or Pakistan than when they went in. The ledger of history is clear: the losses have been too great and the gains too few. Afghanistan has been the longest war America has ever fought and has been so, for some time now. Future historians may see this as a turning point in world history. Indeed, we are already seeing developments on the world stage as a direct consequence of America's weakened position, for example President Putin's astonishing “capture” of the Crimea under the noses of the US and the EU. Putin has got away with it because America is in no mood for any more wars. That is why everyone, Americans, Pakistanis, and Afghans, feel that America's wars after 9/11 have cost it so much and given so little. Many questions are going to be raised after the American pullout and a new chapter, perhaps one of even more uncertainty, will open in the region.
Q: How Pakistan should tackle the issues of terrorism and religious extremism on long-term basis?
Answer: Pakistan's problem with terrorism dates back to its post-9/11 security policies, which were enacted at the urging of the United States. Following the American invasion of Afghanistan, President Pervez Musharraf, under pressure from the Americans to capture suspects fleeing across the international border, sent forces to Waziristan, placing troops in the area for the first time since the Quaid withdrew all troops from the Tribal Areas at independence. The Waziristan region particularly South Waziristan has the toughest tribes in Pakistan which have historically been the most resistant to central authority and tenaciously wished to preserve their independence and way of life. I saw this first hand when I served as the Political Agent in South Waziristan in the late 1970s. The Islam of these tribes, as I explained in The Thistle and the Drone, is influenced by their tribal traditions of honour, revenge, and hospitality.
The 2003 onwards military presence in a way ushered in an era of military administration over the tribes (that in a way) sidelined the civilian administrators who had administered the area dating back to independence and even to British colonial times. The conflict escalated exponentially following the Lal Masjid incident in Islamabad in July 2007 in which many soldiers and civilians, including female students got killed. Nearly 70 % of students in the Lal Masjid were from the Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the Tribal Areas erupted in violence which soon spilled over into the rest of the country. The character of the attacks in targeting the innocent reflected a cultural change stemming, as I argue in The Thistle and the Drone, from intense fury at the government and a total societal breakdown. All three pillars of authority which used to hold together tribal society – the tribal elders, religious leaders, and political administration – were attacked and side-lined in the chaos, creating a vacuum which was filled by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which was formed in December 2007. The TTP unleashed strikes all over the country and struck terror every where in Pakistan. In 2008 alone, there were 88 bombings in Pakistan which killed 1,188 people and injured 3,209. It was estimated that 80% of all suicide bombers came from South Waziristan.
To resolve the problem of terrorism, Pakistan must fully accommodate the people of the Tribal Areas and bring them into the state with equal rights. It must also re-establish the civilian writ of the state which has been lost in the current ill-conceived and contradictory policies of either fighting the tribes or turning over areas to be ruled by the Taliban who roam unchecked, commit acts of unspeakable violence, and implement laws outside the legal framework of the state of Pakistan. Pakistan must reconstitute a neutral, strong, just, and compassionate civil service, judicial structure, and police structure in all districts. It will be impossible to stabilize Pakistan without these crucial reforms. In the Tribal Areas, the army needs to be withdrawn and administration turned over to civilians. The army must rethink its role in the affairs of Pakistan. From my own experience I know how impressive the Pakistan Army is and the high caliber of its soldiers. Yet Pakistan's soldiers are not trained for civil administration. Instead, they must return to the barracks and the civil bureaucracy to function in FATA. Of course, the army must always be ready to assist civil administration when needed. In the tribal regions, the civilian administration should work with the local tribal leadership to ensure peace and stability. These steps would help ensure a rapprochement between centre and periphery in Pakistan which will lead to peace and harmony in the country, not only in the Tribal Areas but also in Balochistan.
Q: What should be your advice to the government and people of Pakistan for achieving a lasting peace, economic prosperity and constructing an enlightened and tolerant society?
Answer: As I have already pointed out, we need to keep the Quaid's vision of a modern Muslim state in mind in order to construct a peaceful and prosperous society. After all, he is the Father of the Nation and we seem to have wandered from his ideals. The Quaid correctly pointed to the evils of corruption, nepotism, sectarianism, and provincialism. He emphasized human rights, especially for women and minorities. He repeated the importance of maintaining and upholding the constitution and the rule of law. Today, I notice that Pakistanis have little hope of receiving justice from the state and even less hope in their fellow Pakistanis. The widespread violence also affects everyone and government must give law and order top priority. In this turbulent stage it is crucial for the leaders of Pakistan to provide shining examples, otherwise things will only get worse. Pakistan's strategy for the future must be holistic and long-term. It will require courage, compassion, and wisdom from the leaders of the nation. The challenge for Pakistani leadership is to either accept the Quaid's vision of Pakistan as “one of the greatest nations of the world,” or abandon it and allow Pakistan to fragment and fall. I pray and hope that Pakistani leaders will be up to the challenge and that your readers who form such an important part of this leadership will play their role in this critical time of history.
Colonel Omer is serving in Pakistan Army since 1986. He suffered from spinal injury due to an accident in 1994, when he was a Captain. It rendered him paraplegic (chest down paralysis) with a major disability. But despite being wheelchair ridden since that day, his life moves on whereby he drives his car, travels frequently, discharges his social and religious obligations. He volunteered to remain in uniform after the disability and still serves with pride to the best of his abilities. With the support of his family and Pak Army, he even aims higher and wants to do much for Pakistan. He got married after this accident, has three children and is leading a happy life.
Q. How do you recall your childhood days? Please tell us about your family and days of your early service in Army.
Answer: I was born on 6 December 1968 in Rawalpindi. I belong to Barki tribe of Pathans and we are settled in Lahore. My early education was subjected to my father's postings who is a retired army officer, Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Zaheer-ud-Din Khan from Remount Veterinary & Farms Corps (RVFC). I am second youngest in a family of four brothers and two sisters. Being son of an officer from RVFC, I remember being brought up among the thumps of horses. I began to crave for horses and became a good rider at a small age. Riding was and has remained my passion. I have been a national level Polo player.
My passion for army dates back to 1980 when I went to witness 23 March Parade in Jhelum Cantt. It was first time that I witnessed tanks in motion. The only difference, it made then was change in my taste and passion from riding a horse to riding a tank. In the similar pursuit, I applied for commission in Pak Army after Matric and was selected for Junior Cadets Battalion (JCB) in 1986. I later joined Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in 1988. Being a natural sportsman and a rider, routine in PMA suited me and I was very comfortable in tough life of the Academy. I was commissioned in April 1990 with 81 PMA Long Course and joined 26 Cavalry Regiment. I think Allah was very kind to me to grant me the armour regiment where I had all the time to work with tanks.
My second passion in those days was mountains. I was lucky to be assigned as a liaison officer with Japanese and Korean mountaineer expeditions in 1992. With them I went as high as Camp 4 which is 7400 metre high. I was later posted at Line of Control in Neelum Sector which gave me a chance to experience live action before returning to my unit, 26 Cavalry.
Q. You passed through a traumatic experience in your prime youth that resulted in a lifelong disability. Please tell about that fateful day and the events later.
Answer: It was 28 May 1994 and I was a Captain (I remember 28 May on two accounts: my accident and Pakistan going nuclear in 1998 on similar date). I was part of a military convoy when my vehicle met a serious road accident near Kala Shah Kaku. I was immediately evacuated to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Lahore. It was a shock for me to know that my spine had been broken. In addition, Discs T5, 6 and 7 had also been affected. I was
stabilized at the hospital but spinal surgery wasn't a common practice then due to lack of facilities and doctors. The medical authorities at CMH then placed me under supervision of Dr Omer Sawar Khan in Sheikh Zaid Hospital Lahore who was then the most experienced spine surgeon in Pakistan. My initial treatment was completed but rehabilitation of spinal injury was still not possible in Pakistan. Situation was getting worrisome for me and my family. I was disabled to an extent that in hospital, while my brother was sleeping at the next bed, I felt thirsty and wanted to take a glass of water at my own without bothering my brother. To my horror, I could not pick up the glass two inches away from my hands. It was then that I realised fully about my disability but also made it a point to strive my way back to normal life.
Q. After having confronted a serious crisis we today find you as a successful person in competition with all other citizens. From ICU bed to routine life and a successful professional life with routine promotions; what have been the highlights of your life all along?
Answer: Since there was no rehabilitation centre for spinal injury in Pakistan, I was advised by doctors to move to USA for advance treatment. I had full support of my family and my institution, Pak Army, who all backed me to travel abroad for the treatment. I remained admitted in Metro Health Centre Cleveland, Ohio for one year and underwent massive rehabilitation training. During that time, I learnt how to drive, swim, use the washroom; in short how to live the life without being hostage to any disability. Army also provided financial assistance for this treatment. After rehabilitation, I returned back to Pakistan and was ready to enter into a much challenging practical life.
Upon return, I was asked to undergo medical board to ascertain my disability and fitness level for service in army during 1995. The medical board initially declared me unfit to serve in Army due to major disability and recommended my discharge with full benefits as per policy. However, I requested the authorities to let me serve as I volunteered to remain in uniform. Army then decided to improve my qualifications in technical subjects and assigned me desk jobs due to wheel chair. I was detailed to undergo “Electronic Data Processing Course” at Military College of Signals (MCS) for 3 months. It was a challenge for me to concentrate on study due to my health and more so, computers were a rare phenomenon in Pakistan during 1990s. Studies, especially the computers, were least I could think of in my life before. But I worked extremely hard and I was able to earn the best possible grade. Those results gave me confidence to fight back with my disability in more befitting way. If I analyse it now, I am confident in stating that it was, and it indeed is, my Khaki uniform that drives me to face any challenge in life successfully.
It was a new life to me. A student again, but on a wheelchair. This new phase in life brought more challenges as during the course I faced a lot of problems; my father at the age of 72 years used to pick and drop me every day from Islamabad to Rawalpindi, a job he never did before since my childhood. Washroom and stairs were rather a bigger issue as maximum bathrooms had less wide doors, unfit for wheelchair, and almost each path leading to the class and other places had stairs. But when there is a will there is way, and here I am, in front of you. It was the same time that I decided to become self-sufficient in the routine matters in maximum possible things. I decided to import a car with hand-controls for disable people. After bit of effort and allocation of quota, I managed to get a special car in 1997. After my course I was posted to then Army Computer System (ACS) Directorate (later C4I Directorate). People were little sympathetic towards me due to disability and avoided to task me much. But I requested everyone to treat me at par with other officers as I wanted to learn and work hard; for my pride and to remain useful to the system and my country. I think my hard work has been well recognised by this great institution and I have been rewarded accordingly.
In February 1997, I was part of team that devised “Election Monitoring Software” which became quite a big success. It was followed by census in 1998 and, again my work was appreciated and I was awarded COAS Commendation Card for my work. Later, I was sent to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) upon its raising in PM Secretariat Islamabad in 1999, where I served till 2006. I was later posted to Military Secretary (MS) Branch in 2007 where I continue to serve till date. I was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2007 and to the rank of Colonel in 2012.
Q. What has been the source of inspiration for you during your life?
Answer: My inspiration is a sum of people including my father, my brothers and my course-mates who never let me despair and always supported me without thinking me as a disabled man. But the ultimate inspiration in my life has been my wife. A lady who chose me as her life partner despite knowing about my disability. She was doing her House Job as a Medical Officer when she decided to marry me against social pressures for tying knot with a person who had 80% disability. She was my cousin, an educated and a pretty lady who belonged to a well-to-do family. She could have the best of man for her marriage and a life partner, but I still owe her respect for choosing me and staying with me as a wonderful companion.
Q. Tell us about your family and how do you spend time with them?
Answer: Alhamdulillah I am very thankful to Allah Almighty that He bestowed upon me his greatest blessings. I was blessed with twin daughters (Hafsa and Haleema) in year 2002 and a son in 2004 whom I named Ibrahim. I performed Umra last year with my family and I also say my prayers in gratitude for His countless blessings. Today I am so happy with my family; I play Cricket, Badminton with them, do shopping and travel all around the country and the world. I love talking to my father and mother as it gives me internal peace and spiritual solace.
Q. How does rehabilitation system of Pak Army works to cater for the soldiers with disabilities?
Answer: Army never leave its sons unattended, especially during problem or hardship. Due to ongoing War on Terrorism, the cases of limb injuries and disabilities have increased in the Army. However, from the first aid to the complete rehabilitation, all affected people are being looked-after. Establishment of Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFIRM) in Rawalpindi by the Army is a very commendable step. The under treatment soldiers are not only taken care of clinically, but psychological aspect of their personality is also been catered for. These soldiers are being taught different skills and are also participating in competitive sports activities.
Q. We see that your wheelchair does not have the handles? Any specific reason? And what advice do you render to the people with disabilities?
Answer: The answer to all these questions is very simple. I think the best way to cope up with such phenomenon is to accept the reality, as it is, and as soon as possible. You have to decide in clear terms that life has to go on and you have to move on with it. The self respect never allowed me to be excusive. I removed handles from my wheelchair as I never wanted somebody to be pushing me when my hands are with me.
Q. What is your message to the youth of Pakistan through the platform of Hilal?
Answer: Hilal is a very old magazine and I am sure that people seek inspiration through it. Through this forum, message to the youth and those who suffer any set back in life whether physical or mental, is to accept the reality as it is and to move on from there. I think it is a shame for any human being to beg for anything. Immediately after my accident, I remember not having the strength to pick up a glass of water placed few inches away from me. But I was confident of returning to the normal life and Allah helped me in doing so. My family supported me so did my institution. If you are willing to become a useful citizen, the environment around you would help you but if you surrender and hide from people, you will be a sorry figure everywhere. At the end, I would say: No struggle is short of triumph; and, if not, a valiant effort is worth the Man.
Q. Most of our cricketers claim to have started playing the game in the streets and later rose to the national / international level. Being a female how did you manage to learn cricket and rise to become captain of Pakistan Team?
Answer: My story is same as any other cricketer in Pakistan as I started playing this game on streets. I was fortunate enough that my father, Colonel (Retired) Mir Moatazid, was serving in Pakistan Army. So during my childhood, we moved from one cantonment to other and it was easy for me as a female to go out in the street and play in the environments of the garrison. I will specially mention Taxila Cantt and Gujranwala Cantt in this regard where I used to call children from my neighbourhood to play cricket in the street, and in certain cases, we would play the whole day. Since there were no formal cricket for females at school, college or university level and there was hardly any female cricket club during 1990s, so I instead learnt this game in galies / mohallas (streets) and reached where I am today.
Q. How conducive are the environments in Pakistan for female sportsperson?
Answer: I shall comment little differently by saying that the prevailing environments for female sportsperson are far better than the past. People are encouraging females to come forward and take part in sports. But on the other hand sports is still a new field for females in Pakistan. Questions are still asked that why are you playing and what is in it for you or for any female to take it as a profession. Few people even doubted the ability of Pakistani females to play cricket or any other game at international level. But now things have improved and so have perceptions. Females are now quite confident to play different games and to choose it as a profession.
Q. Who are your favourite cricketers?
Answer: Since I was initially a fast bowler and later changed into a spinner, so Waqar Younis has been my all time favourite. As a captain, Imran Khan, Mahela Jayawardene and MS Dhoni have inspired me.
Q. Where have you been brought up and where did you carry out your studies?
Answer: My early education was in Rawalpindi. Then we moved to Gujranwala and after passing my 6th grade we moved to Taxila where I did my Matric. From Taxila we moved to Karachi where I completed my Inter and Bachelors degrees before settling in Lahore where we reside now. So we have been travelling all around Pakistan due to postings of my father. My studies and sports have been going side by side and I tried to manage both things simultaneously. I always wanted to join the army and serve my country as my father did. I have always respected the brave and gallant armed forces of Pakistan. More so, I was granted admission in National University of Science and Technology (NUST) as an engineering student. However, it was difficult for me to chose between cricket n engineering. But my father help me in this regard by saying, "we have many women engineers in Pakistan but not many women cricketers, you should go and make your dream come true." His advise turn my life and I became a cricketer.
Q. What takes it to become a female cricket captain of Pakistan team?
Answer: The foremost important thing to become a good cricketer and captain of Pak Cricket team is to develop the passion and love for the game. It is likely to take few more years for women cricket in Pakistan to take proper roots and to be taken up conveniently as a profession. There will be obstacles but one has to be passionate to be able to play the game. Team preferences over personal ones is another important thing that each player must carry to give best to the team. And last is the hard work which is obviously key to success to every game.
Q. Which form of game do you like and why?
Answer: At the moment females are playing only T20s and ODIs. But I feel that Two Day format of the game should be introduced for the female cricketers. It will help to groom future players and in improving their skills. T20 is apparently the future format of the game but needs a player to be very skillful to give her best. So to polish the game, more and more ODIs and Two Day games should be played at domestic level.
Q. What all measure should be taken to encourage more and more females to join cricket or any sports?
Answer: In our culture and society, any decision taken by female has to be routed through her family. So for any girl to come out in ground, street or to join any cricket club, support of family is must. Without acceptability of female sports in our society as a normal thing, women will always feel hesitant to come in the ground and play. Easiest and simplest can be provision of big grounds to girls at school levels so that they get exposed to the sports at early age and their shyness of playground is also removed. Moreover, for a balanced personality, extracurricular activities play very vital role.
In Pakistan, almost all girls in the sports field that I know, have been supported by their families to reach at the top level.
Q. What role did your family and society play in your particular case?
Answer: I give all credit to my family, especially my father, without his support I might not have been able to do, what I did. My father always encouraged me to play outdoor sports and never discriminated between a boy and a girl in the house. I will also mention about my mother who always helped me in difficult times and facilitated me in every possible way. My brother was my first coach who used to take me to the ground and would skillfully help me in learning the game. Even my sister and my brother-in-law have encouraged me at each and every step. I can confidently claim that my complete family is at my back. And result is in front of you, I am captain of Pakistan Cricket team.
Q. Where do you grade yourself as a player?
Answer: I think I am someone who believes in improving each day. I was initially a fast bowler but after playing regular professional cricket with hard ball, I developed stress fracture due to bowling action. It forced me to turn into a spinner and I am happy with my fitness now. When it comes to the achievements, I have been selected to represent World Eleven at Lords on 19 May this year. Moreover I have consistently been part of ICC top 20 players for the last six years or so. But I still aim to do much and want to be part of a team that wins maximum bilateral series and tournaments for Pakistan and take it to top four ranking teams in the next two years through my captaincy and performance.
Q. What advice will you render to females to maintain their fitness?
Answer: I have seen females trying to reduce weight through reduction in diet which is very dangerous. Similarly females avoid drinking milk because of their skin and weight issues. These trends are not encouraging. A balanced diet with moderate exercise is ideal for a healthy life. Best way is to exert more than you eat.
Q. When are you planning to get married and will you continue playing cricket afterward?
Answer: I am concentrating on my game at the moment. However, if anything of the sort comes up then I will try to find a way to balance both things. But I don't believe in very long planning and my marriage isn't planned as yet. Let's see what happens.
Q. What is your message for readers of Hilal?
Answer: Our country needs people who are willing to take responsibility. We all must take responsibility and do whatever is in our little capacity for the betterment of country. We all must work hard to make Pakistan a developed country.
“The nuclear assets of Pakistan are fully secured and placed under one of the best Command & Control systems in the world.”
Dr Maria Sultan is the Chairperson and the Director General of the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) University. She was the founding co-director of the SASSI Unit at the Bradford Disarmament Research Centre (BDRC), University of Bradford. Dr Sultan is a specialist in South Asian nuclear arms control and disarmament issues, weapon systems development and strategic stability. She has been published widely in academic journals, news dailies and books. Earlier, Dr Sultan worked as the Assistant Editor in an English daily ‘The Muslim’. She is also a visiting faculty member at various universities.
Asif Jehangir Raja
Q. Pakistan, despite pressures, has not favoured international talks on Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) since the Conference on Disarmament (CD) held in May 2009 due to the concerns about India's recently enhanced ability to expand its nuclear arsenal. What is background of this issue and what can be the implications for Pakistan?
Answer: The nuclear programme of any country is to be seen in the security context in which it was initiated. In case of Pakistan, there are no two opinions; Pakistan built its nuclear capability for deterrence purposes. Pakistan did not want its conventionally superior adversary at Eastern border to wage an un-announced war. Few say that power difference between Pak-India forces is 7:1, which is way too much. Nonetheless, we have always been able to counter that threat on conventional plane.
The nuclear explosion by India in 1974 changed security dynamics of the region. The threat perception for Pakistan had changed so accordingly it also started building up its nuclear credentials and deterrence capability. It was in 1998, after Indian testing of nuclear weapons, Pakistan also carried out its tests. But even before the nuclear tests, in 1996, the world had initiated a new mandate through Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This was the time when terminology of T3 states (The Threshold States) for Pakistan, India and Israel was surfaced which was later abolished after nuclear tests in 1998.
During 1995's Conference on Disarmament (CD), 'Shannon Mandate' asked member countries to impose ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. In 1999, USA and India had signed strategic partnership which focused on four steps in ten years time: a) US and India will cooperative in development of Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Systems; b) there will be high tech trade and military collaboration between both countries; c) US and India will sign civil nuclear deal in future; and, d) exchanges of advance technologies between both countries. But because of 1998 nuclear tests and 'Next Steps in Strategic Partnership' (NSSP) signed between US and India, we saw FMCT debate getting off line in Pakistan-India context despite the fact that Shannon Mandate was accepted by all parties.
The decade from 1999-2009 saw development of Indo-US Nuclear Deal and culmination of four things:-
•On the space technology, USA and India had collaboration on ABM Systems which simply meant that India was being given offensive missile capability for defensive purposes. So the ban under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), both for Pakistan and India, was suddenly lifted because of NSSP.
•The Joint Ventures (JV) between USA and India in terms of using Indian nuclear manpower and nuclear market for future. We saw US-Indian nuclear deal which, by nature is bilateral, but in reality is multilateral. Because for the first time, India was given access to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes from all members of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) without accepting international bindings and official legal agreements required for such deals.
•As a special case, India was permitted to acquire strategic fuel reserve required for construction of nuclear plants. According to the estimates, around 1.5 tons of strategic fuel would be given to India for construction of these plants which is also enough to manufacture 400 nuclear weapons per year.
•As per nuclear deal, the fuel cycle for civil and military use was to be separated that India hasn't done so far. Moreover, the source for the military and civil nuclear fuel is same and India has placed eight of its nuclear reactors under safeguard out of 14, which means the other reactors can be used for manufacture of weapons.
Out of this nuclear deal, India was granted all benefits; it had a strategic nuclear fuel reserve, eight un-guarded nuclear facilities, and access to global nuclear technology. So Pakistan had to re-calibrate its threat matrix. The nuclear concessions offered to India meant that the only country which FMCT could target, was Pakistan. So in 2009, Pakistan took a very clear stance with four points in focus: a) ABM system developments that India was doing; b) US-India nuclear deal and resultant nuclear weapon development in India; c) Indian declaration that in case of any terrorist attack inside their territory, she may carry out retaliatory attacks on Pakistan within 96 hours; and, d) Trade of high technologies between India and Israel, India and other countries which could potentially be used against Pakistan. And the speed with which advance military gadgets are being handed to India.
So the whole pressure on Pakistan to be part of FMCT talks was meaningless. Both Pakistan and India have maintained that they had have unilateral moratorium but what is the use of that if India is being supplied with all nuclear facilities that can help in expansion of its nuclear arsenal. Pakistan's nuclear programme is based on minimum credible deterrence which is a dynamic concept and one has to remain abreast with the developments at regional level. Deterrence is based on three fundamental concepts: ability to penetrate enemy defences, ability to survive an enemy attack, and survivability of Command & Control strategy. Pakistan thought that all these elements were being questioned so it didn't support FMCT talks.
Q. Pak-China nuclear cooperation leaped forward with the announcement by China to build two nuclear reactors near Karachi. How do you view this peaceful deal in the backdrop of energy crises in Pakistan and the negative propaganda against this cooperation by few international quarters?
Answer: The propaganda campaign that we are now facing has been focused on construction of K-2 (Karachi Coastal Power Project-2) and K-3 (Karachi Coastal Power Project-3), which were inaugurated by the Prime Minister in November 2013.
There are a few reasons for this propaganda: a) these projects are advanced 1100 MW nuclear power plants whereas Chashma projects were 300 MW reactors; b) K2 & K3 have commercially more viable designs; and, c) these are 3rd generation nuclear power plants which means that inbuilt design features have been added to cater for threats from an air attack or even tsunami (the highest tsunami height expected in Karachi is about 2.8 m above sea level, while the K-2 and K-3 ground level is 12 m above the mean sea level).
In terms of nuclear technology, power and capacity enhancement, these are one of the advanced nuclear plants in the world. The world can't much criticize these projects as Pak-China nuclear cooperation is protected by 'grandfather clause,' a nuclear agreement done between Pakistan and China during 1990s. It states that China can build nuclear power projects inside Pakistan to meet its energy requirements and these facilities will be safeguarded.
So technically Pakistan entered in a market which was previously dominated by 12 countries, and very few countries possess nuclear power plant designs which are 1100 MW and above. It includes Areva from France, General Electric from USA, South Koreans, Russians, and Chinese. Energy experts expect 100 more nuclear plants to be built world over in the coming years to meet the energy requirements of 187 countries. So Pakistan might look for Middle East and African energy markets to explore in the coming years.
K2 & K3 projects are likely to be completed by the year 2019 and will be able to generate electricity at Rs. 5 per unit which is way too cheap than other generation methods except water. Coming to safety and security parameters of these projects; Pakistan is among few countries which have independent regulators, and has experience of handling nuclear material with safety for many decades. Pakistan knows how to operate nuclear reactors, has self sufficiency and excellence in handling and re-processing nuclear materials, and can do fabrication of nuclear fuel. These projects are located 40 km away from city and are cleared from all angles of safety. Even if there is some nuclear accident, normal security protocols are taken within 20 km range whereas these are far away.
Moreover, Pakistan's civil nuclear facilities are under safeguards of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) whose Director General also visited Pakistan recently.
Q. Briefly explain us about significance of the US-India nuclear deal that was signed eight years ago. What has it achieved so far and what are implications for Pakistan?
Answer: This nuclear deal has accorded India a de jure status, recognizing that India has nuclear fuel cycle which is dedicated for weapons' development. It has also given India access to global nuclear technology market as a recipient state. USA is now building a case for India to be given access to global nuclear energy market as a supplier state. US also wants India to become member of Nuclear Export Control Regimes; the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement. It can be critical for Pakistan if materialized, because India, as a member, can block Pakistan's access to dual use of nuclear technology under the consensus rule. Also as a result of this deal, India has been granted access to huge amount of nuclear materials without any concrete international pre-bindings and official agreements and hence can be misused by them. As we saw in case of ABM systems collaboration, India launched its first mission to space which had earlier been stopped few decades ago because India could not get cryogenic engines from Russia due to the NSG guidelines and technology denial regimes. But as a result of ABM collaboration, India could do it in less than four years.
This deal will also lead to more joint collaboration between India and US on strategic and military front. The modernization of Indian Military as a result of any such cooperation will have serious implications on strategic balance of this region and will encourage India to pursue more offensive doctrines like Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) etc. The speed with which India is being supported by international community to emerge as a regional power after this nuclear deal is a point of concern. India's aggressive posture towards neighbours and her tendency to interfere in other country's internal affairs has seen on rise in last few years. Pakistan has, number of times, expressed concerns over India's involvement in terrorist activities in Balochistan, FATA, and her efforts to destabilize situation along Pak-Afghan border. Probably India is quite confident that whatever activities she resorts to in the neighbouring countries, she will not be questioned by international community.
This is happening at the moment. India is being given role by the international community, far bigger than the responsibility, that it is willing to share.
Q. Pakistan has, over the years, laid a comprehensive Command & Control System for its nuclear assets. How do you view safety of Pakistan's strategic assets?
Answer: When we talk of nuclear safety and security, we have to see it in two different dimensions. There are different parameters when you talk of nuclear safety and security for civilian purposes and these are different when we watch it for military purposes. The problem arises when we use civilian safety parameters for military purposes. For a non-nuclear weapon state, security and safety credentials essentially means one thing: nuclear materials are not diverted for military purpose, nuclear materials do not get into the hands of terrorists and non-state actors, nuclear materials are safe and secure, and the nuclear storage sites and equipment are secured. Talking of military aspect of safety of nuclear weapons for a nuclear state, it has multiple dimensions: a) nuclear material has already been designed into a nuclear weapon so it is never used when you don't want it; b) nuclear weapon is always there when you want it; c) nuclear weapon should be able to penetrate enemy defences; d) nuclear weapons should survive enemy attack; and, e) nuclear weapons are properly battle integrated in the battle plans and follow a delegated Command & Control Mechanism. The concept that nuclear weapons or missiles can be stolen and misused is out of place. Nuclear safety is altogether a different concept and focuses on different dimensions.
The nuclear assets of Pakistan are fully secured and placed under one of the best Command & Control systems in the world. Starting from National Command Authority to the level of storage and safety of the sites, a comprehensive system with multiple tears of command has been put in place. A separate security force has also been raised which is fully trained and equipped to secure strategic assets of Pakistan.
Q. How do you view the potency of threat from India after introduction of Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) in their strategy?
Answer: I would say it is an over ambitious, dangerous and a destabilizing doctrine that has changed the threat matrix between Pakistan and India. This concept basis itself on assumption that Pakistan will either not react or will respond at a limited scale against any adventure by India. It is also based on assumption that India will be able to contain international response and will be able to monitor battlefield close enough to launch reserves as and when they desire at a short notice. However fact remains that battle plans start changing instantly after firing of first bullet and no plan can remain intact during heat of the battle.
Indian chain of command in case of nuclear strike is surprisingly unique. The Indian National Security Advisor, who also heads intelligence agencies, will advise Indian Prime Minister to carry out nuclear strike, who will then take this matter to Indian Cabinet for approval. The point of concern in this case is the channel of feedback for Indian National Security Advisor, who presumably, shall base his recommendation on intelligence input alone to suggest nuclear strike. Technically, we are dealing with a country whose nuclear Command & Control system is intelligence-led. Nowhere in the world decision about nuclear strikes are taken on intelligence feedback alone. There is always a military input on the basis of which national decision-making is done.
The Indian Cold Start Doctrine has four issues: a) Indian political leadership will delegate the powers to Indian Military, which will delegate it to Pivot Corps and decision of war will further go down to Integrated Battle Groups, which will be placed close to the borders (so who will choose the timings of the battle?); b) the belief that they can control every aspect of the battle; c) they are not calculating and not taking into consideration any potent response from Pakistan; d) their belief that Pakistan is willing to fight a conventional war at the expense of Pakistan without using nuclear weapons at will.
Pakistan has already made it clear through the forum of National Command Authority (NCA) that it will respond to any battle situation as per requirements and will not compromise on security of Pakistan.
Q. With the Indian involvement in Afghanistan and growth of US alliance with India, where do you assess power game twisting in the region with the possible implications for Pakistan?
Answer: I believe that India has been given a role in Afghanistan far outreaching to perform as an internationally responsive actor in a globally chaotic region. I think India is one country that has not paid the price of Afghan war. Pakistan, NATO countries, USA and other countries paid the share of Afghan war in blood, in kind, and in resolve. India on the other hand has neither financially paid for the war nor understands the dynamics of instability in Afghanistan. India is also unaware of the cultural and tribal background in which Afghan conflict has developed. They feel that at this moment, they are in a opportunistic and safely placed position. They just have to give financial support to some projects and, to date, have pledged to give US$ 760 million for the projects. However, they have delivered 40% of this pledged amount on ground. Pakistan has also given US$ 360 million so far for different projects in Afghanistan.
Indians also want to train Afghan National Army (ANA). But ANA is facing many problems that include proper training, well established chain of command, logistic issues, ethnic divisions and lack of faith in future role. According to US reports, around 46000 soldiers of ANA desert each year. So if India wants to come and train them in these circumstances, can they stay for long in Afghanistan? What role will they be playing? Moreover, in case of any problems in the post-2014 Afghanistan and presence of Indian Army at that particular time frame, busy in training the ANA; probably the time for Indians to pay for the cost of Afghan conflict will begin then.
Q. What is your assessment of the situation in the region after withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan? How do you see the future map of the region and how can Pakistan safeguard its interest?
Answer: This will be critical. To me, NATO forces are both sign of strength and weakness; both the sign of stability and instability for Afghanistan. Once they leave Afghanistan, the world will be again witnessing the essential nature of Afghan state and society. Afghan society and state by nature are tribal; meaning that no war in Afghanistan can go beyond tribal lines. That means the world in general and the region in particular will have to face multiple wars in Afghanistan.
To achieve peace in Afghanistan for longer duration, the ANA and other security forces will be of crucial importance. For sustainability of these forces, foreign aid will be required. And in the absence of foreign aid coming, things may turn difficult and ugly for everyone in the neighbourhood. There is an apparent dichotomy in handling the situation in post-2014 Afghanistan. For example, counter terrorism (CT) operations will be led by US forces (could be CIA!), whereas, counter insurgency (CI) operations will be carried out by the ANA (under NATO, and may be, Indian Army influence!!). So there will be two parallel missions led by two centres of power. More so, how will Afghan state maintain its basic structure? Who will be funding that? The ratio of the aid suggests that US$ 68.2 billion were kept aside for Afghanistan in last 13 years. Out of this amount, only US$ 24.2 billion has actually been received by Afghans. So there is corruption and many other issues, people are dealing with in Afghanistan.
Then is also an element of unpredictability and (probable) unacceptability of Afghan election results. So if there are peace negotiations in Afghanistan, people will want some stake in that. They will want to be considered as part of the power matrix. So in that case, Afghan results will have to be expanded. People will have to be brought into power in order to share the power. Once you do that then the fragility of Afghan state structure will be at forefront. This means that in case of chaos at national level, stability will have to be achieved within internal border lines of each tribe. This also means that each tribal leader or warlord would like to secure his area. And once doing so, we are looking at multiple intra-wars within tribes and among tribes.
Pakistan has the realization of the situation and wishes for internal stability of Afghanistan. However, in case of internal wars, Pakistan will be looking at this situation with few concerns in mind. There should be broad based de-escalation of situation in Afghanistan. That is only possible if the basic contours of ethnic divide are understood in power corridors. If Pashtuns are a dominating factor, they should be represented in the same ratio. Since Afghanistan is more like a tribal oriented state and society, tribal confederation has to dominate more than the ethnic confederation. Another important point of concern for Pakistan will be the drug control. Estimates suggest that US$ 83bn of drugs are passed over to different countries from Afghanistan per year. Similarly, Pakistan will not afford influx of more Afghan refugees. Pakistan shall desire that old refugees should return to Afghanistan and should participate in their nation building. Another important issue for Pakistan is the border management. There are approximately 300 crossing points at Pak-Afghan border. Pakistan wants a fundamental and affirmative action against those who cross these points illegally. We do not want Afghan soil to be used against Pakistan for any terrorist or other negative activity. For that we will take no exceptions. Whether it is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or TTP or safe havens in Nuristan or Kunar, Afghan Government will have to take stern action.
Q. Briefly explain us the external and internal security challenges Pakistan is facing today? How should Pakistan go about in handling these challenges?
Answer: Pakistan has now evolved to deal with the non-kinetic warfare as the most central threat for us. We are facing both conventional and internal threat and threat has expanded over time for Pakistan. We are evolving to use various national policy and power tools. It also means that use of proper laws and necessary legislation is of primary importance. We have seen its utility in ongoing War on Terror. The present-day unconventional war is no longer an event but is a process. So while we deal the imminent threats, we also have to look at process, too.
Next is the ability to perform on information domain which will come through strategic culture. If you do not understand who you are, you cannot respond the way you can. So the threat matrix has to be understood in that context, with parallel ideas and parallel narratives. Moreover the threat has to be seen in terms of institutional credibility. Because now centre of gravity for the attack by both internal and external forces, extra regional forces, and international forces, is the credibility of institutions. And the defeat mechanism is implosion. Whichever side creates implosion, will win. If we are able to create implosions in the processes and sub-processes that lead to terrorist activities, we are the successful party. If they are able to create implosion, within the processes and sub-processes which do not allow the state and state institutions to function, we are the ones who will fail.
In short, the threats for Pakistan are: Institutional credibility that is linked to governance issues, that is linked with the ability of institutions to perform, your ability to generate a narrative, your ability to look how processes are linked, and select application of kinetic force to increase lethality, where people, who create resistance, are personally targeted whether they are inside institution or outside it to create the desired effect. Information campaign to malign them is another method that we should actually be prepared for. There is an international normative framework under which these things have been operative.
So we have to understand what are the norms which have been created for non-kinetic effect and how we need to respond. We should take responsibility to the ability which we can absorb. Do not over commit or under perform. For Pakistan, threat matrix is complicated, not easy. We need to understand that Pakistan is being attacked by four fault lines; Karachi, based on political landscape; the majority being attacked by minority, FATA; ethnic, and economic divide lines within provinces.
Q. What in your opinion should be the strategy to achieve peace in FATA?
Answer: The best way to handle such situations is to ensure that public is on your side. People in FATA should also assist forces in border management to ensure long term peace. Those people need to be communicated and educated that peace can be ensured by state of Pakistan and not by the terrorists. If there are any governance issues, state of Pakistan should take full responsibility in resolving them. New actors will have to be created as old system has died with time. Education can be best tool for long-term peace in FATA and educating women can even be more significant. Because the enemies are supported by external forces who have invested money in them and are supporting them to destabilize Pakistan. The shortest possible route in bringing peace and key to success will be better border management. We will have to switch as a hard border state from soft border state. The problems in FATA will have to be dealt at political, economic and military front.