Contours of Knowledge at the Dawn of Third Millennium

Written By: Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed

Human knowledge and human intellect have been building progressively during the course of human history. Intellect grows in the very act of living. It builds through cognitive processes of observation, reflection, deduction, induction, perception and finally the expression. The cumulative potential of human intellect is a function of time and is ingrained progressively in the genetic heritage. The intellect can be converted into achieved intelligence through conscious processes of learning. It is the achieved intelligence that contributes to the body of knowledge and makes a positive impact on life. Growth in the body of knowledge is a product of an unending human quest for learning. Let us start with the beginning of the time! According to the cosmic theory the universe began with a singular explosion about 14 billion years ago. It was followed by a burst of inflationary expansion, consequential cooling and phase transitions allowing the formation of stars and galaxies. Understanding of inflation still requires breakthroughs in quantum physics and quantum gravity. Another conundrum is the breaking of the symmetry between the matter and the anti-matter. The Big Bang almost certainly produced equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, but the universe now contains no anti-matter. How did the symmetry break, is a question mark challenging the scientists. Our solar system including the earth was formed some 10 billion years thereafter from the dust of an exploding star. Through a miraculous series of coincidences and developments, the life evolved on Earth when a few complex chemical molecules in the primordial soup replicated themselves. Replication of a single cell still remains the starting as well as the crowning phenomenon of life. Over the following three billion years to the present times, the life continued to evolve by replication and mutation growing in complexity, richness and biodiversity. The largest mammals, some of them weighing up to 60 tons, called Dinosaurs lived for 150 million years over the entire globe but disappeared mysteriously nearly at once some 65 million years back. In comparison, the development of the modern man started only about 2 million years ago, long after the extinction of the dinosaurs. Originating from Africa, our earlier ancestors fanned out wave after wave over the entire planet. In 1935 some archeological discoveries were made from Riwat, which is located at about 20 km south of Islamabad. These finds then dated back to 1.6 million years and were considered anomalous and cast aside as the whole history of modern man at that time was considered to be no more than half a million years. Later research then established the evolution history of the modern man to be spread over two million years and Riwat discoveries provided the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Scientific American of April 1997 has a detailed article on the evolution history that displays a map with Riwat shown prominently in the centre. There has thus been an unbroken chain of prehistoric human activity in this part of the world building the cumulative intellect. The first breakthrough in the biological development of man came when he stood up and started walking upright some 750,000 years back. This greatly improved his field of view and freed his hands, which brought about a quantum leap in the cognitive processes of learning. With his hands freed, he started crafting tools to cut meat and break bones for marrow using stones and later the stone tools. The Stone Age lasted from 750,000 to 10,000 years BC. The Bronze Age followed the Stone Age from 10,000 to 3000 years BC witnessing improved quality of bronze tools and implements with growing skills. Use of iron about 3000 years ago brought about the Iron Age spanning from 1000 years BC relatively recently to 1500 years AD bringing about versatile tools and skills. Modern Age, as it is known in history, started after the Iron Age i.e. from 1500 years AD. Human life has transformed more substantially in the following 500 years from 1500 to 2000 than in the entire history preceding 1500 AD. Three Milestones: I will map three milestone events that created quantum leaps for mankind on earth: The First Milestone took place when man invented plough and tamed animals to pull it some 10,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. This changed forever the way man lived as he started settling around fertile land leading to urbanization, socialization and culturization. This set in motion what the history called as the First Agricultural Revolution. It was later boosted by the Muslims from 8th to 13th Centuries with the infusion of new crops and techniques. The Europeans gave it a further boost, when they introduced a stronger and fast-gaited horse that could pull heavier plough digging deeper during the 16th to 18th Century. It improved food production and freed mankind from the pressure of subsistence allowing more time for creativity and innovation. The Second Milestone occurred when man invented engine and discovered fuel to run it. The steam engine was developed in the 18th century and the internal combustion engine came about in the second half of the 19th century around 1860. This brought about the Industrial Revolution that we are still going through. In fact countries like Pakistan are far from being industrialized and only a small number of countries called Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have achieved the benefits of industrialization so far. This revolution has boosted the means and scale of production and greatly reduced the cost of manufactured goods. The Third Milestone took place in the last 60 years or so, when man invented computer and found networking for sharing information. This is setting in motion what is commonly known as the Information Revolution and we are living through its ushering bounties. Next generation computers will use the infinitely large bandwidth of photons for storage and processing of information exploiting the 1980's Theory of Entanglement of particles. These computers will be faster, more efficient and secure by a quantum jump. Taking another look at the three milestones, the first made a call on 'Muscle Power'; the second on 'Mind-Muscle Coordination'; and the third on pure 'Mental Skills.' See the progression from muscle power to brain skills. This has brought about a revolution of social kind as the mental skills are accessible equally to men and women. By placing the superior attributes of mind at play, nature has brought about the ultimate egalitarian equality between the two genders. Using the animal muscle power increased means of productivity; using mechanical power gave man sovereignty over production; but the third milestone is bringing about in its wake a paradigm change. It is a leap from the Mechanical Power to the Brain Power, which has an unlimited capacity, potential and promise. Second Millennium: I shall briefly map for you the closing year of the First Millennium and salient events of the Second Millennium that have shaped the start of the Third Millennium: 1000 AD: The year 1000 AD marking the end of the First Millennium was characterized by the empires of Islam with caliphs in Cairo, Cordoba and Baghdad. Dhinar was a common currency from Spain to Lahore. Slaves from Asia, Europe and Africa laboured in the mines, cities, armies and harems from Cadiz to Samarkand. Meanwhile Europe was still limping out of the Dark Age and the present time Americas were not yet on the world map. Center of the World (COW) was Baghdad and rival COWs were Constantinople in the Byzantine Empire and Kifeng in Song Dynasty China. The population of the world was only 300 million less than that of the present-time USA. 1500 AD: Let us take a look at the middle of the Second Millennium i.e. Year 1500 AD, which is a watershed and marks the beginning of the Modern Age. The rich empires are of Ming Dynasty of China and the “Sultanat-e-Osmania” known in the West as Ottoman Empire. The Centre of the World was Constantinople with the preponderant wealth and military power of the Sultanate. The rival Centres of the World were Beijing, the capital of Ming Dynasty China and Florence, the epicentre of the Renaissance which started the revolution of knowledge. The world population increased to 480 million, nearly equal to the present-time European Union. Looking at the 15th century that culminated at 1500 AD, there were a number of developments that would continue to impact the later course of human history: The invention of printing press in Germany by Gutenberg in 1453 created an information revolution of an earlier kind. The Sultanate-e-Osmania conquered the Byzantine Empire, annexed Anatolia, and shifted its capital to Constantinople which they called Istanbul. Having full control of the land routes to the East, the Turks cut off the trade routes of the Europeans. This compelled Portugal and Spain to attempt alternate routes over waters and the Europeans took to the seas. This would lead to the sea faring trading nations to colonize the world and one or the other European power ruled most parts of the world. I may add that the history repeated itself when the British denied Turks the trading routes to the Middle East in the following century. The Renaissance movement stimulated interest in arts and sciences and stoked a revolution of knowledge in Europe. The Religious Reformation movement liberated knowledge from the clutches of the Christian dogma and loosened the tight hold of the central Church in Rome. Americas were discovered that would have great impact on complexion of the world in time to come. The 16th Century was marked by the grand expansion by the Sultanate-e-Osmania in all directions. In Europe this century was a century of arts with masters like Shakespeare, Micheal Angelo, Leonardo, and Rafael. Shakespeare is regarded as the Man of the Century. The Polish mathematician and astronomer Copernicus published a book on “The Revolution of Heavenly Bodies” in 1543, introducing a paradigm change to helio-centred universe instead of the earth-centred. He died the following year, before Church could move against his, so called, heretic idea. The 17th Century was clearly the century of science with scientists like Descartes, Newton, Leibniz (Laibnits), and Galileo. Newton would be the Man of that Century. It is said that the first Newton who ever learnt to sign his name changed the world for ever. The Century of Science was preceded by numerous sacrifices by scientific scholars trying to liberate the mind from the dogmatic hold of the Church and looming fear of heresy inquisitions. Lynching of Giordano Bruno and indictment of Galileo through inquisition for heretic views in the early part of the 17th Century are just cases of the many who sacrificed for contributing to knowledge. The 18th Century was the century of statecraft with the American Charter of Independence of 1776, French Revolution of 1780s and awareness of human rights dominating the later part of the Century. Euler, Gauss, Francis Bacon, Samuel Johnson are just a few among numerous names who progressed knowledge to new heights. Gabriel Fahrenheit developed mercury thermometer, Benjamin Franklin light bulb, James Hargreaves spinning jenny, James Watt improved steam engine, Edward Jenners developed small pox vaccine and Alessandro Volta gave the battery to mention just a few. The 19th Century was the century of machine tools and assembly lines speeding up the manufacture of consumer goods. It was the pace of technological inventions that ushered in the Industrial Revolution. Scientific knowledge extended during the 17th and 18th Centuries provided a large reservoir of knowledge and the where-withal to start converting it into usable technology – a trend that would continue to grow stronger in time to come. I will single out 'The Dynamic Theory of the Electromagnetic Field” by Maxwell in 1864 in which he had showed that light was an electromagnetic phenomenon. He provided a mathematical model of eight equations that are invaluable in electromagnetic wave theory. The Century gave birth to professional scientists; and internal combustion engine, light bulb, telephone, typewriter, sewing machine and movie camera came off age during the century. Year 1900 Pax Britannica: Let us take a snapshot of the year 1900 that is called Pax Britannica as Britain rules an empire where sun does not set and West European powers rule almost every other part of the world. Knowledge has turned into power to rule the world. North America is emerging as an industrial power with vast resource base and growth in knowledge and technology. Centre of the world was London and rival centres were Berlin and San Francisco and the world population increased to 1065 million but still less than the population of the present time India. Year 2000 Pax Electronica: The conclusion of the Second Millennium was marked by decolonization and freedom movements as more than 200 independent countries emerged on the political map of the world. Internet is now the medium of emperium as electronic democracy links even the tyrannies with increasing World Wide Web. The power of chip doubles and cost halves every 18 months known as the Moore's Law. New 'Have-Nots' are not the age-old poor of the wealth but the new poor of the knowledge. The paradigm of poverty/wealth has changed and become equitably egalitarian: wealth historically remained concentrated and restricted, knowledge is prolific and accessible. The Centre of the world is New York and rival centres are Silicon Valley, (California), and Shanghai (China). The world population is 6000 millions: staring, daunting and threatening! Time Magazine's Person of the 20th Century: Let us look with some focus at the 20th Century that passed just 13 years ago. Three themes stand out characterizing the past Century. First Theme: Impact on freedom and democracy and the finalist for this theme as Man of Century was Franklin Roosevelt. Bill Clinton, then reigning President of the USA, wrote his citation. Second Theme: Impact on human rights and the finalist for this theme was Mohandas Gandhi for his non-violent struggle and Nelson Mandela wrote the citation. Third Theme: Impact on science and technology and the finalist is Albert Einstein and citation was written by the crippled giant of a physicist Mr. Stephan Hawking. He is now in early 70s, but after he was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at age 21, his body would be less every day but his mind grew every moment. Time Magazine's Man of the 20th Century: The third theme was adjudged to be the most pervasive in its effects upon life and Albert Einstein was chosen as The Man of the 20th Century. The amount of technological progress made in the last century far outstrips all that was made since modern man first appeared on this planet. It took centuries for the wheel, the spear, the bow and arrow, paper etc. to become commonplace. But since Samuel Morse sent the first modern telegram in 1844, we have seen the light bulb, cars, the telephone, the atomic bomb, jets, radio, television, transistors, rockets, penicillin, hydrogen bomb, optic fibre, laser, mobile phone, video recorder, integrated circuits, space travel, digital computers, gene splicing, nanotechnology, and the internet change the complexion of life with break-neck speed never seen before in the history of the civilisation. It is the World Wide Web connectivity that is making it possible to find new solutions through breakthroughs in technology. It is time consuming to go over the list of major inventions or development during the last century. Dominant Models of the Physical Visualization of the Universe: Another aspect of knowledge I would like to map is the Dominant Models of the Physical Visualization of the Universe. Every civilization since the start of pre-history had some conception describing the physical reality of the universe. contours of knoledge1There has long been a quest to find the ultimate model but as the knowledge improved so did the models. It is of course a reality of its own that even the improved models posed as much of mystery as did the older ones. Of recent history, there have been four notable ones: Aristotle Model: A pre Christian-era conception of the Greek heritage of a geocentric universe with concentric spheres of heavenly bodies around the earth obeying the hierarchical order to clockwork perfection. An important spin-off of this model of the universe was the social order with divine rights and powers with the king and structured and stratified society down to the lowliest of serfs. Human liberty and therefore the dignity could be found only within the upper stratum. Newton Model: A 16th Century Model of a non-hierarchical universe with all heavenly bodies and earth obeying the same laws of physics. Modern cosmology is built on Newton's edifice. This liberated the universe of the hierarchical order and brought about an egalitarian/democratic social system based on liberation and equality, the two attributes that give grace to humanity. Einstein Model Old: The 20th Century Model of Einstein, through his theories of Special and General Relativity, Gravitational and Quantum Mechanics, conceptualized the universe as space-time warp explaining the illusive origin of gravity. He linked mass and energy interchangeably by his epoch changing famous equation of E equals M times C2. The social spin-off of this model of the universe is the Chaos Theory linked with the unpredictability of the future contrasting with the predictability of the clockwork universe of the earlier model. The original mathematical model of General Relativity showed the universe expanding, which Einstein had fudged to a static universe for general acceptability by introducing a Cosmological Constant. He was, however, proven wrong by experimental evidence in 1929 produced by Hubble that showed that the universe was expanding. Einstein Model New: It has now been established since 1998 that universe is not only expanding but expanding at an increasing rate and this is what the original equation of General Relativity had meant till Einstein had fudged it with the Cosmological Constant. That is why even the New Model is known by his name. It has also been established as of now that there is no more than 20% mass in the universe needed to stop the expansion and/or start the contraction. This means that the universe will expand away into infinite nothingness in umpteen billions of years. This has also given rise to a fifth force called force of antigravity or vacuum which is causing the acceleration in the expansion of the universe. There are big gaps in the understanding of the universe. It is now known that the universe has 5% of the normal visible matter and 95% is the strange, invisible dark matter and dark energy which still is a mystery. Dark matter is perhaps the heavy particles produced in the earliest moments after the Big Bang.

21st Century:

Coming to the beginning of the 21st Century, a number of important breakthroughs in genetic science, biology and embryology indicate that there is about to usher a 'Genetic Revolution' of some kind. Of history making significance is the so called cloning of the sheep Dolly in 1996. It would be an understatement to consider it just the cloning of a mammal. Cloning is producing multiple and identical issues from the only natural building block of a fertilized egg which till then was the one and only the natural building block of life whether human, animal or plants. Dolly was not produced from the natural building block but developed from an unfertilized and differentiated adult cell of the mammary gland of a female sheep with no role of a male sheep. It mimics quasi-creation and points to unprecedented breakthroughs in biology. Higgs Particle or God Particle as it came to be called is more precisely Higgs boson. At long last the illusive particle was identified and verified by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN on March 14, 2013. This collider is the largest and most powerful that stated operations in September 2008. It is constantly smashing numerous protons accelerated close to the speed of light every second to unravel the secrets of the universe. The super acceleration is achieved by superconducting magnets without dissipating any energy into heating by operating at – 271.3 C, just close to the absolute zero. The discovery of the Higgs Particle has led to a profound understanding of the fundamental particles and the physical laws that govern the matter, energy, space and time and completes the Standard Model to its perfection. Higgs boson provides the mechanism by which matter got its mass in the universe. Another development that also took place last year relates to the toughest proof yet of Einstein's Theory of General Relativity which had predicted that a close binary stars system of intense gravity will radiate gravitational energy in the form of ripples in space-time called Gravitational Waves. The existence of Gravitational Waves had not ever been detected till last year. Recently discovered, about 7,000 light-years from Earth, is an exceptionally massive binary system with a neutron star that spins around 25 times a second, also called a Pulsar, which is orbited by a compact white dwarf star. The gravity of this binary system is so intense that it offered an unprecedented testing ground for theories of gravity. The neutron star is twice as massive as the Sun but super compressed into a minuscule space of only 19 km wide. On the surface of this star, gravity is 300 billion times stronger than on the surface of the Earth, by comparison gravity on earth is only 6 times larger than that on the Moon. General Relativity had predicted a change in the orbital time of a binary star system when it loses energy in the form of Gravitational Waves. Precise measurements last year showed a change in the orbital period of 8 millionth of a second per year – exactly what Einstein's theory predicts. So far this theory has passed every test in the last 100 years. Scientists know that General Relativity proposed by Albert Einstein in 1915 isn't the complete story. While it does very well describing large, massive systems, it's incompatible with quantum mechanics, which governs the physics of the very small. For something extremely small, yet extremely massive – such as a black hole – the two theories i.e. General Relativity and the Quantum Physics contradict each other, and scientists are left without a physical description or a mathematical handle on the physics of the Black Holes. This is the reason for the search for integrating the gravity physics with the non-gravity physics by a 'Theory of Everything'. The new development of the Modern String Theory posits 11 dimensions: one dimension of time, three dimensions of space relating to the macro world and seven undiscovered dimensions of space that would relate to the quantum world. If the extra dimensions are discovered the String Theory could reshape the Einstein's concept of gravity. At the most fundamental level, all forces (i.e. strong, weak, electromagnetic, gravity and force of anti-gravity or of vacuum) and particles in the universe may be related and all the forces might be manifestations of a single grand unified force realizing Einstein's dream. The Man of the 20th Century had disagreed with the Copenhagen Model of Quantum Mechanics and rejected the theory of entanglement by calling it the “Spooky action at a distance”. The theory had predicted that a pair or multiple entangled particles interact instantly at superluminal speed following the theory of Non Locality and behave in identical manner even if separated in space by long distances. The Theory of Entanglement was then experimentally proved in 1982 by a French Physicist Alain Aspect, well after Einstein's death in 1955. This has led to the breakthroughs of quantum information, quantum computation and quantum cryptography which are at the heart of photon based new breed of computers under development. Quantum theory is unlike classical physics, it is characterized by probability as against the certainty of the classical physics. Take for example the Heisenberg's Principle of Uncertainty which posits that all quantum particles in a closed space have an equal probability of being everywhere at the same time, but that is what led to the development of the television. Or the Principle of Duality that quantum particles are particles and waves at the same time or the conundrum that for a quantum particle you cannot precisely measure its location and momentum, if one is measured precisely the very act of observation adds an error in the measurement of the other. Since precise measurement is not possible the Quantum theory is built on the Schrodinger's famous equation of probabilities rendering the quantum physics to the science of probabilities. Speed of Change Knowledge Doubling Time: Let us consider the total body of human knowledge that developed from pre-history to the year One AD. First doubling of the body of human knowledge that had accumulated up to year One AD took 1500 years i.e. until the dawn of the 16th Century or the start of modern era. Second doubling took only 250 years i.e. until 1750 AD. Third doubling took 150 years i.e. until 1900 AD. Towards the end of the 20th Century knowledge doubled nearly every decade. In the first decade of the 21st Century it is conjectured that the knowledge doubles every 18 months. The knowledge doubling time reduction curve followed a linear pattern till about 1950 and then the time reduction curve became asymptotic almost approaching singularity. The Change of Change: The breathless 'change' of change is changing the paradigms where the only enduring framework in life is the change itself. This is bound to have far reaching physiological, psychological and material effects on the harbinger of the change – the human being itself. Endemic Scarcity changing into Sovereignty of Abundance: I like to romanticize the last concept that deserves a mention. I call it the sovereignty of abundance. Humanity has remained chained in the endemic scarcity of resources compounded by the uncontrollable vagaries of nature. The age of Information Technology has brought about a paradigm change where the knowledge economy is now providing the Sovereignty of Abundance especially in the modern resource of electromagnetic bandwidth. Take for example the useable bandwidth of the electromagnetic spectrum unlocked by the ingenious mind of Maxwell back in 1864. We had thus far been looking at a slice between near-ultraviolet to near-infrared which occupies nearly 70% of the Sun's light and heat. This is just a miniscule sliver of the available spectrum. In the new era of growing Abundance, the useable bandwidth has a factor of 1025 between the longest and the shortest electromagnetic waves. In other words, the smallest wave with the highest frequency is one trillion-trillion-trillion times the lowest frequency of the longest wave in the available spectrum. Imagine the volume of data that traverses the globe and the lower space at the speed of light at an equally unimaginably low cost. In April this year, Pakistan sold 3G and 4G for US$ 1.14 Billion. What did they sell, was just the 10 G Hertz frequency band out of the abundant bandwidth available, i.e. 109 out of 1025 band? We could not raise this amount by exporting 1.5 million tons of Basmati rice or 3 million tons of wheat produced with an incalculable amount of elbow grease energy of the growers. This is the nature of knowledge economy that is being created by the unlimited ingenuity of the knowledgeable mind and which is moving the humanity to the Sovereignty of Abundance. In the dawning Age of Abundance there will however loom ever more evidently one Residual Scarcity – the human life span. Even in that context I may add that the average global life span has been increasing by one year in every four years, but this is trivial compared with scale of growing Abundance. Energy: Energy is at the heart of modern development, prosperity and life style. Since pre-history humans had been living on the energy of muscles of their own and their beasts. About half a million years ago Man discovered fire and found the use of chemical energy stored in biomass of wood, crop and animal waste. Biomass is mostly carbon with Hydrogen to Carbon ratio of 1:10. In the middle of 18th Century Coal entered the commercial use as a more concentrated form of chemical energy with Hydrogen-Carbon ratio of 1:1. In the middle of 19th Century oil entered as an even more concentrated and versatile source of chemical energy with a Hydrogen-Carbon ratio of 2:1. In 20th Century natural gas became a commercial fuel which is called the Fuel of 21st Century. It is a cleaner fuel with Hydrogen-Carbon ratio of 4:1. The world has, albeit unwittingly, been moving on a path of Decarburization without even realizing that Carbon would one day pose a challenge to the very existence of life on earth. Uranium entered use in the middle of 20th Century and it has no carbon footprints. Modern Renewables including Hydroelectricity, wind, solar and ocean waves have no carbon content. As we are traversing the path of Decarburization, we, as a corollary, are taking the path of Hydrogenation. Many countries have taken a start on Hydrogen Energy Economy. As it proliferates, mankind will witness a change to Abundance even in that critical resource that gives the modern life the style it has attained. Why do I say it, because the stuff that the whole universe is made off, is that one proton one electron atom that we Hydrogen and place at No 1 position on the Atomic Weight Table. It is simple, beautiful and therefore true. It mirrors Keat's poetical romantics: “truth beauty, beauty truth”. Hydrogen is what the universe or the multiverses are made off. It is pervasively abundant, cheap and non-polluting. Carbon on combustion produces pollutants, Hydrogen on combustion produces water. It is projected that hydrogen might garner 90% of the global energy market by 2100. In the era of the growing Sovereignty of Abundance, the world would increasingly belong to those to whom knowledge belongs! The Western civilization developed knowledge and power only when they achieved two principal attributes: Liberation of the mind and innovation for turning knowledge into useful technology. The two movements of Renaissance and Reformation catalyzed the process. I am tempted to share briefly the story about a 14 years old African American teenage boy who became a regular visitor of a public library in San Francisco in the early years of the last decade. He would literally spend all the library hours working on computers. One day the Librarian passed by him and remarked that he sure liked the computer a lot. The boy replied,” Because the computer cannot tell that I am Black.” This is the era of egalitarian equality in access to knowledge. It is accessible by whosoever, whenever and from wherever. If knowledge is power, thus is power equally accessible to all. In the beginning of 1980s I had to go Silicon Valley (Stanford) to access knowledge, today you can do it just as well from your own schools and homes. I have made a humble effort to try to romanticize some contours of knowledge, what I cannot map and perhaps no one can and what would remain the last frontier and that is the Human Brain, the very fountain of knowledge. I will conclude with a word of hope and anticipation for future: If you take a high energy beam of ordinary light and shine it on a thick piece of steel, you get a nice reflection. When you take the same light and align the photons so they move together in phase or lockstep they form a laser beam and you can burn a clean hole through that same steel. What will happen when we start working together in unison with total harmony and turn our combined attention to the gigantic problems that have so far evaded solutions threatening life, peace and prosperity on earth? The fast growing body of knowledge makes me optimistic of the future of mankind! ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The writer holds a PhD degree from Stanford University, California USA. He is a former Federal Secretary and has been CEO/Chairman of OGDCL and Chairman NEPRA.

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A Private Victory Needed for a Public Victory

Written By: Brig (Retd) Tariq Javed

Anything which has a beginning and an end with a definite output is known as project

Whenever word management or project management is uttered by an army officer, the audience assume that the point being discussed or referred to, pertains to corporate sector and not military, whereas in reality it is not so. Most of the officers in their military routine functioning are practicing project management without knowing it. It may be seen from the definition of project that any activity which has a definite time span with an output qualifies to be a project. Thus commanding a platoon, company or a unit is a project and it needs to be managed properly. There is another misconception that project management is not applicable to military life whereas the origin of modern day project management is traced back to US Navy applying scientific tools to monitor the progress of development of Polaris missiles. Management corner is an effort to acquaint you with some management tips, guidelines and skills to improve the execution of activities as well as handling of human resources and military hardware placed at your disposal.

Steven Covey in his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” describes the concept of public and private victory which is very interesting. If adopted, it seems to work wonders for people. It is astonishing that if an individual achieves private victory, the public victory will follow suit. Achieving this private victory is not easy; only 5% people in the world have the capability to do so daily and one finds them to be energetic, full of zeal, enthusiasm and successful in their activities. Today's tip is 'achieve private victory and transform yourself'. Now what it is and how to go about it? 95% of people have this habit that once the alarm clock wakes them up in the morning, they tend to sleep for another 5 – 10 minutes thus beginning their day with a defeat rather than private victory viz-a-viz the bed mattress. These individuals would remain lousy and tired throughout the day. Now try leaving the bed on the first bell of the alarm clock and you would be doing what the 5% successful individuals in the life do i.e. achieving a private victory against the mattress and only Allah and yourself know that you have started day with a positive note. It is interesting that you would be surprised with the outcome, believe it or not, you would have small successes/public victories throughout the day, therefore, just try joining the elite 5% club. I know it is very difficult to do so although it seems very simple and easy. So go for it. Be your own judge when you feel the difference in a short time. A good manager/officer has to be full of zeal, enthusiasm and energy so don't miss this opportunity and attempt your first private victory.


The writer is a Project Management Professional (PMP).

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The Transformation: A New Look Pakistan Army

Written By: Brian Cloughley

On the same day that Hilal asked me to write a piece about the “New Look Army” I was contacted by the Herald magazine to comment on the topic “In Gen Kayani's six year tenure as the Chief Of Army Staff, was there ever any point at which he could have considered staging a coup?” I found both propositions interesting, because I don't think that either is there a 'new look' army, or that there was a moment when General Kayani thought it might be a good thing for his country if he followed in the footsteps of Generals Zia and Musharraf.

This is not to say that the army is out-of-date. Far from it, as is described below. And while General Kayani may well have been frustrated on occasions, especially when the country had concluded (according to an impartial international opinion poll) that the civilian government was incompetent to the point of paralysis, there was decided opinion within the army – encouraged by him, it should be emphasised – that it is not the job of armies to be involved in political affairs. As I have written elsewhere, there is no doubt that military commanders who, as part of their martial responsibilities, are accustomed to, and expert in, directing and managing enormous numbers of personnel and vast quantities of expensive equipment, can transfer their skills to civilian pastures. But these should not include governance, for that would be contrary to all tenets of democracy. And, to be blunt, we soldiers aren't very good at running countries. Polo and cricket clubs, yes; hospitals and schools, certainly; business enterprises – well usually soldiers are pretty good, although they tend to overlook the profit motive. And it is silently accepted by even the army's most energetic critics that it, and the PAF, always work wonders following natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

But such matters as determining the number and duties of parliamentary committees and having endless discussions about intricate political and legal affairs tend to attract a military yawn or two. I saw this exact reaction, at first hand, from Generals Zia and Musharraf, both of whom I liked and who were kind to me, personally, but neither of whom demonstrated notable skill in dealing with civilians. I am reminded of the attitude of the Duke of Wellington who, after years as a most successful Commander-in-Chief of the British army, was in 1828 appointed prime minister by King George IV. In what he imagined to be the spirit of democracy he at once held a meeting of his Cabinet of politicians to decide on various courses of action. He described that experience as “An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.” Quite so. Generals Zia and Musharraf would have understood and endorsed their viewpoint.

Pakistan's present-day army is an efficient organisation which, if directed by government to engage in hostilities, is capable of waging war effectively. Its leaders are determined to keep it efficient – and equally firm about its proper place in society. There have been complaints that the army, as with most others around the world, locates its units and headquarters away from the public. It is pointed out that there are large military camps which seem to be quite separate from the civilian mainstream and, indeed, society as a whole. Some observers consider this to be undesirable because they consider such physical isolation must limit the amount of time that soldiers are exposed to civilian influences.

In years gone by, this was certainly so, but in these days of media saturation and social networking it is no longer the case. Yet soldiers, even as part of the wider polity, must remain distanced in some ways, because they are guided by different tenets, not the least of which is the requirement to instantly and unquestioningly obey orders that at some stage may well require them to hazard their lives. It might be claimed that the 'unquestioning' part of that obligation is undemocratic and thus unacceptable in the new modern age, and it is reasonable that those who do not fully understand the military ethos might display some measure of concern about this aspect of military discipline, because they will never themselves experience the mid-battle imperative of instant obedience. To put it in the simplest terms: if a junior commander of troops is ordered to immediately take a certain course of action in the confusion of battle, while shot and shell and IEDs are exacting their horrific toll, he can't be permitted the luxury of argument. He must do exactly what he is told – and then demonstrate his own leadership and decision-making talents. Instant obedience is essential, and for that to be effective it has to be learned at the most basic stage of military education, and reinforced thereafter. A superior's condemnation in the Wellington style that “I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them” has no place in democracy, certainly. But it still has a place in military affairs, because disobedience can cost lives. Leadership and moral example on the part of leaders are the most important characteristics – imperatives – of military life, and leaders expect, deserve, and must receive obedience.

That's the main difference between the average citizen and the military citizen who has chosen to defend his (or her) country against whatever threats might present themselves. And it's one of the reasons why we military people are bad at trying to direct governments. It is best to stay out of such affairs and concentrate on professional improvement, which is exactly what has been happening in Pakistan's army in recent years. When the army was committed to the Tribal Agencies and their abutting regions there was an obvious dearth of experience in counter-insurgency (COIN) procedures. Units already serving in the west of the country had most exposure to COIN, naturally (and some of it hard-won, through bitter experience), but they were thin on the ground and found it difficult to cope with incidents so widely spread in their areas of operations. The solution was reinforcement by units from the east, with plans to move them back to conventional warfare readiness should there be an emergency along the Line of Control or the border with India.

East-based units were skilled in such things as bridging and armour-infantry cooperation, but had not much practice in, for example, convoy movement through territory subject to insurgency. There is a great difference between advancing through a minefield and moving by tracks that in all probability have Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) placed along the way. Units in the east had concentrated, quite properly, on the tactics required to defeat an Indian armoured advance into Pakistan and were trained to take the war across the border by rapid movement to seize territory. Dissident local tribesmen and foreign militants crossing from Afghanistan are quite a different challenge, and initial operations against them were largely unsatisfactory, and some, to be blunt, disastrous (we must be honest). But things changed.

14 Infantry Division was the first formation to be redeployed westwards, into South Waziristan, and its GOC, Major General Tariq Khan, had to establish schools to train officers and soldiers in counter insurgency skills, which required a major effort, not only in selecting instructors and training areas, but in logistics and, above all, in operational commitment. Like the Sri Lankan army which, since 1982 until its defeat of the Tamil insurgents in 2009, suffered from the twin and usually conflicting demands of conducting training while concurrently countering the Tamil Tigers, 14 Division and other formations had to balance the requirement to teach essential skills with the urgency of patrolling, getting to know the terrain and people, and mounting operations to dominate the area.

While the decision to move troops westward was the right one, there had not been enough thought on the part of higher planners about the practical difficulties involved. This was an entirely new experience for the Pakistan army. As Dawn newspaper recorded in 2008, “A senior army commander pointed towards a huge compound which... was in fact 'a nursery for preparing suicide bombers.' According to Major General Tariq Khan, who commands the 14 Division, 'it was like a factory that had been recruiting 9-12 year-old boys, and turning them into suicide bombers.' [Army officers stated] that until the operation started they only had some idea about such activities, and it was only in January [2008] that they discovered how organized these militants were in their mission to recruit, indoctrinate and launch suicide bombers. The computers, other equipment and literature seized from the place, some of which were shown to us, give graphic details of the training process in this so-called 'nursery.' There are videos of young boys carrying out executions, a classroom where 10-12-year olds are sitting in formation, with white band of Quranic verses wrapped around their forehead, and there are training videos to show how Improvised Explosive Devices are made and detonated.”

This was a, somewhat, different scene to that along the frontier with India, and it took time to get used to it. (And, incidentally, it is shocking that anyone in Pakistan – or anywhere – could ever support evil fanatics who train children to kill by suicide). But Pakistan Army did its job extremely well in the tribal areas and their surrounds, and its high-quality leadership and professionalism were equally well-demonstrated in its defeat of vicious extremists in Swat.

In a broadcast on 7 May 2009 Prime Minister Gilani stated that “To restore the honour and dignity of our homeland and to protect our people, the armed forces have been called in to eliminate the militants and terrorists” in Swat, and operations began next day, with the army stating that “After the complete breakdown of law and order and the non-adherence of the militants to the peace deal in Swat Valley, the army was called out in aid of the civil power to eliminate the militants and restore the writ of the government. The operation will continue until such time as we have liberated the people of Swat from the clutches of the militants. The military will not leave unless it is taken over by the civil administration and the writ of the government is restored.” <?p>

The army did indeed liberate Swat, and its success was not only an indication of competence in conducting COIN operations but was evidence of flexibility, that most important principle of war. The army has come a long way from the somewhat complacent outlook I noted when first associated with it in 1980, as a UN Observer in Rawalakot and Astore. (These were very different days, when UN officers went on lengthy patrols, 'Field Tasks', as they were called, along the Line of Control (LOC). I spent, for example, three splendid weeks climbing in the mountains with 3 NLI and walked almost half of the LOC). There are problems, of course, of which the most serious is shortage of junior officers, resulting in difficulty for Military Secretary

Branch, GHQ to adjust officers. Then there is the increasing problem of operating costs. Some media commentators complain about the expense of having an army but do not appear to realise the extent of the financial burden imposed by the demands of training and operations that have been required to meet the growing threat to the nation's stability. The army did not take it upon itself to redeploy to the west of the country to put down rebellion. It acted, as is proper, on the orders of the civilian government, but there seems to be little understanding of the consequent enormous costs of moving, supplying and maintaining 150,000 troops in remote areas. The cost of ammunition, alone, has been staggering, in spite of the fact that the military-directed Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) produce world-class ammunition at a small fraction of the cost of western-manufactured equivalents. But the main price of the army's operations has no monetary measure. It has been in the sacrifice of its officers and soldiers who have given their lives in defence of their country, which cannot be quantified in economic terms. The suffering of the wounded, the grieving of the bereaved families, the loss to the army itself – the family at arms – are an indication of individual and community commitment that merits the utmost respect. The losses make nonsense of claims by armchair critics who insist that the army “hasn't done enough” to protect Pakistan against the savagery of the extremists.

In the wider scheme of affairs, the army is well aware of the country's social and economic challenges, and its stance was explained pithily by General Kayani in April 2012 when he said that “We in the army understand very well that there should be a very good balance between defence and development. You cannot spend on defence alone and forget about development. Ultimately the security of a country is not only that you secure boundaries and borders but it is when people that live in the country feel happy, their needs are being met. Only in that case will a country be truly safe.” It is difficult to disagree with the contention that security stems from a combination of social development and national capability to combat forces that seek to destabilize the country. But the price has to be paid.

Pakistan has suffered grievously from confrontations between governments and the army, but the present generation of military leaders is well aware that further friction could have disastrous consequences. The fact that 60% of the population turned out to vote in extremely difficult circumstances in May 2013 is heartening and indicative that, this time, democracy could be here to stay. It is up to the army to play its part in maintaining the nation's stability in order that extremists cannot prevent modernisation and national development, which are so crucial. I venture to predict that it will do so in accordance with the Constitution and under direction of whatever civilian government is in power.


The writer is a France based retired officer of Australian Army and is an expert on South Asian affairs. He is also author of different books, and contributes extensively in international media. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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