Afpakwar | Arshad Zaman | 25 June 2011
Enough talk. Everyone is asking, “What is the solution?” Without learned evasions, let me provide a direct answer, by outlining one set of practical responses to the challenges we undeniably face.
The immediate objective, clearly, must be to redeem the liberty and protect the lives of the people of Pakistan, without which ‘sovereignty’ is a meaningless word. We must therefore secure the homeland against all enemies, foreign and domestic, separately. Contrary to their strategic narrative, cunningly being propagated by Raymond Davis & Company to justify American aggression, Pakistan’s national security and domestic peace can be separated, and national security should take priority over domestic disorder.
Yet, the military seem unable to defend the borders; and the civil government, both unwilling and unable to maintain domestic peace. In these extraordinary circumstances, it is up to ordinary citizens (1) to organise themselves (a) to raise popular awareness of the urgency and severity of the threat, and (b) to pressure the authorities to do their duty; and (2) to prepare a contingency plan to do these things themselves. What is required is for a handful of patriots to take steps to constitute a people’s congress that would in time have a smaller executive committee, and a countrywide network of local cells. They would formulate and execute the long struggle for freedom that clearly lies ahead.
The Congress should consist only of individuals who seek to give to the nation, and not to take from it. It should not have any ambitions of engaging in electoral politics; instead its task should be (1) to organise an extensive citizens’ network to provide intelligence to the authorities; (2) organise civil defences against (2) foreign aggressors and occupation forces, and against (b) foreign and locally funded domestic terrorists; and (3) prepare a back-up logistics network, that can be activated to provide food, water, health care, and other basic necessities to the people, should we find ourselves bombed back to the Stone Age for resisting those who would enslave us. Obviously, no member should engage in any illegal activities, no matter what the provocation.
Given the nature of the threat, people with military, intelligence, police, and media experience, should guide this effort, to be undertaken largely by young men and women. An average of twenty five persons, in say twelve major cities of Pakistan each, some three hundred people in all, can get the process started. Leadership should vest in groups, not in charismatic Ali Baba figures who collect a band of beneficiaries around them. Everyone, including politicians willing to sit as equals in such a Congress, should be welcomed. Putting aside all divisions and hatred, let influential patriotic citizens, so prominently visible in the media, step forward and organise small informal groups in each city, to prepare for a bottom-up process of forming group leadership and local networks.
Let us not be detained by allaying all the unfounded fears that this proposal will raise in the hearts of the privileged. Suffice it to observe that to defend Pakistan is not to “attack” America; and that it is possible to live without American handouts, if the privileged who do not emigrate are prepared for the sacrifices upon which liberty is built. What kinds of initiatives could the Congress consider? One approach could be to pursue a “stand still” and “roll back” strategy – i.e. first, stop further foreign control of the commanding heights of the State: executive, legislature, media, and judiciary; second, roll back the existing degree of penetration in incremental steps. We have seen that the occupiers will not grant us back our liberty just by our submitting requests. It is, therefore, a terrible but necessary fact that beyond some point the Pakistan military will have to be prepared to fire their expensive weapons. War is a terrible thing that should never be an early option, but beyond some point we must choose to live free, or die.
The military paid the first blackmail ten years ago by letting the Americans in, but their demands have now escalated to unacceptable levels. We should no longer tolerate foreign military and intelligence presence on Pakistani soil, we must shoot down invading aircraft, repel ground troops that cross the border, claim hot pursuit rights, on land and sea, and break diplomatic relations with and wage war against countries that conduct hostilities against Pakistan. (No one is fooled by the military’s pretence that it awaits orders from the puppet government.) Let us acquire electronic technology from China to defend against drone attacks. Given the disposition of forces, let us initiate discussions with Iran for closer military cooperation, leading to a mutual defence agreement or treaty. We should also review, unsentimentally, our relations with Arab countries, especially those conducting indirect hostilities against us, and expand ties with other neutral countries.
Supported by legislation, the military should take in hand, urgently, a compulsory two year programme of paid military service, for all eighteen year old men, along the lines of the discontinued National Cadet Corps. This will not only enhance defence, but would provide much needed income support to the poor. Finally, we also need to assess, coolly, why despite our nuclear weapons the enemy today has penetrated more deeply into Pakistan, especially Balochistan, than India had in East Pakistan in 1970? The military must make the nuclear threat credible to all aggressors; for if it can’t, then it might as well consider trading our nuclear liabilities for sovereignty and freedom.
As almost the last hope of Pakistan, the military must also safeguard the rule of law. Remaining in the barracks and imposing martial law are not its only two options; the military can, and should take steps, to help enforce the decisions of the judiciary and the parliament upon this American installed executive. The multitude of sins covered under the rubric of “terrorism” (unlawful killing to instil fear) need to be distinguished clearly, and dealt with separately: foreign funded “Taliban” and other groups that provide cover to foreign covert operations by falsely claiming responsibility for “terrorist” acts, should be dealt with under laws of war; local ones, by negotiation, and criminal prosecution.
Is this anti-American? On the contrary, to the Americans we say what their forefathers said to the British, in their Declaration of Independence: “it [has become] necessary for [us] to dissolve the … bands which have connected” our governments for so long. We need not recount the “long train of abuses and usurpations,” under President George and his successor. “We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us,” last by the 2009 Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act. “We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, [but they] have been deaf… We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity,… and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.” To our patriots we say listen to the timeless advice of Thomas Jefferson to all free men: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
An edited version of this article appeared in The News, of 3 June 2011.
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