Pity the nation – – –

* Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion
* Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave, eats a bread it does not harvest
* Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero
* Pity the nation that despises a passion in its dreams, yet submits in its awakening
* Pity the nation that raises not its voice save when it walks in a funeral, boasts not except among its ruins, and will rebel not save when its neck is laid between the sword and the block
* Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox, whose philosopher is a juggler, and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking
* Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting, and farewells him with hooting, only to welcome another with trumpeting again
* Pity the nation divided into fragments, each fragment deeming itself a nation.

Khalil Gibran 1883 – 1931 A.D.

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Intuition

“The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.”

— Albert Einstein

Last tango in Washington

By now, the dynamics set in place by America seem immutable: what Washington wants, it gets. Never mind about the people of Pakistan and what they wanted. Benazir Bhutto made Washington her second home this summer. And it paid off. The State Department turned a brokerage house facilitating political deals between Bhutto and the Pakistan Army led by General Musharraf’s heir-in-chief, General Kiyani. The broker, that is America, stands to reap huge dividends.

The last tango in Washington is over. Now the ‘newly-elected’ President Musharraf; Prime Minister-in-waiting Benazir Bhutto and the Army Chief-in-waiting General Kiyani have been fully “Americanized”.

The winner, that is America, takes it all!

The US punditocracy was pleased to introduce Ashfaq Kiyani as “pro-US” who trained at the US Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He’s billed as “a very capable officer and a partner in the war of terror”.

The Pentagon’s comfort level tanked because the “smart, tough, talented — and pro-Western” Gen Kayani was like one of the boys while at Kansas (what else could he have done amid acres of corn and mid-western sterility slapped with severe winters?) And now comes the political marriage certificate between Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf signed and sworn by that wonkette Condi Rice.

In an interview to the New York Post, Secretary of State Rice admitted that America was pressing General Musharraf “very hard” to allow for free and fair elections. When asked if Benazir Bhutto had a role in the future political set-up, she answered, “Well, I don’t see why not”.

When asked how would the corruption cases against Benazir Bhutto play into the new equation, Condi Rice deflected it by going off on a tangent: “There needs to be a contested parliamentary system, but whether or not she is able to overcome that and whether Pakistanis are willing to allow that is really up to them.”

The reason for her gobbledygook response is now as clear as the blue sky. Washington was working around the clock to get Musharraf to pass an ordinance providing amnesty to Bhutto for her alleged corruption. And Ms Rice was the one pushing the general to go for it before his October 6 presidential election!

Among many in America, Condi Rice is severely castigated for being a ‘yes woman’ to Bush. The role played by her in taking America to war in Iraq is unforgivable. Next year when Condi retires, she wants to return to Stanford University where she was the provost. But an email campaign against her being allowed back is already in swing at the campus. Teachers and students don’t want the ‘trouble maker’ back.

Setting aside diplomatic finesse, the State Department spokesman Sean McCormack openly admitted at a briefing in Washington about the American role in the future political set-up of Pakistan: “We have a lot at stake; they (Pakistan) have a lot at stake. The future course of Pakistan is at stake in this and future elections.” He also affirmed that Pentagon has had “some long-term interaction” with General Kiyani who until recently was head of the ISI. “I’m sure that he’s somebody that our military would be able to work closely with.”

It now appears that Condi Rice has been in contact with Pakistan’s chief spymaster since last November. Rice and Kiyani sounds strange.

After 9/11 America has paid the Pakistan army $10 billion. But remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Lest we forget, only until recently a nasty attack was mounted on Musharraf’s personal dignity and Pakistan’s sovereignty. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in America alighted the soapbox to question repeatedly why Musharraf was not delivering as per his promises and the money he had ‘pocketed.’ Voices of fierce discontent floated from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, traveling across the Capitol Hill, straddling influential think tanks and ending up in print, not to forget the rave and rants of talking heads on television channels this past summer.

Whatever America touches turns to lead. Iraq is in ruins as Americans now mull over hacking it to pieces to bring peace. Afghanistan is already a failed state. Karzai’s colourful capes and hats are beginning to fade, as is his importance to the Bush administration. Last week, a US congressional panel warned that the Bush administration’s Afghan policy had gone under and could be permanently lost.

Pakistan and the ISI got blamed during the House Committee on Foreign Affairs discussion recently. Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher named the Clinton administration, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for creating the Taliban. “Let me repeat that: The Clinton administration, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, created the Taliban,” he said. Rohrabacher also blamed the ISI and other Pakistani officials for engaging in the drug trade and claimed: “The ISI has been up to their necks in the drug trade for 20 or 30 years now.”

See, what I mean.

While Bush administration has brought about an unnatural union between Benazir and Musharraf, don’t be at all surprised that the next White House incumbent (Hillary Clinton?) will oversee its annulment which is bound to occur given the polarization that exists in Pakistani politics today.

While Condi Rice will not be around to witness the annulment, her successor (God knows who) would already have opened channels of communications with General Kiyani inviting him to take over. And mind you, it will all be done in the open — the same way they did with Musharraf and Benazir.

“All too often America has forsaken its long-term interests and, worse, its values in Pakistan and chosen the short-term convenience of backing military dictators. Each time they have failed to develop the country’s freedoms and undermined its democratic institutions,” write Sandy Berger and Bruce Riedel, two top security aides to former President Clinton. “Some say Musharraf is all that keeps Pakistan from an Islamic takeover. Musharraf used that line with Clinton in 2000 but he (Clinton) didn’t buy it then and we should not buy it now. It is time for the Pakistani army to go back to its barracks for good and for us to have confidence in the 170 million people of Pakistan.”

Tailpiece: After Musharraf’s unilateral decision to forgive and forget Benazir Bhutto’s corruption, the government run news agency APP carried a report last week titled “Drive against corruption.” I am reproducing it verbatim: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has launched an awareness campaign to highlight the effects of corruption and to motivate the youth to make a positive contribution towards minimizing corruption from society. In this connection, a function was held at a local school where Alia Ahmed, the NAB deputy director, highlighted the role of youth towards making Pakistan a corruption-free country, stated a news release issued by NAB.

Well-done NAB! You did it! You have at last succeeded in your noble mission of making Pakistan a “corruption-free country”! Keep up the good work.

By: Anjum Niaz, a freelance journalist with over twenty years of experience in national and international reporting. Email: aniaz@fas.harvard.edu

USA involved in Pakistan Politic to the Hilt

The American interference in Pakistani politics is at an all time high, with Washington contacting different authorities in Islamabad, ignoring recognised diplomatic channels and bypassing the prime minister and his government to ensure smooth sailing for Benazir Bhutto.

A reliable source in the Presidency told this correspondent that during some recent discussions amongst senior authorities, it was revealed that influential American government leaders were directly contacting different Pakistani leaders and officials, ignoring the Foreign Office and even the prime minister, who is the chief executive of the country.

Although, this mounting American interference was not the issue being discussed in such high-level interactions, the source privy to such deliberations found it extremely upsetting. He revealed that the extent of American interference could be judged from the worrying fact that Washington had lately written a letter directly to a Pakistani spymaster to discuss the progress on Benazir-Musharraf dialogue issue.

How could the Americans do that? There is no explanation to this. Is it proper for intelligence agencies’ chiefs to be welcoming such direct correspondence from Washington? The source also disclosed that one of the two top aides of the president – Lt General (Retd) Hamid Javaid and Tariq Aziz – these days maintains a direct one-to-one contact with the American authorities. Mostly, it is said, the presidential aide talks to Richard Boucher, who is monitoring the events unfolding in Pakistan vis-à-vis Benazir Bhutto’s return and her participation in active politics at home.

The aide was even quoted as telling recently that the contact was now so frequent that he and Boucher now exchanged views with each other and passed on information through mobile messages (short messaging service- SMS).

During his last visit to Pakistan, Boucher had also visited a presidential aide but nothing was officially said about this meeting. When The News contacted concerned government quarters to have their reaction about the American interference they said there was no truth in the substance of such reports. However, they added, for follow-up action, concerned departments of each government interact as required.

A report published in a local English daily revealed that Benazir during her recent visit to Washington spoke with Musharraf from the office of Congressman Tom Lantos, the powerful chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The report also disclosed that the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned both Musharraf and Benazir on Thursday last to ensure that they had reached the agreement. The next day, Musharraf promulgated the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

“The two telephone calls show the extent of Washington’s involvement in Pakistani politics and contradict the State Department’s repeated assurance that while the US backs the formation of a moderate political centre in Pakistan, it does not favour any particular candidate or party,” the report said.

Interestingly, the government – the prime minister and his cabinet – is generally ignored and bypassed in all such interactions between Washington and the Presidency or the spymasters. Most leaders of the ruling coalition parties are also allergic to the kind of concessions being offered to Benazir by the president but they could not dare cross their limits.

Till a few months back, the Presidency was not really pushed to go for such a deal with Benazir but it was the US pressure that compelled it to swallow the bitter pill and hug the alleged plunderer of the national wealth.

While the NRO would successfully take care of the corruption cases that Benazir is facing within Pakistan, Washington has indicated, as already reported, that it would take care of her cases in Madrid, London and Geneva. Will it be possible or not? There is no clear answer to this but the Pakistani authorities could not do much beyond disassociating themselves from these cases or withdrawing the documents submitted to the courts of these three European capitals.

In the Madrid case, the NAB has already clarified that the case regarding culpability of Benazir and her conduits (Rehman Malik and Hassan Ali Jafferi) in the Oil for Food Programme is pending before a Spanish Examining Magistrate in the province of Valencia in Spain on charges of money laundering.

According to the NAB, this case was started in 2004 by the Spanish authorities on basic information and evidence gathered by their Financial Intelligence Unit called SEPBLAC. The Government of Pakistan was also informed about this persecution and was asked for any help in the Spanish prosecution. Later in 2006, the NAB was informed by the United Nation’s Independent Inquiry Committee (UN IIC) about the involvement of Benazir Bhutto’s company Petroline FZC in the infamous Iraqi Oil for Food Programme.

The UN IIC also provided the NAB with certain documentary evidence. To help the Spanish prosecution in Valencia and also adhering to their earlier request of 2004, the NAB became civil party to the proceedings and provided the examining magistrate with the UN IIC evidence and also the details of other cases of the accused in various jurisdictions including Pakistan.

On the last date of hearing in May 2007, the NAB informed the Valencia court that the bureau had done its job by providing the UN IIC evidence and by rendering all other relevant evidence. “Since the case is primarily a Spanish prosecution, therefore, the NAB could be allowed to quit as civil party as the Government of Pakistan exchequer is not going to benefit from the outcome of the case, and further the NAB shall be available for any help for the Spanish prosecution in future, which could be attained on a simple request of International Mutual Legal Assistance,” the NAB said in one of its recent press releases. It added that the prosecution in Valencia was to continue.

Courtesy: The News – Report by – By Ansar Abbasi