DAWN - Opinion; August 30, 2006

August 30, 2006


Strategy for integration

By Javid Husain

RECENTLY, I came across a lecture by a retired general of the Pakistan army, renowned for his scholarly aptitude and pursuits, to senior army officers on the challenges of leadership. The lecture, inter alia, elaborated on the role of integration in operational military strategy. The thrust of the argument was that ideally speaking an army must fight a battle like a team in which the role of each formation would be integrated in the overall plan.

The senior commanding officer must ensure that the essentials of the plan are known to his subordinate commanders so that in the case of the breakdown of communications they are able to operate effectively. This can happen only if the subordinate commanders develop such an empathy for the overall battle plan that their thinking becomes synonymous with the thinking of the senior commanding officer.

At the national level, where a variety of political, economic, military and social forces are at work, the concept of integration has an important role to play in ensuring the successful achievement of a nation’s goals and targets. It is important for the leadership to integrate the political, economic, military and diplomatic dimensions of policy in an optimum manner so that the whole becomes more effective than the sum total of its parts. This is the function of grand strategy whose role, according to Liddell Hart, the well-known authority on strategy, is “to co-ordinate and direct all the resources of a nation, or a band of nations, towards the attainment of the political object of the war — the goal defined by fundamental policy”.

Needless to say that the political object must always govern the military aim. Strictly speaking, it is not the task of a general to determine the political aim which must be left to the political leadership of the country representing the will of the people. It is imperative, therefore, that the military must refrain from any involvement in politics particularly in a democracy.

The concept of integration, which is of vital importance both in grand strategy and military strategy, must be distinguished from the concept of the unity of command about which General Pervez Musharraf has talked so frequently. The latter has an important role in military strategy which is, to quote Liddell Hart once again, “the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil the ends of policy”. Unity of command aims at ensuring that the forces placed at the disposal of a general are utilised in a focused and concerted manner to create the maximum effect in the realisation of the political objective fixed by the government.

In other words, integration of forces is the real goal of the unity of command. However, the real worth of a commander is determined not just by his ability to issue detailed directives to his subordinates to implement the plan that he has worked out but, as pointed out above, by his ability to develop in addition a certain degree of empathy for the plan among them so that their thinking becomes synonymous with his own and the forces under his command operate like a team smoothly and without friction.

In the realm of grand strategy, the integration of political, economic, military and diplomatic factors in an optimum fashion is an indispensable condition for success in the achievement of the political objectives of the government. However, unlike the military strategy where there is greater emphasis on orders through the chain of command or the unity of command although the desirability of empathy for the military plan among the forces under a military commander is always there, integration in the sphere of grand strategy is primarily achieved through building up of consensus among the various stakeholders whether they are political leaders, economic managers, military commanders or senior diplomats. The emphasis on the unity of command in the formulation of grand strategy is actually just a cover for dictatorial rule which is the very anti-thesis of integration in this higher level of strategy.

The formulation of grand strategy is ultimately a political function of the highest order which must be performed by the political leadership of the country in a democracy. It is the job of the political leadership to integrate the political, economic, military and diplomatic dimensions of policy into a grand strategy for the realisation of the nation’s objectives and, within that framework, to set the military aim and make available to the military commander the resources for its achievement.

Generals because of their training and rigid thinking, used as they are to giving and receiving orders rather than to evolving consensus through discussions and a process of give-and-take, are inherently unsuited for the job of the formulation of grand strategy. It has, therefore, been said with good reason that war is too serious a business to be left to generals.

Woe betide a nation which ignores the principle of integration in the formulation of grand strategy or which allows the military to usurp the functions of the government in planning it. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s history is replete with examples where both the principles of integration and the military’s eschewal of politics were blatantly flouted with disastrous consequences for the country.

The numerous military takeovers starting with Ayub Khan’s martial law established a dangerous precedent to which a number of succeeding army chiefs succumbed, the last being General Pervez Musharraf who toppled a constitutionally elected government on 12 October, 1999. Despite the tall claims made by Pakistan’s military rulers about their achievements, the verdict of history is against them.

The military takeovers destabilised the country politically, prevented democracy from taking root in it, created disharmony among the units of the federation (resulting in the dismemberment of the country in 1971), and led to useless wars and military adventures causing grave damage to the country’s security and economic well-being. They undermined respect for law and the Constitution, weakened the various institutions of state, encouraged corruption and lawlessness, promoted ad hocism at the cost of solid long-term thinking, tarnished the image of the country in the comity of nations, and demoralised the nation generally.

The seven-year rule by General Pervez Musharraf has not been any exception to the usual experience of a military rule. The latest experiment of military rule has again, inter alia, undermined the democratic system, aggravated political instability and weakened the federation by encouraging fissiparous tendencies in the country. The recent developments in Balochistan resulting in the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti are a reminder of the grave damage which military rule and the overemphasis on the use of military force rather than political means in dealing with political issues are causing to the country’s security and stability.

A myth of economic progress has been created through propaganda. The fact of the matter is, just to give one example, that the average per annum GDP growth rate during the period of the military rule from 1999-2006 was 5.2 per cent despite the favourable external circumstances in the aftermath of 9/11 as against the rate of 4.6 per cent achieved during the 1990s under the civilian governments, notwithstanding the economic sanctions imposed on Pakistan in October 1990 and in May 1998 because of our nuclear programme and explosions respectively.

About one third of the population is living in miserable conditions under the poverty level, roughly half of the population is illiterate, most of the people do not have access to basic health facilities and clean drinking water, and the whole country is groaning under the high rate of inflation. Little attention has been paid to the development of infrastructure as shown by the sad state of the railway system, the roads and the acute power shortage in the country. After seven years of rule, the Musharraf government can only blame itself for these economic weaknesses.

As for the country’s image abroad, it would be unrealistic to expect a bright picture for a country under military rule in an international community in which democracy has become the norm. Many of the articles and commentaries appearing in the western press portray Pakistan as a politically unstable country, burdened with military rule and suffering from extremism and the breakdown of institutions. The special report on Pakistan in the Economist of July 8, 2006, provides a deep insight into how the rest of the international community looks at Pakistan.

The Kargil fiasco was a prime example of the neglect of the principle of integration in the formulation of Pakistan’s grand strategy, assuming that we had one. The operation was in direct contravention of the policy of the government of the day as reflected by the Lahore Declaration. Thus the military aim was not governed by the political objectives of the government. It was launched without any serious thought to its economic consequences or diplomatic repercussions keeping in view the likely reaction of the international community. Even from the purely military point of view, it failed to anticipate accurately the likely response of the enemy.

The lesson of history is that a nation can ignore the principle of integration in the formulation of its grand strategy only at its own peril. The success of a grand strategy depends in large part on the optimum integration of its political, economic, military and diplomatic dimensions into a creative policy which adequately safeguards a country’s short-term and long-term objectives. In modern times, this function must be performed ideally by a democratic government which is responsive to the will of the people and to which the armed forces are subordinate.

In the case of Pakistan, it requires the return of the armed forces to barracks and the revival of a full-fledged democratic system embodying the principle of the supremacy of the representative institutions.

The writer is a former ambassador.
E-mail: javid_husain@yahoo.com

After Akbar Bugti, what?

By Zubeida Mustafa

NAWAB Akbar Khan Bugti is dead. His violent death at the hands of the Pakistan army in a targeted military operation has given Balochistan the martyr that it needed at this hour to rally people round the nationalist movement and inject fresh vigour into it. Ironically, in his death Bugti’s contribution to Baloch nationalism may prove to be greater than his role in life.

His oppressive tribalism and brutal style of ruling over his clan drove terror in the heart of many of his tribesmen and earned him enemies among his own Baloch people. He was accused of not doing enough for his people though he had been at the helm in his province — once as governor under Z.A. Bhutto and then as chief minister under Nawaz Sharif. Regarded as Islamabad’s point man in the province, Bugti could have brought prosperity and development to Baloch society if he had wanted to — until he fell out with the rulers. But all his failings will now be erased from public memory as he is mourned as the hero who fought for Baloch nationalist autonomy and honour.

The violent reaction to Bugti’s death in Balochistan and also the Baloch-dominated areas of Sindh has not been entirely unexpected. Of course, those in office have turned a blind eye to reality and are insisting that all has been well in the aftermath of the events of August 26. But if General Musharraf had the political instincts of Nawab Bugti he would have realised a long time ago that the issues that are disturbing the Baloch now are no more of an economic nature that can be resolved by pouring money into the marginalised province. Today, what is at stake is the Baloch aspiration to have decision-making power in their own affairs and on issues that concern them.

For them, what is important is not that Gwadar is developed as a modern port but that the Baloch should exercise control over the process of formulating and executing a policy in respect of Gwadar. The presence of the Frontier Constabulary in their home province is another provocation because it is a constant reminder that the Baloch have no hold over their own territory. Lack of control over their own natural resources such as the gas at Sui has also irked the nationalists. These issues may be beyond the comprehension of a non-political government that is constantly boasting of the colossal funds it is pouring into the development of Balochistan.

Problems of lawlessness and militancy as posed by Balochistan cannot be resolved by economic bribery as the British would vouch for. They paid massive sums to the tribes in the North West Frontier yet could at the most pacify them for brief periods. Neither can turbulent tribal societies be subjugated militarily to force them into submission, as the Musharraf government is confident that it can do. It will hopefully come a round to seeing the folly of such an approach. The only way of pacifying the Baloch is by talking to them and treating them with due respect. This is what the government was being advised to do all along.

In fact, those leaders of the ruling PML-Q with some political understanding had been suggesting to General Musharraf to initiate a dialogue with Akbar Bugti. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, PML-Q’s president, even formed a parliamentary committee when he was the caretaker prime minister in 2004 and visited Akbar Bugti in his stronghold in Dera Bugti. Two subcommittees were set up. The one headed by Mushahid Hussain, PML-Q’s secretary general, prepared a report with some very sensible proposals. That entailed a number of visits and meetings with various sections of the Baloch population.

But this process was not allowed to go ahead and the recommendations were not implemented. The ceasefire that had been negotiated broke down and the dialogue came to an abrupt end. The rulers in Islamabad were convinced that they could divide the Baloch and militarily crush the intransigent sections. But that strategy has failed. The jirga held last week that declared support for the president was stage-managed. It is unlikely that this pro-establishment jirga will stand up now to condemn Bugti for his shortcomings. He will be glorified and idealised even by his detractors as the champion of Baloch nationalism, just as members of the ruling party have expressed shock at his death.

Bugti was a shrewd politician and could be tackled only by another politician shrewder than him. Pervez Musharraf was no match because army generals do not negotiate with their enemies. They fight them in a bid to vanquish them. That approach has proved to be lethal.

The question that is haunting every thinking mind in Pakistan is: what next after Bugti? Are the rioting and turbulence that have erupted a foreboding of worse to come? Those who still remember the traumatic events of 1971 are asking: will history repeat itself? It is small comfort that at least the people are allowed to speak out against what is happening in Balochistan. Bangladesh had gone unwept and unsung.

But if this articulation of public discontent on what the army is doing in Balochistan has no impact on the governments thinking, this freedom of expression will bring no credit to the military rulers. At the same time, the opposition forces will be quick to capitalise on the crisis which will become their rallying cry. With so many contradictory issues muddying politics in Pakistan, one cannot even predict a steady movement towards a stable democracy.

What is more, the repercussions of Bugtis death will be felt far and wide. Pakistan’s relations with India which had been on the slide for quite some time — more so since the serial bomb explosions in Mumbai in July 2006 — can be expected to deteriorate further. The Pakistan government’s conviction — or at least what it says — is that the Baloch problem is rooted in India’s policy of meddling in the region. Hence the recriminations that have already started and will hardly benefit India-Pakistan relations. The IPI will now receive a quiet burial and Pakistan will find Iran distancing itself from Islamabad. This hardly augurs well for our foreign policy.

Mercifully, the US State Department has been very correct in its stance on Balochistan. It has expressed its hope that the dispute will be settled within the framework of a strong and unified Pakistan. It also added that Bugti’s death will have no effect on US-Pakistan relations. That will be reassuring for General Musharraf. But he cannot be complacent given the article and map published in the US Armed Forces Journal which show a ‘Free Balochistan’ as a result of the redefining of the boundaries in the region on religious and ethnic lines. The Americans have denied that they have any such plans. But can one believe them?

A political party from nowhere

By Hafizur Rahman

STAND by for an alien and unexpected revolution in Pakistan. The countdown has almost started for a new political party of intellectuals, philosophers and top industrial planners.

On reading or hearing these words you will at once say, “No, for God’s sake! Not another political party! Already we have 70 or more and one can easily bet a million rupees with anyone who can name even half of them. Another million if anyone can also tell the names of their founders/ chairmen/presidents.”

What I am talking of is the announcement of a fresh party, and since the announcement could not find space in the press, the stratagem adopted for publicising it is a small booklet that came to me by post some time ago. And the party is alien in a completely different way, though its origin is not another planet or an extra-terrestrial body. This time the saviours of the country are coming from Canada, and the thing sounds serious enough and not the work of a prankster.

Why Canada of all places? Perhaps because that is one big country which, besides being the closest neighbour that of lone superpower (and inventor of the New World Order) never pokes its nose in other people’s affairs. Yes, why Canada? Please don’t ask me. Ask that man from Canada whose picture looks like that of a Hollywood actor of the ‘30s and who has posted me his manifesto without mentioning his own name anywhere on it. Are we supposed to be impressed by his good looks?

Maybe some other people too have received the two sheets of paper from Pyam, based in Islington, Ontario, which open with these words under the Hollywood style photograph, “Human thinking is limited but the possibilities are boundless.” And then goes on to ask us to stand by for the alien and unexpected revolution.

The possibilities are indeed boundless, so much so that everyone in Pakistan believes that he has the answers and solutions to all the country’s problems. Such is the confidence that self-reliance is made of. Unfortunately in actual practice such nice words, high-sounding aims and dream-like targets don’t seem to work.

Our politicians and “nation-builders” are addicted to wordplay. You can get them to speak any number of words you like on any subject at any time of the day or night, 24-hour service guaranteed. Only don’t expect them to translate their words into deeds. No wonder most of our journalistic reporting of politics is of the “He said..” variety, Pyam may be another addition to the overloaded conglomeration of words in this field.

Anyway I am against rejecting out of hand any new venture. So let us examine Pyam’s offer to the country, though one wishes that the alien revolutionary making the offer was not faceless; or rather nameless, because the face is very much there in the shape of the filmstar-like pose that carries no name. What I have quoted above was from Page One. The real programme of the Canadian import opens with the words, “Pyam will introduce a presidential from of government in Pakistan.” However it spares us, a narration of what Mr Pyam would do if he ever contrived to make himself head of state here.

The suspense begins almost immediately: “The President will be answerable to the Council of Justice (COJ)” and we are left to guess what the COJ will do and who it will comprise. Anyway judges of the Supreme Court may take heart from the fact that Mr Pyam wants them to be on the COJ because, in the projected dispensation, the President will be answerable to a body but may refuse to answer. It is not easy to get heads of state-plus-government to talk when they don’t want to.

The Pyam intends to establish “the Grand Pak Army (GPA) with twenty divisions to make motherland safest in the world.” Nothing like plenty of divisions in the army. Apparently Pyam has no use for the navy and the air force whose personnel will probably be converted into propagandists for the family planning programme.

And now comes the grandest and the most magnificently ambitious objective. ‘Pyam will obtain 100 per cent literacy target within eight months period.” Perhaps as an expression of modesty the figure 8 has been converted into 88 by hand. Afterthoughts are always useful in political planning. Remember General Zia’s 90 days? Who knows he too may have changed it by hand to 900 days!

Pyam is nothing if not realistic. Sensing that life without the Intelligence Bureau and the ISI and other cloak-and-dagger agencies would divest politics of its thrills, “a new spying system, Humocratic State Strategy (HSS) will be organized to eliminate negative and criminal attitudes.” If you are trying to look up the word humocratic in the dictionary, don’t. It is Mr Pyam’s invention. Anyway, maybe the invention of the new spying system will be followed by a few constitutional amendments to deal effectively with journalists, pickpockets and people who steal shoes from mosques.

And so goes on Pyam, including “Electric chair death for crimes of rape and cruelty against women.” (This must be the contribution of Mrs Pyam.) The manifesto concludes by laying down that a two-party system in national politics will be introduced, though it doesn’t explain what will be the fate of the present plethora of parties.

Cranks, innovators and inverted geniuses will continue to sprout in Pakistan and will bring forth more new ideas and creeds. But what I have particularly liked about Pyam is that, unlike our 70-plus political organisations, it does not mention Islam and democracy anywhere in the two pages. That may be the only sign of its honesty.

Mr Pyam has given no address where he can be contacted. What I want to say to him is that in view of the publicity I am giving to his new party of revolution, I hope he will be able to find a berth for me if he succeeds in forming the government. I am hoping that he will read this piece and remember to do the needful. So, let Pyam come, by all means!

Espionage law & media

EARLIER this year, media organizations in the US went on alert after Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales said in a television interview that prosecuting journalists for publishing leaked classified information was a legal “possibility.”

Their apprehension eased somewhat after one of Gonzales’ deputies reminded a Senate hearing that the Justice Department “has never in its history prosecuted a member of the press [under] the Espionage Act of 1917 for the publication of classified information, even while recognising that such a prosecution could be possible under the law.”

But the Bush administration has persuaded a federal judge in Alexandria, Va., to abandon the interpretation of the Espionage Act that has shielded journalists all these years: that the law’s purpose is to punish government employees who disseminate secret information.

This month, US District Judge T.S. Ellis III ruled that the Justice Department could put two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on trial for violating the Espionage Act’s prohibition on disclosing or receiving information “related to the national defence.”

Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman allegedly received confidential information about US policy options in the Middle East from a Pentagon analyst and conveyed it to their committee colleagues, a Washington Post reporter and an Israeli diplomat.

Ellis ruled that the government still had to show that it had reason to believe the information “could be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of any foreign nation.”

But his ominous bottom line was that “the government can punish those outside of the government for the unauthorized receipt and deliberate retransmission of information relating to the national defence.” It’s hard to see why that interpretation wouldn’t cover news reporting of leaked information.

The defendants in this case are unattractive stand-ins for a free press. They allegedly provided inside information not only to a reporter but also to a foreign country. But if they are found guilty and higher courts uphold their convictions, the Espionage Act could mutate into a British-style Official Secrets Act that could be used against journalists.

That outcome would fly in the face of the history of the Espionage Act, which scholars note was enacted after Congress rejected language that would have punished newspapers for articles that, in the president’s view, “might be useful to the enemy.”

Consider the articles that inflamed the Bush administration against the media and led to speculation that it might try to prosecute journalists: the New York Times’ reporting of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of the e-mail messages and telephone calls of Americans suspected of ties with terrorists, as well as reports in the New York Times and this newspaper about US monitoring of international financial transactions.

— Los Angeles Times