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  1. #1
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    Dec 2012
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    Deeds not words: Najam Sethi

    An overwhelming section of the media voted for Imran Khan with its feet. Now it is getting restive as it measures the man by his deeds in comparison with his words.

    Imran Khan constantly harangued us on the philosophy of “the right man for the right job, on merit”. But, generally, he has done quite the opposite in office. To take just the most prominent appointments: the Sindh Governor is a college dropout. What are the Punjab Chief Minister’s qualifications for the job? The Presidential candidate is a prominent, hard core PTI activist, for a constitutional post that requires someone relatively neutral or apolitical who can represent the whole country non-controversially rather than the ruling party exclusively. Much the same may be said of cabinet appointments (with some honourable exceptions) where a policy of the “right man for the right job, on merit” hasn’t been followed.

    To be fair to Imran Khan, though, he didn’t have much choice, given the low quality of the elected representatives of the people of Pakistan from which he is compelled to pick his teams in our parliamentary system. It is also true that he is severely constrained by his slim majority in parliament which compels him to make unsavoury choices to keep his herd in line.

    But then that’s the crux of the problem, isn’t it, when one is guided by the philosophy of the end determining the means? When he was stuffing his party with opportunist lotas and self-serving “electables” at the expense of his ideological, educated, merited youthful supporters, the end-result was already in sight.

    Regardless, there are other consequential matters where such considerations don’t weigh in. The gaffe with India and the US cannot be condoned, especially in the presence of Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the Foreign Office. Clearly, it will take time for oppositionist rhetoric on foreign policy to be replaced with the office’s hard-nosed realities.

    It’s also not surprising that the treason case against General (retd) Pervez Musharraf is being willed to wither on the vine. The prosecution lawyer appointed by the PMLN government, Akram Sheikh, has pulled out of the case following the appointment of General Musharraf’s lead lawyers, Farogh Naseem and Anwar Mansoor Khan, as the Law Minister and Attorney General of Pakistan respectively. Indeed, a significant majority of the federal cabinet comprises men and women who indifferently served the Musharraf regime earlier.

    The latest embarrassment for Imran Khan originates in the household of the First Lady. Her ex-husband, Khawar Maneka, arrogantly flouted the law and landed in a brawl with the police. He used the First Lady’s clout with the Prime Minister to try and extricate himself from the mess by having the District Police Officer fired for doing his duty. The backlash from the public, media and bureaucracy has enveloped the Prime Minister, Punjab Chief Minister and IGP Punjab and tarred the regime’s tall claims of building a “Naya Pakistan” in which power and privilege will not be misused.

    Imran Khan’s unprecedented use of a government helicopter to ferry him daily from Banigala to the PM Secretariat and back has also been roundly criticized. This, too, must be viewed in the context of his words on the need for austerity and expenditure cuts in government administration. He proclaimed he would shun the palatial PM House in Islamabad, sell its fleet of expensive vehicles and get rid of its teeming staff to cut costs. Now the federal information minister has added insult to injury by claiming it’s no big deal because it only costs Rs 55 per km to transport the PM daily by helicopter!

    Imran Khan has repeatedly criticized the previous government for nominating the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board because “such practices are the cause of the decline in Pakistan cricket”. Yet barely fifteen minutes after the harassed Chairman resigned his post following a revival of cricket fortunes, Imran Khan tweeted his nominee for the same post without batting an eyelid.

    A big test will come when Imran Khan tries to fulfil his pledge to abolish the various discretionary funds at the disposal of the government for development projects of favoured ruling party parliamentarians, a major source of corruption and wasteful expenditures. The previous government had “abolished” such discretionary practices by siphoning off such funds through other “institutional” means, which meant that the problem of waste and corruption remained in the bowels of the system. Imran Khan can either follow the same cynical route or he can risk mass anger and alienation among his parliamentarians that could provoke a revolt and cut short his tenure. After all, how can a member of parliament whose pocket is lighter by several crores in an election hope to recoup his investment with an appropriate rate of profit if not through hefty commissions in development projects in his constituency?

    In the next weeks and months, the media will be counting Imran Khan’s various “betrayals”. He should get his act together and deliver deeds to match his words.

    http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/deeds-not-words/

  2. #2
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    Excellent article. Expect it to be ignored or deflected though, but he has raised important points nonetheless.

    Sethi has been very impressive in the last few weeks, much to the disappointment of the hardcore PTI supporters.

  3. #3
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    Nobody reads the Friday times. Sethi needs to worry about his phone tapping and illegal recording accusations.

    If PTI are so bad, why did his wife vote for their candidate? To save her husbands job? That really worked

  4. #4
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    Imran Khan’s team had a bad start, tripping from one error to another. This necessitated a quick rescue operation by the mighty Brass. Why ever not, one might ask, after all, the Brass heaved him into office in the first place and must shoulder responsibility for his actions. Indeed, the Brass has invested so heavily in him – without any credible backup in case he doesn’t deliver – that it really has no option but to prop him up whenever he falters.

    The optics were certainly unprecedented. Salutes galore by a line-up of starred generals. Even a photo-op of the PM in the Army Chief’s very own chair. And a guard of honour to boot. The message rang out loud and clear: Watch it! This is our man. He will speak for us. And we will defend him.

    But there was another part of the message that was solely aimed at Imran Khan and deliberately kept vague. “He was briefed on national security issues”, we are advised. And why ever not? Isn’t “national security” the overriding concern of the Brass? This includes its budgets for weapons systems, internal security, salaries and pensions. Austerity and accountability are all very well for corrupt civilians but the valiant armed forces are already stretched thin, what with US economic and military assistance having dried up even as the internal and regional environment has become immeasurably more challenging, even hostile. It also implies an unequivocal buy-in by Imran Khan of the Brass’ national security doctrines. The briefing was necessary so that the civil-military leadership could stand united on core issues (Nawaz Sharif paid the price for challenging it). And it was timed to keep the invading American delegation led by the US Secretary of State and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff at bay.

    The US-Pak relationship has been stuck in no-man’s land for many years. But President Trump is getting impatient. He wants a “solution” in Afghanistan in line with US interests in the larger Asia-Pacific region. Therefore a “reset” in US-Pak relations is deemed necessary so that “agreements” at the table can be “implemented” on the ground. This is a last-ditch effort to salvage the relationship. But no one is under any illusions, despite the positive gloss presented to its public by Pakistan’s leaders. The US Secretary of State was clear in his own mind: “We still have a long way to go, lots more discussions to be had”.

    Washington’s strategic objective in the Asia-Pacific region is to “contain” China. India fits snugly into this objective but Pakistan sticks out like a sore thumb. CPEC is critical to both China and Pakistan. The former wants an alternative trade route to the Middle East and Europe following American attempts to control the Asia-Pacific sea lanes with India’s help. The latter is desperate for Chinese investment in infrastructure to keep its economy afloat. By the same token, the US-India axis is hostile to CPEC. The nature of the state and regime in Afghanistan therefore becomes critical for both Pakistan and China. If Kabul is pro-US-India, it will threaten CPEC and become a platform to destabilize Pakistan’s western borders just as India has done on its eastern borders. The problem for Pakistan is that a pro-Pakistan or even “friendly” Afghanistan is inconceivable in the present circumstances. For a variety of historical reasons, the Tajiks, Uzbeks and most other Afghans, including non-Taliban Pakhtuns, hate Pakistan. Even the Taliban, who are not anti-Pakistan, have strong “ideological” ambitions in the region inimical to Pakistan. So what should Pakistan do?

    If, in the quest for a peace settlement in Afghanistan, Pakistan helps the US significantly degrade the Taliban – the one stakeholder which is not anti-Pakistan – and thereby strengthen and consolidate the disparate anti-Pakistan forces in Afghanistan, it will be undermining its own national security in the long term by making one more enemy in the region. If it doesn’t, it risks being destabilized itself by the US-India axis. Thus Pakistan is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

    The original Pakistan strategy was to help the Taliban capture Kabul. But 9/11 put paid to Taliban rule. Since then the US-India axis has fought to keep them out of Kabul and Pakistan has hedged its bets by giving them strategic succor. The stalemate has taken a heavy toll of American lives and extracted a huge financial cost. Now it is crunch time. President Trump is desperate to show “positive” results in Afghanistan. But the US-puppet Ghani regime in Kabul is riven with internal fissures and crumbling on the eve of parliamentary and presidential elections while the Taliban are rampant and disinterested in talks that don’t serve their interests.

    Meanwhile, Pakistan is extremely vulnerable on two fronts. Its economy is tanking and needs an urgent IMF injection administered by the US. And the new political dispensation engineered by the Brass and led by Imran Khan is too brittle to inspire confidence and hope.

    Under these conflicted circumstances, the US-Pak outlook for “resetting” Kabul and Islamabad is not bright.

    http://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/doomed-reset/


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  5. #5
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    Destabilized by the US-India axis? I think it's common knowledge at this point that India, US and Afghanistan have been sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan for years and so far it has failed to destabilize us. The country who is vulnerable at this point is the US. They know they cannot win in Afghanistan and they are starting to get nervous. We don't need to do anything especially the way US has behaved recently by cutting off foreign and military aid. They can fight their own wars and I think it's even more important that we tell America to take a hike when they come to us for help. We have plenty of problems of our own, and we know all to well that in the end they are going to keep asking us to do more. We've played the role of the thankless ally long enough.

  6. #6
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    To the OP - Good Article - I hope this is not yet another case of "Do as I say and not as I do"....which seems to be a reoccurring theme with this poorly troubled country since its inception....


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