Stories about Army

Why democracy should stay

Pakistan’s administrative setup was modeled after the British system: an elected legislative assembly was to give form to an executive government headed by the prime minister. The president was to hold a symbolic role while the judiciary was set to be independent. It remains a reality that despite the narrow scope in the electorate, Pakistan was a product of democracy, and will only thrive and succeed if it is democratic in structure and spirit. The continuous hampering course that Pakistan is passing through is not helping it become a truly democratic nation which can grow strong economically and deliver welfare to ...

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The rights and wrongs of Imran Khan’s politics

With the Arab Spring sweeping  away dictators world over, Pakistanis too are looking for a revolution to get rid of its democratically elected government. Interestingly, they have found new hope in the Niazi from Mianwali.  Former cricketer turned philanthropist turned politician, Imran Khan, is probably the most popular politician in Pakistan today. While Pakistan will never get its Arab Spring, a change in the political landscape is definitely a looming reality. Previously naive Khan has learnt some vital lessons from his mistakes, and has started to mature. He is careful to not criticize the military and its top brass – apparently he has ...

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Who will save democracy now?

I was 15 when Musharraf toppled the elected government in Pakistan. I’m a middle class guy who grew up reading Urdu dailies. I grew up thinking that our politicians are incapable of doing anything good and that the military should govern the country exactly like it does in Myanmar. I grew up thinking that Pakistan and India can never be friends. With time, I started reading publications from different parts of the world. This made me rethink my perceptions regarding democracy. When the elected government of the Peoples’ Party returned to power in 2008, I was as happy as any other ...

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Islamabad diary: Making sense of Zardari’s sojourn

When the coup comes, will it be a silent one or will it, like most coups do, make lots of noise? Is President Asif Ali Zardari in Dubai for genuine medical reasons or is he seeking a safe haven? Is it the army that is gunning for him or is it the Supreme Court, or perhaps a combination of the two? Such idle gossip seems to accompany nearly every elected government in Pakistan but this time there is a difference. Usually the rumours are spread by the military and their cheerleaders in the media. Now, however, most of the coup ...

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All that is good (and bad) in Memogate

1. Whoever wrote the memo was speaking for the supremacy of the civilian, democratic setup with acknowledgement of the ground realities of a country easily swayed, even toppled off-course by the military. Kudos. Caveat: The sentiment to preserve civilian rule may have stemmed from self-preservation rather than democratic principles – but either way it is worth applauding. 2. The fact that Osama bin Laden was found on our soil, living a stone’s throw away from the Army encampment really called for an accountable and independent inquiry along with the exposure and termination of service of those possibly involved in the whole ...

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A Pakistani soldier’s Eid

This Eid-ul-Azha, like the many Eids before, I was clad in my camouflage uniform. On the second day, I had been ordered to take a convoy of rations to my troops on the barren mountains of South Waziristan. On the way there I began to feel homesick, and took a stroll down memory lane. I reminisced about my college days in Lahore, and the fun my friends and I used to have. Smiling and thinking about the alu kay parathy my mother would whip up, I felt a sudden gush of gratitude towards her for the ample love she showered on me. I ...

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Why should we come back?

Pakistan is our home. It’s something we’ve been taught from the time we all were children. For better or worse, it will always be who we are, and if there’s something wrong with it, we have a duty to try and fix it. It takes a great amount of idealism to keep believing that, and sometimes, that idealism can be interpreted as idiocy. Over the last month, I interacted with five Pakistani-born and educated bankers. Three are based abroad, two are in Pakistan. They are all of different ages, they grew up in different cities, and under very different circumstances. Yet, ...

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Foot soldiers: Our forgotten war veterans

Supporting the war on terror and the military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is one debate – however, the recognition, acknowledgement and appreciation of soldiers and war veterans is a different issue. One of the strongest agents in forming one’s national identity is the support of a country’s armed forces. One can malign the Pakistan Army for its continued meddling in politics, and for maintaining a monopoly over the national security policy, but this does not give us the right to forget the foot soldiers who fought on the frontiers for our safety. These war veterans are ...

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Protecting democracy, destroying Karachi

Nothing exasperates me more than reading literature bashing Pakistan, so let me spare us all that twinge and cut to the chase. Things are not well. Aside from the terrorism, obvious over stated lack of electricity, gas and employment, the city of Karachi has become an open battlefield. The nature of this situation is very disturbing. Not only has the violence been continuing without signs of subsiding, it is getting worse. The police has been ineffective, and the government of Sindh likewise. In fact, such is the level of helplessness of the think tank of our leadership, that the army ...

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Yes, we can…live without foreign aid

Unbeknown to most, the Pakistan Army does not need to adhere to unreasonable American demands because of its dependence on American aid. The Pakistan army has enough financial resources to meet its most immediate needs – the operations in FATA – and to completely modernize its creaky armoury. Simply put, the Pakistan Army doesn’t have to wince at American threats to withhold aid. Never mind the TV pundits who warn of doomsday lest America stops giving us aid, because it might actually herald some desperately-needed reforms. Let’s look at one of the least obscure illustrations of our military’s largess: Lahore cantonment ...

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