Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Review By Prof. Richard Mathew (University of California) - July 2007

Book Review By Professor Richard Matthew
Human Rights and Human Welfare: An International Review of Books and Other Publication July 2007

Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America’s War on Terror by Hassan Abbas. London: M. E. Sharpe, 2005. 276 pp.

Pakistan’s president, General Pervez Musharraf, has been the subject of considerable media attention lately. To the extent that there is a consensus in the press, it is that Musharraf’s troubles are in large measure an outcome of the failed processes and bad decisions that have characterized his eight years in office. The increasingly emphatic assertions that Musharraf is the author of his own undoing, and that, as usual, the country will pay the price for its leader’s misdeeds, will be familiar to all observers of Pakistani politics. Musharraf’s predecessors have all elicited similar criticisms.

Why are Pakistan’s leaders inevitably undone by political crisis, ending their terms amidst accusations of corruption and incompetence? Hassan Abbas has authored a highly readable insider’s guide to Pakistan’s turbulent political scene that sheds much light on this question. In the Preface, he writes, “This is a story of Pakistan. The three main characters are the Pakistani Army, the jihadi actors, and the United States of America…It is my candid and straightforward analysis of what went wrong with Pakistan.” (xv) What emerges is a vision of a country in which governing and state-building are thankless, Sisyphean tasks.

The book is organized into 11 chronological chapters. It begins with a brief overview of the period prior to independence, noting that the British colonial system did much to divide the subcontinent, fostering “backwardness” among the Muslim population while creating opportunities for advancement for tractable Hindus (8). In Chapter 2, “The Early Years,” Abbas describes Pakistan’s turbulent beginnings, formed of two parts divided by a somewhat hostile India, its attraction to the democratic regimes of the UK and the U.S. rather than Soviet communism, and the speed with which it was drawn into the Cold War calculations by American security specialists worried about the influence of Pakistani communists.
During the “Ayub Era” of the 1950s and 1960s (Chapter 3), Pakistan struggled to improve the quality of its military, “in a lamentable state” after partition, while the situation in Kashmir deteriorated (32). Abbas offers a fascinating account of the thinking that culminated in the disastrous war against India in 1965.

Apparently, Pakistan’s leaders hoped that a violent skirmish would trigger international arbitration of the Kashmir conflict. Instead, a politically motivated “change of command at a critical time” resulted in a failed mission and political disaster (49). Protests and discontent soon placed the government in jeopardy, and it was replaced by military coup in 1969.

Military rule proved yet another disaster as General Yahya sought to manage rising nationalism in East Pakistan. Long neglected by its western sibling, the Awami League, under Sheikh Mujib, had issued a set of demands in 1966 known as the Six Points, to promote parity between the two parts of the country. At first, Yahya was favorably disposed to accommodating these demands, but before a settlement was reached, the Pakistani Army initiated Operation Searchlight to blunt dissent in the East. This “inflicted on East Pakistan a reign of horror…[and] brought upon Pakistan eternal shame” (63). Raping, looting and torching hardened Mujib, Indian forces entered the fray, and the Pakistani Army conceded defeat on December 16, 1971. General Yahya was arrested, and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became president four days later.

Bhutto hung on for six years, working to diminish the political influence of the army and playing a complicated game of trying to use religious extremists to his advantage (e.g., to destabilize the Daud regime in Afghanistan) while blunting their political ambitions. By the mid 1970s, religious protests led to a declaration of martial law and grave concern in the U.S., which may have had a hand in his ouster (88).

General Zia Ul-Haq seized power in July 1977 and spent the next decade protecting Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program (a response to India’s), while trying to work Cold War dynamics in Pakistan’s favor. Abbas devotes a long chapter (6) to this “most remarkable man,” whose extraordinary achievements were undermined by domestic policies that “did great long-term damage to the interests of his country (132).” Zia died in a plane crash in August of 1988, opening the door to another experiment with democracy. Abbas worked under the regime of Benazir Bhutto (1994-96) and his discussion of the enormous challenges both she and Nawaz Sharif, who succeeded her as prime minister, faced as they tried to negotiate the complex political space defined by religious extremists, the military and American interests is fascinating.

The book ends with four brief chapters on the turbulent Musharraf era. Like his predecessors, Musharraf has faced an almost impossible task, complicated by the global impacts of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. If his government cooperates with India or the United States, radical extremists domestically mobilize violent protests. If the grievances and concerns of the religious conservatives are addressed, then the U.S. takes punitive measures. If the concerns of the elites are allowed to shape policy, the poor become angry and frustrated. But, if policies are designed to help the poor, threatened elites act to undermine them. If the president decides to pull forces back from Kashmir or tighten surveillance along the border with Afghanistan, then his resolve is sorely tested as acts of violence ramp up in Islamabad and Karachi. If he introduces education for girls in the north, a severe conservative backlash follows. Burn poppy fields and desperately poor people migrate into urban areas where they are vulnerable to being drawn into criminal gangs or terrorist organizations. It is no wonder that Musharraf may soon be replaced.

Abbas’s writing is rich with anecdotes and strong opinions. This is the work of a consummate insider—a man who worked at a senior level in the administrations of both Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and President Musharraf. The book is more reminiscent of a William Langewiesche, a Robert Kaplan or a Seymour Hersh, than a dispassionate ivory tower academic. The writing is less powerful than that of our best political journalists, but Abbas shares their eye for detail and their ease in shifting from revealing anecdote to general theoretical claim to personal observation and opinion without losing the thread of narrative. The end result is not especially objective, but it is an informed, entertaining and important window into a country that, for better or worse, plays a major role in world affairs. It will be of great interest to anyone who wishes to understand this region of the world.

Dr. Richard Matthew, Associate Professor
Director, Center for Unconventional Security Affairs
University of California Irvine
July 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Asian Affairs Book Review by Owen Bennett Jones

Book Reviews: South Asia
Asian Affairs, Vol. xxxvii, No. 3, November 2006

Hassan Abbas focuses on the consequences of radical Islam in one, fragile society. His book deals with Pakistan’s history from 1947 until the present day. The chapters dealing with the period up to the death of General Zia are a fairly standard account, although Abbas does provide a few new documents and inside accounts to add to the current stock of knowledge. The book comes to life, though, when dealing with the period of which Abbas has had direct experience. He served under Benazir Bhutto and General Musharraf and has also drawn on interviews with jihadi militants, ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) officials and senior army officers. They have provided him with interesting material. His accounts of the administrations of Nawaz Sharif, Benazir Bhutto and General Musharraf are at the same time reliable and quite gossipy. He does not hesitate to include some highly enjoyable asides on the personal animosities and foibles that lay behind various decisions and incidents.

Abbas is at his best when analysing General Musharraf. He argues that whilst Musharraf may have started out with good intentions to rid Pakistan of corruption and to confront the Islamic extremists, he has been discouraged by the scale of the task and has, by now, all but given up. Abbas maintains, not very convincingly, that Musharraf might still find the resolve to achieve his goals and implement his polices. In reality, though, his defeatism, combined with an increasing capacity to soak up flattery and to resent dissent, means that little can now be expected from his regime.

However, as Abbas points out, all Pakistani leaders, Musharraf included, have been constrained by one issue above all others: Kashmir. Pakistan’s support for the insurgency has already resulted in blowback in the form of sectarian violence at home as well as the assassination attempts on General Musharraf. Doubtless there will be worse to come.

Abbas argues that it has almost reached the point where the Pakistani state needs to keep the jihadi groups busy fighting in Kashmir for fear of what they would do if they had time on their hands in Pakistan itself. To his credit, General Musharraf has shown genuine flexibility trying to find a solution to the Kashmir dispute despite the inevitable domestic political cost. So far, however, India has shown no interest whatsoever in meeting him half way.

Pakistan, of course, is responsible for most of its own problems. Nevertheless, the world has a great interest in nuclear Pakistan being maintained as a stable state. Many in the West, like Abbas, call on the country to introduce more democracy. That may help (although the experience of the 1990s suggests otherwise) but Western diplomatic pressure would perhaps be more usefully be expended calling on India to join Pakistan in search of a settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Book Review - Boston Globe

Boston Globe
An inside look at the changes in Pakistan
By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff | November 17, 2004

Pakistan’s Drift Into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America’s War on Terror, By Hassan Abbas, M. E. Sharpe, 267 pp., paperback, $25.95

Although it is a political history, parts of Hassan Abbas's new book, "Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism," reads like someone whispering family secrets. Instead of the crazy old aunt or the secret adoption, Abbas speaks intimately about the dizzying array of generals deposing presidents and presidents plotting against prime ministers that have whirled through the country's 57-year existence.

He tells us, for instance, that the "brilliant but temperamental Major General Akbar Khan" shared all his secrets with his wife and that it was she who "spilled the beans" about the coup he was planning.

He tells us who was a Scotch drinker (a dirty secret for any Muslim politician) and who is a murderer. He tells us who stood outside the door of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in full military dress, proclaiming that he wanted to guard the prime minister.

But this 267-page history is also part psychological profile of the larger-than-life personalities of the Pakistani army and their convenient love affair with extremist religious elements who gave birth to the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

Perhaps the biggest secret Abbas reveals is how this array of politicians, one after the other, betrayed the secular vision of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, to seek legitimacy and popularity through religious parties.

Abbas, a former Pakistani police officer and one-time adviser to the Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, sheds light on mysteries that the vast majority of American readers have never wondered about: Why did Pakistan's army launch an attack on Kargil Heights, a rocky crag in Indian-held Kashmir, just as peace talks between the two nuclear powers were making progress?

Why did Pakistan shuffle around the army command at a crucial point in a war with India? Was the United States behind the coup against Bhutto? Why did the unruly militant group Muttahidah Quami Movement, or MQM, split apart in December 1991 ("They gave ideological reasons as the cause of the split," Abbas writes, "but the ISI," the Pakistani intelligence agency also known as the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, "was behind the split.")

Such insider stories have elevated this book to the bestseller list in India, where newspapers have carried some of its juiciest tales, but it's harder to find in Cambridge, where Abbas is a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School and a doctoral candidate at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Yet the book is one in a series of recent works about Pakistan, America's most complex ally in the war on terror. Abbas's writing joins Stephen Philip Cohen's "The Idea of Pakistan" in the quest to unravel the mystery of how the mujahideen of the Cold War days -- supported by the Americans to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan -- so quickly turned their fury against Uncle Sam.

But Abbas's book is unique in that he is speaking as a Pakistani to his own people. In its most important form, the book is a truth-telling, undressing heroes, myths, and psychologies that school textbooks in Pakistan lionize.

Of Musharraf, Pakistan's current president and military leader, Abbas says the fatal car crash that killed Lieutenant General Ghulam Ahmed Khan changed Musharraf forever. Khan was one of the few subordinates who truly told it like it was, and "with his demise, Musharraf increasingly lost touch with reality and became a willing prisoner in a web of flattery," he writes.

It is also a truth-telling to the United States, which has supported the worst dictators -- and dropped support for democratic leaders -- with a superpower's caprice.

Those readers who had hoped for a policeman's view of Al Qaeda and the inside scoop on militant jihadi groups in Pakistan have to wait until the very last chapters, which spend a great deal of time on the terrorist groups that have taken the biggest toll on Pakistani people: sectarian groups of Sunnis that target Shi'as, and vice versa.

For an American audience, the most interesting parts of the book come at the end, when Abbas reconstructs -- partly from already published accounts -- the behind-the-scenes dealings after Sept. 11, when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell pushed Pakistan to do a 180-degree reversal on its support for the Taliban.

Abbas shows how, hours after its tumultuous birth as a nation separate from the largely Hindu India, Pakistan faced an identity crisis that has plagued it to this day. He shows how the two great tug-of-wars -- between being Muslim or secular, being a democracy or a dictatorship -- intertwined.

This, one senses, is the point of all the drama and history that Abbas regales his readers with, across the decades and fiascoes of Pakistan's often back-stabbing, and occasionally virtuous, political and military leaders.

Democracy is the only thing that will bring balance to the extremist equation, he tells his readers, who he clearly hopes include policy makers in the US government.

The last chapter reads like a doctor writing a prescription. If Pakistan is to be saved from intolerant mullahs, it must make peace with India on Kashmir and reduce the role of the military in politics, despite the strong US support for Musharraf, a key ally in the war on terror.

"The people of Pakistan yearn for true democracy," Abbas writes. "For this dream to become a reality, Pakistan's military establishment has to take a back seat."
© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Dawn Review By Ayesha Siddiqa

REVIEW: Stories from the barracks
Dawn, November 28, 2004
by Dr Ayesha Siddiqa

THIS recently published book by Hassan Abbas is Pakistan’s Tom Clancey. Written in a flowing prose, this is a narrative about the link between the mullah, the military and America and the manner in which it shapes Pakistan’s politics. More importantly, it tells tales from the inner circles of power, especially the military that one would not get to hear otherwise. The book is full of anecdotes about a lot of people starting from Ayub Khan to Musharraf that would keep a reader awake. The style is certainly journalistic rather than academic.

The book has eleven chapters out of which the first five are historical. These refer to a period starting from independence to Ziaul Haq in which the author struggles with establishing the link between the religious right and the military establishment. Tracing the roots of Islam in the region dating back to Mohammad bin Qasim, the author points out how the religious parties opposed the creation of Pakistan. But once the country was established in 1947, they managed to take advantage and establish themselves. For the mullah the anti-Ahmadi riots of 1953 were the entry point into coercive politics. Then on, the religious parties systematically opposed the secular parties or any move to secularize the country.

This stand of the religious parties helped establish the army in politics. The army’s foothold in decision-making eroded accountability which was required to review its blunders like the one made in 1965. For instance, the author raises questions regarding the change of guard in the army during Operation Gibraltar that took Pakistan even closer to not achieving its military objective. The suggestion is that Yahya changed the tactical planning resulting in the disaster of 1965.

Yahya, according to Abbas, made other tactical errors as well. The poor handling of East Pakistan and ordering the carnage of innocent Bengali citizens occured under Yahya’s watch. In the end, even Nixon, despite his concern for Pakistan, could not help the country. The poverty of leadership was a major cause of the debacle of 1971. Yahya was more interested in listening to Nur Jahan sing to him over the telephone than directing his troops.

The change of guard, however, did not help improve political conditions. Soon after taking power Zulfikar Ali Bhutto tried to impose himself on the military, a move resisted by General Gul Hassan that led to his eventual removal. This and other blunders were resented by the army resulting in a group trying to stage a coup against Bhutto. It was the court martial proceedings of this case that brought Ziaul Haq into the limelight. The general’s ability of making his political superior happy resulted in his promotion. This was part of a number of blunders that Bhutto made. He miscalculated Zia’s intent and provoked the general to punishing Bhutto severely. Abbas’s argument is that ultimately Zia perceived Bhutto’s assassination as an issue of his own life and death. The passage describing Bhutto’s last hours should dispel many of the myths surrounding the end of Pakistan’s first elected prime minister:

Earlier, when Bhutto was told that he would be hanged on the morrow, at first he did not believe it. Only when his wife and daughter were allowed their farewell visit to him did the gravity and imminence of the situation finally begin to sink into him. He then told his wife to file a mercy petition on his behalf with Zia. He would still not beg for clemency himself. But a while later he asked for his shaving kit — he said he wanted to look good when dead. Soon it was time to go. It was suggested to him that since he was weak, it would be best if he embarked on his last journey on a stretcher. He refused and walked until he could no more. There he addressed the jail warden and said he was sorry that on occasion he had caused him unnecessary problems.

His last words were that the handcuffs were uncomfortably tight, and he asked if someone could loosen them. By then Tara Masih, the official hangman, had pulled the lever and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had passed into the ages. The Economist aptly wrote, ‘The quality of the evidence was highly questionable. The prosecution witnesses were a shady bunch. But the task set for the justices by the soldiers who have ruled Pakistan since last July’s coup was quite clear: Mr Bhutto must be removed.’

It is Zia, who then changed the face of socio-politics. He outmanoeuvred any opposition to his views in the army and put the country on a more religious, ideological course. The Americans, however, were with him in doing so because of the Afghan jihad. Some assume that it was his religious inclinations that made the Americans suspicious of Zia and his removal in 1988. But the author refutes all such claims.

While the dynamics of the mullah-military alignment changed in the ensuing years, the political chaos did not abate. In fact, the chapter on the years of democratic governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif and the military-led dispensation of Musharraf are full of anecdotes highlighting the political confusion and contradictions, and tension between the military and political forces. The creation of the IJI and the MQM by the ISI are interesting stories as is the section on the Musharraf-Sharif tussle on Kargil. Abbas’s standpoint is that Sharif did not have a full idea of the plan. Considering Nawaz Sharif’s limited understanding of issues, one can sympathize with the argument.

The most interesting sections of the book deal with the story of what transpired amongst the army’s top leadership at the time of the plane hijacking and eventual take over by Musharraf in October 1999, General Mehmood’s reaction when confronted by the Bush administration after 9/11, and the working of the national accountability bureau (NAB). One is, for instance, amazed to know that Mehmood readily agreed to cooperate with the US and it was Musharraf who took a relatively longer while than his head of ISI to take a decision on the turn around.

Abbas reaches the conclusion that Musharraf would not be able to deliver. This assessment is based on the author’s experience of the general’s backtracking on corruption cases and handling of religious extremism in the country.

There are many who would be inclined to read this as an anti-army book which it definitely is not. In fact, Abbas has been fair in his assessment of the army. The sin for which he might not be forgiven by those in power is telling stories from the army’s inner circles. These are stories that the army’s discipline does not allow its officers to tell openly. The narrative in some case is so intimate that one wonders if the author was part of the military. This book definitely tells the tale that many a professional and honest officer might want to tell.

At certain places the author’s bias is also apparent, like in the discussion of Asif Zardari and Benazir Bhutto. Despite his affinity with Zardari, the author does not devote a lot of space discussing the politics and tactics of Bhutto’s husband. Similarly, Abbas dedicates a lot of precious time on the early years without any major contribution to the reader’s knowledge. But that is really a matter of a necessity for building his argument. From an academic standpoint, there are other substantive weaknesses as well such as lack of citation and sources in the book. In fact, the research methodology is questionable. However, as Abbas confesses himself: the book is not academic but tells a story. From that perspective, Abbas emerges as a powerful storyteller.

Dawn - 31 October 2004
EXCERPTS: NAB: the early years
By Hassan Abbas

Hassan Abbas writes about the inception of the National Accountability Bureau and its sorry performance.

The first decisive step that Musharraf took was on the domestic front - accountability of the corrupt. With every change of government since the revival of democracy, the cry for accountability had become louder and louder, but as the problem was so widespread and the ramparts of vested interest so invincible, no government dared go beyond a judicious mixture of flimsy steps and lip service toward meeting this demand. By the time Musharraf found himself catapulted to the helm he had no option but to bow to the overwhelming sentiment of the people.
Thus before the month of October 1999 was exhausted, he announced the formation of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), with Lieutenant-General Syed Mohammad Amjad as its first chairman. And by a strange irony, it was fated that the 'Attock conspiracy' officers who had paid a heavy price for attempting to conduct accountability 25 years before would have a fair representation on the Bureau. Within two days of the formation of NAB, the services of Saeed Akhtar Malik and Farouk Adam Khan were requisitioned.
General Amjad was the ideal and unanimous choice of the senior ranks of the army to be NAB chairman. He was an officer of extraordinary diligence and exemplary character, his name was a byword for integrity... In the event, Musharraf's credibility and commitment were to be defined by the performance of NAB...
From the survey of the NAB team, one could only draw optimism. Farouk Adam had a courtly manner, an impressive personality, and a unique ability to smile through the tedium of a 16-hour workday. Saeed A. Malik had much idealism and passion and also a flair for winning the esteem of those working under him...
The initial labours of NAB were dedicated to drawing up the NAB Ordinance to provide a legal framework for this new organization. The central principle that dictated the ordinance was the shifting of the onus of proof to the accused, that is, that if the accused person could not reconcile his wealth, earnings, expenses, and taxes that he had paid, he must be deemed guilty of corruption. The framers of this ordinance were very conscious that this draconian law would be applied to a maximum of only 400 of the most corrupt in the land and the principle that would determine the qualification of these "selected few" would be that of either an association with a great crime or having a big name adorned perhaps by a theft not that big. Without such a law, the NAB would essentially have been a non-starter because of the virtual non-existence of investigative and prosecutorial resources
To implement this agenda, Amjad was given full authority to select the "targets", though he regularly consulted the ISI and a few legal experts while making vital decisions in this regard. Amjad had a free hand to hold across the board and evenhanded accountability from which no one was exempt, except the judiciary and serving armed forces officials.
On November 17, 1999 NAB moved in for its first crop of arrests. Many of those arrested were big names. There was great euphoria among the people because many individuals who had always considered themselves beyond the reach of law were now behind bars. Yet most of the arrests were made on the charges of loan default, perhaps the easiest charge to prove, but one that NAB could be horrendously wrong about because it was very difficult to tell an honest from a wilful default. With the first blood having been drawn, the public appetite was whetted and they bayed for more. Their clamour could have been ignored, but not that of the government, whose credibility and performance had nothing but the achievements of NAB to show for itself.
The ordinary public was under the impression that the ISI and other intelligence agencies had collected enough data on corrupt elements when they were "monitoring" the civilian governments during the 1990s, but when a few ISI files were handed over to NAB officials, these were mostly speculative and devoid of any sound material necessary to prove a case in a court of law. To quicken up things, General Amjad hurriedly developed a core team to run the organization comprising bankers, economists, lawyers, and a few from intelligence and police backgrounds. It was a combination never tried before, the only handicap being a shortage of time to organize and deliver.
Around that time, a letter from Musharraf's office to NAB (dated December 11, 1999) adequately reflects the anxiety of the government and its dependence on NAB to shore up its credibility: "It has been reported with... great concern that corrupt politicians are becoming bold and the press is gradually becoming sympathetic to them. This trend must be stopped and reversed. Following steps are suggested:
1. Move fast on all issues.
2. Expose the corrupt people very expeditiously.
3. Scoop on corruption on a daily basis."
Consequently, more people were arrested based on their reputations, but proof of their corruption was lacking. NAB could have gained a lot of credibility in its initial days by prosecuting the ones who were already in custody, but the special accountability courts were not in place yet as the selection of judges and establishing a new chain of courts and developing a whole new infrastructure was taking time. What the military hierarchy did not realize was that there is a huge difference between deploying a military unit to a new location and establishing a law enforcement institution that has to act within the parameters of law. To overcome this shortage, dozens of retired ISI officials were inducted who perhaps knew the art of interrogation well, but had very little legal and investigative experience, which was the core requirement in this case. There was a reason behind the compulsion that the new inductees had to be former ISI officials -the ISI was providing the funds for this NAB expansion and they opted to benefit their comrades in the process.
As if these problems were not enough to hamper NAB's work, all of the arrested persons were kept in different cities under the custody of respective military commands where the local military officials and intelligence operatives started investigating/interrogating the accused on their own. Every single institution was trying to spy on NAB, making the task further complicated. This was symbolic of the general state of affairs in Pakistan.
Amjad and Farouk Adam, the two public faces of NAB, were now under immense pressure from the public, the press and the government. As they addressed the press, it seemed to the military hierarchy that they were hogging the limelight, and they became victims of gratuitous envy. Shaukat Aziz, the finance minister then, who had Musharraf's ear, was for blanket protection to businessmen despite the fact that some of the latter, in cahoots with the bankers, were the biggest crooks. Amjad, on the other hand, was heading toward making an example of those industrialists and businessmen who had established their business empires through corrupt practices. This was a risky business as big money was involved.
One of Amjad's problems was the subtle increase of government interference with his functioning. As it was, NAB had an ominous start to begin with. In its first two weeks of operations, it cracked open a multimillion-dollar case of fraud and corruption. Nortel, a Canadian telecommunications company, had unfairly been handed a fat contract to build a mobile telephone network in Pakistan. This was an open-and-shut case as all the evidence was there, but when Amjad wanted to move in and scuttle the contract, he was refrained from doing so. The only man who had the power to do this was Musharraf himself.
As NAB moved along, two questions were frequently asked of Amjad, that is, whether there were any holy cows, and if the army generals involved in corruption would also be arrested. The government position was that only serving army officers and the judiciary were exempt from NAB because both institutions had effective in-house correction systems, but technically, retired armed forces officials were not a part of this category Amjad was absolutely dedicated to having them probed, but was restrained from doing so.
In another high-profile case, a leading politician from the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) known for his corrupt practices threatened NAB officials during his interrogation by saying that he was a CIA agent, and that political instability would be created in the country if he were not released immediately. Amjad responded by making things harsher for him and by appointing more investigators to probe his case. The politician was ultimately convicted.
It was becoming obvious to NAB that the task before it was gigantic. Realizing this, NAB hired a couple of foreign investigative and law firms to get the corruption money stashed in foreign banks back to Pakistan. It did not work well in the long run but at least sent a strong warning to many Pakistanis abroad who had stolen the money and were now enjoying life in Europe and America. Foreign governments were also contacted for cooperation in this endeavour, and the first positive reply came from the US government. In August 2000 a US team led by Mr Harry Marshall, a senior legal adviser in the US Department of Justice, landed in Pakistan to discuss US-Pakistan cooperation in the domain of the extradition treaty between the two states.
NAB presented its cases for extradition of five Pakistanis who were reported as to be in the United States. That led to a successful collaboration between the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and NAB in pursuit of the short-listed cases. From Pakistan's list, one of the cases involved former chief of the Pakistan Navy, Admiral Mansurul Haq, against whom NAB had a sound case. The admiral had been involved in the famous French submarines kickback case in the mid-1990s. Due to the superb efforts of FBI official Michael Dorris, the accused was traced and picked up by the FBI from Austin, Texas, and extradited to Pakistan for the NAB case.
* * * * *
The saddest commentary on Musharraf's much-vaunted commitment to the cause of accountability is that each member of this team of officers was hounded out of NAB soon after Amjad's departure from the institution. Their only handicap was that not one of them was prone to entertaining any adverse dictates. And so ended a heroic chapter of the war against crime by a handful of officers in a corrupt environment.
Reportedly, Amjad had asked to be relieved of his duties more than once. He was not one to take government partiality lying down. He left the NAB at the end of September 2000. The NAB's change of command, in the words of Mohammad Malick's commentary in Dawn, was "a clear sign of NAB's tailored, if not changed priorities". No one then knew who the real "tailor" might be, but there was an acknowledgment that "Amjad remained a very fair accountability chief". But Tariq Ali in his book The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihadis, and Modernity was much more perceptive when he observed that Amjad was ready to push through, but "Musharraf balked at the scale of the enterprise". The new chairman was Lieutenant General Khalid Maqbool, whose reputation was no match for Amjad's. NAB was dead for all practical purposes. A noble experiment had ended because those who had initiated it did not have the moral stamina to carry it through. But it would not be them who would pay the price for this failure. This would be paid once more by those who have always paid it, the people of Pakistan.
Musharraf had made a clear choice - he would compromise with those politicians who were ready to side with him. He had given into pressure from various sectors that wanted the regime to behave "normally" and not as a revolutionary one. This was the dilemma Musharraf faced - the masses were looking for a Messiah in him, whereas the political and military elite wanted the status quo to continue. Musharraf was still swinging in between.
Hassan Abbas is a visiting scholar at the Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School, and a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He has served in the Government of Pakistan for ten years.

From Publishers Weekly

October 2004
Nuclear, unstable, fundamentalist, Islamic—these adjectives are often used in frightening combination when the media turns to the topic of modern-day Pakistan, a critical but volatile ally in the fight to eradicate al Qaeda. With the sensibilities of both an insider and a scholar, Abbas, a Harvard fellow and former officer in President Pervez Musharraf’s anti-corruption police force, adds an important measure of sophistication to the popular understanding of Pakistan’s dangers and dysfunctions. His detailed analysis works through the country’s complicated history, starting in 1947 with the wrenching partition of British colonial India and ending with today’s impoverished, graft-addled government, which seems closer to falling into a maelstrom of religious radicalism every day. An important thread running through this history is the way American foreign policy—at times misguided or self-serving—magnified Pakistan’s homegrown ills. During the early 1980s, for instance, Pakistan’s pro-Western popular opinion appeared rock solid. "Only indifference, myopia and incompetence of flawless pedigree could have reversed this," Abbas writes. "But Pakistan and the United States would combine to produce the missing ingredient"—a policy of statewide "Islamization" orchestrated by Pakistan’s then leader, General Zia Ul-Haq, and amplified by Washington’s parallel support of the anti-Soviet mujahideen movement. Abbas offers valuable descriptions of today’s most active jihadi movements in Pakistan. More importantly, he shows how the Kashmir conflict, South Asia’s most aggravated political wound, has come to express numerous, overlapping national humiliations—often underestimated by Washington and exploited by Islamabad. "If Pakistan is to be saved from its future," Abbas concludes, "It must start by coming to a sincere accommodation with India over Kashmir."

Interview with India New England journal

India New England - Arts & Entertainment
Issue: 11/15/04

Author shares insider's view of drifting Pakistan
By Poornima Apte

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. - Hassan Abbas is disappointed that the "season of hope" that heralded President Pervez Musharraf's arrival in Pakistani politics is now long gone.

In his book, "Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America's War on Terror," the doctoral candidate at Tufts Fletcher School of Diplomacy, writes: "Without doubt, Musharraf has shown ample courage in fighting religious extremism and terrorism, but has failed to institutionalize his policies."

Abbas' observations about Pakistan's politics come from an insider's view that he has enjoyed over the years - he has served in Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's administration and has been a deputy director in Musharraf's Chief Executive Secretariat.

He told INDIA New England that the idea for the book had been simmering for many years, but the final motivation came about when he saw how Musharraf had dashed the hopes of many in Pakistan.

In the book, the chapter dedicated to Musharraf's administration is called "season of hope." Abbas says he wondered if he should have placed a question mark at the end of that phrase and later dropped the idea when he acknowledged that Musharraf had done a fair amount of good for the country.

When asked if Musharraf had a tough line to walk between keeping religious extremists at bay and helping with the American "war on terror," Abbas admits it is a challenge.

He partly blames the United States for its short-term solutions to pressing problems in many volatile regions in the world.

"Why are they not spending money on strengthening universities?" he asks, questioning the United States' single-minded devotion to Musharraf and the military. "Why not assign more money for law enforcement?"

Abbas adds that short-sighted American foreign policies are partly to blame for the rapid growth of religious madrassas in Pakistan. During the '80's, the American government supported the anti-Soviet mujahideen movements as an answer to Soviet aggression.

Now the movement has mushroomed out of proportion; Abbas says there are at least 30,000 madrassas in Pakistan, and the mujahideen are always on the lookout for the next political and religious hot spot to focus their attentions on.

Abbas adds that many in the Arab and Muslim worlds harbor resentment against American administrations that adopt a higher moral ground, while at the same time supporting brutal dictatorial regimes in Arab countries.

He points to the House of Saud in Saudi Arabia, which is a loyal friend of the United States but is notorious for its repressive policies against its people.

Back in Pakistan, Abbas worries that an effective answer to Musharraf's absence has not shaped up.

"Failing to make a real difference lately, Musharraf has fallen in the esteem of the people of Pakistan, and there is many a hope that lies crushed in the rubble of this fall, and yet no popular movement has been able to generate steam against him," Abbas writes in the book.

"That, however, is only a matter of time, and unfortunately the ones who will lead the public opinion in such a crisis will be the religious leaders, because Musharraf has sidelined the liberal forces and moderate political parties."

The book outlines Pakistan's political history and evaluates the policies of various administrations including those of Bhutto and President Zia-ul-Haq. The country has vacillated between democracy and military dictatorship ever since it became independent.

When asked about the Kashmir situation, Abbas is hopeful that India and Pakistan will reach a working compromise soon.

He blames both countries equally for complicating matters and not doing enough to arrive at a meaningful solution.

Still, Abbas believes that the movement of artists back and forth between the two countries and the playing of competitive cricket in each other's countries are signs of an encouraging start.

"Some of my best friends are Indians," Abbas says. "It is true that outside of the countries' propaganda about each other, there is real friendship and dialogue."

Abbas is working on another book about the 10 leading terrorist organizations around the world. He says the Pakistani and American media have received his current book very well, but his statements about the Pakistani military have been controversial.

"My friends in Pakistan called up and told me not to come back in the immediate future," Abbas laughs.

Despite the discouraging and sometimes ominous scenarios Abbas paints in the book, he is hopeful that the moderate forces in Pakistan will prevail in the end.

"Musharraf still has a chance," Abbas says, "if he decided to collaborate or work with more moderate forces in society."

Review in International Affairs (London) - March 2005

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS, Vol. 81, Issue 2, April 2005, page 481-482
Pakistan’s drift into extremism: Allah, the army, and America’s war on terror. By Hassan Abbas. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe. 2004. 294pp. Index. $69.95. Pb.: $25.95.
The idea of Pakistan. By Stephen Philip Cohen. Washington DC: Brookings. 2004. 382pp. Index. £21.50.

When and why did Pakistan become an object of fear? Once a beacon of moderation in the Muslim world, it now appears as a terrifying centre of Islamic radicalism, nuclear proliferation and terrorism. How much of this dramatic transformation is based on current western unease about the Islamic ‘other’ and how much on first-hand information is, of course, still hotly debated. Nevertheless, two new books, one by an acknowledged American expert on Pakistan, the other by a former Pakistani government official, suggest that the gulf separating western and Pakistani perspectives may be narrower than we imagine. Each adopts a different approach, yet both conclude that Pakistan is headed for social and political chaos, with its most durable institution—the army—threatened with fracture and vulnerable to a take-over by radical Islamists. Both also concur that (and this is surely open to debate) the only real guarantor of Pakistan’s future survival is the United States.
Indeed, the unmistakable focus of Stephen Cohen’s The idea of Pakistan is the country’s future as an active concern of US foreign policy. Those seeking in this book an analogue to the kind of thoughtful meditation that Sunil Khilnani brought to his classic The idea of India (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998) are likely, therefore, to be disappointed. Cohen here is engaged in an altogether different enterprise, alive with ‘challenges’, ‘scenarios’, ‘strategies’ and ‘policy options’—all hammered out with a keen eye to securing US interests in South Asia. None of this of course detracts from the value of a study—richly observed and well grounded in both current scholarship and journalism—which is very largely persuasive. The nub of his argument is that Pakistan’s successive national crises, which have earned it the unenviable sobriquet of a ‘failed state’ (a label Cohen himself is reluctant to endorse), must be understood as symptomatic of the still unresolved struggle between opposing ideas of Pakistan.
Cohen recognizes that this lack of consensus is, in great measure, an unfortunate legacy of the politics of brinkmanship pursued by Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, whose idea of Pakistan was kept as vague as possible so as to secure what he thought would be the maximum advantage for the Muslims of India on the eve of independence in 1947. Its consequences for Pakistan, however, were disastrous. Unplanned and inchoate, the country soon became a battleground for rival forces, each determined to impose its particular ‘idea’ of Pakistan. Cohen charts this deadly engagement showing how it has torn the state apart, quite literally (as in 1971) and subjected it to wildly different trajectories. The chief beneficiary of this struggle has been the army (which Cohen has already analysed with remarkable acuity in his The Pakistan army [Oxford University Press Pakistan, 1999]). It has been in power almost continuously since independence barring brief democratic interregnums in the 1970s and 1990s. But the army’s success has also rested on its grudging willingness to share its spoils with an informal ‘establishment’ or ‘oligarchy’ of some 500 ‘socially and culturally intertwined people’, who subscribe to ‘a particular understanding of Pakistan’ (p. 69). That understanding is predicated, Cohen argues, on an ‘operational code’ that borrows heavily from the ideology of the British Raj, which assumed that power was to be relinquished only under duress. This cosy arrangement is now threatened by Islamic militants.
Since the 1980s they have forged a close and apparently sordid relationship with sections of the army and the state intelligence services on the back of the covert execution (with tacit US approval) of Pakistan’s regional policy in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Profound social changes, extreme demographic pressures and rapidly declining civilian institutions, especially state education, have fuelled this dangerous symbiosis. So, what are the chances of success today for US policy in Pakistan, where Islamists are ideologically opposed to the US, the Left accuses it of supporting the establishment, and the establishment itself is deeply suspicious of US motives? Cohen is guarded but what he makes eminently clear is that, in the short term at least, the United States has no option but to protect its interests by helping Pakistan restore its image as a ‘moderate Muslim state’. Significantly, though, he is much less inclined to place bets on Pakistan’s capacity to evolve as a ‘liberal modern state, functioning in the global system at peace with its neighbours’ (p. 327).
Nor, judging by the conclusions of Pakistan’s drift into extremism, does the country’s future inspire much confidence in Hassan Abbas. An erstwhile senior police officer, he provides an insider’s view of the relentless machinations of the country’s civilian and military leadership and casts new light on the shadowy groups that populate its jihadi underworld. It makes for fascinating reading—less, it must be said, for its analysis than for its fevered speculation, its readiness to name names, and its steadfast resolve to expose the murky arrangements at the heart of government. All this, not surprisingly, adds up quickly to a picture of Pakistan as depressing and dangerously poised on the brink of a fundamentalist precipice.
Abbas singles out a host of culprits responsible for diverting Pakistan away from the goals he believes Jinnah set for the country. In a style bristling at times with emotion he rounds on Pakistan’s motley ‘elite’ of degenerate feudal lords, unscrupulous politicians, arrogant bureaucrats and selfserving military generals. But his greatest contempt is reserved for the mullas (clerics), whose accession to power was boosted by their common cause with General Zia ul Haq’s programme of Islamization in the 1980s. What transformed them from objects of ridicule to a major political force was their involvement in Afghanistan, where many learnt to master the art of covert warfare, which the state later exploited in the execution of its Kashmir policy. This, Abbas argues, decisively helped ‘shift the power equation away from the army towards the jihadi groups’ (p. 13). Once again, it is to the United States that Abbas turns to make his passionate plea for Pakistan to be delivered from its perilous condition. What his country needs, he declares, is ‘US assistance and support to provide economic development and strengthen democracy’ (p. 241). With the ruinous effects of US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq still unfolding before us, many might regard this prescription for Pakistan as nothing short of a poisoned chalice.
Farzana Shaikh, University of Cambridge, UK

Daily Times, October 31, 2005

Pentagon-Pak Army links spelt ‘death knell’ of democracy
by Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: The long-standing institutional relationship between the Pakistan Army and the Pentagon has proved to be the “death knell” of democracy, a meeting was told here on Friday. Hassan Abbas, a former officer of the Police Service of Pakistan, who has recently published a book on Pakistan’s descent into extremism, was speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in its continuing series on South Asia. In the last year, a large number of events have been organised by the Centre’s South Asia programme to study the country from all aspects. Mr Abbas said that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had run out of control. He said the United States should be concerned about nuclear proliferation by Pakistan. He was of the view that the controversy was far from over. Mr Abbas predicted that eventually there would be a showdown between the army and the rogue jihadi groups. He said within the ranks of the army, there were many who sympathised with the groups and their cause. He charged that Gen Musharraf had failed to move ahead with the accountability process that he had begun. In the beginning, young officers saw Gen Musharraf as a “revolutionary” but they were now disillusioned since he had made too many compromises. He also spoke about the “sectarian divide” in Pakistan and regretted that the Pakistani press, especially its Urdu segment, had failed to stand up for the rights of religious minorities. He said the majority of Pakistanis was democratic and against militancy. He accused Washington of taking a short-term view of things in Pakistan. He said by placing all its eggs in the Musharraf basket, it had made a mistake. He regretted that there was no US support for a civil society in Pakistan.

Daily times Lahore

Daily Times - Site Edition Thursday, March 17, 2005

POSTCARD USA: Kargil, Kargil everywhere —Khalid Hasan

“The evacuation of Kargil was followed by a hum of resentment all over Pakistan. The loved ones of those who had given their lives on the desolate and remote slopes there wanted to know that if unilateral withdrawal was to be the end of the whole exercise, what the point was of sacrificing the lives of their sons and brothers?”

As a rule, former civil servants in Pakistan either do not write books or when they do, they write bad books. There are always exceptions, of course, such as former ambassador Sultan Mohammad Khan’s admirable autobiography and Hassan Zaheer’s seminal work on the secession of East Pakistan.

Police officers, barring such distinguished exceptions as the late AB Awan whose book on Balochistan remains perhaps the best work on the subject after independence, have brought little honour either to their service or to themselves by writing the kind of fictionalised fact that master minder of Pakistan’s “ideology” Chaudhry Sardar Mohammad “Pulsia” has inflicted on us in recent years. That being so, I am happy to see the just published book by former police officer Hassan Abbas, a resident of Harvard at present.

His book — Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism: Allah, the Army, and America’s War on Terror — though more populist in tone than academic, does contain a good deal of new and startling information. He writes that Nawaz Sharif was not aware of the Kargil Operation when he received Vajpayee in Lahore. He describes how the Kargil operation was planned and executed by the “Gang of Four”, quoting in his support Dr Maleeha Lodhi who said, “Even corps commanders and other service chiefs were excluded from the decision-making process.”

According to him, Gen Tauqir Zia (he of the cricket disaster fame), who was head of military operations at GHQ, was not told (which may have been just as well). When the Kargil plan (it is an old army hobby horse) was presented to Gen Zia-ul-Haq, he summed it up by observing, “So in other words, you have prepared a plan to lead us into a full-scale war with India!” However, when the plan was shown to Nawaz Sharif after the Vajpayee visit, he cleared it, despite reservations expressed by his defence secretary, retired Maj-Gen Iftikhar Ali Khan and former Lt-Gen Majid Malik, a senior member of the Sharif cabinet. It is not clear if the Prime Minister was assured that only Kashmiri “mujahideen” would be involved, not the regular army.

India, writes Abbas, was taken by surprise by Kargil. Those who had always argued that Pakistan was unreliable and perfidious felt triumphant. The reaction to Kargil within the Pakistan army was serious. According to the author, “Maj-Gen Javed Hassan, the commander on the spot, was being threatened by words and gestures of subordinates that could only be described as mutinous. Lt-Gen Mahmood, on whom reality started to dawn fatefully late in the day, saw his adequate jaw falling at an alarming rate. And though the conviction and inner reserves of Lt-Gen Aziz, helped by blissful ignorance, kept him as gung-ho as ever and also helped keep Musharraf’s optimism afloat, the Prime Minister had become a case stricken by fright.

“Under these circumstance, Nawaz was left to plead desperately for a meeting with President Clinton, who found that his schedule allowed him a few free hours on July 4, 1999.”

He writes, “The evacuation of Kargil was followed by a hum of resentment all over Pakistan. The loved ones of those who had given their lives on the desolate and remote slopes there wanted to know that if unilateral withdrawal was to be the end of the whole exercise, what the point was of sacrificing the lives of their sons and brothers? The people of Pakistan had been subjected to the largest whispering campaign in history to expect a great victory.

“When the operation fizzled out like a wet firecracker, they were a nation left speechless in anger and disbelief. Musharraf and the planners could not give any excuses in public, but privately they let it be known that the blame for the scuttling of a brilliant operation lay on a panic-prone Prime Minister, who could not stand up to the US president. Nawaz Sharif, too, could not say anything in his defence publicly, but privately he let it be known that his generals had taken him for a ride, and that he had to bend over backward to get the US President to help Pakistan out of a very sticky situation.”

In his recent interview to India Today, Nawaz Sharif said, “Mr Musharraf felt we should bring Mr Clinton into the matter. He pushed me to meet him. Mr Musharraf said, “Why don’t you meet Clinton? Why don’t you ask him to bring about a settlement?’ It was Mr Musharraf who behaved irresponsibly and it was he who planned the whole affair.”

Isn’t it time we heard from “Mr” Musharraf?

Khalid Hasan is Daily Times’ US-based correspondent. His e-mail is

BBC News report

Saturday, 24 July, 2004, 14:55 GMT 19:55 PST

کارگل جنگ اور چار کا ٹولہ
ایک نئی کتاب میں انکشاف کیا گیا ہے کہ کارگل جنگ کا پلان چار جرنیلوں نے مل کر بنایا تھا اور اس کے بارے میں نواز شریف کو کوئی علم نہیں تھا۔

’پاکستانز ڈرِفٹ انٹو ایکسٹریمزم: اللہ، دی آرمی، اینڈ امیریکاز وار آن ٹیرر‘ میں کتاب کے مصنف حسن عباس نے اس بات کا دعویٰ کیا ہے کہ اس طرح کا پلان بہت پہلے سے آرمی کے پاس موجود تھا لیکن مختلف ادوار میں آرمی جنرل اس سے اختلاف کرتے رہے اور اس وجہ سے آگے نہ بڑھ سکا۔

بی بی سی اردو سروس سے بات کرتے ہوئے ہارورڈ یونیورسٹی کے ریسرچ فیلو عباس حسن نے کہا کہ کارگل کی جنگ کا پلان جنرل عزیز کا تھا جو انہوں نے اس وقت پیش کیا جب وہ سی جی ایس تھے۔

’یہ کوئی نیا آئیڈیا نہیں تھا۔ اس سے پہلے بھی سابق جنرل ضیاء الحق کے سامنے یہ آئیڈیا پیش کیا گیا تھا۔ جب ڈائریکٹر جنرل ملٹری آپریشنز نے ضیاء الحق کو ایک بریفنگ دی تو انہوں نے انہیں بتایا کہ ہم کارگل میں کیا کرنا چاہتے ہیں۔ ضیاء نے اس کو قبول کرنے سے یہ کہہ کر انکار کیا کہ یہ کوئی ’ٹیکٹیکل آپریشن‘ نہیں ہے، اس کا مطلب ہے کہ ہم ہندوستان سے جنگ کرنا چاہتے ہیں۔ اگر ہماری فوج میں اتنی طاقت ہے اور ہم بین الاقوامی طور پر کچھ حاصل کر سکتے ہیں تب تو یہ آپریشن بالکل ٹھیک ہے لیکن موجودہ صورتحال میں اس طرح کے جارحانہ عمل کا کوئی فائدہ نہیں۔‘

حسن عباس کے مطابق یہ پلان دوبارہ جنرل جہانگیر کرامت کے سامنے پیش کیا گیا لیکن انہوں نے بھی یہ کہہ کر اسے رد کیا کہ اس وقت نہ تو ہماری اہلیت ہے اور نہ ہی ہماری اقتصادی حالت ایسی ہے کہ ہم ایسا کر سکیں۔

حسن عباس جو سابق پولیس افسر ہیں اور بینظیر، نواز شریف اور پرویز مشرف کے دور میں اہم عہدوں پر فائز رہ چکے ہیں کہتے ہیں کہ اس کے بعد جنرل عزیز نے یہ پلان ٹین کور کے جنرل محمود کو پیش کیا جو ان کے دوست اور ہم عصر تھے۔ ’جنرل عزیز جنرل محمود کو قائل کرنے میں کامیاب ہوئے۔ اس کے بعد یہ کارگل سیکٹر میں نیم فوجی دستوں کے انچارج جنرل جاوید حسن کے سامنے پیش کیا گیا اور آخر کار یہ جنرل مشرف کو پیش کیا گیا اور اس طرح کارگل کی جنگ شروع ہوئی‘۔

حسن عباس کے مطابق اس پلان میں ’چار کا ٹولہ‘ شامل تھا اور اس کے ’ٹیکٹیکل فادر‘ جنرل عزیز تھے۔

کتاب کے مصنف نے یہ بھی کہا کہ نہ اس پلان کا بحریہ کے کمانڈر جنرل فصیح بخاری کو بتایا گیا اور نہ ہی فضائیہ کے سربراہ جنرل مححف علی میر کو۔ دونوں کو یہ گلہ رہا ہے کہ اتنے بڑے پلان کے بارے میں انہیں نہیں بتایا گیا۔

حسن عباس کے مطابق اس وقت کے وزیرِ اعظم نواز شریف کو بھی اس بارے میں لاعلم رکھا گیا۔ ’نواز شریف جب بھارتی وزیرِ اعظم اٹل بہاری سے ملے تھے تو اس وقت تک ان کے علم میں کچھ بھی نہیں تھا۔ فوج نے ان کے ساتھ کارگل پر پہلی میٹنگ مارچ کے آخری ہفتے میں کی تھی‘۔

حسن عباس نے اپنی کتاب میں پاکستان میں فرقہ وارانہ تشدد اور آئی ایس آئی کردار، ضیاء الحق کی ہلاکت، اور گیارہ ستمبر کے بعد مشرف حکومت کی حکمتِ عملی پر بھی تفصیلی روشنی ڈالی ہے۔

Book Review - The News

The News November 14, 2004
Anecdotal evidence
Pakistan's Drift into Extremism
Allah, the Army, and America's War on Terror by Hassan Abbas

By Dr Afzal Mirza

Hassan Abbas's eagerly awaited book was recently launched in an impressive function organised by the Jinnah Foundation for Peace at Baltimore. The author who belongs to police service of Pakistan is on leave from his department working for his doctorate at Tufts University. Excerpts of the book published before the launching by some newspapers showed that the book carried some flashy material about the politicians and political scenario of Pakistan.

In his twenty minute speech summarizing the contents of his thesis, the author touched upon some of the happenings in Pakistan's history since its inception. He blamed the political debacle that the country has gone through to the absence of any accountability from the day one. He questioned Quaid-i-Azam's appointing Liaquat Ali Khan as the prime minister instead of a representative of East Pakistan which created a sense of despondency among East Pakistanis who were in majority in the country. Again when Liaquat was murdered in broad daylight, the whole episode was buried in the files declaring it as an individual act of a desperate Afghan. Liaquat brought in the Objectives Resolution in the constituent assembly strengthening the hands of religious leaders who had no role in the creation of Pakistan but had taken control by raising the bogey that Pakistan was conceived as a religious state. Liaquat violated Quaid-e-Azam's guidelines for the future constitution of Pakistan laid in his famous speech of August 11, 1947 declaring that "in Pakistan Muslims will cease to be Muslims, Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Christians will cease to be Christians, not in the religious sense but in the political sense." Then came a tilt in Pakistan's foreign policy towards America which with various ups and downs remains the 'corner stone' of Pakistan's role in world affairs even today.

So much for the author's observations. The book declares that there are "three main characters of this story -- the Pakistan Army, the jihadi actors and the United States of America." To understand the role of these three factors, Hassan Abbas has traced the history of Pakistan. Though brief but like Howard Zinn's A Peoples History of United States, it gives an unbiased account of what went wrong with this country. The author has touched every subject relevant to Pakistan and in a highly readable style has given his candid opinion.

In the book one finds many incidents and anecdotes already known to the Pakistanis as 'rumors' but Abbas has authenticated them with inside account of the events thus turning them into 'facts'. He laments that Pakistanis tolerated Ghulam Muhammad -- a sick and handicapped person -- as governor general who ousted and foisted different governments at his will with the connivance of the judiciary and the army.

He talks about what went wrong in 1965 Indo-Pak war. He has reproduced a letter of General Akhtar Husain Malik who was replaced as Chief of Army Staff with General Yahya Khan by then president Ayub Khan when victory in Akhnur Sector of Kashmir was round the corner. He shows how in the eyes of those generals the question of giving credit for the victory to a particular person was more important than the victory itself. In his letter to his younger brother General Abdul Ali Malik, General Akhtar Malik writes, "I reasoned and then pleaded with Yahya that if it was credit he was looking for he should take the overall command but let me go up to Akhnur as his subordinate but he refused. He went a step further and even changed the plan... we lost the initiative on the very first day of the war and never recovered it."

Ayub's downfall came after Tashkent agreement but he was forced to hand over government to Yahya Khan instead of handing it over to the speaker of the National Assembly, who belonged to East Pakistan, as laid down in 1962 constitution. Thus Ayub violated his own constitution.

About Yahya, Hassan Abbas writes: "As Ayub sank Yahya became more chirpy. Buoyed by spirits one evening which was not uncommon for him, he asked a lady seated next to him at dinner if she knew whom she was having her meal with. And before she could answer he confessed that it was with the future president of Pakistan. How this lady subsequently paid for this gratuitous sharing of evidence is not recorded." Abbas has written some amusing anecdotes about Generals Yahya and Niazi. One about Niazi is too provocative to repeat here.

The author has discussed Bhutto period in a quite objective manner. While pointing out all the positive things carried out by him, he criticises him for yielding to the rightists and going to the extent of appeasing them by declaring Friday as weekly holiday in place of Sunday, banning liquor consumption and declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims. Under the covert advice of agencies, anti-Bhutto movement became a movement for imposing the Sharia to pave the way for Ziaul Haq's dictatorship.

It is during Zia's eleven year rule that extremists multiplied in enormous proportions. There was a mushroom growth of madressas and Pakistan's drift towards extremism reached its peak. Soviet invasion of Afghanistan gave a new lease of life to Ziaul Haq and American and Saudi Arabian money as well as arms and ammunition started flowing into Pakistan. It is during this period that ISI (Inter Services Intelligence Service) grew into a size that in the words of Steve Cole became 'an army within an army.'

In order to perpetuate his hold on Pakistan and to vanquish Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, Ziaul Haq with the help of the agencies created divisions among various segments of society which resulted in formation of different jihadi organisations and also certain ethnic organisations like Muttahida Qaumi Movement. Hassan Abbas reveals that the murder of Iranian Consul General Sadiq Ganji in Lahore that triggered Shia-Sunni conflict was carried out by an assassin on the rear seat of whose motor bike was sitting an ISI man. The conflict has now taken alarming dimensions in the country. The influx of Afghan refugees and arms and dollars changed the complexion of the Pakistani society which became a society of jihadis and of Klashnikov culture.

Abbas has made sarcastic comments on Ziaul Haq declaring him as "the most remarkable man ever to have held the reigns of power in Pakistan."

After Ziaul Haq's departure from the scene a period of so-called democracy began in the country. But was it a real democracy or an army controlled democracy? The author doesn't have good words for General Mirza Aslam Baig. He describes his and agencies' role in keeping Benazir on razor's edge and then with the help of Ishaq Khan dismissing the first Benazir government and forging Islami Jamhoori Ittehad to elevate Nawaz Sharif to be the prime minister of the country. He points out at the power play in bringing back Benazir into the government and again scuttling her government and bringing back Nawaz Sharif to be toppled by yet another general. He has given amusing examples of Nawaz Sharif's demeanor as prime minister.

Abbas has also discussed General Pervez Musharraf in detail. He has termed his National Accountability Bureau experience as disappointing as some of the indicted persons were appointed in the new government that came into power as result of the general elections held under the watchful eye of President Musharraf.

The author has discussed Kargil episode in equally elaborate manner. He holds generals responsible for it. "The masterminds of the operation were driven by the belief that their nuclear capability provided a protective shield to Pakistan... All the four generals involved in the Kargil project had remained instructors in different military training institutions during their careers, teaching young officers how vital it is to weigh the pros and cons of a military offensive in terms of understanding the possible ramifications, and enemy reactions. It is strange that these generals forgot the basic military lesson and seriously miscalculated Indian capabilities in terms of military strength and political influence in the international arena."

He continues to write: "The people of Pakistan had been subjected to the largest whispering campaign in history to expect a great victory. When the operation fizzled out like a wet firecracker they were a nation left speechless in anger and disbelief. Musharraf and the planners could not give any excuses in public but privately they let it be known that the blame for scuttling of a brilliant operation lay on a panic-prone prime minister who could not stand up to the US president... Nawaz Sharif too could not say anything in his defense publicly but privately he let it be known that his generals had taken him for a ride... From this point on every action and word of Musharraf and Nawaz was under scrutiny of the other, fueling a spiraling of mutual suspicion and distrust."

The generals Abbas speaks very high of include Lt Gen Ghulam Ahmad Khan, Musharraf's chief of staff who died in a car accident. "With his demise Musharraf increasingly lost touch with reality and became a willing prisoner in a web of flattery... I cannot help recalling one of the conversations between Saeed A Malik and General G A -- Malik was strongly asserting that everything was 'do-able' provided the Musharraf government had the will to do it and G A stunned the audience when he said, "But, sir, first they (Musharraf, Mahmood and Aziz) have to get out of the cage of Kargil, otherwise all their efforts will be reactive." ... "After his death, Musharraf slid rapidly into the mold of his military predecessors who stepped in to save the country," Hassan Abbas points out.

There is a separate chapter in the book on jihadi organisations and their genesis.

Interview with The News

Firstperson: Hassan Abbas
The News, November 28, 2004

Of Truths and Prescriptions
By Ammara Durrani

Hassan Abbas is currently a visiting scholar at the Negotiation Project, Harvard Law School and a PhD candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA. He served in the Government of Pakistan for ten years and worked in the administrations of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (1994-96) and President General Pervez Musharraf (2000). He did his LLM in International Law from the University of Nottingham, UK (1999) as a Britannia Chevening Scholar and MALD from the Fletcher School (2002). He regularly contributes to various newspapers in the US and Pakistan.

In 1997, his first book Poleaxe or Politics of the Eighth Amendment 1985-97 was published (Watandost, Lahore). Pakistan's Drift into Extremism: Allah the Army and America War on Terror (M E Sharpe, 2004) is his latest publication. In an email interview with Political Economy, Abbas talked at length about his new book and the various issues it raises on Pakistan's national and foreign politics. Excerpts follow:

PE: In the post-Nine Eleven period, several works focusing on Islamist extremism and intelligence agencies have surfaced. There is a perception within the intellectual circles that most of these works are pandering to publishers' market and power lobbies capitalising on the post-Nine Eleven dynamics. Do you agree?

HA: This is absolutely correct for trade publishing (commercial) market but largely incorrect for academic publishers. And there are obvious reasons for this trend: trade publishers' primary target is to sell more books and make money whereas academic publishers have to cater to academic requirements and are concerned about their reputation in scholarly circles. In my case, I had to fulfill many such requirements (peer review); more so, it can be suicidal for an academic to say something, which is not properly referenced or thoroughly researched and substantiated.

I agree that since the 9/11 tragedy many publications in the West, and especially in the US, provided exaggerated estimates of Muslim extremist groups' capabilities; but at the same time there were many books that were very critical of the US administration and policies, and these were also very popular in the market. People on both sides of the divide can benefit from the freedom of speech.

PE: We know that government servants are not allowed to express their opinions in print, which is why the current vogue is for retired bureaucrats and military officers to write books based on their experiences and knowledge of their service years. Don't you think you have 'risked' writing yours down at a fairly early stage? Would it prove counterproductive in terms of your government career?

HA: In fact, I wrote a book on the Eighth Amendment in 1998 (when I was serving as a police officer in NWFP) and waited (somewhat nervously) for somebody to come and question me about the "anti-establishment" publication of mine, but no one ever approached me--probably because gurus in the establishment and spooks in our agencies are not in the habit of reading books! In the present case, I had submitted my resignation before my book went to the publisher. And one of the objectives behind writing this book is to provoke others to write and expose the truth, so I thought this is a risk worth taking.

PE: Please tell us in detail about your methodology, your access to classified documents and insiders? What problems did you face during your research?

HA: The methodology was simple--instead of utilising the standard political science research models, I tried to write a story in a readable fashion to make it more accessible. Besides benefiting from major published works on the subject, I interviewed dozens of people (which are recorded translated and transcribed) for my book. Regarding issues that are deemed controversial, I ensured that I confirmed the facts from at least three persons. My access to the "so-called" classified issues and insiders was primarily due to my contacts that I made while serving as a staff officer in Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's office (to be specific I was Mr Asif Ali Zardari's staff officer covering Ministry of Environment) and then as a deputy director in NAB.

But I think more important was my interest in collecting publications and interviewing political figures about major controversies of Pakistan's history. Most of the people (who served in high positions in Pakistan in different stages of its history) were very helpful when I approached them for interviews and explained the motive. But such figures tend to open up if they get the idea that the questioner has done the homework and understands the context.

The major problem I faced in the research was that most people who gave me important information and even showed documents were not willing to be quoted by name. So I couldn't use some of the information they gave me because you can't give anonymous source for every major "breaking news" in the book.

PE: Has your critical caricaturing of the military establishment, the intelligence agencies, Jihadi outfits and General Musharraf caused you any trouble?

HA: Not yet! I think I have criticised them where due and have defended their positions where they deserve and the feedback that I have received so far is that "you have not spared anyone". So, I hope that my reader will find it a neutral and balanced work.

PE: According to your book, the US and the Pakistan military saw communist/leftist/socialist leanings within the Pakistani intelligentsia in the early years as a threat, and hence efforts were made to curtail these tendencies from growing. How do you think the politics of Pakistan would have been different today, had those tendencies been allowed to grow, particularly with reference to the rise of extremism?

HA: I think, Pakistan, as a matter of policy, exaggerated the influence of communist/leftist groups in the 1950s-60s to receive more military aid from the West. But besides military equipment, Pakistani religious political parties also received funds from the West in lieu of these heightened assessments, which helped them greatly in establishing their infrastructure in Pakistan. Without doubt, things would have been different today otherwise.

PE: Do you see a similarity of approach between Ayub Khan and General Musharraf on their policies vis-a-vis the religious hardliners?

HA: Like Ayub Khan, General Pervez Musharraf is a progressive and liberal person by orientation. Most of their policies are very similar with the difference that during 1960s the religious political parties had little support base whereas now they are much more powerful and influential in comparative terms--the Afghan war of 1980s made a huge change in this context, I believe.

PE: You say that the Liaquat Ali Khan assassination inquiry report is still under lock and key in Islamabad; that is even after the release of the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report. Why are commission reports and tribunal findings kept a secret in Pakistan?

HA: The reason behind this curse is a culture of cover-ups. The ruling elite (political, military and bureaucratic) consistently pursued a policy to hide their failures from public eye. People of Pakistan have been repeatedly fooled this way. East Pakistan tragedy is the classic example in this case. Even to this day a great majority of Pakistanis are unaware about what really happened and who butchered the innocent Bengalis in 1971.

PE: Why do you think murders like those of Liaquat Ali Khan, Ziaul Haq and Daniel Pearl would remain a mystery?

HA: I hope not. I researched the General Zia assassination in great detail and learnt that many people who were in senior military positions in 1988 are aware of some facts, which they are hiding. Few people know that there were two groups in the army at that time who were daggers drawn with each other and somebody benefited from that scenario. So there are many clues for anyone who desires to probe the issues further. Hopefully, some Pakistani journalist will expose these mysteries further. I did my best.

PE: With reference to the Rawalpindi and Attock conspiracy cases, despite the altruism/best intentions of the generals involved, weren't they contradictory to basic democratic ideals of politics? Why is 'national interest' always invoked by generals and not politicians?

HA: Yes, no doubt that these conspiracies, despite their good intentions, were not the real answer to the problems Pakistan was facing at those junctures. Pakistani politicians have also committed horrible crimes in the name of "national interest", but the consistent use of this phrase by the army has made it a cliche and people of Pakistan, I think, are now disgusted by this phrase. The actual victims of this phrase are the people and it appears that this will continue to be the case for foreseeable future.

PE: You observe the Pakistan army misreading the Kashmiris' will to co-operate with adventures such as Operation Gibraltar and possibly Kargil. Now that a lot has come to the surface about how alienated Kashmiris feel from Pakistan, what do you think have been the factors responsible for this gap in trust?

HA: I think Kashmiris (on the Indian side) think that over a period of time Pakistan became more interested in getting the land rather than the issue of self-determination for the Kashmiris. Second, Pakistan has not created any great model of governance that conceivably can attract anyone to become a part of it. Some Kashmiri leaders I had a chance to interact with (like Yaseen Malik) argue that Pakistani support of some extremist religious groups in the theater damaged the image of a freedom struggle and hence they are largely disillusioned.

PE: Why was NAB funded by the ISI? Did the military's meddling in the accountability process led to its failure?

HA: Only part of NAB activities were funded by the ISI and that too in terms of providing salaries to some two dozen officers (in 2000). Yes, I think military hierarchy's increasing influence had a negative impact on its somewhat neutral stature that it developed in the first year after the military takeover. Later, NAB was used as a tool to choreograph a political process, which proved to be the final nail in the coffin--in terms of NAB's reputation and potential. I still think NAB's performance will ultimately define the rise and fall of the post 1999 political setup in Pakistan.

PE: You are critical of the ISI and its mammoth size, influence and resources. Where do you think lies the problem in that organisation?

HA: All countries have intelligence agencies, and in the modern day world an effective and resourceful intelligence agency is a must for national security and for pursuing other national interests, but the problem with the ISI of the 1990s was that it developed a personality of its own. Its leaders and operators started acting independently and developed a skewed worldview. Second, its misuse by the military leadership in domestic political affairs proved to be death knell for democracy in Pakistan. A professional intelligence agency has to be subservient to the civilian leadership and its activities should be in line with the national policies and it should have nothing to do with domestic politics at all.

PE: You have pointed to the internal degeneration of the army despite its outward control over power. You have shown the poor historical performance of the army whenever duty called. You maintain that successes were only due to the spirit and valour of the junior ranks, while failures were because of the top command's inefficacy. In your conversations with your sources, did you gauge any indication towards sober introspection and self-accountability on how a disoriented army needs to re-organise itself?

HA: Unfortunately, not among the serving officers. The retired officers (mid-ranking) after getting an exposure to civilian life, however, think differently. The problem is that military establishment believes it to be their inherent and perhaps God-given right and discretion to decide what "national interest" is. The politicians and bureaucrats are not considered capable of being as patriotic as an armed forces officer can be.

PE: You note that more often than not the army has remained prisoner to policies of yore with consistency even when times or circumstances change. Why is that so?

HA: This happened because military leadership for most part of Pakistan's history was ruling the country and their focus was governance rather than professional military affairs. Extensions in service and land allotments further made the army unprofessional in its approach. These tendencies discouraged objective analysis and promoted inertia.

PE: You have outlined the intensive and consistent role of American government and intelligence in Pakistani politics, constitution-making, security and military affairs. You even hold the US responsible for the Afghan imbroglio and tragedy. Yet your book is primarily aimed at American policymakers and calls for their active participation in setting things rights in Pakistan. Similarly, you term religious extremism as the biggest threat for Pakistan, while at the same time you have demonstrated in your book that the Americans have historically been on good terms with the religious parties in Pakistan. Aren't you being contradictory?

HA: No, these issues have to be analysed separately. Religious extremism, as per my assessment, indeed is the biggest threat facing Pakistan but I am making an argument that this trend and drift can be changed if Pakistan invests in its education system rather than acquiring more weapons and if real democracy returns to Pakistan. For these things to happen, the Pakistan Army-Pentagon relationship has to give way to moderate political forces in the country to be effective players. I think despite troubling experiences (for both Pakistan and the US) and the swinging nature of the relationship, Pakistan's friendly ties with the US are a crucial component of its foreign policy. Because of its strategic location and being the only Muslim country having nuclear capability, Pakistan will remain very important for the US. For Pakistan, or for that matter any other country, relations with the US are important for US is the dominant military and economic power in the world.

I am arguing that this relationship between the two countries can be constructive and fruitful only if people of Pakistan are also considered part of the equation and they also benefit from the relationship. Finally, I think my book is addressed to the people of Pakistan and not to the American policymakers--the sole intention was to uncover the cover-ups orchestrated by the establishment, to prove that US policies over the last fifty years were also responsible for what is the state of affairs in Pakistan. I have also tried to establish that Pakistan has no dearth of brilliant people who are dedicated to make the idea of Pakistan a success--besides exposing the palace intrigues and unholy dramas played by some of Pakistan's rulers that made life a distressing experience for a great number of the people of Pakistan.

PE: You are of the opinion that Pakistan's positive future only lies in the army taking a backseat and America stepping in to foster democracy in the country. But history judges these two actors otherwise. Why call upon them to practise change? Are there no other actors in the country with that potential?

HA: No, I am absolutely not saying that America steps in to foster democracy in Pakistan. I am arguing that America should not be fearful of a democratic Pakistan and should practice what it pronounces. Yes, there are civil society actors in Pakistan who want to make a change but they time and again have failed to face the challenge from military establishment and American interests in the region. And such developments played a crucial role in strengthening the religious hardliners who have emerged as a major threat for peace and stability in the world today. So if religious extremism is to be defeated, bombing is not the answer--instead military has to revert to its job of defending the country, democratic institutions should be given a chance to work, and the state has to invest in human security in terms of educational reform. Without these changes, I see a very troubling future for Pakistan.

PE: You have spoken to many insiders during your research. You have made full use of the information gathered. But is there information you were unable to use in your book? If so, why?

HA: I couldn't use some of my "discoveries" because I wanted to remain focused on the issue of Allah, Army and America and wanted to frame the issues in this context. So hopefully I will use the rest of my materials in another book some years later perhaps. Some issues I avoided because I lacked evidence to touch those controversial topics (like Daniel Pearl case and Murtaza Bhutto assassination), though I have my own theories about what really happened in these instances.

South Asia Tribune - book excerpts (Operation Gibralter 1965)

South Asia Tribune
September 6, 2004

New Book Exposes the Failure of Operation Gibraltar
Pakistan Army Committed Kargil Like Disaster in 1965 War As Well

Special SAT Report

WASHINGTON, Sept 6: A new book on Pakistan, scheduled to be released worldwide on Sept 11, gives out a detailed account of how the Pakistan Army planned a military operation to capture Akhnur in August 1965 which ultimately led to the India-Pakistan war and how mysterious decisions led to its failure, a la the Kargil fiasco of 1999.

The book Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, The Army, And America's War On Terror, written by Hassan Abbas, a former police officer from Pakistan and currently a Research fellow at the Harvard Law School and a PhD. candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, provides a befitting backdrop to the 1965 war, the 39th anniversary of which is being observed in Pakistan today.

The book, already among the top 100 bestsellers at Barnes and Nobles, also examines the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan and analyzes its connections to Pakistan Army's policies and the fluctuating US-Pakistan relations. It includes profiles of leading Pakistani Jihadi groups and gives details of the conspiracy behind General Zia-ul-Haq’s plane crash in 1988, a botched military coup by fundamentalists in army in 1993-94 and lastly about how General Musharraf handled the volatile situation after the 9/11 attacks.

Leading writers and intellectuals including Stephen P Cohen of the Brookings Institution, Harvard University Professor Jessica Stern, Peter Bergen, Terrorism Analyst, CNN and author of The Holy War Inc and Arnaud de Borchgrave, Editor-at-Large of The Washington Times and UPI, have praised the book in glowing terms.

It raises an oft repeated but a pertinent question about the conduct of the top Pakistan Army brass in 1965 when Pakistani troops were just three miles from Akhnur and its capture was imminent, the military commander was changed and so much time was deliberately wasted that a successful war was turned into a defeat.

Following excerpt of the book throws more light on how, on this day, the Pakistan Army wrote an inglorious epitaph to a glorious plan which it failed to execute:

“When the Pakistan Army inflicted a short, sharp reverse on the Indians in the Rann of Kutch in mid-1965, Ayub’s spirits got a boost. More important, the international arbitration that followed the Kutch dispute (resulting in favor of Pakistan) put Pakistan under the assumption that if the Kashmir problem was to be solved, the Rann of Kutch route would have to be replicated - a limited clash in Kashmir leading to a threat of all-out war, and then an intervention and arbitration by the great powers.

Hence at this point there was considerable confidence among the Pakistanis about the strength of their own arms, which was bolstered by their newfound friendship with China. Utter frustration over Indian intransigence on Kashmir coupled with sympathy for the gathering hopelessness of the Kashmiris and concern over the rapid rearmament of the Indian armed forces on account of Western military aid, were factors that played a crucial role in Pakistan’s drift toward considering a military solution of the Kashmir issue.

Bhutto, in his letter to Ayub of May 12, 1965, drew his attention to increasing Western military aid to India and how fast the balance of power in the region was shifting in India’s favor as a result. He expanded on this theme and recommended that “a bold and courageous stand” would “open up greater possibility for a negotiated settlement.”

Ayub Khan was won over by the force of this logic, and he tasked the Kashmir Cell under Foreign Secretary, Aziz Ahmed, to draw up plans to stir up some trouble in Indian-held Jammu and Kashmir, which could then be exploited in Pakistan’s favor by limited military involvement.

The Kashmir Cell was a nondescript body working without direction and producing no results. It laid the broad concept of Operation Gibraltar, but did not get very far beyond this in terms of coming up with anything concrete. When Ayub saw that the Kashmir Cell was making painfully little headway in translating his directions into a plan of action, he personally handed responsibility for the operation over to Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik, commander of the 12th Division of the Pakistan Army. This division was responsible for the defense of the entire length of the Cease-fire Line (CFL) in the Kashmir region.

General Akhtar Malik was a man of towering presence and was known for his acuteness of mind and boldness of spirit. He was loved and admired by his subordinates, but was far too outspoken to be of any comfort to most of his superiors. His professional excellence, however, was acknowledged both in military and civilian circles.

The plan of this operation (Gibraltar) as finalized by General Malik and approved by Ayub Khan was to infiltrate a sizable armed force across the CFL into Indian Kashmir to carry out acts of sabotage in order to destabilize the government of the state and encourage the local population to rise up against Indian occupation.

In order to be able to retrieve the situation in case this operation got into trouble, to give it a new lease on life, or to fully exploit the advantage gained in the event of its success, Operation Grand Slam was planned.

This was to be a quick strike by armored and infantry forces from the southern tip of the CFL to Akhnur, a town astride the Jammu-Srinagar Road. This would cut the main Indian artery into the Kashmir valley, bottle up the Indian forces there, and so open up a number of options that could then be exploited as the situation demanded. According to some Pakistani Army officers, it was foreseen then that the value of Operation Gibraltar would be fully enchased after Grand Slam succeeded in wresting control of Akhnur.

There was not enough time to fully prepare and train the men who were to infiltrate, and the three-month deadline given was considered to be not nearly enough for this, but the 12th Division was told that, because of certain considerations, no further time could be given.

Most of the men to be trained belonged to the Azad Kashmir Regular Forces, which meant that they would have to be withdrawn from the defensive positions along the CFL. The denuded front lines therefore had to be beefed up by other elements. Having no reserves for this purpose, General Malik decided that the only option for him was to simultaneously train a force of Azad Kashmiri irregulars (mujahids) for this purpose.

But when he called the C-in-C, General Musa, to ask for weapons to equip this force, the latter refused. General Malik then made a call to Ayub, apprised him of the difficulty he was having with the C-in-C, and concluded that if the Kashmiris were not to be trusted, they were not worth fighting for. Ayub then called Musa, told him why the new Mujahid Companies needed to be armed and equipped, and ended with the same note, that is, people who cannot be trusted were not worth fighting for. Soon General Malik got a call from Musa: “Malik, people who cannot be trusted are not worth fighting for - go ahead, arm them.”

Operation Gibraltar was launched in the first week of August 1965, and all the infiltrators made it across the CFL without a single case of detection by the Indians. This was possible only because of the high standards of Pakistan’s security measures, as acknowledged by a senior Indian Army general. The pro-Pakistan elements in Kashmir had not been taken into confidence prior to this operation, and there was no help forthcoming for the infiltrators in most areas.

Overall, despite lack of support from the local population, the operation managed to cause anxiety to the Indians, at times verging on panic. On August 8 the Kashmir government recommended that martial law be imposed in Kashmir. It seemed that the right time to launch operation Grand Slam was when such anxiety was at its height. But it was General Malik’s opinion that this be delayed till the Indians had committed their reserves to seal off the infiltration routes, which he felt was certain to happen eventually.

On August 24, India concentrated its forces to launch its operations in order to seal off Haji Pir Pass, through which lay the main infiltration routes. That same day General Malik asked General Headquarters (GHQ) permission to launch Operation Grand Slam. The director of military operations, Brigadier Gul Hassan, passed on the request to General Musa, and when he failed to respond, reminded him again the following day.

But Musa could not manage to gather the confidence to give the decision himself and sent ZA Bhutto to obtain the approval from Ayub Khan, who was relaxing in Swat, 200 miles away - strange way to fight a war with the C-in-C unwilling to give decisions and the supreme commander unable to do so.

The decision finally arrived on August 29, by which time the Indians had bolstered their defenses in the sector where the operation was to be launched with the induction of three infantry units and an artillery regiment. Still a few more precious hours were wasted by the GHQ, and the operation went to the early morning of September 1, more than a week after the commander in the field had first asked for the go-ahead.

By early afternoon of the first day all the objectives were taken, the Indian forces were on the run, and Akhnur lay tantalizingly close and inadequately defended. “At this point, someone’s prayers worked” says Indian journalist, MJ Akbar: “An inexplicable change of command took place.”

What happened was that, in a surprising turn of events, General Musa landed in the theater of operations and handed the command of the 12th Division over to General Yahya Khan, whom he had brought along. General Malik was asked to get into the helicopter and was flown away by Musa.

For nearly 39 years now the Pakistan Army has been trying to cover up this untimely and fateful change of command by suppression and falsification of history.

Loss of time is inherent in any such change, but for reasons that cannot be explained but by citing the intrusion of ego, Yahya insisted on changing Malik’s plan and therefore lost even more time. Whereas Malik had basically planned to invest and bypass the strongly defended localities, subordinating everything to reaching and capturing Akhnur with the least delay, Yahya took a different route - he crossed river Tawi and went straight into Troti, in which crucial time was lost. And this was enough for the Indians to bolster the defenses of Akhnur and launch their strike against Lahore across the international frontier between the two countries.

This came on September 6 while the Pakistani forces were still three miles short of Akhnur. This was the contrived end of an operation, which had been meticulously planned and had promised a lot.

On September 6, after the Indian attack across the international border, Ayub and Bhutto tried to invoke the 1959 US-Pakistan bilateral agreement, to ask for American help against Indian aggression, but to no avail.

Instead, President Johnson suspended military aid to both India and Pakistan. Pakistan immediately turned to China for help. These efforts brought about a strong Chinese condemnation of India’s aggression against Pakistan, and this was followed by a Chinese warning against Indian intrusions into Chinese territory.

And then on September 16 they sent a note to India to say that as long as Indian aggression against Pakistan continued, it would not stop supporting Pakistan in its just struggle. On September 19, Ayub and Bhutto flew to Beijing for a top secret meeting with the Chinese leadership. China promised Pakistan all the help, but told Ayub that he should be quite prepared to withdraw his army to the hills and fight a long guerrilla war against India.

For this neither the Sandhurst-trained Ayub nor the Berkeley-educated Bhutto was quite prepared. On the international scene there was already considerable concern that any direct Chinese involvement in the conflict may escalate and broaden the war involving other countries. Pakistan was pressed by the Western ambassadors to not encourage the Chinese to step up their engagement any further.

Pakistan knew it did not have the wherewithal to break through the stalemate on the battlefront. Thus it knew this was the end. Now Pakistan was prepared to accept a cease-fire. The guns fell silent on the afternoon of September 23. As to the final outcome of the war, Dennis Kux aptly says that India “won simply by not losing.”

Immediately after the war, on the Pakistan side the major controversy that occupied the minds of many was the change in command of Operation Grand Slam. The “view both in India and even amongst ‘sensible army officers’ in Pakistan was that Malik’s sudden replacement led to the failure of Grand Slam.”

But the “sensible” Pakistani Army officers were restrained from discussing this subject. It was taboo to do so in the army messes and officers’ gatherings, though in private this was most passionately debated. It was only after General Malik’s death in 1969 that GHQ gingerly started putting together a theory to justify this change and to propagate it.

It was now claimed that the change was preplanned and that this plan laid down that General Malik would command the first phase of the operation up to the river Tawi, and thereafter the command would be assumed by General Yahya Khan. However, there is not a shred of evidence to support this. The operation itself was a set-piece attack for which the operation orders are a part of the historical record, and there is no such mention in these.

And any doubts there might have been on the issue were laid to rest by General Gul Hassan, who was Director of Military Operations during the war and the one person who would have known of such a change. He has specifically denied having any knowledge of the same.

Indeed, not a single army officer except Musa and General Yahya seem to have known about this change, which shifted the initiative from Pakistan to the Indian Army. It now seems fair to speculate that the change in command was preplanned only in the sense that it was a conspiracy between Ayub, Musa, and Yahya; that if the operation got into trouble, Malik could keep the command and also the blame that would accrue as a result, but that if it held promise of success, Yahya would be moved in to harvest it.

Lieutenant General Harbaksh Singh, one of the very respected senior Indian military commanders, was one of the few to have appreciated the full military value of Operation Gibraltar as a part of Grand Slam rather than seeing the two in isolation. According to him, “The plan of infiltration was brilliant in conception,” and as for Grand Slam, he thought it was “aptly named Grand Slam for had it succeeded, a trail of dazzling results would have followed in its wake, and the infiltration campaign would have had a fresh lease of life,” and that “it was only the last minute frantic rush of reinforcements into the sector . . . that prevented this debacle from deteriorating into major catastrophe.”

It seems therefore that but for the change of command at a critical time during Operation Grand Slam, the aim of Gibraltar was well within realization, that is, to “de freeze the Kashmir problem, weaken Indian resolve, and bring India to the conference table without provoking general war.”

It would be highly educative to read General Akhtar Malik’s views on the subject. This unpublished letter from General Malik to his younger brother, Lieutenant General Abdul Ali Malik, is a new source of information on the subject, and for this purpose is quoted here in full:

Pakistan’s Permanent Military Deputy
Embassy of Pakistan

My Dear brother,

I hope you and the family are very well. Thank you for your letter of 14 Oct. 67. The answers to your questions are as follows:

a. The de facto command changed the very first day of the ops [operations] after the fall of Chamb when Azmat Hayat broke off wireless communications with me. I personally tried to find his HQ [headquarters] by chopper and failed. In late afternoon I sent Gulzar and Vahid, my MP [military police] officers, to try and locate him, but they too failed. The next day I tore into him and he sheepishly and nervously informed me that he was ‘Yahya’s brigadier’. I had no doubt left that Yahya had reached him the previous day and instructed him not to take further orders from me, while the formal change in command had yet to take place. This was a betrayal of many dimensions.

b. I reasoned and then pleaded with Yahya that if it was credit he was looking for, he should take the overall command but let me go up to Akhnur as his subordinate, but he refused. He went a step further and even changed the plan. He kept banging his head against Troti, letting the Indian fall back to Akhnur. We lost the initiative on the very first day of the war and never recovered it. Eventually it was the desperate stand at Chawinda that prevented the Indians from cutting through.

c. At no time was I assigned any reason for being removed from command by Ayub, Musa or Yahya. They were all sheepish at best. I think the reasons will be given when I am no more.

d. Not informing pro-Pak Kashmiri elements before launching Gibraltar was a command decision and it was mine. The aim of the op was to de freeze the Kashmir issue, raise it from its moribund state, and bring it to the notice of the world. To achieve this aim the first phase of the op was vital, that is, to effect undetected infiltration of thousands across the CFL [cease-fire line]. I was not willing to compromise this in any event. And the whole op could be made stillborn by just one double agent.

e. Haji Pir [Pass] did not cause me much anxiety. Because [the] impending Grand Slam Indian concentration in Haji Pir could only help us after Akhnur, and they would have to pull out troops from there to counter the new threats and surrender their gains, and maybe more, in the process. Actually it was only after the fall of Akhnur that we would have encashed the full value of Gibraltar, but that was not to be!

f. Bhutto kept insisting that his sources had assured him that India would not attack if we did not violate the international border. I however was certain that Gibraltar would lead to war and told GHQ so. I needed no op intelligence to come to this conclusion. It was simple common sense. If I got you by the throat, it would be silly for me to expect that you will kiss me for it. Because I was certain that war would follow, my first choice as objective for Grand Slam was Jammu. From there we could have exploited our success either toward Samba or Kashmir proper as the situation demanded. In any case whether it was Jammu or Akhnur, if we had taken the objective, I do not see how the Indians could have attacked Sialkot before clearing out either of these towns.

g. I have given serious consideration to writing a book, but given up the idea. The book would be the truth. And truth and the popular reaction to it would be good for my ego. But in the long run it would be an unpatriotic act. It will destroy the morale of the army, lower its prestige among the people, be banned in Pakistan, and become a textbook for the Indians. I have little doubt that the Indians will never forgive us the slight of 65 and will avenge it at the first opportunity. I am certain they will hit us in E. Pak [East Pakistan] and we will need all we have to save the situation. The first day of Grand Slam will be fateful in many ways. The worst has still to come and we have to prepare for it. The book is therefore out.

I hope this gives you the gist of what you needed to know. And yes, Ayub was fully involved in the enterprise. As a matter of fact it was his idea. And it was he who ordered me to by-pass Musa while Gibraltar etc. was being planned. I was dealing more with him and Sher Bahadur than with the C-in-C. It is tragic that despite having a good military mind, the FM’s [Foreign Minister Z.A. Bhutto’s] heart was prone to give way. The biggest tragedy is that in this instance it gave way before the eruption of a crisis. Or were they already celebrating a final victory!!

In case you need a more exact description of events, I will need war diaries and maps, which you could send me through the diplomatic bag.

Please remember me to all the family.

Akhtar Hussain Malik

It is quite obvious what had happened. In the words of Justice Muhammad Saraf: “Had Akhtar been continued in his duty... he would have been the only General in Pakistan with a spectacular victory to his credit and it would then have been very difficult for President Ayub to ignore his claim to the office of the Commander-in-Chief, after the retirement of Musa, which was quite near.”

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, one of the main players of this game, also later argued that, “Had General Akhtar Malik not been stopped in the Chamb-Jaurian Sector, the Indian forces in Kashmir would have suffered serious reverses, but Ayub Khan wanted to make his favorite, General Yahya Khan, a hero.”

However, the very idea of Operation Gibraltar was controversial in itself. The military initiative robbed Pakistan of its moral high ground vis-à-vis the Kashmir conflict. In retrospect, it would have been better if Pakistan had focused more on continuing its efforts toward the resolution of the dispute through UN or third-party mediation. Ayub and his top generals also misread how far Kashmiris (in India) were willing to cooperate with Pakistan in this kind of adventure.

(After the war) the army also underwent major though subtle changes in personnel. Musa retired soon after the war, to be replaced by General Yahya Khan as C-in-C of the army. This was not a popular choice, but as Yahya settled in, he subtly started to gather power by promoting and placing his own loyalists in critical spots. A sick and disheartened Ayub was too careworn to notice this. And besides, he had implicit faith in Yahya’s loyalty.

He may also have been quite certain that his new choice of army chief came with the kind of baggage that would foreclose the possibility of his gaining the sort of following that could eventually threaten Ayub’s position. Ayub was wrong. He could not see that Yahya could collect any number of equally discredited officers around him. Among the first to be swept off the stage was General Akhtar Malik. He was posted out to CENTO in Ankara, Turkey.

Yahya told him that Pakistan needed a sensible and mature officer there, and Malik had replied: “Being a sensible and mature officer, I quite realize why I am needed there.” Concurrently with this, all officers considered to be Malik loyalists were sidelined. This was a major step along the road inaugurated by Ayub himself, of promoting the interests of personal loyalty over those of competence and professionalism. Professional pride progressively gave way to servile behavior.

Already the army had embarked on a crash program of making up shortages in the ranks of the officer class. To meet the target, standards were consciously and conspicuously lowered, thus making it a self-defeating exercise.

Also, in the aftermath of the war, one would have expected the army to analyze its performance. Not only was such an appraisal not carried out beyond the merest whitewash, the attempt deliberately falsified the record to save reputations, because after the war many of those were promoted whose reputations needed to be saved.

But the formality of a war analysis had to be fulfilled, and most ironically the task was entrusted to General Akhtar Malik. He did this in two parts; one dealt with the performance of junior leadership, and the other with that of the higher command.

Brigadier Mohammad Afzal Khan, who read the latter in manuscript form, and Major Qayyum, under whose supervision it was typed, both commented upon the scathing criticism to which this document subjected the prosecution of the war at higher levels. After the death of the general, no one has seen the record of this document in the army GHQ."