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Dear Readers,

A year ago the President and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Pakistan Army Gen Pervez Musharraf, gave what amounted to a solemn pledge to the nation in a prime time TV address that he would retire as COAS on or before Dec 31, 2004. This televised promise came about because of an understanding reached with the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) to break the impasse on the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Because of late Gen Ziaul Haq's famous "90 day commitment" which he did not keep (and had no intention of keeping), the public suspects the credibility of military rulers making promises of voluntary exit. By not taking off his uniform as promised, the President has broken his pledge and now has a credibility problem. However, in the pure technical sense Pervez Musharraf is on firm ground in not adhering to his volunteered commitment in the prevailing internal and external circumstances, particularly since his MMA partners in last December's agreement on the 17th Amendment only partly adhered to their reciprocal commitments. The President should have refrained from making any public announcement, then again Pervez Musharraf would have been on far more firmer ground if during his televised address to the nation he would have made his doffing of the uniform conditional on the MMA keeping to their side of the bargain. Since he did not do so then, to bring up that as a condition now makes his position rather ambiguous, if not untenable. This country pays short shrift to lame-ducks and retirees, given the extenuating circumstances I do not see how he can ever take off his uniform. Pervez Musharraf is a popular leader but he is not a popularly elected leader, his staying on as President (and popular leader) is dependant upon his continuing as COAS Pakistan Army. Popular leaders became only "leaders" once they vacate the post they occupy, nobody worships the setting sun. Pervez Musharraf would be committing leadership "hara-kiri" by leaving the COAS post, since very few people in their right minds commit hara-kiri, why should he leave the COAS post? Pervez Musharraf is riding a tiger and quite happy about not getting off the tiger, since the world (which comprises the US and its Coalition partners in the "war against terrorism") is quite happy with him running a "uniformed democracy", why gamble with things contrary?

The world, the US-led one that is, has differing standards at different times for different countries with respect to democracy, we presently fit into the category in the type of democracy presently in practice in Pakistan, albeit mainly for both national and international security reasons. Logically, Pervez Musharraf's continuity as Head of State depends upon the security environment. To be logical is not to be always right, but then we are past-masters at frequently sacrificing morality at the altar of necessity. For the benefit of readers I am reproducing an article "Pakistan's Security Environment" written for the Pakistan Supplement of the GLOBAL AGENDA, the official magazine of World Economic Forum.

For a country that lives on the cutting edge of terrorism, Pakistan has a remarkably good internal security situation. The number of terror attacks in Pakistan are nowhere in number and ferocity one would expect in the prevailing circumstances. With Afghanistan and the festering problem of Kashmir as root causes of militancy, Pakistan would expect to have a bad security environment, the reality is far divorced from perception, in sharp contrast to adverse media vibes we generate in the world. In fact most of the time the “TRAVEL ADVISORIES” of various countries to their citizens would be amusing if they were not so damaging to Pakistan’s image in the world.

Three concentric spheres support terrorism in Pakistan. Within the inner-most circle are the terrorists themselves, they are in turn surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, religious personalities, etc, who serve as the terrorism infrastructure. The third circle is of religious, educational and welfare organizations, operating mostly through mosques, madrassahs and other religious establishments. The primary target of our security forces is the second circle, not only to get to the source but that is the only way to break this evil chain. Because of their rhetoric most muslims (and by extension Pakistan), inadvertently become part of it by association. For successfully fighting terrorism the ruling regime had to ensure that the public get unrestricted access to independent media. This put a stop to rumours and speculation.

The dangers permeating every level of our society once threatened to overwhelm our inner boundaries, viz (1) Sectarianism and religious extremism (2) Ethnic Violence (3) Poverty and Corruption (4) War against Drugs and (5) Police re-organization. While we do face multiple external threats, Pakistan has successfully taken steps to guard against these. With multi-layered security apparatus in place the situation has stabilized over the past few years.

The Army has successfully moved to eliminate the clear nexus between guerilla warfare and terrorism in South Waziristan, the present area of crisis. A largely rocky and barren country with walled tribal villages, each with one or more watchtowers, South Waziristan has poor soil, with only small patches of cultivation around the villages. The main source of survival for the locals has been banditry and smuggling i.e. till the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Both North and South Waziristan thereafter became staging areas for the Afghan Mujahideen, this spurred some economic activity, and even sparse affluence. Over the years some of the foreign Mujahideen settled down permanently with the Mahsuds and the Waziris. With the advent of US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and the rout of their Taliban mentors, there was an fresh influx of foreign fighters as elements of al-Qaeda found a safe haven in this no-go (self-imposed by the government) territory, operating at will on both sides of the Durand Line. Wana became an ideal recruiting ground from among the youth of the area. However concerted action by the Pakistan Armed Forces has eliminated most guerilla hideouts, driving the militants out of the area, only a handful hardcore remain.

Despite being without adequate resources or even a technological base Pakistan had at first tended at to react to terrorist threat rather than pre-empt possible threats, with the help of US and other countries we now give real-time recognition to threat perception. The technological gap is being covered by “leapfrogging” over certain stages, resources are being provided to acquire the necessary technology. Faced with a myriad number of possibilities, a comprehensive defence plan has been made to, viz (1) identify the threat/s (2) make a detailed analysis of their potential and (3) work out priorities in evaluating ways and means of countering these threats. With the help of the US we have been successfully for countering terrorism by viz (1) detecting people organized in terrorist activity and identifying them, and have the capability of simultaneously monitoring their movements (2) detect the supply sources of explosive materials likely to be used (3) mobilizing one’s defence capability in recognizing and countering specific threats (4) mobilizing adequate and coordinated intelligence capability, utilizing both human and electronic intelligence (5) focusing on air, sea, rail and road travel as potential terror targets and (6) guarding the country’s frontiers, includes monitoring and observation of thousands and thousands of miles of borders. Pakistan has mobilized its security forces adequately by viz (1) by having a Crisis Management Cell (CMC) to develop adequate intelligence capability to respond to not only to constant queries but update the requirements from the data available, (2) coordinating and cooperating with world institutions like the UN, Interpol, etc for monitoring and preventing the use of non-conventional terrorist matter and (3) increasing our monitoring of nuclear facilities by techno-advanced technological means and stopped the clandestine shipping of fissile materials. Intelligence is being processed immediately and shared among those who need it on the frontline of the “war against terrorism”. During wartime, and we are at war, Pakistan has mobilized its best available talent and resources irrespective of political leaning and beliefs. Intelligence has been made available to the leaders in quality more than quantity for quick decision-making, it being understood that absolutely perfect intelligence may not be attainable.

To aid the law enforcement agencies, there have been a number of developments, including the flourishing of private security as an industry. There has been unprecedented growth with over 250,000 personnel employed in over 200 private security companies. At least 50 of these companies have their office in one or more provinces, as well as in Azad Kashmir. While armed robbery and kidnapping for ransom were the major problems in the early 90s, private security companies are now employed by foreign missions and multi-nationals primarily as an anti-terrorism measure. Along with physical guarding and movement of cash by armoured vehicles, integrated security is primarily electronic-based with satellite vehicle tracking (SVT), radio (and now GSM-based) alarm systems (RAS) and digital CCTV available easily. In fact Pakistan has state-of-the-art capability which it is exporting to other countries. One of the companies of the Pathfinder Group along with two sister companies is the only fully integrated private security group in the world, the private security companies have an umbrella association called the All Pakistan Security Agencies Association (APSAA), this functions to solve the problems of member companies and liaise with the government and law enforcement agencies (LEAs).

The rules of international law have changed after every world war, in Pakistan we have taken cognizance of our domestic situation and amended the laws to suit the prevailing circumstances. Terrorism is being fought in Pakistan in a broad front, targeting all those who are not only connected directly to the perpetrators but all those who indirectly give sustenance. The law and order situation is far better than the world perception, foreign direct investment (FDI) has taken cognizance of this by increasing dramatically.

M. Ikram Sehgal

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