MonitorsPublished on Aug 07, 2010
The speculation regarding General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's possible extension came to an end last week. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in a rather dramatic fashion announced a full term extension for General Kayani on national television.
A step back from democracy
< class="heading1">Analysis

The speculation regarding General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's possible extension came to an end last week. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani in a rather dramatic fashion announced a full term extension for General Kayani on national television.

It now seems that the insurgents, Pakistan government and India, in that order of priority are going to have to contend with General Kayani for three years to come. Irrespective of what Kayani says about the Pakistan Army being 'India centric', he knows that the real threat for Pakistan lies on its western border.

The question is whether General Kayani harbours any sort of political aspirations? All evidence points to the contrary. A professional soldier with impeccable credentials, he has held almost all important positions within the army, Commander Rawalpindi corps, Director General Military Operations (DGMO), ISI chief and now army chief. Rarely has he shown any political inclinations. He disbanded ISI's political wing and ordered all army personnel to vacate civilian posts in the government.

So what is wrong with giving an extension to an army chief who has proved to be capable and yet resistant to political ambitions?

Ayesha Siddiqa outlines three vital ingredients essential for the promotion pie, institutional approval from the army/ISI coterie, political approval from the Pakistan government and nod from the United States (U.S). Kayani got more than a nod from U.S which was obviously concerned about returns from its US$1 billion a year reimbursement for Pakistan army's operation. However the question remains whether the political and army establishment were easily convinced. Almost a dozen generals who had been next in line will retire before Kayani's term expires in 2013, five of them curiously in October 2013, a month before Kayani's retirement. The constant power tussle between the Pakistan government and the army was indicated by the attempt by the Interior Ministry to reign in the ISI which was rendered unsuccessful by Kayani.

Thus the idea that an unprecedented full term extension was handed to him on the palette despite his reluctance seems far fetched. So one can conclude that Kayani wanted this full term extension.

Kayani has been called both a chameleon and a 'man of many seasons' depending on which side of the fence the commentator is sitting on ,but the commonality and striking feature in the usage of both these references is the ability to adapt.

Analysts argue that the primary reason of his extension lies in his ability to successfully orchestrate the change in Pakistan Army's conventional warfare tactics to a counter insurgency style suited to the United States' objective. Be that as it may, it bodes well for an army engaged in a war critical to the survival of the nation. However there is certainly not enough evidence to suggest that Kayani has done something exceptional at an operational level that no other person taking his position could have.

His ability to adapt goes far beyond the classical mandate of a military general.This is a man who has served Benazir Bhutto as a military advisor and then effortlessly gained favour with her arch rival Pervez Musharraf,so much so that he was promoted to the chief of the ISI .Kayani then witnessed quietly Musharraf suspending Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and consequently years later helped stabilise a potentially crititical political situation by subtly maneuvering a reinstatement of Justice Chaudhry under a democratically elected government. Further, he literally led the high level Pakistan delegation to United States during the Pakistan-U.S bilateral dialogue.

Kayani has shown that he is capable of deft political maneuvering and statesmanship. He has shown far superior diplomatic skills than his political counterparts, along with his adeptness at handling the media, and well timed public statements. He is the most powerful man in Pakistan today, and he has intervened politically and diplomatically where he has felt it appropriate.

However the desire and consequent successful securing of the extension has put him dangerously close to the notion that he alone knows what is in Pakistan's best interest.

For a country that is slowly making its way up the list of 'failing states', what is most urgently required is the strengthening of democracy .By forgoing its newly acquired right to choose the new chief of army staff, the government has ensured that the reigns of the most powerful institution in the country remains in the hands of one man for more than his stipulated time and worse still, set a wrong precedent. Pakistan has taken one step back from its vision of true democracy.

Akhilesh Variar is Research Assistant at the Observer Research Foundation

< class="heading1">Country Reports

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">PLA to recruit new cadres

In their bid to outdo Nepalese Army's bid to start fresh recruitments for 3,434 positions in its infantry division, People's Liberation Army (PLA) which is the military arm of the Maoists, has began a process to fill up their vacancies with new cadres. Maoists spokesman, however, said PLA has announced fresh recruitment in a manner that the total number of PLA combatants doesn't exceed 31,315, which was its original strength. Defence Minister Bidhya Bhandari has said that the government would deploy security forces to stop the Maoist's People's Liberation Army (PLA) from undertaking fresh recruitment. Defending the Army's decision, she said that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) doesn't prohibit the Army to recruit new personnel within the ceiling of 95,000, the total strength when the agreement was signed in 2006. In response to the Army's decision to start regular recruitment, PLA on August 3, announced its vacancies for 12,000 personnel. However, the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) said recruitment by either army would breach the 2006 peace agreement that ended the war between the Maoist guerrillas and the state.
Source: AFP, August 4, 2010, Nepalnews, August 6, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">India's special envoy in Nepal

In an effort to end the stalemate in Nepal over the election of a new prime minister, India has send its former Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, as special envoy to Kathmandu with a mandate to engage all political parties, including the Maoists, and help build a consensus on the formation of a government that can take the peace process and the task of Constitution writing to a conclusion by next year's new deadline. Mr. Saran served earlier as the Indian ambassador in Kathmandu and played a key role within the Indian establishment in backing the 12-point understanding among the Maoists, the Nepali Congress and the United Marxists-Leninists. Sources say Mr. Saran's role will be to consult with the Maoists and the two smaller national parties, as well as with the various Madhesi factions. The decision to form a government will have to be taken by the Nepali parties themselves but New Delhi feels it can no longer afford to remain completely aloof from the process. Notwithstanding India's concerns at the inability of its smaller neighbour to forge a consensus government, the decision to send Mr. Saran as special envoy has triggered multiple, and conflicting, rumours in Kathmandu political circles relating to India's interference in Nepal's internal affairs.
Source: The Hindu, August 5, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Madhesi parties favours Prachanda as PM

Ignoring the decision of their alliance United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) to remain neutral in the third round of voting to elect the prime minister of Nepal held on August 2, 11 members of the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum crossed floor to vote in favour of 'Comrade Prachanda' of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal ? Maoists (UCPN-M). Issuing a joint statement, the UDMF said the talks held with the Maoist party were satisfactory and had been 'positive' towards addressing issues being raised by the Madhesi people. The UDMF added that the Nepali Congress did not back their issues, leaving the front with no other choice but to vote against it. The Maoists on their part, agreed to form a special military unit of Madhesi people in the Nepali Army and to form an autonomous Madhes state with the right to self-determination in Terai-Madhes provided that this would not affect the integrity of the country.
Source: Himalayan Times, August 3, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Another Maoist outfit formed

The Unified CPN (Maoist) leaders of impoverished Kailali district have rebelled from the party to form a new communist party of their own. The deserters who went on to form a new party named Nepal Janashramik Party told the media that they were compelled to take the decision as the Maoist party "betrayed the trust of thousands of party activists who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the party". They also blamed the Maoist party of having diverted from its main goal 'to liberate the masses'.
Source: Nepalnews, August 3, 2010

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Rajapaksa inching towards a constitutional change

United National Party's Parliamentarians, Mr. P. Digambaram from the Nuwara Eliya District and Mr. Prabha Ganeshan from the Colombo District crossed over from the Opposition and joined the Government today. With this cross over the government is short of just five members to obtain the two-thirds majority in Parliament. UNP Kandy district Parliamentarian Abdul Cader has already expressed his support to the government. Parliamentarians Prabha Ganeshan and P.Digambaram who joined the government have said that development of this country could only be done by President Mahinda Rajapakse and his government and they will extend their fullest cooperation to government programmes, and realize the objective of making this country the 'Wonder of Asia.' They have blamed the United National Party for ignoring small political parties and for not fulfilling the pledges given to the Tamil people. With their cross over, the government now has 146 seats in the parliament including the Speaker. The combined opposition has only 79 seats. The strength of the UNP in the parliament has come down to 45 from 47.According to Sri Lankan Constitution two-third majority in Parliament is needed to repeal and replace the current Constitution. The government has already had discussion with major opposition UNP to reach consensus on constitution amendments.
Source:, August 6, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">US suspicious of the LTTE moves

The boat carrying around 200 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka heading towards North America was part of an attempt by the Tamil Tigers to "create a network again and play the transnational terrorist game," quoting James Clad, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia, the Washington Post reported on August 4. Besides blaming the international remnants of the LTTE for playing 'transnational terrorist games', the Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 published by the US State Department stated that although Sri Lanka's Tamil terrorist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam lost the war on the ground in the Indian Ocean island in 2009, its international financial network survived largely intact. The report says that the network continued to collect contributions from the Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Australia.
Source: Daily Mirror Online, August 6, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Judiciary in trouble

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has condemned police interference in its effort to appoint nearly 160 judges as its permanent members before the August 7 deadline. The Commission said that by ordering the police deployment, President Mohammed Nasheed is violating article 285 of the Constitution which stipulated that it is the duty of the commission to appoint judges within the timeframe of two years. That deadline is August 7. The Commission said that 160 members are reappointed on the basis of the criteria which have been approved by 9 of its members. JSC at present has 10 members. It was alleged by one of its member Velezinee that the Commission is appointing judges many of whom possessed primary level education and tainted criminal background. Velezinee, a president's supporter, however, was not included in the reappointment of the judges.
Source: Minivan News, August 4, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">International Community asked to help 'Asia's Obama'

Being dubbed as 'Asia's Obama' by media, the supporters of the Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed has asked the international community to help him overcome the recent political crisis in the country. For they believe that a current deadlock between legislature and executive is being generated by the vested interests to preserve the hegemonies of a few powerful ruling families in the country. The crux of the crisis is Nasheed's attempt to root out corruption from all spheres in the Maldives. Highlighting the achievement of the young and dynamic president Nasheed, Maldivian High Commissioner to the UK Dr. Farahnaaz Faizal wrote in her comments to the Guardian newspaper that "the international community has welcomed President Nasheed's efforts to raise awareness over the dangers of climate change, which threaten to submerge his low-lying nation. The new, British-educated president started well, releasing journalists and prisoners of conscience incarcerated by the former regime, closing down a notorious jail where dissidents were held and tortured and forgoing the opulence of Gayoom's palaces and Mercedes, choosing instead to live in a modest bungalow and walk to work." She cited the fact that Freedom House has promoted the Maldives from a "not free" to a "partially free" country. "The country has shot up Reporters Without Borders' global press freedom index. In May, the Maldives received the highest number of votes in any UN election to win a seat on the human rights council. According to Dr. Faizal, "President Nasheed has started to break up the patronage system and free people to lead independent lives."
Source: Asian Tribune, August 6, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Flood situation in Pakistan worsens

Floods have wreaked havoc across Pakistan. Beginning with the regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, flooding has intensified in the regions of Sindh and Punjab during the last week. The number of people killed and displaced is not clear but approximations have been made at around 500 and 500,000 respectively. An estimated 252,000 houses have also been destroyed.

Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir are inaccessible as landslides have blocked major road links, while the Karakoram Highway has also suffered extensive damage. These floods are the worst to hit Pakistan in 80 years. According to agriculture officials, it has washed away standing crops on 250,000 acres.

The disaster management cells and authorities have found themselves overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation. The Army is known to have been carrying out a large portion of the relief work including rescue and supplying of relief material. Certain Jihadi establishments such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa which is the front face of Lashkar-e-Taiba is carrying out considerable relief activities too.

The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System, a joint initiative of UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance and European Commission has categorised the flood as "severity class -1" which involves large flood event with significant damage to structures, agriculture and fatalities. International aid meanwhile has started pouring in with the United Nations has allocated $18 million for flood victims in Pakistan.

There seems to be a popular sentiment against the political authorities and responsible agencies due to lack of coordinated efforts to salvage the situation. The gap is being filled by the Pakistan Army with pro-extremist organization contributing. This event could mirror the outcome during the 2005 earthquake where these organizations won domestic and international praise for its relief efforts.
Source: Dawn, August 3, 2010, Daily Times, August 03, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">President Zardari visits U.K despite protests

President Zardari continued his diplomatic mission to U.K and France despite growing domestic protests. This was due to British Prime Minister's statement suggesting that Pakistan continues to export terrorism which was made during his visit to India. The protests have increased due to the worsening flood situation in the country. Political parties MQM and PML-N had also supported the calls to cancel the trip.

ISI chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha's meanwhile cancelled his trip to London following the comments by the British PM.
Source: Daily Times, August 03, 2010,

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Shibir's militant links

Security forces had unearthed a clandestine nexus of Islamic Chhatra Shibir (ICS), the student arm of Jamaat-e-Islami, with various outlawed organisations. The ICS in association with these outlawed organisations have been collecting arms and ammunitions to carry out acts of violence in the country. On 4 August, security forces recovered huge cache of arms and explosives from the possession of ICS activists. At least four ICS activists were arrested in this regard. Although the security forces are not furnishing further details about this evil nexus still, it is suspected that Hizb-ut Tahirir, the banned radical organisation, might be partnering ICS. However, ICS claimed such charges to be baseless and motivated.

For long, ICS had been accused of having linkages with militant organisations. Bangla Bhai, the leader of the banned militant organisation Jamaat-ul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB) who was executed in March 2007, was known to be a member of ICS.
Source: The Daily Star, 5 August 2010

(Contributors -- Pakistan: Akhilesh Variar, Nepal: Dr. Anjali Sharma, Bangladesh: Dr. Joyeeta Bhattacharjee)
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