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Don’t Blame the Pakistan Army for the Country’s Poverty

Jyotish

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Don’t Blame the Pakistan Army for the Country’s Poverty

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

FEBRUARY 8, 2019

No matter what happens in Afghanistan, a most important factor in the region will continue to be the army of Pakistan which has had to move large numbers of troops to the border to counter revolutionary militants. In the event of civil war in Afghanistan, Pakistan will be subject to even more threat from over its western frontier and it is therefore relevant to examine the Pakistan army, which, under the Constitution, along with the other armed services “shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.”

On February 1 Russia announced that Moscow is “closely cooperating” with Islamabad in the fight against terrorism and that “great contribution is being made by all the countries bordering Afghanistan, and Russia is a reliable partner of those countries in every effort to ensure the security of the borders.” But although Russia acknowledges Pakistan’s vital role in the region, most western governments and media outlets allege that much of the shambles in war-torn Afghanistan is the fault of Pakistan. Not only that, but the UK’s Economist claimed in January that “Pakistan’s army is to blame for the poverty of the country’s 208m citizens — it has fostered the paranoia and extremism that hold the country back.”

This is the army which, along with para-military forces, has had 7,057 soldiers killed in operations against barbaric extremists from January 2002 to January 27, 2019. Following the US invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent expansion of Islamic terrorist groups in the region (and well beyond), Pakistan has suffered 468 suicide bombing attacks, in which 7,230 people were killed. Before the US offensive in 2001 there was one such attack, in 1995 by a crazy Egyptian who drove a bomb-laden lorry into the Egyptian Embassy’s gates. Last year 369 Pakistani civilians died in terrorist attacks and 165 soldiers were killed in fighting against terrorists, killing 157 of them.

Pakistan’s army has mounted countless operations against terrorists, and has been able to restore peace. As the BBC reported, “For over a decade the inaccessible and mountainous tribal area of North Waziristan [on the Afghan border] was home to a swirling array of violent jihadists. The Pakistan and Afghan Taliban movements, al-Qaeda and less well-known militant outfits such as the Haqqani Network used the area to hold hostages, train militants, store weapons and deploy suicide bombers to attack targets in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today the militants have gone. Virtually the whole of North Waziristan is in Pakistani army hands.” At the cost of hundreds of dead and wounded Pakistan army soldiers.

This is the army that The Economist alleges “promotes a doctrine of persecution and paranoia”. The journal states, without any evidence, that “it helped cast out the previous prime minister, Nawaz Sharif” but doesn’t mention that Sharif was totally corrupt. It is not surprising that Sharif resigned in 2017 after the Supreme Court disqualified him from office following revelations of his family’s financial fandangos. As reported by Al Jazeera, “In 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists leaked 11.5 million documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, dubbed the Panama Papers. Several documents included in the leak showed three of Sharif’s children — Hussain, Hasan and Maryam — owned at least three off-shore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. The documents showed that these companies had engaged in deals worth $25m. Crucially, one of the documents also revealed that the companies had been involved in a $13.2m mortgage involving the London properties as collateral, the first time the Sharif family’s ownership of the apartments was proven on paper.” Further, as CNN records, in 2018 “Sharif was found guilty of corruption charges relating to the purchase of Al-Azizia Steel Mills where prosecutors alleged that the Sharif family misappropriated government funds to buy the mills. The company was used by the Sharif’s family to launder money, evade tax and hide offshore assets.”

The whole thing stank, and it was eventually made public that Nawaz Sharif was corrupt to the eyeballs — as everyone in Pakistan had known for decades.

The Pakistan Army cannot not be held to blame for that, any more than it can be for the majestic corruption of former President Asif Zardari (Mr Ten Percent), the husband of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. In 1998 the Pulitzer Prize winner John Burns wrote an eight page exposé in the New York Times noting, among many other revelations of sleaze, that “In 1995, a leading French military contractor, Dassault Aviation, agreed to pay Mr. Zardari and a Pakistani partner $200 million for a $4 billion jet fighter deal that fell apart only when Ms. Bhutto’s Government was dismissed. In another deal, a leading Swiss company hired to curb customs fraud in Pakistan paid millions of dollars between 1994 and 1996 to offshore companies controlled by Mr. Zardari and Ms. Bhutto’s widowed mother, Nusrat.”

The Bhutto government was staggeringly corrupt. As Burns recounted, “In the largest single payment investigators have discovered, a gold bullion dealer in the Middle East was shown to have deposited at least $10 million into an account controlled by Mr. Zardari after the Bhutto Government gave him a monopoly on gold imports that sustained Pakistan’s jewellery industry. The money was deposited into a Citibank account in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai, one of several Citibank accounts for companies owned by Mr. Zardari. Together, the documents provided an extraordinarily detailed look at high-level corruption in Pakistan, a nation so poor that perhaps 70 percent of its 130 million people are illiterate, and millions have no proper shelter, no schools, no hospitals, not even safe drinking water. During Ms. Bhutto’s five years in power, the economy became so enfeebled that she spent much of her time negotiating new foreign loans to stave off default on $62 billion in public debt.”

So it might be asked of The Economist exactly what the Pakistan army had to do with impoverishment of citizens during the regimes of Benazir Bhutto, then her husband, the crooked Asif Zardari, then the almost equally corrupt Nawaz Sharif. The country has had civilian government since 2008, and might reasonably be expected to have improved its economic situation, but in some weird way, according to The Economist, the fact that this has not come about must be the fault of the army, which has been trying to protect the country against the massive terrorist drive to destroy democracy and establish Islamic rule.

The Economist states that the army “at last” moved against the terrorists in 2014 “following an appalling school massacre.” As described above, it did indeed mount a massive operation in Waziristan in 2014, but to assert that this was belated action is totally misleading. The Economist ignores the fact that in May 2009, for example, “Pakistan’s army declared a ‘full-scale’ offensive against Taliban insurgents holed up in the Swat valley . . . The fighting was concentrated in the main town, Mingora, where the bulk of an estimated 4,000 Taliban fighters across Swat are heavily dug in. Artillery and helicopter gunships battered militant-held buildings, while the Taliban planted mines across the city in expectation of a major ground offensive.” In this army operation 228 officers and men were killed and 757 wounded. Fazlullah, the leader of the insurgent group known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) escaped to Afghanistan, from where he continued to direct attacks within Pakistan “including the 2014 school massacre that killed 132 children and the 2012 shooting of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.” He was killed by a US drone strike in 2018.

It is all very well for clever commentators who have never experienced a military operation or heard a shot fired in anger to declare that Pakistan’s armed forces “commandeer resources” as if this were a crime. They have no idea of the enormous cost of logistics in anti-terrorist operations in “the inaccessible and mountainous tribal area of North Waziristan.” They have no idea of the human and financial implications of casualty evacuation in such awful terrain, or of the enormous cost of establishing forward bases and transporting ammunition and rations over hundreds of miles of rugged tracks. Yet they say they believe that “the army’s pre-eminence is precisely what lies at the heart of Pakistan’s troubles.”

Tell that to the people of Swat and North Waziristan who suffered from the atrocities of the Taliban who have now been ejected — by the army — from the regions where, for example, “decapitated bodies were found on the roadside, hung from electric poles and trees.” Now, as the BBC notes, “The army is building infrastructure to tempt people to return. As well as new roads, there are brand new schools with facilities that rival anything on offer elsewhere in Pakistan.” That might seem to most people, if not The Economist, a reasonable use of “resources”.

In preparing for even greater instability in Afghanistan and its likely spill-over to Pakistan, the army will require more resources, and it is likely these will be forthcoming, as will cooperation by at least some other nations, notably Russia whose special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov, said in Islamabad on January 29 that Moscow “greatly appreciated Pakistan’s role as a facilitator in the Afghan peace process.” Nobody knows how that process will pan out, but it is certain there will continue to be regional instability, and that in Pakistan it will be essential that the army continues in its role as protector of democracy.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/08/dont-blame-the-pakistan-army-for-the-countrys-poverty/
 

Jyotish

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This article was written by Brian Cloughley.

About the Author
Brian Cloughley spent a total of eight years in Pakistan, first as deputy head of the UN Military Mission in Kashmir, then as Australian defense attaché, and has deep knowledge of the army’s structure, personalities, and capabilities. He visits the country regularly and updates its defense details for global military news website IHS Jane’s Sentinel. He lives in the village of Voutenay-sur-Cure in Burgundy, France.

I do not know if any of the Pakistani members know him, but he is friendly towards Pakistan.

He has written three books about Pakistan, all related to defence.

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On his personal website (https://www.beecluff.com/), I found pictures of him in Kashmir and with former Pakistani leaders.


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Among other enjoyable duties I was deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir in 1980-82, and was able to walk and climb in the mountains along the Line of Control that delineates areas of Kashmir controlled by India and Pakistan

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Pictured with two of the military Presidents of Pakistan, Generals Zia (1977 to 1988) and Musharraf (1999 to 2008).

I thought you might be interested in being aware of his existence (if you do not know him already).
As a writer, expert and former diplomat, he could become an ally to Pakistan.
 

Imran Khan

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so whom should we blame ? Pakistan army have been ruled the country 33 years . they have to take responsibility of some 41% of total mess too .
 

pakdefender

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We are a country of 180 million plus , people who pay taxes are 0.9 million or a whooping 0.5 % pay taxes , let's start from there
 

Lord Of Gondor

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A different view by an Op-Ed on DT:
Being much smaller than India, Pakistan knows that it can never reach parity with India in conventional weapons without bankrupting itself. So it developed nuclear weapons. Its nuclear arsenal is now estimated to be on par with India’s. That should have freed up resources from the conventional arms race to be spent on economic, social and cultural development, yielding the so-called nuclear dividend.

Unfortunately, the opposite happened. Spending on conventional weapons was not lowered. It was raised. And the strength of the armed forces was not reduced. It was held steady.

In a recent paper for the Stimson Center, Maimuna Ashraf catalogues the wide range of conventional weapons that are being inducted into the armed forces of Pakistan supposedly to prevent a nuclear war: advanced fighter aircraft, main battle tanks, submarines, multirole frigates, cruise missiles, attack helicopters, and air defense systems.

Ashraf says that conventional weapons are intended to “provide a range of response options and increase the nuclear threshold, since Pakistan will not be forced to retaliate with nuclear weapons as an initial response to a limited conventional incursion.”

The irony is that nuclear weapons were introduced to prevent a conventional war from taking place. But, of course, they brought with them the risk of a nuclear war. Thus conventional weapons have to be upgraded to prevent a nuclear war from breaking out. Such is the diabolical logic of the dual weapons arms race.

Pakistan’s military justifies the arms race in conventional and nuclear weapons on the presumption that India is Pakistan’s life-long enemy. It believes that ever since India tasted blood in 1971 by splitting the two wings of Pakistan, it has been hell-bent on breaking up what remains of the country.
That claim does not stand up to history. The split of the two wings began when General Yahya Khan denied East Pakistanis a chance to run the country, overturning the results of the general elections which were widely regarded as the fairest in the country’s history.
The split became inevitable when the army, comprised largely of troops from the west, launched Operation Searchlight against the civilians in the east on the March 25.The army went on a shooting rampage, triggering a civil war.

As the months progressed, millions of refugees fled to India to escape the violence, inflicting a heavy burden on India. Even then, war with India could have been avoided by withdrawing the army from the east. Instead, General Yayha directed the Pakistani Air Force to bomb Indian airfields in the west on December 3, saying the defence of the east lay in the west. It was then that India attacked East Pakistan with full force, causing it to surrender on the December 16.

The other example cited by the military of India’s hegemonic ambition is its “unprovoked aggression” against Pakistan on September 6. What’s forgotten, a little too conveniently, is that Operation Gibraltar on August 5, followed by Operation Grand Slam on September 1, in Kashmir were launched by Pakistan in an attempt to wrest Kashmir from India. Feeling the pressure, India attacked Lahore to stop Pakistan from cutting off India’s supply line to Srinagar.

Thus, neither of the two major Indo-Pakistan wars were started by India. Nor was the earlier war of 1947-48, which began when Pakistan sent “raiders” into Kashmir to wrest it from India, triggering the inevitable Indian counter-response.

These are incontrovertible facts. Nevertheless, the military has convinced millions of Pakistan that India is a monster waiting to devour Pakistan. Thus, most Pakistanis continue to live in fear of an Indian invasion. So the country continues to spend more and more on defense. Of course, the more it spends on defense, the more India spends on defense, forcing Pakistan to spend yet more on defense. So the vicious, enervating cycle continues.

Unchecked defense spending has taken a bigger toll on Pakistan’s economy than on India’s economy. In its January 12 issue, The Economist magazine showed that between the year 2000 and 2018, India’s GDP grew by a factor of 3.5 while Pakistan’s only grew by a factor of 2.5.

When the conventional arms race was spinning out of control, nuclear weapons were introduced to reduce the risk of a conventional war from breaking out. But that proposition was turned on its head in 1999. The Pakistani army under General Musharraf launched an attack on Indian positions at Kargil in Kashmir. Initially, it disowned the attack, saying it was launched by “freedom fighters.” But with time the cover was blown and Pakistan stood exposed as the aggressor. Not an inch of Kashmiri territory was gained by Pakistan. But many lives and much treasure were lost.

To recap, the nuclear weapons that were developed to prevent a conventional war from breaking out have unsurprisingly put the two nations on the brink of nuclear war. No sane person one would like a nuclear war to break out since there would be no way to stopping it once it broke out. The devastation would be incalculable. So conventional weapons are being upgraded to prevent a nuclear war.

Maimuna Ashraf does not quantify the costs of these weapon purchases or the associated costs of inducting them into the armed services, which is an unfortunate omission. Millions of Pakistanis are starving, living in poverty, illiterate and suffering from disease. Water and power shortages loom on the horizon. Infrastructure needs to be built, including dams, power plants and electric grids.

Where is that money going to come from in a country where only one percent of the population pays income taxes? In the past, it has come from the twin evils of deficit financing and foreign aid. That has yielded chronic balance of payments and fiscal deficits.

The Prime Minister has pledged to the people that the future will be different. There will be no deficits anywhere. There will be surpluses everywhere one looks.

Time has shown that the dual arms race with conventional and nuclear weapons is expensive and dangerous. Even if it deters war, it takes its toll on the economy. And it cannot guarantee that a war will not take place.

Being in such a race is akin to driving a car with two throttles and no brakes. And unlike automotive racing where the cars run side by side, in this race the cars are running toward each other.

There is only one sane option on the table: throttle back on the dual arms race
https://dailytimes.com.pk/352436/the-enigma-of-arms-race-with-india/
 

Talwar e Pakistan

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so whom should we blame ? Pakistan army have been ruled the country 33 years . they have to take responsibility of some 41% of total mess too .
When Pakistan Army ruled the country; we faced astonishing economic growth. Massive projects were initiated and completed with utmost efficiency, they didn't have to go through years of bureaucratic sluggishness; in which millions of dollars are lost before we even complete anything.

Who do you think built Islamabad, the world's largest dams, Gwadar, etc...

wrong sir every pakistani is paying taxes no matter how . even beggars pay taxes too
No one pays income taxes.
 

valkyr_96

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It is....albeit so different that it holds no water for the record you can see who denied Bengalis their right in the government. PPP has been cooking many fair tales including Benazir's brother was killed by Zia, when he died of a drug overdose (first they blamed his wife).

"Unchecked defense spending has taken a bigger toll on Pakistan’s economy than on India’s economy. In its January 12 issue, The Economist magazine showed that between the year 2000 and 2018, India’s GDP grew by a factor of 3.5 while Pakistan’s only grew by a factor of 2.5"

This quote is balderdash....As far is poverty is concerned people in Pakistan are doing much better than in India, we do not have farmer suicides and immolations. Furthermore, the idea of land reforms to was to alleviate this base poverty but it seems that while India succeeded it either failed to make gains or lost it gains. This hinterland is still to be availed in Pakistan and is the only way we can transfer the wealth to the lowest strata. In Pakistan we subsidise (support pricing) the rich (land owners) in the name of the poor (farmers). The day this changes Pakistan will be up on its feet. Since every government, including Imran's, have these leeches -we can only wait.
 

shahbaz baig

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The perfect Answer to The Economist's propaganda against Army.

It is well established that two major political parties are main reason of economic down fall as elaborated by Sir Brian Cloughley.

Solutes to Pak Army Jo apny hi Kam Aqal logo ki bato ko bardasht krty howy Mulk k khatir din raat lagay rehtay hain or dekhawa nhi krty.

I love Pak Army love you ISI. The backbone of Pakistan :pakistan:
 

nahtanbob

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When Pakistan Army ruled the country; we faced astonishing economic growth. Massive projects were initiated and completed with utmost efficiency, they didn't have to go through years of bureaucratic sluggishness; in which millions of dollars are lost before we even complete anything.

During most of the years Pakistani army ruled there was a huge gravy train from Washington.
Whenever the gravy train from Washington ends or about to end the power is transferred to civilians. this may be by accident.

Plot the graph between aid or debt rescheduled or CSF payments on the y-axis and years on the x-axis. See for yourself.

I am sure moderators like to give a negative rating on this post. The data does not lie.
 

AgNoStiC MuSliM

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During most of the years Pakistani army ruled there was a huge gravy train from Washington.
Whenever the gravy train from Washington ends the power is transferred to civilians
That's not entirely accurate. Take Musharraf for example - when he took power via a coup there was no US gravy train. Pakistan had conducted nuclear tests, invited sanctions and been censured over the Kargil conflict. US aid and support came about after the 9/11 attacks because the US needed Pakistani cooperation and support to maintain US logistical lines and against Al Qaeda. Pakistan delivered on both fronts (I'm making a distinction between AL Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban).

Musharraf left power because he was forced out due to plummeting domestic support and protests led by the legal community and judicial system.
 

nahtanbob

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That's not entirely accurate. Take Musharraf for example - when he took power via a coup there was no US gravy train. Pakistan had conducted nuclear tests, invited sanctions and been censured over the Kargil conflict. US aid and support came about after the 9/11 attacks because the US needed Pakistani cooperation and support to maintain US logistical lines and against Al Qaeda. Pakistan delivered on both fronts (I'm making a distinction between AL Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban).

Musharraf left power because he was forced out due to plummeting domestic support and protests led by the legal community and judicial system.

Thanks for pointing out. There is a rough correlation.

US aid started in mid-1950s. your generals took over in 1958 until 1971.

You had a coup in 1977. Afghan aid started in 1980. US aid ended in 1990 until Sep-11. You moved from martial law to democracy in 1988

Musharraf did not get any help from 1998 to 2001. Look at the economic record during that time frame.
From 2001 to 2007 he had a comfortable time.

Civilians took over in 2007. US aid tapered off after 2010.
 

AgNoStiC MuSliM

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wrong sir every pakistani is paying taxes no matter how . even beggars pay taxes too
Indirect taxes, yes. But it is incorrect that all Pakistanis pay a fair share.

For example, indirect taxes get collected in the US as well (Taxes on gasoline, cigarettes etc). The businesses pass on these taxes to the consumers (as is the case in Pakistan). However, States also collect a sales tax on most products, a tax charged at point of sale (Stores etc). Pakistan has been unable to properly implement a GST. In addition to indirect taxes and sales taxes, US residents also have to file income taxes (for both Federal and State) and also pay separate taxes for social security and medicare (health insurance for senior citizens). Pakistan is missing a good chunk of revenue because of almost non existent GST and income taxes.

The WB estimates Pakistan's tax gap at 10% of the GDP or Rs 3.8 trillion. Our current tax-to-GDP ratio is 12.6% that according to the WB should be 23%. Among the 13 federal countries, Pakistan is second to last on the performance of provincial governments on tax collection. While the services sector accounts for 56% of GDP, it contributes only 0.5% of the GDP to taxes and about 11% to sales tax collection. The WB analysis is that Pakistan has a complex tax system of over 70 unique taxes and at least 37 government agencies administer these taxes.
https://fp.brecorder.com/2019/02/20190208445510/
 

nahtanbob

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The perfect Answer to The Economist's propaganda against Army.

It is well established that two major political parties are main reason of economic down fall as elaborated by Sir Brian Cloughley.

Solutes to Pak Army Jo apny hi Kam Aqal logo ki bato ko bardasht krty howy Mulk k khatir din raat lagay rehtay hain or dekhawa nhi krty.

I love Pak Army love you ISI. The backbone of Pakistan :pakistan:

the people are backbone of any society
 

AgNoStiC MuSliM

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Thanks for pointing out. There is a rough correlation.

US aid started in mid-1950s. your generals took over in 1958 until 1971.

You had a coup in 1977. Afghan aid started in 1980. US aid ended in 1990 until Sep-11. You moved from martial law to democracy in 1988

Musharraf did not get any help from 1998 to 2001. Look at the economic record during that time frame.
From 2001 to 2007 he had a comfortable time.

Civilians took over in 2007. US aid tapered off after 2010.
I agree there is a correlation in time frame, but what I'm saying is that if you dig deeper you find that US aid to Pakistan and military rule in Pakistan do not have a cause and effect relationship. US support came about because of US strategic interests (the Cold War, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, 9/11 etc). The US did not choose to provide aid because there was a military government in power, nor did the military take power because US aid was available.

Correlation does not imply causation.
 

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