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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: Usman_Khalid
Full Name: Brig (R) Usman Khalid
User since: 20/Sep/2007
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Tale of Two Mutinies – by TTP & WAPDA

Hakimullah Mahsud; Leader of TTP (left) with Oliur-Rehman (the second in command) since killed in a US drone strike

Pakistan has been a home to several mutinies starting with mutiny of Bengali armed forces personnel in 1971. Since it was hailed as ‘freedom struggle’ even in West Pakistan, every subsequent mutiny enjoyed enough political support to make the crushing of the mutiny impossible. Since 2008, the TTP and WAPDA mutineers have defied the writ of the Government and would continue to do so until dealt with as mutinies.

By Usman Khalid


Little over a month ago before the Mian Nawaz Sharif (MNS) assumed the office of the Prime Minister, it was mildly amusing to see cabinet ministers appear on TV squirming in the face clips shown of failure to meet deadlines or objectives announced earlier. The ‘squirming’ is now being done by the ministers of a popular government; it is not amusing at all. The new ministers appear eager to meet the objectives they set and want to avoid embarrassment suffered by their predecessors. But they appear helpless – helpless to deal with load shedding as well as assassins in Karachi, KPK and elsewhere in Pakistan. If the government is unable to establish its writ over the employees of gas and electricity department; if the police and other law enforcing agencies continue to fail in dealing with foreign supported Baloch rebels and the MQM, or sectarian militants, the government will face more than just embarrassment – Pakistan would become a failed state like Afghanistan or Somalia.

Every collective defiance of the authority is not mutiny. It is only when the employees on their own or in combination with outside groups defy their superiors to commit crimes against their employers. The most celebrated mutiny in our history was one in 1857 against the British. The mutiny was crushed ruthlessly which set the state for 90 years of unprecedented socio-economic progress and prosperity in the sub-continent. The mutineers are often dealt with by military courts under military law which provides for exemplary punishment for mutiny. A mutiny in a military unit draws severe punishments for mutineers and their direct or indirect supporters and the unit concerned is invariably disbanded. Pakistan has dealt with conspiracies within the military with an iron hand which has precluded a successful coup d’état at level below the Army Chief. But the Bengali armed forces personnel who mutinied during the year 1971 were generally let off. In Bangladesh they were honoured as ‘freedom fighters’ and rewarded with high office. This has caused immense damage to Bangladesh. The military is seen as contenders for political power and every government has sought protection from India or America or both against its military. That gives hostile foreign powers a permanent stranglehold over the country. The lesson of history is that mutinies should be ruthlessly suppressed if a country wants to enjoy stability and ‘rule of law’.

Pakistan has not experienced a military mutiny since 1971; there have been coup d’états but no mutiny. The armed forces are disciplined and professional in the performance of their duties but civil mutinies have been many. Strikes by essential services are mutinies. Strike by young doctors in the Punjab had the hallmarks of a mutiny but it was not dealt with as such. The employees of WAPDA go on strike every time there is even a rumour of ‘privatisation. Electricity company employees have defied the government since 2008 to frustrate restructuring and reform and protect their right to bribes, cuts, commission, and even stealing from the company. Their defiance has all the hallmarks of a mutiny and it has to be dealt with as such. The civil equivalent of disbandment is ‘receivership’ which involves the dismissal of the entire senior management and sale of the company, or its assets, if no buyers can be found for the company as a going concern.

An alternative to ‘receivership’ is privatisation if credible accounts can be made available. But the experience of privatisation of KESC has not been good. WAPDA and the National Grid would have to continue to be under federal control and ownership because of constitutional and political constraints. However, electricity distribution companies, in private hands or in provincial ownership, would give provincial government more freedom of action in meeting the energy needs of their constituents. But it would be unwise to run electricity distribution companies for profit. It has been experienced in Pakistan that the vacuum left by the failure of the state institutions has been filled by societal institutions particularly charities. Charity run hospitals, educational institutions, ambulance and other social services function reasonably well. If large consumers of electricity were given management control of electricity distribution companies and smart metering made universal, it is possible to regulate the use of electricity keeping retail price at or below Rs. 10/- per KWh. I will leave the matter of exemplary punishment of those stealing electricity and employees complicit in it for the moment. They must be punished and punished severely but not necessarily immediately. This is an area where political judgement needs to be exercised. The Prime Minster has appointed a Senior FIA officer to look into the affairs of electricity companies. If the FIA reports serious wrong doing I hope he would not hesitate to put the guilty company in receivership.

The more serious mutiny in Pakistan is led by the TTP (Tehrik I Taliban Pakistan), Baloch separatists, MQM, anti Shia Lashkar i Jhangvi, and several criminal gangs. All theses groups are mutineers because all of them target the police, armed forces personnel and state officials. The Army crushed the TTP mutiny in Swat and the area is still largely peaceful. However, insurgency in Baluchistan, FATA, KPK and in the city of Karachi has not been dealt with effectively. Baluchistan is a special case because insurgency is confined to a sparsely populated area and motivation as well as the means are provided by the CIA, Mossad and RAW. This is best dealt with by a combination of diplomacy and ruthless military operations – clandestine as well as overt.

The mutiny in FATA and KPK has the support of JUI(F) and Jamaat i Islami (JI) who openly state that the insurgency is justified as “reaction” to Pakistan becoming an ally of the USA in its war of terror. TIP has also been lending implicit support to this line. Now that TIP and JI are partners in the coalition government of KPK, attacks by TTP have increased killing two MPAs of TIP. Yet, there is no change in the political stand of TIP or the JI. They continue to say that TTP attacks would continue until drone attacks cease and US forces withdraw from Afghanistan. While the TIP condemn the US attacks, they provide the rationale for continued US presence in the region. It is not the unelected Taliban but elected Government of the TIP whose hostility underpins the US stand that they cannot depend on hostile Pakistan and have to depend on its puppets in Afghanistan to protect its interests. However, it is not the TIP which is negotiating with the USA and the Taliban. The US Government has open lines of communication with the Pakistan Government as well as the Taliban. It is President Karzai who has written himself out of the narrative.

It is debatable whether the Afghan Taliban have more influence with the TTP or the Indian RAW. The former have to be in a position of commanding influence. Moreover, reports that relations between the Tajik leadership of the Northern Alliance and the Pakistan Government are now free of acrimony and suspicion, indicate that Pakistan hold the cards which can end the TTP led insurgency. That is good news. A deal with the TTP may not come about immediately as the lines of communication are still clogged. But there is light at the end of the tunnel; the TTP, which is the most vicious group of insurgents, may well be persuaded to lay down arms and come into the mainstream of life. The anti-Shia lashkars depend on the TTP for weapons and safe haven. Therefore, the source of sectarian insurgency may also be willing to make a deal. That would leave the MQM and other criminal groups as the sole surviving mutineers in Pakistan.

The role of technology to deal with a mutiny is untried but the potential is immense. Use of technology for detection, prosecution and elimination of theft in consequence, is already well established. As stated earlier, smart meters are being introduced at every grid station to detect and stop the theft of electricity. The role of technology in maintenance of ‘law and order’ is well established. Police files are now kept on computers in most countries and are accessible to investigation agencies. NADRA has photographs and finger prints record of every adult male. Police could maintain the record of the ‘present address’ of every adult male and domestic servant including females and minors. That would make it much easier to trace the whereabouts of any individual. New arrival should have to report their new address within a week. Any one required by the police for interview to have his photograph put on Thana Notice Board. Citizen Arrest by ordinary individuals in already permissible under the law if a proclaimed offender is found or a crime observed. What is needed is that the public is given confidence that there would a reward – not harassment – for helping in apprehension of criminals. In fact, the civil society can help immeasurably in maintenance of law and order if a special cell of the police in every district was to give reward to those who help in apprehending criminals and give protection to those whose life, honour or property is under threat from a criminal or influential person.

The political parties are civil institutions which are a bridge between the state and the society. Why do they adopt the culture of disdain for the public? Why do they not invoke the writ of the civil society in support of the state institutions? I believe that the entire culture of governance must change. The role of the police should be security of life, liberty and livelihood of individuals. When a crime – particularly a violent or sex crime – is committed, the police officer concerned should be tried for negligence alongside the criminal. Low crime rates is the hallmark of countries that carry out public execution of any one convicted of a violent crime. Pakistan is faced with inability to implement policy because of entrenched corruption and defiance of authority by public servants with impunity. We need to use technology and mobilise civil society institutions to deal with crime. The mutineers should be executed in public. Supporters of the mutineers like the TIP, JUI(F) and JI should be put on the spot for their stand. ++

 

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