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GLASNOST POLICY of the UNIFORM
 
Nadeem Yousaf

 

The current policy of Glasnost of the four-star Uniform ultimately can impair national interest in the same manner as Gorbachev’s Glasnost did to USSR, which led disintegration of the country. The worst of current euphoria of Glasnost is that it is opening, on the one hand, more room for external interference in Pakistan’s affairs, and on the other hand, it is lessening the respect of uniform in the public. Regrettably, it seems that the uniform has neither learnt the lesson from the incident of East Pakistan nor from the ill-fated Saddam Hussein.

 

It has been happening for the last many decades in Pakistan that the uniform asks civvies to absorb and clean filthy stains that are spread by them while traversing the dirty and muddy adventures. The resplendent and shinning uniforms have been using Civvies like a toilet paper without acknowledging the harsh fact that they owe major share in spreading the ills such as promotion of sectarianism, reptile press, political corruption and establishment of terrorist organizations. Even in the new millennium, the four-star uniform following the old strategy of hiring services of a few corrupt and puppet civvies to provide with camouflage to its actions. The collated information from local and international print and electronic media show that the current drama of humiliating top-notch senior nuclear scientists is a part of the same series without understanding the perils and hazards to national security and dignity.  

Information for the media trail of scientists did not really seeped out until LFO was passed and the SAARC conference was concluded. Until December 24, 2003, the government had been assuring Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan that it firmly stood behind him though International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had raised questions regarding his activities and involvement in proliferation. Dr Attaur Rehman, the minister for science and technology, assured Dr. Khan that they would always stand beside him during the International Seminar on Science and Technology in Islamabad. Immediately after SARRC conference, news of debriefing of nuclear scientists was blazed in print and electronic media. Many doubts and questions are arising out of the situation because things have been changing so rapidly since the month of December 2003. Two life attempts were made on Gen. Musharraf in a short span of time. Suddenly the man (Indian PM A.B. Vajpayee) who never trusted the Kargil Hero entrusted great faith in the same person. The media reports regarding meeting between the Indian civvies and Pakistani Uniform shows that the meeting was held when the uniform assured that no assistance would be given to Kashmiri indigenous liberation movement. Many international reports confirm that General Musharraf has traditionally enjoyed support from sections of the US Government including military and CIA since the time of preparing the `Mujaheddin' for the Anti-Soviet Jihad in Afghanistan. Interestingly, on the one hand, Clinton administration had rejected the coup of the four-star uniform; on the other hand, General Zinni in his statement to CBS 60 minutes soon after the coup said that Musharraf may be America's last hope in Pakistan, and if he fails, the fundamentalists would get hold of the Islamic bomb. It is another discussion whether or not it was a strategy of the US administration to humiliate the four-star uniform for time being so as to take benefits in future (remember that the reports has shown that Afghanistan would be attacked whether or not 9/11 incident had taken place). After the event of 9/11, semblance of the four-star uniform has positively changed in the eyes of the USA and became darling of the West. Ardesher Cowasjee (01 Feb.,2001) is correct that the uniform has been getting backing from all other corners except at home.

Under the circumstances, a genuine fear is growing that accusation of proliferation might be used as an argument to relegate the issue of Kashmir to the sidelines. Dr Khan’s removal from the Director General in 2001, unceremonious removal from the post of Advisor to the Prime Minister and now acceptance of charges by Dr. Khan proliferate the fears that our nuclear technology plant might be capped soon for which the nation had virtually eaten “grass.” It seems that we are heading on the road which is leading us to unknown direction.

Humiliating high-profile scientists on the charges of proliferation is ridiculous and it opens so many questions that current and post governments might not be able to handle them properly in future. Pakistan had only become accredited nuclear power in 1998 when the civilian Prime Minister put up with the international pressure and tested the nuclear blast. The whole world is known that Pakistan has acquired nuclear technology by the help of black marketers and she would have never become nuclear power if the scientists had not connection with the black marketer. Although, the state of Pakistan has sponsored the project, it was individuals who were at the front. It is norm of the black market that black marketers neither deal with institutions nor sign formal contracts. So, Dr. Khan and his close aids were responsible for deals. In future, we might not be considered credible buyers of black market after this incident! 

So far misuse of fund is concerned, if they were misused or misappropriated, first, no one could prove it, and second, it was not a small club of scientists or civvies who reaped the benefits. Nawa-e-Waqat Editorial (2 Feb., 2004) appropriately replied to the reptile press, which is charging Dr. Khan for accumulation of wealth through embezzlement of funds and unfair means, that Generals and Senior Judges of the judiciary are also not free from corruption and accumulated wealth through unfair means and acted beyond their constitutional powers. Mind it, scientists and researchers of Dr. Khan’s caliber do not work for meager amounts. The scientists of Dr. Khan stature could earn much more if they decide to work overseas but an army general or a judge form Pakistan could not. No government has openly told about the package and incentives he was offered to do the job.

 

In response to Kunwar Idris’ argument (Dawn 01 Feb., 2004) in which he supported the current investigation against the nuclear scientists for betraying the nation, it is suffice to say that scientist, indeed, are not above the law but than generals and judges have also betrayed the nation and committed act of treason. Why should they be exempted form any judicial trail and inquiry? Mr. Perkovich told to the New York Times that the four-star uniform wanted to protect its club (army) in the case; so does it not fall under the same concept? The reports show that people in uniform had taken security of KRL and discouraged civvies-in-authority to question the irregularities and anomalies of the system. The collective senior command in uniform went to the extent where the Best Civvies were neither briefed nor allowed to visit the sensitive territory of KRL. This is on the record that ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto was briefed about the Pakistani nuclear program by the USA authorities.  So, accusing only civvies in the nuclear proliferation is out of comprehension.

 

It is naïve of Mr. Idris that this enquiry will stop here and not open a Pandora box. It is just for information that US Defense Authorization Bill is in search of options for dealing with nuclear-capable nations including North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and India that may provide nuclear weapons to terrorist or transnational groups – and we will be an easy target if our four-star uniform does not learn how to handle critical issues. This is no expedient and pragmatic approach to accept whatever is told by the boss – as a matter of fact, handling foreign affairs and national strategic political issues are very different to leading army of ‘yes sir.’ 

 

No satisfactory answer has been given till today as to why a full page of advertisement was placed in 2000 for export of nuclear related items, including radioactive substances and equipment, under the regime of the four-star uniform which is reportedly shedding tear on the incident and considering it as the worst ever breach of the nation’s trust. Ironically, the then information minister, Javed Jabbar, considered advertisement as a fulfillment of government commitment to transparency, which would leave no scope for any kind of misuse or pilferage or illegal export of any substance though sanctioning export permission was against the guidelines which were drafted just 2 weeks prior to the advertisement (Guardian, August, 3,2000). The New York Times in January 2004 posted a brochure at its website which was prepared to attract the qualified buyers. The same newspaper reports that USA administration believes the nuclear transfers to Libya continued until fall 2003 though the four-star uniform denies that there was any nuclear transfer since National Command Authority was established in early 2002. Interestingly, foreign authorities believe that Pakistan had a hand in transporting thousands of sensitive parts for uranium centrifuges to Libya by a German-registered ship, which was caught in October, 2003. This was the latest incident that provided IAEA evidence with to raise issue of proliferation with Pakistan and demand an inquiry.  It is naïve to think that command in uniform was unaware of the advertisement and the broacher.

 

The Guardian reports that the decision for nuclear exports was, most likely, taken to raise revenue and revive the economy. The Guardian view seems to be viable because the four-star uniform also took the initiative to hold armaments exhibition to earn foreign exchange, which was seen as invitation to the problem by many civvies. Commenting on selling nuclear technology with the media, a former army Chief, General Mirza Aslam Beg, considered it as a respectable way of earning money.

 

Dr. Khan (and his team) is facing approximately the same charges of stealing blueprints of design by his own government that he was charged with in Netherlands when he was associated with Urenco. Dr. Khan has though accepted the blame and made a clemency appeal but the four-star uniform could not get the desired results. Rather, it fired back.  People sentiments are still with Dr. Khan and his stature has further improved. A large segment of political and common people believe that he was persuaded by using different means to accept the responsibility and he did it in the larger interest of the nation. Qazi Hussain Ahmed revelation, a day before the Dr. Khan live statement on the TV, Dr. Khan had denied the charges raises more doubts that what had happened behind the closed door that Dr. Khan took the responsibility of so called proliferation.  Similarly, many international experts are not buying the argument that army was not involved in the whole saga. For example, it is being said that US and UK investigators have informed the Pakistan’s government that Dr. Khan had traveled on a personal rather than a diplomatic passport to Iran, North Korea, the United Arab Emirates and the UK but it was not noticed, therefore investigators concluded that he was on official business. International media is still highlighting the news in which it is asserted that Dr. Khan’s has stated that top brass of army was known about the export of nuclear technology.    

 

It is, in fact, not much important whether Dr. Khan was guilty or not; or what deal was struck between the four-star uniform and the scientist, the vital point is mishandling of the case, which has given opportunity to the external world to use these information in future to control our sovereignty and nuclear capability. Following the Glasnost policy, the Uniform naively succumbed to international pressure and conceded involvement of Pakistan's top nuclear scientists in proliferation of nuclear technology to other countries. There is a little doubt that the uniform has handled foreign accusation and requests in a clumsy manner. Few years back, we had destroyed our cricket team on clumsy accusation of match-fixing, which could not be proved substantially except finding the scapegoats. However, aftermath of the match-fixing enquires was that team was demoralized and weakened. On the contrary, the overseas accusers who openly accepted money kept on serving their nation. The same path has been followed to in the case of nuclear scientist, which will not do any good to the country except derailing the moral of the nation. A Glasnost policy has done a tremendous damage and press conference of the four-star Uniform hardly repaired it. Moreover, he can accuse Pakistani media for playing negative role and ignoring the fact the case has been discussed (it is under discussion) around the world. Instead of accusing, he should commend the media and people that they are alive and not acting like a latent nation that simply relaying on the pledges of rulers as it happened in the case of Iraq.  

Information Minister Shaikh Rashid and Interior Minister Salah Hayat’s statements condemning the scientists show that they have not appreciated the gravity of the situation. The government might be thinking that case is over without appreciating that the game has  just commenced and soon we receive more demands one after the other. The well-wishers of the West will make number of suggestions to control nuclear ability of Pakistan. For example, Mansoor Ijaz’ in the Daily Standard advises the US government that USA president and Congress should stipulate condition that all U.S. aid to Pakistan depends on Islamabad's acceptance of nuclear safekeeping vaults, sensors, alarms, closed-circuit cameras, and other technologies that give the ability to monitor and track Pakistan's nuclear technologies. We must start thinking how we will respond if a full accounting of our nuclear technology and scientists’ interaction with other scientists of other countries is demanded.

If India had asked to humiliate their nuclear heroes they would have reacted strongly and differently. The Indian government might have charged US and Europe for being purveyor of enriched Uranium to Iran, Israel and other countries. Once ex-PM of India Nirsma Rao was asked in USA why he was not signing CTBT, the PM swiftly riposted that they would consider it when USA would sign the same; he did not use Pakistan as an excuse or scapegoat for India’s nuclear capability. It has become a fashion whosoever talk about security and sovereignty of Muslim countries is labeled as religious and rebellious fundamentalist.  Arnaud de Borchgrave of The Washington Times used the same term for Dr. Khan and his team of nuclear scientists that they are devout Muslim fundamentalists. It is not unlikely that US administration used the similar term to pressure Pakistan and we got scared that our “number” is coming. If Pakistani scientists and Pakistan are charged with proliferation then European and American black marketer and states must be charged and investigated who supplied the technology to Pakistan, Israel and the countries which are under the process of acquiring it. If they are charged with sharing cognitive and intellectual knowledge with their counterparts in other countries then the same charges should be levied to all universities where they have studied and the overseas organization where they worked. Whosoever has knowledge cannot sit with the sealed lips.

 

Feb. 07. 2004

 

 

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