Pakistan Day 2015: Another Missed Opportunity

Pakistan Day Parade

According to the old joke, “all countries have armies, but here, Army has a country”. This was on full display as the nation’s capital came to a full halt for “Pakistan Day Parade” that consisted of little more than a celebration of Army. There was always something that bothered me a little about this, but I couldn’t really say what it was until I read this Tweet.

It’s amazing how something so profound can be captured in so few words, but there it is. I realised what was bothering me wasn’t that the Army was featured in the celebration, but that it felt like Army was the only thing featured. As if Pakistan were an Army, and not a diverse nation of millions.

With the alienation of so many communities, Pakistan Day could have been an opportunity to put on display the various cultures and languages that make up our country. I am imagining a parade in which everyone was not dressed in a uniform, but in the different traditional dress of their community.

I am imagining a parade in which religions were represented: Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Ahmedi, Christian, Hindu…all marching together as a demonstration that even though in some ways we are different, at the end of the day we are all Pakistanis.

I am imagining a parade in which, instead of weapons, there were displayed representations from Punjabis, Sindhis, Pashtuns, Baloch, Hazaras, Saraikis, Kashmiris, Chitralis, Mohajirs. Where everyone is cheering and appreciating each others cultures, and remembering that it is from this combination that Pakistan is made.

Instead we were shown troops. Officers. Missiles. Fighter jets. Drones.

Pakistan Day 2015 was a proud day, but it was also a missed opportunity. We were reminded of the strength of our armed forces, but we once again ignored the essence of what it is that’s worth defending.

Now, about those billions…

Pakistan Rupees

As is so often the case in politics, the lead up to Senate elections has proved to be much more controversial than the actual elections. Accusations of rigging and horse trading abounded, and even PTI has gotten a taste of what it means to be in the hot seat. At the end of the day, however, the high-pitched wailing about ‘billions’ at play were best summed up in less than 140 characters by Cyril Almeida:

And so, as always, the world continues to turn and politicians prepare for the next battle. Now that we have put this chapter behind us, let us return to a question that remains unanswered…where did all those billions go?

No, not those billions…

Those:

Rs5.5 billion foul play in defence funds

The Auditor General of Pakistan has unearthed financial foul play of billions of rupees in spending of funds in Pakistan’s defence sector. The audit report on the accounts of defence services for the fiscal year 2011-12 finds that Pakistan’s defence organisations misused funds or violated prescribed rules during spending of funds exceeding 5490.961 million rupees.

And those:

Defence ministry fails to recover Rs1.5bn from its 81 officials

A defence ministry representative informed the meeting that the 81 military and civilian officials were investigated and found guilty of having embezzled Rs1.53 billion from the accounts of the Military Engineering Services (MES). This sum was siphoned off thanks to fake purchases, fictitious spending and fraudulent payments.

I look forward to reading Farrukh Saleem‘s detailed report…

Dawn’s Dangerous Defence Delusions

nuclear explosion

It was inevitable that reports of India increasing its defence budget once again would be met with concern in certain quarters. Unfortunately, even more moderate voices are perpetuating dangerous narratives. In fact, for anyone interested in improving Pakistan’s national security, Dawn’s analysis is terrifyingly misguided.

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A deliberate international campaign to defame Pakistan

Conspiracy

National consensus against terrorism has been reached. Military and civilians are on the the same page. A major paradigm shift has been taken. The talking points are consistent, and there are signs that they are sincere. However, there are some who refuse to accept Pakistan’s resolve and are actively trying to sow doubt and undermine Pakistan’s stature in the world – especially in Washington. This is the latest narrative that has been taking hold in media, and, as we know, if the media seizes on a narrative, it must be true.

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Naval Dockyard attack being swept under the rug

Navy

The terrorist attack on Karachi Naval Dockyard should have been a wake up call about the continuing threat of jihadi militant groups throughout the country despite targeted anti-militant operations in one region. Actually, it should have been another wake up call. Latest statements from the military and ‘security analysts’, however, are trying to lull the public back to sleep.

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