SATIRE: A New SAARC for a New South Asia

Mushahid Hussain (PML-GHQ)Fresh from a successful diplomatic mission to Washington which probably brought global condemnation to India’s nefarious anti-Pakistan activities in Kashmir, Pakistan Muslim League (GHQ) Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed has devised another ingenious strategy to advance Pakistan’s interests and deliver a solid slap to India’s face. Sen Mushahid Hussain has taken up  the issue of SAARC Summit which was temporarily postponed due to every member state boycotting not feeling worthy to come to Pakistan.

“SAARC as it exists does not properly represent whole South Asia” the Senator explained to a group of journalists who received a phone call instructing them to attend. “The current arrangement is dominated by Indian proxies such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Maldives.”

“A greater South Asia is already emerging,” said Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed. “This greater South Asia includes China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Azad Kashmir, Palestine (Gaza Strip), and especially Twitteristan as well as the millions of loyal and patriotic overseas South Asians whose voices are being unfairly silenced under the current system.”

Mr Hussain said that the obvious solution was to make each of these New South Asian states permanent voting members of SAARC. South Asia’s Permanent Representative to Twitter Farhan K Virk would be allowed to vote either by hashtag or Twitter poll, and independent votes would also be cast by representatives of overseas South Asians with a valid CNIC under special arrangements by the Defence Wings of Pakistan’s Embassies.

“The improvement of this new arrangement for democracy is obvious to anyone who is not a paid Indian agent and will surely receive the blessing of the international community”, explained Mr Hussain. “We have now solved the SAARC crisis just as we solved the crisis in Kashmir.”

In response to a question, Mr Hussain noted that it is also being investigated whether Russia is actually a South Asian nation also.


Mushahid goes to Washington: Did we get the message?

Mushahid Hussain and Shezra KharalAfter finding little interest in Pakistan’s position on Kashmir, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sent a group of special envoys on a diplomatic mission to Washington, DC. The timing seemed to be ideal. India was swirling in a mess of confusion and contradictions. Was Baramulla a terrorist attack or a case of ‘friendly fire’? ‘Surgical strikes’ were being declared and denied, and it was obvious that Indian officials were neither on the same page nor even in agreement on which script they were using. Islamabad, on the other hand, was taking things in stride. Yes, the Defence Minister was making unfortunate statements about nuclear war, but compared to what was being uttered on Indian TV this was hardly a footnote. While Indian talking heads were debating surgical strikes in Pakistani territory, Islamabad was carrying out a diplomatic surgical strike in Washington. It was a strategic stroke of brilliance. At least, that was the plan. What really happened though caught the PM’s emissaries completely off guard.

Expecting to find an audience receptive to Pakistan’s position, or at least willing to listen, Senator Mushahid Hussain and his entourage found themselves facing an audience uninterested and unwilling to listen. The entire trip can be summed up in a 30 second clip from another diplomatic theatre.

Expecting to find an opportunity for a good soundbite on Kashmir, our journalist was shut down before his question ever even finished. “I don’t want to go there…The security council has not been discussing it.” The journalist’s surprise was clear from his shocked response. How could the UN Security Council not be discussing Kashmir?!?

Meanwhile, in Washington, Pakistan’s envoys had arranged a busy schedule, the jewel of which was a public event at the prestigious Atlantic Council think tank which turned from a Pakistan policy press conference to a frustrating and humiliating slap when the microphone was turned over to the audience.

This was not the way things were expected to go. Senator Mushahid did his best, but he once again found himself on the back foot, repeating talking points about national sacrifices and defending instead of advancing Pakistan’s narrative.

If Nawaz Sharif was expecting to find sympathetic, or at least receptive ears, it was his envoys themselves who found themselves being lectured. The entire trip appears to have been completely ignored by the international media. Washington’s influential journalists seem to have taken no interest in any of the events. Even domestic media has given the results of the trip very little attention, and perhaps there is good reason.

militancy, particularly cross-border attacks, was an issue that the delegation had to confront at almost each of more than a dozen meetings it attended in Washington.

Everywhere that the diplomatic envoys went, they were met with questions and demands about Pakistan’s support for militancy. Rather than pointing to any success, Senator Mushahid Hussain was resigned to hoping that Pakistan’s chances will be better under the next American government.

Senator Mushahid Hussain hoped that the new US administration would be different from the Obama administration, “which hopefully would have more balanced, strategic, sustained and consistent policy”.

At the end of this high profile diplomatic mission, PM’s envoys left with Pakistan in no better position than when they arrived. Worse, this outcome seems to have come as a complete surprise. Our own media, largely stage managed to promote narratives rather than news, is largely responsible for this state of affairs. We mismanage our own expectations by constantly telling ourselves what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear. As a result, we are like the friend who never gets the message, who even when his friend says with exasperation, “I’m sorry, but it’s so late, shouldn’t you be going now”, replies with a smile, “it’s no problem, I’m not tired at all!” What will it take for us to understand the message that the entire world is trying to give?

Despite our best efforts to elevate Kashmir to the center of the world’s attention, the world has clearly shown no interest. Not just the UN and the US, the Gulf states too have been silent and unwilling to take a strong stand in support of Pakistan’s position. The only statements that come from the world’s power centres show sympathy to India for suffering terrorist attacks and call on Pakistan to stop supporting militants. The question now is whether the powers that be are able to get the message.

Tie Defence Budget To Results

Pakistan military systems

Defence Ministry has requested another increase in funds for military budget. This is not a surprise, actually, defence budget is raised every year and it will be raised again this year, too. This year, however, the government should make a change that would have a great impact in ensuring both the national security and the economic security of the nation: Tie the defence budget to results.

Pakistan faces real and immediate security threats. According to Air Vice Marshal Arshad Qudoos, “More funds are required for acquisition and mobilisation of new weapon systems”.  By tying the defence budget to results, we could be assured that those weapon systems were the ones actually needed to secure the country. Even more important, the military would have a strong incentive to focus on immediate threats instead of ideological or imagined ones.

The idea might sound surprising, but it shouldn’t. Pakistan is not China or America with trillions dollar budgets to divide among state agencies.  Chairman Senate Committee on Defence Senator Mushahid Hussain called for more accountability on Monday, saying that ‘People deserve to know how the defence budget is prepared and utilised’.

Knowing how the defence budget is prepared and utilised is important, but without the final element of accountability for actual results, that knowledge is meaningless. Tying the defence budget to actual results will cause national security and economic security to improve.