Debate on USIP-JI report on Afghanistan and Moeed Yusuf’s testimony to US Congress – by Marvi Sirmed

There has been a discussion on Pakistan Press google group on the recent report about a mythical ‘endgame’ in Afghanistan, produced by Jinnah Institute and USIP. While one has many questions on the report’s contents, the discussion was suddenly obliterated to the supposed attack on and/or defense of the authors / participants of the report and their probably complicity with the deep state on this particular issue.

While I personally don’t like to brand any difference of opinion as complicity with either the deep state or the foreign conspirators against Pakistan, I did not participate in most of this discussion until Mr. Moeed Yusuf posted this testimony that he gave before American Congress. My response to this testimony goes below:

While completely respecting Moeed and Imtiaz sahib’s defense, and firmly believing that both of these gentlemen have shown their commitment to progressive ideals in the past, the question still remains. Why the vibes that come from some of the writings of our friends put us under the impression that they are catering to the ages old arguments / conclusions used excessively by the deep state?

One; I have written about it in today’s Daily Times and will reiterate here once again, while recognizing the handwork that the authors and the participants put in bringing that report, what one can’t miss is portraying just one point of view (calling it ‘predominant’) that coincides with the claims of deep state, ignoring dissenting PoVs that might have appeared during the discussions. This goes without disparaging the scholarship of anyone of you. Neither is it a crime to agree on some issues / points with the institutions of state. It is simple statement of an opinion deduced from what the report says and people signed the report. Is this too complex to understand?

Two; having known Dr. Ayesha and having read her as well as having had the privilege of discussing many issues with her, I don’t think she has ever been shy of expressing her opinion. Same goes with Dr. Fair, although I don’t know her personally. What makes you think both of them would hide their opinion if they have a particular opinion, or go back on their position?

Three:  Why is working with SPD is such an embarrassment for Moeed sahib? When his CV mentions SPD twice. Here:

Four; In his testimony to Congress, one sees many things which Moeed sahib can throw light on. For example, he said:

the military is in charge of the security policy but it is more a case of the civilians having abdicated this responsibility than the military having usurped the space

. . . I mean, really?

Five:  Then again Moeed sahib says:

“In February 2008, when the present Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led coalition took over, Pakistan had a great opportunity to rebalance the civil-military equation. The PPP government was riding on a sympathy wave after the assassination of its leader, Benazir Bhutto, the two largest political parties were in a coalition, the Army was both tied up in the anti-terrorism effort and discredited after General Musharraf’s prolonged rule, and the new Army Chief seemed committed to pulling the Army back into the barracks. However, gradually, the military’s footprint has enlarged again, with a number of instances in the last three years suggesting an overreach into civilian affairs”

Should we deduce that military enlarged its footprint because PPP did not try to rebalance the civil-military equation? Will you be kind enough to elaborate on this point please? Grateful.

Six: Then you say in the testimony, sir,

“the U.S. has little choice but to work within the framework offered by Pakistan. The Pakistan military therefore is likely to remain the point of contact on Afghanistan” –

Now that worries me a lot. Are we being suggestive to US that they should keep dealing with the military instead of political government in the matters of security? If yes, how is the great suggestion pro-democracy?
Seven: And then sir, this comes in your testimony:

“Politically, Pakistan is moving towards a phase where coalitions are likely to replace hegemonic parties…”

If I’m not wrong Moeed sahib, Pakistan has never seen a non-coalition civilian government after 1973 (except that ‘heavy mandate’ government of Nawaz Sharif). This was precisely the reason why we see very little to no powerful legislation in these tenures. Even in Musharraf’s dictatorial regime, the government remained coalition one. In the same breath you call the one-party government government ‘hegemonic’ and coalition government ‘superficial’.

Can we make up our mind sir, if we are advocating any form of government under parliamentary democracy? Or we are saying any form of parliamentary democracy has inherent problems? (it sounds like women-specific advertisements whereby women are given the impression that they are just not ‘good enough’ whatever the size of their bosom is. You go for silicons if you have smaller breasts, you go for steroids to reduce the size if you have bigger ones – you are not good enough if you are slim, you are not good enough if you are fat. Strange to me at least!).

Eight: While describing the interim political set up till the time democracy takes firm roots in Pakistan, you say:

“.. it may have to continue support despite inefficiency, lack of accountability, inability to deliver on promises, and similar shortcomings”.

Now this is tricky. Do you mean, inefficiency, lack of accountability and inability to deliver promises is peculiar to civilian governments? We must recommend you few readings to look deep into what military governments have been doing (although I’m sure you are smarter and have already read all the material including Military Inc).

Nine: Oh and here comes the typical urban gem:


“The temptation to waver towards the more organized, relatively efficient military will be strong….”

Relatively efficient you say, sire?
Ten: Your epic is:

“There is nothing sacrosanct about a five-year term for a government in a parliamentary system”

If there’s nothing sacrosanct about a constitutional provision, then what is?
I would be grateful if the readers could contribute and help us answer these questions.
Marvi Sirmed



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