Keep Talking and Keep Listening!

They say listening is more difficult than talking. But what is even harder in today's world is to communicate - an intense process of listening and talking and listening and responding........
This is a forum for people to engage in a conversation which is an art that many people don't know. Lets listen to others while maintaining the courage of conviction.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ludwig von Rochau's Children

Ludwig von Rochau was a German gent, a 19th century writer and politicians responsible for formulating the theory of realpolitik. The idea is about the state using Machiavellian tactics to expand its power. The theory is extremely state centric. I suspect the German really must have come and settled in South Asia because we have ample supply of people who subscribe to this theory. I suppose as the Punjabis would put it our realpolitik buffs must share their nani (maternal grandmother) with the German especially Rochau.

This preamble was meant to express my surprise at the fact that so many of the educated people, especially from media and academia, seem so enamored by realpolitik. Very recently had a chance to look at journalist Aamir Ahmed Khan's article in Express Tribune titled: 'India is not to blame" ( The main thesis of the author was that the present Pakistani civilian government is hopeless and has voluntarily given up the option to run its foreign and security policy, and that the Taliban were being created by Indian RAW. I immediately sat down to jog my memory about the last time GHQ ever allowed any political government to run either the security or foreign policies. Or is it that Aamir Ahmed Khan, who runs BBC Urdu, has joined the bandwagon of those who believe things will improve dramatically only if Asif Ali Zardari and his personal clowns would leave. What goes without saying that he probably considers these other clowns as trustworthy. Not surprised. In fact, I was reminded of a conversation I had with the author way back in 2007 just a couple of days before my book military inc was launched in Islamabad. I had gone to invite him for the event and he had kindly offered to take copies of the book to Generals Pervez Musharraf and Ehsan. At that time, Mr Khan was quite close to General Ehsan and remains so.

More recently, another good journalist known for his mastery over a European language was in the American capital. He was found telling friends about how Pakistan army was ready to and engaged in cleaning the country up of all these unsavory Taliban and militants. The proof? His meetings with General Asfaq pervez Kiyani which normally run into a few hours. The gent was of the opinion that the shortest meeting was three-and-a-half hours and only when he requested the good general to wrap up. Does it surprise anyone why the army doesn't do so well in battles? If its general spends hours explaining or educating a journalist then where does he find the time for his own men and operations!

But then there has been a transformation of the military over so many years. This is no longer a professional force particularly from the objective of fulfilling the task of protecting the state from external threat or drawing out and implementing successful military operations. However, it has done better in saving its own image and managing things politically. Its senior officers are successful public relations guys who know the art of developing rapport with journalists or using the media to their own advantage. Just look at the present army chief who appears to use his own charms, besides deploying the ISPR, ISI and SPD combine, to turn the tide in his favor. The long meetings with our journalist friend are not driven by some altruistic designs. The good general wants to convince the world that he is on top of things when it comes to fighting militancy. Such an image helps convince policymakers abroad of the dire need to retain General Kiyani as Pakistan army's service chief.

This is not to suggest that it all revolves around the issue of the general's extension. However, it feeds into that plot as well. There are three options that are being discussed. First, the general gets an extension. The problem is that he may get it because the American are interested in such an eventuality (apparently, Mike Mullen does not even hear anything against Kiyani in private meetings), but that it may give an impression of Kiyani being an over-ambitious general. Second, he gets elevated to the position of an up-graded position of the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. It may not be too favorable an option in the GHQ. Third, extension in the term of the army chief from 3 to 5 years. There are strong rumors with journalists like Najam Sethi supporting such possibility. The good general is indeed extremely smart and intelligent. If Machiavelli were to chose an heir it might be our good commander. After all, this army is trained to produce those that pursue the principle of realpolitik.