Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Shut up Clinton!

Recently, on a trip to India, Mrs. Clinton claimed that Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is holed up in Pakistan and her statement was immediately countered by Twitter users kicking off the #ShutUpClinton trend. Local twitter users told her to Mrs. Clinton to shut up, made fun of US foreign policy and abused some more. And in fact, if you think about it, this is about as Pakistani as it gets; someone says something you don’t like, tell them to shut up!

 Just to give a few examples, one guy asked for proof of 9-11, while another gloated about how Pakistan was suffocating the US war machine in the Afghanistan. Now there’s plenty of evidence for 9-11 and I wonder how someone can be happy about obstructing the US, and therefore helping the Taliban when the same Taliban are shedding Pakistani blood every day, but these too are probably brainwashed, conspiracy-theorist cyber-soldiers of Caliph Zaid Hamid and can’t convinced by any earthly evidence so no need to waste our time. To be fair though, some people made some legitimate points such as pointing out that Mrs. Clinton was in India to coax them into stopping imports of oil from Iran. 

#ShutUpClinton illustrates the real problem in our society: blaming others for our mistakes. From small problems in our daily life to the huge one facing our country, we never seem to be able to accept responsibility; its always someone else’s fault. We blame other people, the government and increasingly, imaginary Anti-Muslim forces but NEVER ourselves. 

We spent years telling the world Osama was not in Pakistan and where was he found in the end? That’s right, in Pakistan! And please don’t tell me he wasn’t, because even the Pakistan army accepts that he was (I mention it because for some reason, when it comes to the Pakistan army Caliph’s Zaid’s soldiers can literally see no evil). Anyhow, denying that Osama was in Pakistan, as some people are fond of doing just serves to illustrate my point that we ALWAYS blame someone else. So the world’s most wanted terrorist was living next door to the Pakistan Military Academy and instead of asking what the hell was going on, we close our eyes and pretend nothing’s happened.
Some days back, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) warned in a report that sectarian groups such as Sipah-e-Sahaba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jundallah have have “grown stronger than ever” and pose a grave threat to Pakistan. Maybe the Intelligence Bureau should be told to shut up too, because they said terrorist groups were getting stronger in Pakistan. As of late, we’ve grown so accustomed to blaming the US for each and every problem faced by Pakistan that we now think of ourselves as absolutely perfect. This attitude is extremely dangerous.  

Maybe that’s because it’s much easier to live in denial than to face up to the very complex set of problems facing Pakistan today.  It sure is easier to live in a dream, but telling other to shut up won’t make the problem go away and considering the state of our country, I think it’s high time we got our head out of the sand and faced up to reality. 

P.S: Danish Siddiqui, commenting on an article in the Express Tribune rightly pointed out that such people should also tell Mumtaz Qadri and other hate-mongers to shut up.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Pakistani Defense Budget- 18 or 80?

Some people claim that Pakistan’s Defense budget is around 80% of its total budget while patriots often point out that its only 18%! Both are wrong. Pakistan’s total budget for the year 2011 was Rs 2767 Billion and out of this, only Rs 500 Billion were allotted for defense, so on the surface, it does look like the defense budget is only 18% of the total annual budget, but a closer look will reveal that’s not the case. 

Military pensions, not included in the defense budget amount to more than 73 billion so we can safely say that the defense budget is actually 573 billion i.e. 20% of the total budget. There’s more however; Pakistan TAX REVENUE is only Rs 1778 billion while the rest is NON-TAX revenue which also includes aid from the US etc. So if we take the defense budget as a percentage of our tax revenues, it’s a whopping 32%!

But that’s not all. We’ve missed two things: the black budget (for the intelligence agencies) and foreign arms purchases. I’ve absolutely no idea about the size of the black budget, but everyone knows that Pakistani intelligence agencies have a huge network and are extremely active so there is no doubt that a large amount of money is spent. In all fairness however, all security agencies which remotely deserve the name of “Intelligence Agency” have black budgets so that’s nothing new.
The other thing is foreign arms purchases. Often, large purchases are done through foreign loans and the interest payments for these loans come under the “Interest on Debt” part of the budget (790 billion) and therefore not included in the defense budget per se.

Whether Pakistan should cut spending on defense or not is an entire debate altogether, but considering everything, I feel it’s wrong to say that Pakistan “doesn’t append a lot” on defense, as young, overly-exited patriots often suggest. In the same vein, it’s wrong to claim that Pakistan spends almost 80% on defense (as a number of people in talk shows are fond of doing).