Top critical review
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Not all information factual--Visionary None
on August 21, 2011
This book should come across as informative to outsiders, but not sure how they will ascertain if all is factual.
I have divided this book into three sections:
1. Military, Inc. financials—I find the financial irrelevant. Referenced Military, Inc. is a publicly traded company and pays taxes.
2. Historic facts—Dr. Saddiqa is downright wrong per other evidence provided.
3. Author’s opinion and research behind what should Pakistan Military’s role be and the impact of Milbus on Pakistan—Dr. Siddiqa is entitled to her opinion, provided evidence is factual.
My focus is #2, the historic events—what Dr. Siddiqa claims, are not factual. I reason it by sharing what other authors have written. Also, it is not an objective read.
Dr. Siddiqa’s research is very narrow--we now know the dollar value of "Milbus," and all its ills that she has claimed. There are no solutions provided and what benefit “Milbus” brings to the retired soldiers is overlooked. When it comes to the Army's various organizations out to make a buck, Dr. Siddiqa is quite right. These are tax paying organizations and are profitable organizations, but who is the beneficiary of revenues from acts of "Milbus"? These are the shareholders the retired men and women and the families of the arm forces--this other side of "Milbus" need mentioning in her book. In the U.S., we have veterans set aside quotas too for veteran's benefit—that balanced view is missing from her book. Milbus could also have been presented as the army's "Welfare Program" and a transitioning of a retired solder into corporate environment, which an author with a balanced approach would not have missed.
The country being poor and the democratic politicians mostly corrupt, are not able to manage much; I find the act of "Milbus" necessary to offer its veterans jobs/welfare and if it makes revenues for the shareholders within the constitutional limits, then no harm.
Dr. Siddiq’s book does not lend value to serious intellectual debate for two reasons:
One, it is a think tank sponsored effort. Majority of think tanks have negative view of Pakistan. As such, funded books can only support so many shades of their truth.
Two, I will make a case that factually the content is incorrect—you be the judge.
I find the learned doctor not an astute student of the history of Pakistan Vis-avis Army and its polity or she turned biased due to aforesaid reason #1 and has misinformed her audience. For example, in chapter 10, Dr. Siddiqa stops short of giving opinion of other authors who have written extensively on subjects that she is addressing. These authors were very much established in that era, were a party to making that history that Dr. Siddiqa has falsely recreated. Dr. Siddiqa was not born then and her inexperience in exuberant youth is evident. I find her approach not being objective and at times disturbing—harming her country's army. Please see the following example.
In chapter 10, Dr. Siddiqa says, "The Pakistan military's economic interests are the result of the defence establishment's political clout..........in 1950s, the military gradually encroached into politics..." is not truthful based on overwhelming data by other authors.
In 1950s, the military had no political clout--today they do. In fact their morale was very low. Pakistan was created on the basis of democracy in 1947 and exercised greater power. For readers to judge, the author Brig. M. Hamid-Ud-Din, in his book, "Looking Back," writes that the army after Pakistan's independence was treated with disrespect by the civil servants. The disrespect trickled from the personalities at the top--many were feudal lords. For example, the civil government would not attend to army officers when they visited civil offices--made them wait outside. The list is rather lengthy.
There was no encroachment; the army was dragged into her political journey by the actions of the civil government. The low army morale and the Kashmir issue were the two prime reasons of a first trace of army attempting to come into the political system through a failed coup, foiled by the army in 1951--what encroachment? After the failed coup, the democratic government came to senses and gave the army basic respect and privileges such as discount on fare tickets and the like to help with the morale. Brig. M. Hamid-Ud-Din, in his book, "Looking Back."
Till this point [meaning the 1950s], the army had not encroached that Dr. Siddiqa claims the army did. Detailing the following events would show why Dr. Siddiqa is wrong on three accounts. One, having political clout; two, Army did not handle Kashmir issue and three, encroaching into politics.
Political clout: In early 1950s the civil servants disrespected the army--political clout not possible. The military's economic interest grew out of civil government's incompetency when they could no longer run the country and brought Martial Law into the country. The country rule was co-chaired. If civil is incompetent, military must then have economic programs to support its infrastructure. When civil brought the army into running country, it gave them an opportunity to learn the business of economics.
Kashmir: On the Kashmir issue, India was and is in violation of the terms of independence--grabbed Kashmir in 1948. Quaid-e-Azam M. Ali Jinnah (the father of Pakistan) understood the importance of Kashmir, requested Gen. Gracey--a British officer, the then Chief of the Pakistan Army to send troops into Kashmir, which he refused. Thereafter, Quaid passed away and the matter had to be addressed--mainly Mr. Liaqat Ali Khan's (Mr. LAK), the Governor General of Pakistan.
The civil government mostly incompetent feudal lords did not approach the Kashmir matter with strategic wisdom as did Quaid. Due to Mr. LAK's incompetence and his unconventional approach to X-Gen. Akbar about the Kashmir matter, explained next, the army could not have done much regarding Kashmir or India that the Dr. Siddiqa alludes to.
Per the author Brig. Hamid, Mr. LAK, privately approached X-Gen. Akbar on the Kashmir matter. X-Gen. Akbar was not the senior officer in charge. Why did Mr. LAK approached ONLY X-Gen. Akbar in private where there were other senior generals to him? The issue should have been discussed with Joint Chiefs and other senior officers. X-Gen Akbar would have had his say to explain his views and matter would have been addressed jointly, not leaving the burden of Kashmir on one shoulder. X-Gen. Akbar was dragged into the mess; consequentially he made it his affair. X-Gen. Akbar realized that Mr. LAK did not find the matter as serious as Quaid; in isolation he considered it his patriotic duty to take Kashmir matter into his own hands. X-Gen. Akbar thought coup (the foiled one) was the only option. Again read the above referenced book and a book written by X-Gen. Akbar, The Raiders of Kashmir. Both these authors had participated in the limited battle of Kashmir in 1948. According to Brig. Hamid, it was civil who lost the opportunity to settle Kashmir issue by not handling it in an eloquent manner.
Encroachment: Later, when the civil government could not handle the civil unrest, they requested Martial Law around October 1958 and the civil government recommended for Gen. Ayub Khan to co-share power with President Iskandar Mirza. The 1950s era had almost ended, without any evidence of encroachment and one successful attempt by the army to preserve democracy by foiling a coup, shows army had no plans to encroach. After 20 days into Martial Law, on October 27, 1958, Gen. Ayub Khan in a coup deposed President Mirza, was sent to exile. That would bring the chronology to 1958, the ind of the 50s era without evidence of encroachment.
I might add another interesting trivia--a British author had written, after Quaid's death and LAK's assassination, the sister of the father of the nation, Ms. Fatima Jinnah, approach Gen. Ayub, two months before the bloodless coup and suggested that the country needed a few years of tight rule. Ms. Fatima Jinnah statement is a testimony to the fact that the civil were not capable of managing Pakistan.
It was in Gen. Ayub's regime that Pakistan GDP growth rate was the highest, some 8-10 percent. Civil regimes are putting out only 2-3% growth rate. Not liking military rule is fine, but creating facts out of thin air or not stating what other authors have argued does not give readers a factual or a balanced view.
It would have been interesting to know the point of view of Dr. Siddiqa, why Pakistan army officers opted for "milbus" and military regimes and not the Indian army, when both the armies were made from the same lot, all had graduated from either Sandhurst Military Academy, UK or IMA? Approach as such by the author would have made her book quite objective. Nonetheless, for a while now the army is committing acts of "Milbus", the author never indulges into if "milbus" is due to first the incompetency of polity or is due to some other factors. Rediscovering the obvious and attaching a dollar value to "milbus" is an accounting exercise and it does not fit the category of philosophic intellectual analytic wisdom, which I wished it did. The author should have spent time in explaining possible reasons for the army's involvement in acts of "milbus" and possible fixes, is my expectation from an objective writer.
It is an exercise of either Dr. Siddiqa got exhausted or she ran out of facts and could not find any more dirty laundry and ended the book. Or is it the author got paid to write this book and hence the likely direction. It is all of that, but NOT a constructive approach to making matters better. Pakistan needs a visionary and an analytic writer to get that country out of the center of paralysis.
Indeed, a courageous step Dr. Siddiqa took--from bright minds, which I believe she is, one should expect to provide the under pining of why Pakistan Army is involved in "Milbus" and its fix. A chapter or two to that end would have been an absorbing read and the book would have served well--her country. I gave it three stars because it is an academic exercise with data that Dr. Siddiqa was not able to put to good use. Sadly, the author ends her research at that. Four chapters of that would have been fine, it would have given a reader the same compelling message that she tries in some nine chapters, a fact well know inside Pakistan.
I would like this author to give us her second take, what are the causes and what is needed to fix "milbus." With an objective approach, I am sure she will make new friends at Military, Inc.!!!