Who really is in control of Pakistan ?

August 5, 2008

One of the questions that repeatedly came up during Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s rather eventful trip to the U.S. last month was who was in charge of the Inter-Services Intelligence , especially after the botched attempt to bring the powerful spy agency – that critics see as a state within a state – under the interior ministry.

Prime Minister Gilani with President George W.Bush

But at home, Pakistanis are asking an even more fundamental question: Who really is in control of  their country ? A very rough poll conducted by All Things Pakistan among people who visit the blog found that nearly 40 percent thought nobody was in control of the nuclear-armed Muslim nation of 160 million and from where at least the Americans are convinced the next major militant attack is coming.

About 28 percent said Pakistan People’s Party chairman Asif Ali Zardari was in control while 18  percent saw President Pervez Musharraf still calling the shots. But nobody, not one person, thought Gilani who, by all accounts was given a rather blunt message by his American hosts about his government’s failure to fight militants and their allies within, was in charge.

For Pakistan’s transition to democracy after nine years of military rule this is hardly inspiring. “The image of a prime minister who noone thinks has any power is sad and disturbing,” ATP notes in a later post and asks whether he is on his way out. Or, it asks, is the poll a broader warning of a country sliding further into chaos?

Gilani’s government is faced with Islamist militancy across Pakistan’s northwest and an America that is breathing hard down its neck asking for action. On top of that tensions with India on the eastern borders have suddenly and inexplicably risen, which doubtless increases the pressure on an army already overstretched on the Afghan frontier

 A protest against a U.S. military strike in PakistanGilani’s four-month-old coalition is fractured following the withdrawal of ministers belonging to Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League over the issue of reinstatement of judges fired by Musharraf. On Tuesday, the two sides were meeting to break the stalemate.

Adding to the sense of crisis, is an economy at risk of meltdown with acute power shortages, and higher fuel and food prices that have hit hard the poor majority.

Time magazine called Gilani an “accidental” prime minister leading a government too weak to act on any front including the faltering campaign against militancy or even the economy. Pakistan’s respected Dawn newspaper has gone to the extent of questioning Gilani’s authority in promising Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh an investigation into allegations that the ISI helped plan the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul last month. How could he have done that without taking the country  into his confidence, the newspaper asked.

Not surprising then, that the Daily Times reports that Gilani may quit if he is not allowed to function as a chief executive with a definite say in government.


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Anyone with fair understanding can give little thought and find the answer. Before that, I would quote example of a country in middle east, Lebanon. Faced an Israeli invasion in 1982, followed by a civil war and power struggle between rival factions, all the groups later laid down their arms except Hezbollah who correctly recognized Israel as an eternal enemy. Hezbollah has confronted Israel with a certain steadfast manner, lately in 2006 ’34 day war’. Even Lebanese political factions internally opposed to Hezbollah, view it as an asset against Israel being capable of confronting Israel.
In Pakistan, invisibly the Pakistan Army and ISI keep the authority. Here too, India is a real enemy and it is a tactical or rather strategic necessity to neutralize the Indian threat. Here is a country that has never missed to capitalize on an opportunity to harm Pakistan. Even the politicians in Pakistan know that the Defense/ Intelligence setup is the only provider of defense guarantee to Pakistan. Over a period of time, ISI/Army have kept their strength and hold on national matters, have increaingly confronted India, lately in 1999 Kargil conflict and 2001-2002 border standoff. The Pakistani political setup can never confront India in a decisive manner. It takes the psyche of the Army and ISI to read the Indian mind.
There is much hue and cry of whom ISI is answerable to? Does anyone know whom does CIA report to or who does MOSSAD report to? Certainly not. Intelligence agencies are for this purpose, invisibility and working behind the scene.
In short, the question of Who really is in control of Pakistan ? is no brainer. Its obviously the Defense setup of the country. It was before, it is the way today.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

gilani is a nice guy who has to take orders from all directions. I would quit if I were him before it is too late.

Posted by fauzia shah | Report as abusive

as regards to who is incharge of ISI? specific answer is as follows:
A serving Lt. Gen of Pakistan Army heads the ISI generally appointed for a two year term. The DG ISI reports to the Chief of Army Staff, who has his Corps Commanders who report to him, atleast 10 of them. Altogether, The Air Chief and Naval Chief, CJSC(Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committe) the NCA(National Command Authority) the SPD(Strategic plans Division) etc. There is a whole setup in place. For those who think Pakistan is a banana republic, descending in to chaos any time soon are sadly mistaken. Things are pretty much in order.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Today, ISI is being potrayed by international and Indian media as responsible for regional problems and having orchestrated terrorism.
It was the ISI that cleaned up the mess in the 90s when Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, and US left the war torn country on its own. It brought the warring factions of the Afghan Mujahideen to agree to the Peshawar Accord and successfully installed the Mujahideen’s first government under Sibghatullah Mojaddedi in Kabul. Thereby, stabilizing Afghanistan.
During the Bosnian War of 1995, it is believed that ISI helped supply of arms to the besieged Bosnians, by successfully airlifting sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles which turned the tide in favor of Bosnian Muslims and forced the Serbs to lift the siege. While the international community stood by and the Serbs orchestrated ethnic cleansing in the heart of Europe. Why did the intl. community not intervene to end the 43 month siege of Sarajevo.
Why is the ISI being asked to fight the millitants and apprehend them? Is the ISI responsible to safeguard the World community of every threat?
ISI is Pakistan’s Intelligence agency. It will ensure Pakistan’s defense first.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

It is pathetic that people of Pakistan have come to think of ISI/Army as their savior against India.

The trust should be on civilian leadership and if that cannot happen, then the attempt should be made to strengthen that trust. However, Pakistan is doomed if they trust civilian leadership or the ISI/Army.
If they trust ISI/Army, Pakistan will loose a longer battle to survive and become economically stable to run the show on its own. This is because ISI/Army cannot run the foreign affairs and run the economy.

If they depend on Civilian leadership, then they are too weak and have been out of power for long to be man enough to lead the foreign affairs and the economy.

In short, i am seeing a breakup of Pakistan as near possiblity in another 5 years.

Taliban will take away states bordering Afghanistan, Balochistan will be a free country soon and the disputed terirtories that are linked with India will soon join India.

Pakistan as anation lost its credibility and identity. They have deliberately destroyed their past in an attempt to look and allign towards middle eastern. They wanted to dawn on Muslim world, but are clueless.

The only way forward is break up.

Posted by john | Report as abusive

To state that Pakistan would break up is a strong statement. In next 5 years I see Pakistan pulling itself together and consolidating its defence against internal and external threats. No doubt, Pakistan’s enemies are large in number, but this is a nation that shows courage and determination in most dire of circumstances. It was defeated in 1971 with its Eastern wing lost. Still Pakistan fought back and stands today as a nuclear capable muslim nation of 163 million people, has matched and even exceeded Indian nuclear and missile capabilities. This has restored the balance of power in South Asia and promoted regional stability. Any attempt to destabilize Pakistan would result in negative consequences for the greater South Asia.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Indian media should stop its obession with Pakistan and stop this negative propoganda !

Posted by Zorr | Report as abusive

ISI + al-Qaeda are in control of the terror sponsoring, colonial and artificial entity called Pakistan, which is the most evil creation in the human history, not to mention the history of the region.

ISI = al-Qaeda, a twin that cannot be separated from each other. If one of them goes down, the other will naturally follow suit. There is a decisive and deep dependency relationship between the two. They simply cannot exist without each other. al-Qaeda has nowhere to go except Pakistan where they have access to ideal terrain, media and communications, ports and airports. Therefore al-Qaeda is ready to pay any price to keep their bases in FATA and NWFP which is more than suitable for guerrilla warfare. In return al-Qaeda is keeping Afghanistan and India destabilized and carry on Pakistan’s proxy wars against India and Afghanistan. At the same time Pakistan wants al-Qaeda to ensure that West’s crucial project in Afghanistan fail and that America is humiliated in the region. In this regard Pakistan has many regional sympathizers who also wish to see West fail in Afghanistan. In other words, Pakistan’s ISI and al-Qaeda share the same ideology which is the creation of Islamic Khalifa out of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The naive and “blue eyed” westerners are fooled by the ISI since Pakistan’s bloody, extremely controversial, questionable and highly criminal creation of this very dangerous colonial waste that is called Pakistan.

Due to many relevant reasons, the days of Pakistan are once and for all numbered. In order to save the world from terrorism and Islamic extremism emanating from Pakistan, the sooner this menace (Pakistan) is balkanized and dissolved the better it would be for the stability of world peace. The oppressed and suppressed people of Sind, Pashtunistan, Kashmir and Baluchistan can then reclaim their freedom, dignity, human rights and finally let lose from the slavery and exploitation by the Punjabis, who are stealing the natural resources and wealth of the baluchis and Pashtuns.

Pakistan is going to face a bloody and excruciating death. Starvation and total anarchy will be her last memories. Her death will be so violent that you will forget its bloody creation in 1948.

Pakistan is doomed by both history and geography. For the moment it is only history that is chasing Pakistan. But the deadliest and final stab will be delivered by geography, which is just a matter of months not years.

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

Osama bin Laden is Pakistan’s most valuable asset. As long as he is not captured or killed, the Americans will continue to pour billions of Dollars into Pakistan which will of course be gobbled up by the generals.
Osama is in some Pakistan government guest house from where he is allowed to issue perodic statements. Every time this happens, the Yanks who are scared shitless will pou another couple of billion Dollars into the generals’ coffers and they and the ISI laugh all the way to the bank.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

Shut the F*** up. Pakistan is a nuclear power, dont live in a fools paradise. Do you think any one has the balls to mess with Pakistan? Pakistan will simply beat the shit out of idiots like you. Pakistan is here to remain, try if you can destroy Pakistan. You will get destroyed by Pakistan, and Pakistan will still be there.
F*** YOU

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Hey UMPK, You are the one who should stop your hysterical ranting. You don’t want to see the hand writing on the wall.
You are a patriotic Pakistani and love your country. One cannot blame you for that. But then you and others like you are contributing to Pakistan’s misery and disintigration by refusing to see the rot that has set in and playing ostrich while the country is going down the tubes. What is the use of having Nuclear power if the country is coming apart at the seams?
Anarchy prevails in most parts of Pakistan. A rogue ISI and a bloated incompetent army have sucked the life out of the ordinary Pakistan and bled the country white. Their misadventures and larceny have made Pakistan a most hated country and it’s citizens viewed with loathing and mistrust by the rest of the world. Wake up and direct your ire at those who are destroying your country. It is not India or Israel or the USA who are your real enemies! It is the ISI and your Army!

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

Also, UMPK, India did have the balls to mess with Pakistan! Pakistan did not beat the shit out of India but got ripped int two bits. Again, in Kargil, you did not beat the shit out of India, you gave up and retreated.
The Pakistan army is now capable of only fighting with school girls. It does not even dare go into parts of it’s own country!
The Tribesmenin Waziristan an Quetta have fought the army to a standstill and capture hordes of you soldiers at will.
Pakistan does not have food, water or money and if it had not been for the charity of the US that keeps pouring in billions of dollars yours would indeed be a “Bhooka Nanga Desh!”

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

Dear moderator,

Please warn UMPK (Uncivilized Mr. Pakistani) to refrain from using vulgarities on your forum, because it will degrade it to the level of Pakistani politics, which is dirty, bloody… Also, please remind him that making threats against other people over the Internet is a criminal, coward and primitive misbehavior.

UMPK: Grow up boy! Nuclear capability doesn’t prevent disintegration in a particular political entity, which could be a federation, a union etc.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union is a very good example in this regard. Did/could nuclear capability prevent the disintegration of the Soviet Union?
In my opinion, the Soviet Union was much superior than Pakistan in every single sphere and respect.
So all you guys can do is to eat up your nukes and wait for the day of judgment.

Posted by kabura | Report as abusive

Well said kabura well said infact technically buddy about 30% of pakistani territory belongs to you guys.I believe the day of judgement is near and pakistan will collapse and you and your people will be free.
UMPK is symptomatic of the vast unemployment that is faced by the educated(by paki standards:) ) young men.

Posted by Shantanu Chatterjee | Report as abusive

Bin Laden and Mullar Omar are in charge of ISI (LOL).
I can see Pakistan breaking up in five years, maybe thats
what it would take for the leaders in South Asia to work together to build a free and prosperous society.

Posted by narayan | Report as abusive

Pakistan soon will change its name to Humptydumptystan.

Humpty dumpty sat on the wall,
Humpty dumpty had a great fall,
all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t
put humpty together again.

Land of the pure could break up into 6-7 pieces.

Posted by Busharraf | Report as abusive

UMPK Sir…Pakistan’s image is already at its lowest. Many Pakistanis, in the west, are introducing themselves as from India. Please, don’t use these words in your writing, if you have any love for your country. Just because the truth hurts, you can’t wish it away. It is a fact that the biggest surrender in the history of the world was by 95000 strong Paki army to Indian Forces. In Kargil we lost more people than in any other war. Accept the facts and learn from it. Only then can we help our country.

Posted by Syalkotia | Report as abusive

I think its the kids from South Park.

Posted by nilay | Report as abusive

Your claim that Pakistan Army is an incapable force?
Ok, lets do a quick comparison, a Dutch Army UN peacekeeping battallion was guarding the UN Safe area in Srebrenica in the Bosnian war(1995). The Serbs commanded by Gen Ratko Mladic were advancing, the Dutch peacekeepers turned out to be cowards, they simply retreated accepting gifts. The UN commander was filmed drinking beer with International war criminals. The result, massacre of 8000 muslim refugees in Srebrenica in the heart of Europe.
On the other hand, Pakisatni peacekeepers were stationed in Somalia in 1993. They were tasked with the dangerous mission of inspecting weapons dumps of Somali warlord Farah Aideed. While performing the mission in a dangerous territory, the millitants attacked and 24 peacekeepers laid down their lives. Similarly, when a US special operations unit launched a strike to hit a millitant high command meeting in Mogadishu, it went wrong. It took the professionalism and bravery of joint Pak-Malaysian-US rescue mission to evac the wounded. Professionalism speaks for itself.
After this, your point becomes invalid as it shows the character of Pakistan Army. Over the years all Pakistani armed forces have shown what they are capable of.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

I only told you to shut up. I did not threaten you. If you bark nonsense against Pakistan, I have every right to talk back. Internet is a information superhighway. No one has the right to be the judge and the jury himself and decide what should be said, written or read on the web.
As for you, in many of your comments you have written of disintegration of Pkaistan. Is that not a form of threat?
First, act as a civilized person, before you preach good manners to others.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Shantanu Chatterjee
I am a young Pakistani and by no means ‘uneducated’. There are decent jobs and dignified living conditions here.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Prediction of the disintegration of Pakistan is no threat, I beleive that Pakistan is doomed by history.
You cannot unite a country by hatred and religious bigotry. The hate does not stop with the India, you first hate and despise the Bengalis, you commit mass rape and murder. The Begalis then leave Pakistan.
You then feel superior to the Baluchis and they leave Pakistan.

I would prefer that Pakistanis reform their society and reject ideas from the 7th century, this would prevent its disintegration.

Posted by Busharraf | Report as abusive

India is already Balkanizing. The dozen separatist movements need not to be mentioned, every one in the world know about them. Low caste Hindu dalits are oppreseed in India, the elite Hindus are what India stands for. Australian missionaries were burned alive, Golden te,mple of sikhs was ruined by Indian Army, Gujrat muslims were massacred, crimes against christians. How dare you lecture what Pakistan should do. At least we Pakistan have a dignity here, I wonder what miserable lives the masses in India belonging to Dalit caste would be living in India. India is rather doomed, Kashmir is already in flames between hindus and muslims. Indian govt is playing a cat and mouse game, steal Tom’s land and give it to Harry.
India should reform its caste systems and drop the oppression of the minorities. The plight of dalits in India, which are almost 25% of the population is an open reality.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Also Ben
Just run a small search in Google and you will find the fact that Pakistan Army is contributing highest numbers of troops in peacekeeping operations around the whole world at this time. This speaks of the confidence the international community and UNO has in the Pakistan Army and its professional combat/peacekeeping capabilities.
A welll trained and combat group of the caliber of Pakistan Army will offer no easy victory to any enemy seeking misadventure. Be it the millitants, the Indians or who ever the hell.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Indias Caste Karma is being worked out through democracy. UP and Bihar have been governed or are governed by politicians associated with so called low caste people.
The insurgency in Mizoram was dealth with politically, and now Mizoram is peaceful and sends its representatives to Delhi. India like China is a country in economic and social transition. The economy will grow by 7-10% in the medium term this gives young people hope for a better life. India is an important country for the world and has a great historical mission.

Pakistan also has a caste system: muslim and non-muslim. Reformist groups such as Ahmedis and Bahais are persecuted for their reformist beliefs. Evidently, the Pakistani state is enchanted by 7th century tribal laws from the dessert. I hope they dont sink to the depths of Iran where teenage girls are hanged by mysogenist judges from cranes in public executions. Such barbarism leads to nation disintegration and contempt from the international community.

Posted by Busharraf | Report as abusive

Dont tell non-sense, inflationn is on an all-time high, rampant corruption has slowed down economic growth already. The Indian bureaucracy and civil service is almost in tatters, a sure recipie for disaster. HIV is on the rise, there are massive problems ahead and the road is not easy, while there is acute lack of will on the part of politicians who turn out to be one of the most corrupt in the world.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Pakistan as a country is suffering because its foundation is wrong. History has proved, again and again that any country whose foundation stole was laid in the name of religion always gets screwed up. Pakistan should get over Islam, and look for developing its people than just wait for alms from US or China.

As far as India goes, its’ none of Pakistanis’ business what happens in India. Again if you want to discuss India, then let’s talk facts. There are some anti establishment movements in India BUT, those are happening in just 2% of the total area. Unlike unstable countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan where around 50% to 80% of the total area is under threat. Even developed countries like USA, UK and China (I dare to call it develop country) have problems in some of their areas.

And again, as I mentioned, Pakistan should move beyound India. As now we cannot and should not draw comparisons with India. Its’ like comparing Mexico with USA. India is one of the fastest developing countries in the world. While Pakistan still lives like mendicant.

Posted by Sameer Khan | Report as abusive