Pakistan's Political Class And The War Of The Elite

Ayesha Siddiqa, the well known author of "Military, Inc." has written a very insightful piece for, arguing that Pakistan is ruled by a small elite that disregards the wishes and the best interests of its average people. I absolutely agree with Ayesha Siddiqa, that Pakistan has been and still is ruled by a small elite consisting of feudal lords, military officers, industrialists, and bureaucrats (and, I add, some nefarious clerics colluding with them).
While this piece does a great job of painting a fairly accurate picture of the situation in Pakistan, it stops short of telling you how to change it and empower the
ordinary people of Pakistan. In my humble view, the way to change is to let the middle class continue to grow in size and strength, as it has in the last 8 years.
With a stronger middle class, the elite will be forced to concede power, as has happened in many societies that have transitioned from feudal to industrial societies in the last 100-200 years.
India is, perhaps, the only exception to this rule. The reasons cited for this exception are many. But the two that come to mind immediately are:
1) India's Prime Minister Nehru ordered and implemented real and extensive land reform that limited land ownership to no more than a dozen or two acres per family in India. This action emasculated the feudal class and freed the rural people to choose their leaders without fear of persecution. In sharp contrast to this, the feudal families in Pakistan own tens to hundreds of thousands of acres.
2) India is so vast and diverse that it is extremely difficult for any military to rule it for any period of time.
So the Indians have chosen to support democratic institutions, in spite of the fact that Indian democracy has not served the vast majority of its people well. They have understood that the alternatives are far worse.
So, as a general rule, transition to industrialization being an essential component, the industrialists are a necessary evil to free societies from the
clutches of the feudal system and let the average people become educated enough to think and act in their own best interest.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on December 25, 2013 at 10:35pm

Here's a report describing diverse holdings of Pakistani Fauji Foundation ranging from finance and food to energy, transport and and fertilizer:

KARACHI: The Fauji Group on Monday announced that it will acquire Al-Hamd Foods – a venture of Al-Hamd Group which has interests in textile, confectionery and foods – in a bid to diversify its business already weighty of fertiliser, cement, food, power generation, gas exploration, LPG marketing and distribution, financial services, employment services and security services.

The acquisition price has not been disclosed yet.

In a notice sent to the Karachi Stock Exchange, the Fauji Group said that on June 15, the company’s board of directors approved acquisition of 100% stake in Al-Hamd Foods, of which 75% will be held by Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFCL) and the rest (25%) by Fauji Foundation, as part of FFCL diversification drive to ensure sustained and multiple revenue streams.

In May, the Fauji consortium took over the charge of Askari Bank from the Army Welfare Trust, the previous owner, at a sale-purchase price of Rs24.32 per share.

The Fauji Group has been diversifying for the past few years, expanding its interests in all of the potential good buys they can find. Looking at the acquisitions and expansion it was making, it seems that the company wants to become a household name just like Engro.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2013.

Comment by Riaz Haq on August 6, 2015 at 5:55pm

Pakistan’s army has taken the almost unheard of step of publicly shaming two retired generals for misusing funds, in a move many army-watchers applauded as a significant attempt by the country’s top general to clean up corruption in the all-powerful institution.

The two officers were punished for making disastrous investments totalling £25m through the National Logistics Cell (NLC), an army-run transport company which is part of a vast military commercial empire including property developments, cement plants and manufacturing interests.

In a statement late on Wednesday night the army said the former director general of the NLC, a retired major general called Khalid Zahir Akhter, had been dismissed from service and stripped of his rank, medals and pension.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Afzal Muzaffar, a retired lieutenant general, was given a lighter disciplinary measure of “severe displeasure”.

Both had been recalled back into service so they could be tried under military law.

“It is a major development because the military is perceived a sacred cow not subject to any accountability,” said Talat Masood, a retired lieutenant general. “It shows the changes that are taking place under General Sharif.”

Raheel Sharif was appointed as chief of army staff in 2013, a role considered to be at the tip of power in a country where the military controls a swath of the economy and calls the shots on many areas of policy nominally managed by civilian politicians.

Under Sharif’s predecessor, Ashfaq Kayani, an army investigation into the NLC case had been allowed to gather dust years after it was first exposed in 2009 by a parliamentary accounts committee.

A former official at the National Accountability Bureau, an anti-corruption watchdog, said Kayani had “intervened on several occasions” in the case.

By contrast Sharif had “instructed to dispose of the case on fast track for want of justice and transparency”, according to an army statement.

The reinvestigation ordered by Sharif found the two officers and one civilian “were indeed responsible for making incorrect decisions of investments in violation of NLC rules and regulations thereby causing losses to the organisation”.

According to an earlier inquiry the NLC piled up huge loses after using money borrowed from banks to invest in risky stocks between 2004-8.

Syed Adil Gilani, head of Transparency International Pakistan, an anti-corruption group, said the army normally keeps internal probes into senior officers secret to preserve morale at a time troops are engaged in bloody counterinsurgency operations against militant groups.

He said the army believes terrorism cannot be thwarted without steps being taken against the country’s vast criminal economy, which includes rampant “land grabbing” by property speculators.

“This is a signal to the civilians that they also need to tackle corruption or otherwise terrorism cannot be eliminated,” he said.

Sharif has also been credited with allowing investigations to proceed against an alleged £3m fraud committed by Elysium Holdings, a company owned by one of General Kayani’s brothers, which is accused of illegally selling certificates for allotments to build houses on land near Islamabad that it did not in fact own.

“No one would touch Kayani’s brothers unless the army chief OKs it,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore based political analyst. “[Sharif] wants to deal with issues that have become so public that they are damaging the image of the army.”

In line with many other analysts, Rizvi credits Shaif with making significant changes during his tenure, particularly his decision in June 2014 to finally send troops into the Taliban sanctuary of North Waziristan, despite opposition from civilian politicians.


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