Sunday, 22 December 2013

Bashir Bilour – the valiant leader

by Amir Abbas Turi

“My presence gives hope and valour to the terror-struck folks.” – Shaheed Bilour
Bilour: a man who believed firmly in his creed and fought for it till the very end. It is a death that should be mourned for the heroism and courage of the martyred, and for the loss of multi-faceted life full of affirmative power that has been lost. But, finally, he won – the hearts of millions of Pakistanis.

On December 22, 2012, a terrorist suicide bomber finally succeeded in his aims and took the life of the valiant Pashtun leader. Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a 69-year-old politician from the Awami National Party (ANP) was martyred for adopting a bold stance against terrorism and militancy. He remained the first ever serving minister to be honoured with the highest civil award, Hilal-e-Shujaat for his bravery and resolve against the scourge of terrorism and extremism from the-then President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari on March 23, 2011

Bashir Bilour was a man of towering personality who had always helped the down-trodden and raised the plight of the oppressed folks in this land of pure. The sacrifices rendered by the late leader of ANP for the sake of harmony, tolerance, social justice and human rights could not be forgotten. He, throughout his life addressed the quandary of the brow-beaten and under-privileged inhabitants of this country in particular, and Peshawarites in general. All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the determination to confront the major threat to peace against the people of that time. This, and not much else, is the real meaning of leadership.

Bashir Bilour used to say that extremists are our enemies — the foes of our children and women. They yearn for our kids to be their slaves; nevertheless, we will educate our young blood and will make them non-violent and progressive citizens of Pakistan. Once after visiting the spot of suicide bombing in the Meena Bazar market, Peshawar, he lamented on the floor of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly, “I saw the mothers, daughters and sisters of my nation lying uncovered, wounded, bleeding and bits of flesh spread on the road. How much more blood would be enough to awake the dead consciences?”

He was one of the very few sane voices in this country and made significant contribution in widening non-violent approach to eradicate racial, economic, and social injustice following the legacy of Fakhr-e-Afghan Bacha Khan alias Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. In country mired by confusion over what to do about the Taliban nuisance, his was a clear vision and message: oppose them for their thought and savage means are irreconcilable with anything modern.

Bashir Bilour was popular both among ANP cadres and the electorate in his constituency in Peshawar city. He served as the ANP provincial president and won election from his provincial assembly constituency five times in a row. And the manner of his death in a suicide attack has made him a martyr for his family, party and innumerable supporters.In this situation, the most vulnerable people are those who speak the truth, flight for justice, support the weak and strive against intolerance.

However, history will not forget those who have laid their lives for the sake of truth and justice. He will be remembered for his courage and valour and have had all the qualities of a great leader as, Henry Kissinger said, "The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been." Late Bashir Ahmed stood in defiance against the mighty force of religious fanatics. Regrettably, most of our leaders lack such a strong character and charismatic personality. He knew well the cost of his audacity, but still he raised his voice for the plight of the oppressed. He could not be threatened or silenced.

Martyred Bilour was someone who has good values and a sense of honour and integrity. It’s our obligation to remember those heroes of society who contribute in society for making Pakistan democratic, peaceful and prosperous and worth living. All the segments of society, including political parties and media, will have to join hands to defeat the dogmatic mindset.

The life of Shaheed Bilour could best be understood by the below mentioned couplet of Khushal Khan Khattak once said:

Pa Jahan da Nangyali dee da dwa kara,
Ya ba Okhuray kakary, Ya ba Kamran shay
(A valiant man can do but one deed,
Perish striving for the goal or succeed)

It is our moral duty to remember and salute such unsung heroes of our society. Bashir Bilour is the kind of fearless leader that our nation requires in today’s dark age. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
The writer can be reached at aamirabbas49@yahoo.com and he tweets @EngrTuri

An ode to my Uncle Bashir Bilour

-today is the first anniversary of the death of Mr. Bashir Ahmad Bilour (August 1, 1943- December 22, 2012), senior Minister of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial government and former provincial President of the Awami National Party. His death was described the New York Times as 'Mr. Bilour and eight others were killed Saturday by a suicide bomber who detonated his explosives after a political rally. The assassination, claimed by the Taliban, convulsed the country’s political circles, serving as a grim reminder of the Taliban’s lethal ability to strike their opponents. Mr. Bilour had survived two previous assassination attempts.' This is a special contribution by his niece in tribute to her late uncle. -ed note

by Mona Bilour-Faisal

They say "Time heals all wounds." I wish there was some truth to it. The bitter truth is, time takes away from you what is precious and lets you weep at the hands of it.

The news still flashes before my eyes when I saw on T.V "BASHIR BILOUR INJURED IN A SUICIDE BLAST." I left the house to be with you, to stay with you whilst you recovered, for you to smile at me and tell me "See, I told you they can't kill me." But that one phone call toppled the world for me.

When I saw you lie in front of me not breathing, when I saw the valiant you not move, when I saw your smiling face in pain - Oh! how painful it was. Your silence was the death of every soul that was there to have a glimpse of you. And with each day that passed, to know I wasn't going to hear from you again, on my every visit to my Parents when I don't hear your footsteps and your voice that said "I am here to see my daughter, where is she?", to know I won't ever hug you again, when on this birthday you weren't the first to wish me, when on this Eid you weren't the first to call me and when I look back and think that 2nd December 2012 was the last time I hugged you, there is pain so severe it leaves the mind in despair and the throat clenched and the eyes filled with tears of sorrow.

You have left us in depths of melancholy. The world remembers you as "Bashir Bilour-The lion of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa." But to me, you are "Bashir Bilour - a part of my heart gone missing."

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Book review: Shadow of the Crescent moon is drive by non-fiction

-originally published by Sunday Guardian 16th November 2011

by Aneela Z Babar


Leblanc believes that our ‘social transportations’ are like our identities, so in Bicycle Citizens (1999) she negotiates the streets of Oizumi perched on a bicycle, following the paths a Japanese housewife might use while dealing with the political system. As a result, Leblanc too starts to ‘see’ the political world as the ‘housewife politician’ does.

Fatima Bhutto in her interviews has spoken about how she has had opportunities growing up, and recently as a journalist, to visit the Land Beyond Peshawar-Bara Border, that she has travelled a lot; to Quetta, to Afghan refugee camps in Peshawar. The Shadow of the Crescent Moon could then have provided us with the vantage point of an insider/outsider to a land forever blighted to live in newspaper headlines as the “troubled tribal region of Waziristan”. Sadly, the town of Mir Ali—the theatre of the main action in The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, only comes across as how one would imagine a restive border town to appear out from a taxi window. These are snapshots. It is drive-by narrative non-fiction. Shadowed gullies. Snot smeared children and battery chicken. Bhutto’s characters flounder about in segments that read as “a situation round up” of Waziristan— (hyperlinks one may click at the end of a news report to get 200 word “Who is X and why do they hate Y so”) and their lived world of muddled spaces. Kitchens with people mumbling, sitting rooms where mourners gather, cold vacant stairways where students conspire.

Bhutto is writing about people whom I can recognize, a point in space, a moment in time I may have frequented once but I have none of the elation I would have, say reading Shamsie (Salt and Saffron for one that cunningly unpacked class and spatial politics in Pakistan). There is none of the putting down a book and buying a copy for a friend “Here, these are our stories”. It could be for Shadow.. narrates a surreal cartography, a land where the markers of Eid appears so late in the book, though it keeps on reminding us that it is Eid day right from the first page. The characters inhabit a strange landscape where “ladies...clutching their bags of material and patterns” visit the reluctant tailor, who hands them “the measuring tape and turned his back while they shyly read out their measurements. As Zulfiqar copied the numbers down, he blushed”. When these reticent, bashful exchanges could just be avoided if they carried a naap ki kamiz as women do in their bags along with the material and patterns. The strange land of Mir Ali is stuck in a time warp where Eid is in December, when the reader may know that the last time it was Eid in December, it was 2008. And The Shadow of the Crescent Moon cannot be set in the Eid of 2008 (or the years before that) for it has been months since its protagonist Aman Erum returned from his years in the US, and years since his visa interview at the US Embassy where he reads about a President Obama justifying drones off a news ticker on TV. So Toto, where are we?
So a tale of three brothers and a rain swept Friday Eid morning.
Aman Erum, the eldest, has always wanted to get out of Mir Ali and the family business, and so earlier in the book he sells his soul to the Army-Amreeka nexus. Thus, forever making us view the Pakistani student abroad as not only torn between the With Us or Against Us predicamen; but with now the binary divisions getting further redefined with the students abroad being either preoccupied with ablutions and maintaining gender segregation or spying on his/her compatriots. Doomed if you do, visa revoked if you don’t.

Sikander—a textbook middle child, is a doctor at the government hospital, when he is not racing over rescuing his wife Mina, her emotional health on a quick downward spiral. Mina’s character sketch alternates between the calm she experiences gate crashing funerals, stalking and laying claim to the grief in the “lines of other mother’s faces”, gathering solace from there being a “community of widows and the bereft who knew how she suffered”; and returning “vengefully to the wounded woman that spat and swore and paced until she was let out again”. There is something feral about Mina as she scours the newspaper pages for death notices and obituaries; a silent despair as her husband Sikander watches her, seeing flashes of the woman he remembers from a time ago, but that woman “comes and goes in waves”. There is something to how the two relate to each other that reminded me of another couple-- Sufiya Zinobia Hyder and Omar Khayyam Shakil from Rushdie’s Shame, or perhaps Mina and Sikander are just drawn this way.

Samarra, the young woman with the beauty spot in her eye, is the one that Aman Erum loved once, still does, but there is a betrayal that divides them now. Her character now has to negotiate sentences like “One can track operations in Mir Ali based on Samarra’s syntax”.

There is also the mysterious Colonel Tarek with his ZiaulHaq “eyes weighed down by darkly lined bags and small smatterings of sunspots” playing with his wedding ring slowly and speaking in foreboding tones slower.
And then there is Hayat, the youngest son, the rebel who now questions the cause. But before that he has to manoeuvre the most socially awkward exchange that comes across as Bhutto chooses to translate select endearments in the text into Pashto.

In this case Zainab, the classic filmy white haired widow mother reaches out and “mouths in Pashto into her son’s citrus-scented ear”

a ‘Za tasara mina kawam,’

Translated as, I love you.
Now Pashtun mothers will articulate their love for their sons in many tongues, but to phrase it in the literal sense? As in how one would field the “So what is I love you in Pushto?” query we are accosted with (once you are done answering that other question, “Are there any cuss words in Pashto?”—Only in Mir Ali I would say.

‘Wale?’ he (Hayat) breaths back. Why?

My Thoughts Exactly.
Samarra and her ill fated love affair, Hayat, Sikander, Mina, Aman Erum, the Colonel and the city of Mir Ali quickly plummet towards their heart wrenching end, but not before Mina has had the chance to launch herself onto a Talib in a most jiyala fashion
“Zalim! Der zalim aye! Bey insaf!”
I half expected her to end in a “Zalimo! Jawab Do Zulm Ka Hisaab Do” but I dont think the Pushto subtitles for that were ready yet.
The Talib true to bad cinematic form unleashes a
‘Khaza—‘ Woman. He tries to interrupt her, to remind her of her place and their space but nothing can reach Mina now’.
Déjà vu, I am sitting in a Peshawar cinema watching Badar Munir brandishing a Kalashnikov, all the while dreading being blown up by a suicide bomber.
These things probably never end well.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Babarnama: Interview with Naseerullah Babar

-This is a edited version of an article originally published by The NEWS on Sunday 18-2-2007 . Naseerullah Babar ( born 1928—10 January 2011)

Major General (retired) Naseerullah Babar has served on many important positions. He has been federal interior minister as well as the governor of North West Frontier Province (NWFP) during the era of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He has been at the centrestage of many important events of Pakistan's history.

Naseerullah Babar is also considered to be the architect of Taliban movement in Afghanistan during the mid 1990s, a charge he tacitly rejects. He is also also credited with the formulating of a strategy of intervention in Afghanistan from Pakistan in the early 1970s. Babar is even said to be the person who made Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) interfere in political affairs for the first time ever.

A close confidante of both Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and her daughter Benazir Bhutto, Babar is a clean man who has never been charged of corruption. He also has to his credit as the federal interior minister the restoration of peace in Karachi, thus becoming bete noir for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). His personal valour is acknowledged by his arch rivals.

He belongs to Pirpai village in Nowshera district of NWFP. The News on Sunday recently got hold of him and talked to him at length on various issues of national, regional and international interest.


By Raza Khan


TNS: What do you think of President Pervez Musharraf? Is he under pressure from the West to held elections and cut deals with secular parties like your Pakistan People's Party (PPP) to counter religious extremism?

NB: You see, this has a background in the sense that Musharraf brought these people (the religious parties) to power to convey a message to the Americans that you have Taliban in Afghanistan and mullahs in Pakistan. That is why the two bordering provinces were given to the MMA (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal). This was done on purpose. But it is possible for him to get rid of them. You can see that the Supreme Court has come up with this case on the educational qualifications of a number of MMA legislators. This is done three, four years after the case was first filed. Why were the mullahs allowed to sit in parliament for so long? All this may be happening with a design. (The came has come up) so that in future these people cannot contest elections.

Historically in Pakistan there has been an alliance between the mullahs and the military in political affairs. Even when Afghanistan question came up, Ziaul Haq needed religious extremists and the religious extremists needed him. But because both the army and the mullahs have no manifesto, no programmes, they, therefore, are dependent on unnatural forms of government.

TNS: Does it means that the West in general and the United States in particular may be asking Musharraf to bring genuine secular parties like the PPP to power through elections?

NB: There has all along being a controversy in a sense that for half of the life of Pakistan the government has been run by the mullah-military alliance for other half by political parties. The military has never allowed political parties to grow and have long tenures of governance. Only the 1971 debacle compelled the military to give power to a genuine civilian government but soon this government became an eyesore. The then political government still developed a lot of institutions that were to the benefit of the army like the National Defence College to provide militarymen with higher education. The office of the chairman joint chiefs of staff committee was developed so that the administrative control of the army could be taken over and looked after by that institution instead of the army itself.

When the coup by Sardar Daud in Afghanistan occurred, Bhutto extended his rule by one year and then in January (next year) Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) was formed within a week. How could such disparate parties (as formed the alliance) come together on a common programme so quickly? It was because the homework had already been done by the military to use them against the political government and that was the beginning.

When Russia invaded Afghanistan, Zia should have formed an exile government of seven component parties of Afghanistan in Pakistan but he did not do so because it did not suit him. Then favourites were found like Hekmatyar and others. That led to the subsequent chaos in Afghanistan that remains till today.

When a political government came to power in Pakistan again in 1988, the ISI had ganged together a shura of Afghan parties and asked our government to recognise it. When we looked at the proposal it did not meet our requirements because it did not include an international personality. The PPP government, therefore, said sorry because we had certain limitations under international law. When the PPP government was sacked and Nawaz Sharif came to power, situation in Afghanistan started unfolding like a stageplay. First Professor Mujeddadi was sent there for six months as president then Burhanuddin Rabbani was made president for a year. On the completion of his tenure, he refused to resign. A chaos was created out of which Dr Najeeb emerged as the Afghan president. With Najeeb I arranged talks in 1992 and Asad Durrani set the tone for the work of intelligence agencies. Dr Najeeb said he was ready to quit at any time provided a governing mechanism was set up in Afghanistan. Due to the unpreparedness of ISI or its insincerity the talk fell through. I must add that I went as a guarantor of Pakistan in talks with Najeeb. In fact, Dr Najeeb came to my house in 1979 to tell me me that he also wanted to join the anti-Soviet resistance. But he was not acceptable to the intelligence agencies of Pakistan. So, he went back.

TNS: Though you claim to have played a positive role role in Afghanistan, why are you also accused as the creator of Taliban there?

NB: In fact, the Taliban phenomenon cropped up during PPP's second stint in power (1993-96) but we did nor recognise them and instead stopped them when they were about to take over Kabul. Pakistani agencies' philosophy was that whoever occupied Kabul should have the right to be recognised as the government of Afghanistan. But we said unless Taliban formed a broad-based government we would not recognise them. We were able to bring together Taliban and Dostum and a draft agreement was formed. Under it a political commission was to be set up having members from all provinces in Afghanistan based on population to give a federal structure to Afghanistan. After the Afghan parties had agreed to the draft, Dostum kept sending me messages to go to Afghanistan for the signing of the agreement. On November 3, 1996, at midnight we had a meeting in the presidential palace in Islamabad with President Farooq Leghari presiding. The prime minister, ISI's director general and the chief of army staff were all present. I was instructed to go and get the document signed by all the parties. I was to go on November 5 but on the night between November 4 and November 5 Leghari dismissed our government for the reasons best known to him. When the new government came in it did not know anything about Afghanistan or Taliban. It immediately give recognition to Taliban. After that whatever leverage or stick we had with Taliban had been lost. I or PPP is not responsible for that.

Even earlier, in 1970s we were in negotiations with Sardar Daud (creator of Pakhtunistan movement) and also with Zahir Shah. We sent two men from Hizb-e-Islami with Pakistani colonel Ibrahim to Rome with the offer that the Hizb would be supportive of Zahir Shah if he returned as a constitutional monarch. The constitution had been prepared by one Mr Shafiq, who had been to the Al-Azhar University in Cairo. This constitution was acceptable to the Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan.

In 1994, the PPP government was to launch a programme for opening of routes through Afghanistan to Central Asia for the benefit of the whole region. Our thinking was that the market lay in Central Asia while India had industry. So, if oil and gas was brought to Multan from Central Asia, it could be supplied to India and onwards. We could have also used this as a lever to push India to solve the Kashmir problem. But this was not liked by the powers that be. Regarding Taliban, when in our second government I sent a convoy of goods and some gifts to Afghanistan, it was stopped at Kandahar by the Indo-Iran lobby. Then the Taliban came in and cleared the road for the convoy as well as the area where it was difficulties of travel.

TNS: How come Taliban emerged so instantaneously out of nowhere?

NB: Because they were the same people who had been waging jehad against the Soviets. The only thing that changed was that some groups had become fed up with infighting and warlordism. From then onwards, we kept advising the Americans and the United Nations that Afghanistan needed a major socio-economic uplift programme.

We had a long term and multifaceted programme for Afghanistan. But unfortunately at the instance of the US or whoever our government was dismissed. Then I advised (Taliban leader) Mullah Zaeef to hold a Lockerbie-like trial of Osama bin Laden but the Americans asked me how I could guarantee that a court comprising of a Saudi and Afghan judge (to which the Taliban had agreed) could punish Osama. I said no court could say in advance as to whether the accused would be punished. Then the 9/11 happened. All this could have been averted.

TNS: You are also accused of being the architect of Pakistan's intervention in Afghanistan?

NB: It was in 1972 when I was in Peshawar, then Bhutto came to Peshawar and I advised him to open the border of tribal areas with Afghanistan. So, in 1973 we opened Kakar-Khursan in Balochistan. Then other areas followed.

In 1973 when Sardar Daud staged a coup against King Zahir Shah in Afghanistan and we thought we had an interest there. So I wrote a paper analysing what would happen, for instance, to Shah of Iran etc. Then Bhutto decided that we had to protect our interests. At the same time, the Hizb man Habibur Rahman came to us. The Hizb was against the socialist and communist parties in Afghanistan. In 1950s when Daud became premier he had opened Afghanistan to Russians. If you can recollect all the routes from Torghundi to Kandahar and the other from Bandar Sher Khan to Kabul were opened up while the main airbases of Bagram and Sheen Dandh were built by the Russians. We thought this was a plan by the Russians to move on to the hot waters. You know that Peter the Great (Russian emperor) had left a will to his nation to keep pressing until it got to the hot waters. Last of the communist ideologues like Brizhnev etc liked to complete the agenda of Peter the Great.

TNS: The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has always been the topic of heated discussions. What's your views?

NB: Sardar Daud by 1970s was well aware of the designs of the Russians. He said to us that if (the invasion) was from the North today it might come from us tomorrow. Daud therefore came to Pakistan and was about to sign on an agreement with us on the Durand Line. It was not that we needed it. The treaties of Gandamak and Rawalpindi had already sanctified the Durand Line as a permanent border. Now to look at it differently, the northern border of Afghanistan on the Amu Darya was also demarcated by Sir Mortimer Durand. If the Durand Line agreement loses meaning then all the other agreements including the China-India border (will also become irrelevant) because all of them were drawn by the British. It is a very erroneous argument that the agreement on the Durand Line was valid for hundred years. It is the firm and final border between the states.

TNS: What do you think about Pakistan's proposals to mine and fence the border?

NB: If today the government thinks of putting a barbed wire on the border or mine it, then it is against tradition and even against the Durand Line agreement because the agreement says the tribes will be allowed to travel across the borders. So these limitations will be unnatural.

TNS: How do you think extremism and Talibanisation can be countered?

NB: For this all you have to have is the writ of the government which for all intents and purposes and in every instance is not there. Moreover, if you have the support of the people then there is nothing these elements can do. During PNA agitation, when I was the NWFP governor, was there any incident of violence? It was because I followed every procession and they knew that I was behind them.

TNS: Who are the supporters of Talibanisation in the Frontier and the tribal areas?

NB: There is no one. It is just the lack of governance. Benazir, during our second government, told me to take Maulana Fazl to Afghanistan for negotiations because he had a lot of influence and contacts in Afghanistan. I took him to Kandahar to Mulla Omar. Fazl did not know Mullah Omar nor did Mulla Omar know him. When the stage for talks came Fazl was refused permission. I sent him back straight to Quetta. Then Maulana Hassan Jan, who was the governor of Kandahar, requested me not to bring Fazl to Afghanistan. They told me they have studied along with Fazl and knew he would divide them.

TNS: MMA has emerged as a key power player in NWFP. How do you see the future of the alliance?

NB: You have seen their performance as the NWFP government. Because of a lack of education and administrative experience, they have failed completely. Secondly, these people cannot see beyond their nose. Maulana Fazlur Rahman is promoting his brothers while Qazi Hussain Ahmed has brought in his son, daughter and nephew into politics. They say they would resign and then they backtrack. In fact, Fazlur Rahman has been so corrupt then when the federal government sent National Accountability Bureau officials to Dera Ismail Khan, Maulana immediately budged. This was when on resignations issue Qazi was saying one thing and Fazl another. Now he has prevailed upon Qazi to give up. Why Fazl was named Maulana Diesel earlier? He himself admitted it in front of the press that the charge had been correct. In fact, during our government, Fazl made so much demands that in front of him I asked Benazir Bhutto as to why he is not given the keys of the State Bank to get rid of him.

TNS: So, he is a very worldly mullah?

NB: Yes, all mullahs are worldly because all of them came through the madrasas and they haven't seen the better side of the life. When Fazl was the head of the Parliamentary Committee in our government he went to Frankfurt and stayed at a hotel and left a huge bill of shopping outstanding which our ambassador had to pay.

TNS: But Maulana has on occasions said that the key to peace in tribal areas and Afghanistan lies with him...

NB: Tell me who does he know among the Northern Alliance. Secondly, Fazl has benefited a lot because he has been sending rations there.

TNS: So you think secular, liberal parties will prevail if the establishment stops supporting religious elements...

NB: But Army has no interest in that. Their economic condition has never been so good. Look at the defence housing schemes and lands allotments. If you are a lieutenant general you must have several plots. That will not happen under a political government.

Secondly, it is the supine judiciary that is not letting things happen that way. Every time a case comes up, it is decided under the doctrine of necessity. Then there are characters like Sharifuddin Pirzada and A K Brohi who work against the political governments. If one of them was out, the second would be in.

The governments have been sacked on the charges of corruption. The point is if the army is less corrupt. Corruption occurs in every democratic society and elections are the answer to that.

TNS: What's your views on provincial autonomy?

NB: Had political government been given enough time, the concurrent list of the constitution would have been devolved to the provinces as a matter of course. I agree there should be more autonomy and decentralisation. When the present government could not do so they bypassed the provincial government and came up with the idea of decentralisation at the district level. But army can only change the state into a unitary form of government. Ayub Khan made One-Unit and lost half of the country. Now the other half may break up.

What business the army has to distribute money among parties. Today Hameed Gul (former ISI boss) proudly says he made Islami Jamhoori Ittehad. In 1990, the the ISI chief Asad Durrani also distributed money among political parties. We went to the Supreme Court with all the evidence but the case could not be taken up due to various reasons. I also provided a report to the then chief justice on how intelligence agencies could be brought under the law and constitution so that they play their formal role. Even then the court did not deemed it fit to take up the case.

TNS: But you were the one to have assigned a political role to ISI...

NB: In fact, those who accuse me of doing that use one incident of Hyderabad Tribunal. I had framed the case against the National Awami Party and ISI had brought all the evidence against it (also see our blog 'Pakistan Ideology on trial) . The ISI had to be given a fictional cover in the case because it had no locus standi to produce evidence in the court. So an administrative order was issued creating a political cell within the ISI. It was for a limited purpose. Now they are using that precedent to create an ISI empire. I told them that an administrative order could be cancelled any time. It has no legal sanctity. But why allow the ISI and other intelligence agencies to become even bigger than the state.

TNS: Pakhtun nationalist forces say that they never launched any movement for Pakhunistan but the bugbear was created by Bhutto and you to strengthen almost a totalitarian rule by PPP?

NB: The record is available. For instance, the speeches Ajmal Khattak made from Kabul (clearly point out who was behind the bugbear). Then see who supported the Pakhtunistan movement. It was (former Afghan President) Sardar Daud early in 1950s who did so. He opposed Pakistan's entry to the United Nations. After that the problems in Pak-Afghan relations continued, though during the wars of 1965 and 1971 the Afghan government told us that we can remove all the army from the Western front. In fact, the Pakhtunistan movement was launched for a limited purpose to gain certain advantages.

TNS: You worked on high posts both in the army and the political governments. What distinguishes a military rule from a civilian government?

NB: The military has limited education. They have no experience of political life and governance so they can only use force or at best they can link up with the mullah.

TNS: Some American think tanks have been talking of geographical and political changes in our region...

NB: Changing maps will be difficult in our region but easier in the Middle East. If the US attacks Iran then all the artificial boundaries drawn by the foreign ministers of British and France will go.

TNS: Recently MQM chief Altaf Hussain has said that the man who unleashed a reign of terror on Karachi and MQM is living in a house in Peshawar...

NB: See, firstly, I have a clear conscience. Secondly, (the operation in Karachi) happened in 1995. Till today, has any one has gone to the court to complain that excesses were committed. If there was anything against me, it should have come up by now. Yes, I acted against the MQM men for being involved in militancy because they did not have any right to kill Pakhtuns or Punjabis or someone else. It is a misfortune that every night we have to hear on our TV screens the diatribe of a criminal hiding in London and the criminal in the Governor's House in Sindh. Why is Altaf sitting in London? Is he a British citizen?