Musharraf defends his Army’s business interests

He can afford to ignore the wagging tongues

Musharraf defended the parasite of Pakistan by calling its detractors ‘pseudo-intellectuals’. Here’s what those ‘pseudo-intellectuals’ have to say:

Why should the military be the only institution that can get cheap land for development through official means and then sell it off at exorbitant prices? The argument that the military defends the country and therefore should be treated with deference is fine, but it shouldn’t be stretched too far. After all, our military is still an all-volunteer army, isn’t it? This means that no one in Pakistan can be forced into military service. This also means that those who choose of their own volition to join the military should not expect to be treated royally or more favourably than other segments of society. Of course, if Pakistan had a people’s army and lands and other perks were awarded to people at large for rendering high services, that would be OK. But that is not the case here, is it? [DT]

Going back to the General’s declarations of annoyance over the questions raised as to the propriety of the Army running commercial enterprises; housing schemes and manufactories are not the only ones that are increasingly being questioned by people, including “pseudo-intellectuals”. Whilst I have no pretensions to being an intellectual, pseudo- or otherwise, what about the armed forces’ “management of cinema houses, general stores, bakeries, ice factories and commercial activities on agricultural land” as reported in the national press recently (Dawn, July 23, 2004) as part of record placed before the National Assembly on July 22?[Kamran Shafi/DT]

And here’s an egregious example of what military domination of institutions means:

The Pakistan Merchant Navy Officers Association investigating last year’s massive oil spill off the coast of Karachi has come out with a severe indictment of the way the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) handled the whole affair and its apparent lack of professionalism. A report to this effect says that the KPT was not exactly telling the truth when it said that the depth of the water channel used by ships to enter Karachi’s harbour was deep enough for the Tasman Spirit (the vessel which caused the spill) to pass through.

It says that if one were to take the KPT’s claim at face value, then it was not possible for the ship to run aground as it did. This, in the report’s view, can only mean that the KPT had not dredged the channel up to the depth that would allow oil tankers the size of the Tasman Spirit to pass safely through. The other important point made in the report is that once the ship ran aground, the situation was thoroughly mishandled because the KPT’s senior management, comprising mostly of naval officers, lacked training in technical matters, especially those related to dealing with rescue operations.[Dawn]