What Do They Want?

What Do They Want?

They wanted foreign policy. Zardari gave it to them. They wanted extensions. Zardari gave them extensions. They wanted Haqqani’s scalp. Zardari presented that in a platter. What more do the generals want?



This month’s circus has three major players – the PPP, the GHQ and the Supreme Court (SC). Whenever I don’t fully understand what the players are doing I fall back to my favourite ‘Game Theory’. This is what the theory says: the PPP, the GHQ and the SC are all ‘interested parties’ facing a ‘competitive situation’ whereby each and every one of them determines its own ‘optimal course of action’. Each and every one of the three entities acts to maximise its own individual gains by anticipating the responses to its actions by one or other players in the game.



What does the PPP want? Zardari is up against the judges as well as the generals. In that sense, the circus has a legal side and a political side. The PPP is a status quo player. The PPP is fighting for the right to continue doing what they have been doing for the past forty-six months. It is not clear whether the generals are serious in putting an end to what the PPP is – or has been – doing but the judges are clearly becoming an impediment. There is some evidence now – that didn’t exist before – that the generals may back up what the judges finally decide to do.



What can the PPP do? The PPP can begin implementing the NRO judgment. Or, dismiss the COAS. Or, wait and see if the SC can walk into unchartered waters of disqualifying an elected PM.



What can the SC do? Act now meaning disqualification of the PM and/or the president. Or, delay by appointing a commission etc. To be sure, the SC’s support in the ‘court of public opinion’ is at or close to its peak and definitely higher than any other state institution (because of infighting between other institutions). In case of a ‘delay’ by the SC, some of that support is bound to evaporate into thin air.



What can the generals do? They can let the executive-judiciary confrontation play out. Or, they can directly intervene. There’s evidence that the generals are opting not to intervene – let the executive-judiciary confrontation play out – unless the PPP exercises its option of dismissal.



The PPP will prefer a takeover by the generals as oppose to being dismissed by the SC (claiming “martyrdom” will be easier if the generals takeover). The generals will prefer a disqualification by the SC as oppose to a direct intervention.



What do the generals want? To be certain, the Pak Army has a serious interest in Pakistan’s economy and that is for two reasons: First; if the size of the economic pie does not grow then the size of the defence budget cannot grow either. Second; an economic meltdown will damage – or whatever is left of it – the domestic social fabric and that in return will open up vulnerabilities on the external front. The generals know full well that the economy ensures internal security and economic growth is the prerequisite to jacking up the defence budget.



And therein lies the answer to the riddle. Zardari is prepared to give whatever the generals demand but perhaps what they now demand is beyond Zardari to deliver – economic management.



Next question: Do the generals want to conquer? They tell me that the highest form of generalship is to conquer by strategy – without resorting to war.

Farrukh Saleem

A columnist based in Islamabad.

  • Haiderjawaid

    There is a limit to everything. The only time Pakistan was able to achieve something was during martial laws. Especially going back to General Zia’s time when the inflation was next to nothing and a roti carried the same price for years and years… Not saying it was the best solution. But this lot is not just corrupt or inefficient, what they are doing goes beyond anyone’s logic… each and every move they make seem to be weakening the federation… The constitution, political parties or army is not what this is about… we should keep Pakistan on top priority and follow what our dear Quaid e Azam told us to do and most importantly, implement the objectives resolution of Pakistan… It is also now time to let our young generation know that Pakistan was not made for democracy or martial laws… it was made to be a platform for implementing the Islamic Social, Economic and Judicial System (As desired by Jinnah Sahib). We now know how much effort is being made by all parties concerned not to allow us to discover the benefits of the system of Khilafat e Rashida… Let this be known to all readers that Pakistan shall InshAllah remain, but the traitors of this Millat shall always be cursed for eternity.

  • M.Saeed

    “In case of a ‘delay’ by the SC, some of that support is bound to evaporate into thin air”.

    This where you have erred, Farrukh. You have not counted the most important but silent player i.e, the masses. They are desperately waiting for a positive change and have long lost their almost limitless patience. The last straw of the “completing the 5 years’ tenure circus” of ever increasing hardships being inflicting might cross their “yield-Point” of tolerance and the worst might happen. That is, the Pakistan version of the Arab Spring, for which Imran Khan would be too happy to spearhead.

  • Anonymous

    Extensions was offered to them in return of keeping quiet on certain things(corruption perhaps) so not given to them as charity.They wanted diplomacy to reflect whats going on operationally not foreign policy.They didn’t wanted anybody’s scalp they wanted an ‘investigation’ regardless of acquittal or conviction.
    PPP is angry with Generals because Zardari’s strategy of ‘lets eat and eat all together not leaving anybody behind to complain’ is showing its short-comings now. Generals are ready to eat but there are limits on certain matters, nukes and security are such matters.
    PPP is responsible for current crisis as initiated by them as a response to Memo scandal and NRO. Now they know they have been wasting money on ‘dinners’ as diners are not delivering when chips are down. The same dilemma which US faces with our establishment.COAS not dining at presidency anymore.

  • Fahad

    The most idiotic blog I’ve ever seen. If you want us prefer these Government morons over the Pak Army, you are at the biggest mistake of your life. PPP has done a superb job by writing and memo to the US asking for help to protect them from their own Army. Wow, has anything like this ever happened before anywhere in the world. Embarrassing really.

  • Shahidkureshi

    Well this time you got it all wrong Buddy ! How can you forget that this Army is also part of the 180 million people who are suffering to keep body and soul together with the spiralling cost of living and growing failure of amenities. I am sure if we impartially discuss specifics of the foreign policy you will find that it will include the other two facets that you have tried to portray as separate issues. Let me ask you a straight question … “Would you like to have Pakistan’s strategic assets in terms of deterrence against aggression placed under foreign controls”? I expect you to savvy the connections between 7600 unauthorized visas and Breakwater and Abbotabad incident (I refuse to accept OBLs presence) and Mehran Base and Salala Post and the memo and then its aftermath. Please read the memo in its entirety and not just the opening piece about sending a message to GHQ to prevent a military takeover. Guess what! why are we so eager to settle out of court, now that we have the Top Judiciary involved, lets wait for the verdict. If I were you. I would salute this Army for its patience and support to somehow let democracy (whatever form it may be called in Pakistan) to take roots.

  • Rimibra

    Murder of Benazir gave Zardaari & co a boost a real boost. Mr Zardari stepped aside COD made by his late wife. Perhaps he was riding on powerful American horse and tried his best to control even the Armed forces by whipping every one with the lashes of American aid.

    A great mistake! Things have change since then. MQM can turn his back as usual and Q is not to be trusted at all. ANP is like “Khaja Saraa” who got a child by chance so it has no option other than be with Ali Baba.

    It’s just a matter of time because PPPP have dug its own grave by making mistakes. No one is going to cry for corrupts particularly not the people suffering for every day needs but the it’s time to worry for the intellectuals because without a well structured system it’s hardly imaginable to solve the problems of the people particularly when political system is disarray at large.

    A new mandate is absolute necessary to start again because this shall educate both the people as well as the political parties. The only way forward for Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

  • Shahid Pervaiz

    I read my comments that I left for posting and can not see any thing offensive except spelling few words against the writer …….. In a deomcratic country these comments are to be judged that of a soft nature …… Please post my comments ….. Thank you …….

  • Sajid

    ppp is the most crrupt party in Pakistan . bhuttu ,benazir ,zardari and bilawal all are crrupt.

  • Sajidali

    I am sorry to say but these all problems come only and only because of Army, just look around you India, China, Australia, Ireland, Taiwan all took independence from 1947 to 1950, look now today where they are and where we are. they adopted political system to grow , we always slogan for army in the name of national interest, national sovereignty , Patriotism etc. what we get martial laws, breaking the country into pieces, kilashankov, Heroien, 50 billion Dollar loan, killed and Sold our people on the name of anti terrorism, Suicide Bombers economic meltdown, religious and ethnic confrontations, Cannot enter 60% area of country (Balochistan) etc. still we are not allowing political system to grow , but looking towards the army ,well, might be we will understand after four or five more pieces of pakistan that, which system was better. inshallah…

  • Malikbank

    Army is as weak as having no army. Few helicopters can enter the country and fly back out without us even stopping them as they were all asleep. That was a matter of concern for my soverignty, my security, my family security and my friends security.I DON’T TRUST THIS ARMED FORCES ANYMORE………. PPP is as weak and hollow as an old man with one leg in grave and other leg on banana peal, do you think they will be worried ever for the people of Pakistan…wake up people and throw these guys into jails and make them an example of a lifetime so in history non of these politicians ever repeat this again…Judicary is as worried as a one year kid on the side of the road who doesn’t know If he should move forward or go backward because either way he will be dead..They didn’t do anything in last four years and let these guys ( PPP ) ruin our economy, our livelihood, our standing in the society, our recognition as a country and all of a sudden they are playing this saga…its too late judge sahib… You are also nothing in my eyes and I have no respect for all the above…. THEY SHOULD BE ALL FIRED and SCRATCHED FROM THE HISTORY BOOKS AS NOBODY… I will see If any new ones will repeat this again.. If you dont fire them don’t complain about them…Live your life the way you are and be ready to be DOOMED

  • Farhan

    Though the military wants economic management but it may or may not be linked to jacking up defence budget. The senior military officers unlike their political counterparts have come up the social ladder from middle class and are therefore more tuned to masses abhorrence against present democratic dispensation. Throw Zardari out and things will start falling in order. The root of evil is zardari

  • hidayat ullah khan

    Mr. Saleem: Court is not a party. Court is the interpreter of law and constititution so by making it a party you succumed to the same ploy, politicians like Babar Awan, Gilani, and Zardari succumed to. All over the world, Courts are the caretakers of law, constitution, and justice. So please do not confuse our citizens the way the current corrupt lot of politicians do them. Until and unless we educate ourselves on the role of judiciary in the development of societies in the developed world, we would continue to suffer as a nation. If we want to come out of the current quagmire, we need to respect the role of courts and abide by the law.

    • Megaloves

      yes i agreed but in case of raimond davis court and cheif justice of pakistan eat a toffe :) and no action for that person :) and killer of innocent persons easily gone back..all are corrupted

  • Farooq M.Hashmi

    Though I am a Pakistani-American,my roots in my native country,Pakistan are as full of sap as they were twenty six years ago when I had immigrated to USA.Not to speak of the painful effect of the corollary of crises,even if a twig stirs in Pakistan,it has a corresponding poignant effect on my mind.My heart bleeds when I see Pakistan bleeding at every blow its enemies administer it.It’s not hard to locate its enemies.They are within the boundary-lines of Pakistan,and they move around in the civil society in the garbs of politicians,religious leaders and the military and the civilian bureaucrats.Because of the runaway social evils,as corruption,terrorism,lawlessness and dearness,etc.,which have permeated through the whole country, as cancer,sometimes doubts about the survival of Pakistan as a sovereign state,take birth in the minds of we,Pakistani-Americans.

  • Tariq

    Definitely Judiciary do take into account the country political situation in deciding the most of Government related cases. In that course although court has been able to make some huge amount of mis-used country exchequer, during this period, Government has successfully able to plunder much more than what court has recovered. I suggest, if Court were clearly decided the cases on time, may be we might see much sanity prevailing rather than total chaos.

    Definitely, Army due to deeply involved with US and West in the war inside Pakistan, has plunged to deepest level no moral value in the eyes of of common people. Badly entangled with foreign secret commitments, Army was badly stuck to the neck. This situation was badly exploited by Government.

    US and west played a negative role by pushing ruthlessly a corrupt regime just to ensure their goal in the region. Nearly all the political forces were nested in order to support the present regime. In return these forces make every means to plunder this country.

    I think, whatever will comes out, ultimately it will be the country who will suffer along with the people. Even Country Like Switzerland can survive if regime like Zardari-Gillani were give to rule for 6 months.

  • Shahid Pervaiz

    Oh yes, I heard all your comments on Geo in different discussions and was under the impression from very first day that you are backing some party but couldn’t put finger on that, now I am clears about that party but will not spell out, well done Saleem you have made my job easy. You have forgotten the fourth very important player in this debate, it is called ‘Awam’ and in English you call them public. Remember, a politician is a servant to the public first, then rest of the institutions, now my question is simple & straight forward, did ‘Zardari & Co’ fulfilled all the job that were allocated to them by ordinary public, there must not be any but’s but either ‘Yes’ & ‘No’, so please do not confuse the public by your so called clever tricky conversations.
    Zardari is/was not capable to give them any foreign policy and if he did can I ask you what foreign policy? Ok as you say he did, then did he implicated this policy, these are just words of mouth anybody can do that but it need implications.
    Zardari gave those extensions, big deal, Kayanni is not the only one who got extensions through PPP run government, there will be plenty of those sitting on higher authorities even though they never deserved that ‘Zardari & Co’ posted them or gave extensions for their own benefits. General Kayanni deserved that extension and proved himself to be worthy afterward by removing terrorist’s network in North West Frontier & other threats in homeland in the best possible way under the current circumstances. I hope it shuts you off.
    ‘Zardari & Co’ presented Haqqani in the plate, no they haven’t, and all credit goes to Supreme Court and if I say Nawaz Group. Zardari was forced to summon him come Pakistan to save his presidency and by the way for your information, Memo is real, I hope that truth will make you quite.
    My final words, Pakistan current anarchy has nothing to do with Supreme Court, Arm Forces, opposition or through any related institutions but PPP run government’s self-inflicted problems right from the very first day choosing the wrong leadership, implicating the wrong polices, Americans interference was never challenged through proper procedures and was only challenged when water was gone up the head …………. I can carry on ………
    I never wanted PPP to be failed, but in any institution, leadership is the main pillar of the ruling party where they failed totally.
    My last question, if PPP comes in power again, would you elect Zardari to be the Chairman of PPP along with president of Pakistan, don’t be arrogant copying western politicians as you do in your interviews on Geo Channel, but be honest with yourself, and I know the answer ‘Never Again’. I rest my case …….

  • M.Saeed

    Army is just the weapon like a shotgun. It is the shoulder of the gunner and his aiming-triggering skill that counts. Now, who is the gunner? What are his credentials? Does he know where to wedge the gun, how to aim and when to trigger? Very simple to know. Better not blame the gun for any loss and be realist.

    • Raj Chouhan

      Saeed ji, unfortunately in your case much of the time in 64 Yrs your Gun has acted as the gunner itself. Now whom to blame?

      • Nadeem Ahmad

        Very well said Raj ji. Here some of us never want to read the problem with open eyes.


    To PM Gilani — “lagay raho Munna Bhai.”

    • Anonymous

      He does not have too – the task s delegated to Mr. Ahsan…..poor old guy brought back to humility yesterday and will have a hard time persuading his ideological fanbase…..wants to defend YRG’s excuse for non- compliance by avoiding cross examination of the legal mitigation (clause 248)….

      ‘ I’ll have my cake and eat it too please and you are entitled to your opinion as long as it is not different to mine’, is his new attitude. He should stop appearing on media until trial is over to leave us some illusion about his dignity as a lawyer.

  • Anonymous

    The PPP led government hints at ISI interference in sabotaging democratic process andunderminingcivilian government on one hand in the memo case – on the other hand they are happy to attack/ assasinate Mansoor Ijaz’s credibility and the strongest argument they have is that he is anti-ISI/military based on past write-ups. What do they want? A sure case of schizophrenia pehaps.


    As Mahir Ali rightly said — Haqqani deserved to resign if for nothing else – for associating with such a low life sleazy non pakistani character.

    • Anonymous

      For Hamid Mir and PPP the ‘low life sleazy non pakistani character ” is so because of his parents’ faith, his choice of life partner and his view of spooks inPakistan ans possible involvement in a coup against Benazir. Do you agree with them?!

  • ilas

    Forget what the Generals want.
    We decent Pakistanis want the head of Zardari and his gang of thieves on a plate.