On April 17 the UN appealed for $275 million in humanitarian aid to Yemen. What a poor country, we would naturally reflect somberly. And we would overlook that a UN probe disclosed earlier in February that Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh amassed up to $60 billions. That’s 59,725 million dollars more than the $275 million.
Had these $60 billion not been stolen by the corrupt ruler and instead been spent on the economic development and socio-civic welfare of the people Yemen might not be in such pain today. If nothing else a modern and professional army could have been built in Yemen to keep the country intact and militia-free. The $60 billion of course do not include the other many billions stolen by other members of Yemen’s corrupt ruling class.
On May 9 last year our own federal finance minister revealed that at least $200 billion of Pakistani money is stashed in Swiss banks. This $200 billion is $198.5 billion more than the $1.5 billion that our federal minister said – last March – were given as a gift to the ‘people’ of Pakistan. Had that $200 billion not been stolen by our corrupt ruling class and its accomplice mafias Pakistan would have been a little less indebted to be involved in the Yemen.
Rather we would have been in a better position to have a stabilising influence in the region, to deter anyone from altering by force the political geography of Yemen and possibly establishing a government there that would lead to a greater and longer degree of violence. The $200 billion of course does not count the many more billions stolen from Pakistan.
While debating our possible role in conflicts like the one in Yemen we should also think on how to avoid becoming a Yemen ourselves. To be realistic it’s not ideological or political rhetoric that keeps the post-1971 Pakistan still intact. Pakistani politicians in the past have acquiesced to the altering of the country’s geography for reasons of their own electoral performance. And they continue to threaten us with the breakup of the country over issues like construction of a dam, route of a trade corridor, enquiry on corruption, transfer of policemen, etc. Our civilian administrative structure is rendered rickety by corruption and political interference. Our justice system is torturously slow, complicated, expensive and often discriminatory against the unprivileged.
All that leaves our military apparatus as the only veritable institution left in the country to bind the country in one shape. Various external factors have made this role even more complex and challenging. In our west is an Afghanistan scrambling for stability in the post-Nato era and some ‘brotherly’ countries that apparently look unfavourably at the prospects of Gwadar. Modi’s India on the east is frantically building up its military muscles and is time and again reported to be fomenting multifaceted terrorism in Pakistan. From the north our friend China is willing to share its economic success with us through the proposed economic corridor.
Amidst such extraordinary internal and external realities we inevitably need extraordinary expansion and advancement of our defence capabilities. Pakistan has to speed up and dynamically widen its indigenous hi-tech defence research, development and production programmes on projects that should include development and production of stealth bombers, next generation high altitude drones, stealth drones, logistic supply drones, multi-terrain combat, reconnaissance and anti-mining robotic units, underwater drones, anti-aircraft and anti-missile shields, deep bunker busters, long range mobile radar and radar jamming systems, electronic jamming and remote controlling, cyber warfare, climate control endeavours, counterterrorist technologies like micro surveillance instruments, metal and concrete scanners, guided bullets, local area nerve numbing devices, personnel protective gear.
Pakistan also needs to upgrade its hi-tech intelligence capabilities for which we have to have our very own system of defence space satellites. We also have to constantly upgrade our nuclear and ballistic and cruise missile programmes including high altitude targeting SAMs. Besides that we need to substantially increase the size of our conventional defence ground, sea and airborne human and hardware assets to avoid overstretching and blunting the limits of resources in times of need. Pakistan should also ideally establish a joint drone force with Afghanistan for a constant check on terrorism.
Does all this sound extraordinarily ambitious? Maybe, but it does befit our extraordinary realities. All this, however, needs money which we can’t forever garner through alms, donations and gifts. So the only viable, inevitable and respectable way is to extend our war against extremist and anarchist terrorism to economic terrorism as well in order to recover the looted trillions of this ‘poor’ country that have been stashed away.
Hundreds of billions of rupees have been allocated for socio-economic development especially for the deprived regions of the country in recent years and yet those areas still appear in ruins and seem ripe for separatist militancy. Without uprooting corruption, aptly called economic terrorism, we can never have a prosperous and stable Pakistan; even the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would not be the mass success it should be.
The Taliban target thousands of our men, women and children with bullets and bombs. Corruption terrorists target millions of our men, women and children with corruption and crimes. Both are heartless and ruthless and practice no mercy for this country and its people as they never get surfeited with the spoils.
The establishment has traditionally been the guardian of the status quo in Pakistan. However, the people of Pakistan – the hapless and helpless victims of mass economic terrorism – have high hopes from the present highly professional, honest and upright establishment leadership that it will wage a decisive, successful war against economic terrorism too besides other types of terrorism.
The current government has proven to be significantly better than the previous one on many fronts; it would have to do the same on the war against economic terrorism for the protection and prosperity of the people. After all that’s what democracy is all about – serving and protecting the people. Isn’t it?