LUBP Interview with Kamran Shafi

by admin

Related article:

LUBP Exclusive: A critical interview with Nadeem F. Paracha

LUBP is pleased to publish an exclusive interview with Kamran Shafi, one of the boldest voices in Pakistani media particularly because of his courage to write against the Dark Lords of Pakistan, ‘Those Who Must Not Be Named.’

Mr Shafi is a leading political analyst and a freelance columnist who writes a weekly column in Dawn. He hosted a current affairs program on DawnNews TV in 2008-09. He served as an officer in the Pakistan Army for eleven years before resigning his commission in 1976. He served as late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s Press Secretary from 1988-89, and as Press Minister for the Pakistan High Commission in London from 1994-96. Mr Shafi writes extensively on Pakistan’s security apparatus and is a leading advocate of democratic governance and civilian control over all institutions of the state, especially the military and intelligence services.

Q: How exactly would you define this Deep State?

K.S. The term is borrowed from the Turks who named the alliance between the intelligence services; the army, and the civil bureaucracy, which is beholden to the former two.

Q: What, in your opinion, set PPP apart from other political movements in the country? Why has PPP outlasted so many parties?

K.S. It is the party that first gave VOICE to the poor. A quick example: when I had resigned my commission in the Army as a direct result of the heart-break of the East Pakistan Tragedy, and was going to farm, we had trouble with our contractors vacating the land. The year was 1973; Bhutto had promised lands to the tenants of absentee landlords and so on. One day, I was sitting on the ground with one of our contractors, Mauli by name, trying to convince him to vacate the land he was occupying. I happened to ask him why he supported Bhutto? “Mian Saab” Mauli said, “kyun keh Bhutto nain tanoon merey naal zamin tey bathaa dittay. “Because Bhutto has made you sit on the ground with me, sir”! It is not difficult to understand why Mauli’s grand-children and great grand-children vote for the PPP even today.

Q: A few months ago (April/May 2010) you participated in Dr Shahid Masood’s Mere Mutabiq, a Geo TV talk show. You wrote: “I made the mistake of my life when I appeared, against better counsel, on Dr Shahid Masood’s Meray Mutabiq which was recorded and then edited”. Can you share with us what exactly was edited and why?

K.S. Ansar Abbasi and Tariq Butt, both of the virulently anti-Zardari News/Jang/Geo Group were as usual politician-bashing when I said why they didn’t also ask for accountability of army generals; why didn’t they ask what a Lieutenant General costs when they trumpeted every day what an MNA costs. Almost all of these remarks were edited. In addition what I had said at the beginning of the programme was moved to the end changing the whole meaning of what I had said. It was disgusting, which is why I have refused to go to any of Dr. Sahib’s shows since.

Q: Why is “mainstream Pakistan” so reluctant to speak up when journalists such as yourself, Umar Cheema, Marvi Sirmed, and more recently Lala Hameed Baloch of Balochistan are harassed and attacked?

K.S. Because large parts of the media are in the pay of the ‘agencies’; the chattering classes are in awe of the army and hate politicians, and the poor are too scared.

Q: How do you see the ongoing evolution of the PML-N?

K.S. It is painful to see the PML(N) – and the PPP too – being hijacked by hawks. Mr. Nawaz Sharif is a good man but many times seems to be caught in a trap set by the hard-liners.

Q: What is your prediction for the next few years in Pakistan?

K.S. It will go from bad to worse to far worse – I fear greatly for our country, bless it. There is no way anything can improve so long as the army and its agencies call the shots.

Q: What, in your opinion, will be the impact of the end of the Afghan war on the already fragile domestic political situation in Pakistan?

K.S. There is no “end” of the Afghan war in sight. Forget domestic politics, it is the geographical integrity of the country that I am worried sick about. The Taliban are not going to go all peaceful if and when the war ends as Taliban apologists like Imran Khan and Hamid Gul suggest. Far from it. As I have said earlier, this is a creeping coup with the aim of establishing an Islamic Emirate of Pakistan, with all the obscurantism that goes with it.

16 Comments to “LUBP Interview with Kamran Shafi”

  1. Thanks, Laila, for organizing this excellent interview.

    Kudos to Kamran Shafi sahib for calling a spade a spade, and for his ability and courage to write against the Dark Lords of Pakistan.

    As a Pakistani blogger, I would like to connect two extracts from the above interview:

    Future of Pakistan: “It will go from bad to worse to far worse – I fear greatly for our country, bless it. There is no way anything can improve so long as the army and its agencies call the shots.”

    Why is mainstream Pakistan so reluctant to speak up: “Because large parts of the media are in the pay of the ‘agencies’; the chattering classes are in awe of the army and hate politicians…”

    Now that gives us an excellent criteria to evaluate Pakistani media persons and bloggers.

  2. The ISI’s attack on Kamran Shafi was just a trailer

    LUBP’s archive on Kamran Shafi

  3. Very good interview, Laila. Kamran Shafi is a sane voice in Pakistan.
    One could have asked him how does he see the waning of influence of our security apparatus in policy making. it is ideal to say that they should have no influence but something we know can never be eliminated. We have to see how it can be reduced over time. Maybe the accountability of Hamid Gul, Asad Durrani, Brig Imtiaz should be a starting point through a truth and reconciliation commission? Afterall, hamid gul proudly says that if he has done something wrong, then he is ready for a trial!

    We have to have a plan of action as to how the deep state is shallowed over time.

  4. Excellent interview. This is a great initiative by LUBP. The interview itself is succinct and hits hard. Putting this on my facebook wall.

  5. Well done LUBP. After pulling off a great binterview with Nadeem F. Paracha (NFP), this one with Mr. Shafi is another great one.

    Shafi, Paracha, Irfan Hussain, Pervez Hoodbhoy … these guys are exceptions in a media scene infested with rabid right-wing men and women.

  6. Kamran Shafi is most outspoken voice against the deep state, the fallacial security state narratives, and he distinguishes between the state and the Govt.
    Our socalled analysts and anchorocracy do not even differentiate between the two, as Kashif Abbasi once in a program on Asma J SC bar victory was commenting again and again that she were establishment candidate, she was supported by the Govt.

  7. It indeed is the most desperate scenario when people like Kamran Shafi are viewing the situation going from bad to worse.
    We still are living in the wonderlands, and shining the heroic anthems of
    kal Roos Bikharte Dekha Ta, Ab India Toottha Dekhein Gey
    Pir Barqe Jihad K Sholon Se Amrika Jalta Dekhein Gey

  8. People’s Party had its roots in the masses, but PPP today cannot qualify to this standards, why? Because it has shown lack of understanding to the very basic issues of the people, it indeed is very apathetic towards common man aggrievence.
    Dont tell me that it has too many elephants in the room, the Army, the Judiciary, the proactive Electronic media, or anchorocracy(as the comments above has used the term), when they say they draw their powers from the people(taqat ka sar chashma Awam wagaira) then why it moves one step forward and two step backwards on every issue. Gone are the days when Benazir Bhutto had the courage to stand upon her statements and decisions, whether right or wrong….
    Evading progressive taxation, imposing regressive taxation and inability to protect the rights of the masses against various religious, political, security, traders, black marketers, Jihadi mafias is the distinction of PPP politics.
    Peoples like Kamran Shafi should avoid being part of defenders of degenerated (Anti) people party.

  9. Excellent interview. Kamran Shafi sb like always calling a spade a spade regarding his colleagues (journalists) reluctance to speak up on journalist harassment .

  10. True, Pakistan will go from bad to worst and it is going to bad for us Indians.There is no rhyme reason there.

  11. I was anxiously waiting foe this one!!!!

    Good work LUBP….

  12. Great work Laila Ebadi

  13. What scares me is the idea that the religious fanatics want to overthrow not just the state, but the “Deep State”. We need a plan to replace the Deep State with a democratic state; and prevent the Jamaat/Lashkar/Taliban types from trying to swoop in and fill the vacuum.

  14. great interview, Good done laila.

  15. WOW Great Intellectual Interview very nice . Laila Ebadi you have done marvelous job ! keep it up !

  16. Jang Group blaming an online news agency for providing the wrong wikis .
    Jang Group is still innocent 🙂

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