Sunday, 22 April 2012

US occupies Pakistan’s Miran Shah in effort to dismantle Haqqani group

The US has finally acted. Miran Shah, headquarters of the Taliban's Haqqani group, is now under US occupation. The American flag flutters at a temporary US base in the North Waziristan town.

Emboldened by its successful 'intervention' to kill Bin Laden, the US has decided 'enough is enough.' No more threats or cajoling by US Central Command, ISAF, Panetta or any other high ranking US official.
April 22 early morning, soldiers from the US 101 Airborne were inserted into Miran Shah with orders to secure the city center until reinforcements from the neighbouring Afghan town of Khost arrive and secure the Khost – Miran Shah main road. It is understood that up to 1,500 US soldiers will ultimately be based in Miran Shah, with most arriving from Afghanistan within the next three days.
An aerial shot of the Pakistani town of Miran Shah, North Waziristan
An unnamed source in the Department of Defense said, "This is not a temporary move. Following recent high profile attacks on Kabul it became essential for ISAF to secure a forward base and deny the outlawed Haqqani group operating space and flexibility."
US troops have already begun repairing an old World War Two British airfield so as to permit C-17 transport planes to use the facility. A fort occupying the town's high ground and manned by several hundred Pakistani Frontier Constabulary paramilitary troops has been left untouched.
Despite the incursion, US officials are hoping the Pakistani reaction will be tempered. "US troops have strict orders not to engage Pakistani security personnel in fire fights. Efforts for a commanders meeting between the two sides are on. We hope the Pakistanis understand this is not a move against Pakistan but against terrorism – our joint enemy."

The US appeal for rationality will likely fall on deaf ears in Pakistan.
The recent Bin Laden raid on Abbotabad, the 2010 slaying of several civilians by a CIA operative in Lahore and frequent US drone strikes in the tribal areas have soured Pakistan - US ties almost beyond repair. Anti-Americanism runs higher than at virtually any time in the last two decades – and this is in a country which burnt down the US Embassy in 1979.

It is yet unclear how Pakistan's security establishment will react to the US provocation. Sunday is a holiday in Pakistan. Most in the nation's capital Islamabad are still unaware of the US incursion.
However, it is sure to provide more ammunition to Islamists within and outside the military establishment.
A map of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas, including the location of Miran Shah
US officials remain vague on their response if Pakistan's military starts covertly supporting armed anti-US lashkars (tribal militias) opposed to the expansion of the US presence from Afghanistan to Pakistan.
However, the US does seem to have prepared a diplomatic strategy to seize the initiative from Pakistan.

According to a confidential briefing, the State Department has agreed to support Afghanistan's contention that the Durand Line drawn in the 1890s is not an international border between the two nations. Additionally, Pakistani diplomats will be told in no uncertain terms that the US will support Baloch nationalist efforts for an independent state if 'push comes to shove.'
When asked about the US move, Pakistani security analyst Mian Iqbal told TGMS, "Undoubtedly, Obama is playing to his domestic gallery with US presidential elections around the corner. However, for Pakistan this is a disaster. At best, the country will erupt into violence for months, if not years. At worst, this is the beginning of end of Pakistan as we know it today. The Pakistani state, including the military, does not have the capacity to control the situation anymore. The world must be prepared for a manifold increase in global Islamic terrorism – it is the only weapon left for Pakistanis to salvage their tattered self-respect."

One hopes that US military strategists have evaluated all possible outcomes of the new, radical US strategy to quell violence in Afghanistan. Otherwise, it may just be further military escalation of an already unwinnable war.


Alright, so the events described above did not occur, at least not yet. It describes a fictional (though entirely possible) scenario devised by the Grand Moofti.

Pakistan is fast moving into the global 'doghouse' – the same place the country found itself during its last decade of democracy: the 1990s. In such an environment, anything is possible and one cannot count on rationality from any actors, including the US.


Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors, Imran improves the profitability of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Blogging and twittering: my ‘offline’ persona goes farther online

Social media marketing is a maze I am slowly trying to navigate.  When I started blogging, I did not realize it would be my first step into a whole new world. For me, blogging was a means to return to something I enjoy – writing and playing with words.

It took several books on blogging and a few years of experience before I understood blogging is part of the broader 'social media' phenomenon. (Revisit some of my early blog posts and notice that I did not know how to add hyperlinks or visuals at the time!)

Like virtually anything interesting, it is inevitable one gets sucked in deeper and deeper with time. That, my friends, is exactly what happened to me. My interest in social media has taken a life of its own.

Recently, I expanded my web presence through a LinkedIn account. In the short time since joining the LinkedIn network, I have become a LinkedIn evangelist! It is a great platform to expand one's personal and professional 'brand.' I now wonder why it took me so long to get connected!

LinkedIn, unlike blogging, is most certainly only a professional networking site. Most members have too little time to worry about my personal opinions on the US presence in Afghanistan or Singapore's Islamic law – unless it is couched in professional terms, e.g. through an article in an industry publication or seminar presentation.

Blogging, meanwhile, stands very much at the crossroads between personal and professional social media.

Having caught the bug, I will soon begin the Grand Moofti's twitter experiment! Surely, it will take time before I am comfortable (and conversant) with the dos and don'ts of twitter. Nevertheless, it promises to be a fun adventure.

And, yes, social media should be fun. Over time an individual's personal brand should develop naturally reflecting their 'real life' persona. A person's online and offline character should not be disconnected – the online is an extension of the offline (aka 'real') person.  

To some marketers, my blog represent a particular conundrum as far as creating an online brand is concerned. My blog covers diverse subjects. There is no one 'niche' which I nurture deeply over time. Arguably, there is little focus.

My posts, like my interests, range from Singapore, Pakistan, Islam, the Islamic world and whatever else takes my fancy at the time.

But, hey, that is who I am. A multidimensional individual with some core interests related directly to my own history as a Pakistani Muslim Singaporean finance professional. Not a one-dimensional, singularly focused person always hurtling down the same path.

And it's that propensity to experiment which has driven me to twitter in the first place. (Stay tuned for more, my twitter account should be active soon.)


Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors, Imran improves the profitability of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at 

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Libya, Syria, ‘known unknowns’ and the Law of Unintended Consequences

The Law of Unintended Consequences can be blamed for many events. However, some events are probable, if not entirely predictable. The fallout from the Libyan 'liberation' movement is a case in point. Security analysts may refer to it as 'blowback' but for the rest of us it is often simply the unintended effects of covert espionage operations.

Recent historical examples of such blowback include the Al-Qaeeda movement arising at least partially out of American / western support for Muslim fighters opposed to the 1980s Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Or British backed Malayan communists trained to fight against the Japanese during World War Two that turned their sights on British / western interests following the end of the war.

The blowback from Libya's instability is just beginning.

From the start, it was clear that Libyan leader Gaddafi's demise will lead to a boiling pot overflowing troubles in Libya and also in Libya's neighborhood. Tribal rivalries coupled with money and weapons form a lethal combination. Throw in a domestic Libyan leadership vacuum and power hungry individuals and there is little chance of an armed struggle being avoided.

Today's Libya is no more than a huge weapons dump awash with funds from the western and Arab world containing large numbers of young, unemployed persons and an absence of any type of state authority, neither military nor police.

Consequently, news reports of localized fighting killing almost 150 people in Libya's border areas with Chad will surprise few security analysts. Arguably, it is only a matter of time before these troubles spread into Chad. Already, the Islamist sweep into Northern Mali is primarily due to the movement of pro-Gaddafi armed fighters seeking sanctuary following their retreat from Libya. Mali is as good a place as any.

Surely, in time the diffusion of instability from Libya will affect other parts of North Africa.

Algeria's troubles with a violent Islamist movement may resurface with a renewed inflow of weapons and fighters. Egypt's 'troublemakers' in the Sinai peninsula have already made their presence felt. Their propensity to create unrest might only increase as Gaddafi's armoury is sold to the highest bidder. Inevitably, Sudan and Niger will find themselves swirling in the same cauldron of political violence and instability.

Critics argue temporary instability is a price worth paying for the removal of Gaddafi. However, the real question must be whether there is a constant need for intervention by foreign powers in the affairs of other countries? And, if so, why is so little thought given to the aftermath to such intervention (remember General Jay Garner's Iraq)?

It took Iraq almost a decade to recover from the effect of the US invasion – and it is still not fully recovered. Afghanistan still suffers from the aftermath of the original Soviet invasion in 1979. Now Libya is out of the picture for the next decade or so. Syria appears to be next on the list.

Where does the list end? Pakistan – as soon as the country's importance as a supply line for NATO troops in Afghanistan wanes (further).

The architect of the Iraq war, Rumsfeld, once famously said, "[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know."

Nevertheless, there are also some 'probable knowns' and one of these 'facts' is that instability from Libya (and Syria) will surely spread from each country to its immediate neighborhood.


Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors, Imran improves the profitability of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A Pakistani speaks up: no transport 'apartheid' for Indians in Singapore

A polytechnic student recently tweeted a (seriously) racist remark against Indians. It follows an aspiring politician's earlier comments equating Muslim Madrassa students with terrorists. Certainly, there are or must be many other unacknowledged racist comments made by Singaporeans against one or another group of people, based solely on ethnic background or religious beliefs.

The Grand Moofti's readers note my tendency to write about Pakistan and all things Pakistani. However, in this instance, I am an Indian.
Not simply because the Singapore government has taken it upon itself to legally classify me as an Indian and put me in the same racial box as Tamils or Sri Lankans, but because in the minds of most Singaporeans, I am an Indian.
I can write as many blog posts as I like distinguishing Pakistanis from Indians but to the average Chinese Singaporean, I am an Indian. Some may recognize the difference between North Indian and South Indian, but Indian nonetheless.
So, when a seventeen year student calls Indians 'fkin dogs who need their own cabins,' I assume her tweet also refers to me.
A screenshot of the alleged tweet as reported by The Online Citizen
Of course, the remark upsets and hurts me. Particularly as I thought a Pakistani Muslim has enough stereotypes to deal with in the post 9/11 world. The statement suggests I am subhuman and unfit to ride with 'her kind.'
Now, I have to deal with my skin color and 'Indianness' on top of my name and religion.
Yes, the nineteen year old Nanyang Polytechnic student's comments can be dismissed as 'naive and immature.'
However, the sad reality is as follows: the tweeter is a young adult, intelligent enough to pursue a polytechnic education; probably lives in HDB mandated 'integrated' public housing; most likely attended racially mixed schools her entire life; and might even have some Indian acquaintances (friends?).
Yet, she thinks in terms of racial stereotypes, 'us' (Chinese) and 'them' (Indians).
Such racist social media comments indicate that integration in Singapore has some way to go. Singaporeans continue to think in terms of race. There are no 'generic' Singaporeans in this city, only Malays, Chinese or Indians. Some mixed race Singaporeans are legally 'double barrelled!'
Ultimately, however, everyone is legally categorized into one race or the 'other.'
Maybe, just maybe, there is a case to be made that Singaporeans have an unhealthy obsession with racial identity. Consequently, racial and religious harmony is maintained only through the legal framework, i.e. harmony is skin deep and maintained through threat of legal retribution. 'Voluntary' integration might still be a distant reality.
Until and unless, 'Singaporeanness' does not replace race and religion, racial stereotyping may remain a powerful force amongst us.
Imran is a business and management consultant. Through his work at Deodar Advisors, Imran improves the profitability of businesses operating in Singapore and the region. He can be reached at