Friday, November 9, 2012

IDEAS in Karachi - An Economic Perspective

Data taken from

Pakistan Army's budget has increased exponentially after September 11 incident in United States. The reason for the initial sharp increase was the massive military aid from United States when Pakistan became a front line state against fight against global terrorism. 

The rally has since continued over the whole decade. During this era, Pakistan Army did a successful operation Swat extermination extremism from the valley. The army also organised a partially successful operation in South Waziristan. Inflation also caused the military budget to inflate.

Interestingly, the budget has decreased in %GDP  terms. As the military share as %GDP decreases, need for alternate sources of money is inevitable. There is nothing unusual or unique for an army to exhibit and sale weapons. All army in the corporate world do this. 

With a plunging %GDP share of Pakistan Army over the next decade, we can predict that the scale of  such military exhibitions might become large and more global.

The Armed Forces yet again come up with their lucrative idea of exhibiting some piece of nuclear bombs, re-engineered tanks, and probably some dozens of guns and military related equipments.

Arms are by definition tools of aggression and exploitation. In this age of rapid scientific development, the means of aggression have taken a big leap compared to the first gun invented in China during the 15th century. Today arms are seen in 'relative terms'. We hear the term 'arm race' frequently on the television and read this in the newspaper. What this terms basically mean is that the tools of aggression require constant up-gradation so that two countries can compete each other in a military struggle.

With this conception of 'arm race', weapon industry has become a lucrative capital generator. The race goes on, and nations throw billions of dollar in a deep abyss to keep up with her enemy (or self-created enemies). The Armed Force of Pakistan have staged yet another military exhibition to exploit more capital for keeping the military industry going.

The slogan of the exhibition says: "IDEAS: Arms for Peace". Isn't this an oxymoron just like Ansar Abbasi uses the term 'Liberal Extremist'?  It's like Ganges Khan erecting a 'tower of heads', and then saying that the tower was built in order to keep foreign citizen away from the conquered territory! If there had been no towers, more people would had had died in those medieval wars.

Although, there is no doubt that peace can come in a region through armed struggle. After WWII, Europe was blessed with eternal peace. The French Ambassador to Pakistan rightly said, "Before 1930s, peace was unimaginable between France and Germany, after 1940s, war is unimaginable." The use of weapon in South Waziristan by Pakistan Army is highly commendable. This is the only way to purge terrorist and extremists from the Pakistani soil.

On the other hand, weapons used with a philosophy of creating instability become a scar for human civilization. Arms have been used a source to quell natural rights of human. Citizens have been forced through guns to follow the whims of institutionalised power hierarchy. It can be stated that arms have an inherent magnetism to stick with the most powerful. A glimpse of history is enough to prove this thesis:

1) Killing of Indonesian people to purge communists (1965)
2) Suppression of Bengali speaking people (1971) 
3) Mass killing of Sikhs during Khalistan movement (1986)
4) Suppression during the June Fourth Incident (1989)

One last point. The exhibition is organized in one of the most busiest locations in Karachi. Roads are blocked to stop terrorists from gazing these equipments. This is causing  mammoth problems for ambulances, employees, school going students, university professors, and people from other walks of life. 

Civilized nations don't eulogize weapons. They are proud of their intellectual development and high standard of living. Karachi is exploding with mass killings. Displaying weaponry, only increases the love for warfare in the minds of the mediocre. There is nothing to extol about a gun or a missile. It will be better if the army arranges such capital-making activities in their lush-green GHQ. This will keep them satisfied, and keep millions of Karachite out of sever traffic headache.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. "The important question one must also ask is that given the trouble that the expo is causing and the people are bearing without any recourse to protests, what have the organizers of the expo done to resolve these problems?"

      I think they don't consider it a problem per se.

      "Better to cause headache for five days rather than losing billions of dollars". A fine utilitarian analysis.

    2. was correcting some typo errors.

      That is one of the ghosts that haunts us- short term utilitarian answers to problems.

  2. They have decided to organize such a delicate event in the midst of Karachi. The plazas forming an arch around it, which goes to show the absurdity of the chosen location, are as good as being held hostages- the families are not allowed to move out the plazas in vehicles, the school vans cannot go near them, the balconies are under constant watch and the security regularly goes for their hold up checks on people moving on the streets they think are suspicious.

    The Expo itself is lined with two of the busiest freeway roads that channel the fury of the rush hours and themselves touch through the busiest market places in Karachi. All the business centers stretching at least half a kilometer around the Expo center have been shut down. One must not forget the major office buildings lining the streets facing the expo. Whatever capital they will generate from the expo is a gain for the army explicitly. The other areas suffer in extreme.

    What will go on within the expo can only induce nausea. A lavish display of and psychopathic ogling at weapons of murder and mass destruction; feeling and taking pride in being able to assemble or create them; having a feeling of achievement.

    The important question one must also ask is that given the trouble that the expo is causing and the people are bearing without any recourse to protests, what have the organizers of the expo done to resolve these problems? Their response i think makes one think about another aspect of the weapons that are being displayed: the distance and alienation they induce in people, an alienation from the horrors which they cause. A missile or a bomb goes off at a distance, a bullet is meant to maim and kill from a distance aswell so that one is not close enough to see and feel the horror their use has borne.

    I agree that civilized nations don't eulogize weapons rather their intellectual legacy, but when as good as 180 million people eulogize the armed forces and accept their presence as necessary to protect their country from some horde of atheistic barbarians (indians, americans, balochis, afghanians or some race of yajooj majooj)then their is little intellectual heritage to protect while a harassing amount of ideology to protect.

    The expo therefore is held in midst of the busies city's busiest place. At GHQ the spectators would have only smiled at the irony before them while at Expo Center they'll amass several handfulls of tragic jokes and tubs full of glory being splayed over them from the masses. When all you have done over half a century is make a fool out of millions of people, one begins to think one deserves an award of lifetime performance or atleast be oggled at, in awe from the spectators.