By Taha Kehar
Political acumen is a valuable asset which requires a sound understanding of current affairs and the rare ability to steer clear of false philosophy. But not everyone realises its benefits.
In an interview with Khushnood Ali Khan in 2008, Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul revealed that political acumen can be clouded by delusions of Taliban grandeur and US atrocity.
Some moot points presented in the interview include:
a) The claim that Lashkar-e-Islam’s Amir Haji Mangal Bagh is ‘popular among the people’. While Gul does substantiate this belief, there is sufficient evidence to the contrary which he fails to account for. For instance, it cannot be assumed that the popularity of a leader corresponds with the fairness of his policies. After all, how can we forget that Mangal Bagh warned women in the Khyber Agency against voting in the 2008 elections?
b) The argument that the Pakistani government cannot play an important role in thwarting the influence of NATO forces in the country. In 2008, Gul suggested rather foolishly that the NATO supply lines can only be closed if the labourers are asked to go on strike. While this tactic serves to explain Gul’s anti-US agenda, it also comes across as largely ineffective if we consider the fact that it took an attack of a particularly grave character in 2011 which prompted Pakistan to close the NATO supply lines to Afghanistan.
c) The assumption that Baitullah Mehsud is among the truemujahideen who are waging a jihad that does not constitute religious or moral elements. Although the statement provides a shrewd commentary on a nation fighting a war against its own people, it mainly comes across as contradictory and unrealistic.
Call it bold, assertive or downright rebellious, General Hamid Gul has proved that political acumen is not a by-product of rational thought or judicious observation. To the contrary, it is riddled by emotions and delusions that produce naïve depictions of the status quo.