By Lt Gen P R Shankar (Retd)
I was popularly known as Taliban Khan. I used to be very critical of Americans and their Af-Pak Policy. I felt that we were becoming a Chinese colony due to CPEC. I used to air views on Army atrocities in Baluchistan and KP. All that changed. When I was selected as the PM by the Army, I did my first U Turn. All these became my lifelines. I learnt my lesson in leadership. To go up – do a U Turn. I started my tenure in earnest by giving up on those buffaloes in my official residence. I started with ‘Naya’ Gyan for a ‘Naya’ Pakistan. I promised to take ten steps if India would take one, but I always felt that Kashmir banega Pakistan. That was long back.
I had just returned from USA. The pitter patter of rain and the promise of ‘mediation’ by the “Trumpet’. Ah! My cup was full. It was blissful and somnambulant. Breaking news…. The TV anchor announced…. India Abrogates Article 370. Kashmir again! Damn you. Bliss gone. Call the team. Draft a retort full of War hype, Nuclear exchange, Human rights and illegal occupation. Sab hona chahiye. Flap time. As I finished reading the draft, I was told that there was a bomb blast in Kabul. 39 people dead. I did a U Turn. Kya ho gaya bhaijaan? The ISI spook started briefing. Taliban now had a mind of their own and were out of control. They have deserted me. Imagine. I was once known as Taliban Khan! My secretary then informed me – “Janab, a mine blast has sunk an oil tanker off the Iranian coast. The Brits are pissed, and the Saudis are yelling”. Another U Turn. “What is happening in Iran? Brother. Brief me”. I am supposed to mediate there. “Sir. The Irani’s are saying nothing”. “Sir. Kashmir mein LOC par zabardast Indian firing ho raha hai. Lot of own causalities”. Another U Turn. What a neighbourhood! From the afternoon I am doing only U Turns. I remember the Trumpet smirking that I am “Living in a friendly neighbourhood’.
“Sir”. “Yes?” “USA has called off talks with Taliban”. Forget LOC. U Turn maro dost. American dollars are flying away. “Kuch karo. Plan Banao. Amriki Sadar ko manao. They should not dump us again”. Once upon a time I used to curse USA. Now it is twice upon a time. Dollars! “Yes Sir. Excuse me sir. Par sir …” “ab kya hai?” … “Chinese Ambassador online. He wants to discuss CPEC”. Another U Turn. CPEC will make our country into a Chinese colony. I said this before being selected. Is this fellow an Ambassador or a viceroy”? “Mr PM, the pace of CPEC progress is too slow”. “Wang bhai! Aap toh iron brother ho! Itne dulhanon ko aapka awam ke liya hamne bheja. CPEC can’t stop iron brother!”. “Sir MBS online”. “Chini bhai I will speak later”. U Turn dubara. “I have considered —your request for another bail out. Not possible. Our refineries are blown. We are running out of gas” “oh sir. What do I do? I must go to UN shortly. No money for plane ticket also.” “Ok. My plane is going for servicing to USA. Lift mil jayega. First report here”. “Thank you, sir. Jo hukum mere aaka. Kuch bhi chalega”. My head is spinning. What will we do without USA, China and Saudi Arabia? Need some tea. Chai Chod. Scotch lagao! Make it double.
“Janab. Small bad news”. Arre yaar let me drink in peace. “Sir one Hindu temple has been disfigured”. U Turn time. “Tell me again? Who is this idiot who did this? The RSS will get after me now! Find out” … “Sir, 4-5 Ahmadiyas have been killed in the city”. U Turn again. “Who are these Ahmadiyas. When did they come here from Ahmedabad? Who gave them visas? Did they come for the temple inauguration?” “No sir. They are the same variety as the economic advisor you sacked” …. why only 4-5 killed then? …. “What is in this chit handed over to me by the runner? …. It says six Christians shot dead at point blank range”. Another U Turn. What do I tell the Pope? No one explains why are there so many other ethnicities in this country? Wipe them out. Kill them. Pakistan cannot have Na-Pak log. “Sir…”… ‘What now”?”… The human rights commissioner is on the line”. “Tell him to go to Jahannum. Does he not know that I am a selected PM? Tell him to speak to the COAS or Ghafoora”. I only do what they say. So many U turns in a day? I am tired. Let me hit the sack. Aur…woh jadu tona wali ko thoda dur rakhna.
“Janab. Good morning. Please wake up. Your morning tea”. “Ok. Put on the TV for breakfast news… Arre, the anchor is smashing. What’s her name? Can I meet her again? What is she saying?…nice tea… what!? 1 litre of milk is costlier than I lire of Petrol? Lut gaye!”. “Sir the anchor’s name is …Reham”… “forget it you buffoon. I know enough about her …let me get ready. Call the finance minister. Tell him to meet me in my office at 9 am Sharp” …. “you are the FM. What is this Petrol – Milk business. Prices through the roof!? “sir that’s nothing’”. Nothing? Prepare for U Turn! Sir naan and roti is being sold for 20 rupees! There it goes. My first pirouette of the day. “So, what are you doing? Stop twiddling your thumbs. Fix the cost of Naan at 10 rupees. Anyone charging more should be made to disappear like we make people disappear in Baluchistan and elsewhere”. “Sir. No water in the city”. City? Since when? … U Turn Ahead! …“Sir don’t you remember we are a water scarce nation”. That is why I told everyone to give “Chanda” for that Daimer-Basha Dam. Unless our NRPs give Chanda how, can we build dams? No one gives us anything. So, no dam. No water. No Howdy Imran. Any way let me sack the finance minister.
“Janab, let’s take a U Turn, your Internal security briefing is about to start. Ghafoora is here”. Ghafoora , good guy. Smooth talker. Fast liar. Ideal future COAS. “ kya haal hai Ghafoora”? “Janab. Good Morning. Sab Khairiyat mein hai”. Liar. He will give lousy news. “Good. Start”. “Sir we are planning to take stern action against PTM and TTP in KP”. Why? ”One wants freedom and…and …..” “What is that guy whispering something in your ear Ghfoora? …..”Sir we just got news that there has been an attack on Chinese workers in Baluchistan”. U Turn. Why? “They don’t want CPEC”. Why? “Bomb them with air force”. Must tell PAF to hit the targets now at least correctly. They missed all their targets in Naushera. “Tell them not to capture a Baluch Pilot who praises our tea”.” Sir Balochis do not have an air force”. Aagh! So many U turns! Affecting my memory. “Ok carry on”. “Sir. Some more flash news. A busload of Shias have been shot in Gilgit”. This U Turn has rekindled all my memory. Weren’t all these terrorist guys trained by the Army? “No sir. We just trained mujahideen, Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, LeT, HM, Jem, Haqqanis and sent a lot of them into Kashmir and Afghanistan. We are trying to make a deal with IS. Sir we hid Osama Bin Laden well sir. The world is praising us for the camouflage”. “Ghafoora! Stop! Do not give state secrets away”. These are jewels in our crown.
Well for now that’s it for the day. My book on ‘Art of U turns in International Leadership in Triangulated Conditions under Stressful Circumstances’ is coming along nicely. The main lessons I want to highlight are that all things come in threes to give you a triangle to manoeuvre (including wives). When three things happen simultaneously be prepared to take fast U Turns. Not necessary to solve even one issue. Backtrack on all promises. No solution is the best solution. Turn from one issue to another at such speed that the issue loses you. It demands ability to take U Turns. When in doubt look over your shoulder. The Army is always there. You must learn how to take fast U Turns if you want to be good leaders. The more slippery the floor the faster the U Turn. ‘Leadership by U Turn’ is a very powerful form of leadership. Practice it well. It is a guaranteed way to go up. Tomorrow I will pen down my thoughts on more threesomes. I intend to cover U Turn leadership in the following situations
-Economic situation handling in high debt, rising inflation and no income conditions with a begging bowl.
-Social Situation of poor education, malnourishment and filthy sanitation.
-Juggling between IMF, ADB and World Bank with the FATF sword.
Sports losses in cricket, hockey and others with India.
-Political threat of Maulanas, Army and Ex PMs trying to unseat you.
You must be wondering what this is all about. I supported Kashmir single mindedly. I took the issue to UNHRC, UNGA and USA. Did my U Turns on an hourly basis. Threatened war. Hyped Nuclear catastrophe. No one believed me. International community was not interested. No one bothered. Even the Brits who created us ditched us. That Ambassador who showed false pictures, the Foreign Minister who called Kashmir an Indian state, the Railway Minister who wants to nuke India with contraceptives and that Interior Minister who said that he had trained terrorists as a brigadier started doing faster U Turns. When that Maulana, Army and all ex PMs wanted to replace me, I went to Muzaffarabad and held a big Jalsa after the UNGA. I exhorted people to march towards Kashmir. I led a huge crowd to storm the LOC fence for my Kashmiri brothers for whom I would do anything. I crossed the fence with them. Then I did my final U turn. I turned around and saluted POK for good. For the last time. India and Naya Kashmir in worst times is better than Pakistan in best times. Here I am now penning my book ‘Art of U turns in International Leadership in Triangulated Conditions under Stressful Circumstances’. I am happy to be here in India. Kashmir ban gaya India! By the way have you read about that the new little states of the Indus Valley? No more U Turns!