For the first time in history, Pakistan’s military has resorted to resolving a major issue of national security through the court instead of imposing a dictatorship in haste.
by Zaki Khalid
It is a first in the country’s history that the military establishment has not taken an issue of national security overboard by imposing the dreaded martial law.
This was notable in the past when Field Marshal Ayub Khan overthrew a civilian setup, setting the trend for three subsequent coups by Generals Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq and Pervez Musharraf. When a coup is in the making in Pakistan, there is an eerie silence in the atmosphere and everything seems perfectly normal.
However, there is no delay in its imposition under which the ‘111 Brigade’ spreads out around Islamabad’s corridors and eventually across Pakistan, taking control of corruption-filled civilian institutions and infrastructures.
This is a new milestone for Pakistan’s military that despite repeated calls by a majority of anguished and frustrated citizens in Pakistan, they have not booted out the corrupt regime which happens to be the worst yet and a direct sponsorship of the CIA. In maintaining this disciplined position, is the military displaying some sort of ‘appreciation’ for the government? That is not the case. Pakistan’s present military rulers happen to be the finest with their national popularity rankings at peak, at least more than the leaders of the numerous political parties scattered across the country on ethnic, sectarian and linguistic lines.
The Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was head of the country’s famed intelligence agency ISI during the era in which foreign insurgencies emerged such as the TTP. And DG ISI Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha was Chief of Military Operations, a core post in domestic security. Hence both these officials have experience in intelligence as well as the military tradecraft and know well the plans which the enemy might hatch to exploit this tussle. Track record has shown that the American objectives excelled manifold during dictatorships after which the top brass had to face the onslaught of continuous criticism and denunciation by the masses.
But that’s not the real concern Pakistan’s military rulers have. They are making precautious moves considering the fact that a direct action to rid the state of the setup will provoke massive unrest by the loyal feudal warlords and tens of thousands of their barely literate followers especially in Sindh where the ruling PPP has its stronghold and more precisely, a cult following. One such revelation finally came to the forefront when a PPP minister in Azad Kashmir district threatened that the country will face destablization if the government is subjected to pressure.
Those who have been more loyal than the king for the US include President Asif Ali Zardari and his frontman, Husain Haqqani whose wife Farahnaz Ispahani (former CNN producer and founders of VOA Urdu) is an American citizen (according to the US State Department Diplomatic List (a blue book about almost all foreign diplomats in the USA) of Spring 2011, dated, 7 April 2011). She is considered a more influential lobbyist than her somewhat innocent husband who got himself into a trap through the Memogate Scandal.
Mansoor Ijaz’ history is filled with dubiousness and half-truths, half-lies. Infact, if I may comment personally on this, he is not credible at all. Then there’s the enmity he bears for Pakistan’s military intelligence as a whole when he sits down to write vitriolic articles discussing the ISI’s alleged involvement in terrorism which are published in notable papers around the world. Their headlines keep simmering on the Western and even Indian media for days on end. Mansoor was previously never given any worthy highlight in Pakistan’s media. The recent case caught immediate attention because it comes under the fold of treason against the state which is an unpardonable sin.
Funny thing for some is why Mansoor Ijaz would “help” Pakistan’s intelligence in revealing Haqqani’s alleged role. He is certainly not aiding the ISI since he recently wrote another piece alleging that the agency’s Chief Pasha visited Arab states after the hoax Abbottabad raid vouching “support” for a coup. If that was the case, a silent coup would have been in action back then. Believe me, the military, once it has had enough, does not wait for further developments and immediately garners nationwide enforcement. But that was the past and both Kayani and Pasha are well aware a coup is what would add fuel to the fire that the US military-intelligence complex has already setup in case their civilian puppets fail: Military takeover = Planned ‘Pakistan Spring’ (rebellion) akin to the one in Egypt.
A contact in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence highlighted that their Technical Department has some of the finest digital forensic experts who are also acclaimed data extraction specialists. We all know that the whole issue revolves around the Blackberry messages and its parent company, Research In Motion (Canada) does not allow any authority to get access to their information-monitoring encryption source codes. Except for a few minor permits after harsh action by the UAE and Indian government, R.I.M. promises secrecy for its users (intel officials claim otherwise but I’ll leave it at that for now). The ISI Chief and one of his senior subordinates met Ijaz at London to have a first-hand look at the electronic evidence. On his flight back, the DG ISI duly informed Gen. Kayani of his trip and what he browsed through.
Media analysts kept speculating why the country’s ISI Chief met with a man who has been behind the vehement wave of propaganda against the very agency he heads: “Ijaz is not the source, the evidence is”, said the official. “Take this example: If your enemy mocks you by claiming he has evidence of your accomplice being in secret cahoots against you, will you not enquire further to ascertain the truth?” In the intelligence world, one meets all sorts of individuals. After all, despite the huge walls that exist between the ISI and CIA, Panetta and Pasha did meet twice at Langley after the Raymond Davis incident. I recall a quote here, ‘Keep your friends close and your enemy closer’.
Politicians of the ruling regime in Pakistan, jolted by the increasing media focus, lashed out on TV, where one of the senior ministers Syed Faisal Raza Abidi went so far as to say that “Mansoor Ijaz is a pawn of the Mossad and RAW”. Interesting that, since the past is witness to the same ‘Mossad man’ being in communication with the late Benazir Bhutto. If this be the case, then a prominent question comes to mind: If we accept this, then keeping the memo issue aside, at least it has been established that Husain Haqqani was in good terms and contact with Mansoor Ijaz. Was a Pakistani ambassador to the US in touch with a Mossad operative?
Mansoor Ijaz does not matter at all. The man is garnering undue publicity to promote his claims of being a private and independent national security advisor for the US. His evidence though cannot be ignored. If it were pictures, they can be photoshopped as desired. But text messages and call records with complete log archives have already been verified as authentic by the ISI as mentioned in a report by The News.
I find it amusing what sort of people are coming to Haqqani’s defence: Bruce Riedel (notorious former CIA officer) who leaves no stone unturned to malign Pakistan and especially the ISI. First he defended Haqqani and then Mike Mullen himself saying, “I didn’t find that credible”. The latest news here is that Gen. James Jones has sent an affidavit to Haqqani’s lawyer Asma Jahangir (not surprisingly a military critic herself) saying that he does not believe Husain Haqqani wrote the memo and that it was in fact “written by Mansoor Ijaz himself”.
The memo case hearing is underway at the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The government which claimed to be united with the military just recently made indirect scoffs at Kayani and Pasha since both the officials, when asked by the court to submit their statement, declared that “The memo issue is a reality and must be probed into”. Remember that included in this case is the strong claim that Husain Haqqani and Asif Zardari allegedly had prior information of the fake racket in Abbottabad to supposedly kill OBL, a man who already died at Tora Bora back in 2001. The event had greatly tarnished the repute and integrity of Pakistan’s security establishment. Gulf News further quoted Pasha as saying, “Access to unadulterated truth and justice is a right of the people of Pakistan, the real sovereign masters of this country”.
So we have a paradox here: Military coming out with a demand for inquiry but through a proper channel this time (judiciary) and the civilian government repeating, “This is a conspiracy against democracy!”
“Democracy my foot,” says Karam Elahi, a street vendor in Lahore and a good friend. “What does that even mean? Whatever the heck that might be, it’s eating us all. We were much better under that despicable Musharraf. These rulers are a wrath of God upon us!”
As I was browsing through mails, a reader named Zain Umar sent an interesting email. He first shared the reference of his remarks:
And he brought my attention to the lines which say (reproducing from the original where HH = Husain Haqqani and MI = Mansoor Ijaz):
HH: Pls call me. I m at the Park Lane Intercon
HH: Waiting for ur call now 05/09/2011 13:37
MI: Could access to the 3 stooges who widow the man be arranged as part of the bigger picture?
Zain asks, “Does this question by Mansoor Ijaz not infer that Husain Haqqani possibly have knowledge of three people who widowed our President? He used the word stooges, does that mean the people responsible are American-sponsored i.e. CIA?”
I never replied because I was indulged in idleness after his pointer. I had a flashback of history where a few years ago the FBI declassified files from the 50’s revealing that the gun which was used to assassinate my first Prime Minister, the charming Nawab Liaquat Ali Khan, was of a make only available to a specific lot of Pentagon officials of the time. Fast-forward time and we have a popular leader Benazir being assassinated coincidentally at the same location: Liaquat Bagh (Liaquat Park), named in honor of the ground where Liaquat Ali Khan was shot.
It is chilly in Lahore these days due to winter, but the atmosphere in the country remains warm as ever. There is a wave of heat fluctuating now and then with the developments of the memo case that are unveiled in the media after every few hours in the form of flashing headlines and commentary by various politicians. I am not interested in politics and political parties at all since I consider all to be beautified garbage in some way or the other (pardon me for the bluntness). But this issue is important: It is a matter of national security.
If a wretched Israeli army man tells me someday, “Mossad was involved in 9/11”, will I not investigate further or just shut him up for being a Zionist?
I heartily commend and congratulate the security establishment of Pakistan for the level of maturity and discipline they are exhibiting in all this confusion. The prevailing social media trends in Pakistan reflect the full support which the military and intelligence have against all impending developments. One thing is sure though, as I mentioned in my first VT column, “There will be no martial law”.