Aftab Iqbal’s column in Nawaiwaqt 29 December 2008 exposing Shaheen Sehbai’s request to President Zardari to become an ambassador. Because of Sehbai’s anti-Pakistan record, he was not given security clearance for any diplomatic post.
Shaheen Sehbai, the current Group Editor of daily English newspaper The News International, and his two team members Ansar Abbasi and Rauf Klasra are extremely unhappy with the PPP-ANP-JUI Government in Pakistan, particularly with President Asif Zardari.
Does any one know, why?
Here is the list of various demands by this group presented to President Zardari:
1. Removal of a criminal case against Shaheen Sehbai which was registered against Sehbai in 2001. The person who filed the complaint with the Rawalpindi police on 21 August is Khalid Hijazi, who is the former husband of a cousin of Sehbai. The complaint alleges that Sehbai carried out an “armed robbery” in his home on 22 February 2001. Sehbai was told by President Zardari that he must face these charges in a court of law.
2. Sehbai tried to approach Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar for ‘settlement’ of this case but his request was turned down.
3. Shaheen Sehbai has developed personal vengeance against ex-President General Pervez Musharraf. He wants Musharraf to be tried in a court of law on charges of treason and also because according to Sehbai, “Musharraf sold Pakistan’s interests by participating in the USA war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda”. President Zardari refused to bow to this request by Mr. Sehbai.
4. Shaheen Sehbai’s team members (Ansar Abbasi in particular) are vehement supporters of Jamaat Islami and the Taliban. They are upset with President Zardari because of his decision to fight terrorist of Taliban and Al Qaeda.
5. On February 16, 2002, Sehbai let a story run that “exposed” government Pakistani ties with terrorist bombings in India (a story that also ran in The Washington Post and The International Herald Tribune by the work of the reporter, not Sehbai). The government immediately stopped its advertisements in The News International, and put inordinate pressure on the company to fire those involved in the creation and publishing of the story.
6. Mr. Sehbai returned to America and started a web based newspaper, The South Asian Tribune, in which he produced many false stories against Pakistan. Obviously he became bitter towards Musharraf because of Musharraf’s tough stance on war on terror and also because Musharraf had decided to weaken ties between ISI and Jihadis/Talibans. In 2005, Sehbai, announced that he was closing The South Asian Tribune after three years of service.
7. Invitation to the Army Chief General Kayani to intervene in politics: In his highly controversial article in Daily The News on 2 September 2008, Shaheen Sehbai states that the very fact that Asif Zardari is about to become the head of the state of Pakistan proves how big a mess Musharraf made. He says thus it is the army’s duty to fix it as the political parties certainly are not capable of doing it. “Risking the charge that will instantly be thrown at me that I am inviting the Army to intervene again”, he offers a seven-step plan for General Kiyani.
Comments by some ordinary Pakistanis
September 2nd, 2008 at 2:30 am
Is Shaheen Sehbai the new “media trouble maker’ in making? After Dr. Shahid has been bought and Hamid Mir partially compromised towards PPP, we need brave ones like SS and Ansar Alam. Even Bolta Pakistan duo is not agressive as they used to be…
September 2nd, 2008 at 3:28 am
Extremely shameful articles by Shaheen Sehbai. He is asking for a new Martial Law. What a shame. This person has gone nuts.
It seems that Americans are very frustrated right now. They have started a vicious war against the newly elected government. It seems that Pakistan Army and Zardari have agreed to change Mush’s policy og blindly toeing American line.
At this point Zardari has an unprecedented support from parliament, all four federating units, army and courts. It seems some elements in establishment in US and Pakistan hate to see Pakistan’s elected government taking hold of internal and external affairs.
Shaheen Sehbai proves to be a complete idiot by inviting another coup.
September 2nd, 2008 at 7:58 am
The chief commander has hit the establishment where it pains most. Now they (establishment) is back with vengenance, I am just so thrilled by this battle , this time they (establishment) are going to face the biggest chanllenge of their life. There is a real panic in the establishment this time , which is evident from every single establishment paid writer/anchor.
It is interesting to read/hear the establishment guys at every level , Shahin Sehbai off course has his own class , his two articles articulated very well how much establishment is afraid of President Zardari, there are certain low level establishment stooges like Zaid Hamid and Ahmed Quraishi which are much more straight forward in their thoughts.
Establishment’s new solgan is “Pakistan ka khuda hafiz”
I honestly can not wait for 6th of September. This would indeed be a historical day in the Pakistan. Day by day my confidence in Zardari is strengthening , the more creates the panic in establishment , the better it is for the nation. Aah.. how much I wish that once we see a decisive battle.
Battle is on comrades…
Raqs-e-may taiz karoo saaz kee lay taiz karoo
soo-e-mekhana safeeran-e-haram aatay hain
September 2nd, 2008 at 8:12 am
I strongly disagree with the column. The only thing Army should do is to be a professional Army and be away from Politics. Rest of the things will be okay with time. It might take long but we do not want Army to involve in non-professional activities, even how good they are…
September 2nd, 2008 at 8:48 am
I would have agreed with Shaheen Sehbai, IF all of the acts that he has recommended for Gen Kayani would have been done when Kayani was appointed and when Musharraf was the President. It would have been quite legal and constitutional. At this moment in time when the elections have taken place, an elected government is in power, he has no right and he should not intervene. It is true that PPP has been a disappointment and Zardari a man of double talk and maybe not a good option for the country BUT (and a big BUT) it is a fact that this is an elected government. Let only the people have the right to throw it out. This is the falut we have always been making, egging on the generals to clean the political mess and expecting them to put everything right and serve in a plate to us distributing sweets when they topple over a government. For once, let them do their work and let US be the judge of the politicians. Its true that it is a long and tedious process, it will take decades to cleanse the political parties of the scum that has accumulated but this is the only way – to let the system run and to slowly cleanse itself. For example, with the recent double talk of PPP, I don’t see many people (even the die hard jialas)supporting them blinding in next elections. In these few months time, we can count the good politicians on fingers from all the parties. Slowly we can vote them out. MOreover, a nation deserves its leaders. I mean how can we expect angels when we ourselves are not even good citizens.
In Pakistan the involvement of the generals always reminds me of Lord of the Rings. “The ring of power has a will of its own”. Whenever a general comes, he comes with the “good intention” of setting the system right but then the ring of power takes hold of him. Remember the speeches of General Zia, Musharraf etc. Zia categorically said that his intention was only to conduct the elections and hand over the government to elected parliament and look how long he stayed -11 years. Absolute power corrupts.
September 2nd, 2008 at 9:19 am
@It seems some elements in establishment in US and Pakistan hate to see Pakistan
September 2nd, 2008 at 10:02 am
Although i am very anti PPP of what they have done to the country (and to their coalition partners) in a very short time, i still think PPP should be given the full chance to govern the country for rest of 4.5 years
September 2nd, 2008 at 11:20 am
I’m anti-PPP but what the columnist is proposing is dangerous. Let the politicians decide what to/not to do. The Generals better keep away.
moaziz syed Says:
September 2nd, 2008 at 4:59 pm
Now that politicians, for the time being atleast , are refraining from knocking at GHQ door, a journalist of the level of SS have chosen to play the ‘Establishment’. His hatered for Zardari is welcome: I don’t like him either. But I don’t like Army to meddle in politics, inspite of my Army back ground. I liked Musharraf as a soldier. But I hated him as a userper of political power. Now will some body hold me responsible for what Mush did just because I have been a soldier. How Kiani becomes responsible of what Mush did or what politicians are doing(or not doing)after him. I am shocked at SS’s suggestion that Army should use power of gun to clear the ‘mess’. What happened to our cry of democracy. If Zardari is a traitor or untrustworthy than what about his accomplices like Altaf Hussain, Molana Fazlur Rehman, Asfand Yar, Raisani and even NS till recently. Are they not people’s reps. Are they all anti Pakistan or fools to support Zardari ? Have a heart SS. You are not the whole of Pakistan. I am Punjabi but even Punjab is not whole of Pakistan( and whole of Punjab is not anti Zatrdari)Let’s show patience and tolerance,Zardari cannot bacome dictator or sellout Pakistan in the presence of other so many leaders. Let’s trust our people, our constitution. If we can get rid of one dictator we can do another, but no Army please for politics.
Munir Solangi Says:
September 2nd, 2008 at 7:17 pm
Shaheen Sehbai is clearly inviting Army to impose martial law.I think PPP,PML-N and JI will not support Shaheen Sehbai,only Imran Khan and Chuadhry Shujaat will support this idea.Now difference is there.Nusrat Javeed and Hamid Mir belives in democracy,they were banned by a dictator and they are still facing problems,Why this Sehbai is not facing any problem?Yes because he is very thick with ISI.I think Zardari should immediately fire DG ISI and Kyani after becoming President.
September 2nd, 2008 at 8:34 pm
As I keep on repeating, I will prefer AZ hundred times more than to see these FA second divisioner napak generals climbing over the walls of PTV. Any one supporting this action on one pretext or another, will never get my support and you know who I am “bechari-awam”
September 2nd, 2008 at 11:34 pm
A VERY important point that Zardari-haters continue to ignore in SS’s article: He is clearly implying that Zardari has been cleared of all court cases after a rigorous witchhunt and that now is time to nab the hundreds others (including perhaps this forum’s favorite ‘leader’ NS!) by abolishing NRO.
PS. SS has gone nuts! Firstly, if the military is dis-engaging itself it is precisely because they have left Pakistan in such a mess that it is nearly impossible to ‘fix’ matters–so let the bloody civilians pickup the pieces, a la 1971. Secondly, Army is disengaging from politics to do some damage-control of its own ‘image’. Why would Kiani be stupid to involve himself now?
September 3rd, 2008 at 4:35 am
A good dictator is better than any democracry, but a worst democaracy is 1000 times better than worst dictatorship.
Think about the trade-off involved. Are we in a position to take any further risks?
West is opposing Zardari alongwith the real establishment. This shows that it is in the interest of common populace of Pakistan to have Zardari at the helm of affairs.
September 3rd, 2008 at 9:03 am
I was also one of the readers of of SS from his old days. I always found it odd of how he closed up his weekly newspaper. Everybody has a price and sadly, it led many of us in the DC area to believe he was bought. I have lost all confidence in SS and his like.
Recently I was reading that Zardari is promising affordable housing in the Islamabad area for journalists. Now come on, how can these “journalists” be fair? This is just another form of censorship.
I have lost all confidence in news coming out of Pakistan and that is primarily due to the biased reported from “journalists”.
September 3rd, 2008 at 11:22 am
Shaheen Sehbai has gone nuts…i hate zardari but any person even worse than zardari still 1000 times better than any army pig…
Unwarranted attack on Zardari reflects anti-democratic sentiment
Saturday, December 27, 2008
By Aniq Zafar
On the eve of the anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto’s Shahadat, the group editor of The News has shown great insensitivity in writing an article that talks of President Asif Ali Zardari in an unusually derogatory manner. The title of the article, ‘Zardari Given Enough Rope to Hang Himself’ is outrageous in a country where a popularly elected prime minister was executed by a dictator in a tragedy that continues to haunt the nation to this day.
What does a supposedly liberal journalist hope to achieve by conjuring up images of a Ziaul Haq like coup d’etat and hanging on the eve of the country’s mourning a second calamitous national tragedy and at a time when Pakistan faces serious external threats? Pakistan is in the process of building a democracy. Part of democracy is disagreement and criticism and it is for that reason President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani have maintained respect for the media even when the media is critical of the fledgling democratic government. But shouldn’t the media be its own critic and is this not time for using temperate language even if one finds scope for major criticism?
The problem with some journalists and intellectuals is that they become too involved with their subject, as if demanding the right to make policy rather than merely reporting it or commenting on it. Those in the political arena cannot and do not always follow the recipes of the commentators. Those commentators, who feel close to political leaders in opposition, as Mr Sehbai asserts he was to President Zardari in his years in exile, have the choice of joining them in government or striving to maintain their independence. But some want a veto in policy matters and when that is not granted, lose all objectivity.
Mr Sehbai is now talking of a Zardari Group taking over the PPP and claiming that those close to Benazir Bhutto have been ignored by President Zardari just as he was accusing Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto of betrayal last year, a few months before her Shahadat. In an article titled ‘Et Tu Mohtarma’ in the Indian magazine Outlook published on August 27, 2007, Mariana Babar referred to Mr Sehbai as follows: “Former editor Shaheen Sehbai left Pakistan because he feared the diabolic intent of the military regime. Today, his wrath is directed against Benazir: ‘Of course, all she’s interested in is getting back her billions, withdrawal of cases against her and Asif Zardari and an amendment to the Constitution that would allow her to become prime minister for the third time. Party workers have never been her top priority.’ “
Quite clearly, when Mohtarma was risking her life to have democracy restored in Pakistan Mr Sehbai could not understand her strategy and attacked her. “Not caring for party workers” was simply an excuse to vent frustration over the fact that the practical politician did not follow Mr Sehbai’s invisible wishes and the attack against the Shaheed was as vicious as it is today against the country’s first elected civilian politician president. Over the last few months Mr Sehbai has gone out of his way to be critical of President Zardari, often with little regard for facts. He is on a crusade and ends justify the means.
Even in the latest article, Mr Sehbai claims that “Zardari formed a group of his cronies who had nothing to do with the PPP or its politics for years.” Of the people he names as the president’s cronies, he ignores the fact that Zulfikar Mirza was first elected a member of the National Assembly in 1990 and Agha Siraj Durrani served in the Sindh Assembly since the same year. Mirza faced cases and Durrani served years in prison for their association with the party. Both are indeed Mr Zardari’s friends but can they really be described as people who had “nothing to do with the PPP?”
Rehman Malik was closely associated with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto during her years in exile and hosted many party meetings as well as those of the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD). Husain Haqqani was associated with Mohtarma since 1993 and was her ally on the US think tank circuit through the exile years. In fact, Mr Sehbai was by his own account closer to Mr Zardari than anyone saw Haqqani as his crony though Mr Sehbai and Haqqani probably did not live far from one another.
In his latest article, Mr Sehbai puts forward a charge sheet against President Zardari. He writes of the president, “Step by step he has dismantled every pillar that Benazir Bhutto had painstakingly tried to build to strengthen politicians vis-a-vis the generals. In the many years that he was in New York, I never heard him discuss the Charter of Democracy or why the powers of the president should be cut. He would always discuss either some business deal or how he had outclassed other politicians in petty whimsical games. He never talked about any vision of a grand politically stable and strong Pakistan.”
But in the May 14, 2005 edition of his online newspaper South Asian Tribune Mr Sehbai wrote of Musharraf’s intrigues and referred to President Zardari positively. If he felt that Mr Zardari did not have a political vision he did not say it. In fact, when he returned to Pakistan in 2006 he announced his decision to not only shut down South Asian Tribune but also took the unusual decision to have all its pages removed from the internet.
Internet footprints do not erase easily so here is an extract from Mr Sehbai’s 2005 comment about Mr Zardari:
“Just imagine if General Musharraf gives a clean chit to Asif Ali Zardari and is ready to talk and share power with him, the date, time and the historic picture of President Musharraf taking oath from Asif in the President’s House may not be that far away. Would that picture not be very similar to that Ministerial oath given by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan to the same Asif Ali Zardari, who had walked away with the Pakistan flag flying on his official limousine. A similar picture would place General Musharraf in the same category as the disgraced GIK and I would love to be present on that occasion when the big mouthed General leads Asif to his swearing in ceremony.”
Mr Sehbai also wrote, “Benazir would be enjoying the bigger picture. Is it not a fact that 90 per cent of all the charges against her during both her tenures as Prime Minister were related to Asif Zardari. He was called Mr 10 per cent. He was the bad guy, the wheeler dealer, the friend of friends. He was kept as a hostage. So the day Asif is declared ‘Kosher’ by the Army, what would be left against Benazir Bhutto and who would stop her and on what grounds from coming back and becoming Pakistan’s Sonia Gandhi. But any concessions that Asif offers to General Musharraf or the Army, which are not publicly and expressly supported by Benazir Bhutto would mean nothing.”
At that point Mr Sehbai saw President Zardari and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto as inextricably linked just as genuine PPP supporters see them even today. The Zardari group is nothing but the Benazir Bhutto group and it is interesting to note that at different times since his own return from exile Mr Sehbai has had criticism to offer of the Shaheed Mohtarma as well as her widower. Perhaps Mr Sehbai needs to find some objectivity in his tone and criticism instead of acting and writing like a jilted lover. (The News, 29 Dec 2008)