If Zardari must hang – by Harris Bin Munawar


Originally Posted at: Pakistan Today

Top leaders of Pakistan Army decided in a meeting last week that they would make no compromises on ‘national security’, and according to reports, also promised to provide protection to Mansoor Ijaz – the man who said the army “breeds hatred among Pakistan’s Islamist masses and then uses their thirst for jihad against Pakistan’s neighbours and allies to sate its hunger for power”.

Mansoor Ijaz may come to Pakistan to testify against former ambassador Husain Haqqani.

It is not clear if Haqqani collaborated with Ijaz to write a controversial memo asking the US to depose Pakistan’s top military leaders, but his travel documents have reportedly been confiscated, he is not allowed to leave the country, he is hiding in the Prime Minister’s House because he fears for his life, and he will likely be charged with treason. But it is clear that Mansoor Ijaz did write the memo. It is ironic that he has been promised security by the very army he had asked the US to act against. If the memo was a conspiracy against Pakistan, why is army supporting one of the conspirators? What are the legal implications of such a move?

It is not clear whether Husain Haqqani violated any regulations, but he was summoned, questioned, and made to resign before the probe began although he was in no position to influence the probe.

But it is clear the ISI chief did not inform the prime minister before or after he met Mansoor Ijaz, although he is required to report to him. He was not made to resign, although he is in a position of influence. When the prime minister made statements that the military must follow the constitution, the army warned of “grievous consequences” through a press release.

Apparently, Shahbaz Sharif was more upset about the statement than the military itself. His elder brother Nawaz Sharif, one of Pakistan’s top politicians, has taken the issue to the Supreme Court doing exactly what the army had wanted him to do. Earlier, he had said in public meetings that the ISI was supporting his rival Imran Khan.

The government is fighting with both the judiciary and the military, and it must go, a key leader from his party said in a TV debate. When his opponent reminded him his own party’s government had fought with the judiciary and the military before it was deposed in 1999, he admitted it was a mistake. Nawaz Sharif and his party had also made appeals to the US to support his government against the military. Some of the judges who had given a legal cover to the 1999 coup are still part of the Supreme Court. The top court of Pakistan took up the memo case before several other matters of public interest as they too vowed to protect ‘national security’.

Haqqani’s lawyer Asma Jahangir said the court gave the petitioners relief more than they had asked for, and decided that ‘national security’ was more important than her client’s fundamental rights.

“I am also a parent and a citizen of this country and feel concerned,” Justice Jawad S Khwaja said in a comment during the hearing. But judges do not show similar concern in the ongoing cases in which ISI is accused of breaking rules, such as picking people up without due process, or funding conservative political parties in elections against the PPP.

The judges did not even show concern when the military promised to protect Mansoor Ijaz, the man who admits he wrote the memo that could jeopardise Pakistan’s ‘national security’.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan has promised to rally towards Islamabad and topple the government that the people of Pakistan had elected for five years. Most of the political leaders he will be flanked with were part of the previous military regime and have recently left the party believed to be backed by the military establishment. They will try to usurp power from a legitimate civilian government that includes leaders who opposed them when they were in power with a uniformed president.

President Zardari has been in jail for about a decade over charges of corruption of which none was proven. The people who had made those cases later admitted they were made under pressure from the military establishment.

If everybody else’s actions are past and closed transactions, why must Zardari hang? And if Zardari must hang, everyone must hang.

The writer is a media and culture critic and works at The Friday Times.He tweets @paagalinsaan and gets email at harris@nyu.edu



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