Beware of the unholy nexus of civil and military establishment in Pakistan.

A fine mess what, gentlemen
By Kamran Shafi
Tuesday, 27 Oct, 2009
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, left, talks to his Iranian counterpart Mostafa Mohammad Najjar during their meeting in Islamabad. Najjar is in Pakistan for talks on efforts to battle a Sunni militant group blamed for a recent suicide bombing that killed top Revolutionary Guard commanders and dozens of others. –AP Photo

What gives? I mean, really! As if our problems with India and Afghanistan; and in our own provinces of the Frontier and Balochistan and possibly soon in southern Punjab were not enough! As if the security situation in our country was not already as dire as to dictate the closure of all schools and universities for a week and as if we were not in the throes of violence never seen before, we have now riled the Iranians enough for them to send their interior minister to Pakistan for a whole week to present evidence that Jundallah cadres regularly cross the Pakistan-Iran border to wreak havoc in Iran.

The latest incident was the bombing of a meeting of senior Revolutionary Guard commanders in which several generals and other senior officers were killed.
Then for days on end news circulates in all of the media that the army has made pacts with certain anti-US but not necessarily anti-Pakistan extremist fanatics in Waziristan such as Maulvi Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur to get safe passage through their areas as it advances towards Hakimullah Mehsud.

On the seventh day of this news doing the rounds with no clarification, and possibly after American displeasure, this news suddenly changes to suggest that the pacts were made by the civilian government! What is going on?

This is not all. There are persistent reports, specially in this paper, that the Ghazi Force named after Maulana Ghazi Abdul Rashid of the Red Mosque, Islamabad the Beautiful, is still very much active and could well be involved in terror activities not only in Islamabad and Rawalpindi but across the length and breadth of this poor country, marrying up with the yahoos in Waziristan and Swat too.

We must recall immediately, if only to expose the double-facedness of the establishment, that after his death in a completely stupidly planned (and delayed) action against the Lal Masjid, Ghazi’s remains were sent by a government helicopter to his native village in Dera Ghazi Khan for a burial attended by thousands of people.
We must immediately juxtapose this with the treatment given to the hanged Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, an elected and popular leader, at whose funeral not more than 10 people were allowed. Whose wife and daughter were not allowed to attend the last rites of their loved one.

This is not all. Compare this with the way in which two-time elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif, elected chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, and their families were not allowed to come back to the country to attend their dear father’s funeral. Compare it too with the way in which former governor and former elected chief minister Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was consigned to his grave in a rudely padlocked wooden box with six or seven government lackeys attending.

Amidst all of this, the security establishment persists in leaking stories to the press about the unacceptability of the language used in the Kerry-Lugar bill in what can only be called trying to stare the government down. What purpose this will achieve, apart from destabilising the ‘bloody civilians’ a little bit more, only our Rommels and Guderians can tell us.

What we already know, however, is that the US Congress has put more conditions on military aid to Pakistan, due not only to the ill-thought out ramblings of the Commando while giving lectures in places such as Sioux Falls, SD but also due to the mindless press release issued so arrogantly by GHQ.

As is usual with us, we proceed headlong in our blind quest for making ever bigger fools of ourselves: on Oct 20 the following was quoted in the press, and extensively on the Internet: ‘During a meeting with US Central Command (Centcom chief Gen David Petraeus, he [Gen Kayani] discussed the US providing state-of-the-art weapons to Pakistani forces to help them combat terrorists in the Tribal Areas. The two generals also exchanged views on increasing cooperation in the war on terror and sharing intelligence to combat terrorists of [sic] the region.’

Yet, 12 days before this meeting, the by now infamous ISPR press release had been issued. Does nobody think things through?

When will the establishment stop trying to box above its weight, for heaven’s sake; when will it release its deathly grip on this poor and hapless country’s jugular by forsaking forever its power projection strategy, a ‘strategy’ that has repeatedly brought us (and it) grief? When will it realise that there are no good Maulvi Nazirs and Hafiz Gul Bahadurs?

When will it give up its self-arrogated position of arbiter of what is good and what is not good for Pakistan? When will it understand, if not for the country’s sake then for its own, that there is very little currency in destabilising democracy? And when will it understand that instead of blaming others we must put our own house in order? Case in point: hacks sympathetic to them say that India was behind the attack on GHQ! Where’s the proof then?

By the time you read this, President Asif Zardari and Mr Nawaz Sharif will already have met. Today’s newspapers will be full of what happened last night: did they or did they not achieve a breakthrough?

I am no soothsayer, but I do know this: if these two largest political parties do not rein in their hawks; if the PPP does not fulfill its promises such as implementing the Charter of Democracy, and removing the dictatorial aspects of the 17th Amendment; if the parties do not come to an accommodation, the establishment and its ‘agencies’ will first kill one, then the other.