By Kamran Shafi
June 17th, 2009
Governor North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Owais Ghani, on June 14, 2009: “The government has decided to launch an operation against militants in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). It has been decided that a comprehensive and decisive operation will be launched to eliminate Baitullah Mehsud (chief of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, TTP), and dismantle his network… we have repeatedly warned the Mehsud tribe through tribal elders to give up their miscreant activities and advised them not to shelter foreign militants. The government will not tolerate any act against the security of the people’s lives and property at any cost. They kept on their miscreant activities and continued to harbour terrorists. As a result, many people have lost their lives in suicide attacks in Lahore, Peshawar, Islamabad and today in Dera Ismail Khan”.
Newspapers reported, “Governor Ghani said the Army had been ordered to launch a crackdown on militants in the Fata”.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas on June 14, 2009 to the news agency Associated Press: “The government has made the announcement. We will give a comment after evaluating the orders”.
Are we, the hapless people of Pakistan, right, then, to be confused, rattled, scared out of our wits, petrified, perplexed and baffled by what is going on? How possibly can the spokesman of an agency of state, the Army, say that it will “give a comment after evaluating” the direct orders of the government of Pakistan through its agent in the Frontier, the governor himself? What “comments” will the Army give, please?
Were we always right when we thought that the Army and the elected government are at odds over how to “handle” the murderous Yahoos? Were we right in thinking that there are wheels within independently-powered wheels within the security establishment, some propelling the Pakistani state forwards and some forcing it backwards?
Are there still powerful interests within the Army — what is increasingly referred to as the “elite agency” aka the mother of all agencies that, even now, considers some of the Yahoos their “strategic assets”?
Well, the double whammy of the release of the Red Mosque prayer leader Maulana Abdul Aziz, whose cohorts brought so much misery to Islamabad the Beautiful, and of Hafiz Mohammad Saeed of the Falah-e-Insaniyat formerly the Jamaat-ud-Dawa née the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (whose antics have brought such a lot of opprobrium on to our country) because of lackadaisical prosecution by government prosecuters certainly points to that.
Be that as it may, what the elected government of Pakistan gets by buckling to pressure from the security establishment escapes me, specially when it will all redound on the “bloody civilians” to their utter detriment.
Could one, then, take this opportunity to once again implore President Asif Ali Zardari to ignore the bad advice he has been getting from his various hangers-on and dogsbodies and flunkies, those who have put him in one tight spot after another? He must remove all the stops in repealing the dictatorial aspects of the 17th Amendment (the Amendment allows the President of Pakistan to stay on as the Chief of Army Staff); and implement the Charter of Democracy immediately.
Only this will block the way for future Army interventions: is it too much to say that the political forces must come together at the earliest to deflate the hot-air balloons even now being floated by some of the tight buddies of the establishment who are advocating an early return to Army rule because of the most outlandish conspiracies that only they can see?
The conspiracies range from an American plot to push more Taliban into Pakistan so as to tie up the Army in Fata while they “take out” our nuclear weapons and missiles, and thence to break up Pakistan.
Here is one published in a daily on May 28, 2009, verbatim: “Once Pakistan is de-nuclearised, the US would encourage Pakistan’s Balkanisation into a Baloch US satellite, a city state of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) in Karachi, a Pakhtunistan badly bombed and in tatters and a Punjab stripped of nuclear potential, kicked and bullied by India. A Northern Area republic which is a US lackey unless China decides to call the US’ bluff by occupying the northern area. What is the answer to this: an immediate clean break with US/Nato and closing all Nato/US supply lines to Afghanistan; mining and barbed wiring the Afghan-Pakistan border; allowing the Fata agencies to import goods for Afghanistan duty free and scrapping the old Afghan Transit Trade Accord, thus economically boosting the Fata. A military alliance with China with a Chinese naval base at Gwadar; rapprochement with Russia and offering the Russians free port facilities at Gwadar; creation of a maritime province in Gwadar and Lasbela districts insulating these areas from the Baloch sardars on payroll of US intelligence; creation of a Pashtun province in the Pashtun districts of Balochistan with Quetta as its capital”. I ask you.
These brilliant thoughts end thus: “Everything is not inevitable in history. The ablest navigators can defeat the worst sea storms. Pakistan needs strategic and political vision. It may be necessary to have a military government to do all this in case the civilians prove inept”.
Now does the People’s Party see what madness is out there? Now will it get its act together? Now do the people at large, my hapless and helpless countrymen and women, realise the complete craziness that is out there? Now is it clear that we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder and say with one voice, good, bad, or ugly, we stand by democracy and our democratically-elected leaders?
Let me end by alluding to another thought now making waves on the Internet. And that is the impossibility of the Yahoos taking over Islamabad the Beautiful when Pakistan has the seventh-largest Army in the whole wide world. Whilst some would argue that the seventh-largest Army in the world has Pakistan and not the other way around, what does it take for murderous Yahoos to “take over” any place and its people?
Remember Swat, seventh-largest Army and all? All it took was three slaughtered and headless bodies displayed upside down on electric poles every morning, three days running. That is all. For “Khooni (Bloody) Chowk”, Mingora, Swat; read F-7 Markaz, Islamabad the Beautiful.
There is no reason at all to be sanguine — we are well and truly up the proverbial creek.
Source, the Dawn, Karachi