Government is desperate to become political martyr

By Asif Haroon Raja

Piteously, our selfish and myopic leaders played into the hands of Pakistan’s adversaries and willingly allowed them to interfere in domestic affairs of the country and to weaken it from within, naively thinking that they were Pakistan’s friends and war on terror was in common interest of USA as well as of Pakistan. They refused to wake up from their slumber despite frantic warnings given by many that a web was being woven around Pakistan by the so-called friends and the noose was being tightened to make the country helpless so that they could extract its nuclear teeth. While India’s hidden motives got exposed after Mumbai carnage in November 2008, the US leaders kept up the farce of friendship and our rulers believed them and kept doing more to earn their goodwill, least caring that this friendship was proving too costly.

This practice of blind obedience to the US dictates continued till as late as end of 2010. Arrest of CIA agent Raymond Davis in January 2011 followed by 2 May and 22 May fiascos jolted the Army and ISI and confirmed their suspicions that the US was playing a double game and had evil designs. While the armed forces became vigilant and took preventive measures to safeguard security interests, the ruling regime brought no change in its policy of appeasement and subservience and didn’t like the harsh stance taken by the Army. While the nation was aghast and outraged, President Zardari and PM Gilani termed the US assault in Abbottabad as ‘historic’ and ‘great victory’. Either the duo was part of the US conspiracy, or they said so to save their skins by posing that they were not privy to Osama’s stay in Abbottabad. However, when they found that the Army and ISI had taken the incident too seriously and were groping for clues to get to the bottom of the stealth incursion by an ally, and the public was furious, Zardari panicked fearing his involvement might not get exposed.

The reason why he got nervous was the intelligence fed to him on 4 May by US Ambassador Munter that Army was contemplating a coup. He suggested to him to approach Pentagon since in his view Admiral Mullen could be the only one to restrain Kayani. Fear of coup became the reason for the birth of notorious memo containing six commitments in return for restraining Gen Kayani from launching a coup. Mansoor Ijaz, supposedly the carrier of memo revealed the story in Financial Times on 10 October that Husain Haqqani on the directions of his boss (Zardari) had asked him to deliver the memo to Admiral Mike Mullen and he did so through Jim Jones on 10 May. DGISI-Mansoor meeting in London on 22 October which convinced the former that memo was a reality led to sacking of Haqqani. In response to seven petitions including that of Nawaz Sharif, the Supreme Court took cognizance of the memo case and appointed three-member judicial commission to probe the sensitive matter. The government is however averse to the probe undertaken by the judicial commission and has declared that it would only accept the verdict of Parliamentary Committee carrying out parallel investigations.

The tipping point in Pak-US relations came after NATO’s unprovoked attack in Mohmand Agency on 26 November killing 24 soldiers including two officers and injuring 16. The government took heart from the defiance of the Army and for the first time showed courage to take immediate steps to give a message to the US that enough is enough and no future intrusion will be tolerated. The two supply routes closed on 27 November are still closed while Shamsi airbase from where CIA operated drones was got vacated on 11 December. Till 12 January no drone attack took place. Bonn conference was boycotted which conveyed another message that Pakistan can no more be taken for granted and will cooperate only when it will be trusted, respected and treated like an ally. Military cooperation and intelligence sharing have almost ceased. Inquest conducted by NATO on Salala incident has been rejected by GHQ saying that it is biased and full of half-truths. Till such time the US admits its fault, renders an apology and gives a firm commitment that from now onwards Pakistan’s sovereignty will be fully respected, thaw in Pak-US strained relations is not possible. For all practical purposes, the US has lost a dependable ally for good.
While Pak-US relations are at its lowest ebb, government-Army relations and government-judiciary relations are also strained. It is suspected that the US is behind provoking the government to clash with the two premier institutions. Gilani under the total influence of Zardari is responsible for vitiating the atmosphere. Memo and NRO cases that have taken a dangerous turn for the government have made Gilani nervous and confused and in utter confusion he has been blowing hot and cold against Army chief and DG ISI. Sacking of Secretary Defence on a flimsy ground was also a knee-jerk reaction. He and his legal team have also been consistently defying Supreme Court directives. Zardari has categorically stated that he would now allow the trial of the grave of Benazir Bhutto, implying that he would not initiate a letter to Swiss courts to reopen pending money laundering case of $ 60 million.

The Supreme Court after exercising extreme patience in the face of defiance and derision has finally delivered the hammer on 16 January by giving a show cause notice to Gilani on the charge of contempt of court and asked him to present himself on 19 January to explain his point of view before the final verdict was announced. He may either be disqualified or imprisoned unless he renders apology and resigns and paves the way for early elections. Opening of two fronts simultaneously were probably aimed at provoking the two institutions to strike so that the PPP could become political martyr. Taking into account the deplorable performance of the ruling party and the pitiable plight of the people, fulfillment of this wish and that too at the hands of apex court seems far fetched. It is surprising that the government after being repeatedly humiliated and harmed by the US is still vying to get close to it but is not prepared to mend its fences with the apex court and the Army.

The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst.

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