The discharge of barrels by Admiral Mike Mullen, in his testimony before the US Armed Services Committee was taken by many in Pakistan — who tend to go over the top when it comes to that needling thing known as ghairat — almost as a declaration of war.
Most of those who should, sprang into action, some who should not, did the same, and from one prime quarter there was silence. Do we know what is really going on?
It would seem that whatever be the action or dialogue, it is between Washington and Rawalpindi, not Islamabad. General Ashfaq Kiyani upped the ghairat frenzy by holding a corps commanders meeting (special) on a Sunday, when all the brass should have been out on their golf courses or enjoying the other perks and privileges endowed upon them by a grateful nation. The PAF reportedly put itself on red alert; a frantic press told us that General Shuja Pasha of the ISI had ‘rushed’ to Riyadh (he had not) at the same time that a Saudi security team had landed to participate in a scheduled exercise. Then a Chinese delegation arrived, also on a scheduled visit which was said to be something quite different — solidarity at a time of grave danger, etc, etc. Now all hopes of succour seem to be pinned on the Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom — the knights in shining armour who will secure the future.
Kayani caused even more flag burning and chest thumping by cancelling a long-standing London visit. He has said nothing that we know of, as all news from Rawalpindi is routed through the seasoned spokesman of the ISPR who confirmed that ‘Pindi has “contacts” with the militant groups, Haqqani’s apparently included. At the same time, a Sindh government PPP spokesman told us that his government, as opposed to Rawalpindi, had “a well considered policy of having no links with the militants”. The party co-chairman, who doubles as head of state, has not uttered a word, wisely, leaving it all up to his appointee, the prime minister, to bluster and bluff his way through the fraught situation which will no doubt in time, subside back into the old routine of the usual allegations and denials.
Meanwhile, in New York, the foreign office novice has done her valiant bit for Rawalpindi, following her brief faithfully, blaming the international community (led by the US obviously) for not doing what it should have done for poor old Pakistan, the front-line warrior in the terrorism war, ignoring the strategic depth so dear to ‘Pindi’s heart. There was much ‘tough’ talk and one sob story. “Today our children are not going to schools because we are using a large part of our resources in the war.” Baloney — her party has no intentions, and never has had any, of providing education to the mass of the beloved awam. That is not part of its ethos.
The bluff and bluster is not that convincing. Kayani has his three-year extension with US blessings and connivance, as does Pasha his one year. The US has its men in place, including President Asif Ali Zardari who we know for a fact, would not be where he is were it not for the mighty superpower — hence his silence throughout the entire kerfuffle. So what is going on behind those closed doors? The top lot has to be faithful allies — that is why they are placed as they are. It seems unlikely that even after Mullen’s broadsides they would turn on the hand that feeds them.
And besides all this, really and seriously speaking, who believes that the ‘Haqqani network’ (a formidable title) does not have friends in high places in the Islamic Republic? The ‘links’ and ‘contacts’ cannot be openly spoken about or revealed in any manner. Men can be murdered for suggesting that Mullen’s “ample evidence” may exist.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2011.