It should come as no great surprise to those of us who live in Pakistan, and who daily see the shenanigans of the all-powerful Pakistan Army and ISI generals, that the government of Pakistan in the defence ministry has announced that it has no control over the army or the ISI. Well done, I say to the government, for once more saying it like it is: the first time being when the matter of the missing persons was agitated before the Honourable Supreme Court, no less. And when a notice of the Honourable Court to the DG ISI was answered by the appearance of a Lt. Col. of the army’s legal branch! So much for the majesty of law.
But more than that, kudos to the prime minister for so clearly saying that every institution of state (here obviously referring to self-same Pakistan Army and the dreaded ISI), is subservient to parliament and through parliament to the chief executive of the country: the prime minister. This needed to be said much earlier, when the army first began to destabilise the elected government very soon after the 2008 elections, and when it issued a press statement criticising the Kerry-Lugar Bill in complete violation of good order and military discipline. Had a gold braided peak-capped head or two rolled then, mayhap we would not have seen the present machinations.
Whilst the PM’s bold and much-needed attempt to put the generals in their place might not have any effect on a spoilt and used-to-power coterie which is not accountable to anyone, and while they may even now do what is their wont i.e., kick the government out as they have done many times heretofore, it is good that he has said what he said in the words that he said it in. Enough is enough, and for all I care let the devil take the hindmost.
So then, back we are at base zero with our out of control security establishment aka the Pakistani Deep State (see above) sitting back and enjoying the spectacle of the politicians doing its dirty work: going for each other’s jugulars. It is pleased as Punch, licking its chops at the prospect of reinforcing its pre-eminence as the most powerful force in Pakistan; and seeing the two large political forces, the PPP and the PML-N at each other’s throats is much relieved that its preferred so-called ‘Third Force’ will have a relatively easier time gathering more lotas and turncoats to its bosom.
Nothing could be sadder; nothing more tragic for those of us who lived through the 80s and 90s and saw up close the rancour and the bitterness that ruled Pakistani politics in those years, during which the two major parties alternately destabilised the other with the help of the establishment, no holds barred. Those shenanigans only made the Deep State ever stronger, and the political class ever weaker: the PPP government being dismissed by its ‘own’ president inside of three years and, just three years into its government, the PML-N’s being thrown out by the Commando and its leaders jailed and then exiled.
For God’s sake, will our political leaders never learn? Will they forever be hostage to the Deep State and to the conspiracies spun by it? It is all very well for the PML-N to take the Murky Memo Matter to the Supreme Court, but have its leaders who I consider my friends, ever considered the fact that whilst Mansoor Ijaz’s allegations against the federal government and its officials were immediately ‘investigated’ by the top spook himself and a public indictment issued, the same person’s allegations against Shuja Pasha weighing the possibilities of carrying out a coup against a sitting elected government have been laid to rest by a mere press release of the ISPR denying any such thing?
While it is much exercised by the Murky Memo, does the PML-N find nothing wrong in the allegations against Pasha? Will it not ask for a thorough investigation by an agency/agencies of state, say the IB and the FIA? The ISPR says Pasha did not visit any of the countries mentioned on the stated dates, but did he visit them on other dates? Has anyone forensically examined his cell phones? Or his passports — if he goes through the usual procedures of travelling abroad like the rest of us, of course?! Am I right when I say that our generals are Teflon-coated; that nothing sticks to them; that they are faultless, blameless, and doubly-blessed? That the only bad is in the ‘bloody civilians’?
I have now written for many years that the only way that the politicians can see off the great threat to themselves posed by the Deep State is to stick together come hell or high-water. They must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to prevent that scourge of democracy, the Deep State, from always driving the agenda: giving a dog a bad name and then hanging him. The most effective weapon in its arsenal is spreading rumours about a government’s corruption and ineptness. In this they make no exceptions: exact same allegations were placed at the PPP’s door as were placed at the PML-N’s. I have long said too, that if this present government does not complete its tenure, neither will the next one. But is anyone listening?
No one is, because the fact of the matter is that the real aim of what is going on is to deny the PPP the majority in the Senate that will surely be it’s if it is allowed to stay in power until the elections in March. Simple, but very bad politics, for will the PPP not destabilise the PML-N government when IT comes to power?
A quick question to my friends in the PML-N who so want the government to be rolled up immediately if not sooner and elections held in the next two months: Do you really think that the powers will allow a snap election when its preferred ‘Third Force’ is still girding its loins?
I am most sad.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2011.