No plots anywhere (no pun intended)

Published: March 10, 2012

The writer is a former consulting editor at The Friday Times, and can be found on Twitter @RazaRumi

The change of leadership at Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency is an appropriate moment to reflect on what went wrong with the last adventure of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) i.e. the memo affair. Despite a veiled-yet-major putsch by all concerned, the ruse was too obvious and slipshod to oust the civilian order. Healthy institutions take stock of where they went wrong and undertake course correction.

The ungainly leak to a newspaper editor, quoted by the new saviour in the making, Imran Khan, in a public rally, indicated how a new game was being engineered. Khan named Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani as the alleged author of a memo which sought to undermine national security, which, unfortunately, is equated with patriotism in Pakistan. No sooner than this revelation was made, the media jumped in and for weeks there was nothing else but the story on how Haqqani had attempted to sell his country. A virulent media campaign was launched with the words of an American-Pakistani businessman repeated as gospel. Mansoor Ijaz emerged as a man of honour who ironically was on record to have called our spy agency as the source of global terror! However, these ‘minor’ issues with Ijaz were brushed aside, Haqqani was summoned, forced to quit and then kept as a prisoner without a passport.

Many questioned if the so-called memo asking for US support to reign in the military meant anything. Was it signed by anyone? Was even a portion of its recommendations implemented? Did the US pay any attention to such a silly scheme? Questions of this nature rarely find a place in the irrational media popular these days. Enter the largest opposition party and its gullibility in playing along with this game. A petition was filed in the Supreme Court, and the judgment which was delivered might haunt us for a long time as it, in effect, gave precedence to a militaristic definition of ‘national security’ over and above the fundamental rights of citizens. A judicial commission continues to investigate the traitors despite Ijaz’s refusal to travel to Pakistan.

What other things were revealed via this whole affair? Firstly, that the head of the agency had been travelling without the knowledge of his superior, the prime minister. If Ijaz was right about Haqqani plotting against the army, then was he also not correct about General Pasha’s visit to Middle Eastern kingdoms to garner support for a military coup? Secondly, the then former defence secretary, dismissed by the prime minister eventually, in his affidavits before the Court stated that the ISI and military operations were not under the control of the civilian government. This was a damning admission of how arms of the executive defy constitutional provisions!

Thirdly, the memo affair empowered the otherwise discredited government to assert itself and thus came the famous remarks of the prime minister that a state within a state would not be tolerated and those who were paid salaries with taxpayers’ money must be accountable to public representatives. Thus, the patriotism-game backfired. That may just be a defining moment for the future of democratic rule in Pakistan.

Some in the media are now saying that President Zardari will delay elections to wait for General Kayani to retire. This never-ending plotting must end now. The Senate elections have taken place and there is agreement on transfer of power via the Twentieth Amendment. The Constitution is clear that the term of elected legislatures is five years. There is no plot there.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2012.

Reader Comments (16)

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Mar 10, 2012 - 10:58PM

    Reza,

    This is excellent and very articulate.

    Now please write about Mehrangate next time. I will look forward to that because, to my mind, it is more interesting that this bogus saga.

    Thanks.

    Recommend

  • Mansoor Nawaz
    Mar 11, 2012 - 12:10AM

    Yes we cant endure more plots. please no more khakis and boots. let democracy mature itself.

    Recommend

  • Falcon
    Mar 11, 2012 - 12:31AM

    Lolz…If we could decipher the plot that easily, it would be us rather than the current political elite who would be running the country.

    Recommend

  • Mahmood Saeed
    Mar 11, 2012 - 1:28AM

    Good phantom defence.
    Please answer
    1- do all ambassadors/envoys visiting Isloo stay squestered at the Presidency/PM House?
    2- if HH has lost his BBs why is he unable to give his pin code etc to the commission?
    3- why was HH removed from his job if it was all kosher?

    Good luck

    Recommend

  • Best Pakistani
    Mar 11, 2012 - 2:07AM

    best hai g best

    Recommend

  • Saada Dil Bandah
    Mar 11, 2012 - 2:12AM

    An excellent piece. Well said, “If Ijaz was right about Haqqani plotting against (Pakistan) army, then was he not correct about General Pasha’s visits to Middle Eastern kingdoms to garner support for a military coup (against a constitutionally elected government)?” But neither My Lords nor media took notice of this alleged violation of the Constitution by public servant(s) paid with taxpayers’ money. Jo chaahey aap ka husn-e-krishma saaz krey!.

    Recommend

  • Scorpio
    Mar 11, 2012 - 10:16AM

    LOL! love the pun! Moral of the non- story story: people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!

    Recommend

  • Pakistani Punjabi (PP)
    Mar 11, 2012 - 10:33AM

    Simple but deadly lethal

    Recommend

  • Husham Ahmed
    Mar 11, 2012 - 12:58PM

    A good read indeed!

    The D day of Senate Elections has already passed without much happening. I wonder what cooked up plots await us next. There has to be some, otherwise it would be too dull for all the news stories.

    Recommend

  • MarkH
    Mar 11, 2012 - 1:41PM

    @Mahmood Saeed:
    1. When there are death threats, they might.
    2. The accused often times don’t cooperate any more than necessary out of spite in proportion to the negative effect it has had on their present life and most importantly their future.
    3. I shouldn’t have to answer this. Not only is it obvious, but it has been said repeatedly in the past and the reason isn’t isolated Pakistan or the guilty.

    Recommend

  • Mar 11, 2012 - 7:24PM

    Unfortunately we never seem to do the right thing in the country. our motto is to waste time on frivolous matters.

    Recommend

  • AM
    Mar 11, 2012 - 7:40PM

    NO plots? Maybe for civilians, but for the khaakis, the plots they are a-coming day by day.
    In my opinion, Mehran-Gate is MUCH more vital to the fate of this country than Memo-gate(or Atiqa Odho for that matter). Lets hope that goes well..
    Cheers

    Recommend

  • mrk
    Mar 11, 2012 - 11:20PM

    Reza, Jumping to conclusions aren’t we – the same that you are accusing the others? Was the call to investigate or prosecute?
    Ijaz is dubious and Haqqani is not is to be decided by a credible inquiry or by you? Isn’t it regular practice in any civilized nation that under subject of a serious alegation, a public office holder usually resigns or is asked to step down if there is some credence to the accusition?

    Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    Mar 12, 2012 - 7:03AM

    “national security, which, unfortunately, is equated with patriotism in Pakistan”
    oh liberal,when will you understand there is no patriotism without a sense of national security .how can one be treasonous and at the same time be patriotic .

    Recommend

  • Faisal Farooq
    Mar 12, 2012 - 1:33PM

    Brilliant piece…

    Recommend

  • Mar 13, 2012 - 11:33AM

    An apt analysis of the current state of affairs in Pakistan. A very nice read… Sanity prevails :)

    Recommend

More in Opinion