Islamabad diary: Things khakis would have you believe (done)
The military continues to brief against Hussain Haqqani even after they have successfully ousted him from office.
Only politicians leak; the military simply beams out a coordinated message. The military’s target may change but the story is always the same. Most military briefings on civilian politicians essentially amount to the same thing: look at these hapless men and what damage they are doing to the country.
You can judge the amount of contempt and hatred the military has for Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistan ambassador to the US, by the fact that they continue to brief against him even after they successfully ousted him from office.
Two versions of the same story were pushed out this week to convince journalists that Haqqani was desperate to leave the country, even though he has been placed on the Exit Control List. One has the former ambassador accompanying his wife Farahnaz Ispahani along with President Zardari as they were leaving for Dubai, trying to board the helicopter and being on the verge of tears as he was told he could not join them.
The other version paints him in only a slightly more positive light, with Haqqani apparently frantically text messaging his wife to let him go to Dubai. The claims have, obviously, been categorically denied by Haqqani.
The military has also been pushing talk of a split between Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. The military leadership has never hidden its contempt for the president and the feeling in the capital is that they are trying to engineer a scenario where Zardari would have to step down but the PPP could continue governing, with Gilani at its helm.
But talk of feuds is premature. From his hospital bed in Dubai, Zardari has been in constant contact with his close aides, who are relaying that information to Gilani, say sources close to the presidency. Much of Zardari’s inner circle accompanied him to Dubai but trusted adviser Salman Farooqi is ensconced at the presidency to carry out his boss’ orders.
Gilani, meanwhile, has found solace in Urdu poetry. Briefing journalists after his meeting with Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Gilani quoted a couplet saying that a confrontation at this time would bring everybody down. The couplet was:
“Sochen tau kashmakash main hai donon ka hi ziyan, uss ka gulab to mera gareban jayega.”
(Consider how we both stand to lose in case of a clash; he (will lose his) laurel, I (my) collar)
A source close to the prime minister said that he also started the cabinet meeting to respond to the November 26 Nato attack by reciting a piece of poetry. The verse in question was:
“Zindagi itni bhi ghaneemat nahee jiss kay liey, ahl’e kam zarf ki har baat gawara kar lain.”
(Life is not so precious after all that we should indulge every whim of the narrow-minded)
Privately, Gilani has also been stewing over the replies given by Kayani and ISI chief Shuja Pasha to the Supreme Court on the memogate case. He felt their replies were too personal and should have reflected an institutional voice rather than the personalities of those at its helm. In public, though, he has maintained a veneer of calm denying any split between the civilian and the men in khaki. Should the military briefings against the government continue, that facade may soon be smashed to bits.