Why the APC?

Published: October 6, 2011
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army, and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army, and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto

Why the so-called All-Parties Conference (APC) on the US government’s statements against the alleged role of the ISI in destabilising Afghanistan? While one knows that our great praetorian strategists prodded the government to bail them out, the issue could have been debated in a joint session of parliament and a resolution passed for whatever good that would have done.

Why indeed, were the leaders of political parties not represented in parliament, invited to the APC? While selfsame praetorians probably insisted that their friends be present, why did the government oblige: bringing say, the PTI’s Imran Khan and the AML’s Sheikh Rashid ‘Tulli’ to the same level as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif? The former two have no representation at all in parliament; the latter is the chief of the main opposition in the country.

Going further, if these two unelected leaders could be invited, why not those who work their hearts out in civil society organisations, some of them with a bigger membership than the PTI and the AML put together, such as labour unions; women’s and artists’ organisations; and representatives of the minorities? A parliamentary committee could have heard these voices as well.

Moreover, why hold the APC at all when it merely parroted the line of the Deep State when it comes to Afghanistan, the operative thought being: “Pakistan must initiate dialogue with a view to negotiating peace with our own people in the tribal areas [FATA]” … leading of course to the Taliban; the Quetta Shura; and the Haqqanis finding a place in the next ‘set-up’ as the future government of Afghanistan is referred to by Pakistan’s foreign policy ‘elites’ of JI/USIP report fame.

But before we go further, let us dwell on the words “our own people in the tribal areas”. Who are “our own people” in the tribal areas, please sirs? The Afghan Haqqanis; the Uzbek, and Arab, and Chechen, and Uighur, and Punjabi terrorists who terrorise the real ‘our own people’ by killing their elders every so often in crimes that are never investigated; or those against whom these crimes are committed in full view of the State?

Is it any wonder then, that the very person that Islamabad “blames for cross border attacks on its security forces” — according to this newspaper of record — Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, the TTP’s deputy commander and commander-in-chief in Bajaur (I ask you!) has offered peace talks to the government of Pakistan after PM Gilani’s reiteration of holding dialogue with all comers, even the killers of thousands of our troops and other lay people? The man’s gall: well, both Gilani’s and Faqir Muhammad’s!

Seriously though, our BMW 7-Series riding brilliances should study Faqir Muhammad’s statement carefully: “We want direct talks with the government and not through intermediaries … we will continue to fight till the establishment of an Islamic state … but if our demands are met and an Islamic justice system is established in Pakistan, which is our country, we will lay down our weapons because we are peace-loving people,” he said. So there … shades of Sufi Muhammad and Swat, what? The start of the Global Jihad, what?

But let’s leave this aside for no one will listen, no one will hear. We have a government which refuses to stand up to the Deep State even when it has a better and a wiser handle on international affairs, and on matters that can deeply affect our country. And we have a Deep State that refuses to give up even those policies that have seen our country dragged down in every way.

To end, let me tell you a little of censorship. While one sees some in the Pakistani media now and again it is most upsetting to see the BBC indulging in it too. On this last Wednesday I was on ‘Sairbeen’ with fellow discussant, the good Rustam Shah Mohmand. Whilst the BBC broadcast Mr Mohmand’s assertion that Zia, Junejo, Benazir, Nawaz Sharif and Musharraf had nothing to do with the Afghan imbroglio and that it was only “people at the lower levels” who meddled in Afghan affairs, it edited out completely what I said in reply. And that was that whilst the civilian leaders certainly had nothing to do with it, the army dictators named, were involved all the way in ordering the mess we see today.

Here, too, we are powerless. Let us instead talk about Faiz’s Centennial Festival held at the Asia Society in New York City on October 1. The great actor/compere Zia Mohyeddin read from some of Faiz’s most inspirational Urdu poetry interspersed with prose and passages from the letters he wrote to his wife Alys, in English, when he was in jail. Zia’s seamless dove-tailing of English prose and Urdu poetry left the audience in complete awe, the packed house erupting in applause several times.

In the second part, famous singer Tahira Syed sang ten ghazals and nazms of which seven were composed by the legendary composer Arshad Mahmud. Her rendition of the popular “Bahar Aai”, originally sung by Tina Sani, was applauded time and again by the audience which also loved Mahmud’s new composition of Faiz’s ghazal “Nahin nigah mein manzil to justejoo hi sahi”. Resonates in the present, this one, doesn’t it?

The event was organised jointly by the Faiz Festival Committee, New York, headed by my pal Masood Haider; the Asia Society; Zia Mohyeddin; Tahira Syed, and Arshad Mahmud. I might add that the organisers are out of pocket to the tune of $11,000, as I write this, having spent $21,000 total.

P.S.: Someone called Asif Jamshaid complained by email that I hit ‘below the belt’, referring to Short Course officers as ‘Nur Jahanias’. I sent back and email saying, that he should lighten up, that it was only a joke, and that some of the finest officers I knew/know were ‘Nur Jahanias’. However, I do apologise if I hurt any sensitive feelings.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • World champion
    Oct 6, 2011 - 10:48PM

    “why did the government oblige: bringing say, the PTI’s Imran Khan and the AML’s Sheikh Rashid ‘Tulli’ to the same level as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif? The former two have no representation at all in parliament; the latter is the chief of the main opposition in the country.”……. The latter and the government are a product of bogus degrees and has no support of masses.. In contrast, IK has a huge support, especially of youth. I have even heard that imran khan did not wanted to stay in this APC, but was forced by others to stay…Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel
    Oct 6, 2011 - 10:49PM

    Come on I thought you are a wise guy but have lost interest in reading your articles any more. You call Nawaz Sharif a sane person and Imran or Sheikh as “Tullis”. You have joined the bandwagon of trashing the Army and elevating nonsense people like NS because of whom we are having these bad times.


  • White Russian
    Oct 6, 2011 - 10:56PM

    Only reason they give for their most recent stupidity is some earlier stupidity, which in turn was the result of even older stupidity, …. and so on. This gives us some measure of the “depth” of deep state.


  • Nasir
    Oct 6, 2011 - 11:02PM

    Why not the Parliment? (1) Because, truth be told, this Parliament has lost legitimacy when NADRA made it Public that 45% votes were fake. (2) Because, you honestly think that the people today trust this parliament? And why Imran khan can not come at par to Nawaz Sharif? Is it this democracy (famous for being better than “Behtreen Amriyat”) that you talk about so much? where you started categorizing on your personal views? Where is equality then?Recommend

  • Parvez
    Oct 6, 2011 - 11:06PM

    Writing and commenting on the political front does seem as if your banging your head against a stone wall. When you touch on lighter subjects it makes for interesting reading.
    Either way, always like reading what you put out.


  • SaneVoice
    Oct 6, 2011 - 11:20PM

    Shafi Sahib,

    Another well written article, I appreciate you clearing the air about “Nur Jahanias”, few other military officers that I knew were a little disappointed with the characterization also. Anways Time and again we remain fixated on issues that have nothing to do with us or would land us in deeper imbrogolio than we currently find ourself in. Let’s fix Pakistans countless issues first, with Law and Order being the top most priority, I was in New York the other day trying to convince companies to invest in Pakistan Energy infrastructure, time and again they brought up the issue of militancy and lack of Law and Order and proper channels of Judicial recourse.

    P.S. If BBC did indeed perform censorship, that is most appalling.


  • meekal ahmed
    Oct 7, 2011 - 12:35AM


    I admire you tenacity asking questions to which you will get no answers!

    But keep it up all the same.



  • Realist.
    Oct 7, 2011 - 3:28AM

    So this comment section will turn out to be a bashing Place. Because the writer somehow wrote against Imran khan!
    I have noticed this MANY times now , NO one from other parties goes furious like Torus do!
    Have a Heart PTI supporters because ‘tolerance’ is the essence of Politics.


  • A.Raja Rao
    Oct 7, 2011 - 7:56AM

    I watched an interview of Imran Khan with Barkha Dutt on an Indian channel and he said that during the APC, Kayani told everybody that if the army undertakes an operation in NW there will be chaos in the country and was the political parties ready for it and it seems the political parties got cold feet and agreed with whatever Kayani said. This included Imran Khan whose approach seems to be that all armed actions must be stopped since there are a million armed people in S and N W.


  • Mirza
    Oct 7, 2011 - 8:50AM

    Another gem of an article sir. Thanks for bringing the truth out even though the deep state is not going to change. Please keep it up!



  • Oct 7, 2011 - 10:49AM

    Good Lord, the “Nur Jahanias” – amazing. We love them so much, only if they will respond the same.


  • Moosa Reza
    Oct 7, 2011 - 11:06AM

    excellent piece!


  • Lalai
    Oct 7, 2011 - 11:32AM

    Dear Kamran Sb,you have adopted no safety precautions. At least wear a helmet and try to stay safe. We need people like you. Recommend

  • Beta
    Oct 7, 2011 - 11:44AM

    @Maulana Diesel:

    He doesn’t root NS, all he saying was, the elected representatives of parliament should and must be given importance in all national matters. He is saying behalf of you, try to understand.


  • WhatsInAName
    Oct 7, 2011 - 12:25PM

    the easiest jon today is to write an article and fill it with criticism.

    Why was not there any mention of the unity aspect of APC. which the rubber stamp parliament can never stand for.


  • BruteForce
    Oct 7, 2011 - 8:15PM

    The problem with half-Democracies, rather half-Dictatorships is that they forget.

    I being an Indian remember clearly well the antics of Mullah Fazlullah and his brigadiers. I remember well Sufi Muhammed, who was the darling of the Urdu Media in Pakistan, until a few video came out showing delivering justice Taliban style. Suddenly, Sufi Muhammed became a villain and Baitullah Mehsud a RAW supported fugitive.Recommend

  • Oct 7, 2011 - 11:28PM

    Every time, once you write something, you overtly or covertly point a finger towards Pak Army & rest of 3 fingers are pointed towards you………………………..

    We both share same roots and somehow I tend to disagree with you mostly.

    Are you part of those who think bashing Army is in the fashion……


  • Aftb Kenneth Wilson
    Oct 8, 2011 - 12:18AM

    Interestingly there were also those parties or personalities who can not get even a single vote even from their family members. This APC was only to bail out our opportunists. Denials on state level will only aggravate our already fragile position if we really think of having any position other than what others think about us.


  • Salahuddin
    Oct 8, 2011 - 2:13AM

    @Khalid Masood:

    Well, criticizing an opinion is your right. If an opinion is logical then please try to come up with your differences with a logic instead of using assumptions and the same old “sacred cows” rhetorics.


  • Oct 8, 2011 - 1:28PM


    Is it some kind of martial law where I am not permitted to express my opinion ?


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