The political crisis rages on, with the Supreme Court leading the charge. The battle lines were sharpened when Asma Jahangir withdrew from the memogate case, citing lack of confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. She was of the view that the Supreme Court placed the concept of national security above that of fundamental rights. These grave developments and Ms Jahangir’s assertions need to be addressed with all the seriousness they deserve.
The so-called memo is a spurious and worthless piece of paper, whose authorship no one is claiming, and which has been tossed in the trash can by the person for whom it was intended, then-US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen, and by the courier, former US National Security Adviser General (retd) James Jones. There are contradictions galore. Mansoor Ijaz has made two statements: one, claiming that the said memo was authored by former ambassador Husain Haqqani and the other that the ISI chief toured Middle Eastern countries to lobby for support to remove the democratically elected government. The Supreme Court has accepted the first Mansoor Ijaz statement as credible enough to place Husain Haqqani on the Exit Control List and launch a full-scale judicial investigation. At the same time, it has ignored the second of Mansoor Ijaz’s statement and instead accepted the ISPR version. How is it that the court has pre-supposed one of Mansoor Ijaz’s statements as weighty enough and found another not worthy of consideration?
The Supreme Court judgment states that a probe is called for in order to ensure enforcement of fundamental rights. The connection is somewhat far-fetched and is reminiscent of the referendum ordered by General Zia, whereby a ‘yes’ vote for Islam was also considered to be an endorsement for the dictator to remain in power for five years!
The loss of East Pakistan apart, there have been many situations and occasions over the last three decades — unlike the frivolous piece of paper that the Supreme Court has placed on a pedestal — whence there have been tangible threats to the security of the state and to the lives of the people and thousands of civilian, police and military lives have been actually lost. It is now 26 years since 1985 that blood is being spilled on Karachi streets. How is it that thousands of sophisticated weaponry continues to be smuggled into the country and distributed freely for use in the country’s prime metropolis? Which agency is responsible for protecting the people from the influx and use of illegal arms? Who will hold these agencies accountable?
How is it that a two-bit mullah ran a clandestine radio station in Swat and aired seditious hate propaganda for years without being apprehended? After all, the technology to track down the origin of radio signals was available even during World War II. Which agency was responsible for controlling such illegal activities that spiraled into an actual threat to the integrity of the state and which required a full-scale military operation to subdue? Who will hold these agencies accountable?
How is it that sophisticated arms were stockpiled in Lal Masjid in the centre of the federal capital, leading to a battle that engaged the Pakistan army for days and actually cost the lives of many soldiers. What guarantee is there that an external enemy force will also not be able to stockpile an arsenal in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta or Karachi and launch an attack on the country from within?
How is it that a foreign military force succeeded in penetrating to the outskirts of a premier military cantonment in the heart of the country, carried out an operation for almost an hour and escaped? What guarantee is there that a country that harbours enmity against Pakistan — India or Israel — will not be able to carry out a similar operation against our nuclear assets? What greater security threat can the country have actually faced? Who will hold the responsible agencies accountable?
If the Supreme Court considers it within its domain to defend national security above all else, it must also take cognisance of these actual threats to national security and to the actual losses of civilians and military lives. Otherwise, the so-called memogate issue, being billed as a conspiracy against the state’s security organisations, will be perceived as a conspiracy against the Constitution, against democracy and against the democratically-elected parliament.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 21st, 2012.