Stout denial

Published: March 2, 2012
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 [email protected]

First, my deep anguish and pain at the wanton and repeated killings of our Shia brothers and sisters and children across the length and breadth of our poor and blighted country: from Mastung to Parachinar, to Karachi to Kohistan to Khanpur to Dera Ismail Khan.

What has happened to this country that we knew to be such a different place; with such different values and sharam and haya and total respect for others’ belief systems and practices and mores. A quick anecdote: When I did my matriculation to the utter disbelief of many, my dear grandmother, who had brought me up, bought me one of those leather-covered National transistor radios.

As it happened, the results came out at the start of Muharram and so my brand new radio was confiscated for the duration. When I objected saying that we were not Shia, my grandmother said, “Ehteraam, (respect) child! No music will be played in this house during Muharram”! What has happened since, that has turned some of us into the cruel beasts that we are today? Shame on us and may God have mercy on us for allowing these horrendous acts to happen.

The question to ask is what can be done to stop the massacre of Shias in Pakistan of members of the minorities in general? Should someone not be held responsible? Our much-vaunted ‘agencies’ led by the Mother of All Agencies and its various military adjuncts whose ‘assets’ these murderers are? The Intelligence Bureau? The FIA? The provincial police? The federal interior ministry? Should the chiefs of these agencies and departments not be asked to explain WHY these massacres happen with such alarming frequency?

Should they not be held to account and asked just what their tens of thousands of operatives do, apart from in some cases acting as qabza groups for friends and relatives? Should some official heads not roll before the whole country becomes a killing field? Or is it the case that our drunk-with-power leaders of the Deep State see no evil, hear no evil, riding their BMW-7 Series limousines and counting the money that came from the latest plot sale? Do they too believe in ‘Stout Denial’?

Such as in the 1967 film “A guide for the married man”, in which Paul Manning played by Walter Matthau gets to learn the ropes of how to cheat on his wife from the practised philanderer, his friend Ed Stander, played by Robert Morse.

Now then, the very first lesson that Ed teaches Paul is ‘stout denial’, come hell or high water, no matter how badly one gets caught out. So stout, in fact, that it almost defies description and beggars belief.

When Ed is giving his various lessons, the scene changes to another set on which two other actors are playing out the part. ‘Stout denial’ starts with a bedroom scene in which an older man is in bed with a young woman. The door of the bedroom opens with a bang and standing there is the frumpish wife with a hat on her head, carrying a suitcase, obviously just that instant returned home unannounced from visiting her mother.

“Henry” she screams, “who is that woman?” While Henry says, innocence written all over his face, “Which woman, dear?”, the young woman wearing panties and bra (in those days bedroom scenes were less ‘explicit’!) gets out of bed and into her skirt. “The woman who has just got out of our bed, Henry,” shouts the wife.

“Which bed, dear,” says Henry, by which time his companion has put on her blouse and is reaching for her hat and bag. “The bed in our room” screams the poor wife. “Which room, dear?” says Henry. By this time the young lady has walked past the wife and through the door, closing it shut.

“The woman who just walked out the door” says the by-now-almost hysterical wife. “Which woman, dear, I don’t see any woman!” The wife looks around the room, and of course there is no woman!

I saw this film forty-some years ago but this vignette has stayed in my memory for it so reminds me of the too-clever-by-half doings of our Deep State. Abbottabad Cantonment and Bin Laden and the shenanigans surrounding his six-year stay there; his killing by the Americans in a unilateral action; the self-defeating attempted cover-up, and now the razing to the ground of his massively built safe-house, reportedly boasting three-foot thick walls is a most recent occurrence. There are many Pakistanis who say even now, “Pakistan has been around for sixty-four years”. They seem to have erased East Pakistan from their memories completely! Stout denial, what!

Not that anyone listens, but I shall say it: please no more extensions to anyone: Pasha, Kidwai or anyone else. There are surely many able generals, or capable civilians, who can fill the posts of DG (ISI) and head of the Strategic Plans Division. Second, and most importantly, extensions in service block the promotions of other hardworking, deserving people.

The extensions to Kayani and Pasha were a bad idea then; they are a worse idea today; particularly considering Pasha’s behaviour in the Case of the Murky Memo. Additionally, the performance of the ISI under his command has not exactly been stellar. From Parade Lane to Hamza Camp; Lahore to Faisalabad; GHQ to the good General Mushtaq Beg’s assassination, and Abbottabad to Mehran Base, it is a litany of failures. Also, what about Master Mansoor Ijaz now that foreign courts are ruling against him?

P.S. Anyone interested in how grown-up countries behave in times of crises should look at Italy and India sorting out the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian Marines. No foaming-at-the-mouth anchors; no ‘bohut ghussa’ opposition politicians choking on their own bile.

P.P.S. Will someone please see that the unfortunate ‘sniffer dog’, an underfed, sick, and lame cur which just lies around outside the gate of the Supreme Court looking sorry for itself, at least has a bowl of cool water by him in the rising summer heat? My Lord?

Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • vasan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 12:10PM

    I think India has become bold,upright and insisting on its stand in 2 recent problems with foreign countries
    1. The confiscation of 2 babies in Norway
    2. The killing of fishermen near Kochi

    The Norway’s act is absolutely ridiculous. Norway cannot behave in a way the Australians behaved with the Aborigines long time ago ie snatching their children and interning them, Norway or for that matter any country is not superior compared to the parents when it comes to the upbringing of children. Well done India. The children must be given back to the parents’


  • Truth Teller
    Mar 2, 2012 - 1:10PM

    KM, You are simply fantastic! Love your articles.


  • Parvez
    Mar 2, 2012 - 1:16PM

    You are normally good but this time you’re very good.
    My one observation is that if one in authority has to question another in authority then the one asking questions must either hold the moral high ground or possess a bigger gun.
    Liked the little bit about the dog, one can conjure all sorts of meanings out of something possibly meant to be simply a factual observation.


  • K. Khan
    Mar 2, 2012 - 1:20PM

    God bless you KK Sb. As ever a thought provoking piece of writing.


  • kamran
    Mar 2, 2012 - 1:46PM

    Mr Shafi please write in the urdu press too, its unfortunate to find u missing from the mainstream press which is read by the masses.


  • Brig Harwant Singh (Retd)
    Mar 2, 2012 - 4:23PM

    Excellent article.

    ” Accountability” is a MUST for all those in “Authority ” .


  • Butt
    Mar 2, 2012 - 7:20PM

    All muslims respect the month of Muharram not because of the martyrdom of the Prophets family but because it was believed (even during the Prophets time) that during this month Moses liberated the Jews of Egypt. Therefore, Prophet Muhammad used to fast on the tenth day of this month. It has been declared the most sacred month after Ramadan for muslims.

    Only if we knew the things we talked about and not got swept under by the rip tides of emotion.


  • Khan Jr
    Mar 2, 2012 - 7:47PM

    Perhaps if you were more considerate, caring and more gracious, you should have added the ‘just’.

    So your comment ought to have read: “All muslims respect the month of Muharram not just because of the martyrdom of the Prophets family…

    Otherwise you would be showing intolerance…


  • Mirza
    Mar 2, 2012 - 7:59PM

    A great and timely Op Ed. Once again thank you very much.


  • K B Kale
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:17PM

    Excellent article. Re extention of Generals also, Pakistan should emulate Indian example. No extentions! Period!!
    I have also appealed to Shafisahab to write in Urdu papers to enlighten the masses.
    Carry on the good work, Sir!


  • kakaran
    Mar 2, 2012 - 9:22PM

    A fantastic article. We should keep in mind that we are not that smart to outfox and outsmart the whole world for all the time. We were caught pants down and this was the orchestrated humiliation of us all. How could we be so stupid to think that we can hoodwink the whole world and get away unharmed by sheltering the most wanted man in the history. We the people of Pakistan does not want to be denigrated and besmirched further. These strategic assets have wreaked havoc on this hapless country and have become deadly liability. KM you are marvelous.


  • John B
    Mar 2, 2012 - 10:45PM

    What killings he is talking about. There are no such acts in Pakistan.


  • K. B. Kale
    Mar 3, 2012 - 6:01AM

    @John B:
    Yes, Mr John. I agree. Pakistan didn’t have Osama, don’t have Dawood Ibrahim, Saleem Shahzad was not killed by ISI & there are no ISI-related killings! People like Mr Kamran Shafi make irresponsible allegations!