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.