Pack of Lies

Published: February 7, 2013
The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore

The writer is a lawyer and partner at Ijaz and Ijaz Co in Lahore [email protected]

The ISPR’s response to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) annual report is that it is a “pack of lies”. The brevity of the response is striking. However, it is not only the words; they have economised on reason and facts as well, resulting in a complete absence of both. To give some background, the HRW report criticised the government for failing to check human rights abuses by the intelligence and security agencies who have allowed extremist groups to attack religious minorities, activists and journalists. The report, amongst other things, also pointed out that the military has had known affiliations with religious and sectarian groups, citing the example of the LeJ and its impunity. These questions have been raised by many thinking, rational Pakistanis in the past. Yet, the ISPR in its response goes on to say the report is, “propaganda driven, totally biased, anti-Pakistan agenda” and, of course, an attempt to malign the “Institutions”.

One would have imagined that the military and ISPR would have been a bit busy these days. Lt-General (retd) Shahid Aziz’s sensational — or is it sensationalist — revelations on Kargil make for some pretty serious allegations (“pack of lies” might be useful here for multiple parties). There is also this small recent matter of a TTP spokesperson holding a press conference in South Waziristan. Roll this around your tongue a little. It does puzzle the mind on how this man remains elusive from our awe-inspiring, phone tapping, sleepless guardians, when, in fact, it seems some television anchors have him on speed dial. Perhaps, if the military spent less time threatening Ali Dayan and HRW and more time inquiring about the whereabouts of Ehsanullah Ehsan, only if.

The ISPR statement comes from a long but not proud tradition. The Hamoodur Rahman commission’s report was baseless propaganda to defame the Army. The IJI was never formed; okay maybe it was, but only in the “national interest”. The civilian PM ordered Kargil, OBL was never in Pakistan, Saleem Shehzad probably killed himself, the list goes on but you get the picture. They have a habit of issuing brief, threatening denials and sticking to them, up to the point they are proved false. At that point we are reminded, regardless of its failures the military should not be criticised because it lowers the morale of our troops and weakens the “Institutions” (The term is now running into diminishing returns, it is a thinly-veiled euphemism for the military, although the Supreme Court is making the occasional appearance). An example of another famous brief statement which one is reminded of is L’état, c’est moi (“I am the State”) by Louis XIV. It seems that we have little concept of state and “national interest” outside of the military.

The HRW report says almost exactly what the Supreme Court has said in relation to Balochistan and the role of the intelligence agencies. The FC and intelligence agencies have been in control in Balochistan and have failed to rein in the sectarian terrorist groups. That is a fact, yet when have we let facts come in the way of good old “patriotism”. Human rights as a concept is portrayed as “western, Zionist, etc.” and now this xenophobic and dangerous nonsense is being brought to the mainstream. The intention is very clear, i.e. to coerce away human rights organisations. This will not only affect or stop at HRW or Ali Dayan, rather it will extend to all human rights and indeed human lives in Pakistan.

The really disturbing bit about the current fiasco is the shameful role of a certain segment of the media. Is it too much to ask from the “fiercely independent” media that at least there is no incitement to violence and people’s lives are not endangered? The quality and tone of the ISPR release and some pieces by one journalist in particular have enough resemblance to make one wonder, if they are both written by the same person/institution (I have no idea which one though). One may attribute direct culpability to an anchorperson for the murder of Governor Taseer, and to our collective shame the offending hysterical anchorperson’s career instead of ending there, soared to new heights (or perhaps sunk to new depths). Now a dangerous and malicious attempt is underway against Ali Dayan; no doubt to punish him for being brave and honest in this blighted land. This is a test for the media as a whole, if they cannot or will not stand up to the military and equally significantly to bullies and the dishonest in their own ranks, it will make a lot of brave, moralising lecturing sound hollow.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Imran Ahmed (@IAgnikul)
    Feb 7, 2013 - 12:36AM

    Brave words and True. Stay safe.


  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Feb 7, 2013 - 12:52AM

    Non sense as usual. Another Kamran Shafi, who likes to defame the establishment.
    As though to say those who belong to the human rights group, ever talk about
    the corruption, loot, plunder, and bigotory of the present government. As if the human
    rights group, are those who decended from heaven, and are free of their own grudges.


  • Adeel
    Feb 7, 2013 - 1:02AM

    Brilliant as usual by the author.


  • Parvez
    Feb 7, 2013 - 1:24AM

    Again a strong piece and worded so that its hard to ignore. Though the question of why is it so, is not easily answered.


  • Parvez
    Feb 7, 2013 - 1:28AM

    Again a strong piece and very hard to ignore what you have written.
    Though the question of why this is so does not get easily answered.


  • Foqia
    Feb 7, 2013 - 2:33AM

    Excellent article. Very brave one, very rational one and very passionate one. We need to show all our support to Human Rights Watch and Ali Dayan Hasan. Our military completely forgets that their primary purpose is to defend the people of this country. If the people are not safe and if they are being butchered (as Shias have been amongst others) like flies, then defending the so-called territory in which citizens live becomes meaningless. It is the people’s lives and liberties, their welfare and well-being which is most important. When I say people, I do not mean ONLY untra-Wahabi Saudi Arabia influenced tiny minority. I mean ALL the people of Pakistan whether they are Shias, Ahmedis, Christians, Hindus or have other identities. It is extremely shameful and disgraceful for the army to be associated with the murderers of people of this country. Any other INSTITUTION or organisation top brass in a civilised world would have resigned till an independent inquiry has not absolved them. Over here, they want to harass and bad-mouth HRW and Ali Dayan Hasan for speaking the bitter truth.


  • shahid
    Feb 7, 2013 - 2:56AM

    The HRW report says almost exactly what the Supreme Court has said in relation to Balochistan and the role of the intelligence agencies.

    Is it the same Supreme Court that is routinely put down and ridiculed in columns written by the author and many others, particularly in the English media? How come the SC was so vehemently criticized when they declared the Government of Balochistan as non-functional for being in violation of this “western, Zionist, etc.” concept of the human rights of people of Balochistan? I think it would be worth while for the author to read carefully what he himself has written towards the end of his article.

    This is a test for the media as a whole, if they cannot or will not stand up to the military and equally significantly to bullies and the dishonest in their own ranks, it will make a lot of brave, moralising lecturing sound hollow.Recommend

  • Nadir
    Feb 7, 2013 - 4:25AM

    The representative of the state, stated before the ISI that 700 people were held under detention without charge by the military…that too was a pack of lies until a few weeks ago.


  • vasan
    Feb 7, 2013 - 7:16AM

    This confirms the theory that other countries have armies, But in Pakistan, the army has the country to feed itself


  • Arifq
    Feb 7, 2013 - 9:28AM

    Saroop, brilliant! ISPR/Establishment representation must be proportional to its constitutional status in Pakistan, not the bloated form they currently monopolize because of their ability to coerce. Establishment is not the savior of Pakistan, their role is very clearly defined constitutionally, “defend” borders of Pakistan, period!


  • Razza
    Feb 7, 2013 - 9:47AM

    Excellent job. Pakistanis are in self-destruct mode. Like CIA, KGB, RAW, MOSAD are angels roaming around the distributing presents making world peace. Keep fueling the anger against your nation till you give them enough reasons to walk in and turn you into Libya & Syria.


  • pakiindi
    Feb 7, 2013 - 10:00AM

    Since when have the establishment’s lies and denials become news?


  • Imran Ahmed (@IAgnikul)
    Feb 7, 2013 - 10:39AM

    @shahid: One does have to be “for” or “against” our Army, our SC or our Politicians. We have a right to commend or criticize the performance of our servants and those we elect to represent us.


  • Feb 7, 2013 - 10:41AM

    Brilliant as always.


  • freedom seeker
    Feb 7, 2013 - 11:59AM

    May Allah bless you and save you.


  • Riaz Khan
    Feb 7, 2013 - 1:38PM

    Nation in denial mode! Blame all our shortcomings/blunders/mistakes on others.


  • Weird
    Feb 7, 2013 - 1:46PM

    I think ISPR’s potential is being wasted by forcing it to provide PR services to the Pakistan military alone. If after losing half the country and one debacle after another, most Pakistanis believe the military to be the most efficient organization (apparently military losses are also blamed on political leaders like Bhutto and Sharif), ISPR must be doing something right.

    I say ISPR should be allowed to provide PR services to clients around the world. I am sure firms like HSBC, NRA and NewsCorp would pay top dollar for its services.


  • sabi
    Feb 7, 2013 - 3:10PM

    Fascist rule fascist ways.Neither citizens nor our neighbours are at ease let happines alone.The hammer of suppression was first struck on politicians then on minorities and ultimately now on everyone.And they must not forget that every story has its climax and its drop scene and how terible will be that drop scene when hamer will blow back!


  • Genius
    Feb 7, 2013 - 3:43PM

    The learned writer wrote
    “This is a test for the media as a whole, if they cannot or will not stand up to the military and equally significantly to bullies and the dishonest in their own ranks, it will make a lot of brave, moralising lecturing sound hollow.”
    O’ People, concerned people, authors, writers, educated people, intellectuals you do not need rocket science to understand that to stand up to any Mafia you need to be organised. Why people need to be organised because the Mafia is organised to take people their slaves, which is what is happening. So in order to stand up to the Mafia, to counter their slave taking, the people need to be organised. Every concerned person, authors, writers, intellectuals are duty bound to work to organise the masses. Organise to become responsible caring citizens, thus unite to work for the common good for all.
    If people do not, they will remain slaves to the Mafias as do the “free and democratic” people of the USA. Who tells them they are free and democratic? All the Goddamn liars and criminals who rule over them from behind the facade of the politicians.
    When people sleep, then the thieves and robbers will certainly make the best of it.


  • Enlightened
    Feb 7, 2013 - 10:52PM

    The armed forces of a country in a democratic set up are duty bound to be impartial and provide security to all citizens irrespective of their caste or religions. The military was defeated in all external wars against its neighbour and its ill-conceived policy of exporting terrorism too back-fired on Pakistan. The least military could do for the country was to win the internal security war against Taliban and sectarian outfits which it has failed to do so far resulting in deaths of thousands of innocent people but puts blame on the political parties for failing to provide so called consensus. The author is spot on in his analysis on military but for how long will people of Pakistan tolerate this insensivity ?


  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Feb 8, 2013 - 1:08AM


    To correct your blatant mistakes here are the actual facts

    1948 war was a victory for Pakistan, as it captured one third of Kashmir,
    and holds on to it successfully by the grace of Allah Subhana even today.
    Was that a victory or defeat?

    1965 despite all odds, and fighting for 17 days, Pakistan managed to repulse all
    Indian attacks, and a ceasefire took place. In terms of territory Pakistan captured
    half of what India, did. Was that a defeat, or a victory?

    1971 was humiliation for Pakistan, and it was the debacle planned by the so called
    revered politician ZAB, who refused to accept the reality of his defeat in the 1970 election,
    and the drunkard Yahya Khan, who was hardly ever sober.

    1999 Kargil. was a victory for Pakistan, and had not the coward Nawaz Shareef buckled
    to US pressure, things would have been different. If you wish to know and read
    reality, read the biography of Bill Clinton who has disclosed it.


  • Enlightened
    Feb 8, 2013 - 10:32PM

    @Shahbaz Asif Tahir:
    I have no intention to contradict your views on wars with India but may advise you to search net on all wars which might put on the right perspective. My comments were actually made to focus attention on the present day scenario in Pakistan and total inaction of your military which is well equipped and trained to defeat Taliban but strangely is on the back-foot resulting in killing of thousands of innocent people. Surprisingly, you have failed to comment on this main issue.


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