The armed forces of Pakistan have a fully-fledged Directorate of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) to spin feel good stories for them. Their security related networks like the ISI also have a special section to deal with opinions and trends, spread through both the mainstream and social media.
In spite of the presence of such specialized and vigilant outfits, we have to suffer peculiar type of characters who regularly appear on the screens of our 24/7 channels. The TV anchors put a volley of questions to these characters presuming as if they represent the armed forces of Pakistan. No doubt, the one and only loudmouth from the downtown of Rawalpindi, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, remains the most prominent among this crowd of self-declared “defenders of Pakistan’s ideological foundations and the prestige and honour of its armed forces”.
Since the suicidal landing of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan early this year, the Supreme Court has been consistently pestering the executive to explain his position in the context of subverting the constitution on Nov 3, 2007. But the caretaker government eluded the said question, on grounds that its sole mandate was to hold free and fair elections.
However, after his election as the prime minister of Pakistan for the third time, Nawaz Sharif could not take the same position. He hardly had any other choice anyway. Through its comprehensive judgment of July 31, 2009, the apex court had already declared that Musharraf grossly violated the constitution through his acts of Nov 3, 2007. The whole issue has thus boiled down to a simple point now, i.e., how to go about punishing Musharraf.
Sheikh Rashid does not feel that things are so simple. Since June 24, he is available to any anchor to forcefully spin the story that with the decision of prosecuting Musharraf, Nawaz Sharif has “foolishly opted to ignite a showdown” between the so-called establishment and a fragile government of elected civilians. For obvious compulsions of path dependency, he does not need to explain as to why and how the elected civilians will again lose this round of battle in the end.
Thursday he added another spin to the same story, primarily peddled by Makhdoom Amin Fahim. This veteran PPP leader from Sindh, once known for dealing with the military elite on behalf of his party, sounded like a naughty teaser while slyly asking Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan as to why the interior minister established a four-member committee of the FIA officials to probe into only one question. “Why the government was not interested to get those people as well who were clearly responsible for subverting the constitution on Oct 12, 1999,” he wondered innocently.
Seriously speaking, even the Makhdoom from Hala did not want to prosecute the generals responsible for the actions of October 1999. His vicious query targeted judges who condoned the military takeover of that day. Lest you forget, the current Chief Justice of Pakistan had been a member of the bench that had condoned it.
Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was not interested in nuances. He rather found another opportunity to dissuade Nawaz Sharif from going after Musharraf by fearfully talking about the possibly ominous consequences of it. For another time, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan proved his command over the art of defending issues in the national assembly. Cunningly, he sold the story that Nawaz Sharif and his colleagues did not have any accumulated grudge against the armed forces of Pakistan. After profusely praising their role in defending Pakistan, he stirred spirited desk thumping by stressing that a cabal of ruthlessly ambitious generals malign and demean their mother institution by their unconstitutional acts. He was particularly scathing about Musharraf in this regard.
The MQM legislators were yet not satisfied. After creating rowdy scenes, they compelled the Speaker to let Dr Farooq Sattar drum up the demand that Article 6, if implemented should be executed in totality. Besides the usurpers, their “abettors” deserve prosecution as well.
The MQM is yet not interested to protect General Musharraf with full force. For the moment, its legislators are essentially unhappy with Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for an entirely different reason. At the outset of every sitting of the national assembly for the past one week, the MQM legislators start cribbing. They make noises over the growing incidents of terrorism in Karachi, although their main concern is the alleged target killing of their party activists. They want Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to “prove himself as the real interior minister of the whole of Pakistan by ensuring and restoring peace in Karachi, the financial capital of this country”. So far, the interior minister keeps humbly reminding them that law and order remains the exclusive domain of a provincial government. He continues to remind them, almost admonishingly, “The MQM leads the opposition in the Sindh Assembly. Why don’t they make the right noises on such issues in that house? Why create fuss only in Islamabad?”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ