Well, neither is ‘marvel’ or ‘wonder’. Nor is one astonished, astounded, amazed, shocked or staggered at Imran Khan’s new, newer, and ever newer demands and threats and plain bullying. Culminating, of course, in his demand for including intelligence agencies’ personnel in the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s judicial committee requested by the government to probe charges of massive rigging in the 2013 elections. I mean, I ask you.
Recall, please, that he now demands this despite the fact that he has accused not only the former COAS, General Kayani, but also an unnamed brigadier of the MI (who he was to name on May 11, 2013 but did not) of being involved in the alleged rigging. Yet, he now wants to have the MI and the ISI represented on the inquiry committee as if General Kayani and the brigadier allegedly rigged the election all on their own.
It would do us well to recall, too, that Imran Khan has in the past accused the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, India and the United Kingdom’s MI-6 of also being involved in rigging the election against his party. Then there are the dizzying U-turns that he executes with such elan. One day he admires a senior judge: in this case, Justice Tassaduq Jillani; the very next he is against him and rejects his name as chief election commissioner. The reason is that whilst as chief justice of Pakistan, the respected Justice Jillani was a fair judge and a good man, he will now become pro-Nawaz Sharif.
I don’t know about you, reader, but I am reeling and can barely keep from falling off my chair at these daft and comical charges at any and every one, leading one to ask once again of his handlers: do none of you do any thinking at all? I should have thought my friend Chaudhry Shafqat Mahmood had sense enough to caution restraint so that his leader would not make a laughing stock of himself, particularly at this time, a time of ‘renewal’ in our country’s security establishment.
I call it ‘renewal’ because we have a new ISI chief, who left a good reputation, from all accounts, as DG Rangers, Sindh. Indeed, if you read his dissertation written for his Master of Strategic Studies programme at the United States Army War College in 2008, you will see he is a liberal-minded soldier, who believes in democracy as the way forward. Indeed, he is a senior officer who thinks rapprochement with our neighbours should be pursued “aggressively”. For Imran Khan to try and literally drag the army into politics at this fraught time is irresponsible and utterly foolish.
Indeed, his threat that his ‘movement’ will not remain peaceful after the November 30 rally in Islamabad is puerile and violent and should be taken cognisance of. Indeed, taking a cue, Sheikh Rasheed ‘Talli’ has gone one further just the other day at Nankana Sahib and called for crowds of violent people to ‘gherao, jalao and maro’ (surround, burn and kill). This, in a country that is already bathed in blood.
The man should be arrested and locked up under charges of incitement to violence. We well remember the last time he was sent to prison for keeping unlicensed firearms and when he begged forgiveness after a few days in jail. Enough is enough I say: send in the women police and clear the empty chairs at ‘D’ Chowk to obviate any chances of violence in Islamabad.
On to other matters now, and why is it that so few Pakistanis wear the red poppy on Remembrance Day, which commemorates those that laid down their lives in the First World War? After all, thousands of young men belonging to areas that are now in Pakistan: principally the Potohar region and Gujrat, Jhelum, Chakwal and Mianwali districts. I know of six soldiers who came from just two villages around Wah who died in that war: there must be more.
I first came upon a graveyard, looked after and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) while driving across Italy from East to West in 1991. It was beautifully kept and as I walked among its graves, I saw names from my own Baloch Regiment, names that could only belong to my area: Havaldar Painda Khan, Attock; Sepoy Sher Khan, Jhelum. This graveyard contained graves of the casualties of the Second World War.
Years later, while serving at the Pakistan High Commission in 1994, we received a visit from the vice-chairman of the CWGC, a retired air chief marshal, and his director general, who had come to request that Pakistan clear its dues: our contribution owed to the Commission but not paid since 1970. The excuse for not paying offered by our FO was that since Pakistan became two countries in 1971, Bangladesh should pay its share too!
The points to make were/are: how many soldiers from that part of the world served in the army anyway; and second, that Pakistan did not exist at the time of the war! The letter the high hommission wrote, recommending we immediately pay the amount of 80,000 pounds sterling that had accumulated over the years did not even merit a reply from the FO.
The upshot is that according to the CWGC website, Pakistan’s name still does not appear among the donors whilst the Indian high commissioner sits on the board of directors of the CWGC. Shame on us.
Note: The FO spokesman did not respond to a query as to whether we had paid up or not, 20 years after that letter! Shame on us.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2014.