I in his column “Fabricated nonsense” (December 14), Ejaz Haider spoke about the intelligence of intelligence agencies. This was in reference to WikiLeaks and the argument was that the agencies might not be so dumb as to have taken part in the fake leaks. Why would they make such obvious mistakes? But then the simplest plot can be the most complex. Since the afternoon of December 12, I have been receiving phone calls from concerned friends and family members. The subject of concern: a baseless and vicious SMS being circulated against me. It seems like the work of someone who would have the power to access my phone call history and more. In typical agency style, the Ufone number, from which the message was sent, does not respond if you try to call back. I would personally like to glean all the information that the accuser seems to have against me.
I would like to confess to Mr Haider that I thought the agencies could not be that stupid and that the fake WikiLeaks must have been the work of some intoxicated or angry Lone Ranger spook. Logically, the agencies should have the intelligence not to engage in such a vilification campaign at a time when they have their back to the wall due to the WikiLeaks revelations. Such an understanding of logic means that the agency walas should not have fired shots outside renowned columnist Kamran Shafi’s house in the middle of the night. In Mr Shafi’s case — the incident happened a few months ago — the explanation given by the chief spook was: why should we try harassing you when you are critical of us? A terribly sweet statement!
Although I have no access to the head of the ISI or the MI, I am quite sure they will plead innocent if I get a chance to ask them to solve the mystery. Thus far, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, whom I personally informed of the incident, has not bothered to come to my rescue. It is definitely not the work of some random prankster because not just anyone would have access to my phone history or want to run a campaign against me in my own city of Bahawalpur. Perhaps, it is one of the militant outfits headquartered in Bahawalpur. An old friend of my mother’s, who also received this SMS, said that it made her feel vulnerable, as if someone was hearing and watching everything. I am quite sure the purpose behind this is to stop my free access to my own people. But referring to the question of who it could be, I am not sure if it is the militants alone. They can publish silly stories in their own journals, which Jaish-e-Mohammad did against me last year. But to embark on the currently mentioned activity, they had to be able to access my call log and numerous other lists. This means help from those who have the power to do this.
I can happily live with the explanation that this could be the work of rogue elements inside the agencies. After all, top spooks have said to western diplomats that rogue elements were involved in the case of Mumbai. We never seem to run out of these elements. The problem with such elements is that their presence casts serious doubts on the efficiency of intelligence agencies who are supposedly professional. It’s a question worth asking that how do rogue elements continue to thrive in our intelligence agencies, especially after former army chief Pervez Musharraf claimed to have cleaned it up of such creatures. Perhaps, greater but selective transparency will help solve the mystery. This is not about demeaning the military, but a cry for its institutional integrity. Militaries that are infested with rogue elements tend to become weak and ineffective.
One would hope that there is some institution left in this country that can stand up for the protection of its citizens. Perhaps, the highest court would like to take suo motu notice of this incident. This is not just about personal protection but about saving our national institutions from rogue elements and black sheep.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2010.