Oh what fun, but who's surprised?
SHOCK! Horror! WikiLeaks! Bombs rock Islamabad! Kayani mulled ousting Zardari and bringing in Asfandyar! Kayani distrusts Nawaz more than Zardari! ISI chief tells Americans Zardari is corrupt! Zardari says he might be assassinated! ISI extols virtues of some Taliban! US suspicious of Pakistan Army bills!
And so on and so forth the leading newspapers of the world as well as our own regaled us last week with the WikiLeaks releases of US embassy cables to Foggy Bottom. These leaks were most cleverly first of all made to the Guardian and the New York Times which would definitely publish them come hell or high water, as they did.
The leaks are hilarious and I laughed until I cried. Serve ' em right, I said, for talking down to the rest of us from on high; ignoring our appeals for some sanity, some civility in relations between institutions; for realising that no one was being fooled by the Deep State's protestations of innocence that it was not tripping up the elected governments, especially the federal government.
So, what's new, friends? Hasn't this space been filled with alarm over the past years on all of the above great 'revelations'? And on how the Deep State rules supreme? And on how the establishment runs the show from the shadows, making nonsense of democracy, elected governments and all? On how it simply will not allow the political process to flower and prosper because if democracy comes to stay its own power of life and death over the hapless citizens of our poor and hapless country will be diluted?
Whilst you may well ask what made the ISI chief tell the Americans that his commanderin-chief was corrupt, where's the surprise? The Mother of All Agencies, as we have seen in the matter of the Supreme Court's hearings in the petitions of the relatives of the disappeared, is a law unto itself, our morose and downcast attorney general himself admitting before the court that no law controlled it, and that other bane of our lives, Military Intelligence.
What indeed, is so new about the COAS actually thinking of "taking over" or of forcing the president, his own commanderin-chief, to resign, or of replacing him with another person? Haven't army chiefs sent other elected government's packing: jailing, exiling, even hanging elected prime ministers after dodgy trials and coerced confessions? What is so surprising about a COAS actually saying he does not abide a certain politician, in this case Nawaz Sharif? What have I been saying to the PML-N for over three years now?
Divided you politicians will (be made to) fall; united you may stand a chance to further the cause of democracy and civil governance according to the people's will and through their mandate. How many times do I have to shout from the rooftops to both the major political parties to please, please relegate your respective hawks to the back benches? To at least ask them to pipe down. For their loud rhetoric only serves to give comfort to the enemies of democracy. If they continue with their rancorous and spiteful attacks upon one another they will only face grief, both the parties.
Recently, I had written about the shameful escape of a general from a court of law that had ordered his arrest. Thinking about this matter, and comparing it with the grace with which elected leaders accepted arrest and jail, even in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's case hanging (shame on you, Ziaul Haq), the case of another general, Fazle Haq, Zia's martial law administrator, governor, and chief minister of the then Frontier province came to mind.
The man had lorded it over the province for close on 10 years known for his bullying and inyour-face behaviour towards his subordinates. When he was arrested on several alleged charges in 1989, he had the temerity to slap the uniformed deputy superintendent of police who was executing the orders of arrest outside the court which had rejected his pre-arrest bail.
Well, the DSP, bless him, slapped him right back. Imagine one's disgust when the front pages of the newspapers carried photographs of a dishevelled Fazle Haq with his sunglasses askew on his face, naked fear writ large on his face. I must add that the DSP was reported as saying to the general after slapping him, "Sir, I served you faithfully and loyally when you were ruling the province; I am only doing my duty now and you should not have slapped me."
Compare this with the grace with which ZAB took all the many slights thrown at him during his incarceration and trial leading to his judicial murder. There are many anecdotes that we know, the people of my generation, for we have lived those sad days.
One day, as he was being brought to court from Kot Lakhpat jail, Bhutto was not given the usual chair that he used to sit on for the long ride, being unable to sit on the wooden benches in the police van due to a game back. It had been removed by the order of Maulvi Mushtaq Hussain his mortal enemy and who was placed in the Lahore High Court to ensure the death penalty for the former president/prime minister. Bhutto merely refused to sit in the van - he did not curse the police; he did not yell at them; he did not slap anyone - until a chair was brought for him. On another occasion, and very early on in the trial, Bhutto's lawyers objected to Maulvi being on the bench because of his wellknown enmity with the accused. Maulvi lost his temper and shouted, "Stand up Bhutto". "Remove his chair," he yelled at the court staff. "You keep standing during today's hearing," he screamed at ZAB. When Bhutto complained that he should not be treated in this manner, Maulvi retorted, "Shut up.