Power of the es­tab­lish­ment

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Tariq Khosa

NOTH­ING in­trigues me more than the power of our se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment. Na­tional in­ter­est is short­hand for the in­ter­ests of an in­sti­tu­tion that reigns supreme. Let us con­sider the re­cent news that has gone largely un­no­ticed or has been de­lib­er­ately ig­nored. Hil­lary Clin­ton's pres­i­den­tial cam­paign re­ceived a jolt when the State Depart­ment con­firmed she had used her per­sonal server to send some top se­cret emails.

Our present en­voy to the UN Maleeha Lodhi ap­par­ently acted as an in­for­mal mes­sen­ger be­tween the US ad­min­is­tra­tion and for­mer army chief Gen Ash­faq Kayani, go­ing by the con­tents of an email to sec­re­tary Clin­ton from Vali Nasr, then a se­nior ad­viser. How­ever, the en­tire mes­sage that Ms Lodhi shared with Mr Nasr was edited out of the text. It was sent three days af­ter Ray­mond Davis's ar­rest in La­hore on Jan 17, 2011, on charges of killing two men. The in­ci­dent had caused a se­ri­ous rift in US-Pak­istan ties.

While the US au­thor­i­ties have so far kept the Pak­istani gen­eral's mes­sage se­cret, may we in Pak­istan ask our mil­i­tary au­thor­i­ties and the For­eign Of­fice what in­for­ma­tion or mes­sage was con­veyed by the chief through non-diplo­matic and in­for­mal chan­nels days af­ter the Ray­mond Davis in­ci­dent in La­hore? Our political and diplo­matic au­thor­i­ties had cried them­selves hoarse over the Amer­i­can's non-diplo­matic sta­tus and a mur­der case was reg­is­tered by La­hore Po­lice. What hap­pened af­ter some time was a com­pro­mise sur­rep­ti­tiously achieved be­fore a court of law in­vok­ing pro­vi­sions of 'diyat' or com­pen­sa­tion money and the killer was whisked away by our spooks to a plane wait­ing to take him back to the US.

It was the same army chief dur­ing whose ten­ure US Navy SEALS con­ducted a raid in May 2011 in Ab­bot­tabad - near a mil­i­tary academy and gar­ri­son sta­tioned nearby - and re­port­edly found and killed Osama bin Laden. Af­ter that, the civil­ian political au­thor­i­ties al­legedly used in­for­mal means through a serv­ing am­bas­sador in Wash­ing­ton to send a mes­sage across to the US mil­i­tary chief to use his in­flu­ence to per­suade his Pak­istani coun­ter­part and 'buddy' not to over­throw the in­ept political lead­er­ship in the wake of the re­sul­tant pub­lic out­cry.

If a mil­i­tary chief re­sorts to in­for­mal diplo­macy through a for­mer diplo- mat, it is kosher; if the political lead­er­ship tries to con­vey a mes­sage through in­for­mal sources, the es­tab­lish­ment cries 'foul'.

Re­mem­ber Me­mogate? Let us briefly re­ca­pit­u­late. An op-ed in the Fi­nan­cial Times on Oct 10, 2011 cre­ated a furore in Pak­istan. Man­soor Ijaz, an Amer­i­can of Pak­istani ances­try, wrote a damn­ing in­dict­ment of the ISI, stat­ing that af­ter the raid, "a se­nior Pak­istani diplo­mat tele­phoned me with an ur­gent re­quest". He wrote: "Asif Ali Zar­dari … needed to com­mu­ni­cate a mes­sage to White House na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials that would by­pass Pak­istan's mil­i­tary and in­tel­li­gence chan­nels". He said that "the pres­i­dent feared a mil­i­tary takeover was im­mi­nent. He needed an Amer­i­can fist on his army chief's desk to end any mis­guided no­tions of a coup…."

The mem­o­ran­dum was re­port­edly de­liv­ered to Adm Mike Mullen on May 10, 2011 re­quest­ing his "di­rect in­ter­ven­tion in con­vey­ing a strong, ur­gent and di­rect mes­sage to Gen Kayani that de­liv­ers Wash­ing­ton's de­mand for him and Gen Pasha to end their brinkman­ship aimed at bring­ing down the civil­ian ap­pa­ra­tus - that this is a 1971 mo­ment in Pak­istan's his­tory".

This was ex­plo­sive stuff. Who in his right mind would of­fer such terms of ab­ject sur­ren­der to the US in­ter­ests and that too in writ­ing? What was the Zar­dari-Haqqani duo up to? Could a Pak­istani am­bas­sador ever write such a pe­ti­tion? Was he rep­re­sent­ing Is­lam­abad or Wash­ing­ton? Am­bas­sador Haqqani was re­called from Wash­ing­ton. The real tar­get of pe­ti­tions moved be­fore the Supreme Court by Mian Nawaz Sharif and oth­ers be­came ap­par­ent. A full bench con­ducted a hear­ing on Dec 1, 2011. Nawaz Sharif him­self ap­peared in court and spoke. The reg­is­trar called me dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings to say the court was con­sid­er­ing my name as in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the memo case. I told him I first wanted to see the court or­der and the terms of ref­er­ence.

Mean­while, the or­der was an­nounced the same day. Why this haste? Why no no­tice to the state and re­spon­dents be­fore ap­point­ing a com­mis­sion? I thought I would be called to court at the next hear­ing and my con­sent would be sought. In­stead, I re­ceived a court or­der on Dec 2 seek­ing my con­sent "with re­spect to per­form­ing na­tional duty as head of the com­mis­sion".

What was it all about? Was it a 'na­tional duty' that I was be­ing called upon to per­form or act as a hatchet man on be­half of the se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment who were gun­ning for Zar­dari and his hench­man in Wash­ing­ton? What was Nawaz Sharif do­ing in court look­ing like an ad­vo­cate? What hap­pened to the Char­ter of Democ­racy? Was he be­ing used by the es­tab­lish­ment? Why was I be­ing dragged into political in­trigue or a case in which I might have ques­tioned the mo­tives of the clan­des­tine meet­ings be­tween the for­mer ISI chief and a man with al­leged links to Wash­ing­ton? Me­mogate smacked of in­trigue. I re­sponded im­me­di­ately and ex­pressed my in­abil­ity to un­der­take the as­sign­ment as head of the memo com­mis­sion. Me­mogate was no Water­gate. Like Nixon, Zar­dari did not have to re­sign. It got one scalp - that of Hus­sain Haqqani, who was al­leged to have had the memo writ­ten and con­veyed to Mike Mullen. No heads rolled af­ter the OBL raid; no one had the courage to ask the mil­i­tary elite some tough ques­tions. The es­tab­lish­ment has ac­quired the art of turn­ing its strate­gic fol­lies to tri­umphs.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.