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Thursday, 17 September 2009

The knives are out -- Kamran Shafi

By Kamran Shafi
Tuesday, 15 Sep, 2009 (Dawn)
One has noticed with alarm the tenor of most TV anchors, and some analysts too, when they heap praise only upon the army for doing a good job in Swat with no mention of the civilian leadership across the political spectrum. —APP/File Photo
One has noticed with alarm the tenor of most TV anchors, and some analysts too, when they heap praise only upon the army for doing a good job in Swat with no mention of the civilian leadership across the political spectrum. —APP/File Photo
IF every wrong is to be placed at the politician’s door, in the instant case at Asif Zardari’s, then the good that has come with his government and with democracy must also go to his account and to those of other politicians.

Here I refer to the Swat operation which is gradually showing signs of success with the army doing yeoman service for the country.

Each day brings news of more successes, the latest being the arrest of the cruel and heartless yahoo, Muslim Khan, along with another yahoo; and the imminent capture of the Mother of All Yahoos, Fazlullah. The point to remember is that this is the same army that prevaricated during all the years of the Commando’s absolute rule while the savages went about digging their tunnels and bunkers and furnishing them with carpets and tiled bathrooms and all; and cutting off people’s heads with blunt knives, and all.

The very same army, under the very same commanders, has now shown the grit and the determination which one always knew it had, under a civil administration headed, whether anyone likes it or not, by Asif Ali Zardari.

It has shown that it is trained to do what is asked of it and that the old and fallacious refrain that it was not trained to fight insurgencies was poppycock of the worst kind, trotted out by the apologists of the brass hats who could not make up their minds whether the marauding yahoos were friends of our venal state or its people’s worst enemies.

The ranks of the army, the young officers and the unit commanders were never suspect; its generalship was. And rightly so. We must also remember that the Commando was then the lord and master of all he surveyed under his very own dictum of ‘unity of command’.

If things are going well, why the frightening title of this piece? Here goes: one has noticed with alarm the tenor of most TV anchors, and some analysts too, when they heap praise only upon the army for doing a good job in Swat with no mention of the civilian leadership across the political spectrum (with the sole exception of the double-dealing and very slippery JUI-F) that has stood behind the army solidly by shouldering the political responsibility for the fallout of the military action.

One has also noticed with utmost concern, the savage attacks on politicians let loose by former senior army and intelligence officers well known for their criminal and anti-democratic acts. It is again to be noted that discredited and reviled former spooks like Brigadier Billa would never have crawled back into their respective gutters without a definitive go-ahead by their former outfits.

Whilst these attacks have clearly redounded on the security establishment (reinforcing the widespread belief that our brass hats are not much endowed with good sense!), they point clearly to the objective: to remove the elected democratic dispensation by hook or by crook, mostly the latter, and to replace it with a government of ‘technocrats’, whatever that means, under a caretaker civilian Quisling.

That the establishment is not alone in this enterprise is also clear; certain names of known unsavoury characters scurrying back into their respective gutters to do their assigned dirty work have already surfaced in the press.

As I have said before, the proof is the recent (ongoing indeed) spate of ugly stories first about one political leader, and then the other, doing the rounds of the plush drawing rooms of Islamabad the Beautiful, the TV channels and the front pages of newspapers. This is only the beginning: the country should be ready for far worse in the immediate future.

It is as part of this enterprise that the old story of Osama Bin Laden meeting Nawaz Sharif X or Y times and egging him on to destabilise Benazir’s government of the time has resurfaced, as has the Midnight Jackal story.

The patrons of the enterprise do not seem to remember that by signing the Charter of Democracy, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif buried the past, allegations and all, and resolved to take Pakistan to a better future through civilised politics by eschewing the rancour and blind hate of the past.

Which is why I must repeat myself. President Asif Zardari would be well advised to order his party to stop its delaying tactics with regard to the repeal of the 17th Amendment, and the tabling of the 18th without the draconian articles of the former. He must also remove any doubts there might be as to his cool relationship with Nawaz Sharif, to present a unified stand to those that would plot against them.

Both must also rein in the hawks in their parties, for many times even the swiftest hawk can lose its prey to other, lesser, raptors such as the carrion-eating kite.

A short word on the most recent Top Secret (surely!?) letter of the bestest diplomat in the whole wide world Master Hussain Haqqani, and the FO and ISI, in which he has bemoaned the fact that many American media people and the head of the Asia Foundation have been barred from getting Pakistan visas.

Who, may I ask, has leaked this most confidential letter so that it is now the subject of headline news and editorials? The government must carry out an indepth investigation into the leak and severely punish the guilty for it may very well be part of the ongoing conspiracy against democracy.

Also, might I one more time demand an inquiry into the granting of not one, not two, but three Pakistani visas to the disreputable Richard Reid aka Abdul Raheem aka Tariq Raja aka the ‘Shoe Bomber’, who had spent most of his life in prisons in the UK and who is now undergoing life imprisonment in the US? Who on earth was his sponsor in the Land of the Pure?


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