Gillani on the Rocks
By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
It is now an established fact that PPP as a party claiming to be champions of democracy, rule of law and rights of the poor is in actuality anti-democratic, lawbreaker and anti-people. PPP and democracy repel each other since the two are synonymous. PPP leaders have remained too engrossed in filling their coffers with ill-gotten money and in striving to complete their five-year tenure by hook or crook. The only change the PPP leaders have brought in them from their deleterious conduct from 1988 till 1999 is to adopt a policy of selective reconciliation. Under this policy, those cooperating with them or suiting their psyche are to be shielded and protected from the hand of law and rewarded. They have been merrily working on the concept of making hay as long as the sun shines. Their closeness with Army leadership was a marriage of convenience to ensure their survival. The moment they suspected that they could be evicted from power by the Army, they became officious and belligerent.
Having remained out of power for 12 years and gone through trials and tribulations, PPP leaders have turned into hungry predators with ravenous appetite for power and wealth. They consider it their right to plunder because of their prolonged suffering. 12-year inaction has made them languid and inefficient. They swing into action only when their self interests are involved. During their period of exile the runaways had developed contacts with foreign agencies and in their greed to return to corridors of power and to further their selfish interests they sold their souls and agreed to accept any number of demands howsoever injurious to national interests.
Among many blunders committed by Gen Musharraf during his nine-year rule, secret deal with Benazir Bhutto (BB) hatched by USA and UK in July 2007 which paved the way for issuance of black law known as National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) on 5 October 2007 was his gravest sin. It resulted in takeover of power by the NRO washed vultures as a consequent to massively rigged elections in February 2008. Notwithstanding her flaws, BB was charismatic, visionary and had earned a place among world comity. Her sudden death generated a huge sympathy wave which enabled the PPP to capture power. Those in good books of BB were sidelined and the hypocrites adept only in misusing power, disregarding rule of law and multiplying wealth through corrupt practices took up top slots. They befool the jayalas by raising emotional slogans in BB’s memory but have taken no steps to locate her murderers or to fulfill her mission of providing food, shelter and clothes to the poor.
It was owing to over three million bogus voters and programmed pre-poll rigging that the dream team of the US comprising three liberal parties assumed power. Although the manifestos and ideology of PPP, MQM and ANP were different, corruption became the unifying factor. Above all, the master coordinator made the three bedfellows. JUI-F was also shoved in the same bed since greedy Fazlur Rahman was Maulana in name only. Since PML-N’s victory in Punjab was not in the script, Salman Taseer was appointed as governor to keep Shahbaz ministry under pressure. No sooner the government was formed under PM Gilani; the legislators and bureaucrats pounced upon the body of Pakistan and started eating its flesh voraciously. While PPP politicians feasted upon state corporations and foreign aid, MQM milked Karachi and ANP devoured railways. While ANP has remained a steadfast ally of PPP, MQM has been coming in and out of coalition quite frequently. Divided PML-Q is the recent ally.
In accordance with the given agenda by Washington, the ruling clique had consented to denuclearize and secularize Pakistan; minimize the role of military establishment in Pakistan’s decision making processes and to convert Pak Army into a counter terror force only; to place ISI under interior ministry; to push Kashmir issue on backburner or accept Indian plan to make Line of Control as permanent border; to accept India’s hegemony and to virtually convert Pakistan into a compliant state. They agreed to appoint Washington nominated persons on key posts. These included Maj Gen ® Mehmud Durrani as Defence & Foreign Affairs adviser to PM, Husain Haqqani as Ambassador in Washington, Wajid Shams as Ambassador in London, Rahman Malik as interior minister. They agreed to make Pakistan’s economy subservient to IMF; to fight war on terror unquestioningly with full force; to allow drone strikes in FATA from Shamsi airbase; to abide by written and unwritten secret agreements between the US and Mush regime.
Making Zardari as the most powerful civilian president in August 2008, making the legislature under Gilani as a dummy and keeping judiciary under PCO judges were part of the plan to maintain one-window operation between Presidency in Islamabad and power centres in Washington. Slogan of supremacy of parliament was designed to bring heads of three services and ISI completely under the effective control of executive head and supreme commander. Grant of 3-year extension to Gen Kayani and one-year to Lt Gen Pasha on persuasion of Gilani were aimed at making them do as told to do and also to ensure safety of PPP’s fulltime tenure.
When Kayani thwarted government attempts to place ISI under Malik and not to restore sacked judges, and after Raymond’s arrest when he and Pasha started taking preventive measures to safeguard Pakistan’s security interests and that of the two premier institutions, ‘Operation Get Geronimo’ was conceived by CIA. British PM, Zardari, Haqqani, Wajid Shams, Rahman Malik and Salman Faruqui were taken into confidence. False-flag operation was undertaken to belittle Army, ISI and PAF and to undermine the credibility of heads of these institutions so that they could be made pliant. Rulers gladly accepted the US plan since they lacked moral authority to keep the military under their thumb because of their involvement in mal administration and mal practices and loss of confidence of the people.
Since the top leaders were part of the conspiracy, instead of feeling shocked and finding out who were responsible for the security lapse, Zardari and Gilani declared the US intrusion on 2 May as ‘historic’ and ‘great victory’. Haqqani and Wajid’s statements to the media were meaningful. However, when they found that the Army and ISI had taken the incident too seriously and were groping for clues to get to the bottom of the stealth incursion by an ally, and the public was on a rampage, Zardari panicked fearing his involvement might not get exposed. The reason why he got nervous was the intelligence fed to him on 4 May by US Ambassador Munter on the advice of CIA that Army was contemplating a coup. He suggested to him to approach Pentagon since in his view Admiral Mullen could be the only one to restrain Kayani.
When jangled nerved Zardari approached sneaky Haqqani, the latter suggested that unless the yearning desires of Washington were fulfilled it would be difficult for him to convince the US CJSC to twist Kayani’s arm and tell him to keep his hands off civilian government. Getting a nod from him, Haqqani hastened to draft the memo containing six offers and took his old friend Mansoor Ijaz into confidence. He selected him to deliver the explosive memo to Mullen since he like him was anti-Army/ISI and both had been exchanging notes since 2005. Mansoor had also written several articles in newspapers against Pak Army and ISI. Another reason of confiding in him was his close associations with high officials of US military establishment.
Whether Haqqani himself chose him, or someone else advised him, or whether Zardari told Haqqani to draft and deliver the memo, or Salman Faruqui conveyed the message of Zardari to him, or Haqqani suggested to him; or Haqqani did it at his own accord, or Mansoor approached him and fed this idea to him at the behest of CIA are some of the puzzles yet to be solved. My hunch is that memo was engineered by CIA to pitch Army against the government and compel Kayani to takeover power.
Whatever be the hypothesis, it is a proven fact that memo is a reality which was conceived and formulated in early May. It is also a fact that Haqqani and Mansoor traveled to London on 9 May where their meetings with two British senior officials were arranged by Wajid Shams and they flew back to Washington the same day. Mansoor delivered the memo to James Jones and the same was forwarded by him to Mullen on 10 May. Both Jones and Mullen have confirmed receiving the memo on prescribed dates. It is also known that Mullen didn’t take any action on the memo since he had not been fed with intelligence by CIA about the possibility of a coup as feared by Zardari. Mullen was otherwise in no position to caution Kayani who in that timeframe was in black mood and Pak-US military relations had dipped low. Another known fact is that between 9 and 11 May, Haqqani and Mansoor had extensive chats on Blackberry cell phones and also exchanged messages on laptop.
Once the 2 May crisis cooled down and things began to normalize, Zardari and Haqqani forgot about the memo. In their bid to gain confidence of the two generals under fire of media and politicians, Gilani went out of the way to bail them out when they attended All Parties Conference and explained their point of view on 14 May. It was another attempt to make them submissive. Rather than getting defensive and acquiescent, Kayani and Pasha went about dismantling CIA’s network which had tentacles in all important urban centres and also got hold of CIA’s informers. ISI had a mammoth task to locate thousands of CIA agents that had sneaked in on the quiet with the help of Haqqani and Malik and with the blessing of Gilani. Besides CIA, Blackwater and five other intelligence agencies operating from Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan were also to be taken care of.
The US and UK trainers involved in espionage were booted out. Diplomats and NGOs engaged in subversive activities were kept under scrutiny. Security forces continued to maintain offensive posture to keep foreign paid terrorists in FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan on the run. Cross border terrorism from Kunar and Nuristan was plugged. These tough measures were not to the liking of Pakistan’s adversaries who had spent colossal amounts to get closer to nuclear sites and destroy them. Not only they were not succeeding in taming Pak Army and ISI, Afghan Taliban were getting more and more stronger. Series of offensive attacks by Taliban in and around Kabul in August-September unnerved the US military and intelligence leadership.
CIA then decided to play up memo that was lying in pending tray of the new CJSC. This time the purpose was to provoke the Army and ISI to topple the government or as a minimum spoil civil-military relations and then keep provoking both sides and create favorable situation for a headlong clash. Fame hungry Mansoor was nudged to leak the story in Financial Times on 10 October and to gradually heat it up. His story came as a rude shock for Haqqani but he, Zardari and Gilani played it down thinking that Mansoor being a chronic Army basher would not pursue it and also that none will believe him. However, memo case took a dramatic turn after Gen Pasha held a secret meeting with Mansoor in London on 22 October. The meeting convinced the spy chief that memo was not a fantasy but a reality and someone had made a dangerous plan to cause immeasurable harm to Pakistan with the help of US military.
Promises made by the architects of memo had grave implications upon security interests of Pakistan and gave an insight to vile intentions of the authors of memo. The very sovereignty and integrity had been bartered away just to restrain Gen Kayani from launching a perceived coup to let the gang of corrupt remain in power. Playing the film fast forward, Haqqani has been sacked, put on exit control list and a three-member judicial commission is presently investigating the case in response to the petitions filed by seven petitioners including Nawaz Sharif who himself appeared before the SC to submit his petition. While Mansoor has surrendered his rights of his phones, Haqqani has not done so for obvious reasons and has hidden his Blackberry sets saying he has misplaced them.
Haqqani wants the case to be closed forthwith and allowed to proceed abroad since he imagines that he may be killed, but Mansoor wants the probe to reach its conclusion and is ready to come to Pakistan despite threats to his life. The government is also striving hard to dissuade the Supreme Court (SC) to terminate the probe and is also creating hurdles for Mansoor to block his entry in Pakistan thereby heightening suspicions as to why it doesn’t want to ascertain the truth. Mansoor is expected to present himself on 26 January, but being a CIA man, he cannot be fully trusted.
When the memo case took an ominous turn for the schemers and not only put the government in the dock but also Haqqani – the blue-eyed boy of USA, and the Army kept up its defiance against the US dictates, the US military in collaboration with Afghan military attacked Salala Army border posts on 26 November killing 24 soldiers. This blatant intrusion meant to intimidate the Army also backfired. Vital NATO supply lines to Afghanistan remain closed; military and intelligence cooperation has almost ceased. Pakistan Army has rejected US military report on Salala terming it as biased and a mixture of half-truths. Closure of Shamsi base has drastically reduced drone strikes. In two months, only two strikes have taken place. Parliamentary Committee has formulated new terms of engagement with USA. A strategic shift of the government is on the cards. This can be discerned from five-day visit of Gen Kayani to China and Foreign Minister Rabbani’s intended visit to Moscow.
Finding itself in a fix, the US once again fed false news to the government that Army had got aligned with the judiciary and was contemplating a coup. It baffled the already jittery duo owing to closing jaws of memo and NRO and on two occasions with short intervals Gilani spoke offensively against the COAS and DG ISI. Sacking of Secretary Defence was also a knee-jerk reaction which reflected poorly upon Gilani’s conduct particularly when he blew hot and cold and chewed his own words repeatedly. While maintaining an aggressive posture against the Army, Gilani and his legal team also adopted a non-cooperative attitude towards the SC hearing implementation of NRO case.
Gilani and Babar Awan stubbornly maintained that no letter would be written to Swiss courts to reopen money laundering case pending against Zardari since he enjoyed immunity. The President emphatically stated that he will not allow trial of grave of Benazir Bhutto and that he will accept Parliamentary Committee’s decision on memo and not that of SC. When the judicial commission gave itself six options to proceed against the delinquent on 10 January and fixed 16 January as the cutout date to deliver the hammer, Gilani tried to counter the dual threat of judiciary and Army by seeking fresh vote of confidence in National Assembly and to pass a resolution authorizing him to confront the two institutions frontally.
The allied parties however opted reconciliation over confrontation and rendered support for continuation of democracy only. On the 16th, the SC finally struck and issued a show cause notice to Gilani on the charge of contempt of court and asked him to present himself on 19th to explain his point of view before the final verdict was announced. Gilani may either be disqualified or imprisoned unless he renders apology to SC and agrees to write a letter to Swiss court, or resigns. Notwithstanding his last minute theatrics, for all practical purposes he has cooked his goose. Chairman NAB who had been behaving arrogantly has come down to earth and submitted his unconditional apology to SC which has been accepted. Babar Awan’s legal license has been temporarily suspended. Decisions of the SC have been hailed by all and sundry except for beneficiaries of NRO who number 8041.
Whatever the decision of the SC on the next hearing, it will not help in stabilizing the political situation which is in a flux, nor in steadying the continuously plummeting economy, or in alleviating the problems of the people, or in ending the war on terror. Although SC will reestablish that it has teeth and can bite, but clash of institutions will benefit the adversaries of Pakistan only. It will be in fitness of things if the government honors the decisions and directives of SC gracefully rather than continuing with its confrontational attitude and making a mockery of itself. Instead of wasting its energies in belittling premier institutions, the government should divert its defiance towards the adversaries of Pakistan. It should sincerely concentrate on solving multitude of problems of the state, or else throw in its towel and let a better team to steer the country out of multiple crises.
The bad advisers like Babar Awan etc. have worsened the case by giving wrong advises. Now Gillani will have to rethink and present himself before the judges; one can only hope that some sense better sense prevails.