By Brig Asif Haroon Raja
The new regime has been handed down a huge mess and is at a loss where to start from and which problem to tackle first. All macroeconomic indicators are in negative, national kitty is empty and foreign investment has dried up. It has inherited bankrupt economy, an unmanageable energy crisis, massive debt, lawlessness and fraught security situation. The new leaders are heard saying that they do not have the magic wand to put things in order in a jiffy and that it would require considerable time and resources to overcome the chronic problems. The last government also used to complain that it had inherited war on terror, faltering economy, energy crisis and disharmony between provinces. There are certain lingering doubts in the minds of the people about which they are heard talking.
The two stints of PPP from 1988 to 1990 and 1994 to 1996 together with harsh US sanctions set the stage for downslide of economic indicators. Cases of corruption against late Benazir Bhutto (BB), Zardari and others were first registered after President Ishaq Khan sacked BB’s government in 1993 and again registered in 1997 after President Farooq Leghari sacked BB’s second government. When some of the cases were nearing completion stage during Nawaz Sharif’s second stint in power, BB shifted to London in 1999. Gen Musharraf pursued the same cases through NAB. BB and others stayed in self-imposed exile till their way was cleared through NRO in October 2007 by Gen Musharraf. PPP leading lights, the bureaucrats associated with them in corruption scandals and thousands of MQM leaders and activists involved in heinous crimes were let off.
For ten years the accused kept the courts in a spin by adopting dilly-dallying tactics and didn’t allow a single case to conclude, which was so-called victory for the accused but a matter of embarrassment for our courts. Once the PPP returned to power after 2008 elections, its leaders continued with their old policy of evasion and defiance of higher courts after the Supreme Court (SC) nullified the NRO in December 2009 and reopened corruption cases including money laundering cases pending against the royal couple in Geneva, London and Madrid that had been closed by Malik Qayum at the behest of Gen Musharraf. PM Gilani refused to initiate letter to Swiss authorities to reopen the case as directed by the SC on the plea that the President enjoyed immunity. Gilani had to pay for this unwarranted defiance by losing his post and his right to take part in elections.
His successor Raja Pervez Ashraf hoodwinked the SC by first initiating a letter to Swiss authorities on 5 November 2012 to treat the letter written by Malik Qayum as cancelled but secretly posted another letter on 22 November 2012 asserting that the case may be considered as closed. Change of government has unraveled the unholy act in which Farooq A. Naek and former Law Secretary Yasmin Abbasi were involved. People want to know why so much of time and resources were wasted on Swiss case by the SC and that too without any outcome; whether it will be able to reopen the case in Geneva and get the looted $60 million back and also award exemplary punishment to those who deceived the SC and the nation.
PPP won 2008 elections because of sympathy wave generated after BB’s tragic murder and Zardari promising to get hold of her murderers at all cost. In its five years tenure, PPP leaders remained too engrossed in filling their coffers and saving themselves and their cronies from accountability, but made little effort to trace the killers of BB. Why couldn’t her assassins be traced and punished when Zardari claimed that he knew the murderers? Why was her chief security officer Rahman Malik who mysteriously vanished from the scene of crime, or those present inside her bullet proof vehicle not quizzed? Why was Scotland Yard hired for millions of dollars and then given a limited mandate?
Why was Musharraf allowed to leave Pakistan in November 2008 when BB in her email to Mark Seigal had mentioned four names including Musharraf as her possible murderers? Gen Musharraf has now been nominated as the prime accused involved in the 27 December 2007 murder. The people of Pakistan are apprehensive that this murder may also not be added in the list of unsolved mysteries? They want to know who assassinated her.
Blackwater made entry into Pakistan in 2007-08 and fuelled terrorism in cities. People want to know who facilitated Blackwater in Pakistan and let them hire hundreds of houses on rent in Islamabad and Lahore, permitted them to open a training facility in Sihala and scores of security companies like DynCorp for the import of weapons. They also question as to why the US was allowed to purchase 16 acres of land to expand its Embassy in Islamabad and thus enable it to eavesdrop on PM Secretariat and Presidency?
They ask why Hussein Haqqani was given a freehand to grant visas to Americans without clearance by ISI and Foreign Office. They are puzzled over Pakistani American Mansoor Ijaz’s sleazy role. After providing startling news about the Memo, hand-written by Hussein Haqqani to Financial Times on October 10, 2011 and fervently pursuing the case in SC for many months, he silently went off the radar screen of print and electronic media. People are eager to know whether this sensitive case will reach its logical end and the main accused Haqqani taken to task by the SC for his treasonous act.
I have written scores of comprehensive articles since 2006 pointing out that Gen Musharraf had allowed a freehand to CIA and FBI in the country and permitted the two agencies to establish Spider Web outfit in FATA under the garb of netting al-Qaeda operatives. Immigration offices on airports were under the control of FBI. ISI got alerted in 2008 and started taking preventive measures when considerable damage had been done. I also wrote about the role of Hussein Haqqani and Rahman Malik at the behest of President Zardari facilitating establishment of countrywide CIA network which enabled the US Navy SEALs to enter Pakistani airspace stealthily on 2 May 2011 and kill Osama. All this has been confirmed by Abbottabad Commission Report leaked by al-Jazeera TV as well as by former DG ISI Lt Gen Pasha. People want to know whether these criminal lapses will be investigated and the accused taken to task?
People are asking why no one has been held accountable for the barbarity perpetrated by the MQM thugs in Karachi on May 12, 2007 at the express wish of Gen Musharraf not to allow chief justice Iftikhar to move out of Karachi airport. They want to know who burnt alive the lawyers’ pursuing May 2007 case in Sindh High Court on April 9, 2008.
Another thing which is upsetting for the people is as to why Rahman Malik at the behest of PPP leadership constantly appeased the MQM knowing that its target killers were killing innocent people in Karachi? Instead of leashing MQM, the PPP launched Dr Zulfiqar Mirza and created its own militant wing in Lyari under the name of Amman Committee. ANP followed suit and so did Sunni Tehrik and TTP. Result was that over 7000 people died in Karachi in five years and mayhem has not stopped. Will anyone be held accountable for the willful massacre? People want to know whether Karachi will be de-weaponized, militant wings of political parties abolished and those on death row hanged.
People want to know who killed Dr Imran Farooq in London and why the PPP government didn’t cooperate with Scotland Yard when it wanted two accused supposedly linked with the murder and in custody of Pak authorities for interrogation. Will the government render all out assistance to UK in catching the killers of Dr Imran? It is UK government that has taken note of political violence of MQM and its Supremo and is proceeding against him and his colleagues on charges of murder of Dr Imran, money laundering and inciting violence in Karachi.
Kargil affair is also shrouded in mystery. It is still not clear whether Gen Musharraf initiated it at his own without taking all his Corps Commanders and PSOs into confidence and without taking clearance from the executive head. And if he did it at his own, what was his real motive.
Initiation of drone war in Pakistan by him also seeks explanation. While Musharraf admitted that he had allowed limited use of drone strikes and handed over Shamsi airbase for this purpose, President Zardari and former PM Gilani have yet to confess that they had allowed Obama administration to accelerate drone war as alleged by Wikileaks. Shamsi airbase remained operational till November 2011.
Was Railway deliberately given to sickly and nincompoop Ghulam Ahmed Bilour to ground it and thus deprive the military means of mobility during war? Were the public state corporations purposely handed over to unqualified and corrupt officials to destroy these institutions and make Pakistan a failed state?
People want to know who is responsible for energy crisis which has incapacitated our industry, forced industrialists to shift to other countries, tormented the people due to load shedding and gas shedding. If PPP regime inherited this problem why it failed to overcome the crisis as is being done by the current regime? Was the crisis really beyond the means of PPP or was it willful with mala fide intentions?
Well knowing that there were glaring flaws in electoral system as had been pointed out by Tahirul Qadri, why were the defects not removed by the PPP government or by the interim government or the Election Commission before holding elections thereby giving reasons to PTI to point fingers at Election Commission and caretakers of massive rigging on May 11, 2013?
Why has war on terror been aimlessly fought for over a decade without national security policy and national counter terrorism policy resulting in loss of 50,000 people and loss of $100 billion?