By Dr. Haider Mehdi

“If you have built castles in the air,

your work need not be lost:

That is where they should be.

Now put the foundations under them.”


                            -Henry David Thoreau

Let the Generals be tried in a court of law!

After all, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has established criminal liability in the years-old Asghar Khan petition case. And citizens of Pakistan have the legitimate right and a national vested interest to know exactly who the real sinners are in the decades-old political “games” that have brought this nation to the brink of ultimate disaster. The pursuit of truth necessitates separating fiction from reality and coming to grips with the absolute facts; establishing the falsehood and political deception of yesteryear can only be in the public’s best interest as well as for fairness to all parties involved. In this difficult odyssey of political discovery, we cannot abandon ship now as the journey to realize genuine substance has already commenced. In today’s world of so-called democratic Pakistan, the political truth is too valuable to squander.

So why not hold the trial of the Generals?

Lt. Gen.Hamid Gul (Retd), the former DG, ISI, in the exemplary valor and courage of a solider, has on several TV talk shows publically owned the formation of IJI during his tenure. In all fairness, it must be noted that General Hamid Gul has demonstrated an unprecedented example of moral-ethical political behavior to have admitted his role in the disputed issue. He should be equally credited for being willing to face a trial and punishment if found guilty. But the most vital part of the General’s willingness to go on a trial are the two conditions that he has laid down: one, the trial must be public. Two, he must not be arrested.

Let us assume, for the sake of deliberations and  to give his civilian political adversaries the  benefit of the doubt, that the General intends to use “Machiavellian” strategies and fabricated political charades to frighten his political opponents, most specifically the PPP stalwarts, who are demanding his “head on a plate.” Indeed, the PPP Federal Information Minister, as we all know, has gone as far as to use symbolically charged derogatory images of dragging generals dead bodies through the streets. Obviously, such public statements, to say the least, are in utter bad taste and the narrative is unparliamentary in its language: and yet, the top PPP leadership seems to have solid legal evidence to put the Generals in the dock.

Okay, let us admit that’s fair.  Hence, the important questions are: Why doesn’t the PPP spill the beans on the Generals’ unconstitutional actions? Why is Kaira rhetorically distasteful and linguistically disgusting? Why is the PPP narrative devoid of political actions? Where is the FIA commission to investigate the alleged crimes by the senior military officers named in the recent SCP decision? Why did the PPP not, in spite of being in power twice, take legal action against the said individuals in the past?

These are extremely vital questions that need to be carefully examined, politically analyzed, legally settled and above all explicitly explained to the public by top PPP leadership. The onus of explaining the so-called treachery against Pakistan People’s Party in the past does not rest entirely on the former DG, ISI, and the former Chief-of-the-Army staff. It squarely rests on the top PPP leadership as well; for it failed to take appropriate legal action during its past tenure (post IJI affair) and has never completely or convincingly explained its position on the matter. It seems both rivals in the dispute have secrets: some secrets that might publically destroy the PPP leadership (and some other political actors in other major parties). Right now, the incumbent PPP leadership is playing pure “politics” with SCP’s recent decision. I will bet that the PPP will not take any meaningful legal or investigative action against the two generals. Kaira’s rattlings of “dragging generals’ dead bodies through the streets” is linguistic genocide in bad taste as well as an empty meaningless sloganistic exercise in order to improve PPP’s fading popularity. It also indicates Kaira’s poor judgment in believing that such statements will appeal to public sentiment.

Here I have a personal observation to make: General Hamid Gul’s honest willingness to face a trial throws an open challenge to the entire community of civilian politicians (accused of accepting funds from ISI and PPP leadership’s supposed involvement in anti-state activities) to take up the issue legally and come out clean. After all, restoring personal and moral credibility is the most important element in the conduct of political life: what do they have to lose – unless their self-defenses are flawed, full of holes and politically difficult to explain.

My educated assumptions, logical analysis and understanding of Pakistan’s decade-old status-quo orientated political culture, its inherent contradictions and corruption, its political incorrectness and structural flaws, its intrinsic and incurable moral-ethical dilemmas, its political leadership’s self-serving and dictatorial mindset and a host of other socio-psychological factors lead me to conclude that General Hamid Gul’s challenge for a public trial will never be taken up by the Pakistani civilian politicians. Pakistan’s contemporary political system is incapable of dealing with the political-moral-ethical issues that General Hamid Gul’s trial might bring to fore. There is not a single Pakistani politician (excluding Imran Khan) who might so courageously embrace the willingness to face a public trial for his/her alleged misconduct as Gen. Hamid Gul has. My belief is that historically Pakistan has had a moral crisis more than a political one.

So, let us put the two Generals, Hamid Gul and Mirza Aslam Baig, on public trial. Let the nation hear what they have to say. Let them publically present evidence in support of their contentions. Let them tell the nation their side of the story. And if they are found guilty of alleged crimes, then let us “hang” them.

But the entire exercise in administering moral and legal justice will be futile if the civilian political actors escape the responsibility of their alleged crimes against the nation. In the IJI affair there are some serious allegations against politicians as well. I am afraid that the political “sainthood” and “martyrdom” of the PPP leadership will crumble if everything is exposed openly and honestly. It is for this reason that the PPP leadership has not wanted to play a seriously focused political “gameplan” of revenge and retaliation against the army’s high command. The fact of the matter is that the PPP and PML-N (like other political parties) have always depended on the army’s support to come to political power in this country.

Imran Khan is right when he says, “Is hammam meh sab nange hain” (Everyone here is shamelessly involved in the charade of evil and weakness.).  Is General Hamid Gul politically and morally correct when he says that PPP leadership and all other political actors in other major political parties have always subscribed to the US-West 4-point agenda for Pakistan’s political landscape? Let us provide General Gul the opportunity to educate the nation in this context at his future political trial – that the PPP Information Minster, as the spokesperson of his party, has pledged to hold with such savage consequences!

Irrespective of what happens in tomorrow’s Pakistan, General Hamid Gul is deadly accurate: Unless the contemporary political culture changes, Pakistan’s army will always have an influential role in the political affairs of this nation.

The ball is in the court of public opinion now!

For political change in the next election, vote for personal honesty, integrity, competence, devotion to public causes, and demonstrated selflessness – or face the doomsday scenario in future Pakistan!