I ‘Beg’ to differ
Former army chief Gen Aslam Beg apparently broke the law two decades ago. He tried to financially strengthen political parties weakened by a decade of military rule so they could counter the PPP and its policy at the time in Kashmir and Sri Lanka, where vital Pakistani interests are involved. But if he broke the rules, so did the political party in question. If someone is not playing by the rules, others won’t too.
I will explain this. But first, there is little doubt that the Pakistani military and ISI’s reputations are being systematically destroyed from the inside. But before blaming anyone, the military itself shares the biggest blame. Our national security institutions have failed to counter the demonization they face from foreign allies and their local offshoots. Under the military’s watch, a secret foreign-brokered deal was negotiated to decide the shape of the future government in Islamabad. That deal has spun Pakistan out of control. It is a source of constant political instability since 2007.
Foreign governments maintain direct contacts with some of our political parties. Insurgencies are being encouraged. Water and trade warfare has intensified. There is foreign meddling in our media. A failed political system is getting stronger and is steadily pushing Pakistanis to war based on manufactured linguistic divides. Our supposed friends and allies are sponsoring events that openly advocate the country’s break up. At least one ally has moved separatist terrorists from Afghanistan to Switzerland, shielding them for future use. Another country is getting trade concessions from us while it supports a ‘Sindh liberation army’ after sponsoring another one in Balochistan.
The cases of the missing persons, Balochistan and now the Mehran Bank were manipulated recently to pay back the Pakistani military and ISI for the Raymond Davis case, for blocking US and Nato supplies, and for the Husain Haqqani case. The three – missing persons, Balochistan and Mehran Bank – are genuine cases that deserve attention. But they have been used for exaggerations and motivated anti-military propaganda. The sudden government interest in arresting a former army chief and bringing him to Pakistan from England also appears to be designed to blackmail the military.
The message to our military is clear: if you escalate, we will too. Our military’s foreign detractors have one distinct edge now: they have local allies that look Pakistani and talk Pakistani.
In the Mehran Bank case, a key point is missing and one that the honourable judges and ordinary Pakistanis should consider. That point is: Why the then army chief and the ISI felt the need to intervene indirectly against a political party? Gen Aslam Beg was not trying to buy politicians or loyalties. He was desperate. He apparently didn’t want to mount a coup but felt our political parties were weak after a decade of military rule. He thought it would be good to strengthen these parties to counter the PPP. But why?
The issue at the time was to stop the PPP from coming to power so it wouldn’t continue its policy of surrender in Kashmir and Sri Lanka. The Americans were deeply interested in this policy. The PPP betrayed the Pakistani voters by embarking on a foreign policy that was never discussed in public. Why did the PPP allegedly make a secret deal with India’s Rajiv Gandhi on Kashmir without telling the Pakistani nation? If the PPP did it, was it right for the military to try to stop it? What options did the military chief have?
Beg was trying to deal with a perceived threat to national interests without mounting a coup. That’s the real problem that forced him to intervene in the way he did. The real problem lies elsewhere. Solve that problem and the military will never feel the need to intervene. One way of solving it is by introducing laws that ban political parties from opening secret channels with foreign countries that undermine our national interest. Of course, our politicians will never introduce such a law.
The Mehran Bank case has no relevance to the challenges Pakistan faces now. The military is no longer meddling in politics since 2008. Who benefits from creating a hyper anti-military environment when we are facing serious threats?
The writer works for Geo television.
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