Tuesday November 28, 2023

Here they see it, here they don’t

October 07, 2022

My friend, Lt-Gen (r) Tariq Khan, has scribbled his thoughts after a longish break. In his latest piece titled ‘Tyranny of misrule’, he says thus: “So here we are. As Europe rages in the Russo-Ukraine war, the global economy is on the edge of collapse, Afghanistan accuses us of duplicity, India shores up its military capacity in Kashmir, Pakistan struggles with the devastation of floods and TTP threatens to capture spaces, we have this monumental aberration to contend with: a country where there is a democracy of criminals, by criminals, for criminals while, we, the (ordinary) people, display unprecedented silence (of the lambs)”.

He goes on to quote Charles Fourier that “despots prefer the friendship of the dog who, (even when) unjustly mistreated and debased, still loves and serves the man who wronged him”.

A telling indictment, indeed, of the sickening drama which is enacted ad nauseam around us. Morning, afternoon, evening, we remain deeply immersed in this sordidness permeating our beings, only to leave behind indelible marks of a disease which we have long suffered from, and which has only accentuated with time. This deep-set malaise is a compendium of numerous sub-ailments, each a lethal infliction in its own right with deadly effects.

Take the case of the cipher. Though people from the (then) opposition denied its existence, which they continued to do even after being paddled into power, everyone knows that such a communication was actually sent by the Pakistan ambassador in the United States reflecting the conversation that he had with Donald Lu, the US assistant secretary of state for South- and Central-Asia, in which he had said that if Imran Khan were removed as prime minister through a vote of no-confidence, all would be forgiven. But if not, there would be (adverse) consequences for Pakistan. From its original alleged non-existence to accepting its existence to it being tampered with to it having been stolen – these mavericks have behaved like the chameleon changing colours with every new need that would arise. In the process, they have not only torn their original contention to shreds; they have made a horrible mockery of it.

Now they want to take the drama a mega notch further. From denying its very existence in the beginning, they now want to use it to initiate ‘legal action’ against Imran Khan. Based on a couple of alleged audio-leaks, the cabinet has asked the FIA to investigate the matter further with intent to try Khan (reportedly) under Article 6. Nothing could be more frivolous than this, and nothing more desperate. With all other cases against him having lost steam, the government has initiated this vile new stratagem to have him eliminated through non-political means. Drooling with hate and venom, the orchestrators of this latest macabre manouevre don’t realize that the entire case is based on unlawful recordings which is not only a breach of the prime minister’s privilege when in office; it would not make for permissible evidence before any court of law.

So far as the allegation of the cipher having been stolen is concerned, how could this be when the same was discussed in an especially convened National Security Committee (NSC) meeting that was presided over by the incumbent prime minister and which “reaffirmed the decisions of the last (37th) NSC meeting” where the cipher had been originally discussed when Khan was the prime minister? If at all it has disappeared, it could have only after holding the 38th NSC meeting which would inevitably pin the blame on the incumbent, not Khan.

Let’s also not forget that the cipher was declassified in a cabinet meeting and a copy of it was sent to the speaker who forwarded it to the chief justice asking him to initiate a judicial enquiry to probe the matter. Why has that enquiry not been held so far? If the government is genuinely interested in knowing the truth, it should proceed urgently with ordering the much-delayed enquiry.

But, no, they are not interested in knowing the truth. They are only interested in exploiting the document to oust Khan from the political arena. Having tried it through so many cooked-up cases, they now want to exploit the cipher mantra. But none of these wicked tricks will work. Ultimately, his adversaries will have to face him in the political domain where he continues to rule, becoming ever more ascendant, even more powerful with millions of his followers laden with unprecedented zeal to see the battle through. In fact, this bunch of criminals will be mauled by Khan in a free and fair election.

A government with the people’s mandate has always been Khan’s mission and this is what he remains determined to accomplish. No impediment raised in his way will be insurmountable and there is no trick that will not be thwarted. The clarity of vision and the accompanying grit and determination constitute the arsenal that Khan has at his disposal as also the battalions of impassioned followers who wait anxiously for the final call to action. Having suffered the humiliating excesses at the hands of economic and social enslavers over decades, they have now become aware of their rights which they are no longer willing to compromise, no matter what be the sacrifice they may have to make.

Pakistan is inching closer towards the election. The criminal incumbents have no answer to the surging public support for Khan and his mission to bring about a fundamental change in the way the country has been governed. This is the minimum to be accomplished if Pakistan is to survive and its impoverished, harassed and humiliated multitudes have to regain even a semblance of their pride and self-respect. They lie at the bottom of the pit and there is no going down any further. They have to rise. They have to emerge from these dungeons of putridity and start living their lives as equal members of the national polity with hope in their future.

Try as they may, Khan is not going anywhere. A self-imposed dementia of selectively seeing something when desired and acting blind when not needed is not going to work. If someone feels that an election held without Khan’s participation will bear any legitimacy and its result accepted by the people of Pakistan, they must be dreaming. There can be no election without Khan and there is no one winning it but Khan. This is the reality that scares the entire criminal conglomerate banded under the umbrella of the PDM. They have fraudulently used the power of their office to amend the NAB laws, but their illicit billions cannot save them from political demise which stares them in their faces.

The writer is a political and security strategist and the founder of the Regional Peace Institute in Islamabad. He tweets @RaoofHasan