It is not in the character of Punjab to defy authority. But on occasions it has acted out of character. The last time it did so was when it brought Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to power defying the then authority
Friday, 25 May 2018
Khalaai Makhlooq in panic? M Ziauddin
Where is the PTI groundswell? It was clearly discernable much before we had entered the 2013 election season. The surge began with the PTI’s October 30, 2011, public rally in Lahore. And it persisted much after the elections were over, lasting perhaps until about a few months after the July 2017 Supreme Court verdict disqualifying Nawaz Sharif for life.
Then the tide seemed to be turning on its head, first tentatively and then gradually and now it seems to be in full swing — a sort of a tsunami! Nawaz is drawing big crowds — crowds that seem to be as charged as those that one continues to witness in PTI’s rallies. On occasions, the PML-N rallies appear much more high-spirited than those that are being staged by other mainstream political parties.
Of course, those that pull big crowds at political rallies are normally not known to have been equally successful at pulling voters on election day. But nobody had expected Nawaz to last for so long after he was implicated in the Panama Papers scandal in April 2016.
Nawaz hasn’t just lasted since and survived every onslaught in these 24 months. He also seems to be giving his party’s main rival in the upcoming elections — the PTI — a run for its money.
The PPP seems to have already lost its political relevance, thanks largely to Mr. Zardari’s politics sans the PPP’s characteristic populism.
No PM once he or she had been ousted from office even less unceremoniously than Nawaz has lasted in the country’s political arena for so long. Not at least since General Zia ousted Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
No PM once he or she had been ousted from office even less unceremoniously than Nawaz has lasted in the country’s political arena for so long. Not at least since General Zia ousted Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
One vividly recalls the personal and political fate of ZA Bhutto and his party once he was removed from power. Mohammad Khan Junejo — General Ziaul Haq’s second victim — had disappeared from the scene never to come back.
Benazir Bhutto had to wait in the wings with no sign on the horizon of any revival of her political fortunes for almost three years after she was shown the door by Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Nawaz met the same fate after having been sent home by General Kakar following his first stint as the PM.
When Benazir was ousted from office for the second time, her party was reduced to an insignificant Parliamentary presence and the former PM was blatantly hounded into self-exilem, seemingly forever. NS was brought back to replace BB, not because in the meanwhile the PML-N had regained its non-existent popularity but because there was no other mainstream political party in the country seemingly compliant enough to serve as the establishment’ political front. And when Nawaz was ousted by General Musharraf and sent into exile it had appeared as if Nawaz had finally reached the dead-end of his political career.
Indeed, Musharraf seemed to have effectively taken care of both BB and NS for almost eight long years. It was perhaps only when the US felt it was time for Pakistan to undergo what is known as regime-change that both the exiled leaders could return home.
And this is when Pakistan’s proverbial extraterrestrial elements (Khalaai Makhlooq) were pressed into service in earnest by a Musharraf desperately trying to ward off the US machinations. As a result, BB was assassinated within months of her return; and understandably, the assassins and those who hired the killers seem to have become as elusive as the Khalaai Makhlooq (KM).
Next the KM pressed into service by his successor — not Zardari but the other one — took care of Musharraf, who is now cooling his heels in Dubai seemingly for all times to come to escape being tried under Article 6 for taking liberties with the Constitution.
Of the three PMs that were elected to the office one after the other during Musharraf’s regime, Shaukat Aziz seems to have decided not to come home for the time being for obvious reasons. Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Chaudhary Shujaat, too accidental to be of any political consequence, seemed to have been left to wither away on their own.
This short review of the careers of the past PMs of this country since the late 1970s makes it doubly difficult to comprehend the seeming political groundswell that the nation is witnessing for the Nawaz led PML-N on the eve of 2018 general elections.
Since his ouster, Nawaz has been doubling for both the government and the opposition — for the government with Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi as the front man and for the opposition, in his own personal capacity conceived as a victim of the KM, which he has successfully cast as the real villain of the piece.
Seemingly effectively conned by his ‘double game’, the real opposition — the PPP and the PTI — is seen attacking Nawaz the ‘victim’ instead of Nawaz the ‘incumbent government’. This has enabled the ousted PM to win all the sympathy and empathy he needs to remain vitally relevant in the country’s political arena.
In fact as of today, Nawaz seems to have rendered both the PPP and the PTI (notwithstanding its 100-day plan) totally irrelevant in the context of the forthcoming elections. Instead he has set the game in such a manner that the people in general see it as a battle between the all -powerful KM (even the most unversed among the general public knows what the term means) and a ‘powerless’ Nawaz — a sort of contest between David and Goliath!
It is not in the character of Punjab to defy authority. But on occasions it has acted out of character. The last time it did so was when it brought Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to power defying the then authority. Now once again Punjab seems to be acting out of its character. And this seems to have caused the KM to panic forcing it resort to dirty tricks against the independent media despite the fact that most of the mainstream media seem already to have been successfully manipulated.
The writer is a senior journalist based in Islamabad. He served as the Executive Editor of Express Tribune until 2014
Published in Daily Times, May 24th 2018.
Durrani Dulat say...: Institutionalise ISI-RAW chiefs’ meetings
ISLAMABAD: Former ISI chief Lt-Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, while suggesting an institutionalized mechanism of meeting between ISI and RAW chiefs, has disclosed that he being the chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) held a secret meeting with his Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Indian counterpart in Singapore in 1991.
“It took place in Singapore, sometime in 1991. Bajpai headed RAW. We met over two days, exchanged developments. I’m sure the Kashmir uprising was the focus of our meeting, because it had already taken shape when I joined ISI in August 1990. After the so-called Gates Mission, things were getting ‘hotter’, so, on an initiative by our foreign office, all credit to them; we met around six months later. Once you meet someone for the first time, you spend most of your time judging the other side, assessing how much they want to reveal or talk about. It’s always the second, third or the fourth meeting where you might figure that out, but the first is always a probe,” said Durrani in the book “The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace,” which he co-authored with former Indian RAW chief A.S Dulat. The copy of book is also available with this correspondent.
The book is a narration of the marathon meetings between two former spy masters moderated by Indian author and journalist Aditya Sinha.
In the chapter, “The Intelligence Dialogue” Durrani, while giving more details about his meeting with his RAW counterpart of that time Mr. Bajpai, adds, “Nothing earth-shattering took place. We met. I was clear about one thing: the person on the other side of the table was an experienced intelligence hand. He’s the chief of the RAW. He must have spent his life in his career. On this side was a person still learning the ropes, and I don’t think one can in a year, or the combined time I spent in MI and ISI. I must have been extra careful.”
He further said, “So Bajpai and I met once, but it was not followed up. If both countries had better sense, they would have followed it up correctly. But they can’t because of their paranoia. Otherwise, Hamid Gul’s meeting with A.K. Verma, my meeting, and others, these could be institutionalized. Without having to be announced every time. But they don’t meet, so each time two chiefs meet, it starts afresh. There’s no continuity of process. It doesn’t happen that after (Musharraf’s) four points, you pick up from there.”
At this occasion, the discussion between Asad Durrani, A.S Dulat and Aditya Sinha was following:
Dulat : Because it’s not institutionalized. If you think intelligence chiefs are too big then take down a level or to the middle level. But let there be meetings, if it is institutionalized then something will flow out of it.
Durrani: In any case, anyone who knows the functioning of the State knows that just because the RAW chief and the ISI chief want to do something does not mean it will happen. The whole establishment gets involved.
Dulat: I agree with you entirely, Sir. I’m only interrupting you to say, please give the ISI chief and the RAW chief a chance. A fair chance in which they should believe. It’s easy for us to believe because we are now out of this. But if you have an ISI chief and a RAW chief who believe, then things can happen, even small things.
Durrani: That chance won’t be given for the simple reason that when I met my counterpart I did not know him and I don’t think he knew me well. Our conclusion was, we will keep at it. But he was not allowed. In my case someone merely had to say, haan bhai karte raho. There was a deafening silence instead.
Dulat: Now it seems there’s no meeting, nothing.
Durrani: Are you sure there are no meetings now?
Sinha: Are the current RAW and ISI chiefs meeting?
Dulat: Who knows? We should not know.
Durrani: This is the right answer. If they are really meeting seriously, then we should not know.
Dulat: I certainly don’t know. I also don’t know when they last met. General Saheb has met, Ehsan Saheb has met.
Sinha: You didn’t meet General Mahmud?
Dulat: No, I’ve not met.
Durrani: When I met Bajpai only five-six of our people knew. And for many years, I denied it — even after B. Raman had written about it in his book. Then a time came when I decided to say yes, I met the RAW chief.
Dulat: It’s something I always wanted to do. I’ve more than made up. Pakistani friends have helped, and I’m the only RAW chief who’s been to Pakistan, not once but four times. I’ve been on Pakistan TV. Our friend Ejaz Haider put me on TV and later had tea with me. He said: thank you, for me this is the greatest thing because nobody in Pakistan has had the RAW chief on TV.
Durrani: Someone who knew I never watch TV rang me up when I was sitting doing something else, not necessarily more productive. ‘Quickly, quickly, switch on that channel,’ he said, and Mr Dulat was there. I just caught him say, yes, of course I have a friend in Pakistan, and he took my name.
Sinha: In your book you said the best intelligence organisation because of its influence is the ISI.
Dulat: I maintain that. General Saheb was kind to pay tribute to the RAW but the fact is what we think of the other side is not always accurate, no matter how many books are written about it. When he and I talk, we’re talking facts, if we’re honest. Otherwise it is just an assessment, and the rest is hearsay.