Saturday, December 17, 2011

US CIA Operation Regime Change in Pakistan VIA Memogate.

Former Chief of the Army Staff & Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General (Retd) Khawaja Ziauddin while giving interview to Dawn News (11th Dec 2011) opined that this whole Memogate could be an Sting Operation launched by US Central Intelligence Agency to check the reaction of Pakistan and he also remind that in a similar circumstances in 1999, Kamran Khan (Allegedly a Senior Correspondent of The News Internationl/Daily Jang/GEO TV and contributor for The Washington Post) had also became active (General Ziauddin didn't explain what does he mean by Kamran Khan became active because Journalists are active and the way Mr. Zia used active for Kamran Khan, is always used for Fifth Columnists and Foreign Agents) - Sting operation - a complicated confidence game planned and executed with great care (especially an operation implemented by undercover agents to apprehend criminals) - Agent provocateur - Traditionally, an agent provocateur (plural: agents provocateurs, French for "inciting agent(s)") is a person employed by the police or other entity to act undercover to entice or provoke another person to commit an illegal act. More generally, the term may refer to a person or group that seeks to discredit or harm another by provoking them to commit a wrong or rash action. [Courtesy: Wikipedia]. REFERENCE: Mansoor Ijaz, Gen (R) Khawaja Ziauddin, & Fifth Columnist Kamran Khan.

Policy Matters on Duniya News -- 16th dec 2011 p1

The controversial whistle-blowing site Wikileaks has released numerous documents which relate to Pakistan among the cache of thousands of secret messages sent by US diplomatic staff. While the main concern among US and UK diplomats is that Pakistan's nuclear material could fall into the hands of terrorists, a wide range of other sensitive issues also come under analysis. Below are some of the key issues relating to Pakistan. 'Informal coup' In early 2009 General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army, discussed with the Americans the possibility of "persuading" President Asif Ali Zardari to resign - replacing him with Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan. Gen Kayani said that he would keep Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in place. REFERENCE: Wikileaks US diplomatic cables: Key Pakistan issues 01 December 10 13:26 GMT

Policy Matters on Duniya News -- 16th dec 2011 p2

Wikileaks released diplomatic cables, some classified as secret, from US embassies around the world causing an uproar in the international community. The diplomatic relationship between United States and Pakistan is closer than most government and international figures would like to admit - the cable leaks show that the major players in Pakistan went from the Army Chief of Staff all the way to the national leaders. Here are some major points that were discussed in the US cables related to Pakistan: • Chief of Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani wanted to remove Zardari into exile and replace him with Asfandyar Wali as president. Kayani felt that Faryal Talpur, Zardari’s sister, would make a better president than Zardari, who he preferred over PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif. • Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain, under pressure from the US and UK, has been asked to abjure support for National Reconciliation Ordinance which could put Zardari at risk. Despite the pressure, Malik felt that the Supreme Court would not strip Zardari of his immunity as president. • Although Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani and President Asif Zardari understand that the conflict near the Pak-Afghan border has spread into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA areas and would like to control it. However, the Army and ISI have refused to realize the problem and are concentrating on keeping troops near the India-Pak borders. The amount for will be doubled for four billions dollars. REFERENCE: Key Leaks By Sadef A. Kully December 2, 2010

Policy Matters on Duniya News -- 16th dec 2011 p3

WASHINGTON: Pakistan's army chief COAS Kayani mused about forcing out civilian President Asif Ali Zardari who has made preparations for a coup or assassination, leaked US diplomatic cables said Tuesday. The latest tranche of memos, obtained by whistleblower site WikiLeaks and reported by American and British newspapers, also showed that the United States was more concerned than it let on publicly about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of Pakistan's powerful military, told the US ambassador during a March 2009 meeting that he "might, however reluctantly," pressure Zardari to resign, according to cable cited by the papers. Kayani was quoted as saying that he might support Asfandyar Wali Khan, leader of the Awami National League Party, as the new president -- not Zardari's arch-nemesis Nawaz Sharif. According to Anne W. Patterson, the then US Ambassador to Pakistan, Kayani made it clear that regardless of how much he disliked Zardari, he distrusted Nawaz even more. In another cable quoted by both newspapers, US Vice President Joe Biden recounted to Britain's then prime minister Gordon Brown a conversation with Zardari last year. Zardari told him that Kayani and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency "will take me out," according to the cable. The paper said the cables also showed that Zardari has made extensive preparations in case he is killed. Tensions between Zardari and the army are no secret, and Pakistan often witnesses coup rumors.  After Kayani met in September with Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, the now-exiled Musharraf quipped: "I can assure you they were not discussing the weather." REFERENCE: Kayani said he disliked Zardari: WikiLeaks Updated at 1405 PST Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Lekin - 16th december 2011 part 1

Since the beginning of the so-called ‘memogate’ controversy, one question that has never been adequately answered is why, if Mansoor Ijaz is telling the truth, did he turn on his alleged co-conspirators and reveal the existence of the memo. The answer Ijaz came up with was that he revealed all to add ‘authenticity’ to his op-ed, an excuse that even critics of the government consider silly. A few days ago I suggested that we might want to think about what Ijaz’s real target might be, and whether his allegations against the civilians are actually just bait in the trap for his real target – Pakistan’s security agencies. Today, more evidence comes to light that suggests this might be a possibility worth serious consideration. Writing in The News, Tahir Khalil reveals that soon after Ijaz’s op-ed was published, the government sought to sue Ijaz and the Financial Times and even approached a US law firm about filing lawsuits in the both US and UK. According to the report, the lawyers discouraged the government from pursuing legal cases in the US and UK because “suing him might open a debate about Pakistan’s security agencies in the US or UK courts”.

An important question for everyone to weigh is whether targeting the ambassador and even the president was part of some design by Mansoor Ijaz to create circumstances whereby Pakistan’s security services come under debate in the US and UK courts. In his last article Mansoor Ijaz says he mentioned the memo only “inadvertently” but his other actions indicate his desire to use his memo as an excuse to create other circumstances that might be detrimental to Pakistan’s national security.

On Twitter recently, someone wrote that they don’t care what else Ijaz said because they are only concerned with what he says against the government. This attitude might work for uninformed Twitter arguments, but in a court of law you can’t protest that Mansoor Ijaz is credibly telling the truth in his sentence about the memo…and ignore the dozens of sentences against the military and security agencies. Please allow me to reiterate what I wrote recently:

This is important because remember what is said and exhibited in the court is public record. For most issues of such national sensitivity, an in-camera inquiry would be ordered to protect the national interest. But in this case, Ijaz has carefully created a political, not a national security crisis.

Recent media statements by Mansoor Ijaz have explained that he has no faith in the civilian government to move against the military and security agencies that he continues to term as terror masters. Could it be that Mansoor Ijaz tried to peddle his memo to Haqqani only to be rebuffed? That Haqqani, despite being critical of past military leaders, saw the working relationship between Gen Kayani, PM Gilani and President Zardari as a positive for the nation and did not want to upset the careful balance and growing trust between the military and civil branches of government? In addition to terming the military as terror masters, Ijaz has termed the civilians as “rot”. Only Ijaz himself, it seems, is worthy to determine Pakistan’s interests. Rejected by Haqqani, Ijaz then took his memo to his friends in Washington who also “did not find it at all credible and took no note of it then or later”. Finding himself without any buyers in either Islamabad or Washington, he published his infamous op-ed and set the plan in motion himself. It should be noted that Gen Pasha did meet with both Ijaz and Haqqani and collected evidence from both, but the Supreme Court was petitioned by Nawaz Sharif who has himself been critical of Gen Kayani and Gen Pasha famously saying to Gen Pasha at the APC that “where there is smoke there is fire” regarding American allegations against ISI. Choosing to believe only what is convenient and ignoring what is inconvenient might work in drawing room debates, but not in independent courts of law. There are serious questions that must be asked not only about issues of Mansoor Ijaz’s credibility, but his intended target also. It is known that Nawaz Sharif is feeling the heat of PTI’s advances in his backyard, the impressive turnout at Imran Khan’s 30th October rally surely got the PML-N chief’s attention, and he may see Mansoor Ijaz’s claims as an opportunity to prove his own patriotic credentials. But we all should be very careful not to get lured into a trap designed to sacrifice our national security in exchange for political points. REFERENCE: Did Nawaz fall for the trap? December 12th, 2011 by Mahmood Adeel

Lekin - 16th december 2011 part 2

Mansoor Ijaz is an interesting character. Born and raised in America, he has burst into the limelight of Pakistani politics after the infamous op-ed published in which he claimed that he was part of a secret mission seeking American support to replace the military leadership. For certain journalists and media tycoons who have been gunning for Asif Zardari since day one, this was the closest thing to the smoking gun they had been praying for. As the case carries on, however, we might want to pay closer attention to which way the smoking gun is pointing.

Act I

Media was quick to ignore the fact that the guy who delivered the supposed smoking gun all wrapped up with a bow has a long history of writing strongly against Pakistan and other Muslim countries in the Western media, including being a ‘Terrorism Analyst’ for the neocon FOX News. But why question the messenger who’s delivering you the gift you’ve been dreaming of? The American response to the controversy was also muted. Ambassador Munter appeared on Capital Talk saying the Americans considered it an internal issue for Pakistan and that they would not get involved. Following disaster after disaster in the Pak-US relationship, it was no wonder that the Americans wanted to sit this one out. Now matter how much Husain Haqqani was respected in Washington, the Americans weren’t going to sacrifice their relationship with Pakistan for one man. This created something of a perfect storm against the government. No one liked Mansoor Ijaz, but everyone was willing to set aside their doubts since he was handing them the government on a silver platter. Over the past few days, though, the story has taken an even more bizarre turn. Speaking to Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Mansoor Ijaz said that “it is still my view today that section S of the ISI has been involved in some very, very nefarious activities, and so since nobody was able to get their arms around that, the United States had to take the lead on that”. But then he goes on to admit that “we haven’t strengthened the civilian side of Pakistan’s government”. If Mansoor Ijaz believes the military and the ISI are involved in “very nefarious activities”, many ask, why would he take an action that clearly divides the military from the civilian leadership? The answer may be in another of Ijaz’s statements…”There will never be a time in my view where the military is subservient to the civilians in our lifetime”. If you want to neuter the military, but you don’t believe the civilians are capable, what do you do? Why not dust off the old British strategy of divide and conquer? Actually, some are beginning to suspect that this was Ijaz’s goal all along. Diplomatic sources in the West now saying that they suspect Ijaz’s scheme is a plot to destabilize Pakistan: “Some elements are now keeping this story alive. Ijaz and his backers want to create a political crisis.” Such a plot would finally explain why Mansoor Ijaz’s first target was Husain Haqqani. A controversial figure at home, the Ambassador who was termed “hardest working man in DC” had the respect of top figures in the US establishment and was able to effectively defend Pakistan’s interests during some of the hardest times between the two nations, including following the discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad and the arrest of CIA informants in Pakistan. With Haqqani out of the way, Ijaz has left Pakistan without its defender in the US.  REFERENCE: Mansoorgate: Which way is the smoking gun pointing? December 5th, 2011 by Mahmood Adeel

Act II

Now that there is no Husain Haqqani to defend Pakistan in Washington and the Western media, Ijaz has set the stage for a judicial inquiry. This is important because remember what is said and exhibited in the court is public record. For most issues of such national sensitivity, an in-camera inquiry would be ordered to protect the national interest. But in this case, Ijaz has carefully created a political, not a national security crisis. Over the weekend, Mansoor Ijaz continued to fan the flames of the case in the media, and told reporters that he was prepared to come to Pakistan to present evidence before the court. This is a curious statement considering Mansoor Ijaz already had a private meeting with Gen Pasha during which he supposedly handed over all of his evidence to the ISI chief. If he was telling the truth, what would he present before the court that is not already in the hands of the ISI? To get a hint, perhaps we should revisit Mansoor Ijaz’s statements both before and after his controversial op-ed. On 3rd May, Mansoor Ijaz told FOX News that president Zardari is “a naive buffoon” who doesn’t control the military, and that all signs point to the military protecting Osama bin Laden. Two days later, on 5th May, Mansoor Ijaz told an American news radio programme that Pakistan’s military “absolutely knew” Osama bin Laden was in Abbottabad. In his 10th October op-ed for Financial Times, Mansoor Ijaz termed the ISI as “terror masters” and wrote that “The time has come for America to take the lead in shutting down the political and financial support that sustains an organ of the Pakistani state that undermines global antiterrorism efforts at every turn.” Actually, the one thing that has never changed about Mansoor Ijaz’s story are his claims that he has evidence that the ISI is supporting militants. The only problem was that Husain Haqqani was always defending Pakistan and getting the Americans to stop paying attention. But now there’s no Haqqani to defend Pakistan in the halls of Washington, and in their determination to get at the government, the opposition parties have opened a public forum for Mansoor Ijaz to present his evidence before the court and finally achieve his stated goal of “stopping the terror masters at their very roots”. In 1860, Lieutenant Colonel Coke said of the strategy of the British Raj, “Divide et impera should be the principle.” It seems Mansoor Ijaz has studied his history well. REFERENCE: Mansoorgate: Which way is the smoking gun pointing? December 5th, 2011 by Mahmood Adeel

Lekin - 16th december 2011 part 3

For all the fevered discussion about Memogate, one of the most arresting claims to emerge seems to have evaded even the faintest scrutiny. In the very evidence Mansoor Ijaz marshaled before the Pakistani public, he says there was a second, rival plot, set in train during the very same days in early May. It, too, involves a senior Pakistani official reaching out to foreign allies in a similarly abortive bid to take on a powerful institution back home. About a quarter of the way down the purported BBM exchange between Ijaz and Husain Haqqani, the American businessman proffers an eyebrow-elevating tip. Some hours after the memo was delivered, Ijaz tells his alleged co-conspirator that he has learned of a clandestine effort to evict Asif Ali Zardari from Islamabad’s presidential palace. “I was just informed by senior US intel,” Ijaz writes in a message on May 10, “that GD-SII Mr P asked for, and received permission, from senior Arab leaders a few days ago to sack Z. For what its worth.” It’s worth a great deal, if only because it carries the same weight as what else appears in the apparently incriminating exchange. In his hasty typing, where he manages to turn “DG-ISI” into an anagram, Ijaz was saying that top American spooks have told him that Lieut. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha secured a green light from Gulf potentates to overthrow the government. Intrigued, I asked Ijaz to furnish some context. When the memo was being crafted, he told me in a telephone interview some days ago, he wanted to independently verify whether the Zardari government was truly imperiled. “One of the things I had done,” he explained over his London cell phone, “was to make sure that a senior person that I know in US intelligence would have had the opportunity to review what was about to sent over.” This, he added, was why Leon Panetta came to know of the memo, hinting at a CIA link. Ijaz said he felt the measure was necessary “to make sure that there was nothing we were doing that was against US interests.” The well-placed source got back to him about a day later. “And the person told me,” Ijaz said, “that their information was that Pasha had traveled to a few of the Arab countries to talk about what would be necessary to do in the event they had to remove Zardari from power and so forth.” Did he find the information credible? “Of course I thought it was credible,” Ijaz replied, slightly exasperated by the question. “I wouldn’t have repeated it if I didn’t. When I say, ‘a senior intel source,’ I mean senior,” he said, laying stress on the last word. Based on what his source told him, Ijaz said he had “confirmation that there was a real threat there at some point.” The question of whether the shadow of a coup ever fell on the early days of May lies at the very root of Memogate and remains unresolved. Ijaz has claimed that coup jitters spurred Haqqani into action. Indeed, all claims in this regard emanate from Ijaz. They appeared in his column on the pink pages of the FT and in the memo that he dispatched. Haqqani, by contrast, denies there was ever talk of a fourth phase of Pakistani military rule. The army and the ISI, at least on this occasion, won’t disagree with the former ambassador. And judging by the government’s reaction at the time, the need never arose. Before the memo even reached Admiral Mullen’s inbox, Yousaf Raza Gilani had already bellowed his support of Pakistan’s military-led spies. “Indeed, the ISI is a national asset and has the full support of the government,” the prime minister told parliament on May 10. “We are proud of its considerable achievements…” Gilani also failed to call for the “independent inquiry” floated in the memo, handing the responsibility instead to the army’s adjutant general. And a day later, the prime minister told me that the government, the army and the ISI were “all on the same page.” So, the only one claiming that Gen Pasha was busily touring Arab capitals enlisting support for a coup is his London host. Like other allegations made in the Memogate affair, it rests on Ijaz’s credibility. If he is telling the truth, and his entire account is to be accepted, then both Haqqani and Gen Pasha were involved in shadowy schemes that merit further inquiry. And in each case, questions will inevitably arise about how much their respective bosses knew. We already know that Ijaz has at least been right about Haqqani’s travel itinerary. The former envoy concedes that he was in London on the dates his accuser mentions. Gen Pasha’s movements are more opaque. According to news reports of May 7 – two days before Ijaz alleges Haqqani contacted him – the spy chief slipped out of Pakistan that day for “a sudden foreign visit”. The Nation newspaper, among others, reported that its sources said the “ISI chief’s visit could be to China, Saudi Arabia and UAE where he is expected to meet senior defence and military officials of these countries to brief Pakistan’s stance.” Even if Gen Pasha did travel to these countries, two of which clearly qualify as homes to “Arab rulers,” perhaps nothing unseemly took place. Perhaps all that was discussed, quite appropriately, was Pakistan’s reaction to the bin Laden raid. But if Ijaz is wrong about the nature of Gen Pasha’s trip, then his other claims begin to crumble. It becomes very difficult to sustain the argument that he was telling the truth about Haqqani but lying about Gen Pasha. REFERENCE: Pakistan’s “Memogate”: Was there ever going to be a coup? By Omar Waraich The Foreign Desk - International dispatches from Independent correspondents - Tuesday, 13 December 2011 at 7:35 pm
Lekin - 16th december 2011 part 4

KARACHI: Mansoor Ijaz the US businessman at the centre of the memogate scandal has backtracked on his text message regarding DG ISI General Shuja Pasha. A blog published in The Independent gave reference to a text message in which Ijaz said that a senior US official had informed him that DG ISI Shuja Pasha had approached senior Arab leaders about removing President Zardari and that permission had been granted. The message published on the blog states: I was just informed by senior US intel that GD-SII Mr P asked for, and received permission from senior Arab leaders a few days ago to sack Z. For what its worth. It is clearly written in the message that permission was asked for and given. However Ijaz speaking on Geo News program Lekin said the following: “no one ever said to me (Ijaz) that General Pasha received permission from somebody to conduct a coup, that’s not what they said.” Ijaz goes on to say “what they said was that he had toured Arab countries right after the bin Laden raid taken place and that he had in fact made clear to those Arab leaders that he met with that there were a significant degree of stress if you will between the civilian sector and the establishment about laying blame on what….again these are intelligence sources which are talking to me, I don’t have a transcript that says that, I don’t have the notes of a meeting in which any of those things were said.” REFERENCE: Mansoor Ijaz backtracks on text message about DG ISI Gen Shuja Pasha Updated 21 hours ago

Geo Report- James Jones Statement- 17th Dec 2011

WASHINGTON: Former US National Security Advisor, General James Jones said that he had known Mansoor Ijaz since 2006 and was contacted by him a few days prior to May 9, Geo News reported. It is pertinent to mention here that Ijaz claims he was first contacted by Husain Haqqani on May 9. Jones said he was informed by Ijaz that he had a message from the top leadership of Pakistan and that he wanted to send it to Admiral Mike Mullen. Jones adds Ijaz never used the name of Husain Haqqani during their conversation and that he informed Ijaz that he could not pass on a verbal message. Jones claims that in his opinion Haqqani had no knowledge about the memo. On May 9, Jones said that he received an email from Ijaz and added that he thought the memo was written by Ijaz himself. According to Jones, the type of language used in the memo was similar to how Ijaz would speak. REFERENCE: Ijaz never said Haqqani was involved in writting the memo: James Jones Updated 21 hours ago

Lekin - 16th december 2011 part 5

Moral of the Story

Did our founding fathers have any idea of the kind of country they were creating? A country where conspiracies would never cease and stability would never come. Sixty-four years, going on sixty-five, and not one peaceful transition from one democratic government to another. Quite a record and we seem determined it should remain like this forever. Mansoor Ijaz must be laughing up his sleeve, the most flattered man in the world. After all, it is no small thing to throw the one-and-only Fortress of Islam, the world’s sole Islamic nuclear power (as we keep reminding ourselves), into a mad spin by something bizarre you have set in motion. The composure of the Islamic Republic torpedoed by a memo: quite an achievement. But a con job is only as good as its gullible target. And what easier target, what more willing assembly of fools, than Pakistan’s movers-and-shakers: a claque of media-men eager for adventure, politicos despairing of removing Zardari and finally sensing their opportunity, and generals with a gift for conspiracy, long wanting an excuse to target Asif Zardari, their bête noire, and hard put to find a handy instrument to achieve their goal until they stumble upon the godsend of Ijaz’s memo. The Sheikh of our distress and his Abbottabad hideout are forgotten, other disasters from the past erased from the tablet of memory: all that rivets the minds of our leading ideological warriors is the memo delivered to Admiral Mike Mullen and, if imperfect evidence is to be believed, forgotten promptly by him. But we should be under no illusion. The drama being played out has nothing to do with imperilled national security. For once Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is right. This is a conspiracy against democracy with some pretty unsavoury characters involved, including the smiling, oily senator alluded to obliquely by Gilani. These characters, conspirators for the sake of conspiracy, know what they are up to. So they are not gullible, far from it. But they are taking the nation for a ride. And they have also managed to make an issue of Zardari’s illness. Had this problem been confined to newspaper columns or TV chat-shows it would have been no great matter. But when an extended bench, also becomes involved by taking up the matter for hearing, then the whole thing takes on a more serious aspect, especially when the word bandied about the most loosely is treason. That, surely, is no laughing matter, even if we have devalued the meaning of most things. Strange indeed are the ways of the Islamic Republic. In few other countries would such a farce be taken seriously. Here we are milking it for all it is worth because the holy troika behind it – media-men, a section of politicos and one or two key generals – has other fish to fry, ‘Get Zardari’ the name of their grand strategic manoeuvre. In Thursday’s papers there was a thoughtful piece on the economy by former State Bank governor, Muhammad Yaqub. In it he said that before all else we should be looking to the state of the economy or Pakistan would be undone. He might as well have preached to deaf ears. The guardians of national security are seized with other matters. The PML-N’s position is the strangest of all. On the one hand Nawaz Sharif talks of foiling conspiracies against democracy, on the other hand forgetting that if there is one Trojan horse that can breach the walls of democracy and bring the whole edifice down it is his petition about the memo in the Supreme Court. What exactly is the PML-N hoping to achieve? It would be fascinating to know the intellectual journey leading to the filing of this petition. Every last cynic can at least be sure of one thing. Pulling the real strings are neither media-men nor politicos – whether of the N-League or any other denomination – but our holy guardians. Without their eager interest the fires of conspiracy we presently see illuminating the sky would scarcely be lit. The guardians have been saving the nation for the last 60 years, with what results we know. Let’s pray for that miracle, yet to be revealed, which puts an end to nation-saving. If we could see the last of this enterprise Pakistan would be a happier place. One man’s future is no big thing. But at stake in what is presently going on is not just Zardari’s head or position but the course of future politics. Are we at all capable of managing the thing called democracy? Four years have gone by and only one remains before the election tocsin sounds. What’s got into the present band of nation-saviours who have created an encyclopaedia out of a piece of paper that they can’t wait for another year? Gilani is right. You can’t isolate events in a quarantine ward and expect that they would not lead to other consequences. The PNA parties agitated against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in that fateful summer of 1977 but what they got, and what through them the nation got, was not freedom of any kind or the promised kingdom but 11 years of the worst tyranny Pakistan was to experience. Any change now would confirm military supremacy. The military has never acted as anyone’s instrument. When it has its way it sets its own agenda. It doesn’t queer the pitch for others. We can’t afford any more adventures. The memo petition is not good politics. In fact it is a dangerous move which takes a political issue into an arena where it does not belong: the hallowed halls of the apex court. What drives Pakistani politicians to undermine their own position? It is nonsense of the worst kind to maintain that this parliament has become a rubberstamp. Whose rubberstamp? To call Zardari or Gilani dictators is to insult the very word dictator. They are bumbling democrats, with more than their share of mistakes or omissions. But they are not autocrats. They couldn’t be autocrats even if that is what they wanted to be. And if parliament despite this is a rubberstamp, then the only thing to be said is that this is an act of voluntary abdication. No one has forced this role on parliament. Why do we insist on feeding ourselves on shibboleths? Elementary things often escape our understanding. The transition from Musharraf to democracy was not easy. It was brought about not by the lawyers’ movement, much as we may like to glorify that event, but by a set of understandings between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto which the Americans (read Condi Rice and Richard Boucher) helped broker. The NRO was very much part of those understandings. Only with the NRO in place did Benazir Bhutto return to Pakistan. And only when she returned was Nawaz Sharif able to make his way home. The hardest thing was to get Musharraf to shed his uniform. This only happened – mark the logic carefully – after their rightful lordships were deposed through the Nov 3 emergency. The exit of their lordships gave Musharraf the confidence to take off his uniform. Only then were free elections possible. And it was only the democracy born of those elections which created the conditions for the restoration of their lordships. This narrative, convoluted as it is, is forgotten when we substitute shibboleths and self-serving clichés for the truth. There are no knights in shining armour. Most of the paladins around – generals, judges or politicians – have made compromises of one sort or another. To say that the NRO is worse than taking an oath under a dictator-inspired Provisional Constitutional Order is a matter of opinion. Haven’t all their lordships borne the burden of this oath? Shouldn’t this inculcate a measure of tolerance and patience? If what is happening had the flavour of dark conspiracy something still might be said for it. But much of it is plain stupid and, like so much in our history, short-sighted. There is still time to arrest this march of folly. But only if, and this is a big if, we can rise above our limitations. REFERENCE: Death wish of the Pakistani political class Ayaz Amir Friday, December 16, 2011 Email:

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