Thursday, May 31, 2012

Imran Khan, Saints & APDM.

Dawn Wire Service 02 May 1996. LAHORE, April 25: Expressing his disappointment with the failure of the political system and of politicians to solve public problems and lack of commitment on their part to give the people their rights, former cricket star Imran Khan on Thursday launched his Tehrik-i-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) to bring about a change within the framework of the Constitution. At a news conference, Mr Khan highlighted the problems which his movement would address, and singled out corruption as a major focus of attention. He alleged that it was because of corruption that foreign investment was not coming into Pakistan. He said eight committees would be constituted to prepare recommendations for a change in the current terrible state of affairs in judicial and legal affairs, human rights, governance, health and education, economy, youth affairs and joblessness, women affairs and environment. Mr Khan said every citizen was free to join the movement, but the leaders to be inducted in the proposed committees would have to be men of proven integrity and with an unblemished character. He set no time-frame for the establishment of these committees or how long he could take to bring about a desired change in the country. When it was pointed out that a change would not be possible unless he formed his own political party, he said his movement was the first step towards the formation of a party. He believed that the people would trust and support him. Even the Quaid-i-Azam, he pointed out, was an individual but he got popular support only because the people trusted him and his integrity. REFERENCE: Imran Khan launches Movement for Justice Bureau Report DAWN WIRE SERVICE Week Ending : 02 May 1996 Issue : 02/18

Miracles of Saints as per Late. Capt. Dr Masooduddin Usmani

Imran Khan Request to General Pervez Musharraf in 2002

Pakistani cricket legend-turned politician Imran Khan on Tuesday backed the referendum to be held next month to decide the future of President Pervez Musharraf but his fledgling Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf headed for trouble as some of its leaders have opposed it openly. After considerable dithering, Imran Khan declared that his party has decided to support Musharraf's referendum. In a statement issued from Karachi, Imran said he has decided to support the referendum as he believed that Musharraf wanted "to make Pakistan a modern Islamic, welfare state". Imran said his party wants to play its real role as "we desire that democracy is promoted in the country and a clean leadership come to the fore". Imran launched his party with a lot of fanfare in the last general elections but ended up in a great disappointment after he failed to win a single seat even though he himself contested 22 seats from different regions. A bitter critic of former Prime Ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, Imran alleged that politicians in the country minted money through corruption during the last 12 years. The referendum has been opposed by all the major political parties including Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party, (PPP) and Sharif's Pakistan Muslim league (PML). While Imran announced the support to the referendum, a section of his party headed by General Secretary Miraj Muhammad Khan openly opposed the party decision to back it. Pakistan Daily quoted a party sources as saying that Miraj was bitterly critical of the party accepting the "undemocratic" move of Musharraf trying to get elected for a five year term through a referendum. REFERENCES: Analysis: Musharraf's referendum gamble Friday, 5 April, 2002, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK  Imran backs Musharraf's referendum, party members oppose Press Trust of India Posted: Apr 09, 2002 at 1518 hrs IST Interview: Justice (retd) Tariq Mahmood By Newsline Editorial Staff 15 MAY 2002  How the Referendum was Won By Massoud Ansari 15 MAY 2002  Counting the Cost By Nadeem Iqbal 15 MAY 2002 Constructing Consent By Shahzada Zulfiqar 15 MAY 2002

LAHORE: Leaders of the component parties of the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) have announced that they will not participate in the Pakistan People’s Party’s (PPP) long march scheduled to start from Lahore on November 13 (today). Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders declared PPP’s long march as government sponsored. PTI General Secretary Air Marshal (r) Shahid Zulfiqar said Benazir Bhutto had returned to Pakistan under a deal with the government. He said that despite the imposition of Section 144, Benazir was moving freely under state security while several APDM leaders had been detained. MMA Deputy General Secretary Liaquat Baloch said the MMA would not participate in any protest called by the PPP because the PPP had not clearly disassociated itself with President General Pervez Musharraf on the deal issue. PML-N Finance Secretary Muhammad Pervez Malik said that his party was not formally invited to participate in the PPP’s long march. He said that after Bhutto’s reply to Nawaz Sharif’s letter, the APDM would devise its strategy to launch an anti-government drive. staff report REFERENCE: APDM will not participate in ‘long march’ Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Imran Khan & APDM Election Boycott in 2008

KARACHI: In a strongly worded speech, a leader of an alliance that has refused to be part of the elections on Feb 18 has predicted that the country would be destroyed by civil war if the boycott movement is thwarted. Mehmood Khan Achakzai, the Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party chairman and All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) Pakistan convenor, delivered these ominous words at Banaras Chowk Sunday, where he said that the alliance would achieve democracy by force. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Rasool Bux Palijo, Yousif Masti Khan, Dr Abdul Haiee Baloch, Dr Qadir Magsi, and Habib Jalib also addressed the huge crowd that waved flags and shouted slogans. The alliance had planned this anti-election rally at the battered Nishtar Park, the scene where the Sunni Tehreek’s top leadership was decimated in a bomb blast last year. But the authorities refused permission. Achakzai talked about this and the ban on the PTI’s Imran Khan’s entry to Sindh. “Political parties today are divided into two camps: a pro-Musharraf camp, which has no interest in the welfare of the citizens of Pakistan and a second camp, which is fighting against dictatorship,” he said, stressing the APDM belonged to the second camp. “We are not here to pick fights, nor do we want to abuse anyone. We respect our opponents as equal citizens of this country and shall behave accordingly.” Achakzai has been known to be a fiery speaker inside parliament and on the streets; in one Nishtar Park rally three years ago as a nationalist leader for PONM, he hurled expletives at the top leadership of the country. However, on Sunday, a very different Achakzai was presented. For one, this is the first time he addressed such a big rally and that too as the convenor of a big country-wide alliance. In the end of his speech, in a small but significant new tactic, he requested Qazi Hussain Ahmed to the crowd to start a civil disobedience movement. This not only indicates Achakzai’s shift from a nationalist to a more political rhetoric and persona but also hints at some grooming, which may or may not have come from one of the heavyweights who also spoke at the rally. It was also difficult to ignore that Achakzai introduced via quotations, Article 6 of the Constitution, two Quranic verses, first in Arabic and then in translation, one Hadith, and then one saying by Quaid-e-Azam. Achakzai spoke for a short time in Pushto, apologizing to the non-Pukhtoon supporters by saying that if he did not do so, the Pukhtoon present would take offence and leave. Qazi Hussain Ahmed also spoke in Pushto for a short while but in his Urdu address said that everyone was aware of the extensive target killings on “the orders of Altaf Hussain, who controls the establishment from London”. He said that Karachi, that is home to people from all four corners of the country, is on the brink of destruction and that weapons are being amassed here. The stage for the jalsa was set in Shahrah-e-Orangi town instead of at Banaras Chowk, whose vicinity was flooded. REFERENCE: APDM holds first anti-poll rally in city By Fareed Farooqui * Thousands turn up for the anti-election alliance’s rally where Mehmood Khan Achakzai departs from his nationalist rhetoric Monday, February 11, 2008

Imran Khan on 'Benami and Income Tax Issue (Off The Record – 29th May 2012)

ISLAMABAD: The Tehreek-e-Insaf has again clarified a report in The News on May 27 titled “Why Jemima Khan did a Benami transaction with Imran”. PTI Information Secretary, Shafqat Mahmood, said in a statement Mr Umar Cheema has tried to sensationalise a very simple transaction regarding the land where Mr Imran Khan has built a house in the Bani Gala suburb of Islamabad. Shafqat said: “His argument that this land was purchased through a ‘Benami transaction’ is entirely based on a power of attorney that Ms Jemima Khan had given in favour of Saifullah Niazi. In this document the person drafting it had erroneously used the words “Benami transaction” and Jemima Khan had signed it as she was not supposed to know what this term means or indeed intricacies of law. This was an error on the part of the drafter, as it will be demonstrated below, on which an entire house of cards has been built by Mr Cheema.“First, let us see what a ‘Benami transaction’ is? A ‘Benami’ transaction has been described in Aggarwal’s Law of Benami Transactions (Pakistani Edition 2002) by Mr M. Farani as one in which the real owner of property allows it (the property) to appear in the name of an ostensible owner under a sort of secret trust. In plain English this means that person A buys a property with his or her own money but for a variety of reasons shows person B as the owner. This is in sum a Benami transaction. It also follows that if person A has bought the property and put it in his or her own name, then it is not a Benami transaction. Now let us look at the facts in the case of Mr Imran Khan and Jemima Khan, which were indeed conveyed to Mr Cheema but did not register adequately. The couple were then married and decided to buy the property in Bani Gala. To raise the money for it, Mr Imran Khan put his London flat up for sale. To finalise the deal in the meantime, Jemima Khan used her own money to buy the property and it was so registered in her name. Thus if we look at the definitions given above, it cannot be described as a Benami Transaction. When later on Mr Imran Khan was able to sell his London flat and transfer the money through banking channels to Pakistan, he paid Jemima Khan the amount she had spent to buy the property. Before it could be formally transferred in Mr Imran Khan’s name the couple unfortunately divorced and Jemima left for England. Before leaving she obviously wanted to transfer the property in the name of Imran Khan as she had been paid the amount she had spent on buying it. As this process of transfer would have taken time and she wanted to leave, she gave a power of attorney to Saifullah Niazi to represent her in the legal transfer. These are the facts. It is obvious that there was nothing Benami about this transaction. These words have been sensationalised only because the person drafting the power of attorney included them by mistake in the document. To use a clerical error to question a person of Mr Imran Khan’s integrity, may serve someone’s political purpose but has no basis in law or facts. Umar Cheema adds: My report has stated facts only which were sensational. What are these facts? The clarification said the person who drafted Jemima Khan’s Power of Attorney ‘erroneously’ used the term ‘Benami Transaction.’ The author of draft was not a layperson unfamiliar with terms such as “Benami transactions” and their legal implications. The document bears the seals of solicitors who are certified UK lawyers and experts on matters such as property transfers etc. The document also claims that the property was bought by Imran Khan and transferred in Jemima Khan’s name through a Benami transaction. It contradicts what Imran Khan has been telling the media for a long time that he borrowed money from his ex-wife to buy the land and it was returned after selling his flat in the UK. He never said this before the PTI was approached for version that the land was registered in Jemima’s name at first. Is it a coincidence? By claiming in the affidavit that the property initially belonged to Imran Khan but transferred in her name raises the questions about the source of money and the legal or otherwise channels used to transfer the money that was used to purchase the property and taxes paid. In case this was also a “clerical error”, evidences should be produced about how the money borrowed from Jemima Khan was channeled from UK to Pakistan to purchase the property as claimed. In case Jemima had this hefty sum in local bank, better if clarified and evidences shared. The Power of Attorney bears the signature of Jemima Khan who, one assumes, must have read the document before signing it particularly a document that has legal implications. Again, the land transferred back in the name of Imran Khan was based on this document declaring it ‘Benami Transaction’. One may curious to know what land record said whether it was treated as ‘Benami’ being returned to the actual owner who didn’t want to disclose it earlier for any reason. I have read definition of ‘Benami Transaction’ as defined by the spokesperson. I would request him to read the legal definition. Benami Transaction: Is a transaction where a person buys a property in the name of another person or gratuitously transfers property to another person without an intention to benefit that other person. It defines “Benami Transaction” as the property purchased not in the name of the real beneficiary, but someone who is his representative (Benamidar).” Why Benami transactions are made: “1) Some people Commit fraud on creditors; 2) The desire to evade tax thereby committing fraud on the state; 3) To avoid certain political and social risks; 4) Provides an opportunity for putting black money in to more productive use.” The spokesman should be mindful of Moonis Elahi’s alleged involvement in NICL case was on the same grounds. I may also like to explain that when this question was sent to the PTI, the response was a complete denial of the existence of any Benami transaction. It was not said the word ‘Benami Transaction’ has erroneously been used. Our story was based on a legal document that has not been denied as fake or forged by the PTI. Whether or not the contents including the claim of a Benami transaction was merely a “clerical error” or erroneously mentioned as now claimed by PTI in a document drafted by British solicitors is best left to the judgement of the readers. REFERENCE: Tehreek-e-Insaf again explains Jemima's Thursday, May 31, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Sept 23: A crackdown on opposition leaders and activists belonging to parties in the All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) alliance continued across the country for the second day on Sunday with the government having decided to use all means to stop them from staging a demonstration outside the Supreme Court on Monday, sources told Dawn. Over 40 opposition leaders and workers were arrested on Sunday in Islamabad and scores of opposition leaders, mainly from the NWFP, were being stopped from entering the capital. There were reports that the authorities had planned to round up around 700 political activists in an attempt to foil the opposition’s plan to stage an ‘impressive protest rally’ on Monday.

“We have written to all provincial governments that leaders and workers of the APDM and other people would not be allowed to proceed to the Supreme Court,” Chief Commissioner Islamabad Hamid Ali Khan told Dawn. Interior ministry sources confirmed that prominent politicians and activists of the APDM would not be allowed to enter Islamabad. They include Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Jamaat-i-Islami Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan. Jamaat-i-Islami Islamabad press secretary Rao Iftikhar said that about 30 leaders and activists of his party had been arrested. PML-N information-secretary Ahsan Iqbal said that over 10 leaders and workers of the party had been picked up by police. There were reports that some main leaders of the APDM, including Imran Khan, PML-N’s Zafar Ali Shah, Iqbal Zafar Jhagrah and Syed Mohammad Bilal of the JI, had gone underground to avoid arrests.

Islamabad’s chief commissioner said that section 144 had been imposed and no public meeting or gathering would be allowed in the capital. “Anybody found violating the order will be dealt with accordingly,” he said. “In the current spate of suicide bombing there is a possibility that terrorists may strike during the APDM demonstration and people would again blame the government for not taking appropriate steps to arrest such incidents,” he said. Opposition leaders claimed that the crackdown would not intimidate the APDM into calling off the demonstration. Interior ministry spokesman Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema on Sunday said the arrested leaders and workers would remain in detention for the ‘next few days’. Talking to Dawn, he said that leaders and workers of the APDM had been placed house arrest or detained under 16 MPO, a law concerning maintenance of public order. “They were kept in detention so that they could be stopped from holding any demonstrations or surrounding the offices of the Election Commission,” he said.

It is believed that the detained leaders and workers will remain in detention or under house arrest till the presidential election scheduled to be held on October 6. APDM leaders have announced their plan to launch a protest campaign against President Gen Musharraf’s bid for re-election. Under the plan, APDM parliamentarians and members of the provincial assemblies would tender their resignations before the presidential elections and surround the offices of the Chief Election Commission on the day the president would submit his nomination papers. According to the protest programme, the ADMP leaders will meet on Sept 26 — a day before the filing of nomination papers by the president — to collect resignations. The sources said that all entry points leading to Islamabad would be blocked on September 27 to avoid entry of opposition leaders and workers. Roads leading to the Constitution Avenue and the Chief Election Commission building would also be closed, they added. Meanwhile, arrested leaders of the APDM, including Raja Zafurl Haq, PML-N President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, MMA leader Hafiz Hussain Ahmed and MNAs Mian Mohammad Aslam and Tehmina Daultana and politicians picked up on Sunday, including Adnan Kiani of the PTI and two Jamaat-i-Islami leaders Abdul Nasir and Malik Bland Ajwat, were shifted to the Adyala jail and to the Capital Development Authority’s rest-houses at Simly and Rawal dams.

Some of the opposition workers were kept in lock-ups of different police stations. A PML-N spokesman alleged that Javed Hashmi was manhandled by some police officers when he refused to be moved from the Parliament Lodges to the jail. Police personnel, some in plainclothes, barged into the suite of Mr Hashmi, dragged him to the gate of the building, threw him in a vehicle and drove away, the personal secretary of the PML-N leader said. Additional Superintendent of Police Nasir Aftab told Dawn that police had arrested five leaders and 20 workers of the PML-N, JI and Shabab-e-Milli, a student organisation of the JI. REFERENCE: Move to thwart APDM show: Activists barred from entering capital By Syed Irfan Raza, Munawer Azeem and Muhammad Asghar September 24, 2007 Monday Ramazan 11, 1428

Imran Khan in Kingston

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan who announced to quit politics in case any ‘benami transaction’ (nameless transaction) was established against him is now caught in a dilemma as his ex-wife, Jemima Khan, has hinted that the land deal in Bani Gala, Islamabad in 2004, was a ‘benami transaction’. Not only Imran had opposed such transactions, he has been fiercely advocating a ban on them and pledged last year to do so if PTI is voted to power. But while Jemima has mentioned a benami transaction in a document, lawyers are divided on whether the power of attorney she gave to a PTI leader fits the definition of a “nameless” transaction. The PTI spokesman has denied this on behalf of the party chairman and Imran’s legal consultant offered no comment, but Jemima’s document obtained by The News offers detail contrary to the party position in this regard. In the sworn-affidavit, Jemima Khan says Bani Gala land measuring 300 kanals and five marlas was transferred in her name by ex-husband Imran Khan as ‘benami transaction.’ In Para-3 of her general power of attorney dated September 21, 2004, Jemima Khan had stated: “The land was transferred in my name through mutations No. 7056, 7225, 7361, 7538, by my ex-husband Mr Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi as a “benami transaction.” After the separation/divorce between me and Mr Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, I do not intend to keep the land with me.” In the entire affidavit, no amount of money regarding this transaction has been mentioned. When The News contacted noted lawyer Abid Hasan Manto for comments, he said if something was put on record through a power of attorney, it should be taken as a fact. “When there is a power of attorney and signature of the person concerned, it is prima facie a fact.” Another leading lawyer Athar Minallah says by declaring that it was ‘benami transaction’, Jemima Khan has denied Imran Khan’s claim reported in the media that he borrowed money from her for purchasing the land and returned it on selling his flat in London. “She has put him in an awkward position by stating this. The usage of ‘benami transaction’ in power of attorney (a legal document), indicates that Imran Khan paid from his own pocket but chose to register the land in his wife’s name (and it didn’t appear in his tax return details where he could have been questioned about the source of money),” Athar said. “Also, declaring ‘benami transaction’ means that she was transferring back the property to the real owner without claiming any money (since she was not the real owner),” the leading lawyer said and added: “Once transferred back in Imran Khan’s name, it is not benami. But it was when he transferred it in Jemima Khan’s name.” Through this power of attorney, Jemima nominated Saifullah Sarwar Khan Niazi, now PTI’s additional secretary general, as her representative in Pakistan during the course of transferring back this land to Imran Khan. Since Jemima was unable to come to Pakistan, according to her affidavit, she had stated: “I do hereby appoint Mr. Saifullah Sarwar Khan Niazi son of Imran Ahsan Khan appear before the Revenue Office/Registrar and get the land transferred...” As The News approached Saifullah Niazi for comments he neither denied nor confirmed, saying it was difficult to remember something that happened long ago. However, he confirmed that the full name appeared in the affidavit is his. By mentioning ‘benami transaction’, the ex-wife of PTI leader has raised questions about Imran Khan’s claim that he never had any ‘benami transaction’ (nameless deal) in his dealings, private or public. According to the definition, ‘benami’ is a transaction wherein a person buys a property in the name of another person or gratuitously transfers property to another person without any intention to benefit that other person. In a ‘benami transaction’ the property is purchased not in the name of the real beneficiary, but someone who is his/her unofficial representative (benamidar). Many politicians and bureaucrats are understood to have purchased lands and kept accounts this way. For example, Moonis Elahi’s bank accounts/property was in the name of his wife and a servant in the NICL scam so it does not appear in his personal details, as he has to show the source of income and how the assets were amassed. Legal experts say benami transactions are resorted to by some people either to commit fraud on creditors, to evade taxes and thus defraud the state or to avoid certain political and social risks. It also provides an opportunity for putting black money into more productive use. In the PTI context, why Jemima used this word remains a mystery. When PTI spokesman Shafqat Mahmood was asked about this document, he responded: “The purchase of land in Bani Gala was initially paid for by his wife Jemima Khan. Imran Khan paid her back after his London flat was sold. The property was in Jemima Khan’s name and after their divorce was gifted back to Imran Khan in 2005 by his ex wife.” “It was not a benami transaction and all relevant taxes were paid. Please contact Yusuf Islam Associates in Lahore who are Mr Khan’s tax advisors if you have further questions,” the PTI leader said. When Yusuf Islam was contacted, he said he was not allowed to disclose property details. Yusuf said the PTI spokesman had already taken up this query with him and that he refused to help. REFERENCE: Why Jemima Khan entered into a 'benami transaction' with Imran Umar Cheema Saturday, May 26, 2012

LARKANA, Feb 5: Pakistan People’s Party (Shaheed Bhutto) held the ‘chehlum’ of late Benazir Bhutto at Al-Murtaza House here on Tuesday where the speakers said that her assassination was an attempt to create anarchy in the country and to destabilise it. A large number of people, including Sindh National Front chief Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, his son Ameer Bakhsh Bhutto and others attended the gathering where strong contingents of Rangers and police stood guard to prevent any untoward incident. Ms Ghinwa Bhutto said that under the prevailing conditions, responsibility lied with Punjab to ‘keep all the brothers together.’ She said all provinces constituted Pakistan and without these provinces Pakistan was nothing. It would have been better that elections were postponed for sometimes, as the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) was boycotting the polls along with certain other political parties. If APDM participated in polls under new schedule, the elections could be labelled as fair and legal, she said. Perhaps, she added, election would now be held due to mounting pressure from European Union and other countries. She urged people to vote for ‘fist,’ the symbol of PPP-SB candidates for the provincial autonomy and powers at the grass root level, making people the masters of their will.

She held the US responsible for all bomb blasts world over and added only organised peoples’ power could defeat it. Referring to his letter addressed to President Musharraf, SNF chief Mumtaz Bhutto said he had expressed doubts through the letter regarding the investigations of Ms Bhutto’s murder. He disclosed that the information he had with him was conveyed to the president demanding of him to include them in the investigations. He said that the killers of Mir Murtaza Bhutto and Ms Benazir Bhutto were same. He claimed that in 1997 as caretaker chief minister of Sindh he had ordered reopening the inquiry into the murder of Mir Murtaza Bhutto and some solid things came out. But, he added, the investigation was hushed up through what he called ‘deals’. He said if justice was denied, he would take his own decision and no one would be allowed to digest this murder. He criticised PPP’s stand of taking revenge with votes, saying that it did not sound sensible. Seema Rafique, provincial head of PPP-SB women wing, Ms Tahzeebul Nisa Mahar and others also spoke on the occasion. Earlier, Quran Khwani was held and food was distributed.

RESOLUTIONS: Nine resolutions were adopted on the occasion, demanding the government to initiate a probe into the assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto by honest judges of the superior courts of Pakistan to unmask the forces involved in it. The gathering demanded doing away with the concurrent list and granting maximum provincial autonomy to the provinces and termed the decision of performing no post mortem of Ms Bhutto a criminal negligence. In another resolution, the gathering demanded of the government to release all political prisoners and pay compensation for losses caused in the riots after the assassination of Ms Bhutto. The meeting demanded reinstatement of the judges of Supreme Court who had refused to take oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order and release of detained and arrested lawyers. The gathering urged the government to change the policy of supporting the US and said that it had bent upon capturing the resources of developing countries under the excuse of war against terrorism. The meeting called for suspension of operation in Balochistan, Waziristan and Wana and finding out solution through a dialogue. REFERENCE: BB murder aimed at destabilising country: PPP-SB holds chehlum By Our Correspondent February 06, 2008 Wednesday Muharram 27, 1429

HYDERABAD, Feb 8: Leaders of the All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) have said that a silent revolution has started in the country, adding that the APDM will launch a civil disobedience movement to oust the rulers. They said Pakistan is governed by ‘a permanent martial law body’ in the shape of the National Security Council (NSC) and urged the chief of the army staff to dissociate himself from the council. They were speaking at a public meeting at SRTC Ground here on Friday to mobilise public for the boycott of Feb 18 elections. Addressing the rally, Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed said that the constitution of 1973 contains a contract that says that the army would not interfere in politics but President Pervez Musharraf has violated this pact. He said if the new COAS is committed to his job then he should announce boycott of the NSC because the president does not have the support of people and cannot hold this august office. He said the Election Commission must gain trust of people and an interim government should be set up after consultation with all political parties. Qazi Hussain Ahmed said that in the present situation the elections would only perpetuate the role of civil and military bureaucracy and no political party would be able to run the government in the presence of President Musharraf. Addressing the meeting, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai said that the country is facing great dangers and is governed by a ‘permanent martial law body’ in the shape of National Security Council.

He said that 70 per cent of the superior court’s judges were sacked for their refusal to take oath under the PCO, and media was gagged so that it couldn’t speak a truth. “We want to tell the general that no external force can cause harm to us if we set our own house in order and a judicious system is enforced for 160 million strong souls,” Achakzai said while referring to a speech of President Pervez Musharraf in Belgium where he told the European countries that Pakistani people are obsessed with democracy although they did not know its meaning. He warned of a civil war in the country if the system based on equity and justice is not enforced. He said that the APDM demands an end to the role of intelligence agencies and army in politics, supremacy of the constitution and parliament, rule of law, independence of judiciary and peoples’ right over their resources. Mr Achakzai said: “The government comprises of corrupt politicians who have abrogated the Constitution and got innocent people killed on May 12, 2007, in Karachi who were there to welcome the deposed chief justice of the country.

He held the government responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He urged soldiers and police to not to obey “illegal directives of the government”. “If you (soldiers and policemen) obey these illegal orders you will be violating the constitution,” he said. Mr Achakzai said that the APDM would launch a movement for civil disobedience to oust the rulers. He claimed that the federation was facing danger at the hands agencies. Awami Tehrik chief Rasool Bux Palijo said that people want democracy and an end to military rule so that they could raise their head in comity of nations. Sindh Taraqi Pasand Party chief Dr Qadir Magsi condemned the ban on the entry of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf leader Imran Khan in Sindh and demanded removal of the Sindh governor, arguing that governors of the three other provinces have been changed National Party chief Dr Hayee Baloch said that Sindh and Balochistan are faced with similar crises as their people have no right over their resources and doors for employment have been shut on them. Abdul Majeed Kanju of Siraiki Party, Khaksar Tahreek’s Abdul Hameed Mashraqi and others spoke on the occasion. REFERENCE: Silent revolution creeping in, warns APDM By M.H. Khan February 09, 2008  Saturday Safar 01, 1429

NAWABSHAH, Aug 13: All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) has called for immediate resignation of President Musharraf, restoration of judges, and end to army operations in the NWFP and Balochistan. Leaders said this in a seminar on “Real Democracy – Need of Today” organised by the APDM Nawabshah here, on Wednesday. Chairman, Awami Tahreek Rasool Bux Palijo said Pakistan was not an independent state as it was handed over to the US soon after its creation. He called Pakistan illegal and unconstitutional as it was not according to the 1940 Resolution and history based on falsehood. He criticised Abdul Hafeez Pirzada for playing the role of an agent and urged him to return to prove he was son of the soil. Regarding Benazir’s assassination, he said no family can refuse postmortem if asked by a judge. He demanded withdrawal of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan and Iraq instead deployment of peace keeping forces of the OIC and the United Nations. Senior Vice President of Sindh Taraqi Passand Party, Abdul Hameed Memon slammed Musharraf for destroying institutions. He asked Zardari to stop fooling people by saying that Army and agencies had no role in politics. He said the APDM believed Musharraf and agencies were involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti. Altaf Hussain was asking women to keep pistol in purses against Talibanisation but the people of Sindh will not allow the MQM to take control of the province, he said. Dr Asadullah Bhutto, Ameer Jamat-e-Islami Sindh said the APDM was the pioneer of impeachment movement as it demanded Musharraf’s removal in London. He said Peoples Party’s refusal to cooperate with the APDM for election boycott extended his stay. He strongly criticised the meeting of rulers with the US delegates and urged not to provide Musharraf a safe passage. REFERENCE: NAWABSHAH: APDM spells out set of demands By Our Correspondent August 14, 2008 Thursday Sha'aban 11, 1429

KARACHI: The APDM’s leadership has failed to shape its provincial organisational set-up, which was to be finalised the first week of August. “The parties that comprise the All Parties Democratic Movement preferred public meetings over a provincial organisational set-up, therefore, it was deferred,” Rasool Bux Palijo, chief of the Awami Tahreek, told Daily Times. Some of the APDM’s Sindh-based parties seem to have their own agenda that they prefer over the APDM’s. The Sindh Taraqi Passand Party, an ethnic Sindhi party, and the Awami National Party (ANP), a Pashto-speakers’ party, have strengthened their ties in the Save Sindh Action Committee, an anti-MQM alliance in Karachi. Amir Bhambhro’s Sindh National Party remains engaged in seminars on human rights instead of making efforts to formalise the provincial coordination committees. Raja Zafar ul Haq, APDM’s joint action committee convener, told Daily Times on July 24 that the organisational structure of the provincial coordination committees would be finalised in a week after consulting with component parties. But it wasn’t. Daily Times also talked to the ANP, Sindh Taraqi Passand Party, Sindh National Party (SNP) and the PML-N’s Sindh-based leaders to find out the current position of the APDM’s provincial coordination committees. None of them were aware of any development. However, they brushed aside the impression that the APDM was working slowly. The changing situation in the country caused the APDM leaders to hold their July 31 meeting a week earlier on July 23, but, no further progress has been witnessed. “We are optimistic that the APDM will be active within a,” said Ali Hassan Chandio, vice chairman of the STPP. Similar views were expressed by SNP Chairman Amir Bhambhro. The ANP’s provincial general secretary, Amin Khattak, said that the central leadership of member parties would consult the provincial chapters and recommend nominees. He said that the composition of the provincial coordination committee has not been finalised yet. The APDM was formed after the All Parties Conference, which was hosted by the PML-N in London early last month. The PPP, an ally of the PML-N in the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD), has not joined the APDM yet. Even though the APDM is considered an anti-MQM alliance, the absence of the PPP might divide the otherwise united Opposition parties and alliances. “The APDM’s public meeting will be held August 22 in Quetta and September 6 in Peshawar. After that, we shall formally discuss the provincial coordination committees’ formation,” said Palijo. irfan ali REFERENCE: APDM fails to shape provincial setup Monday, August 20, 2007

Cracks in the ranks of APDM G.N. Mughul The Frontier Post: The cracks are reported to have started developing in the ranks of All Pakistan Democratic Movement (APDM) on the issue as to what should be APDM's policy on the war currently waged by the fundamentalist & religio-extremists, initially started from tribal areas but now invading whole country. According to inner APDM circles, by and large, wedge is being created between the secular & progressive forces of Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab, and  reactionary & fundamentalist forces like Jamait e Islami (JI) and Tahrik e Insaf, headed by Imran Khan, with a significant development that JI enjoy full-fledged patronage by those elements who have strong roots in civil and military bureaucracy in the past. According to these circles, the close liaison between JI and these "elements" is very old and is responsible for the creation of soft corner for religious parties like JI with in the ranks of Armed forces. These circles recall that in 1970 elections religious parties, headed by JI, with the patronage of Lt. Gen. Sher Ali, Information Minister in Yahya's Martial Law Government, and such other elements, wanted to bring a reactionary revolution in the country in the garb of "Islamic Revolution". In this regard, huge funds reportedly were collected from "here & there" and showered on these reactionary forces. But, in East Pakistan these reactionary forces were defeated by Awami League, led by Shaikh Mujib ur Rehman, while in the then West Pakistan, they were defeated by PP, ANP and such other liberal forces. As such, the plan to bring so called Islamic Revolution through ballot in the country miserably failed. But, now, according to some circles, plans are to forward same fundamentalist forces to conquer Pakistan with the help of bullet and guns. As for Imran Khan, some political observers are of the view that he is a political off shoot of JI one way or the other. In this regard, these circles draw attention that so far Imran Khan has never condemned publicly the suicidal attacks targeting innocent people or the burning of girls schools. On the contrary, he is always found giving tactic as well as direct support, in some cases, to the inhuman activities conducted by these fundamentalists all over the country, including FATA areas & NWFP, in particular. According to these circles, at present, a "gang of three" comprising Rtd. Gen. Faiz Ali Chishti, Rtd. Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, and retired senior bureaucrat Roedad Khan, is providing full patronage to JI and other reactionary forces, in particular. According to inner APDM circles, in the last meeting of the supreme body of APDM, Dr. Qadir Mangsi, Chairman, Sindh Taraki Pasand Party (STP) raised serious objection on the presence of Rtd. Lt. Gen. Faiz Ali Chishti in the meeting of APDM. It is said that Dr. Mangsi complained that in 1983 movement when gun ship helicopters were being used against innocent people of Sindh, including even the lady peasants working in the fields of  Khairpur Nathan Shah & Mehar, in addition to indiscriminate shooting of peaceful MRD workers, Gen. Chishti was part of the then ruling military junta and said that he can not be spared from being held responsible for the atrocities committed against the people of Sindh during that period. Besides, it is said, STP Chairman also criticized the inhuman activities conducted by fundamentalists and also the role of JI Amir Qazi Hussain Ahmad of presenting himself as a the champion of the cause of these fundamentalists. According to these circles, STP Chairman called upon APDM leadership to clearly enact policy on the issue of present trend of terrorism unleashed by the religious fundamentalists. These circles said, since President of Awami Tahrik, Rasul Bux Palijo, was not present in that meeting hence AT delegation did not touch that issue in that meeting. But, AT circles have indicated that AT leadership is also equally concerned on the rising graph of terrorism by the religious fundamentalists. According to reports, at present, AT is holding in - party serious consultations to this effect and the indications are that in the next meeting of APDM expected to be held after Eid, AT as well as STP would raise this issue emphatically. In the meantime, reports say that in the meantime, AT as well as STP may also hold consultations with other secular and progressive member parties of APDM belonging to Balochistan, in particular, on this issue. According to reports, in the previous meeting when Dr. Mangsi criticized the policies of JI on this issue, Mahmod Khan Achakzai, remained silent, perhaps because he is the current head of APDM and was presiding over the said meeting. Similar conduct was that of other Baloch nationalist parties. But, it is indicated, that in the next APDM meeting all these parties including that of Abid Hussain Minto, belonging to Punjab, might also speak out their mind on this  Cracks in the ranks of APDM G.N. Mughul The Frontier Post:

Imran campaigns for Jemima's brother in London

While it is true that Galloway has used mosques and aroused emotional sentiments of Muslim Britons against British foreign policy to “out-Muslim Labour’s Muslim British-Pakistani candidate,” as Jemima puts it, I couldn’t help but wonder if Jemima had ever heard Imran speak at any of his fabled rallies? On 7th February 2012, Pakistani talk show host, Najam Sethi, made a reference to Jemima Khan’s Jewish heritage on his show. The comment was made in connection with Sethi’s daily round-up of political developments in Pakistan. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, leader of the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F), had made some scathing remarks about Imran Khan being an agent of the Jewish lobby in response to Imran’s criticism of his politics. Sethi rubbished the allegation of Imran being an agent of the Jewish lobby in his analysis but did point out that prior to his marriage Imran used to say that he would opt to marry a conservative and religious Pakistani girl. “It doesn’t matter,” Sethi, who had earlier been described by Imran as “liberal scum” in an interview with Barkha Dutt on Indian NDTV, said, “he fell in love.” What ensued following the show was a public altercation between Sethi and Jemima on twitter. Jemima, apparently riled up by Sethi’s mention of her Jewishness, protested on several counts. “Pathetic and irresponsible that you should use your position to play the race/religion card & stir up the fanatics,” read one tweet. Jemima also objected to her father being categorised as Jewish. “Not that it should matter but the Jewish religion goes through the mother-My father’s mother was a French Catholic,” she wrote in another. Sethi also responded in a tweet. “Brit media described Jemima as a “Jewish heiress”. Google her. But it doesn’t matter. Love transcends. Didn’t she convert to Islam?” he wrote. Sethi had a point. In fact, an August 15, 2008 article in The Jewish Chronicle, entitled, “Jemima Khan rediscovers her Jewishness,” notes that Sir James Goldsmith “seemed comfortable with his Jewish background.” His 21 July 1997 obituary in The Independent moreover states that when Goldsmith wanted to marry his first wife, the daughter of a Bolivian millionaire, his prospective father-in-law objected by saying, “It is not the habit of our family to marry Jews.” To which Goldsmith famously replied, “It is not our habit to marry Red Indians.” Jemima does not seem to have objected to either of these media reports linking her to a Jewish background but appeared most disturbed by Sethi’s comments. Why? The reason is simple. Jemima knows that this information is damaging for Imran’s political career. It is therefore most ironic that Jemima would hone in on George Galloway’s religion in her 26 April 2012 piece for the New Statesman. “George Galloway, MP for Bradford West is a Muslim,” Jemima writes, “He converted more than ten years ago…Those close to him know this. The rest of the world, including his Muslim constituents, does not.” Unsurprisingly, Galloway’s reaction to Jemima’s story was not dissimilar to Jemima’s reaction to Sethi’s show. The Guardian reported that Galloway accused Jemima of reporting “deliberate falsehoods” and “making schoolgirl howlers which would earn banishment from a first-year journalism class.” Unlike Sethi’s passing remark on his show however, Jemima had persisted to corner Galloway in her face-to-face interview. “I know someone who attended your shahada,” she claimed. Galloway refuted any shahada ceremony but refused to divulge his faith. Jemima is unrelenting however. Writing about his marriages to Muslim women, she claims “a Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim man—although the other way round is allowed.” Jemima’s interpretation of what is permissible according to Islam is fairly sexist here and not entirely accurate. Yet she makes the case that because George Galloway’s present wife and two previous wives belong to the Muslim faith, he too must be Muslim. She goes on to critique his campaign for using the mosque as a campaign hub, with his “speeches full of ‘inhallahs’, his invocations of the Quran….and his smattering of Arabic words.” While it is true that Galloway has used mosques and aroused emotional sentiments of Muslim Britons against British foreign policy to “out-Muslim Labour’s Muslim British-Pakistani candidate,” as Jemima puts it, I couldn’t help but wonder if Jemima had ever heard Imran speak at any of his fabled rallies? His dharna, or sit-in, against drones in April 2011 commenced at a controversial religious seminary, members of his party have shared platforms with and made speeches alongside those vowing to protect a blasphemy law that has resulted in harassment of religious minorities in Pakistan and most alarmingly, in an interview with talk show host Nasim Zehra, when asked if he would make alliances with other politicians, he repeatedly said in Urdu “only if they become Muslim,” insinuating that only Muslims can be good people. Yet while Imran uses religious symbolism to stir up the emotions of those belonging to the majority faith in Pakistan, Galloway is using similar means to rally together a disgruntled minority in Britain. Not every Muslim in Britain is impressed. There are many Muslims in Britain who refrain from supporting Galloway’s Respect Party because although they may agree with his criticisms of British foreign policy, they don’t appreciate his campaign style of mixing religion and politics and see this as inflammatory and even dangerous, adding fuel to the Islamophobic fire that could potentially surround them. Yet if religion and politics should not mix then Galloway is not obligated to reveal his faith to Jemima or anyone else. Her insistence on this matter is in poor taste and her tweet following Galloway’s objections, “Funny thing is I actually had a soft spot for @georgegalloway besides what’s wrong with being a Muslim? My 2 boys are v proud to be Muslims,” belies a deliberate misunderstanding of why Galloway is upset with her piece. For as she wrote in the article, “There must have been some white constituents in Bradford, who, although natural Labour supporters, preferred to vote for the white Catholic candidate rather than the brown Muslim one representing Labour.” So Jemima realizes that race and religion do play a part in political preferences. Isn’t it a bit silly then to compare Galloway’s refusal to publicly profess his faith with her sons’ ability to do so. Besides, what would Jemima’s reaction be if a Pakistani reporter forced Imran to divulge whether Jemima was still Muslim or not? REFERENCE: Sethi, Jemima, Galloway: toxic mix of religion & politics by Ayesha Ijaz Khan MAY 25, 2012 ONLINE ISSUE NO. 102

HYDERABAD, Nov 27: The Awami Tehrik chief Rasool Bux Plaijo on Tuesday urged the All-Parties Democratic Movement to stand by its earlier decision to boycott general elections, arguing that “taking part in the fraudulent elections would be tantamount to accepting dictatorship, Marshal Law, unconstitutional and immoral PCO and rule of generals.” Mr Palijo told journalists after attending a meeting of his party’s central committee that it was a foregone conclusion that elections being held under emergency would not be fair, free and impartial. The central committee believed that even the general elections and Musharraf’s doffing them uniform could not solve the multidimensional crisis the country was faced with, he said.

He demanded that Gen Musharraf should quit power, form a government comprising all the political parties, retired judges, lawyers, journalists and civil society members, which should restore the constitution, reinstate Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and other sacked judges, lift emergency, remove curbs on media and hold elections for a new constituent assembly. Mr Palijo termed Balack Mari’s killing as murder and said it had dealt a telling blow to the oppressed nations’ movement but his martyrdom would infuse new blood in the struggle as “the blood of martyrs never goes in vain”. The meeting observed one-minute silence as mark of respect for Mir Balach Khan Mari who was reportedly killed in mysterious circumstances a about a week ago. The veteran politician welcomed the return of Mian Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto and paid rich tributes to Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and sacked judges, lawyers, journalists and civil society members for laying down sacrifices in the struggle for the restoration of democracy. He said the rulers had converted the country into an imperialist colony and Gen Musharraf was bent upon destroying the country by resorting to unconstitutional measures. He said the rule of Gen Pervez Musharraf was a continuation of the dictatorial regimes of Ayoub Khan, Yahya Khan and Ziaul Haq. No less than 50 judges of superior judiciary had been placed under house arrest and senior lawyers, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Aitizaz Ahsan, Tariq Mehmood and Munir A. Malik had been sent to jails, he said. REFERENCE: Palijo urges APDM to stand by decision on election boycott Bureau Report November 28, 2007 Wednesday Ziqa’ad 17, 1428

LAHORE, Dec 9: A crucial meeting of the All Parties Democratic Movement (APDM) failed on Sunday to evolve a consensus on the election boycott issue and allowed heads of components parties to take whatever decision they deemed suitable for their parties. Pakistan Muslim League (N) leaders Raja Zafarul Haq and Iqbal Zafar Jhagra announced the failure of the alliance in agreeing to a joint stand on the issue after a marathon seven-hour meeting, presided over by Mian Nawaz Sharif at his Model Town residence. The closed-door meeting was attended by heads and representatives of 15 parties of the APDM, including Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Imran Khan and Mian Shahbaz Sharif. Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUI (F) abstained from the meeting while a senior member of the JUI (S) represented party chief Maulana Samiul Haq. Mr Sharif was supposed to share the decisions of the meeting with the press but he and other leaders chose to avoid journalists. Raja Zafar claimed that despite the disagreement on the core issue of whether to contest or boycott the elections, the APDM was ‘intact’ and would meet again, if required. He parried a question about which of the parties wanted a boycott and which pressed for contesting it.

“This detail cannot be shared here. Each party will take its own decision whether to contest the elections or not,” he said. Insiders said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf’s Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party’s Mehmood Khan Achakzai pressed for a boycott while PML-N’s leader Nawaz Sharif, Awami National Party’s Ahsan Wyne and Markazi Jamiat Ahle Hadith’s Prof Sajid Mir said that the field should not be left open to others. The PML(N’s) reported point of view was that the APDM parties should launch an election drive but, at the same time, declare that they would withdraw from the race if their demands were not met by Jan 5. Talking to Dawn, PML(N) leader Ishaq Dar, who presented at the meeting a report of the committee which had held talks with Ms Bhutto on APDM’s charter of demands, said the two sides had disagreed on two points. The number one issue they could not sort out was related to the restoration of the deposed judges. “We wanted to take a joint stand about the elections in consultation with the joint opposition. But unfortunately we failed to come up with a joint decision as the PPP and the JUI are contesting them. And my point of view is that we should not leave the field open to others,” said Mr Dar, who is considered a close aide to Mr Sharif. Raja Zafar said the participating parties endorsed the alliance’s charter of demands which included the restoration of the judges who did not take oath under the PCO as its first point.

They also formulated a plan to run a country-wide campaign to mobilise public opinion in favour of the demands. “No consensus could be evolved on whether the alliance should boycott the elections or not. But it was accepted that the component parties could adopt either of the two courses,” he said. He was unwilling to reveal the PML(N’s) stand at the meeting. “We will decide it after the party meeting,” he asserted. However, he said, Mr Sharif was launching a ‘public contact’ campaign with a visit to Faisalabad on Monday. Later, he said, the PML(N) leader would visit Karachi for two days. "He will visit the entire country,” he said. When asked about the Dec 15 deadline the APDM had given to the government for acceptance of its charter of demands, Raja Zafar said that the alliance would now present the demands to the people through its ‘mass contact campaign’. “This is the best way of pressurising the government,” he said, adding that the PML(N) would decide later whether it wanted to consult the PPP over its new strategy. “Right now Ms Bhutto is in Dubai,” he said, implying that a contact could not be established immediately. In its last meeting in Lahore on Nov 29, the APDM had announced that it would boycott the election if the government failed to accept its charter of demands by Dec 15. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who had not attended that meeting as well, disagreed with the idea of boycotting the polls. Maulana Samiul Haq and the ANP had attended the meeting but did not support the decision. Qazi Hussain Ahmad had supported the idea but left a final decision on the APDM. However, Imran Khan had taken a clear stand from the beginning of the electoral process that even the filing of nomination papers would be tantamount to accepting all ‘illegitimate actions’ of Gen Musharraf. REFERENCE: Sharifs quit boycott camp : APDM parties free to take their own decisions; Qazi Hussain, Imran and Achakzai refuse to change stand By Intikhab Hanif December 10, 2007 Monday Ziqa'ad 29, 1428 

MMA President Qazi Hussain Ahmad, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, PKMA President Mehmood Khan Achakzai and BNP leader Mir Hasail Bezanjo have threatened to quit APDM after the PML-N leadership green signal to the candidates for contesting forthcoming polls. According to reliable sources, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Imran Khan, Achakzai and Bezanjo made telephonic contacts and exchanged views about PML-N leaders’ statements about taking part in the elections. They made it clear on the PML-N Chief Nawaz Sharif to intact on the decision about boycotting of the polls and advised him not to maintain contacts with PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto any more. Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Imran Achakzai and Bezajo in their views that taking part in the elections mean to approve unconstitutional and illegal measures of President Pervez Musharraf which he took after November 3 and it would affect the struggle for the independence of the judiciary. They went on to say that Benazir Bhutto intentionally went Dubai to avoid any unanimous decision about the Charter of Demands of the APDM and ARD. They decided to adopt strict attitude at the APDM meeting to be held on Sunday and they would not change their stance about boycotting the polls. On this occasion, Bezanjo said that all Baloch nationalist parties decided to boycott the elections and they did not submit their nomination papers. REFERENCE: Qazi, Imran, Achakzai, Bezanjo threat to quit APDM By: AAJ News Archive, Uploaded: 8th December 2007

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pakistani Coup Makers in Jang Group/GEO TV (2008/2009)

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.” 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

Dr Shahid Masood Exposed in Dr Shazia Khalid Rape Case (Bolta Pakistan 13th July 2011)

November 27, 2009 - DUBAI: When I had reported from Abu Dhabi on Nov 7 that the talks between a high level MQM delegation led by Anwar Bhai and Governor Ishratul Ebad and Rehman Malik and Zulfikar Mirza of the PPP were deadlocked on MQM’s demand for President Asif Ali Zardari’s resignation to save democracy, many PPP eyebrows were raised and the campaign to target me and the Geo TV was seriously launched. On Wednesday and Thursday when the Sindh interior minister almost declared full war on the MQM, revealing that all the closed criminal cases of the MQM were done fraudulently, the reality has now come to the surface. This is the final showdown the PPP is trying to start so that if President Zardari is disqualified, the Sindh Card, as it is generally known, could be played effectively. I delayed my response to President Zardari’s tongue in cheek attacks, dubbing me as a “political actor” in his famous speech from the bunker because it was in my knowledge that it is not just an anchor or a newspaper editor who were bothering the country’s president, it was the fact that whatever we were writing or saying was the truth and things were playing out exactly as it had been narrated in our programmes on the Geo TV or in columns of The News. The problem with President Zardari and his cronies is that they don’t know how to defend their past corruption and how to convince their coalition partners and the relevant players in the establishment that they have changed their ways. This lack of defence is driving them into desperation and as officially announced by Zulfikar Mirza, the ultimate weapon they have is the Sindh Card to save themselves, or, if they fail, to take the entire system down if they fail. I am a proud Pakistani and also a proud Sindhi, but I don’t believe in the Sindh card. I am sure that such a card does not exist anymore. It is again wrong to suggest that father of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah used the Sindh card for creation of Pakistan. It is simply childish to say that adoption of resolution in favour of Pakistan in the Sindh Assembly in 40s was an exploitation of the Sindh card. It shows lack of sense of history. The passage of resolution by the Sindh Assembly establishes the negation of the Sindh card. The Thursday’s outburst by Mr Mirza at a news conference that if the NRO cases were reopened against PPP leaders, he would provide official files to the Supreme Court that would prove that the 3,500 criminal cases of MQM were not legally and properly closed and the MQM had committed a fraud, showed that he wanted the Supreme Court to take suo moto notice of what he was saying. I know for a fact that in the Abu Dhabi talks between Rehman Malik, Mirza and the MQM leaders, these issues were discussed threadbare, and the MQM had refused to oblige the PPP. President Zardari had realised then and there that the NRO was going to be the noose around his neck, and thus a strategy was devised to show that the infamous law had benefited so many people that if it was struck down, the country would descend into a turmoil. When my TV programme highlighted the NRO and kept it into focus, the PPP leadership was upset because they wanted to divert the attention from the NRO and the president to the larger ramifications if the law was struck down by the Supreme Court. This is the strategy of the party even now. They want to step up pressure on the SC to consider the ramifications of declaring the law null and void ab initio. They also want to bring the establishment under pressure because the president believes that the NRO will ultimately be the tool to force him out of the office, not by holding a gun to his head but by making political life impossible. The basic “crime” of my TV show has been that it has not diverted a bit from the main focus of discussing the NRO and its ramifications. That is what has hurt Mr Zardari the most and that is why he has decided to single me out for his vicious threats and by using the authority of the State to close my show in Dubai. This is petty thinking and even worse, defeatist politics. What has he gained by asking the Dubai government to ban my show, the denials by the Presidency or the Islamabad government notwithstanding? That the ban was imposed by Dubai on the specific request of Pakistani president was confirmed by the major newspaper ‘Khaleej Times’ where it is universally known that all local news, especially about the government, are published after they are officially cleared. So while the show was banned in Dubai, it was still on air on Geo from a different location, and it will continue to be aired. Why then rake up so much dust for nothing? A point that has always been overlooked by the rulers is about the difference between private and official TV channels. The private channels, which keep their freedom and independence dear to them, can’t afford to become the trumpet of the government. They have to maintain their freedom for the sake of their viewers. It is not possible for a free channel to ignore the sentiments of the people and national interests at large. The private channel can’t toe the official line. If someone is very keen to watch the official point of view, he or she is free to watch the government run TV channels, but private channels, despite the government desire are helpless in this regard. I have always kept in mind that the government should be allowed equal opportunities to place its viewpoint on contentious issues, and for the purpose federal ministers and the government spokespersons have always been invited by me to offer their comment on such issues. If the people appearing on behalf of the government have no case and fail to convince the viewers of their point of view, the anchor must not be cursed for that. The fact is that Nov 28 is approaching fast, and it would bury the notorious NRO forever. Then the Supreme Court will hear the petitions of Roedad Khan and Dr Mubashir Hasan to determine whether the NRO was ever a good law. This stage is being dreaded by the PPP leadership and before that stage comes, they want to create a political deadlock in the country, starting from Sindh where a PPP-MQM confrontation could spell disaster for the battered business and economic environment of the country. This is exactly in line with what I have been discussing in my programmes – that President Zardari is determined to not only go down fighting but will try to take the system along with him as well. This is a suicide bombing strategy and before any political leader wearing a suicide jacket blows him up, he must be stopped. Benazir Bhutto, had she been alive, would never have gone this route. The amount of respect and affection shown by her to me is my valuable asset as a journalist, and the lengthy meetings with the late lady in which she used to share with me her personal miseries are sacred trust of her that I would resist to divulge at least for the time being. She was a great leader and a visionary who had far-reaching vision, but her personal life was full of miseries, as she had been denied the comfort ever since her great and illustrious father opted to fight for the people and their comforts. The role of the Awami National Party is also crucial in this situation as its role in any clash between the PPP and the MQM in Karachi will be pivotal as thousands of Pathans, with arms, could play havoc. All this is leading to a breakdown of the political system as it appears from outside. The PML-N is waiting in the wings for the PPP to collapse under the weight of its own follies. This is not a sane approach because as a responsible party leader Mian Nawaz Sharif should start talking to all the political leaders and discuss these issues in an effort to bring some sanity to the PPP thinking. No one wants the system to go down, but if Mr Zardari is prepared to blackmail the country with the Sindh and Karachi Cards, he must be stopped now, by political means. REFERENCE: The desperation of PPP to shoot the messenger Dr Shahid Masood Friday, November 27, 2009
Live With Talat - Part 1 (30-11-09)

October 29, 2009 KARACHI: Events that will unfold in the next one month may prove critical for the future of Asif Ali Zardari as the President of Pakistan, according to several knowledgeable politicians, well-placed officials and an important presidential aide. President Zardari is currently juggling with the option to either accept the position of a ceremonial president with no executive authority whatsoever, a remake of Rafiq Tarrar and Fazal Elahi Chaudhry or face ouster under political pressure. In return, Zardari is expecting some face-saving on the issue of the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) at least in parliament next month, a difficult proposition because the PPP lacks political support on this issue in parliament. President Zardari’s political problems are compounding rapidly as the key players, such as the Army, the judiciary and political allies who had facilitated Zardari’s ascent to the presidency despite PPP’s lack of majority in parliament last year are now having second thought that borders on repenting their earlier decision to let Zardari combine the powers of the supreme commander of the armed forces, the president and the PPP chief in one office. Dwindling faith in President Zardari’s capacity to act as a neutral, corruption-free, nationally respected leader of Pakistan waned further early this month when the Washington-based International Republican Institute (IRI), a pro-democracy group financed by the US government, reported in an in-depth survey that only about two in 10 Pakistanis carry any favourable opinion about President Zardari. As opposed to President Zardari’s terrible approval rating, the same IRI survey revealed that a big majority of Pakistanis, close to nine out of 10, hold the institution of the Pakistan Army in the highest esteem followed by the judiciary that won the support of seven out of 10 Pakistanis. Immediate concern facing President Zardari, knowledgeable officials and a personal aide said, is not his sinking public image but the growing unease in relations with an increasingly assertive Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

Gilani now wants unhindered authority on matters of government that include foreign relations, meaning no role for president in the external and national security affairs of the state. The prime minister, enjoying full confidence of the military leadership and the cabinet, has set on an independent course, often confronting President Zardari’s closest allies like in November last year when he removed the president’s blue-eyed retired civil servant Salman Faruqi from the important post of deputy chairman Planning Commission. He followed that by sacking Mahmood Ali Durrani, the president’s handpicked national security adviser in January this year, and reinforced his position by neglecting Zardari’s preference for Dr Shoaib Suddle, a professional police official as the head of Intelligence Bureau, who was replaced by Javed Noor, an equally honourable professional police officer in May this year. Gilani went on to consolidate his image of an independent and assertive prime minister in August this year when he asked President Zardari’s closest friend and important associate Dr Asim Hussain to resign as the prime minister’s adviser on petroleum and natural resources. And early this month, he sacked Latif Khosa, President Zardari’s nominated attorney general of Pakistan, whose case of allegedly accepting Rs 3 million as bribe was referred to him by the Chief Justice of Pakistan. “The president fully understands that all critical actors of power play in Pakistan, along with almost full spectrum of political parties, are putting their act together to launch a final salvo against him soon,” conceded a personal friend and a close aide to President Zardari.

The same aide and a Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader, who had met President Zardari along with Nawaz Sharif at the largely symbolic banquet meeting at the Presidency on Tuesday, confirmed that during the meeting Nawaz Sharif’s message to Zardari was loud and clear: “Act fast on each and every promise you made with the nation or count your days in the Presidency.” An important PML-N leader insisted that Nawaz Sharif’s last statement before he met Zardari was extremely important in which he had stressed preference for democracy but not for an individual-based politics and leadership. Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the Presidency on Tuesday, the PML-N sources boasted, dashed any hope that Zardari might retain any powers under Article 17 of the Constitution. But President Zardari’s political predicaments are not confined to the opposition parties, whose leader in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, refused to meet him on Tuesday, the political parties aligned with the PPP at the Centre are also having a second thought on Zardari’s sincerity in dealing with their genuine issues. Ch Nisar Ali Khan, it is learned, will now lead the PML-N’s efforts to defeat NRO in parliament and he fired the first salvo by protesting over a decision by the speaker National Assembly to change the composition of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law, which is now examining the NRO bill.

The disillusionment of erstwhile and present political allies, particularly the MQM, was most telling when President Zardari met with the MQM chief Altaf Hussain in London last month and later with an important MQM delegation at the Presidency early this month. “There is limit to receiving vague and broken promises and making complaints. We’re being pushed to the wall,” said an important leader of the MQM, whose leader Altaf Hussain had first proposed Asif Ali Zardari for the President. The MQM, despite being in the government, took a cautious position on the Kerry-Lugar Bill and is actively debating in favour of not supporting the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) in parliament. President Zardari, though, loves to project himself as the democratically elected president but his complete disconnect with public and his decision to restrict all presidential activities to the four walls of the Presidency in Islamabad is contributing to his miserable approval ratings, his aide agreed. President Zardari has not attended any public function outside the Presidency so far this year. His last visit to the NWFP was in February and to Balochistan in March this year. He went to the Punjab for three hours in July to attend a luncheon meeting with Nawaz Sharif at the latter’s Raiwind residence.

“Almost, every night that he had spent outside the Presidency this year was on a foreign soil,” a senior official at the Presidency confirmed. President Zardari’s worsening ties with the military leadership has also contributed to a widespread desire in the country to return Pakistan to a solid parliamentary democracy where the prime minister exercises full powers. Zardari’s image in the military took another jolt this month when the Presidency publicly disdained popular reaction in the country against some of the controversial clauses of the Kerry-Lugar Bill. “The GHQ noticed with shock that the Presidency saw no problems with the controversial clauses of the Kerry-Lugar Bill that were declared mistakes even by the United States ambassador in Islamabad,” a senior official source said. Though the Kerry-Lugar Bill gave an impetus to serious difference of perception between the president and the military leadership on issues of national security, the problems had persisted since Zardari’s ascent to power after the elections. Zardari, it seemed, triggered the trouble when in May last year, only a few weeks after the change of government, at a briefing arranged for him and the new prime minister at the ISI headquarters, he lectured the military leadership on strategic issues and delivered his action plan to deal with problems concerning India and Afghanistan.

He apparently tried to give a practical shape to that plan when in July last year the Prime Minister’s office issued orders to place the entire administrative, financial and operational control of the ISI under the Ministry of Interior i.e. Rahman Malik. This triggered an immediate response from the Army and the notification was withdrawn within a few hours. President Zardari’s relations with the military received another blow when the New York Times broke the story in the last week of August about US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad’s secret contacts with Zardari in his bid for Afghan presidency. Khalilzad was on warpath with Pakistan’s establishment during his tenure as the US ambassador to Kabul and revelations of his secret contacts with Zardari was no welcome news for the GHQ. President Zardari made cardinal mistake when he invited Afghan President Karzai, disliked by the security establishment for allowing India to use Afghanistan as an intelligence outpost against Pakistan, to join him in the maiden press conference Zardari held after taking oath as the president of Pakistan in September last year. In the same press conference, President Zardari shocked the civil and military leadership alike by making stunning statement of a major breakthrough on Kashmir within a month. Neither the prime minister nor the Army was aware of any such development. President Zardari’s declaration at an Indian media event that Pakistan backs a policy of ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons shocked both Pakistani and Indian establishment as it ran contrary to Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine and represented a major shift in Pakistan’s stated policy. His interview with the Wall Street Journal in October last year where he described the Kashmiri Mujahideen as terrorists and mocked former president Musharraf for calling them “freedom fighters” added to Zardari’s strained ties with the military leadership. A month later, in the wake of terrorist attack on Mumbai, President Zardari, without any consultations with national security establishment, instantly agreed to the demand of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to send the ISI chief to New Delhi, a move that was later back-peddled on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s intervention. But the real battle for his future in the Presidency would still be fought in parliament where he appears to be losing support, at least for now, notwithstanding strains in his ties with the military establishment. REFERENCE: Beleaguered Presidency left with single option Kamran Khan Thursday, October 29, 2009

Live With Talat - Part 2 (30-11-09)

 June 01, 2008 Lack of confidence, and initiative, both in the political and military leadership, has pushed the country into a blind alley while a defeated but stubborn president seems determined to avenge his humiliation by destroying the political system which he has failed to control. The political leadership is failing dismally to grasp the damage being caused to its own capacity to take control of matters as a flip-flop coalition of all kinds of apples and oranges muddles through, directionless and clueless. Every student of politics can visualise the logjam that has been created by the Feb 18 results. While the mandate was absolutely clear and resounding against President Pervez Musharraf, he has refused to admit it and continues to assert himself, hoping that the others would commit mistakes and give him the opening to regain his lost power and credibility. That this fatalistic approach is against the national interest and could cause grievous damage to the country is beyond his imagination or understanding. The political parties have formed a wishy-washy coalition but their commitment and sincerity is tested every day and with each passing day its capacity to take decisive action diminishes. The mistakes being made by the political leaders, especially Asif Ali Zardari, are already costing him his credibility and image. The flip-flop cavalier manner in which he is conducting the affairs of the State will soon turn into a laughing stock with no one to trust his word or capability. As soon as the stoned and somewhat dazed PPP leadership wakes up and realizes that Zardari was not fit to lead the party or the coalition, as he has tried to play too many clever tricks with too many people, too many times, the revolt from within will destroy the PPP itself. That realization has not yet dawned on Zardari yet. The military leadership, which has the heaviest responsibility and the biggest stake in the system, and the country, is going too easy or avoiding taking tough decisions just to show that the Army is no longer involved in politics. It is politics of sorts.

The fact is that its non-involvement may cause more harm than good to the country because the crunch time is already here and not much would be left if tough and collective decisions for the country are not taken now. A political coalition fighting a desperate president with a divided establishment and a sidelined Army will mean that no decisions will be possible. The volume and size of the economic, social and political crises about to hit the country is catastrophic but neither the political leadership seems aware, not the military generals are worried and both seem to be silently shifting the blame and responsibility of handling it on each other. For instance, the World Bank and other Western donors have already started squeezing the country making such tough demands that even a government of national unity, with complete harmony, would find it hard to oblige or implement, given the total despondency and helplessness among the crushed masses. One example is the ultimatum given by the World Bank to the economic managers to raise the electricity tariff within a few months by almost 110 per cent, from Rs 5.50 a unit to almost Rs 12.50 a unit. This is not a suggestion but an order. What would this hike mean politically is clear. Likewise, the political games President Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz played with the country by postponing every tough decision so that the jokers of the PML-Q could win, or made to win, the polls, have left the new government with no options but to dish out enormous petrol and gas price increases, devalue the rupee against the dollar, manipulate the stock exchange and still have no room for manoeuvre. The Western powers, especially the US, are still confused on whose side to throw their weight. The easier option is to continue with the status quo and support President Musharraf but the US does not realise that as long as Musharraf stays in his seat, stability will not return to the country. In that confusion instead of helping the new and unsettled democracy, Washington is tightening the screws. It has stopped cash reimbursements for the war on terror. It has twisted the arms of the Saudis not to bail out Pakistan with cheap or free oil, as it used to do for dictators in the past. The World Bank/IMF have also been unleashed. Even our own State Bank, which should have been guarding against all these system failures, has started raising alarms, warning of impending disasters. So if Washington is interested in an unstable Pakistan, this may be the right strategy but if it thinks that by pushing Islamabad to the wall the democratic experiment will soon fail and another general will impose military rule to carry further its war on terror against the people of Pakistan, it may be thinking too far. The fleeting hours, days and weeks require a strong and stable government which can tackle the real issues but the recipe which is being tried is a mish-mash of a discredited president on the top, deeply obligated and compromised political leadership in parliament and a pliant judiciary to cover up every misdeed. This is not going to work. But those who have to make the decisions, President Musharraf, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, Asif Ali Zardari and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry are not on the same page, with each player on his own ego trip and in the process making a mess of the so called democracy that everyone was yelling for. This is the big conspiracy against the people. Dillydallying by all sides must end, and now. The president has ultimately to go, as he has already played his innings, so he must quit now to let the system find its own stability. Zardari must start saying things that he means and not lose more face and credibility. Chief Justice Iftikhar should be restored by annulling Nov 3 but then he should indicate he would move on, so that he plays a bigger role. General Kayani must make up his mind where he stands and clearly and quickly let the nation know it. It is him who is keeping the pot boiling and not letting the new system settle down. REFERENCE: Will someone stop this rot? Shaheen Sehbai Sunday, June 01, 2008

Live With Talat - Part 3 (30-11-09)

September 02, 2008 KARACHI: The sudden prospect of Asif Ali Zardari sitting on the most powerful and sensitive political hot seat in the country has shaken everybody. There is a greater sense of uncertainty in the political class as well as the civil and military establishment, although the presidential election should have removed the clouds of doubt hanging over the political scene. Yet no one has any clue how to handle this situation as Mr Zardari has an absolute right to contest for and claim that hot seat, his controversial past and spotted career notwithstanding. But stepping back a little and trying to get an overview of the situation, two facts should become crystal clear about who is responsible for this mess and who is being asked to clean it. No one can deny that Gen Pervez Musharraf’s nearly nine years rule, or misrule, landed the country in the political turmoil that we are facing. During this period political parties and leaders were hounded, persecuted, terrorised, exiled, abused and deprived of their genuine rights. Musharraf played havoc with the system, it is obvious. Political parties and leaders were on the run in exile, never being allowed to settle down, organise or prepare for taking over the state responsibilities. As an individual Mr Zardari was the last person expected to climb the political ladder so fast that within eight months of Benazir’s assassination, he is now poised to be the country’s head of state, master of the nuclear button and supreme commander of the armed forces of Pakistan. In short, the leaders and parties are not prepared, or capable, of handling this mess. It would, in fact, be unfair and totally unjustified to expect them to clear the nine-year year old backlog, in less than nine months. Basically, though, the responsibility of correcting the situation is on the elected representatives who should chalk out a plan, call an all-party conference, invite the Army leadership to reach a consensus or whatever, but they seem either not interested or not too involved in petty politicking. So then who should do it? After the politicians, in all fairness, it is the prime responsibility of the Pakistan Army, which under Gen Musharraf created this situation and which should now undo the wrongs that Musharraf perpetrated for years. When Musharraf decided to quit as Army chief, he did not, and could not, absolve the rest of the Army generals from the blame they must share. Just by walking away under the pretext of “neutrality” and protecting their ex-commander by giving him a Guard of Honour, as if he was leaving after performing tremendous feats for Pakistan, the generals who collaborated with Musharraf cannot get away from their national duty and responsibility to undo the wrongs. But Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has walked away from everything and the poor politicians, led by Asif Zardari and Mian Nawaz Sharif, have been left with the dirty task of sweeping the stables and washing the left over dirty linen. It would have been fair for the Army after Musharraf had quit to undo his decisions, all taken to prolong his own power, so that the politicians had a clean slate to start their innings. That did not happen and now we are left with the prospect of a massively intricate political situation, with no one having a clue how to untangle it. Still it would be a right thing if the Army decided to correct the situation even now, unless they do not want to take the heat to a point in a few months when the generals will be sucked in, walking in like saviours to save the situation, like it has been happening in the past. Honesty and sincerity demands that the present Army generals put in their bit to help correct the distortions left over by Musharraf. They are the ones with guns to implement decisions. This time their efforts would be in the interest of Pakistan, as against using that power to perpetrate the interests of one man, one general or one junta. Risking the charge that will instantly be thrown at me that I am inviting the Army to intervene again, like the PFUJ secretary-general Mazhar Abbas did rather unjustifiably after my last article, I am prepared to offer the following sequence of steps that the Army must take before the politicians are handed over the full reins of the country, the presidency and the Prime Minister house included:

1) Since Gen Musharraf had imposed an emergency on Nov 3, as COAS, to suspend the Constitution, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani should find a way to undo all that was wrongfully done. It is his responsibility.

2) Kayani should use his influence to restore the judges to the Nov 2 position, because Musharraf threw them out fearing a judgment against him and as the politicians would never be able to reach a consensus in view of their own insecurities and vulnerabilities. It is also a known fact that Gen Kayani did not appear in the Supreme Court to give testimony against the deposed chief justice when the Supreme Court was hearing the case before July 20, 2007. It has been reported, and not denied, that Kayani was against the sacking of Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry when he was ISI director-general.

3) He should get the NRO repealed to revert the white-washing of thousands of alleged criminals, mostly those who had struck deals with Musharraf, or whose support Musharraf needed to prolong his rule. These people should be made to face normal process of law and clear themselves, as Asif Ali Zardari had done in almost all of his cases. I still cannot figure out why he had to get himself tainted with the NRO when he had been cleared by the courts any way.

4) Kayani should cancel all the secret deals that Musharraf had made with politicians or foreign powers as these deals are not binding international agreements signed between governments. Gen Kayani or his Army is not supposed to be bound by them.

5) He should persuade others to set up a National Accountability Commission, with men of undisputed credibility, strength of character and certified competence so that all the corruption cases, past, present and future, are sent to it and anyone cleared by it is genuinely considered an honest and clean person. At present the NRO has cast more doubts on its beneficiaries than helping clear their image.

6) While all the politicians, bureaucrats and others are made to appear before this commission, Gen Musharraf must also be brought before it and made to face the charges, instead of providing him a blanket amnesty.

7) When Army power can be used to thrust a one man rule and perpetuate his interests, why can’t Army power be used to undo the wrongs for which the entire institution of the army is facing the blame and Kayani has been forced to push it into the background. Let the power of the guns and barrels be used, for a change, in the interest of the nation and the people. It is obvious that the politicians cannot clean the dirt as they are neither visionaries, nor that tall, nor experienced, nor prepared nor motivated to look beyond their noses. But the unfortunate thing is that this is the crop of politicians we have and this is what we have to work with. Neutrality is a very pious concept but after throwing all the mud and muck in the political pond, standing on the side as neutral observers would only be a poetic injustice to the nation. REFERENCE: How to clean up the bloody mess Shaheen Sehbai Tuesday, September 02, 2008

November 23, 2009 KARACHI: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the Asif Zardari-led PPP set-up have reached a dead end on their political highway to nowhere. After the official release of the NRO list, it has become impossible for Gilani to sleep in the same bed with boggy and smutty crocodiles and cockroaches when he was about to quit his lucrative job if just a speck of the NRO dirt had hit his real life partner. This is how outsiders see it. But those sitting inside the secure PM House have no different view and it is now widely known that the Syed from Multan is no longer prepared to take public or private snubs and insults anymore. His many travels outside Islamabad have often left his hosts in a daze. Recently in Sindh, he was almost in tears recalling to some dear friends what huge burden he was facing on his conscience and how humiliatingly he was being treated by the party high command. In the recent CEC meeting, there was repeated mention of rebirth of Farooq Legharis within the PPP, arrows thrown at the PM by Zardari loyalists meaning that he was a traitor.

It was in this desperate state of mind that Gilani took his revenge and forced his law minister to go out and announce to the world the notorious list of thieves and crooks who had first robbed the country dry and then had taken refuge behind a disgraceful deal with a dictator. He was paying back his critics, in kind. Once PM Gilani crossed that red line and made the shame and ignominy of even his top leaders officially public, he has left no room for a retreat. It would be the world’s most exciting conversation when President Asif Zardari and PM Gilani sit down again in the Presidency for another of their frequent one-on-one talks. There is no one present when they talk, but there are walls and there are flies on these walls, if not of the biological kind, of the electronic species. Of course, it is generally known that whatever is said within the four-walls of our big secure houses is not only heard by our own spooks and spies but sometimes by even listeners with headphones sitting thousands of miles away. Interestingly, when President Zardari meets anyone, a huge grandfather clock between him and his guest is always ticking. Electronic bugs could always sneak into that clock. According to one such fly, a recent tense talk between the big two of the country was in such a bad taste and in such foul language that the Syed from Multan may have resigned and left for his hometown directly from the House on the Hill, if anyone else had been present to watch his humiliation. That he did not do so was because he did not want to surrender without his revenge. That was before the NRO sh— had hit the roof.

The situation as it stands today reminds me of a news analysis that I had written under the same headline as this piece, almost 15 months ago. It was on Sept 2, 2008, before Asif Zardari had become the president that I had said: “The sudden prospect of Asif Ali Zardari sitting on the most powerful and sensitive political hot seat in the country has shaken everybody. There is a greater sense of uncertainty in the political class as well as the civil and military establishment, although the presidential election should have removed the clouds of doubt hanging over the political scene.” Another para had stated: “In short, the leaders and parties are not prepared, or capable, of handling this mess. It would, in fact, be unfair and totally unjustified to expect them to clear the nine-year-old backlog, in less than nine months. Basically, though, the responsibility of correcting the situation is on the elected representatives who should chalk out a plan, call an all-party conference, invite the Army leadership to reach a consensus or whatever, but they seem either not interested or not too involved in petty politicking.” It was in this piece that I had politely asked the Pakistan Army to play its role, from behind the scenes, to clean up the mess which General Musharraf had left at the doorstep of unprepared politicians. There was a massive uproar in the country over my article and I had counted 29 columns and numerous TV talk shows attacking me for “inviting the Army to take over”. It was a preposterous charge. But look at what happened in the last 15 months.

I had suggested that General Kayani should use his influence to restore the judges to the Nov 2 position. The politicians made him do that on Mar 15. I had proposed that he should get the NRO repealed so that its beneficiaries should be made to face normal process of law and clear themselves. Again the failure of parliament has led to this now being done whether Asif Ali Zardari likes it or not. I had suggested that Kayani should cancel all the secret deals that Musharraf had made with politicians or foreign powers as these deals were not binding. The Kerry-Lugar fiasco and the GHQ reaction hinted at this approach. It was also said that a National Accountability Commission, with men of undisputed credibility, strength of character and certified competence be set up so that all the corruption cases, past, present and future, are sent to it and anyone cleared by it is genuinely considered an honest and clean person. This is the next likely step to happen.

It was argued that Gen Musharraf must also be brought before it and made to face the charges, instead of providing him a blanket amnesty. Things are moving in that direction without any visible resistance from the Army. Instead of stabilising the political system, giving a clean and effective government and supporting the Army and security forces to fight the menace of terrorism with full political backing and support, the arrogant and lop-sided governance style of President Zardari has messed up everything. Within a year he has reached the point where everyone is asking and discussing “what after him”. Musharraf took nine years to reach that stage when the Americans dumped him. Zardari was fast. He has now dug into his bunker and is ready to fight. But fight for what? Fight with his own self against his own failures? Today’s mess is not for the Pakistan Army to clean, as it was 15 months ago. The Army has already played its behind-the-scene role to keep the system going. Today the failure is of the politicians and they should not blame anyone else, as is now becoming a habit in pro-Zardari circles. No one wants to destabilise the system. But the blunders and egocentricities of the PPP leadership is going to do that.

A very mischievous impression is being given that criticism of Zardari, and sidelining him, would mean another attack on Sindhi rights. He should be sidelined because he has failed as a politician and not as a Sindhi. He should pay for his acts of omission and commission, the rampant corruption unleashed all around and the failed policies that he has forced on everybody. All this has nothing to do with Sindh or the Sindhi card. In fact, all reports from Sindh say people in Larkana and Nawabshah would be more than happy if the tyranny of these newly unleashed feudals is ended. The decades old servants and workers of Mr Bhutto’s ancestral homes would like to come back to their jobs and not live in wilderness any more. The heavy onus of correcting the situation thus lies on the prime minister and the PPP, or whatever part of the organisation which can come out of the scare spell of the presidency. Gilani is considering many options, including his own resignation if he does not get his way. But right now the centre of power has shifted to his office and the presidency is in a lame-duck mode. As a starter Gilani can slash his cabinet and remove all the tainted NRO hit ministers, advisers and ambassadors. In one go, he will boost his image and credibility and deliver a fatal blow to the one-man style of governance that has led the PPP into a corner in just two years.

The PM should then move with super speed to get the 17th Amendment repealed, get the competent and popular PPP leaders back into the party fold, take Mian Nawaz Sharif and others on board, even in his cabinet, as in the early days of the coalition. Get a political consensus on major issues, start a dialogue with moderates in the ranks of militants and then lead the country with a focus on ending the miseries of the poor harassed masses and crushing the militancy. He should keep the president informed and on board if he wants to play along. But it should be clear that the buck would stop at the PM House. If this does not happen and Mr Zardari creates hurdles, plays his dirty tricks, unleashes his ‘Ghairat’ or ‘Izzat’ brigades against the PM, the media, the security establishment or all of them, he would be the one responsible for demolishing the system. No one else should then be blamed. REFERENCE How to clean up the bloody mess-2 Shaheen Sehbai Monday, November 23, 2009

Live With Talat - Part 4 (30-11-09)

November 04, 2009 ISLAMABAD: In a week of intense behind the scenes political and diplomatic activity in the federal capital, key new lines have been added to the so called ‘script’, the unofficial, unwritten roadmap drawn up and preserved in the minds of the concerned people, to get rid of the despicable grip on the country of a few powerful highly placed individuals and their friends. After my meetings with most of the main stakeholders in the present system during the last few days, including top people sitting in the Presidency, the PM House, Senate, National Assembly, Raiwind, the highly charged drawing rooms of Islamabad and the excited corridors ruled by career bureaucrats, the broad contours of the script have become identifiable. This assessment will purely be an analysis and conclusions drawn up by a journalist, but it will have many elements which have either come directly from the people I have met or from circles associated intimately with the real wielders of powers, political and non-political. Even before I started writing these lines, some elements of the new script had started becoming visible publicly. The key indicators now out in the open include the shocking debacle for PPP on the NRO; the somersault of the MQM to oppose the NRO; a direct demand by Mr Altaf Hussain asking President Zardari to resign; the extra confidence in Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to practically take over matters in his own hands; the emergence of Nawaz Sharif from his friendly opposition bunker; the significant stand taken by Fata MPs; the calm and cool but ever persuasive demeanour of the army chief to discuss “matters of national security” with the prime minister (not the president); the nervousness in some camps over the “messages and ideas” Lady Hillary Clinton has taken back to Washington; and the unusual multi-country tour of our ISI chief, starting with Saudi Arabia, which some government spokespersons hilariously described as a visit in which he had taken a message to the Saudi King from President Zardari. In the previous script the role of the judiciary and the superior courts was well defined but before that stage could arrive the presidential edifice crumbled under the weight of just a couple of smart political moves by pro-establishment forces. So a calculated fine-tuning had to be done. What has already happened is known but what is likely to come is more important. All stakeholders agree, and this I can claim after meeting almost all of them in the last few days in Islamabad and Lahore, that President Asif Ali Zardari will have to either step down with dignity, hand over his presidential powers to the PM through a fast-track constitutional amendments process, or become a figure head and stay within his bunker for as long as he does not create any nuisance. Some apologists for the presidency have already publicly indicated that Mr Zardari is seriously thinking about this course because that would keep him in the top most position, immune to the unpleasant hardships of defending himself in civil courts, a process he has endured for years, and wait for his time to strike back as a relevant PPP leader, with the active aid and presence of son Bilawal and daughters Bakhtawar and Assefa. This could be the easier way out for him but it involves humiliation and embarrassment on a daily basis as his cronies and confidants, those who do not get away from the country in time, will be dragged in cases and in the media, presenting before the entertained nation a spectacle which Mr Zardari would not like. They will be paying for their sins, of course. So my analysis is that he will fight back. Some who still have access to him claim that he has expressed these defiant views many a time saying he would never resign and if someone wanted to remove him, he should send an ambulance because he would not walk out on his own two feet. But this fighting spirit and belligerent posture, although part of his psyche and state of mind, will not be beneficial politically. It is almost certain, and a senior Sindhi politician who knows the PPP and Sindh like the back of his own right hand, openly admits, that for Zardari there would be no “Sindh Card”, as it was available to Benazir Bhutto. In fact when I asked the Sindhi politician what may happen in Sindh, and the heart of PPP country, if Zardari and his 12 friends were removed from their offices, the answer was: “Only these 13 people will protest, no one else will.” He explained that there are no PPP cadres with fires in their belly left in the interior of Sindh who would rise for Zardari. There is a growing sense of hatred because the Zardari clan has taken over all what was loved by the Bhutto jiyalas. “If today Nawaz Sharif stages a public meeting in Larkana, the country will be surprised at the turnout,” the mainstream Sindhi politician belonging to the PPP told me. So chances for Mr Zardari to rekindle his political fortunes, once he gives up his powers or if he resigns, are genuinely limited. The PPP would split into factions with the bulk going to a collective committee of PPP stalwarts, seniors and juniors who have remained, or have been kept, on the sidelines by the Zardari coterie. This will also bring the much-needed democracy and openness in the party, breaking the shackles of feudal hold. This PPP committee, contours of which are already shaping up, have strong arguments to describe the Zardari-led PPP era, which started with the 2008 elections. These arguments start with the failures of Mr Zardari ever since he presented the will of Benazir Bhutto to the PPP CEC. All that the CEC members have done ever since is to take his decisions and policies with a pinch of bitter salt but have gone along because the party had won seats in the name of Benazir Bhutto and they had got a chance to rule after years of wilderness. The corrupt among the party made a mad rush to make money because they realized that this set up will not last long, hence the stigma of corruption not only stuck but intensified. The Zardari era, the argument goes, consists of broken promises, colossal mistakes in assessing the mood of the people, taking decisions with arrogance, taking on the establishment and institutions which were needed to survive, taking gigantic U-turns when under pressure and smiling about them, claiming unabashedly as if it was a considered policy (like the restoration of judges, sacking and restoration of the Punjab government of PML-N, surrender on the Kerry Lugar Bill and eventually running away from the NRO). Conversely, if it has been any sign for anyone to read, the PM has always been making politically correct statements, never making a commitment which he knew he would not be able to deliver and most importantly, he has received the “asheerbaad” (blessings) of those who matter on all critical junctures. This is no longer true for Mr Zardari. So when the judges were to be restored, the Army Chief called on the PM to deliver the quiet message. When the March 15 decision was taken General Kayani called Aitzaz Ahsan to inform Nawaz Sharif. When the Supreme Court was about to give the initial short order on the PCO judges case, the meeting between General Kayani and Aitzaz Ahsan was considered necessary. When things were getting out of hand on the Kerry Lugar Bill, a similar meeting between Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar was held. The army chief also met the chief ministers of NWFP and Balochistan. When NRO erupted on the face of Mr Zardari, another meeting between the Army Chief and the PM was essential on Monday night so that the right message was conveyed. And it was. Then we saw the surrender. These were domestic developments but the most important external factor which has now been added to the miseries of the presidency is the conclusion Hillary Clinton is believed to have drawn after her eye-opening three-day visit to Pakistan. She was actually on a fact-finding mission as the diplomatic channels in Pakistan and Washington had never informed her about the real situation. When the KLB exploded, State Department was taken aback and when Hillary saw with her own eyes and heard the people, her entire perceptions changed. Her almost three-hour meeting with General Kayani may have sealed many fates. A shift in Washington’s policy, statements and emphasis would now be expected. She already took pains to ensure that none of her public and private utterances gave the impression that she was supporting any particular individual or any particular coalition government. She talked about the process of democracy and the people of Pakistan and that means faces can change but the Pak-US ties will stay. The scriptwriters interpret this as a signal that Washington is no longer interested in protecting or prolonging Mr Zardari’s rule, if the people of Pakistan do not so wish. An official in the presidency quietly whispered in my ear that Mr Zardari has reached the point in just one year which General Musharraf took eight years to reach, vis-‡-vis the American support. “It is now for him to survive, the Americans have pulled the rug.” On the domestic front again, the focus and all eyes would soon shift to the PM House where an hitherto out-shadowed PM was trying to cope and survive. Now the responsibility of making and owning all decisions would be his. Delivering results people expect from a sovereign parliament and a powerful PM under the amended constitution will be an onerous burden on Mr Yusuf Raza Gilani. My interactions with a broad spectrum of important people reveal that Mr Gilani has not yet prepared himself to shoulder this responsibility. His administrative team is pretty weak and there is a growing sense of disconnect between the people around Mr Gilani and the rest of the top echelons of bureaucracy. A senior bureaucrat told me the recent mass scale reshuffle in the officialdom by PM Gilani has made many officials nervous. They do not have direct and free access to the PM and a coterie of sorts is also beginning to surround the PM, like the one around the president. But this group is of professionals and civil servants who want to keep the PM under their thumb. It would be a big challenge for Mr Gilani to get a competent and effective team if he were to take charge and show the difference to the nation between a powerful PM and a one-man show which went wrong. He would have to sack high profile ministers, change cronies controlling the state organizations like the Pakistan Steel Mills, PSO, PIA, KESC and many others tainted with corruption. REFERENCE: The contours of a changed, unwritten script Situationer Shaheen Sehbai Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Live With Talat - Part 5 (30-11-09)

November 05, 2009 ISLAMABAD: The much abused and widely discussed minus-1 formula, which in other words means either safe or a violent exit of Asif Ali Zardari from the political scene, started taking shape in the power corridors of Islamabad and Rawalpindi when coupled with political failures, there was a torrent of reports of corruption, mainly by people associated and appointed by the presidency on key government and corporate positions, with a turnover of billions in shady deals. What was going on in the presidency was unprecedented. Crooks and cronies of all hues were being offered lucrative positions in state-run corporations and money minting departments. There was no one on top of the hill to take note and the prime minister was too weak to raise any objection. Important decision makers quietly admit that Yousuf Raza Gilani was repeatedly told to intervene but he was too meek and had been tasked to keep the politicians, coalition partners and the opposition, engaged and happy with his continued sweet talk, public appeasement and cash incentives for as long as he could. A fly on the wall said a Maulana would appear regularly in the PM House to take what he needed and this was no secret. “The energisers and vitamin tablets Gilani was being given by many quarters, in hushed tones, were not working until by the end of last year and early 2009 the PM made some high profile moves to sack some bureaucrats, in close consultation with Zardari, to beef up his image. The PM slowly gained confidence. He surprised the president when he visited Karachi and secluded in the private quarters of the Sindh Governor’s House he finalised the list of his top bureaucratic reshuffle, away from the ears and eyes watching the PM House and his office all the time,” an associate revealed.

When Zardari protested, he was quietly told that if he had been informed in advance, the shuffle would not have been possible. A Presidency insider narrated the story of how the lifestyles of people around the president had transformed within weeks and months. “One close aide, working without any official position or a salary, had started wearing shoes costing over Rs300,000 a pair and this guy had no shame in showing off his shoes to anyone and everyone, even those who march in big boots.” Such stories travelled far and wide and the consensus started developing that if the Presidency was to be used only for making deals by cronies, with the president either shut in his bunker or making trips round the world, this state of affairs could not be sustained. How and when to change it then became the key question. When pressure started to become unbearable for the PM, he finally talked quietly to Zardari and told him about who, and where, people were getting so upset. This was taken as a direct interference and there was a lot of talk of teaching some people a lesson. A minus-1 option in Rawalpindi was discussed in private sittings. Secret meetings with uniformed star officers were held in the wee hours of cold nights. But as the presidency in Islamabad is the most watched and wired real estate in the country, this secret was soon out. Political amateurs, who had grabbed the high place coming from tiny bit jobs in hospitals, jails, and stud farms or from apartments in exile, could not keep the secret.

Then the presidential camp devised a scheme to turn around the Minus-1 formula. Publicly its existence was acknowledged, reactions were generated to create a mock political storm, and the idea was to use it against the original target. Before this could be done, decision makers at all stations started thinking about removing the president as it appeared to be the only viable option if the system had to be saved, cleansed and stabilised.
But still there was no operative mechanism. The president was bunkered in so physically he was safe but politically he was committing major blunders eating up his political capital, or whatever was left of it. By the middle of March, when the judges were restored, his political influence was almost finished yet his business dealings and property acquisition plans were on full steam. The latest report about the 300 acres of land in Islamabad proves he completed the deal in June 2009, oblivious of the disastrous image that he would get. Tragically, the deal also involved Bilawal, whose political career would now start as a partner in a shady deal with his father.

One recurring question that came up almost at every session I had with politicians, retired and working civil and military bureaucrats, journalists and businessmen was whether the democratic set-up and the political system was under any kind of threat if the ‘Minus-1’ formula, was implemented. And almost everywhere the consensus was a big ‘No’. It was a ‘no, no’ because except democracy Pakistan has no other option, the military option being the most talked about alternative. Mian Nawaz Sharif is the strongest believer that the military may not intervene now, but 3-4 years down the line, he thinks it may come back once the threat of terrorism is under control and some stability is achieved. His fears are genuine but he also believes that politicians have to perform, earn respect and credibility, provide relief to the suppressed masses and continue the process. If they succeed, no one will try and no one will allow a military intervention. The military establishment has tried hard under General Kayani and General Pasha to wash the black paint General Musharraf had splashed around the Army uniform. From a position where officers were told not to wear that uniform in public, the image has been restored to an extent that people praise their effort in Malakand and their sacrifices in the war on terror. Only a naive commander would want to fight a war with unconventional and murderous terrorists on the one hand and run the civilian affairs of a totally collapsing society on the other.

So the only option is continuation of the system and to let the process take its course. When I argued with many in the top houses where decisions are made, as to what was wrong with a change of face in a ministry, or the PM house or even the Presidency, as there was a mechanism to elect or appoint a replacement through the process, the presidential camp always saw it as a conspiracy against the person of Zardari. But others agree that to take the process further and to make the corrective mechanisms strong, political turbulence should not be taken as a threat to the entire system. It is generally felt that Zardari has, through his inept handling of major issues and multiple setbacks, almost lost all his chances of stepping down from the Presidency and reach the PM House as leader of the house and PM. Initially, this was one of the acceptable options but now the script does not figure any role for him in the government and he would be left to manage the party, that is if he can do so. This leaves the PM almost on his own and his major challenge would be to come out of the shadows of Zardari on the one hand and keep the loyalties of as many PPP MPs as possible so that his government’s majority in parliament is not threatened. The Opposition is helping him out, to a degree.

Everyone understands the dilemma facing Prime Minister Gilani as everything that he does which has a stamp of President Zardari’s personal approval is considered to be shady and stinks. So when the cabinet takes a sweeping decision to privatise all big corporations like the PIA, PSO and such other giants, immediately the red flags start going up. The fear is that all these assets will be sold to friends and business partners, even if the process is claimed to be transparent. The PM should, therefore, stop all such deals and decisions until he becomes a PM in his own right and the decisions are seen as collective decisions to be implemented in a transparent manner and not dictated to suit the deep pockets of presidential friends who have already made billions. The PM, when he gets out of the shadows of the Presidency, will have to catch these big fish to establish his credibility. Nothing short of a massive hunt for such wheeler dealers with a criminal mind will bring Gilani some credit. He has lived too long as a sheepish lame duck. PS: A fly on the presidential wall told me the first part of this series was faxed by Altaf Hussain from London to President Asif Zardari on Wednesday with the note that you should read it personally as it had come from a journalist who used to meet you in jail. Hussain also ensured that the fax was seen by the president. REFERENCE: Where did the minus-1 formula come from? Shaheen Sehbai Thursday, November 05, 2009 

November 2009 WASHINGTON: When an elected head of the state, who is also the head of the largest political party of the country, the Supreme Commander of the country’s armed forces and (at least on papers) the man with his finger on the country’s nuclear button, cannot venture out of his bunker in the presidency, a five-star prison of sorts, and attacks a TV channel, a newspaper editor or a talk show anchor, he must be seriously in trouble or scared to death with insecurity. It was a great day in my professional career to get so much attention on live TV, nationally and throughout the world, with the country’s president talking about me (why did you not name me) in a furiously threatening tone, foaming and frothing as if he would shoot me if I had been somewhere close to him at the time. I have just landed in Washington to spend a few days with my family on Eid ul Azha and the first thing I hear on TV is my head of state calling me names. It was a unique welcome to the festival of sacrifices. I heard Asif Ali Zardari’s speech, his first major political address in months, which dealt with no other burning issue of the country, many times wanting to find out what message he had for the country, other than saying that he was a brave man, he was ready to offer sacrifices and he would not be coweddown and would prefer to leave in an ambulance rather than walk out of the presidency under duress. The more I heard his rants, the more loudly I laughed, again and again. Here is the strongest man in the country so rattled by a few reports and articles by me, or a few talk shows by Dr Shahid Masood, that he forgets to mention anything about the infamous NRO, the shame of the Kerry Lugar Bill, the gross charges of corruption, money laundering or misuse of power against him and his cronies. He did not mention the issues of sugar, atta, electricity and unemployment. He did not praise the soldiers and people fighting the deadly terrorists. He and his few people now sharing power were only worried about their own fate, with the loud spoken Zulfikar Mirza declaring to the world that he would use the Sindh Card, if worse comes to worst.

Zardari referred to me by frequently mentioning someone with “an American passport”. He also said I was not a Pakistani national. He has to get his facts right. But carrying an American passport is not something he would like to turn into a disqualification as bulk of his own cronies are exiles who have acquired foreign passports, including US passports, and they would be the ones to jump the ship first. I am a Pakistani and work in Pakistan and will continue to do so. His biggest accusation against me was that I wanted him “to leave the presidency in an ambulance”. I think he knows better as he has been telling many who meet him in his bunker that he would not quit and people will have to take him out. This is what he reiterated in his speech on Wednesday night. But he is wrong on this count as well. I had only quoted his own words on Nov 4 in my column: “The contours of a changed, unwritten script” in these words: “This assessment will purely be an analysis and conclusions drawn up by a journalist....So my analysis is that he will fight back. Some who still have access to him claim that he has expressed these defiant views many a time saying he would never resign and if someone wanted to remove him, he should send an ambulance because he would not walk out on his own two feet.” This is where ambulance was used. In his speech he confirmed what I had written that he would not go away. In the same article, my opinion was: “All stakeholders agree, and this I can claim after meeting almost all of them in the last few days in Islamabad and Lahore, that President Asif Ali Zardari will have to either step down with dignity, hand over his presidential powers to the PM through a fast-track constitutional amendments process, or become a figurehead and stay within his bunker for as long as he does not create any nuisance.” I was seeing him as a figurehead as long as he behaves. This does not mean his murder, though it could mean a political suicide. His party leaders have also been objecting to my use of the word ‘martyr’ for Zardari and one Minister, Dr Babar Awan, had the temerity to ask me in a TV show to name the people who would kill Zardari, as if I had been plotting his murder or martyrdom with these people. There has to be a limit to sycophancy and toadyism.

My words in my Nov 7 article were: “Zardari will have to make his decision very quickly on whether he wants to exit with dignity or become a martyr. The days, as they say, are in fact numbered.” It is clear for anyone who understands English what is meant here is a ‘political martyr’ and not dead in the physical sense. If someone cannot understand the language, a very handy Prof Husain Haqqani can help any time. Other than these references in Zardari’s speech about me, what I can guess is that he is rattled because I have been criticising his style of governance, his failures in taking successful political decisions, his U-Turns at every critical time, his arrogance and stubbornness and lately his indecent manner of speech with his own prime minister. Neither the president nor the PM have denied any of the contents of my article about Zardari using insulting words against Gilani. In fact, my sources say, when PM Gilani was asked about my article and whether there was a tiff between him and the president, Gilani’s very diplomatic reply was: “I am not angry with the president.” He decided not to comment on what he had heard from Zardari and in what tone.

It is the right of every writer and journalist to criticise the rulers on their policies, their decisions and their actions. This is exactly what I have been doing during my 42-year-long career. I have criticised every ruler, without fear or favour and whenever the political rulers were out of office and struggling to come back, I happened to be one of their most favorite journalists and had even developed personal friendships with them. This is also true in the case of Zardari. When he was arrested in 1990 by Jam Sadiq Ali and thrown in the Landhi jail, I and my friends Nusrat Javeed, Mohammad Malick, Shakil Sheikh and a couple of others had confronted Jam Sadiq and forced him to allow us to visit him in the jail. That was the first move in his political comeback. Then I wrote a series of seven articles in which I had questioned Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Jam Sadiq. When in 1993 Benazir and Zardari again came to power, he offered me political jobs and only one journalist, Azhar Sohail, accepted his offer. Sadly he then paid for his life and his family’s ruination three years later.

Once again when Zardari was in power I wrote against his corruption in 1994-95 and then as well he had threatened me and others. I did what I had to do then and faced the consequences. It was Zardari and Benazir Bhutto who became very friendly to me during their days of wilderness in the Nawaz Sharif/Musharraf eras. In his years in New York, Zardari was particularly friendly and even attended my son’s wedding in Washington. He should be ashamed of now pointing accusing fingers at me for holding a US passport. Can’t he come up with anything better to accuse me? What he was doing in US himself during all those years is also known to people who were in the knowledge. My fault is that I again refused his offer to join his government in 2008 although it is totally wrong that I was ever offered to become Pakistan Ambassador in Canada. Neither had I ever asked him for a political or diplomatic job. I am totally satisfied that even despite such anger and frustration that the president has expressed against me publicly, without any reason, he has not been able to point any single small or big finger of accusation against me for misusing my professional position or getting any benefit from his or any other government. The charge of dubbing me and others as “political actors” is ridiculous and laughable because if this is all he can come up with, it is pathetic case against me with no legs to stand on. His speech was 90 per cent rhetoric, based on shallow looking claims of pursuing Bhuttoism and the rest 10 per cent was attacks on me, Geo TV and Dr Shahid Masood.

If his corruption, amassed wealth and grabbed lands are questioned, it is pure and simple journalism in the interest of the people and the country and no one can deny us that right. He says he will not listen to any criticism except from his political rivals. What a lame statement is that. Where does he place the others pillars of state, the judiciary, the media, the civil society, the ‘ghairat’ and ‘izzat’ brigades? His political colleagues are easy for him to handle because many of them are in the same boat of looted wealth and plundered resources. But he will have to listen to all of us and hiding in a bunker while claiming to be a brave man, will not wash away his sins or wish us away from the scene. The real issue is that since the previous government I and my colleagues in the Jang group have been highlighting important issues concerning the constitution, governance, independence of judiciary, rampant corruption and ever-increasing prices. These issues have made miserable the life of common man in Pakistan. Neither the previous government nor the present government could tolerate the Jang Groups’ decision to highlight those issues that affect the lives of ordinary people. REFERENCE: Have a heart, you are the president, Mr Zardari! Shaheen Sehbai Thursday, November 26, 2009
Live With Talat - Part 6 (30-11-09)

November 07, 2009 ISLAMABAD: The crumbling presidential edifice in the bunkered palace with two green flags on the Constitution Avenue is giving rise to numerous stories, some fiction, some wishful thinking, and some partly true. The man inside the house is reported by some to be collapsing while others say he is in a defiant mood and will fight till the last. One thing is clear though that a psywar is going on and President Asif Ali Zardari has not many friends who have unflinching faith and commitment to defend him. The key role is being played by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and it is hard to figure out on whose side he really stands. His own political future is also at stake but his role has assumed the all critical importance because everyone is looking up to him, the civil and military establishment has put its power eggs in his basket as against the president, while his party remains confused and divided. The opposition and most of his coalition partners have abandoned the president but continue to back his handpicked prime minister. The few who are still standing with Zardari include the Governor of Punjab Salmaan Taseer, whose latest brag that there would be no ‘minus-1’ but that if anything happened it would be a ‘minus-342’ (reference to total strength of the National Assembly) is considered by many as the final defeatist declaration that Zardari will not go alone but will take the entire house with him. There are not many takers for Taseer’s threats. On the contrary, the party which President Zardari considered to be his most dependable ally, the MQM of Altaf Hussain, has gone many steps forward to seek his removal from the top office. Almost everyone I met and talked to was surprised at the leap Altaf Hussain had taken from just opposing or abstaining from voting on the NRO to demanding the resignation of Zardari. It was like the last straw on the heavily loaded camel’s back and Zardari was stunned, those around him reported.

His attempt to save the sinking ship by calling Governor of Sindh Ishratul Ebad to Islamabad and then authorising Interior Minister Rehman Malik to fly to Dubai for urgent talks with an MQM delegation from London could be the last desperate effort but as someone who knows the scene reported, “The MQM has closed the doors and has gone to sleep,” meaning that it is no longer interested in seeing Zardari sitting in the Presidency.

Nice words wrapped in high sounding moral logic are being said by MQM to urge Zardari to make his exit dignified but Altaf Hussain is not backtracking from his demand of a resignation. He probably knows more than many in Islamabad. Even when Governor Ebad was rushing to Dubai on Wednesday night after meeting the president, the MQM made it a point to include the resignation issue in the agenda of the Dubai talks expected to begin on Friday.

Conspiracy theories have been weaved around the Dubai talks as well. One analyst who knows the extremely cordial and friendly relations between the MQM and Rehman Malik thinks one positive outcome of the Dubai talks could be that Malik could get a chance to take a leave of absence from Pakistan at a time when his presence in the country is needed more. But MQM negotiators are not in a mood to step back from their resignation advice to the president.

This political pressure is causing one-sided fueling of the countdown theories. The wild ones go far with some, claiming to be well informed, saying it was a matter of days not weeks or months that Zardari will hang his gloves, just like General Musharraf did. Some MQM circles bet on weeks. The divergence of views appears limited only to when, and not if.

The intense argument in all circles is the mechanics of his exit from the Presidency. The MQM wants him to become a Sonia Gandhi, running the party from behind the frontlines. Others want him to disappear into foreign downtowns and enjoy his billions in the manner Benazir Bhutto had practically forced him to do for years after his release and exit from Pakistan in 2004. Yet others want him to be dragged again in the newly liberated courts and bring back the money he may have stacked outside.

Senior PPP circles have a confused mind because they do not know how the party would react. But all agree that the PPP, and for that matter Sindh, could react in different ways, depending on the mode and manner of his exit. If there was an impression that he had been forced out at gunpoint, there may be a different reaction. If the exit is through a process and publicly justified and explained, the reaction may be milder. If a judicial and constitutional method was applied and Zardari failed to defend himself properly, no tears may be shed.

What these circles cannot defend and what makes them hide their frustration with sheepish smiles are the stories of corruption, which are not forcefully and convincingly being denied by the Presidency, the PM House or the jumpy party spokespersons. Many PPP leaders privately describe their pathetic situation as the ‘Silence of the Lambs’.

In such a crumbling state of affairs, the PPP leadership is missing a dynamic leader who could take charge and take on the opponents with the force of integrity and commitment. The prime minister is yet to declare himself the de facto leader of the party, though he is technically the leader of the House in parliament. There is no Bhutto who could motivate the cadres. The chairman is absent from the scene and understandably so. The co-chairman is in a bunker and fighting the psywars and trying to stay cool. The party has been left to rot in a smoky aura of uncertainty and lack of direction. The opposition has claimed high moral ground, although many in that camp also belong to the same caste and creed which has eaten up the PPP from within.

Sindh, the bastion of the PPP, is quiet and has been practically taken over by the shrewd politics of MQM.

For months, the PPP has been trying to replace the Nazims of Karachi and other urban centres under the MQM control pending the local bodies elections but the MQM has successfully thwarted their attempts. Now the MQM has come out openly and has joined the anti-Zardari camp but the PPP government in Sindh is unable to take any decisive action against Altaf Bhai’s cadres. One notable achievement of the MQM, which has made it almost impossible for the PPP to touch it, has been the tight security control of the MQM in the city against terrorist attacks. MQM vigilantes monitor and patrol almost all neighbourhoods and keep a watch on all suspicious people, thus denying the suicide bombers the space to hide and strike. The Pathans, led by the ANP in Karachi, are also on the same side on this issue and this has made Karachi the safest city in the country in the context of terrorist attacks. While the PPP runs the government, the credit has to go to the MQM and the ANP and this is also an unusual situation. President Zardari, of course, cannot take any of the credit. In fact the PPP stronghold in Karachi, Lyari, has been the most troubled area in the city for weeks and months and fingers are again being pointed at gang leaders who have been getting support, or claiming to have the backing, of Bilawal House. So while the options for President Zardari are diminishing by the day in terms of his political survival, his party is not in a position to provide him any strength or support to face the fierce onslaught.

The majority view in Islamabad circles is that Zardari, looking at this gloomy picture, inside his bunkered Presidency, in drawing rooms of his party leaders and outside on the streets, would ultimately be pushed to call it a day himself, saving himself the grief and rigours of a forced exit. Some even fear a desperate panic move like sacking the Army chief while the president is on one of his visits abroad. A reverse replay of October 12, 1999. The logic being that in case his orders are implemented then he returns home a strong and rejuvenated president, and if plans go awry then he is at least at a safe distance from his nemesis. Another suicidal advice indeed. A stronger view is that his personality, his so called street wisdom, his political acumen, which so far have miserably failed him, would urge him to keep fighting and go down as a political martyr, if need be, so that his political heirs and the party could claim that the PPP had not abandoned the tradition of making sacrifices. If he could manage it, he can also make his exit a ‘Punjabi conspiracy’ to force out yet another Sindhi leader and play the so-called Sindh Card. Yet the perplexing question in all minds is why has he not changed his ways of the past, not stopped the shady deals by his cronies, has made highly questionable appointments, has gone on junkets worldwide for deals which should have been transparent, has bought properties and lands and has eyed businesses belonging to others with greed. All this leaves the sick impression that he is running a corporation and not a country. The dichotomy many cannot resolve is that if his target is only to earn more profits, why would he like to become a political martyr and not enjoy the riches that he has collected.

Strictly in legal or constitutional terms, Zardari has not done anything as yet which may compel the forces that have the power of the gun to force him out. But his overall failures, his deceptive ways to hoodwink power centres, keeping around him friends of the days in exile who have annoyed almost every institution that matters — the judiciary, the media, the Army, the bureaucracy, have created the aura that he is unfit for the job and has not grown in the big shoes that he stepped into last year. For these failures, an impeachment in parliament is not possible but his mistakes will haunt him in courts, in parliament, in the media and the civil and military establishment may not forgive him. But he can hit back with some radical moves -- sack his cronies, repeal the 17th Amendment in a day or two, give an extension to the Army chief, bring back angry PPP stalwarts after due apologies and go before the courts instead of seeking shelter behind the NRO. Otherwise, the political countdown, which began some months ago, continues. The establishment joined in a few weeks back. His coalition broke up days ago. Rats are said to be preparing to abandon the sinking ship as these lines are being written. The momentum cannot be stopped. Zardari will have to make his decision very quickly on whether he wants to exit with dignity or become a martyr. The days, as they say, are in fact numbered. REFERENCE: Has a countdown begun in Islamabad? Shaheen Sehbai Saturday, November 07, 2009