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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Is internal instability leading Pakistan towards chaos?

Brig. Asif Haroon Raja (R)|

India has all along been trying to break up Pakistan, but it became a collective target of Indo-US-Israeli nexus after it opted to gain nuclear capability in the 1970s.  Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, India and Israel in collaboration kept trying to knockout Kahuta plant. In this regard, the imposition of Pressler amendment in 1990 was designed to prevent Pakistan from acquiring this capability. Pakistan nuclear program was targeted through Operation Blue Tulsi from 1994 onward with the help of the then Interior Minister Rahman Malik (RM) and DG FIA.

Terrorism was fomented in Pakistan in 2003 by the conspirators to create insecurity and political instability, dry up foreign investment, impede development including work on Gwadar, scare away the Chinese, weaken the economy and fatigue and exhaust security forces. Pakistan and its premier institutions were to be discredited through 5th generation war.

The purpose behind these objectives was to declare Pakistan a failed and insecure state incapable of retaining nukes, and thus seek UN intervention to take away the much-sought nukes. To prevent Pakistan from remaking a nuclear bomb, they had planned to balkanize it into small states such as Greater Baluchistan, Greater Pashtunistan, Muhajiristan, SindhuDesh, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan forming part of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), and landlocked Punjab to be further split up.These quasi-states were to become client states of India.

Read more: Nawaz challenges judiciary to remove his signature from nuclear program

Although war on terror bled Pakistan extensively, and Pakistan reached the teetering edge of a failed state by 2013, thanks to their dream team of PPP-MQM-ANP which the US-UK had installed in March 2008 through NRO, but to the utter disappointment of conspirators, the political, security and economic situation under PML-N regime began to turn around in 2014. Intended Pak-China agreement on CPEC and development of Gwadar into biggest commercial port intensified their anxiety. It alarmed them to find that their laid down hidden objectives which they thought had come within their grasping reach were slipping out of their waiting hands. A new plan was hurriedly hatched to stop the wheels of progress and to sabotage President Xi’s visit to Islamabad scheduled in September 2014 to sign CPEC project.

It is in this context that many quarters in Pakistan see the London plan in June 2014, which led to Model Town Lahore tragedy and the six-month sit-in at D Chowk Islamabad by PTI, PAT and one-seater Sheikh Rashid (SR) with suspicion. The conspirators having failed to achieve their objectives through terrorism, took the political route to topple the sitting government in August 2014 so as to create political instability and chaos.

Read more: Babur-III tested; Pakistan becomes a Nuclear Triad

Traditionally, every government in Pakistan has been painted by the opposition as the enemy of the people and the country. The opposition leaders invariably claim that when they will come in power they will turn the country into a paradise and all the problems and the issues bedeviling the lives of the people would disappear.There has always been a bizarre and debasing tussle going on between the parties in power and those in the opposition with character assassinations and name calling.

Allama Tahirul Qadri(TuQ) is a Canadian citizen and has no political role to play in Pakistan. He comes once in a while to fish in the troubled waters. Devoid of political capacity and popularity to attain power, he is incapable of bringing about a grand revolution based upon religious basis when he spends his 11 months in the salubrious and comfortable society of Toronto? SR is a foul-mouthed brag and a spoiler who emulatesSultan Rahi.

While TuQdrummed up killing of his 11 party workers in Model Town and demanded resignation of Shahbaz Sharif and his provincial government, Imran Khan (IK) who lacks vision and political acumen alleged that 2013 general elections were rigged and declared that the incumbent government was the product of planned rigging.

Read more: Disunity evident among opposition forces at PAT protest

This so-called reality dawned upon IK after a lapse of one year. As an afterthought, he sought recounting of votes in 4 constituencies in Lahore division, failing which the PM to step down. Although there was wide margin of difference between the votes bagged and seats secured by PML-N and PTI, Imran Khan gave an impression as if victory had been snatched from him.

To force Nawaz Sharif (NS) to resign, the hooligans of PTI and PAT launched an attack on the Parliament, PM House and PTV HQ and also the police besides ridiculing and abusing the judiciary, NAB, Election Commission and FIA.

But for improved economic indicators, APS tragedy, PPP’s refusal to side with agitators, and Gen Raheel’s refusal to become the third empire, the dissenters would have succeeded in toppling the regime of NS in 2014. They, however, succeeded in getting the visit of Chinese President postponed to April 2015. CPEC suffered a loss of six months.

Read more: The Massacre in Model Town: terrorism by the House of Sharifs

Once the Supreme Court declared that the elections were free and fair and no state-sponsored rigging had been done, Imran Khan then shifted his stance from rigging to corruption and censuring mega projects. He teamed up with the anti-CPEC lobby which maliciously tried to make the $46 billion project controversial by raising an issue of a western route and propagating that the project was Punjab specific.

The slogan of corruption received a shot in the arm when Panama scandal suddenly erupted from nowhere in April 2016. It must be known that Panama State is fully in the grip of CIA and opening of accounts by the elites in offshore companies is legal and an old practice. The conspirators wanted to target leaders of Russia (Putin), China (Xi) and Pakistan (NS) through Panama Papers and none else. The long list of account holders inMossack FonsecaOffshore Company indicated 436 Pakistanis including two sons of NS, but NS himself was not the account holder. Accounts were opened by Hassan and Hussain Nawaz to be able to purchase Avenfield apartments in London where they had permanently settled down.

Panama case gave room to the judiciary to come in the limelight and gain an edge over the parliament which failed to tackle the case due to political wrangling between the ruling party, PTI and PPP. Once the case was taken up by a 5-member bench in November 2016, it was pursued frenetically by the petitioners (IK, SR, SirajulHaq and others), while the media sensationalized it to the hilt. This was done in a manner that the whole nation forgot about the Indian bellicosity, Indian record-breaking human rights violations in IOK, water terrorism by India to dry up Pakistan, dangerous agenda of the Indo-US-Israel-Afghan nexus, the game-changing CPEC drawing in $62 billion investment for the first time in Pakistan’s history, with full potential to make Pakistan prosperous and self-reliant.

Read more: Is political instability rocking the Pakistani Boat?

People from all walks of life got glued to the TV channels blaring news about the proceedings of Panama case and systematic demonization of NS and his family. IK led PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami, PAT and SR, later joined by PPP, all desperate to enter the corridors of power before time upped the ante.Extremely sleazy epithets, dirty slogans and derogatory remarks were used against Sharif family by both IK, SR and their party cohorts in their speeches and day to day comments.

Judges added fuel to fire through their pungent remarks against the respondents. All guns fired in unison against NS and his family. Power seekers duly assisted by paid media drilled into the minds of the public that NS was the biggest devil ever produced by this country and responsible for all the ills. Anchors and analysts soured their throats arguing that NS was the problem and survival of Pakistan rested on his immediate removal from power and the way out was to hand over the reins to IK. They insisted that IK was a Messiah with a magic lamp capable of making Naya Pakistan in a jiffy. This narrative was bought by the gullible as well as the educated lot including the veterans.

The hype created by the drum beaters created such a thick smokescreen of a false narrative that the people lost sight of the 5-year black rule of PPP led regime during which Pakistan had gone bankrupt, its economy had sunk, foreign and domestic debts had doubled,GDP was at 3%, the country was caught up in worst ever energy crisis resulting in 18-20 hours load shedding, industries were closing and industrialists were shifting to other countries. There was an acute gas shortage for domestic use and a long queue of cars seen at every CNG station. Hardly a month passed without a new scandal of mega corruption, but despite chief justice Iftikhar’s judicial activism, not a single case of corruption or terrorism reached its logical conclusion. Not a single target killer in Karachi was convicted and punished, Railways, PIA, Steel Mills, OGDC, Wapda, and other state corporations were running in huge losses and had become white elephants.

Read more: Is Panama gate a foreign conspiracy to derail Pakistan? Part II

Karachi was bathing in blood and dying an economic death due to MQM’s militancy and PPP’s high scale corruption. It had become a lost city since RAW with the active connivance of MQM had established a strong foothold in the port city. North Waziristan had become the main base of operation for the foreign supported TTP allied with over 60 proscribed groups, wherefrom it was conducting acts of terror in all parts of Pakistan and breaking Jails to free their comrades. Separatist movement in Baluchistan had assumed perilous proportions because of deep-rooted involvement of RAW-NDS-CIA-MI-6. Pakistan was declared as the most dangerous country and a failing state because of which foreign investments had dried up. People had become fed up of democracy and they yearned for the return of military rule.

In short, nothing was in order since morals had hit rock bottom, merit system was discarded and replaced by nepotism, favoritism and cronyism. Corruption had broken all previous records. On top of it, team of Zardari, Gilani, RM, Hussain Haqqani (HH), Wajid Shams, after giving a green signal to the US to carry out stealth raid in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011, were the movers of Memogate scandal.

The Memo drafted by HH, (who had earlier on added anti-Army clauses in the Kerry Lugar Bill in late 2008), was a certificate to the servitude of USA.

Fearing that the Army under Gen Kayani might remove PPP government from power on account of its complicity in Abbottabad raid, HH had handed over the Memo to the then CJCSC Admiral Mike Mullen through his friend Mansour Ejaz, which stated that his government will roll back nuclear program, allow NATO access into FATA, place ISI under Ministry of Interior and civilianize it, get approval of Pentagon of all promotions of Brigs and above in armed forces as well as postings to key appointments, will harness the judiciary and Pakistan will accept hegemony of India.

The spadework for implementing these tasks had already been done by him when he was an ambassador in Washington. He in connivance with Gilani and RM had inducted 8000 CIA contractors and US Special Forces elements into Pakistan between 2008 and 2011 without the clearance of ISI and Foreign Ministry. RM facilitated the establishment of DynCorp Isbd and Peshawar to supply weapons to Blackwater. Training center of Blackwater was established in a hired house at Sihala near a police academy in 2008 where no one was permitted to enter. And yet, PPP was allowed to complete its full tenure.

Read more: Civil-military relations in historical perspective

Initial induction of CIA and FBI agents was allowed by Gen Musharraf in 2003 on the pretext of hunting Al-Qaeda operatives. He had also allowed the US military to establish Joint Operations Centres in FATA, KP and Karachi. Shamsi and Jacobabad airbases were handed over to CIA for drone war and clandestine operations. FBI was allowed to control immigration on all major airports and Karachi seaport. NATO containers passed through without checking.It was as a result of giving a free hand to US agencies that the US was able to establish CIA network and Blackwater setup in urban centers of Pakistan.

It has now been revealed by Justice Javed Iqbal heading NAB, who had also headed Abbottabad Commission in 2011 that Gen Musharraf had handed over 4000 Pakistanis to US for dollars.Another lapse of PPP regime which must not be overlooked is the grant of 16 acres of land in Isbd to the USA and allowing it to extend its Embassy and convert it into biggest spy den in the world.

We seem to have forgotten those difficult times through which Pakistan journeyed. We have also forgotten the lost years of 1988 to 1999 during which four governments changed hands in quick succession which brightened up chances for a military coup.Blinded by hatred and rage, in our frenzy to oust NS from power, we have completely ignored what all he had inherited in 2013 and what are his achievements. I am convinced that had he been given freedom of action and allowed to complete his tenure unobtrusively, he could have produced highly pleasing results.

The Indo-US-Afghan nexus having woven a web around Pakistan, and bled it thoroughly, has now been successful in destabilizing it politically and in slowing down its growing economy. The upward economic path started plunging after the initiation of Panama case and the downslide gained pace after the five-member bench politically castrated the thrice-elected prime minister. The apex court is exercising judicial activism and is now meddling in administrative affairs of Punjab.

People in Punjab see it as yet another move to dismiss the younger brother and demolish PML-N. This apprehension is breeding restlessness among them.

Infighting has begun among the political elites, the judiciary, and the media. Once again, some people are hoping that a new man on horseback will transform Pakistan into an Asian Tiger. At the same time, many are openly talking of the role of military establishment in judicial activism and the ongoing political engineering as was seen in Baluchistan and in Senate elections.

They say that if true, then they have not done their homework in its entirety and probably are finding themselves at a crossroad not knowing which way to proceed and how to avoid the coming political commotion. They say that if NS is a security risk, or has stolen wealth from the national kitty, it should be proved and then punished, but not otherwise and that too selectively.

There is no doubt that corruption is rampant in the country and has seeped into all layers of the society and is eating into the vitals of the country like a termite. But which country in the world is free of this disease? Some say that corruption is a hoax created by the advanced world for the third world leaders to hide their corporate sins. And we dance to their tunes. Looking back in our history, so many champions came with a knife to chop off corruption. It has grown and not lessened. No one will pick up the courage to pierce the knife deep enough to take out the malignant part. Each time, some fat was removed and then the operation was terminated.

Where is the so-called across the board accountability which was to start after unseating NS? Was the exercise restricted to ‘Get NS’ and destabilize the system to halt progress? Let us start understanding the big game and hard realities. The battle between evil and virtue will continue till doomsday. And then who among us can claim to be Sadiq and Ameen? Only Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was qualified.

Can accountability start without accountability bill and upright independent Ehtesab Commission and without reforming criminal judicial system?

Do we have it or is it in sight? Only Sharia, like the one enforced by Taliban in Afghanistan, can possibly cure the cancer of corruption and restore our pristine Islamic morals and not the Anglo Saxon system or the Westminster democracy which are pro-rich.

Poison of provincialism which had remained confined to smaller provinces is now appearing in Punjab for the first time. What if NS after getting convicted and jailed in sheer frustration gives a call to Punjabis to rise, and a segment responds to his call to destabilize Punjab, the only province which is stable and well governed?

Other than PML-N, there is no national party in true sense. PTI has become a party of turncoats and has lost its gloss, while there are cases pending against IK and his recent marriage has diminished his stature. Does he hope to rule in peace if empowered? Military dictators and civil dictator ZA Bhutto couldn’t since Pakistan is the most difficult country to govern!Destabilized Punjab will become IK’s graveyard.

Already, there is increasing anger and alienation among the marginalized minorities. The situation has become grave after the birth of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) spearheaded by ManzurPashteen and backed by foreign agencies, particularly if seen in the backdrop of the idea of Greater Pashtunistan.

Most worrying aspect is the anti-Army propaganda being made by the PTM.

Separatist movement in Baluchistan is still simmering and has not been quashed. It can get re-energized and become more dangerous if the likes of MahmoodAchakzai join it. Likewise, MQM London is still functional and can make a comeback since it has not been banned.Far Right has become politically active and TehrikLabaik Pakistan has not only gained political space in Punjab, but has also demonstrated its street power. MMA is also in the making.

The enemies see the time ripe to undertake a military venture or to dictate terms. There is trouble brewing on both the western and eastern borders. The menace of terrorism hangs in the air. Like for so many targeted countries, a narrative has been built for Pakistan that it is financing terrorism and providing safe havens to terrorist groups. It is a sufficient excuse for reckless Trump to strike Pakistan. What will be the response of the military to Syria like assault by US-NATO? So far, no drone has been downed.

What if India decides to deploy its forces along our eastern front like in 2001/02 and in 2008/09, and Afghan forces also follow suit along our western border at the behest of fuming USA? Can our force configuration deal with the three-dimensional threat?

Political polarization has peaked and both Houses of the Parliament stand on a slippery ground. While some are praising the Judiciary, others are censuring it for being prejudiced. They say that the apex court has not been fair or impartial in handing out verdict against NS and order his removal on flimsy grounds while such accusations were not fully established or conclusively proven.

Chief Justice is being asked to put his own house in order rather than snooping in others affairs. Economic indicators and foreign exchange reserves are tumbling and the rupee has fallen by ten percent against the dollar.Quibbling among the provinces continues on the sharing of water resources and the building of dam.

There is widespread uncertainty and no one knows what shape the future political dispensation will take and whether there will be on time elections and there will be a smooth transition.

We seem to be heading toward rowdy elections, a political logjam as was seen in 1971 and in 1977 and a hung parliament.

The only way out of the coming mayhem is to hold fair and free elections on time and to avoid selective accountability and political engineering.

The writer is a retired Brig, a war veteran, defense, security and political analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre. He can be contacted at  asifharoonraja@gmail.com