Bomb Proof Passports and Bullet Proof Denial

Pakistan Bomb Proof PassportWhen American media announced that Taliban chief Akhtar Mansour was killed by a US drone strike in Balochistan, the response of the state was silence. Soon came posts on social media with photos of a Pakistani passport and CNIC that were supposedly recovered from the scene. This was met with laughter by not only the hyper-nationalist crowd but even liberals. Jokes began to go around saying security forces were issuing new bullet proof jackets made of Pakistani passports. Even those criticising our Afghan policy found the situation ridiculous. How is it that a car and two people are completely incinerated by a hell fire missile but his Pakistani IDs just HAPPEN to survive in perfect condition? The answer was in the question: We were being framed. Again.

Only, this time at least, it appears that there was no framing. Sartaj Aziz has confirmed that the person killed in the attack was Mullah Mansour and that Pakistani authorities had identified him by DNA test. More surprising, though, was that the government confirmed that the official government documents that were recovered, the passport and CNIC, were authentic. They had a fake name, but they were real documents issued by NADRA. Interior Ministry has ordered a ‘crackdown‘ against officials for issuing the documents, but it is well known that those behind such things do not answer to the Interior Ministry.

Sometimes, ridiculous things happen. As ridiculous as it sounds, a hell fire missile did incinerate a car and two people yet a Pakistani passport and CNIC somehow survived intact. Does it matter that even the state has confirmed it? No, we will prefer to stick to our denials and our jokes about ‘bomb proof passports’. It may be a ridiculous mindset that refuses to believe what has already been confirmed, but if we start accepting these things then we will be forced to face the most ridiculous thing of all, which is our own foreign policy that causes such things in the first place. After all, Amir-ul-Momineen will come and go…but our denialism is truly bomb proof.

Sovereignty and Shame

Our precious sovereignty has been breached once again by a foreign military who seems to come and go as they please. You know exactly who I am talking about. Or do you? Judging by media reports and statements from officials, it is obvious that I am talking about the American drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor. However, notice that there are two foreign militaries involved in that situation, US and Taliban, but we are only angry about one and not the other.

Balochistan Home Minister said today that six Afghan spies have been caught. This adds to the list of dozens of RAW agents that keep getting arrested inside Pakistan. However even this is a drop in the bucket. Interior Minister has declared that thousands of foreign spies are roaming our streets!

‘Thousands’ may still be too small, though. In a statement refusing to admit that Mullah Mansoor was killed in Pakistan, Ch Nisar admitted that ‘About 30,000 people cross the border on daily basis and there is no monitoring system’. 30,000 people crossing on a daily basis!

Even sports clubs are getting in on the action. Pakistan Hockey Federation banned Tiger Club due to alleged involvement in human trafficking, and in an even more embarrassing case the government paid for the fake ‘Belgian cricket team‘ that was put together by some PMLN officials in London.

Yes, Pakistan has a sovereignty problem. Our borders are not respected by anyone, but most of all not even by ourselves. Aren’t we basically inviting our sovereignty to be violated when we allow mujahideen to come and go at their own free will? Surely we must expect that spies will follow. Aren’t we inviting our sovereignty to be violated when we use sports to move people in and out illegally? When even our own officials are responsible? Our shame is not that our sovereignty is being violated, it is that we are actually willing to allow it.

 

Have we chosen to live or die by Taliban?

f4rft5ung5634vThe US Congress has passed another law that threatens to cut off aid to Pakistan unless we take action against Haqqani network militants. Sirajuddin Haqqani was a top deputy of Mullah Mansour, and now it is expected that he will be named Amir of Taliban following Mansour’s death in an American drone strike. Haqqani is also considered by some quarters to be pro-Pakistan. Several years ago the top American military commander termed Haqqani network as ‘a veritable arm of ISI‘, secret US documents say ISI paid Haqqani to attack a CIA base in Afghanistan, and even when Army carried out attacks against the Haqqani network, they were ‘tipped off‘ in time to get away.

The death of Mullah Mansour has put Pakistan in a dangerous position. If Haqqani is named as Amir, will we be willing to carry out attacks, or will we finally put an end to our alliance with the international community in the fight against the Taliban? In 2001, US President George Bush gave the choice ‘you are either with us or against us’. It looks like we are facing the same question again. Will we make the same choice this time?

AQ Khan’s Offshore Accounts Exposed: Military Officers to Follow?

A Q KhanThe Panama Papers are not going away. Nawaz Sharif spent the day in parliament discussing the scandal, and there appears to be little sign of resolution as opposition parties walked out in response. After calling for Nawaz to resign, Imran Khan has also found himself facing problems as he was exposed as having offshore accounts also. At least Immy was honest and admitted that his offshore company was created so he could avoid paying taxes. However Imran turns out not to be the only ‘Khan’ exposed in the scandal that won’t go away. It is not learnt that AQ Khan has also been exposed in Panama Papers.

AQ Khan has denied having any offshore companies and claimed that his family members signatures were all forged as part of a huge conspiracy against him by Habib Bank.

“I have never even heard the name of this company,” A.Q. Khan told Dawn over phone. “Neither did my wife and daughters. My brother, who died a few years ago, was with Habib Bank and, as you know, bankers are always up to their tricks and hanky panky,” he said without mincing words. “My wife and daughters never signed any documents to create this company. The signatures (on the incorporation paperwork) are surely false. My brother never discussed it with me and my family only heard about this company after the Panama Papers release.”

It’s not just what AQ Khan knew about these companies that is now coming under scrutiny, though. Many are also asking how this was not discovered until so late. One name that appeared in Panama Papers list was wife of AQ Khan, Hendrina. This is not a very common name and surely a researcher would have noted it, especially a researcher like Umar Cheema who is not only a Jang/Geo reporter but also a member of the ICIJ that broke the story! Is this another case of Army’s strangle hold on media?

Surely the powers that be knew that things could not be hidden forever. Now questions are being asked who else has been ‘missed’ in the long list of offenders? So far it has been civilians who have been in the bulls eye of the Panama Papers scandal, but we know thanks to former DG-ISPR Maj-Gen (r) Rashid Qureshi that Army has been covering up corruption among military officers since long. Will we soon learn than the names of military officers appear in the Panama Papers but were not previously reported? Will these too be blamed on ‘hanky panky’ at Habib Bank?

Pakistanis and Super Pakistanis: Who Gets ‘Justice’?

Pakistan Support Nizami

Supporters of Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami condemn the execution of Bangladesh’s the party’s chief Motiur Motiur Rahman Nizami, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The head of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party was executed early Wednesday for his role in acts of genocide and war crimes during the country’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971, a senior government official said. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

Foreign Office released a curious statement in response to hanging of Motiur Nizami in Bangladesh. According to the government, the Jamaat leader’s ‘only sin was upholding the constitution and laws of Pakistan’. The government has carefully worded its furious response as a condemnation of the ‘flawed process’ that convicted Nizami, a point that has been made by international human rights groups. However these same human rights groups have also given the same judgment of our own legal process and said that hanging those convicted by military courts is ‘not justice‘.

This point of criticising legal process is for PR purposes only. In reality, Pakistani state does not care one iota about international norms of ‘due process’ and strongly defends our sovereignty as we know best what is required for our national security and how to best handle those who are working against the national interest. Therefore, our sympathy for Nizami is not out of concern for due process and international legal norms, it is out of nationalistic pride.

There is no concern for the ‘due process’ of those killed by Pakistani forces in extra-judicial killings, neither there is concern for those hanged following secret trials by military courts that have been condemned by international legal groups. These too are Pakistani citizens, but where is our outrage and concern for their rights?

Nizami is considered a hero for his actions, so we do not want to see him punished for them. Even though he stopped being a Pakistani in 1971, his actions supporting Pakistan military gave him status of Super Pakistani and therefore he is given more rights than actual Pakistanis. This is justice?