Imran Khan’s Double-Speak

Imran Khan's Double Speak

Imran Khan has famously and repeatedly said that if anyone can prove that his party has been funded by the ISI. Far from being a statement of principle, the PTI chief is really just stating reality – if anyone can prove that PTI is part of a Mehrangate sequel, Imran Khan will be finished in poitics anyway. But there’s another way to read Imran Khan’s statement – one that leaves more questions

Imran Khan says he’s not funded by the ISI, and I have not seen any evidence to the contrary. But while former military officials turn on each other in the Supreme Court hearings about how they funded opposition parties in the 1990 elections, it’s unlikely that anyone is writing cheques to anyone. Surely those inclined to such shenanigans have learned that such amateurish election manipulation is unnecessary.

This came to mind when I was reading a post on the Express Tribune blog by Adnan Khalid Rasool about where political parties get their money. In the case of PTI, we know where some of it comes from. Earlier this month, Imran Khan reported that he raised 160,000 in Glasgow, Scotland. Imran Khan and other PTI officials spend a lot of time raising money in the US and UK. But cash is not the only medium for greasing the gears of political machinery.

Jehangir Tareen gives Imran Khan the use of his company’s plane and has even appointed his personal servants as directors of his mill so that his decisions will be easily accepted. Such contributions would never show up on a report of party donations or expenditures. When Prince Jam Qaim explained why he joined PTI, he said “Several of my friends and some well-wishers in the military had advised me to join Imran Khan”.

If someone can “advise” Prince Jam to join Imran Khan, what is to say that same person doesn’t also go to the local tamboo wala to “advise” them to “donate” their services to PTI?  Has Imran Khan been “funded” by those going around “advising” people to support PTI? Or is all the talk about “funding” a bit of clever double-speak to mask what’s really going on?

The latest example of Imran Khan’s double-speak is the apparent benami transaction that got him his sprawling Bani Gala estate. The story first broken by Umar Cheema wasn’t a real surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

On “Off the Record”, Khan got really angry when Kashif Abbasi asked him about it.

According to Khan, it wasn’t really a benami transaction – the lawyer got the wording wrong. It was just his wife buying him property in her name, and Imran Khan didn’t declare it on his 2002 taxes because it wasn’t in his name…which is precisely the definition of a benami transcation, isn’t it?

Tied up in knots by the end of the discussion, Imran Khan is furious and not really making much sense. It reminds me of when he used to say that his party would not accept any old faces…until he eagerly welcomed Javed Hashmi, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and dozens of ‘electables’ like Tahir Rasheed and Janhangir Tareen. Once again he found himself clarifying that when he said one thing, he meant the opposite.

I’ve noted before that Imran Khan has a bad habit of trying to be all things to all people. What’s really troubling is that it looks like he’s also trying to be all things to himself.

Triple Jeopardy: The many trials of Dr Shakil Afridi

Shakil AfridiWhen it was first reported that Dr Shakil Afridi had worked with the CIA to locate Osama bin Laden, it didn’t take a law degree to understand that the doctor was in for a tough future. Actually, a law degree wouldn’t have helped at all. Feisel H Naqvi, partner at Bhandari, Naqvi & Riaz and an advocate of the Supreme Court explained in fine detail that the conviction was neither legal nor “sensible”. As criticism of the conviction pour in, though, the doctor’s real troubles appear to have only begun.

Despite bad feelings about the way the Abbottabad raid was carried out, people felt equally sick about the way the doctor was whisked away to FATA, given a secret trial under FCR without any lawyer, and then sentenced to 33 years in prison. Analysts from across the political spectrum began to speak out against the lack of justice, and it began to look more like a scapegoating than a legitimate trial.

Then, a new type of report began to appear in the papers. Dr Afridi was described as “a hard-drinking womaniser who had faced accusations of sexual assault, harassment and stealing”. Anonymous “current and former Pakistani officials” said “his main obsession was making easy money”. As predicted, “US officials called the accusations character assassination”.

Now we are being told that Dr Afridi wasn’t sentenced for helping the CIA – he was sentenced for helping extremist militants!

The tribal court that convicted the doctor said his “love” for Mangal Bagh “was an open secret”.

It said the accused provided two million rupees ($22,000) to Lashkar-e-Islam and helped to provide medical assistance to militant commanders in Khyber.

So now we’re to believe that Dr Shakil Afridi was a hard-drinking, womanising, rapist, thief, swindler, CIA agent, extremist militant. It seems that no matter who you are, you now have a reason to want to see Shakil Afridi punished. How bloody convenient.

It’s quite well known that you’re supposed to convict someone in the media before you drag them into court and actually sentence them to prison (or worse). By the looks of it, the way Dr Afridi was rushed through the system, someone forgot to do the dirty work first and now they’re playing catch up.

Whether the doctor did something illegal and deserves to be punished has become beside the point, as the bumbling way his case is being handled now overshadows any question of whether he helped the wrong agency track down bin Laden. We are now being told that the tribal court recommended Dr Afridi “be produced before the relevant concerned court for further proceedings under the law” – this time, possibly, for treason under Article 6.

Dr Afridi was convicted in a secret trial, we were told, for helping the CIA. When people reacted poorly to the whole secret trial bit, we were told that it’s okay because he’s a real jerk. Now we’re told that he wasn’t really convicted of working to find terrorists, but of helping them, and he could face another trial for working with the CIA. After bungling it the first time, is someone trying to get another bite at the apple?

Document From Imran Khan’s Benami Transaction

On Saturday, 26th May, investigative journalist Umar Cheema reported that “clean” Imran Khan purchased his Bani Gala estate in a ‘benami transaction’ with his ex-wife Jemima Goldsmith Khan, further contradicting the PTI Chairman’s repeated claims that he bought the property with borrowed money which he repaid after selling a London flat. After repeated accusations against the reporter, Umar Cheema released the following document from the benami transaction carried out by Imran Khan and it is published below. Please click the image for the full size document.

Imran Khan Benami Document

Dr Afridi’s Conviction

Dr Afridi convicted

Dr Shakil Afridi was sentenced to 33 years on Wednesday for helping the CIA locate Osama bin Laden. Dr Afridi was convicted by a tribal court on anti-state activities charges, and some are saying that his being charged under FCR instead of the Pakistan Criminal Code (CPRC) saved his life from a death penalty for treason. There is a debate to be had about whether the conviction was fair – Osama bin Laden was not an agent of Pakistan, so how can helping to find him be considered “anti-state activity”? But today I want to discuss a different question that is raised by the conviction.

While Dr Afridi was charged with “anti-state activities”, and routinely described as guilty of treason against Pakistan, another court handed down another set of convictions. In the case of the terrorist attack on PNS Mehran which martyred 12 Pakistani soldiers and destroyed critical national security assets in what officers suspected was an inside job, the punishments were a one-year demotion and two six-months demotions. In one of the most devastating attacks against our national security, the worst punishment is a one-year demotion?

For the next 33 years, Dr Afridi will suffer in prison for his part in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. While the doctor languishes in prison, people responsible for PNS Mehran attack are free. What does this tell about our national security priorities? What does it tell about our system of justice? What does it tell about our chances of ending terrorism in the country?

Former Minister for Law, Justice, Parliamentary Affairs & Human Rights Iqbal Haider observed that “The Mehran Base destruction was not just a loss of our Pak Navy. It was a national loss and it is in our national interest to ensure that none goes unpunished and such dastardly incidents do not occur in the future”.

Courts harass politicians with never ending hearings and trumped up charges, while militants come and go, even collecting taxpayer money while they wait. If we continue to treat terrorists with leniency, giving terrorists more rights than honest citizens. The question lingers…when will our patience run out?

Noam Chomsky on Pakistan

The following is taken from a 2002 interview of Noam Chomsky by Mashhood Rizvi. We are posting this excerpt in order to start a discussion around Professor Chomsky’s point that citizens have a moral responsibility to address the problems of their own country and not simply study the faults of others. We are particularly interested in his final sentence – “We ultimately have to take our fate into our own hands, not wait for salvation from somewhere else. It won’t come.”

During your visit to Pakistan many who approached you were hoping to hear ready–made solutions to all the problems Pakistan is faced with. However, you seemed to be pressing them to think hard and think critically about the problems as well as the possible solutions. You held yourself responsible for taking certain measures and actions regarding the role of your country (US) and expected others to do the same. Is it true?

Chomsky: It is definitely true. It is perhaps the most elementary of moral truisms, that we are responsible for the anticipated consequences of our own action, or inaction. It may be fine to study the crimes of Genghis Khan, but there is no moral value to condemning them; we can’t do anything about them. There is not much I can do – in fact, virtually nothing – about the very serious problems internal to Pakistan. I’d like to learn about them, and to understand them as best as I can. And I don’t refrain from saying what I think.

(a) Why is a moral value not attached to condemning the crimes of Genghis Khan? Don’t you think that along with studying his crimes, it is equally important to continue to condemn them so that anybody who commits similar atrocities does not get away with it.

(b) Also, as far as the existing imperial powers of the world are concerned, I think I am more than justified to condemn them, as their crimes are directly causing my people/country so much pain and suffering. The rise and rule of corporations in the West in so many ways is linked to Pakistan’s economy vis–à–vis the poverty of our nation; therefore, I think that it must be condemned by Pakistanis.

Chomsky: I am basing my remarks on what seems to me a moral truism: the moral evaluation of what we do depends on the anticipated consequences – in the cases we are discussing, human consequences. If I publish a paper here reviewing and condemning the crimes of Genghis Khan, the human consequences are approximately zero; I’m joining in universal condemnation, and adding another pea to the mountain certainly doesn’t help his victims, or anyone else for that matter.

Suppose in some part of the world, say Mongolia, his crimes were being suppressed or praised or even used as a model for current actions. Then it would be of great moral value to condemning his crimes there, because of the human consequences. Take your other example: condemnation in Pakistan of the impact of US corporate and state power in Pakistan. There is great moral value to condemn that in ways that affect the exercise of that power, which means mostly here, in the US. For Pakistanis, if the condemnations have no effect on the exercise of that power, then in that respect the moral value is slight; if they have an effect in raising the level of understanding of Pakistanis, to enable them to act more constructively, then the moral value could be great. In all cases, we are back to anticipated human consequences.

Let’s take a concrete case. For intellectuals in Russia in the Communist days, condemnation of US crimes had little if any moral value; in fact, it might have had negative value, in serving to buttress the oppressive and brutal Soviet system. In contrast, when Eastern European dissidents condemned the crimes of their own states and society, it had great moral value. That much everyone takes for granted: everyone, that is, outside the Soviet commissar class. Much the same holds in the West, point by point, except with much more force, because the costs of honest dissidence are so immeasurably less. And exactly as we would expect, these utterly trivial points are almost incomprehensible to Western intellectuals, when applied to them, though readily understood when applied to official enemies.

That’s why, for example, I was critical of Pakistan’s policies concerning Kashmir when speaking in Pakistan, and of India’s policies there when speaking in India. But I cannot – and no one else should – have a great deal of confidence in what I say as a concerned outsider. And there isn’t much that I can do about the very severe problems. In contrast, there is a great deal I can do about problems within the US, and about policy decisions of systems of power there. And for just that reason, that’s my primary responsibility.

Of course, it is not quite that simple. Outsiders can sometimes have useful advice and influence, and should try to use such opportunities. Nonetheless, the moral truism remains just that: a truism.

Quite apart from moral truisms, it is generally a mistake to expect outsiders to have valuable advice as to how to deal with one’s problems. That requires intimate knowledge and understanding. It’s sheer arrogance for those who lack that knowledge and understanding to offer solutions. And it makes little sense to wait for rescue from outside. That’s often just a way to evade responsibility.

Again, one shouldn’t exaggerate. Sympathy and support from friends is of enormous importance in personal life, and solidarity and mutual aid are of comparable importance over a broader sphere, including international affairs. Nonetheless, we ultimately have to take our fate into our own hands, not wait for salvation from somewhere else. It won’t come.