HRCP on Allegations of Rana Sanaullah being ill-treated in jail

In the crackdown against dissent the establishment seems to have decided they will lock up every politician they can. Senior politician and PML-N leader, Rana Sanaullah was arrested by the Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) and according to reports by his family is being ill-treated in jail.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recently issued a statement expressing deep concerns “over the grave allegations it has received regarding senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah’s treatment in detention. HRCP was approached by his wife, Nabila Sanaullah, who claims that her husband, a diabetes and blood pressure patient, shows visible signs of ill health. After an initial meeting the day he was arrested, Mrs Sanaullah says she was not allowed to see him until three days later. She found that his voice was very low, his hands were trembling and he could not walk without support. He told his wife he had not been given anything to eat for 48 hours following his arrival at the District Jail in Lahore. He added that he had been kept in solitary confinement in a small cell and made to sleep on a mat on the floor. According to his wife, he was told by the jail authorities that no family member had been to see him.”

The HRCP notes that the charges by his family “are serious charges and need to be investigated swiftly and independently. HRCP has applied for permission to visit Mr Sanaullah, but this has not been granted yet. We have been told that the authorities concerned have directed the jail staff to issue a report on the state of his health. However, given widespread allegations of political victimisation, independent observation and assessment is necessary. Internal reports alone will not inspire confidence. Indeed, if there is no reason for public concern, then the government’s apparent reluctance to grant HRCP permission to visit Mr Sanaullah only increases the anxiety over his treatment in detention. HRCP would like to remind the state of its obligation to ensure that all prisoners have access to the food and medicine they need. To deprive any prisoner of this basic standard of care amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. HRCP strongly advises the government to take urgent action in this regard if it is to refute the claims of political victimisation.”

FM Qureshi Gets Heckled in London while Lying about Freedom in Pakistan

During a recent trip to London, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi decided to participate in a seminar on defending media freedom. Not only was his session boycotted by journalists, in protest against the increasing repression inside Pakistan, but Mr Qureshi was heckled. Instead of being statesmanlike, the Foreign Minister preferred to lie blatantly about how there was no media repression inside Pakistan.

While Pakistan has always ranked low on press freedom, the last two weeks have shown blatant disregard for any pretense. “Pemra suspended transmission of three private TV channels a couple of days ago for airing an interview of PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari who is in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau and facing a trial in a fake accounts / money laundering case.

The authority also took off air an interview of the former president which was being conducted by anchor Hamid Mir on July 1, on the premises of the Parliament House where the former had come to attend a National Assembly session after the house’s speaker had issued his production order.”

This week on Wednesday the government announced a media ban on “convicted politicians.” As per news reports, the federal cabinet “decided to block media coverage and interviews of politicians who are convicts or under-trail prisoners and directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regula­tory Authority (Pemra) to fulfill its “responsibility” to discourage airing of such programs by electronic media.”

As an Editorial in Dawn stated “The muzzling of the media is becoming more brazen, more dictatorial by the day. No longer is there even any pretense of a level playing field for media outlets.  It is ironic for a regulatory body to not be following its own SOPs — that too while making flimsy allegations about the ‘offending’ channels having violated the electronic media’s code of conduct. In fact, one could more plausibly argue that Pemra is guilty of breaching its mandate, which includes expanding the choice available to the public for accessing the news and optimising the “free flow of information”. Indeed, the regulator seems to have become a handmaiden to the repressive forces micro-managing print and electronic media.”

The Dawn Editorial warned “A divided media is all the more susceptible to being coerced and hounded into submission; that is one of many good reasons for the media to forge unity among its ranks. Capitulation should not be an option.”

Russian Psy-Ops continue to Target Pakistan

The Nation may have pulled down its story on Husain Haqqani, but Russian psy-ops operatives continue to target Pakistan.

Prominent among them is Adam Garrie of Eurasia Futures fame, the same person whom NP has written about consistently in the last two years. In 2018 Eurasia Futures had to issue an apology to Jang Group over false allegations related to Cambridge Analytica. In 2019 Garrie wrote a piece praising Imran Khan as best Prime Minister Since Quaid e Azam.

As an expose of Adam Garrie, carried out by the Washington Examiner shows, “A unique hybrid of Ceaser Flickerman (from the “Hunger Games”) Withnail (from Withnail and I), and a fat Sherlock Holmes, Garrie is someone who wants to be noticed.” Titled ‘Adam Garrie, or how Russian propagandists play their game,’ The Washington Examiner story argues “Russia loves folks who can go onto its propaganda networks and spew Kremlin talking points in English.”

Further, “Garrie’s performance was a true gem. Not for any analytical substance, but rather in the insight it provides us on Russian propaganda messaging towards the West. Garrie begins by explaining how the United States is “no longer a democracy,” but instead a kleptocracy. Here we see the Kremlin’s never-ending effort to spread scorn about American political credibility and social stability.” As The Wash Examiner story points out “It’s all nonsense, of course, but the Russians know all they have to do is persuade one more viewer to become just a little bit more disillusioned. They’re in this for the long game. And while their tactics might be simple, they’re also extremely clever.”

Just recently Adam Garrie wrote a piece titled ‘Pakistanis Confuse Enlightened Despotism For Presidential Systems,’ in which on the one hand he undertakes Russian Psy ops targeting democracies especially Presidential ones (like the US) arguing that “presidential systems are the least efficient, most corruptible, most prone to deadlock, most conflicted and the most pseudo-democratic.” Ironic that a Russian psy ops operative would target Presidential systems as that is what Russian is itself!

Turning to Pakistan, Garrie argues that Pakistan’s problem is not the parliamentary system as much as its leaders. “the fault lies with the fact that so-called strongman presidents (the worst of which was Musharraf) have often subsumed power during times of crisis and in so doing, they suspended the normal operations of the parliament – thus stunting the nation’s political development in the process. This has allowed dynastic political mafias masquerading as normal political parties to take turns monopolising rule during times when a fledgling and immature parliamentary system has been restored. In this sense, Pakistan’s parliamentary system has not been allowed to develop properly because of multiple presidential figures who have interrupted the natural course of its development.”

According to Garrie what Pakistan needs is “a strong patriotic party political system was able to take the place of the corrupt dynastic mafioso party political system that has for decades been dominant in Pakistan, true progress could be made. This ought to be the goal of those who seek the stability of enlightened despotism without its clear drawbacks. Instead of one enlightened individual, proper parliamentary systems allow for enlightened groups of individuals to form meritocratic and patriotic parties that lead to vastly more  sustainable progress and stability than even the best versions of enlightened despotism ever could do.”

So Garrie calls for Pakistan to create “a new military-police force ought to be formed to enforce anti-corruption laws with all the vigour and professionalism of the Army and ISI.” And for there to be “a High Council of Foreign Affairs And Regional Security. Such a Council would be comprised of a combination of highly patriotic independent experts, military commanders, ISI officials, some elected members of the National Assembly, representatives of all provinces and a small number of directly elected individuals. All and all, the Council ought to start with 15 members with the aim to expand as credible, strategic and intelligent patriotic voices rise to the fore.”

The Nation withdraws ISI-inspired Article After Haqqani Threatens to Sue

On June 25th NP had published a post on Russian Psy-Ops, ‘Tie-up Between Russian Psy-War Operatives and Pakistan’s ISI’ exposing what we perceive as Russian operatives “sowing chaos” and “causing conflicts” within countries including Pakistan.

On June 23rd The Nation had published an article by a Russian psy-ops operative Andrew Korbyko titled ‘Pakistan picked the right spy chief and got the right people upset’ in which Mr Korbyko falsely accused to former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, Husain Haqqani, as an American and Indian spy.

Mr Haqqani immediately “initiated legal proceedings against The Nation newspaper of Pakistan, for calling him an American agent and saying he is a fugitive under the Pakistan law. According to a statement from Mr. Haqqani, his lawyer Yasser Latif Hamdani has sent a legal notice to The Nation asking for an apology and retraction of an offending article. Failing this, Mr. Hamdani “would start legal proceedings not only in Pakistan but also in the U.K. and other jurisdictions where the newspaper’s online edition is read, seeking damages to the tune of Pakistan Rupees 15 billion [$95 million]”, Mr. Haqqani’s statement read. Mr. Hamdani’s notice said that Mr. Haqqani “has always endeavoured lawfully and constitutionally to uphold democracy and civilian supremacy in Pakistan and that contrary to propaganda he had not been found guilty of any crime in any court of law”, as per the statement.”

By this morning The Nation had taken down the article from its website.

Pakistan continues to be threatened by FATF Blacklisting

Pakistan’s leaders may be relieved that at last week’s meeting of the UN FATF (Financial Action Task Force), Pakistan remained on the ‘grey list’ and was not placed on the ‘black list.’ However, if they paid attention to the remarks of the outgoing President of FATF, Marshall Billingslea, they would not be as sanguine.

According to Billingslea, “Pakistan had “significant” work to do and was, with regard to an action plan agreed in June 2018, “lacking in almost every respect. Pakistan was cautioned in February at the plenary that they had missed almost all of their January milestones. And they were urged to not fail to meet the milestones in May. Unfortunately, Pakistan has yet again missed its May milestones. Now the action plan itself is set to complete in September. So this [the June 16-21 Orlando plenary] was not the plenary where we would discuss a blacklisting issue. This was the plenary where we examine how far and how far behind Pakistan is on its action plan … and I must say they are far behind. There is much that must be done by September. If they fail to implement the action plan by September then the FATF has made clear that we will consider next steps.” Further, “Pakistan does not either appreciate or chooses not to acknowledge the transnational, trans-border terrorist financing risk they face. Even though they did issue an addendum, an annex, to their national risk assessment following the February discussion. There are also a number of other structural and legal changes that have to be undertaken, including successful prosecution of terrorist financing cases.”

If Pakistan is placed on the FATF blacklist “which currently only has Iran and North Korea on it, could severely cripple and isolate a country financially, resulting in a downgraded credit rating and denying it loans and development assistance.”

Maybe it is time for Pakistan’s leadership to collectively decide that support for terrorism needs to be given up at all levels and for all time.