Will PTI’s Money Trail Lead To Aabpara?

SMQ Javed Hashmi Imran Khan

Rumours have surrounded PTI since its miraculous rise from being essentially of party of one man to the second largest party over the course of a single term. Imran’s popularity has never been in doubt, of course. Actually, he is admired and respected for both his cricket career and equally his charity work even by many who are uncomfortable with his brand of quasi-religious hyper-nationalist politics. So even while he has been surrounded by rumours, they have rarely been about Imran Khan than about his party more generally.

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Foreign Funding and Conspiracies Against Pakistan

foreign fundsAllegations of foreign funding predate independence. What is interesting, however, is how certain allegations rise and fall. A new report by Ansar Abbasi claims to expose another foreign conspiracy against Pakistan, pumping foreign funding into effort to save Shafqat Hussain from execution.

A senior government source said that not only the proof of foreign funding has been secured it has also been confirmed that the purpose of the campaign was to get the death penalty banned in the country by scandalizing and demeaning the country’s criminal justice system.

According to Ansar Abbasi, this claim has been confirmed by intelligence agencies, giving it the seriousness of a national security issue.

There are two strange things about this ‘conspiracy’, though. Actually, most of the world has done away with the death penalty. 53 per cent countries have abolished it completely, and only 18 per cent continue to execute convicts. Interestingly, these countries include US and India, so the usual suspects are off the hook. Even more strange, though, is the claim that whoever is behind this ‘foreign funding’ is trying to get death penalty banned by ‘scandalizing and demeaning the country’s criminal justice system’. Weren’t we recently told by the powers that be that military courts were essential because the criminal justice system wasn’t up to the task of carrying out its duties?

Sadly, while supposed foreign funding behind efforts to stop one killing may be given the seriousness of a national security issue, foreign funding to stop mass killings has gone widely ignored. Saudi Arabia is believed to be funding extremist networks in Pakistan since long, even recruiting children for terrorist groups. Saudi funding is also believed to be behind militant groups like ASWJ that projects hate and sectarian killings.

Why is this foreign funding ignored and tolerated while hue and cry is being raised against death penalty activists? Instead of cracking extremist militant networks responsible for killing thousands of innocent Pakistanis, intelligence agencies are apparently working against human rights NGOs. We have to ask ourselves…what is the point?

Finally, it should be noted that there is even a new case of foreign funding that is only now coming to light, and one that could have very serious consequences for national politics. PTI has been ordered by Elections Commission Pakistan (ECP) to explain certain details of foreign funds that it has received. According to reports, PTI is under suspicion of taking illegal foreign funding and money laundering. Unanswered questions have surrounded Imran Khan’s finances since many years, and this is the first time that any effort has been made to untangle the secret web that has been able to support his massive operations.

Accusations of ‘foreign funding’ are easily made, but difficult to prove. What is more interesting is where these accusations come from and how they are treated. Asnar Abbasi’s report follows the pattern of gutter conspiracy theories: Vague, anonymous accusations that equate criticism of state policy with being anti-Pakistan. Reports of Saudi funding of extremist networks follow a different pattern: They are specific and documented, with only intelligence agencies unable to find any evidence. It will be interesting to see how PTI’s case is treated. Could it be that Imran’s time is up? Or is he merely being reminded that it is not his place to question the military? Only time will tell…

Leaks Galore

spying-on-imran-khan

Saulat Mirza’s alleged death-cell confession has sparked innumerable questions, not only about his sensational allegations, but about how the video was recorded from a jail cell, and how it managed to make its way into the hands of private TV stations. It is believed by many to be part of an attempt to pressurize MQM leaders. Unfortunately, we will never know the answer since the committee formed to answer these questions was suddenly dissolved with no explanation.

Now there is also the leaked recording of an alleged private phone call between Imran Khan and Arif Alvi discussing attack on PTV. Some are claiming that the recording is actually spliced together from different conversations, but as Arif Alvi himself noted on Twitter, the fact is that ‘somebody’ is recording and leaking private phone calls.

Arif Alvi may not want to make any accusations about ‘who’ would be recording his phone calls, but it is not a long list who has the ability to do this. Many believe that intelligence agencies have been recording and documenting everything under the sun in order to blackmail since long. Even the judiciary has allegedly felt the sting of these ‘dirty tricks’ such as when agencies allegedly blackmailed Supreme Court Justices with secret sex tapes during Gen Musharraf regime.

It’s not just secret recordings that are seeing the light of day, either. Earlier this year, an ISI report on extremist ties of Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz was leaked.

ISI report abdul aziz

This one may have been leaked in order to pressurize Lal Masjid, but the problem is that leaks are hard to contain. Abbottabad Commission report which noted that “connivance, collaboration and cooperation at some levels cannot be entirely discounted” was leaked to at the embarrassment of intelligence agencies. Even documents allegedly exposing intelligence agencies secret support for Taliban have even surfaced including this letter from a Taliban commander to Military Intelligence about aiding Taliban supply routes across the border into Afghanistan.

Taliban letter to Pakistan MI

Translation

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan
South West Zone (Helmand province)
Date: May 28, 2008

Respected Brother Janab Usman sahab
Director, Military Intelligence
Assalam-o-Alaikum wa Rahmatullah wa Barkatuhu
Two vehicles which are laden with goods for the Taliban mujahideen brothers are entering Afghanistan through Naushki and Dalbandin. Hope you will secure passage for these two vehicles:
Number plate – Karachi CK 8091
Number plate – Karachi CH 9316
I have sent my representative Mullah Musa. Hope that you will provide assistance.

Mullah Abdur Raheem
Governor, Helmand

Actually, it is not the leaks that are the real problem, it is what these leaks, both the allegedly ‘authorised’ ones and the more embarrassing ones, reveal about agencies activities. As Pakistan faces a serious and existential threat from terrorism, the appearance from alleged leaks is that agencies are more busy playing games than actually securing the country.

First Good Taliban, Bad Taliban. Now Good Drones, Bad Drones.

Pakistan Armed Drones

Policy of distinguishing between ‘Good’ Taliban and ‘Bad’ Taliban is well known. This is denied by the state, of course, but actions speak louder than words and based on the actions of the state apparatus, many believe that, in the words of The Nation, “The government tells us there is no distinction between good and bad terrorists – it lies.” Now, another group has apparently been divided into ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ camps: Drones.

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Nine Zero Raid Just The Beginning?

Pakistan Rangers

Timing of Pakistan Rangers operation against MQM has been linked to election of Senate Chairman, but this appears to be a diversion intended to set political parties against each other. Meanwhile, the larger picture is beginning to take shape as new operations are being discussed. On Thursday, Corps Commander Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar said that operations will be ongoing, and we are beginning to see hints of who might be next.

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