Zardari Making Hafiz Saeed Irrelevant

Is Hafiz Saeed so sad because he is no longer relevant?The big news this week has been the $10 million bounty offered by the US for Hafiz Saeed. The response was predictable. Hafiz Saeed taunted the Americans at a press conference near GHQ. And reactionary media talking heads like Javed Chaudhry took a break from defending acid attackers to defend Hafiz Saeed. And, of course, DPC’s Keyboard Commandos were out in full force defending Saeed’s ‘honour’. In other words, the Americans managed to do for Hafiz Saeed what he could not do for himself – get attention.

Which is too bad, because while Hafiz Saeed is bathing in the lime light, there’s actually something interesting going on that will have a greater effect on national security and Pakistan-India relations than Hafiz Saeed and his band of merry raiders could ever dream of. I am referring, of course, to President Zardari’s trip to India.

While PTI and Hafiz Saeed’s Difa-e-Pakistan are upset that India is not sending its hockey team to Pakistan, the president is not allowing such minor issues get in the way of improving relations. Actually, if India not sending its hockey team is the worst example these hard line right-wingers can come up with, I would say we’ve already made a lot of progress.

And progress seems to be going on despite all attempts by right-wing elements to maintain the status quo. According to a report by BBC, the president’s trip is being appreciated widely in India where it demonstrates an effort to move beyond the past ways of confrontation to one of respect and appreciation of mutual interests.

Indian PM Manmohan Singh and President Asif Zardari

“Under Mr Zardari’s watch, India and Pakistan are considering a sweeping agenda for economic co-operation for the first time in decades. The prime minister has every reason to welcome Mr Zardari warmly and consider the next steps in consolidating the unexpected movement in bilateral relations,” the Indian Express wrote.

Analyst C Raja Mohan believes Mr Singh must make an official trip to Pakistan after his meeting with Mr Zardari. “For his part,” he wrote, “Mr Singh should convey to Mr Zardari his readiness to move as fast and as far as the Pakistan president is willing to go.” Others like Jyoti Malhotra actually find Mr Zardari’s visit to the shrine of a famous Sufi Muslim saint in Rajasthan loaded with symbolism in these troubled times. “Clearly, Mr Zardari has stolen an imaginative moment from the bitter-sullen history of India-Pakistan, by asking to come to pay his respects to a cherished and much-beloved saint across the Indian subcontinent,” she wrote.

Is it any wonder that PTI and Difa-e-Pakistan are upset? If President Zardari continues to ease tensions and build trust between our two nations, it is much more likely that important issues like Kashmir will be solved. And if issues like Kashmir are solved and the India bogey goes away, guys like Hafiz Saeed and the other status quo religious parties will be out of a job.

On Tuesday night, Najam Sethi predicted that President Zardari has already achieved a historic breakthrough, but that it is being kept under wraps because of fear that groups like Difa-e-Pakistan will try to wreck the process before it is complete. According to Sethi, part of the agreement involves removing Indian troops from Siachen.

While this is exactly what Pakistan wants and needs, it is exactly the opposite of what Hafiz Saeed and other right-wingers want. They want the status quo – an eternal standoff with India. Otherwise, they are completely irrelevant.

Hafiz Saeed is loving every minute of the attention that is being lavished on him. The gazi wanna be is even begging the US to carry out a military raid against him. Something that is not likely to happen, however, because it seems that Hafiz Saeed simply doesn’t matter anymore.

Part the dark clouds, let the sun shine in

Light Shining Through CloudsPM has convened an independent commission to investigate the Abbottabad incident and ascertain the full facts regarding the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. This is a commendable decision and one that should be fully backed by those whose primary concern is truth and justice. It is time that we part the dark clouds hanging over the nation and let the sun shine in.

The 2/5 operation may have come at the first of the month, but the past few weeks have been a string of incidents. After Abbottabad we saw the terrorist attack on PNS Mehran. We saw suicide bombings almost daily. Yesterday the sad news was announced that the body of another journalist was found tortured to death. Surrounding each of these incidents has been an aura of suspicion, doubt, and conspiracy. This is not unusual and may even be considered as ‘status quo’. When tragedy strikes, it is hard to part the dark clouds to see clearly.

But these tragic events are not the only events that have caused confusion. There continue to be questions about visas issued to American nationals, even after the Embassy in Washington has made multiple press statements including providing access to the data on these visas to show that there has been nothing out of the ordinary.

Najam Sethi got the memo and corrected the record on Aapas Ki Baat recently, but obviously this information is not being made widely available since Javed Chaudhry and Shireen Mazari continued to perpetuate the conspiracy on Kal Tak that 7,000 Americans were issued visas without proper security checks.

Drones is another issue that is surrounded by dark clouds of confusion and misinformation. Listening to Imran Khan and others talk about drone attacks, it is easy to come away with the belief that 30,000 innocent Pakistanis have been killed by drones and not one single terrorist. But actually none other than the terrorist leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed by drones. Actually, according to data confirmed by independent news reports, maximum number of drone deaths are militants. This fact was also confirmed by GHQ when General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood said in a briefing earlier this year:

“Myths and rumours about US predator strikes and the casualty figures are many, but it’s a reality that many of those being killed in these strikes are hardcore elements, a sizeable number of them foreigners.

“Yes there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements.”

Never the less, incorrect statements and conspiracies continue about both visa policy and drone strikes. Now we have talking heads on TV telling that Osama bin Laden was not killed at Abbottabad, PNS Mehran attack was a CIA-RAW-al Qaeda conspiracy, and now there are even those saying Saleem Shahzad’s murder was a conspiracy to harm the image of the farishtas in our agencies.

We all know that good Muslisms cannot lie, therefore the people who are perpetuating these statements must be like so many people mistaken due to not having the facts. The only solution to this problem is to have an independent commission verify the facts so that the confusion can be resolved and we can move forward to solve the grave issues facing the nation. Abbottabad is a good place to start since it was the first incident in the past weeks (though surely not the first incident in history).

But we should also convene independent commissions to investigate the other issues also – PNS Mehran, Saleem Shahzad murder, visas, drones etc – and take the nation into confidence so that myths, conspiracies, and confusion can be buried for good. In order to ensure that there is no doubt about the results of these findings, the independent commissions should be open and transparent for all citizens to inspect.

We have been living for too long under the weight of dark clouds. It is time to let the light shine upon the truth. Only then will we fund real justice.