The need of the hour

Tariq Khosa

Tariq Khosa’s recent article has gotten under the skin of secret agencies. Earlier this week, the former DG-FIA wrote a piece noting that recently published emails from Hillary Clinton revealed that Gen Kayani had used Maleeha Lodhi as a secret messenger between GHQ and the US government, and asked why this has been virtually ignored while the ‘memogate’ fiasco, which proved to be a drama invented to attack the PPP government. Khosa’s point is a simple one: “No one has the courage to ask the military elite some tough questions.” As if determined to prove his point, nameless, faceless agency men are now accusing Khosa saab of ‘maligning‘ and ‘targeting’ agencies.

The question we must ask ourselves is if asking hard questions amounts to ‘maligning’ institutions. Nobody believes it is ‘maligning’ political parties to ask hard questions about their links to criminal gangs. Nobody believes it is ‘maligning’ NGOs to ask hard questions about where they get their funding. So why is asking hard questions only ‘maligning’ one particular institution? Do we honestly believe that the security establishment should be above the law?

Some will argue that there is a right way and a wrong way to ask questions, especially about sensitive institutions like security agencies. However, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and reports of the National Command Authority meeting this week once again prove that the pudding bowl is empty. Once again, all the civilian and military leaders got together and the only thing that could be reported was “full confidence” and “congratulations”.

Those anonymous agency men whose feelings got hurt by Tariq Khosa’s article claimed that criticism “pleases external forces that look at the present inter-institution harmony especially the one-page status of civilian and military leadership in Pakistan with scepticism”. If our leadership can do nothing but congratulate itself while the country faces existential threats, what sane person would not have a healthy sceptisism? Did these agency men ever consider whether Tariq Khosa’s scepticism “pleases external forces” because they are relieved that somebody in the country with the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal is willing to give an honest assessment?

Tariq Khosa’s words are not maligning or targeting security agencies. They are trying to help them. Pakistan is facing attacks from internal and external enemies. Our ability to respond is severely limited by internal dysfunction. The need of the hour is not leaders who willing to sit around and congratulate each other, it is leaders who are willing to ask the hard questions necessary to get the country back on track.

Evidence Against Indian Terrorism: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

In January, government sources reported that Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel “presented evidence to the United States (US) which shows India’s involvement in the various terrorist incidents that have occurred in Pakistan”. However when asked by reporters about this evidence, the US appeared puzzled and said they were unaware of any delivery.

Now questions about the reality of evidence are not coming from Washington, they are coming from Islamabad.

The Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs was told on Thursday that dossiers given to the United States and United Nations Secretary General on India’s alleged involvement in terrorism in Pakistan did not contain ‘material evidence’.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, which met with Senator Nuzhat Sadiq in the chair, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said the dossiers instead contained the “pattern and narrative” of Indian involvement.

Sadly, this report did not surprise anyone. When official photos were released of the dossiers being delivered, many commented that it didn’t look like there was much there.

Maleeha Lodhi delivers dossiers on Indian involvement

Creating more confusion, though, was that the same day that media reported Sartaj Aziz’s statement about lack of material evidence, the same media also reported a statement by Foreign Office Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah that “the dossiers contain ‘hard’ and ‘irrefutable’ evidence”.

Which is the truth? Which is a lie? Both Sartaj Aziz and Qazi Khalilullah cannot both be correct. Either there is irrefutable evidence or there isn’t. Both are government officials of the same government, and both are singing a different tune. It is sadly something that we have become immune to. We know we are being misled, but we allow it as long as we are being misled to believe what we want to believe instead of having to face any reality that we don’t like.

The reality of the mysterious dossiers is known only to government high ups in Pakistan and US. The only thing we can know of them is what we are told. In Pakistan, what we are told is contradictory. Maybe to find the truth we should look at what the reaction has been from Washington…which is nothing.

Misrepresentation and the UN General Assembly

Nawaz Sharif at UN General AssemblyPrime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed the United Nations General Assembly and satisfied critics who threatened the government would fall if the he did not make Kashmir a front and centre pillar of his speech. The PM dutifully read his script and newspaper headlines boldly quoted him as terming India a threat to world peace and demanding a plebiscite in Indian-held Kashmir. Well, our newspapers did. As for the rest of the world? Nobody seems to have paid the least attention. Continue reading

Reputation and Repercussions

Maleeha Lodhi at UN

Despite the efforts of China to protect us from living up to our promises regarding economic sanctions against terrorists, the Financial Actions Task Force (FATF) has announced that it will be closely monitoring Pakistan’s enforcement of sanctions on designated terrorist groups through the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG). Specifically mentioned were Hafiz Saeed, Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, and Dawood Ibrahim.

This latest announcement follows recent reports that supposed economic sanctions are having virtually no effect on banned groups in Pakistan, including Hafiz Saeed openly mocking the idea that government can do anything to stop him.

“I meet thousands of people every day, I am open and among them,” he said, laughing at his office in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.

And the government has been equally timid in the face of Hafiz Saeed’s lieutenant, the convicted terrorist Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

“A lot of questions are raised, that ‘so and so’ is roaming free, or ‘so and so’ is speaking [publically], but that is not part of what listing of an individual entails,” said Tasneem Aslam, spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office.

“There is no bar on moving within the country. There is no bar on speaking, and there is no requirement of keeping people behind bars.”

It seems the world’s patience for these double games is running out, and this just at the moment when we would like to plead our own case before the UN.

Rumours of Indian support for subversive activities reached new heights with the publication of BBC’s story that MQM received funding and training from India, and now Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi has reportedly been summoned to Islamabad to discuss presenting our case before the global forum. This is an important move and one that should have been taken earlier if we have actual proof. However, that proof must be more than simply a BBC report. There are two reasons for this.

First reason is that everyone has already seen the BBC report – it is already one week old – and the allegations are nothing new. The ‘authoritative Pakistani source’ appears to be none other than MQM’s Tariq Mir, and that too is hardly likely to impress anyone at the UN. Let us be honest: We have a credibility problem, largely due to the reasons noted in the first part of this post. We have a proven history of telling the world one thing and then doing, well, something a little different if it suits us. If we take our complaint about India’s subversive activities without strong proofs while we are facing strong criticism over terrorism, it will be embarrassing and only worsen our already suffering reputation.

This brings us to the second reason why we need more than BBC’s report: If we insist on the authenticity of BBC’s story about Indian activities, what will we say about other BBC reports that are not so kind to our own activities such as the documentary ‘Secret Pakistan’ that claims that Pakistan is playing a double game and supporting terrorists.

Or the BBC report that says Pakistan is prepared to sell nuclear weapons to Saudi Arabia?

If we walk into the UN and demand action based on one BBC report, we must be prepared to answer serious and uncomfortable questions about other BBC reports.

If we have evidence of India’s involvement in supporting subversive activities, we should present that evidence before the UN. We must also be prepared to answer why we are only doing so now. Most importantly, the evidence we present must be fool proof and our presentation must be made with the understanding that we our making our case having just had our own reputation for reliability put in doubt by the UN Security Council.

Is Maleeha Lodhi The Next Colin Powell?

Will Maleeha Lodhi be the next Colin Powell?

Maleeha Lodhi is in an unforunate position. Less than eight weeks ago she was appointed as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, a great honour, with a special mission to advance Pakistan’s position on Kashmir. While there she has taken a strong position that “peace needed a fast, not a slow track“. Her attempts at diplomacy at the UN are being openly undermined, however, by the words and actions from certain quarters back home.

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