Husain Haqqani Controversy: The Real Cover Up

cover upThe latest controversy surrounding Husain Haqqani continues to grow as different parties try to score some political points. Whether it is PMLN trying to solidify its power, or PPP’s unseemly willingness to turn on one of its own, everyone knows that piling on someone who has openly criticised the Army’s policies towards militants is a low risk proposition. The reality is that this latest episode is nothing but a repeat of past dramas, and like those too nothing will come of it except distracting from the actual problems facing the nation.

As it has already been pointed out, there is not any new information in Haqqani’s latest article. There was never a denial that he issued visas to Americans working for the US government, but as already explained in his statement to the Abbottabad Commission that no unauthorised visas were issued to Americans agents while he was Ambassador. This brings up an important point: There has already been a commission to investigate these claims, and it has already produced a report! However, as always, it has been kept secret from the people opening the door to conspiracy theories and confusion. If there is some great concern over Haqqani’s article, the obvious answer is to follow advice of Justice Javed Iqbal, who headed the Abbottabad Commission and publish the complete report so the people can know the actual findings.

This raises another important point: While we have already had a commission investigate Abbottabad raid, nothing has been done to investigate and explain any of the following:

This is only a partial list of unanswered questions that the state has shown no interest in investigating. Do we have nothing better to do than try to interpret and decode hidden messages in Husain Haqqani’s writings?

In Husain Haqqani’s latest article he gave the example of passing messages between US officials and Pakistan officials. As was obvious to anyone who can read, he was explaining that this is the job of a diplomat – to pass messages back and forth. Nowhere does he say that he issued any unauthorised visas, and no one has shown any evidence that he did. Does the state really want to push things to the limit that records of every visa and who authorised them (including military personnel) are leaked to the public?

The obvious next step is not to constitute a new commission but to release to the public the report already compiled by Abbottabad Commission and once again face the inevitable questions about how Osama bin Laden was able to enter Pakistan and live next door to PMA Kakul without ever being noticed by our own agencies. Next we can answer questions about why officials continue to accuse civilians of treason for any contacts with CIA when it is well known that most cooperation was with Army and ISI agents and not civilians. Most importantly, though, we must stop allowing this pathetic political point scoring to continue as cover up for the lies and failures of state policy that continue to plague our nation and cause the deaths of hundreds of innocents.

Is the state setting itself up for another international embarrassment?

InterpolLast week, government suffered another embarrassment when Interpol refused its request to issue a red warrant against MQM founder Altaf Hussain saying it does not involve itself in politics. By giving this explanation, the global law enforcement agency has essentially said that the charges against Altaf Hussain are purely political and are not backed by actual evidences. However, government officials appear to have learned nothing from this as they have already approached Interpol for another red warrant, this time against Baloch nationalist leader Brahumdagh Bugti and his aide Sher Mohammad Bugti, who have been granted asylum in Switzerland due to life threats.

Brahamdagh BugtiThe question must be asked why officials are so determined to get their hands on these political leaders who they have already driven out of the country rather than trying to find a political solution to political problems? As Interpol has confirmed, these are cases of politics, not law enforcement and national security. It should be noted that the global police agency has been willing to issue red warrants against actual militants like Maulana Masood Azhar when there is adequate evidence presented.

Maulana Masood Azhar Red WarrantOne cannot help but think of another case when state officials tried to convince international agencies to accept their narrative, only to fall flat on the global stage: The infamous ‘dossiers‘ on Indian involvement in terrorism. Instead of trying to convince the rest of the world to accept our national security narrative, state officials should be working to find political solutions to political disagreements, and save law enforcement resources for cracking down on actual militants.

 

Another case against MQM falls apart

The script is a familiar one by now. LEAs carry out a major raid. Media broadcasts images of political workers being loaded into the back of trucks. Weapons are displayed in photographs while anchors offer grave warnings about foreign agents destabilising the country. The report makes a strong impression, but do we ever ask what happens to these stories? Over and over again we are seeing them fall apart.

In October, three MQM workers arrested and accused of being RAW agents were quietly acquitted by the ATC who noted that prosecutors were totally unable to establish cases against the accused. Then we saw Scotland Yard drop cases against Altaf Hussain himself due to absence of evidence.

Now another major case has fallen apart before our eyes. Just a few weeks ago media was reporting that a major terror bid was thwarted by a raid on a political party in Karachi with RAW links (no extra points for guessing who they meant) that uncovered a massive weapons cache. One month later, however, police themselves were asking the court to suspend the investigation due to lack of evidence.

The plea was submitted by an investigation officer in Karachi’s anti-terrorism court on Tuesday, the plea also requested the court to categorise the case as ‘A-Class’ as police officials failed to produce and submit any substantial evidence.

“Police officials failed to produce and submit any substantial evidence.” It’s the same story over and over again. What’s not known is whether any of these cases were manufactured dramas to chip away at the reputation of MQM. Whatever the truth is, it is certain that these cases have chipped away at the reputation of law enforcement agencies and made them appear to be on a political witch hunt against a particular political party.

 

Time for a new strategy in Karachi

MQM

After the high profile raids, the media circus, the declarations from the highest corridors of power, the charges fell flat. Over the weekend an Anti-Terrorism Court acquitted Tahir, alias Lamba, Junaid Khan and Imtiaz, all MQM workers who were accused of being RAW agents and charged with having explosives and illicit weapons.

The court ruled that the prosecution remained totally unable to establish the cases against the accused persons beyond any shadow of the doubt.

This is only the latest failure in the state’s efforts to destroy MQM. Just a few days ago, Scotland Yard announced that it had dropped money laundering investigations against Altaf Hussain due to lack of evidence.

I can understand the state’s frustration. After accusing of treason, mass arrests, demolishing offices, and even admitted torture, MQM simply will not go away. MQM continues to be elected and the state continues to have to mobilise Rangers to prevent MQM rallies.

It is clear that despite the best efforts of some, MQM continues to enjoy support among a large part of Karachi. This raises the question, instead of trying to squeeze people into submission, why don’t we think of how to take them into confidence? Instead of dividing ourselves against each other, shouldn’t we be trying to unite? I am not saying that MQM is an innocent lamb, but I am saying that they are our brothers and when your brother is feeling estranged isn’t it better to invite him home and listen to his troubles?

Karachi is integral part of Pakistan, and mohajirs are integral part of our life’s blood. We need to heal our nation, not divide it further. We need to embrace our brothers, not suffocate them.

Pakistani media: a noise box

Shaharyar Niazi on Geo

Due to the “absence of adequate evidence”, the Scotland Yard cleared, MQM chief Altaf Hussain in the money laundering case. According to Pakistan media, Metropolitan Police confirmed it that the investigation into the money laundering case against the MQM chief and others has been concluded.

Altaf Hussain was facing the media trial on the above mentioned case for more than three years. While his case was under investigation by the Law Enforcers of United Kingdom, the electronic media in Pakistan had convicted him with the crime.

Pakistani electronic media especially the evening talk shows are losing the credibility among the viewers. They have become more like a noise box than informative medium for the public. When it comes to journalistic ethics and norms, Pakistan electronic media has opted it out for the choice “Pay as you go” trend. The International Journal of Communication from the University of Southern California did a study called “Beyond the Western masses: Demography and Pakistani Media Credibility Perception” based on survey. The study examined Pakistani media’s credibility among the people of Pakistan with respect to their ethnic backgrounds. They found out that ethnicity is a key indicator in predicting media credibility. According to their result, the minority ethnic groups tend to find domestic television to be less credible, and international television to be more credible, than do members of the majority Punjabi group. In the study, “local television” was used for any type of television channel run by government or private media companies and serviced through aerial or cable/satellite connections in Pakistan, distinguishable from international television. But according to survey, in Pakistan the International media like CNN, BBC, and Al-Jazeera has smaller audiences as compared to Urdu-speaking channels.

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