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.

Saving Our National Pride: We Must Remove Extremists From The Ranks

Pakistan Army

In 2011, terrorists attacked PNS Mehran with help from inside the military. In 2012, terrorists carried out a brazen operation that freed nearly 400 prisoners from Bannu jail. The militant commander who planned the attack said it was a success thanks to inside help. Later that same year, Brig Ali Khan and four other Army officers were convicted over links to extremist groups. And now, terrorists have attacked Karachi Naval Dockyard, again with inside help. These are only a few examples, but they are more than enough to point to a pattern, and more insidiously, a serious national security crisis.

Since long, Army spokesman and their surrogates have rejected concerns about extremist infiltration in the military as something that cannot happen due to the strict policies and procedures for identifying such risks. But there is no explanation for how the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden was able to live and run his operation in the shadow of PMA Kakul. If it is not possible for terrorists and their sympathisers to infiltrate the military, how is it that the terrorists continue to carry out attacks with inside help?

Army is our national pride. When something is said that seems to cast that pride in a light, our natural response is to immediately reject it. This is natural, but it is not healthy, nor is it helpful. If a doctor discovers a cancer in someone we love, we do not call them liar and demand that such is impossible. Rather we come to accept the painful reality and do the needful which is to have the cancer removed so that the patient may be saved.

We love our Army. Let’s save it before it’s too late.

UPDATE: NAVY OFFICIALS ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH TERRORIST ATTACK

A security official, who requested anonymity, told Dawn.com that acting on intelligence reports, security forces conducted raids in the outskirts of Quetta and picked up three suspects.

“The suspects are Navy officials,” he added, giving no details about their ranks.

They were shifted to Karachi on a plane from Quetta for further interrogation.

The suspects were trying to escape to Afghanistan, when they were intercepted by security forces.

Kayani’s Legacy: Myth and Reality

Samiul Haq, Tahir Ashrafi, Gen Kayani

Gen Kayani’s imminent retirement has resulted in a surge in two related parlour games: Wistful speeches about the outgoing  Army chief’s place in history and the wishful thinking about who the incoming Army chief will be and how he will continue Kayani’s legacy of saving Pakistan. Whoever the new COAS will be is known only to one man right now, and he isn’t talking. But it is worth taking a moment to reflect on Gen Kayani’s legacy, both the myths and the reality.

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Has the military lost control?

Gen Hamid Gul with jihadi militants

Despite losing over 3,000 soldiers and 40,000 civilians, there was always some confidence that GHQ had a plan and that, when the final accounting was complete, Pakistan would be stronger and better positioned. Use of jihadi groups as proxy fighters in Afghanistan and Kashmir may have resulted in some tallies in the liability column, but these would be more than made up for in the final summing of the assets column. Since the past few weeks, however, the wheels seem to have come off and security analysts are quietly pondering the unthinkable: Has the military lost control?

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Dr Afridi’s Conviction

Dr Afridi convicted

Dr Shakil Afridi was sentenced to 33 years on Wednesday for helping the CIA locate Osama bin Laden. Dr Afridi was convicted by a tribal court on anti-state activities charges, and some are saying that his being charged under FCR instead of the Pakistan Criminal Code (CPRC) saved his life from a death penalty for treason. There is a debate to be had about whether the conviction was fair – Osama bin Laden was not an agent of Pakistan, so how can helping to find him be considered “anti-state activity”? But today I want to discuss a different question that is raised by the conviction.

While Dr Afridi was charged with “anti-state activities”, and routinely described as guilty of treason against Pakistan, another court handed down another set of convictions. In the case of the terrorist attack on PNS Mehran which martyred 12 Pakistani soldiers and destroyed critical national security assets in what officers suspected was an inside job, the punishments were a one-year demotion and two six-months demotions. In one of the most devastating attacks against our national security, the worst punishment is a one-year demotion?

For the next 33 years, Dr Afridi will suffer in prison for his part in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. While the doctor languishes in prison, people responsible for PNS Mehran attack are free. What does this tell about our national security priorities? What does it tell about our system of justice? What does it tell about our chances of ending terrorism in the country?

Former Minister for Law, Justice, Parliamentary Affairs & Human Rights Iqbal Haider observed that “The Mehran Base destruction was not just a loss of our Pak Navy. It was a national loss and it is in our national interest to ensure that none goes unpunished and such dastardly incidents do not occur in the future”.

Courts harass politicians with never ending hearings and trumped up charges, while militants come and go, even collecting taxpayer money while they wait. If we continue to treat terrorists with leniency, giving terrorists more rights than honest citizens. The question lingers…when will our patience run out?