Secret Meetings In Washington: Is PTI sabotaging PM’s UN trip?

US Institute of Peace

PM Nawaz Sharif is in New York for the 70th session of United Nations General Assembly which is scheduled to take place on 30th of this month. As usual, there is much speculation being reported. Will he take a sideline meeting with Modi? Will he give Kashmir a front and center place on the agenda? Will he reveal damning evidence about Indian involvement in terrorism? There have been strong statements coming out of the capital, and expectations are running high. However, some new facts that have not been reported could find the PM meeting some unexpected hostility.

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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…

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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Raid on 90 sign of a dysfunctional system

Pakistan Rangers raid nine zero

Pakistan Rangers raid on MQM headquarters in Karachi has taken over the national discussion. By Wednesday afternoon there were no less than four different hashtags related to the raid trending on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, attitudes are divided about whether the raid was a positive or negative. I find myself in the second camp, not because of any love for MQM but because I think the action will do more harm to democracy and the armed forces than it will against any criminal elements hiding in 90.

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