The tell-tale signs


As the end nears, there are symptoms of cracking up

With the passage of time, the trail of the notorious memo is being traced to the May 2 incident and the possible role that Hussain Haqqani and his associates may have played in the attack at Abbottabad to get Osama bin Laden. The political leadership’s immediate response to that assault had manifested through the president’s article that appeared in the US media the next day carrying the indelible marks of Hussain Haqqani’s pen. It was also reiterated in the congratulatory message that the government had sent to the US authorities.

The entire tenure of the incumbent government has been plagued in controversy. But, every report of corruption and every adverse injunction of the judiciary have only elicited a standard response of “innocence” from the accused. By all independent appraisals, the memo scandal, too, would have gone the same way, but the nature and gravity of the contents were such that the military and the security hierarchy got involved and the pieces have since started to fall in place. The first scalp is that of the (now former) ambassador to the US. Are more likely to fall in due course?

I was amazed to hear the prime minister proclaiming that he had sought the resignation from Hussain Haqqani to ensure a ‘fair and transparent enquiry’. If that be so, why didn’t he demand resignation from Amin Fahim when he was accused of graft in the NICL scam, or Babar Awan, or Latif Khosa and so many others of his close associates who have all been accused of corruption? Also, why didn’t he resign himself whenever fingers were pointed in the direction of the PM House? Let me state the reason: it is the military and security agencies’ leadership that demanded the former ambassador’s resignation, not the president or the prime minister. Well, life really has changed with the memo and may never ever revert to the comforts of the past when every scandal could be pushed under the carpet, every accusation of corruption rubbished and every injunction of the judiciary consigned to the bin. Things are looking far more serious and also appear headed towards their logical finale. With the swift progress in the NRO Review and the RPPs cases, the ruling political mafia may be having some sleepless nights in their hitherto ‘protected’ havens.

What is also important is the line of command that the ousted ambassador followed. He did not report to the foreign secretary as he was supposed to. Instead, his boss resided in the presidency. Our high commissioner to the UK, the one of the Swiss burglary fame who was caught getting away with cartons of material on the notorious case, is also used to following the same line of command. Former ambassador Haqqani is reported to have visited the UK prior to the raid in Abbottabad. The dots may have begun to connect and there are legitimate demands that his name be put on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The resignation would not have been sought if credible and implicating evidence had not been provided by the security agencies. But the critical question that arises is that, in the event the former ambassador’s complicity is proven in the case of the memo, or it is traced to May 2, could he have acted alone? How could an ambassador outline the contours of a radical shift of national policy impacting the civilian and the military structures and operational mechanisms of the country without the involvement and approval of his boss/es? That’s where the chain of command that the former ambassador followed may come in handy to haunt the ruling political mafia.

There appears little logic in the prime minister’s contention that the government enjoyed good relations with the US and if it wanted to communicate any such message, direct channels could have been used. Sources privy to such communications contend that direct channels are not even contemplated for any contentious moves as the perpetrators would run the risk of being swiftly identified. In such cases, services of facilitating ‘agents’ are hired to do the needful. Our leadership did not have to look outside as it has numerous dubious characters within its fold, ala ambassador Haqqani, to do its bidding. The treacherous trail that he has followed through his life in moving from one position to the next and the swiftness with which he has sacrificed his benefactors at the altar of personal aggrandisement made the former ambassador a perfect choice.

In spite of the evidence that is unfolding rapidly, the prime minister has the audacity to claim on the floor of the house that the government and the military leadership are on the same page. Obviously, they are not. In fact, by all indications, they are in the opposite camps. The military is insisting on a transparent enquiry with an objective to unearthing the conspirators behind the move while the political leadership, afraid of the outcome, is dithering endlessly on the formation of an independent commission to initiate the investigation.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had appealed to the Chief Justice to take suo motu notice of the case while PML(N) has taken the matter to the Supreme Court. This is so because the government is left with no credibility to conduct such an enquiry owing to countless acts of complicity in matters of corruption, abdication of governance and systematic destruction of all state institutions. The judiciary having fought off the aggressive government onslaughts to subdue it remains the only viable channel for seeking justice.

There is pressure building on the government as it shows visible symptoms of cracking up. There is also the NRO case, the NICL scam and the RPPs bombshell which are likely to explode soon. Apparently, the government has nowhere to hide itself!

The writer is a political analyst and a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. He can be reached at [email protected]