Getting even with the security establishment?


What happened in village Shadi Khan, Attock, on Sunday is a measure of the gravity of threat of terrorism the country faces today.

The question whether or not the government is prepared to put its heart and mind in the fight against terrorism can be anything but a clear yes, considering that it was on the eve of the nation’s Independence Day and the people of Pakistan were gearing up to celebrate the day with great fervour, nurturing hope they are merging from dark shadows of terrorism and sectarianism that Senator Mushahidullah Khan, then a federal minister for Climate Change, had something else cut out for him: he was to do some point-scoring against Tehreek-e-Insaf on the eve of the Haripur by-election.

Imran’s wife Reham Khan was there on the ground, the day before asking the voters to turn the page on traditional politics. Mushahidullah, too, thought of saying something equally impressive, and for that he was to suggest that the PTI is nothing but somebody’s cat’s paw, and that somebody was the former head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam (Retd).

That his claim against the bona fides of PTI should be noted at home and abroad he chose to speak to the foreign media. And the BBC Urdu Service happened to be his choice. As if the judicial commission’s verdict on the fairness of last general elections was not enough to relieve his government’s itch against the PTI, Mushahidullah wanted his extra pound of flesh.

He told BBC that the then ISI chief was in cohorts with the Imran-Qadri duo and their plan was to capture the Prime Minister’s House in order to create chaos during which both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif would be removed from their offices.

If what Senator Mushahidullah said was from the script one is not sure. But the fact remains that this is not the first time one has heard of about this charge. Earlier this year, the Defence Minister, Khwaja Asif had accused former ISI chiefs, General Pasha and Zaheerul Islam of plotting to pack up the Nawaz Sharif government.

Then there have been some oblique hints about this over the last some weeks by other ministers. The only departure from the past now being the stiff denials of conspiracy issued by the Prime Minister’s House and the ISPR. While the government has disowned the Senator’s claim and accepted his resignation, the ISPR says “the story about any tape recording as being discussed in the media is totally baseless, unfounded and farthest from truth…

Such rumours are irresponsible and unprofessional”. But how come a full year on, with PTI dharna now history and Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam no more in uniform, the PML (N) keeps its anti-military mindset on the boil. Is it then symptomatic of the party chief’s perceived long-embedded desire to get even with the security establishment?

Accepted, Nawaz Sharif could not put up with army chiefs like General Asif Nawaz and Jahangir Karamat. That is no more the case – he could not get a more cooperative military setup as now. But having said this, one can’t help discerning the distinction between the performance of the two sides, both at planning and execution levels that so thickly permeates the public perception. While people come onto the streets protesting long hours of loadshedding, stamping failure of the civilian rulers, they celebrate return of peace and tranquillity in the wake of military’s success in taming the demons of terrorism and extremism. It is the time that the government should focus on today and think of tomorrow than to remain embedded in the past and nurse a grudge against the military. One would have expected of minister for climate change to think of Chitral and visit the areas of excessive snow melt consequent to global warming and make purposeful proposals. But instead, Mushahidullah decided to hark the unsavoury past and wash the dirty linen in full view of international media.