That media is not asking WHY Mansoor Ijaz, the steno and bearer of the ‘blasphemous’ memo, took a u--turn at a critical juncture of military-civilian and US-Pakistan relations is raising questions in Pakistan’s logical minds. That the chief of ISI general Shuja Pasha personally visits Mr Ijaz in London in the last week of October 2011to collect the evidence regarding the memo--shows the urgency of the matter. That the chief of the powerful military General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani holds two meetings in two consecutive days with the President Asif Ali Zardari on the issue--speaks of the rage and revenge in the GHQ.
The guy is gone and Islamabad lost an elegant lobbyist for Pakistan’s democracy in the world powerful capital Washington DC. Hussain Haqqani, the vocal ambassador Pakistan ever had in DC, was forced to resign for his smartness after his interrogation session with the military chief General Kayani, ISI chief General Pasha, and attended by President Zardari and Premier Gilani on November 23, 2011.
The memo saga, the killing of al-Qededa chief Osama bin Laden (OBL) in Pakistan’s garrison city Abbottabad and finding out the terribly tortured dead body of journalist Saleem Shehzad one day in a small river near Islamabad are the latest eye-openers to ‘non-believers’ in military might of Pakistan. It showed how powerful the few civilian leaders are when it comes to confront the interests of the GHQ.
The four star generals’ agility and their personal brisk movements in dealing with the blasphemous memo are unique in its nature. The military urgency in question was not visible in other high profile international level nasty surprises.
Pakistanis have unfortunately didn’t read a ticker nor viewed a footage on their TV screens showing the ISI chief visiting OBL compound in Abbottabad to collect the evidence how the top terrorist managed a mansion at a stone throw distance from the state of the art military academy despite international pressure. The four star generals didn’t feel the need responding to questions on the brutal killing of late Shehzad, author of the book “Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11”.
On the assassination of the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, the army chief General Kayani declined to publicly condemn Taseer’s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He was quoted telling the Western ambassadors in January 2011 in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathize with the killer, and showed them a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer’s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. He thought a public statement could endanger the army’s unity. (The then governor of Punjab was for amending the controversial blasphemy law and was gunned down by his bodyguard in Islamabad).
With this mindset in the GHQ, supported by mainstream right-wing media and political leaders of the likes of Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qurish (no need to mention all factions of the Muslim League, Jama’t-e-Islami and scores of Jehadi organizations), the content of the memo can hardly be questioned. While the intentions of Mansoor Ijaz, who accuses the ambassador Haqqani for dictating him the script, are not yet clear, the whole narrative proves in practice what the memo tries to explain in words.
Probing the ambassador for his alleged involvement in the ‘memogate’ is perhaps not the right course, as said by the federal minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour. The powerful military, rather, needs to satisfy the nation that it has no intention of derailing the current democratic system. In Pakistan, it is always the civilian governments and leaders that face the military coups and kangaroo courts. The fears of democratic forces are, therefore, real and expression of those qualms should not be treated as sacrilegious nor as an excuse for showing exit to the civilian leaders.