By Sajjad Shaukat
Unlike the past, the arena of aggression has changed. In the present era, different lethal weapons such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts and targeted killings used by the enemy coupled with techniques of psychological warfare like propaganda, creation of divisions among government institutions, politicians, general masses etc. can be more harmful in damaging the interest of a country.
As part of the new aggression, Pakistan has become special target of the internal and external threats, facing multiple crises created by the United States, India and Israel through their secret agencies like CIA, RAW and Mossad which are in connivance to destabilize Pakistan as it is the only ‘nuclearsied’ country in the Islamic World.
There is a co-relationship of internal and external developments against Pakistan. In this connection, particularly, after the US raid in Abbottabad, in which its commandos killed Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011 by violating the sovereignty of the country, US-led India and Israel have intensified their subversive activities against Pakistan coupled with anti-Pakistan propaganda. Last year’s naval base attack in Karachi, revival of blame game against Pak Army and ISI about their alleged support to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network, intermittent cross-border attacks by heavily armed militants who entered Pakistan from Afghanistan, killing 100 personnel of the security forces, acceleration of ethnic violence in Karachi and Balochistan, and deliberate US-led NATO air strikes on Pak Army outposts which killed 24 soldiers in the Mohamand agency—all are part of the same foreign game against the integrity of Pakistan.
Meanwhile, US-led Indo-Israeli lobbies which are well-penetrated in America and Europe have been manipulating every issue in distorting the image of Pakistan, its army and intelligence agency, ISI. In this context, within a year, more than 200 articles were published in western newspapers and magazines against our security agencies.
In this respect, we cannot see the memogate issue in isolation as it is also part of the same foreign game against the national security of Pakistan. While Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI Chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha have left it to the Supreme Court to decide the memogate case. But it is most regrettable that our rulers, some political leaders and their affiliated media anchors, prior to the verdict of the Court have started blaming army and ISI over the case directly or indirectly, while using contradictory statements in this respect—sometimes advising the government to observer restraint by avoiding any confrontation with the military, sometimes creating the impression that army can take over the country by sabotaging the democratic process.
Notably, while addressing the meeting of National Defence Committee of the Cabinet on January 14 this year, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said that all “patriotic people have stood fully behind the brave armed forces and security personnel…their heroic services in the defence of the motherland.” He repeatedly rejected that there was any rift between the civil government and the army. His statement is quite contrary to his recent interview to a China’s newspaper in which he had criticized Lt. Gen. Kayani and ISI DG Lt. Gen. Pasha for filing court papers regarding the memogate case as illegal and not through proper channel.
However, on January 11, ISPR press release stated that prime minister’s recent interview to a Chinese daily may have “very serious consequences for the country.” It said that COAS and DG ISI were cited as respondents in the petitions and the Supreme Court served notices directly to them. And their replies were sent to the Ministry of Defence for onward submission to the Court through Attorney General. Reuters indicated that during his meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari on January 14, Gen. Kayani demanded clarification about the remarks of Prime Minister Gilani and asked for its withdrawal. But the government rejected this report of the foreign agency.
Nevertheless, in the recent past, even Prime Minister Gilani had also pointed out that replies of Gen. Kayani and Gen. Shuja Pasha about memogate issue are in accordance with the rule of business. But on December 22, 2011, while hinting towards army and ISI, Gilani had allegedly revealed that conspiracies were being hatched to topple the democratically elected government, and state within state would not be tolerated.
On the other side, on December 23, General Kayani replied, “The Pakistan Army will continue to support democratic process in the country.” He explained that the army was fully cognizant of its constitutional responsibilities, while dispelling the speculations of any military takeover, saying that these were to divert the focus from the real issues. The army chief emphasized that the issues of national security need to be considered on merit alone, and there could be no compromise in this regard.
Surprisingly, some political leaders and members of the civil societies and media anchors have highly appreciated the statement of Gen. Kayani, while some of them have still maligned army and ISI in this connection. In this context, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif strongly condemned the statements by the Pakistan People’s Party leadership against the army, stating that it was unfortunate that Pakistani rulers were talking in the idiom of the worst enemies of the country and were engaged in nefarious attempts to strengthen the hands of anti-Pakistan forces through baseless and unfounded allegations.
Opposite to Shahbaz Sharif’s statement, President of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Nawaz Sharif allegedly said on December 23, 2011 that he was ready for dialogue with other political parties for a permanent end to role of army and ISI in the affairs of government. On December 15, Opposition Leader of the PML (N) Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and ANP parliamentarian Bushra Gohar demanded for resignation of the ISI director general over his alleged plot to oust the PPP government as alleged by Mansoor Ijaz, an American businessman of Pakistani origin who is the central character of the memo. On December 19, Chaudhry Nisar stated neither any undemocratic setup nor martial law would be accepted. JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also blamed without naming army and ISI that role of establishment in the affairs of the state must come to an end.
It is mentionable that on December 21, ISPR Spokesman Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas rejected this baseless report, portrayed in ‘The Independent’, which blamed that DG ISI Lt. Gen. Pasha visited some Arab countries for permission to sack President Zardari.
Now leaders of PML (N), JUI-F and some other political parties have changed their tone to some extent by criticizing the rulers instead of Army. Nawaz Sharif is seeking an alliance with JUI-F and Jamat-i-Islami to pressurize the government for immediate announcement of elections, otherwise to launch long march in this respect.
In fact, either it is memogate case or any other issue, some Pakistan’s political parties disrepute country’s key security intuitions so as to increase their vote bank. In this respect, leaders of the PML (N) and Jamat-i-Islami have repeatedly targeted the Pak Army and ISI. Same is true in case of pro-American human rights activist Asma Jahangir including journalists like Hamid Mir and Najam Sethi who have always implicated our army and ISI so as to please their foreign paymasters.
It is our misfortune that the high officials of the US-led India, some western countries and their media have created a hostile phenomenon in Pakistan by inciting the general masses against the security forces and ISI through ‘stereotypes.’ Pakistan’s common men are swayed by the prejudices created by the political leaders who have kept on manipulating any crisis for their own self-interests—have now started tarnishing the image of country’s security agencies in order to gain their sympathies to increase their voting lists. But they do not think that their remarks benefit Pakistan’s foreign enemies who avail any controversial issue like the memogate case to create division not only among the political rulers and leaders, but also between the civil and military institutions.
Pakistan’s rulers and politicians must take note of the fact that the strategic partnership of India and US has multiple objectives in this region. They have evil designs against Pakistan, Pak Army and ISI which has a clear vision of Indo-US nexus. This nexus considers Pakistan Army and ISI as the real hurdle in attainment of their goals. So it is regrettable that instead of countering the plot of these external enemies, our own political elements, civil rulers and media anchors have been unconsciously providing the US and India with another chance to create unrest in Pakistan through the memogate issue.
Nonetheless, at this critical juncture, Pakistan’s political and religious parties including media anchors must display strong sense of unity not only among themselves, but also with the Army and ISI in order to thwart the nefarious designs of external elements against the integrity of the country. They are requested not to strengthen the hands of Pakistan’s enemy through their irresponsible approach.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations