They flew in to Pakistan, landed, killed and left!


WAJID NAEEMUDDIN

 Yes, our close allies in “war against terror” did just that on our soil. Coming within days of a “secret” meeting, on a US warship near our coast, between the US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and our own General Kiyani, in which we received a pat on the back for our part in killing our own people, it makes one wonder if an “understanding” had been reached in the Army-to-Army meeting, that attacks like these were on the cards.

The attack was different from anything that had happened in the past. Three helicopters carrying American soldiers, landed on Pakistani soil in the early hours (4 AM) of the morning of 3 September, in the holy month of Ramazan as people were getting ready for Sehri.

For sheer timing, this was worse than what civilised people do to their enemies, even in warfare. The soldiers got down, and attacked the inmates of a house killing three women and two children among ten members of the families of local people, Payo Jan and Nazar Jan, who, according to neighbours, had no connection with militants.

For good measure, the brave soldiers, apparently in great panic (because they are more happy firing missiles from a safe distance above the clouds than fighting on the ground), also killed ten other bystanders of the neighbourhood, who had come near to see what was happening.

The reaction to the blatant aggressive act by our ally that our worthy Defence Minister could come up with, was a masterpiece of docility, hesitation and indecisiveness. He even appeared to be offering a justification of the attack by saying that there must be some reason behind the attack which would be investigated! Was he momentarily under the delusion that he was representing US?

There was a lot of hot air from our Foreign Minister and a protest was lodged with the US ambassador to Pakistan. The Governor of NWFP expressed anger over the incident and resolutions were passed by Provincial Assemblies condemning the act.

However, as a Persian proverb runs in translation: a beggar’s anger is on himself! American awareness of the total dependence of our leaders on American dole for salvaging the country’s flagging economy, rather than on bold, courageous and innovative steps and a spirit of belt-tightening and sacrifice till things got better, makes that country treat us like dirt.

What can we expect other than this from a leadership which is itself under the stigma of alleged corruption? Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State, apparently in her reaction to the incident remarked cryptically that America is “working very closely with the civilian government”. The response of our “civilian government” to this categorical statement, is still awaited.

Soon after the visit to America of our Prime Minister Gilani, to meet President Bush, I had ventured to suggest that having taken full measure of our leadership and its moral fiber, through this visit and otherwise, America would not hesitate to intrude more openly, more frequently and more violently into our tribal areas. As if to prove the point there were two more incidents of American aggression on our soil following the one above.

On Thursday a missile fired from an unmanned plane hit a house in Mohammad Khel killing at least five and on Friday three children and two women were killed when a spy plane rained three missiles on a house in Gorewek, near the Afghan border, some 60 kilometers west of Miran Shah. There was no concrete action from Pakistan till Sunday except for a report which said that fuel supplies to Nato forces, which go from Pakistan, were suspended.

The reason given for the action was not American aggression but the law and order situation in the Khyber tribal region due to which the supplies had been suspended “only temporarily” and that “when we have enough troops on the ground to ensure safety of oil tankers, the supplies would be allowed to go through”!

Asif Zardari’s election as President was a foregone conclusion, given the numbers commanded by PPP and allies and turncoats in the Parliament and the fact the opposition could not muster a joint candidate. Nevertheless, it was a big win in which he swept all three smaller provinces. As expected he could not carry Punjab, though he managed a respectable tally even there.

However, Asif Zardari would be well-advised to get rid of the baggage he carries in the shape of various accusations. Mushahid Hussain, another presidential hopeful, had openly challenged him to reveal his assets before the election. These, as yet unverified, accusations coming on the top of allegations of having reneged on solemn promises to his erstwhile political allies as well as doubts cast on his mental health, make it imperative that he move fast to clear the air and establish his moral credibility and authority.

He will also be watched to see how fast he moves on his promise to reduce the powers of the President, including removal of 58(2)(b) amendment to the constitution, which he had said should be one of the first things the president-elect would do. A number of deposed judges taking oath in the High Courts of Sindh, Lahore and Peshawar, apart from three judges in the Supreme Court, is seen as a setback for the lawyers’ cause.

The lawyers staged a Dharna in front of the Parliament house and when some of them wanted to enter the Supreme Court premises they were viciously lathicharged. The Dharna was staged as decided by the newly formed National Co-ordination Council (NCC) of which Aitzaz Ahsan, President, Supreme Bar Council, was recently elected Chairman.

This followed a virtual break from the policies of Pakistan Bar Council, which was at best lukewarm towards reinstatement of the judiciary and has now come out more openly against the lawyers’ movement. Lawyers were also smarting from a recent categorical statement by Farooq Naek, the Law Minister, that Abdul Hameed Dogar was the CJP and since there could not be two CJPs, the deposed CJP Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry could not be reinstated as CJP.

Asif Zardari apparently now felt strong enough to thus openly, through his trusted lieutenant, defy the main demand of the lawyers’ movement in categorical terms contrary to what he had been saying all along. But that would cause no surprise. Amin Fahim appears to have been placated by Zardari. He no longer goes about looking miffed and making negative remarks about PPP’s policies in general and about Zardari’s attitude towards him in particular.

By what promises he has been won over, we do not know yet. Likewise Babar Awan has become suddenly active in defending Zardari in various forums. What role is he destined to play in the immediate future, we should know shortly. There are unsettling news about political strife in the Punjab province. ML(N) have made no secret of their wish to see PPP ministers quit the government in the province and sit in the opposition. PPP is unmoved.

In fact Wattoo has been talking of the possibility of ML(N) losing its majority in the Punjab if it comes to a showdown. Governor Salman Taseer has also been talking with renewed aggression against the ML(N) government, claiming that its continuance is dependent on PPP support without which it would not last “24 hours”. Is he talking on his own or only carrying on instructions in the doublespeak environment that prevails in PPP politics?

Revival of several years old NAB cases against Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif are souring relations between the erstwhile coalition partners. The motive behind this move at this juncture is not clear. The cases could be used as a card in the political give and take and perhaps withdrawn as a favour or in return for some political concession. In the current state of our judiciary any unfavourable decision will be seen by ML(N) as directed by the PPP government. Stage could then be set for serious confrontation.

Balochistan insurgents have offered to suspend insurgency which is good news. Visits by Rehman Malik and PM Gilani to the province on the eve of the Presidential election ensured almost hundred percent vote in favour of Zardari which indicates that substantial promises may have been made to placate disgruntled Baloch leaders. If seen through in a fair manner this move could be good news for the federation and a feather in Zardari’s cap. If mishandled, however, this could lead to a disastrous situation.

Attack on PM’s car in the convoy going to receive him at the Islamabad airport is to be condemned. It is reminiscent of the times we are living in, in this part of the world. Suicide attacks are again becoming a regular feature. The Power situation has deteriorated further. The problem so far was lower capacity with the IPPs.

A new phenomenon is their refusal to operate even to their existing capacity due to higher cost of oil which means the more power they produce the greater is their loss, at least according to their claim. Removal of subsidies is a persistent demand of world lending bodies like IMF and World Bank and big increase in tariff is about to hit the long suffering consumer who must now pay more without promise of any relief from loadshedding for at least a year and a half.(yawajid@yahoo.com)

Source: Business Recorder, 9th September, 2008

 

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