INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

June 22, 2015

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:45 am

Zardari

There is still time for the PPP leadership to huddle, contemplate and review events of the past few days. It will be a test of the senior party leadership in asserting themselves and redeeming the party for what it is not worth. Given the nature of hierarchy it is doubtful anyone will show the mettle for dissent. Yet as patriotic Pakistanis, it is the moral obligation of every PPP leader to prevent their party from becoming an exploitable tool at the hands of individual whims. A divide along ideology and political pragmatics could be the only salvation. Given the attrition of past seven years, the latest could turn out to be the ‘unkindest cut of all’. How can PPP afford to sleep with the enemy? In other words, become part of Pakistan’s internal security challenges.

To expect the party to indict itself in Sindh despite its massive mismanagement and corruption is foolhardy. Yet there is ample space between now and fait accompli that can redeem the party. If reconciliation is a possibility, the federal government and military have a role to play. As the protective layers around crimes erode, much will stand exposed as also PPP’s moral dilemma. The party has to come out clean. As a desperate measure, Zardari led PPP with its allies could impose enough pressure to halt the Karachi operations in tracks. But then Ex-President Zardari would have played his ultimate card and put Pakistan on an implosion course. This was predictable and hence the inevitability of what may, or may not come to pass.

Way back, I had commented that, “National security policy, or counter terrorism policy or whatever is being drafted with subjective experiences shall elude the national consensus. It will open cracks and wounds that shall take ages to heal. The weakness demonstrated by the state in acting against militancy has emboldened militants and Pan-Islamist in Pakistan. In some ways, some politicians are the soft face of militants”, (T’error Policy Nation January 25, 2014). A twenty point National Action Plan was never a substitute to a National Security Policy. Over the course of one year, it has opened cracks that shall widen by each day. Today it is Karachi; tomorrow it will be South Punjab. Model Town still begs justice. The buck will not stop here. PPP must avoid becoming the soft face of violence.

Such a clash was brewing for a long time and the readers were repeatedly alerted that criminals of all descriptions, sectarianism and militants were coalescing for a common objective. To wrest control of Karachi, PPP in its last government had embarked on a dangerous sojourn into the underworld. Perhaps the motivations to do so also find linkages with target killing of Khalid Shahinshah, a principal witness to murder of Benazir Bhutto, Uzair Baloch and trails of ill-gotten money. Now with Ranger led operations in full swing, pugmarks lead to Bilawal House. Besieged, Zardari minced no words when he challenged the armed forces of Pakistan for a showdown. Get off my turf or I will let loose mayhem all over the country. But is this threat credible?

Surely, beyond the political clout of PPP, this threat is bolstered by the capabilities of regressive internal and external support. Zardari wants a carte blanche for unchecked abuse of power for personal and political purposes. He reckons that land mafias, criminal gangs, extortionists, thugs, smugglers and militants of diverse typologies will swell his rank and file. He is keen to enlist the support of MQM to pose a credible challenge to the security establishment. A common threat could make them strange but dangerous bedfellows. Will a party once brandishing the ‘Sword of Allah’ fall in line with the hyenas.

As if the unsaid diatribe in simple moralistic and legalistic terms of absolute good and absolute evil between the rulers, opposition and armed forces did not refract the intensity and objectiveness of counter terrorism operations, the threat by Mr. Zardari has drawn a Rubicon. Cross it and I will stall the entire operation as ill-conceived, misdirected, anti-democratic and anti-PPP. Already, the Sindh Government has followed with directions to Rangers to limit their operations. It appears that with ample evidence already gathered, the security establishment supported by the federal government will ignore these directives and continue to nibble beyond this politically franchised underworld to ultimately expose the real culprits. This means stepping on Zardari’s toes.

Destabilising Pakistan through internal dynamics was always the logical alternative to a nuclear deterrence against external threat. As written earlier, the imaginary line west of Quetta-Karachi is eyed by international actors to cut Pakistan to size. India with support of international actors is already threatening Pakistan of a 1971 like situation in Balochistan. A chaotic and bloody Karachi along with embedded violence let lose in Sindh could provide enough motivation to Pakistan’s detractors to push for more gains. This is the card that Zardari is using to threaten Pakistan Army.

Zardari’s mantra of reconciliation is a façade. Do not forget his swearing ceremonies and denials. His political logic is multi-tiered and conceited. Despite being the beneficiary, he never pursued the investigations of Benazir’s murder to exonerate doubts about himself and his friends. He tried through the ill-conceived memogate to convince Americans on the logic of civil supremacy over the military. He ignored that this was never possible without capacity building; something he never attempted. Instead he concentrated on building gangs in Karachi to reclaim the turf from MQM and ‘if need be’ confront the law enforcement agencies. Immediately after the Abbottabad Raid, he published an article in Washington Post taking satisfaction ‘that our early assistance in identifying an al-Qaeda courier ultimately led to this day’ exposing unsaid vulnerabilities and rumours. During his five years of all-powerful tenure, Pakistan remained rudderless and leaderless. He never made any effort to put Pakistan’s economy on track. Now he has chosen Pakistan’s most vulnerable element to ride himself out of trouble.

But questions linger. What was the intention to fast forward a crisis? Is he pre-empting a governor’s rule in Sindh. Is he creating a situation for demanding a similar rule in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa? Or is he anticipating a landmark verdict by the Judicial Commission on elections 2013 that shall result in a new electoral exercise. Most, to get even with the establishment, has he made the ‘decision fatale’ and threatened to sleep with the enemy?

Would any sane Pakistani do this?

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson.

Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

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