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The Quaid must be turning in his grave

COLUMN-ENG-29-10-2020

The obnoxious disrespect shown for the Quaid-e Azam’s Mazar by Maryam’s husband Capt. Safdar, while she looked on without any expression, has aroused both spontaneous protest and widespread indignation among all Pakistanis everywhere, except among die-hard Nawaz loyalists. 

Violating the sanctity of the mausoleum and shouting political slogans resulted in the brief arrest of Capt Safdar next morning by the Sindh police. But unfortunately, the due process of law was not followed.

Again, unfortunately, this incident has much larger consequences for Pakistan. The inquiry being conducted by Lt Gen Humayun Aziz, Comd 5 Corps must establish culpability. The IG Police has my full sympathy for whatever happened to him at around 4 in the morning. On the face of it, the IG’s grievance is fully justified. Who in the chain of command gave such instructions? Whoever authorised this ham-handed operation must be held accountable and court martialled. 

The Additional IG, Ghulam Nabi Memon, whom I greatly admire, is a superb professional. However, his “requesting for leave” because of the humiliation suffered by the IG Police triggered mass “requests for leave” by the Sindh Police hierarchy. This is mutiny, pure and simple! 

We are now in a Catch-22 situation. If condoned it will have repercussions, if not condoned it will set a precedent for the future, triggering a chain reaction of unacceptable dissent in an organised force.

After a long time, Sindh Police was coming into its own, those who opted “for leave” are a very fine set of officers, but unfortunately, mutinous behaviour is intolerable. If they were instructed by someone to do so that is a reasonable defence, but then the individual/s who instructed them must definitely be held accountable for inciting mutiny. The Federal Govt and the Army must move fast. Such confrontation between LEAs could well have civil war ramifications.

The abhorrent behaviour by Muslim League (Nawaz) workers was an insult to the personality of the founding father of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The ultimate irony is that the Nawaz League is staining the name of the political party that the Quaid once headed. He was educated in London not only in the British spirit of the ‘rule of law’ but the decorum, behaviour and manners thereof, an attitude that he would not change till his death.

Explaining his vision of the future of Pakistan in the Constituent Assembly in Karachi in August 1947, the Quaid said: “Remember that the scrupulous maintenance and enforcement of law and order are the prerequisites of all progress”. He felt most proud of having “achieved Pakistan ... without bloody war and practically peacefully by moral and intellectual force and with the power of the pen.” He cautioned his followers not “to besmear and tarnish this greatest achievement for which there is no parallel in the history of the world”. He maintained that “the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.”Corruption and any kind of monetary or business cheating was equally abhorred by the Quaid. Accountability was one of Jinnah’s central demands when he demanded in the same speech in August 1947 punishment of black marketers. 

Installed into politics by Punjab Governor Lt Gen Ghulam Jilani, with the tacit support of military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq, Nawaz Sharif was sustained in the early stages of his political career by Lt Gen Hamid Gul, then DG ISI. It is a mystery why Nawaz Sharif has nurtured disrespect and venom for the army. Not caring one hoot for those in uniform sacrificing their lives for the country’s security on a daily basis, maligning the army as an institution by Nawaz and the Nawaz League has become an inherent part of their political DNA.

The Superior Judiciary only escapes derision if and when the judgments are given to suit the party or their bigwigs. An embattled Chief Justice had to seek army protection for the Supreme Court Building in November 1997 after an unruly mob of several hundred goondas (many of them MNAs and MPAs) stormed the courthouse, forced him to adjourn a contempt of court case against the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. 

When Gen Raheel Sharif was Chief Of Army Staff, an immature person from the Nawaz League hierarchy planted a fabricated story meant to defame the Army. The “non-state actor” Maryam had employed several hundred “social media” and tech specialists at government cost to spread misinformation, “hybrid warfare” a la Uncle Modi, essentially very much similar to enemy propaganda. 

For what are our soldiers dying in desolate mountains and lonely valleys? The resultant inquiry held some close Nawaz aides guilty. Such betrayal damaging the national fabric could not be brushed aside. Behaving like the gentleman he is, outstanding soldier Gen Raheel Sharif succumbed to papa’s sob act. Not to embarrass the PM, the Army benignly ignored the main culprit Maryam who was clearly accountable. 

The then Information Minister Pervez Rasheed and a few other Nawaz aides were made sacrificial lambs. Condoning Maryam’s venom was a huge mistake by the Army. Look at what is happening six years later. Nawaz Sharif is now openly targeting the Army a la Modi from the safety of London. In any “game of thrones” being a “gentleman” can be costly for the nation. With the country’s very existence at stake at the hands of India’s hybrid warfare, they should not repeat this mistake.

The Sharif family is attempting to escape being held accountable for the unaccounted-for money they had whitewashed, and the properties they have acquired abroad especially in the UK. To forestall the investigation against their money laundering, they are utilizing Nawaz League loyalists. Everyone knows that the Nawaz family agenda and the People’s Democratic Movement agenda differ totally. That is, they did not allow Nawaz Sharif to address the PDM rally in Karachi. By being vocal against the Army and the Judiciary, convicted criminal Nawaz Sharif wants to get “political asylum” by attempting to influence the British authorities that if he is deported to Pakistan because of his “anti-Army speeches”, the Army will act against him. 

The other members of the PDM have some genuine grievances, these have been effectively derailed by Safdar’s derogatory antics at the Quaid’s mausoleum which had led to this “mutiny” situation in the Sindh Police. 

In my article “Army Chief, not Factory Managers”, dated Oct 21, 2016, I had written: “The Sharifs cannot tolerate anyone who does not jump to do their bidding without question. The Sharifs tend to select a “favourite” for crucial appointments like they would their “factory managers”. Despite giving some judgments against the Sharifs and the Punjab Government, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah was elevated to Chief Justice (CJ) of the Lahore High Court (LHC),. Eminent lawyer Babar Sattar called it “a miracle”. Given their ingrained inferiority complex about Army Chiefs, the Sharifs will not keep the national interest supreme when appointing the COAS Pakistan.” 

Many of us do not identify with this State. We have no understanding about what citizenship in a modern state implies. A country cannot thrive if one does not personally contribute to it. Any citizen must understand the role of the State’s institutions, its political system and what tolerance for the opinion of the other is. A certain amount of ‘civil behaviour’ is the fundamental premise of civilization. One doesn’t make noise that disturbs others. One doesn’t destroy property or call others names, fight and be rowdy in public. Temperament is no excuse for misbehaviour. In a country that aims at emulating the example of the Prophet (PBUH) the first thing one should realize is that the Prophet never used foul language or went on a rampage. On the contrary, there are Hadiths that record how he never had a bad word for an old woman who used to abuse him, when one day she was missing from the corner where she used to stand and abuse him, he got worried and went to inquire about her health. 

All is not wonderful in Pakistan. Our state institutions have been run down by successive governments. Certainly, the sitting government is also not free of mistakes. What is important is that despite all the shortcomings, Imran Khan has started the process trying to right the wrongs. This will only be successful if and when it gets the support of a sizeable portion of the citizens that are the flesh and blood of the country. They must stand up for decency and tolerance in politics. 

Some things however are a mystery viz: (1) Safdar could not be that stupid to resort to his antics in the Quaid’s mausoleum without some purpose. Maybe he was attempting to get some political space within the Nawaz League very much like Asif Zardari carved out for himself (2). The Nawaz League is trying to divert attention from the imminent publication of notices in UK newspapers declaring Nawaz Sharif a convicted criminal absconding from justice in Pakistan and(3) The Sindh Government’s role in Safdar’s arrest and the “mutiny” by the Sindh Police hierarchy. Was the Pakistan Peoples’ Party playing a double game cutting Maryam to size for not attending the pre-PDM meeting at Bilawal House in Karachi while at the same time condemning his arrest? And now using the Sindh Police incident to defame the Army and the Federal Government?

All this pales, unfortunately, before the "protest" by the Sindh Police hierarchy. Unless they were acting on instructions from someone senior to them either in the police or in the Sindh Government, we will have to send about two dozen or so extremely fine professionally outstanding officers home for this incident. The Quaid must be turning over in his grave.

 

(The writer is a defence and security analyst)