Sultan M Hali
FORMER Pakistani Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, has brought shame to Pakistan and is wanted by the law as he is absconding. Apparently, he is not the only one who has denigrated his country of origin. Shahab Qarni, who moved to the US in 1988 and is presently co-owner of a multimedia firm “World Media City”, is the new black sheep. As part of ongoing campaign against Pakistan Army—its premier intelligence agency the ISI—in the West in general and US in particular, Qarni is all set to air a live radio show titled “Free Pakistan State Over State: 20 Crore Pakistanis Demand Freedom after 70 Years of Garrison Rule”. World Media City is based in Baltimore in the US and offers numerous services like IT, event management, live streaming media and public broadcasting which includes radio, television and other media outlets. Shahab Qarni’s mug is pasted on the website of the organization as the CEO of the Board of Directors. His brief profile terms him as a Maryland-based Pakistani American banker, entrepreneur, human rights activist and the President of the Bankers’ Resource Group.
So far so good, but the question here arises is that after making his name in the US, what is the motivation of Mr Qarni to defame his country of origin or the defenders of Pakistan. It is true that Pakistan has been governed by the military for nearly thirty-two years of the seventy-one that it has existed on the map of the world. Four military coup d’états toppled the apple cart of democracy and even during the periods that the military has been out of power, it has apparently exerted pressure on civilian governments. The reason for that is the vacuum left by the civilians, who have been busier in feathering their own nest rather than attending to the challenges faced by the nation. Hopefully that has changed.
It is not certain whether Shahab Qarni is acting out of his own convictions, is a bona fide patriot who genuinely cares for Pakistan or he is on the payroll of enemies of the State, who are hell bent on destabilising Pakistan? If the former is true, then Mr Qarni is requested to visit Pakistan and see for himself how the armed forces of Pakistan, aided by valuable intelligence information provided by the ISI and other intelligence agencies, the aerial surveillance and reconnaissance achieved by Pakistan Air Force and maritime surveillance procured through Pakistan Navy’s assets, have managed to demolish the safe havens of the terror mongers. All this has come at the cost of a huge sacrifice of precious lives. Even now in sporadic attacks or being waylaid by mines and incendiary explosive devices, young officers and jawans of Pakistan Army are martyred. Mr Qarni is advised to visit the homes of the thousands of young widows, orphaned children or old parents, whose near and dear ones have made the supreme sacrifice of their lives to protect Pakistan. Are these the faces of a conquering army, which has enslaved its entire population for seven decades?
Let aside wars, whenever there are natural calamities, earthquakes, floods, fire or other catastrophes. The Armed Forces of Pakistan are the first to respond to the beckoning of the suffering masses and imperil their own lives to rescue, retrieve and even rehabilitate their brothers and sisters in distress. In case Mr Qarni is being used as a tool by the detractors of Pakistan, then May Allah, in His Benevolence and Mercy, guide him. There is no dearth of internal or external enemies of Pakistan. There are corrupt politicians, who have been caught with their hand in the till, exposed by international syndicates of investigative journalism like the “Panama Papers”. If the free and fair judiciary of Pakistan has chosen to try them and make them pay for robbing the national exchequer or they are unable to prove the source of their Croesus’ wealth, then they must face the music. Unfortunately, instead of pleading guilty to their heinous crimes, they are blaming the army and judiciary for their woes, charging them of vindictive demeanour and even expending millions in international media to defame Pakistan and its army. Is Qarni a part of this plot and is he sympathizer of the ousted corrupt regime?
There is an even more sinister plot being hatched by India and a few western nations, who grudge Pakistan having nuclear weapons, being an ally of China and progressing to a level of economic stability, from where it will be able to effectively support oppressed Kashmiris, Palestinians and other downtrodden people like the Rohingya Muslims. A conflict-ridden Pakistan, with a shattered economy, suffering from acute power outages and destabilized law and order situation will not be able to stand on its own feet. If its army, which continues to be a professional force, battle hardened even in combating terror, is defamed in international forums, it is likely to affect the morale of the soldiers as well as bring down international pressure. Pakistan is already in the grey list of FATF because its previous government failed to check terror financing and probably, was itself engaged in the odious crime of money laundering, Pakistan faces the danger of being placed in the FATF black list. Hussain Haqqani had stabbed Pakistan in the back through his propaganda driven anti-army books, the Memogate scandal and opposition to defence acquisition; now Qarni is following suit.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.