Harbouring illusions | by Zaheer Bhatti

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Harbouring illusions

PAKISTAN, despite a long streak of its opportunist use by the so-called ally, continues to harbourthe illusion of some good turn from the US despite clearly knowing that all along its checkered history, it had been abandoned time and again in favour of India which had a bleak record of human rights abuses in its Occupied territory Of Kashmir, but being allowed to prosper due to its large market despite being universally exposed over its disinformation exploits against China and Pakistan, besides a series of evidenced Dossiers placed before the UN and the rest of the world by Pakistan for political and social crimes by India acting drunk with self-righteousness.

Such is the US hypocrisy that it places Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia among countries allegedly denying religious freedom, but ignores India exploiting and targeting its Muslim population of the size of Pakistan, Sikhs, Christians and its own Scheduled Caste Dalits.

Pakistan which has been swallowing the bitter pill of drone attacks by the US post Nine Eleven in its own backyard with tacit understanding; lodging mere lip-service protests while allowing its air bases and tactical facilities, appears to be at it again as if the ignominy suffered in the process was not enough. Richard Armitage had said that if Pakistan would not comply, it would be sent to the stone ages.

Pakistan more than complied according to Colin Powel, but its fate has not been much different with its economy in the stranglehold of the IMF and its people on the verge of a collapse.

Starting with a publically stated ‘Absolutely Not,’ Imran Khan’s martial Mueed Yusaf’s mild denial of a formal agreement rather than a categorical rejection of the CNN report which quoted sources familiar with classified briefings to the US Congress that the US Administration was close to striking a formal deal for use of Pakistan’s airspace to conduct Operations in Afghanistan, smelt a rat and was more dangerously attired than ever before.

That Pakistan through its spokesperson concurrently admits of the existence of a framework of cooperation for air and ground lines of communication since 2001, saying that “no new agreement had been made,” is precisely what one apprehends is being sought to be stretched, whereas in fact the old one after the Allied withdrawal ought to have stood scrapped automatically.

“Pakistan’s reported desire to sign a memorandum of understanding in return for help on its own counter-terrorism, and Relations with India,” is dangerously flawed in view of Pakistan’s bitter experience of the past where it has been repeatedly double-crossed.

Why would the US carry out any meaningful operations against its self-created mercenary forces like Daesh and ISIS, and help manage relations with India which was openly sworn against Pakistan’s existence and enjoying the US wink against all Pakistani interests; should be any common sense conclusion.

Pakistan to the contrary is once again seen ignoring Parliament and clandestinely capitulating to the universally banned terrorist outfit of Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which has blood of scores of military and civilian subjects on its hands.

The Government was reportedly negotiating with criminals, upon ceasefire and tendering of a mere apology in exchange for release of its prisoners as if talking to a recognized equal, instead of demanding from the banned out fit to lay down arms, submit to the writ and Constitution of the State and pay compensation to the bereaved.

This, besides Issues such as the Kalbhoshan Yadev Review and EVM use for future Elections, are such over which consensus ought to have been achieved through a joint sitting of the Parliament.

But instead, 33 Bills including the above which had not been endorsed by the Upper House were bulldozed within a span of 90 minutes during an ugly show in the recent joint sitting of the Parliament.

A Government professing to be the guardians of democracy avoiding debate, fighting shy of its Parliament and running mostly on Ordinances, loses the right to rule.

This unfortunately has been the practice of nearly all previous Governments in Pakistan, but Imran Khan’s Party takes the cake for such contemptuous disregard of the prime institution to which all politicians owe their existence.

The sitting Prime Minister in a Coalition Government finds it below his dignity to shake hands leave alone negotiate with the Opposition; thus failing to take the House along on matters of prime national importance.

The Government has sought to make extra-constitutional use of the President to extend tenure of a highly controversial Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau who was partisan, hounded people and cost the exchequer dearly delivering peanuts in recoveries and added to uncertainty and economic instability; his performance and that of the Bureau frequently castigated by the Supreme Court, the entire Parliament should have been one on either winding up the present set-up created by Musharraf for sorting out opponents or drastically reforming its structure to make it functional, transparent and effective.

The PM not only lets his cabinet colleagues loose on the Election Commission of Pakistan to foul mouth against its Chairman and commit contempt of Court on matters related to electoral procedures, but also refuses to consult Leader of the Opposition over appointment of the NAB Chairman as required by the Constitution, who his sleuths tell him was not to be consulted as he was an accused in a Court of Law.

This was an absurd position because Shehbaz Sharif was a duly elected Leader of the Opposition by the supreme institution of Parliament despite being under trial, and was bound to be honoured until proven guilty as it does not deprive him of his powers and position.

One is worried though that the illusion of the Government being on the same page as its defence forces have been allowed to be ruptured with the ISPR issuing posting Orders of the new ISI Chief without the Government issuing the notification.

While it is the Army prerogative to make high level appointments at the Corps and HQ levels, if in the process it requires a change of the ISI Chief who works directly under the Prime Minister’s command, his approval by the PM becomes a pre-requisite.

But whatever the confusion, it ought not to have been made public by allowing the Information Minister to issue statements to the Press, as was done in the needlessly publicized protracted meeting between the Prime Minister and the Army Chief, which should have been sorted out behind closed doors.

—The writer is a media professional, member of Pioneering team of PTV and a veteran ex Director Programmes.

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