Unprecedented Press conference by Captains of Establishment | By Tariq Aqil

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Unprecedented Press conference by Captains of Establishment

FOR the first time in our history and in a completely unprecedented development two top captains of the military Establishment DG ISPR and the DG ISI appeared in a joint Press conference on 27 October to clarify certain aspects of the tragic death of journalist Arshad Shareef and some allegations being levied by the spin doctors of the PTI.

All this is happening at a time when the Pakistani society is highly polarized on the eve of the much awaited long march announced by the ousted PM Imran Khan.

It appears that the Establishment has now taken off the gloves and no holds are barred. It is now ready for the nuclear option after enduring and keeping silent about the allegations and insinuations of being complicit in the recent regime change operation.

For the very first time in history the top spy master the head of the country’s premier intelligence agency addressed a press conference telecast live along with the chief spokesman of the army.

The DG ISPR said the briefing was being held to talk about the death of the journalist in Kenya and the circumstances surrounding it, so that “facts, fiction and opinion can be differentiated.”

The DG ISI discussed at length and totally refuted allegations of any conspiracy by the military establishment. He rejected the Imran Khan narrative of Mir Jafar/Mir Sadiq as a total concocted lie and emphasized the COAS took all decisions in the best interest of the country.

He emphasized the point that the COAS was offered indefinite extension in service but he declined the offer and if the COAS is a traitor and anti-national then why are these backdoor meetings with him still going on? According to the army spokesman the letter waved at the jalsa on 27 March and the story of a foreign conspiracy are concocted stories far from reality and there is no evidence of a conspiracy against the government of Imran Khan.

Army leadership was targeted and attempts were made to link everything to treason and regime change operation.

This was the time when a false narrative was fed to the media and the lies are now exposed. ARY played the role of spin doctor.

Pakistan and its people have been through many trials and tribulations during our short and painful history.

We have faced disasters manmade and natural. We have lived through the 65 war the 71 war the war on terror the brutal onslaught of the religious extremists and always felt connected to our soil.

There have been many political, social and economic problems but not like the grave and disastrous issues facing us today.

Pakistani society of today is a polarized and divided society desperately in need of direction and guidance. During the last four years this country has seen nothing but turmoil, chaos and hopelessness.

The rupee has continued to slide, prices are rising, unemployment is increasing, journalists have been harassed, beaten and jailed and the American President has the nerve to call Pakistan the most dangerous nation in the world.

We are perhaps the most dangerous nation but we are a danger to ourselves. Pakistan of today does not face any external threat, the threat is from within, and Pakistan is in danger of an implosion.

The internal power struggle appears to be getting uglier and uglier and it might lead to a stage when the main opponents will come out in the open and perhaps once again the entire democratic system of the country could be wrapped up going back to zero again.

Internal instability is the biggest threat to the country and this should also be a warning to Imran Khan not to take any drastic measures that may disrupt the status quo through agitation in the form of his long march.

The food for thought is how quickly and spectacularly the PTI and the Establishment have fallen out.

Imran Khan was the latest favourite and blue eyed boy of the Establishment who catapulted him to power in 2018.

The Establishment played the key role in appointing Imran Khan as the PM of Pakistan by persuading smaller parties and independents to help the PTI to form a government.

It now appears that success in elections gave Imran Khan a swollen head and he started believing in the false notion that he achieved success by the dint of his own ability and popularity and he forgot the services rendered by the Establishment.

When friction between Imran Khan and the Establishment increased either because they had decided to turn neutral or because their favourite was not dancing to their tune the powerful Establishment turned against him. The allies and independents also parted ways and the PTI government went down the drain.

All credit to Imran Khan that he managed to stage the drama of a totally false and concocted story of a foreign conspiracy that was swallowed hook line and sinker by his adoring followers. Meanwhile, there are other lessons to be learnt.

Due to the manner in which the Establishment repeatedly interfered in political and civilian affairs over decades, the civil-military schism we see today was bound to happen.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.

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