Producing two hooded terror suspects before the media. Tahir Alias “Lamba” and “Mama” Junaid, purportedly from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), SSP Malir Rao Anwar claimed that they were trained in India by Indian spy agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing). That RAW has been engaged in terrorist attacks in Pakistan is not new nor news, neither is the fact that those doing their dirty work belong to any one political party. Some elite of the media (and some in corporate circles) are in this upto their necks, relying on “freedom of expression” to escape accountability. A fail-safe line must separate risking freedom of the country at the altar of “freedom of expression.”
It was unusual that a middle ranking police officer could have the audacity to damn the MQM for “spreading terror in the guise of a political party, all the senior leaders of MQM including its chief, Altaf Hussain, are involved in spreading terror in the country,”, unquote. Alleging funding of terrorist activities from London, the SSP Malir demanded “MQM should be banned the way the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other militant outfits were because of their terrorist activities.” Anwar was immediately transferred from Malir on the instructions of Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah taking “serious notice of his press conference leveling serious allegations against the MQM.” What hypocrisy, and we are supposed to swallow such a canard?
Known within and outside police circles as an “encounter specialist” and an Asif Zardari favorite, Rao Anwar does not enjoy a very savoury reputation. A recent petition before the judiciary claims he has killed over 50 persons in the last six months alone. Five attackers, their identities still unknown, were killed attacking his convoy two days after his media show. The policemen protecting Anwar all miraculously escaped unhurt, another staged “encounter”?
Instead of targetting Anwar, the Sindh Govt and/or the PPP the MQM Chief went off at a tangent disparaging the Army, ISI and the MI. The Army reacted swiftly and unambiguously, Maj Gen Asim Bajwa’s emphatic tweet, “Altaf Hussain’s speech on TV tonight containing remarks about the Army and its leadership was uncalled for and disgusting”, “won’t be tolerated” was followed by “the matter will be pursued legally.” The immediate political reaction was also universally adverse for MQM, symbolized by Balochistan Assembly’s unanimous resolution that “Altaf Hussain used hateful language against national institutions, such language against the Pakistan Army would not be tolerated, MQM has made the entire Karachi city hostage and that such language against Pakistan military comes in the treason category.” unquote. The KPK Assembly followed suit in more or less the same tone and tenor, the Punjab Assembly is soon expected to. No surprise that the Sindh Assembly, with the PPP in majority, is dithering. Sensing the direction of the political wind, the PM chipped in. Aware that he had crossed a fail-safe line, Altaf Hussain contrite apology may not have mollified many, at least it was a step in the right direction.
Almost every political party uses militant muscle in Pakistan as a self-defense mechanism to fend off its opponents. Harboring of militants for enforcing their own version of law is illegal but that is how feudals stay in power. While MQM, PPP and ANP are the normal “suspects” for having militant wings in Karachi, did Gullo Butt of Model Town fame appear out of thin air? As a weapon of offense and/or of subjugation to keep party recalcitrants in line, it crosses the fail-safe line into criminality. Such criminals depend upon their political bosses to keep them out of jail, and even if they are incarcerated, to provide them with five-star comfort. Potentially they are a Sword of Damocles over the heads of their political bosses if they turn State witness, e.g. Saulat Mirza, Zulfikar Mirza and the rumoured 1500 page statement given by Uzair Baloch to the Dubai Police. A mountain of evidence is not good enough to convince the judiciary about anyone’s guilt under the present tenets of the Evidence Act (even modified by the Qanoon-i-Shahadat 1984). With most witnesses fearing for their lives and for their families, the judiciary is either legally straitjacketed obeying the wording of the “rule of law” and/or intimidated.
Rao Anwar’s performance out of the blue ostensibly had “nothing official about it”, on whose motivation and for what purpose? No one really censured him for “misusing of authority”. Being very close to Zardari, his “punishment” being transfer to Badin for “misusing his authority” gave it all away, who else but Zardari’s “most trusted” policeman to target his former friend and present tormentor Zulfikar Ali Mirza? A PPP insider Mirza has ad nauseam been on primetime TV denouncing Zardari and political aides for unimaginable crimes. No surprise that Mirza is presently under police siege in his farmhouse in Badin. To quote Henry the Second in “Becket”, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Fahmida Mirza former Speaker of the National Assembly , raised serious concerns about the safety and security of her husband.
The PPP cannot wish away the Peoples’ Amn Committee (PAC). As the man overseeing the PAC as Sindh’s Home Minister, where did Mirza’s orders emanate from? He has not been “born again”, he may simply be stalking the TV channels to become a possible “Approver”. The PPP apprehend they may be next to feel the Army-generated heat. Interrogation has uncovered a wealth of information implicating many across the political hierarchy (and country’s elite) from all the political divide. Defaming the Army was simply meant to politicize the criminality, desperate times require desperate measures. One suspects complicity with anti-Pakistani elements attempting this set-piece diversionary tactic.
Addressing the Corps Commanders Conference last Tuesday, the COAS Gen Raheel Shareef called the surge in operations against terrorists and criminals apolitical, across the board and focussed on achieving peace in the country. He took serious notice of RAW whipping up terrorism in Pakistan, vowing taking all measures to eradicate this scourge, to quote, “we will take the war to its logical conclusion.” One word of advice, Raheel, get your people to study the nature of the “hybrid warfare” being conducted against Pakistan from within Pakistan, how influence, connections and corporate money is used to attack the uniform.
Zardari’s diversionary ploy has evoked vociferous popular support for the Army across the country across the board, bringing focus on criminality under the garb of democracy. While the game plan to create political confusion could not have been planned by RAW any better, the backlash across the country was not reckoned with.
The diversionary tactic has backfired!
The writer is a leading defense and political analyst of Pakistan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org