Like their Egyptian counterparts, the Pakistani generals too are an incompetent and greedy bunch. If the Egyptians’ incompetence was exposed in the June 1967 war against Israel, the Pakistanis outdid them by shamelessly surrendering to the invading Indian army in December 1971. So, who do they fight and conquer instead? Their own hapless people, of course.
This is evident in the turmoil gripping Pakistan today. A small coterie of generals, led by the army chief Asim Munir, is hell-bent on manipulating the political, economic and judicial systems to maintain their grip on power. They want to retain their undeserved privileges. They also insist that politicians must obey their orders and only generals will decide who stays in power and who is to be ousted. People be damned.
Constrained by no law, the generals act as outlaws. They dismiss the constitution and the courts with contempt. How many divisions does the chief justice command to enforce his writ?
Currently, their target is the former prime minister Imran Khan who, unlike other politicians, refuses to obey the generals’ orders. He demands adherence to the rule of law and immediate elections. The overwhelming majority of people support him but the generals do not care.
They have installed criminals in power while the generals make all the decisions from behind the scenes. This avoids the stigma of martial law which the western regimes do not like.
They do not wish to be seen supporting military dictators even if they like the musclemen in power. The west’s hypocrisy is mind-boggling.
There is not even a whisper of protest in western capitals over the gross human rights abuses taking place in Pakistan. Human Rights Watch has raised alarm about the arbitrary arrests but western regimes have sought refuge behind the excuse that this is an “internal matter” for Pakistan.
Had such violations occurred in Syria, Iran or Venezuela, there would be loud protests and screaming headlines in the western media. Not so in Pakistan because the generals are advancing America’s agenda.
The army has arrested scores of PTI leaders and thousands of its workers. Since May 9, at least 50 to 70 workers have also been shot and killed, most of them with bullets to the head or chest. Far from expressing any concern for human life, the army has launched a campaign to decry the few military monuments vandalised by protesters.
Without conducting an impartial inquiry to identify the real culprits, the army has accused Imran Khan of instigating these attacks. This is part of a pre-planned conspiracy to disqualify him and ban his party (PTI) from contesting elections, if ever they are held. The generals want only their puppets in power to obey their orders.
Generals rule, OK?
Last month’s events starting with the May 9 mayhem clearly point to this scenario. Imran Khan was kidnapped from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises in an illegal and deliberately provocative manner. He was beaten up as were his security guard and lawyers. He was dragged to a waiting van and whisked away.
All this was done in broad daylight. Since the PTI had declared that their leader’s arrest was a red line, the army decided to lay a trap. The widely televised kidnapping was carried out by Rangers, a paramilitary force, under the command of the army. Informed observers believe the kidnappers were commandoes in Rangers’ uniform.
Not only did it provoke the people as expected, but the army’s agents in plain clothes joined the protesters to attack the Corps Commander’s house in Lahore and the GHQ in Rawalpindi. An air base in Mianawali, the hometown of Imran Khan, was also attacked and a plane replica at the entrance was damaged. No security personnel were present in either location. No explanation has been offered for their absence.
While video footage showing PTI leaders urging their supporters not to enter the Corps Commander’s house in Lahore is available, the army’s agents provocateurs carried out their criminal acts as per the conspiracy.
It is quite revealing that immediately after these acts of vandalism, the army and its paid agents in the media and numerous politicians started to peddle the narrative that such attacks represent the “darkest day” in Pakistan’s history. The murder 50 to 70 people evoked no concern much less sympathy.
Was the surrender of 90,000 Pakistani troops to the invading Indian army on December 16, 1971 in Dhaka in front to international television cameras a day of glory?
Human life has no value in Pakistan, especially if they happen to be poor. Statues and buildings, belonging to the military, are sacred. Those who damage such monuments are traitors and terrorists. They must be tried in military courts, the army insists. This amounts to de facto martial law.
The generals do not wish to take any chances by allowing trials in civilian courts. The judges may not deliver the verdicts the generals’ desire. After all, the charges against the accused—in this case PTI workers—have to be proved in court. The generals insist the accused are guilty as charged because they say so. The purpose is to have a pretext to ban the PTI from contesting elections.
If elections are held in Pakistan today and PTI allowed to participate, it would sweep the polls. The generals are terrified of this outcome. The army chief has been making speeches at various garrisons threatening to “fix” Imran Khan and teach him a lesson. The army refuses to learn any lessons itself.
The people see the army as an occupying force terrorizing people. It lives in gated communities and makes incessant demands for more resources and land to distribute among its elite members. Army officers have become real estate tycoons.
The few Pakistani journalists who have dared to highlight these facts have been kidnapped and either made to disappear or murdered. Imran Riaz Khan, Sami Ibrahim and the late Arshad Sharif are prime examples.
The generals have shed the blood of tens of thousands of Pakistani soldiers and civilians in return for bakhsheesh from the Washington warlords. The late Pakistani dictator, General Pervez Musharraf boasted in his book, In the Line of Fire, that he and his fellow generals collected millions of dollars in bounty from the Americans (p.237).
Innocent people were grabbed from the streets of Pakistan and accused of being al-Qaeda operatives. They were handed over to the Americans for money. Abu Zubaydah and Dr Afia Siddiqui, both innocent, are two of the best-known cases. Musharraf and his henchmen will have to answer to the Almighty on the Day of Judgment for such crimes even if they escaped punishment in this world.
Musharraf’s successors—Qamar Javed Bajwa and Asim Munir—are continuing this despicable tradition. For a fistful of dollars, they are prepared to shed the blood of innocent people and even go to the extent of destroying Pakistan.
Not all generals agree with the army chief but the institutional structure makes it difficult to question his destructive policies. There is only a handful of generals involved in these criminal acts that are causing immense damage to Pakistan.
These include the Chief of General Staff at the GHQ, Lt Gen Muhammad Saeed, head of the intelligence agency (ISI), Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, DG-ISI counterinsurgency, Maj Gen Faisal Naseer, and the vice chief of general staff Maj Gen Inayat Hussain. Munir’s illegal acts have created deep divisions in the army high command and also alienated the chiefs of navy and air force.
A number of senior generals, the most prominent being Lt Gen Salman Ghani, Corps Commander Lahore, refused to obey Munir’s orders to shoot civilians. Far from taking heed, the army chief then plotted to create a scenario in which Salman would be killed. His murder would be blamed on Imran Khan to eliminate him physically from the political scene.
That General Salman Ghani survived is a miracle. He was removed from his command in Lahore and recalled to the GHQ. The conspiracy to go after PTI leaders and workers continues. A number of leading PTI figures have been coerced into publicly announcing their resignation from the party, reading from a piece of paper handed to them by some dim-witted colonel.
Videos of people being tortured by army personnel in plain clothes are widely circulated on the Internet, perhaps deliberately to instil fear in people. It is certain that PTI leaders were threatened with torture and/or threats of rape of their wives, daughters or even mothers. Some have spoken out publicly about such threats; others have hinted at them. Even women have not been spared including Dr Shireen Mazari, the former human rights minister, and Khadija Shah, a leading clothes designer from Lahore. The silence of Pakistani women’s rights defenders is deafening.
This is the real dark day and chapter in Pakistan’s history. Can Pakistan afford such criminal acts and survive?