A startling revelation

Around the October 26, a retired lieutenant general of the Pakistan Army made some startling revelations on prime time television, when commenting on the massacre of over 61 boys in a police training academy in Quetta. Both IS and later Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami had claimed the attack. The Inspector General Frontier Corp (IGFC) Balochistan also identified the LeJ Al-alami as the attackers. This faction of the LeJ has publicly declared allegiance to IS, and IS released pictures of three attackers, one of whom bore a striking resemblance to the face of one of the attackers shot to death (the other two had blown themselves up beyond recognition). So the general correctly stated that both claims were correct as these groups have the same aims and work in collaboration where necessary.

But the chilling revelations came after this statement, and most amazingly did not create any waves, with the revelations taking many days to be reported in print media. In the media’s defence (sic), it was busy with its darling Imran Khan and his umpteenth non putsch, Sheikh Rasheed’s cigar atop a DSNG and other frivolous matters.

This is what the good general said: expressing his frustration and anger with the government, he claimed ‘the army has been telling the government for the last two years that we know that Hafiz Saeed or Masood Azhar have not been directing terror attacks inside India, but because of them there is a perception developing in the outside world that Pakistan is perpetrating terror attacks in India; for God’s sakes take action against them. Then they told the government that if you don’t want to do this, give us the legal cover and we will get them. That too the government didn’t do. Then we said okay, let the Rangers be deployed here (Punjab and interior Sindh), we will get some authority through the Rangers. But that also the government didn’t do. In the first week of April this year, the DG ISI gave the government two plans. The first was to mainstream Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), and others like them, into mainstream politics over the next one and a half years, clearly outlining the steps for the mainstreaming. The second plan was to segregate and deradicalise the violent groups and induct them into the Rangers and FC, such that they have an alternative livelihood and stop their violent extremism. The government handed this plan (violent groups) to NACTA and it is as a result in cold storage. The other plan (to bring JuD and the like into mainstream politics) is with the Prime Minister and he is sitting on it. And then they gave this news to DAWN which corroborates the American and Indian narrative (referring to the leak of the national security meeting held between the civil and military top brass reported on October 6).’

It is very hard to know where to begin to deconstruct all this. The entire patriotic industry has reacted very strangely since the story in DAWN was leaked, calling the reporter, the newsgroup, and those who found the story or its harbingers credible, traitors. In the meantime, between the October 6 story and now, a conference was held in London, hosted jointly by former Ambassador Hussain Haqqani and Dr Mohammed Taqi, to which they invited like-minded Pakistani people to ponder as to how Pakistan could chart out a progressive, democratic, egalitarian path away from the military’s toxic meddling in policy that has taken the country decades backwards to a precipice on which we hang now. All prominent attendees (including the organisers) were attacked by this industry for their treasonous statements. Dr Ayesha Siddiqa came under a particularly vicious attack. And all for what? For airing what they thought was wrong and how it could be set right.

Now. Back to Gen Shuaib’s revelations: No one has attacked him or the larger security establishment for being treasonous for plotting to endanger the armed forces with a high risk of infiltration by violent extremists. As it is, the Pakistan Army hunts and strings the Hizb-u-Tehreer wherever it finds them for trying to radicalise the ranks and officers, and instigating a rebellion against the top cadres to take over and impose Sharia. Given this, and given the famous attack and siege of the GHQ in 2009 being an insider job, given the PNS Mehran base attack in 2011 being an inside job, given both attempts on General Pervaiz Musharraf’s life being inside jobs, how can the DG ISI’s alleged proposals to government be considered anything other than mad? Stark raving mad?

If what the general has said is based on reality, I beg to ask, is there any scientific body of evidence on de-radicalisation, based on which militants and extremists are being proposed to be inducted into the forces that are supposed to protect our lives and property? Is there a single successful experiment the geniuses at the helm can cite? Or do they just get ideas, construct theories around these ideas, and expect the government to act on these just because they think these ideas would work? Link the ideas with regards to East Pakistan, Kargil, Balochistan, FATA and Gilgit Baltistan. And FATA reminds of yesterday’s news report. The military dynamited a shopping plaza in South Waziristan in revenge for a major killed in a bomb blast nearby, under the cover of the Federal Crimes Regulations (FCR), that allows punishment under ‘collective responsibility’ under individual acts. It’s another matter that the plaza belonged to a gent named Mirzalam, ‘a staunch pro-Pakistan Malik who was killed by the Taliban in 2004’.

Thank God we have a political government. No matter how weak. At least it sits on demented plans, like it sits on most other things. But I would advise the Prime Minister to put these plans to the parliament, because this is where such major policies must be decided on. Let the parliament decide on the wisdom, efficacy, deficiency or risks of major policies. But in the meantime, let’s stop the one sided traitor traitor games. They are passé. No one believes them anymore. Because no one is a traitor.

The writer is a human rights worker and freelance columnist. She can be contacted at gulnbukhari@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter 

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