So, per usual practice, Pakistanis have found themselves embroiled in yet another diplomatic crisis of sorts, whereby their trust on civilian and military state institutions of Pakistan is being tested.

By now, I’m sure that almost every single one of you reading these words has all the background information on this case. So I shall not waste your time in giving a detailed backgrounder to this incident.

That said, without getting into the veracity of claims being lobbed against the Pakistani Ambassador to the US, I would really like to discuss the memo itself. And see if the anger being directed at it is solely because the institution of armed forces was undermined or is there more to it?

The memo contains 6 key points, and I’ll discuss a couple of them which I find very interesting.

  1. President of Pakistan will order an independent inquiry into the allegations that Pakistan harbored and offered assistance to UBL (OBL?) and other senior Al-Qaeda operatives. The White House can suggest names of independent investigators to populate the panel, along the lines of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, for example.
  2. The inquiry will be accountable and independent and result in findings of tangible value to the US government and the American people that identify with exacting details those elements responsible for harboring an aiding OBL inside and close to the inner ring of influence in Pakistan’s Government (civilian, intelligence directorate and military). It is certain that the OBL commission will result in immediate termination of active service officers in the appropriate government offices and agencies found responsible for complicity in assisting OBL.

The offer, at its face value, seems like that of a colony of the US offering its services to the United States government.

But moving on from there, what do you see? OBL was an accepted enemy of the state of Pakistan. We have officially gone to war against Al-Qaeda and have since the year 2001 sacrificed well over 30,000 lives (civilian and military) in this war. So, why should the government of Pakistan not conduct an independent inquiry into whether known terrorists of the likes of Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts were helped by any Pakistani?

As for the judicial commission probing the killing of OBL and circumstances that led to it, pray pay attention to who’s heading it, his appointment during 2007 emergency and the role he played at the very offset of judicial crisis and you’ll know where this commission is headed.

In other words, yaar kisko ullo ka patha samjha hoa hai?

4. One of the great fears of the military-intelligence establishment is that with your stealth capabilities to enter and exit Pakistani airspace at will, Pakistan’s nuclear assets are now legitimate targets. The new national security team is prepared, with full backing of hte Pakistani government, – initially civilian but eventually all three power centers – to develop an acceptable framework of discipline for the nuclear program. This effort was begun under the previous military regime with acceptable results. We are prepared to reactivate those ideas and build on them in a way that brings Pakistan’s nuclear assets under a more verifiable, transparent regime.

So, if developing a framework geared towards bringing more transparency to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program is wrong – and the steps under taken by the previous ‘military regime’ had to be ‘halted’ – when are we bringing culprits responsible from within the previous military regime to justice? Are the same authorities and people baying for blood for including nukes in this memo, ready to bring General (r) Pervez Musharraf to justice for actually undertaking such steps, with obvious monetary input from the United States Government, in the first place?

As noted by Mosharraf Zaidi here the time is ripe for Pakistan to kickstart a debate on Civilian-Military relationship and how Pakistanis wish to go about it.

To decide, if we are ready to address the differences or are we good with only prosecuting civilians while the men-in-camo get away with murder? The idea is pretty simple actually. Any such acts which put in question the very sovereignty of Pakistan, whether conducted by a military man or a civilian should be dealt with equal severity.

The ex-commander in chief of armed forces, who gave permission to foreign forces to station killer drones on Pakistani soil, who actually took money from the United States government to improve ‘security systems’ surrounding our nuclear weapons program and for making it more transparent, who allowed private military contractors to operate inside Pakistan – certainly did not question the sovereignty of Pakistan. We don’t get angry with him, instead offer explanations as to what else could Pakistan have done? The Americans had threatened us with sending us back to the stone ages, had we not sided with them. We sympathize with the poor generalissimo, for how hard would it have been for the poor soul to take such a decision.

He was therefore given a 21-gun salute and sent off prancing around the world to deliver lectures.

But at the same time, we ask for the head of the first civilian we see courting the Americans. Because he is of course putting in question the very sovereignty of Pakistan.

Hypocrisy, much?

The idea behind this post is not to underplay whatever Ambassador Haqqani did or did not do – but instead to reflect back on our inherent hypocrisy when treating matters of national security when the culprit is a civilian versus a military man. If Pakistanis did not act upon resolving this matter, that too on their own, I don’t believe there will be much time left before we even stop considering it an oddity.

  • I am a Student

    Well written Saad.