There is the mystery that many of the internet sites about Khalid Khawaja are now ‘restricted’! What does that mean? It is in the national interest of Pakistanis that they know who is a friend and who is a foe
Khalid Khawaja is no more, but he has left a lot behind. Was he an ISI, CIA or FBI operative? Was he supportive of Talibanisation or was he against terror? What was his connection with Osama bin Laden?
The most important questions are: why was a prominent leader — Mian Nawaz Sharif — meeting Osama bin Laden again and again? What is the reality about his statement that many terror outfits in Pakistan are infested with Indian operatives? What is the connection with Hamid Mir?
These are critical questions and a serious probe is required in the interest of the country. I would even say that among so many other suo motu actions taken by the honourable chief justice of the Supreme Court, these questions merit his attention. The answers to these questions may clarify how deep the covert support to the Taliban is in our society and polity. Who is using whom? And are they serving some objectives of the enemies of our country?
The reference to Mian sahib’s connection with Osama bin Laden has been aired before. It shocked the populace but matters did not go any further. Its significance has been lost in the populace’s mind. The ‘people’ are only required to cast a ‘vote’ at the time of elections, at other times they are a liability, so why bother? (Next time, coercion and corruption can do the needful again). But barre Mian sahib has a claim to the politics of principles, so why does he not make an open statement on the issue?
An internet site says: “According to a senior Pakistani intelligence source, Osama bin Laden passes a considerable amount of money to Sharif and his party, since Sharif promises to introduce a hardline Islamic government. He has been supporting Sharif for several years — Sharif and bin Laden had a relationship going back to when they first met face to face in the late 1980s. There are also accounts of additional links between Sharif and bin Laden (spring 1989, late 1996, and between late 1996 and late 1998). And also further on.” (http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=khalid_khawaja). There is also another statement: “In an interview with a national Urdu daily, Qazi Hussain Ahmad, the leader of the largest Islamic party in Pakistan, the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), and of the six party religious alliance called the MMA, said that Nawaz had repeatedly met Osama bin Laden, who offered him money to buy the loyalties of parliamentarians in the late 1980s in order to topple the government of the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Ahmad also said that bin Laden was a big supporter of Nawaz Sharif’s bid to be prime minister in 1990.” (http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1779). Mian sahib ended up with a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly, and was looking at becoming the Amir-ul-Momineen through a constitutional amendment. Mian sahib is still a big political force. He has demonstrated his popularity in Punjab. Is it not a valid request to an ‘honest’, ‘principled’ leader that he should clear the mist?
What followed as a consequence of an alliance or connection with the Taliban by our governments was the worst thing that could have happened to Pakistan, i.e. terrorism, bad publicity in the world, destruction of law and order and the economy, and so on. A statement of the realities by the distinguished Mian sahib may restore the confidence in him of many who are concerned citizens. If he has no questionable connection, he should have nothing to worry about.
Then there is the other question: that of the Indian agencies being involved with the Taliban factions. One news item even mentioned the names of the involved, including that of the Qari in charge of the suicide bombers of the Taliban! Here again: are the ‘Islamist’ terrorists and the ‘Hindutva’ terrorists coordinating?
What is the objective? Chaos in Pakistan? Also there is the mystery that many of the internet sites about Khalid Khawaja are now ‘restricted’! What does that mean? It is in the national interest of Pakistanis that they know who is a friend and who is a foe. Some Pakistanis quietly believe that the Taliban are fighting for a ‘noble’ cause although they may differ with the terror strategy. If there is a ‘Hindutva’ connection, then the disaster created by the Taliban will surely not be sympathised with by even hardcore supporters. This allegation from Khawaja also reminds one of some earlier news about how the many terrorists caught and killed in Swat were not actually Muslims. This accusation is still on the internet with gruesome photographs. If anything has turned the world into a ‘global village’, it is the internet, and in this day and age it is difficult to hide matters of general concern. In any case, the principle of ‘freedom of information’ should be applied and the facts should be made known. I have no doubt that some agency of the government, some NGO, or some private researcher or a media person must have collected a load of credible information, which must be shared now.
Finally we come to our media colleagues and Hamid Mir. Khalid Khawaja must have upset him at some point in time. If not, while alive, then his son is definitely bent upon upsetting Hamid Mir. Khawaja’s son has pointed his finger at Hamid Mir as a perpetrator of his father’s death. Because of its coverage, Hamid Mir has sent a legal notice to Daily Times to assert his innocence. Legal notices hardly mean much unless a case is actually filed in the court, and will he do that? His alleged recording is available to anyone and everyone on the internet.
As a moral issue, all media persons must clearly indicate which side they are on, a responsible, nationalistic individual must be above board and confident of his or her convictions and support them or revise them in a civilised, democratic manner. This should also be applicable to media owners (Oops! Am I living in a fool’s paradise?).
Is the wish to get answers to these questions something too much to expect?
Naeem Tahir is a culture and media management specialist, a researcher, author, director and actor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org