As a diehard Bhuttoist and proud Jiyala, I am extremely troubled to see some fake civil society activists (pseudo-liberals) presenting themselves as pro-PPP but at the same time undermining the very foundations of the elected parliament.
My leader, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, was killed by religious fanatics namely Taliban, Al Qaeda and their mentors and affiliates. Why would I have any objection to the provision of those supplies which international community needs to neutralize the threat of Al Qaeda and Taliban?
As a Pakistani who does not see honour in xenophobia and conspiracy theories, much of the debate on the NATO supply routes is both disappointing and disturbing. It is disappointing because of the dishonesty of some sections of the press (Jang Group, The Friday Times, Jinnah Institute etc) a decision made by parliament. Any one who has followed Pakistan’s history since 1947 knows that such decisions are tightly controlled by the military bureaucracy, the permanent State and NOT the elected representatives of the people. Those who can deny this in the light of 1948, 1965, 1971, 1984, 1988, 1996, 1999, 2008-present are only fooling themselves.
In a recent debate on Twitter, the only person who made any sense on this topic was Pakistani-Canadian Tarek Fatah. I was troubled to see the statements made by some journalists who present themselves as liberal and Pro-PPP (yes, I am referring to the PTH-PTI-JinnahInstitute group) but whose statements reflect the opposite.
As has been pointed out by PPP and ANP parliamentarians and leaders of the ruling government coalition in the last few weeks, re-opening the NATO supply routes benefits Pakistan both politically and economically while opposing such an initiative places us against 40 other countries that are part of NATO and most of which like Turkey are some of Pakistan’s allies. However, to present the false picture that the PPP is calling the shots on this one is the height of dishonesty.
In the streets, the Difa-e-Pakistan Council that is strongly supported by PTI (Imran Khan) is raising blood curling slogans against the PPP. The parliamentary representatives of DPC, the PML-N, is creating a ruckus in the assemblies. The media and judiciary, as if on cue, are also working overtime to undermine the PPP on this and other issues. And the strings for all these actors are being pulled from you-know-who. It is GHQ (Pakistan army) which is calling the shots on this one and in the end, the PPP has to chime what they say.
In my opinion as a Jiyala, the PPP has to do what is good for the country and that is re-opening the NATO supply routes. Having said that I do not envy the position of President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani who have to convey to GHQ that the latter’s brinksmanship negotiating tactics (such as the activation of DPC) have backfired and earned the displeasure of many countries that are part of NATO.
Contrary to media misinformation, NATO has UN mandate and unless one resides in the PTI-DPC-Jinnah Institute complex, NATO has UN mandate for its presence in Afghanistan. This is not to say that NATO has not made mistakes and should not be critisized. However, we cannot expect the rest of the world to take us seriously, especially when rogue elements still support the Taliban and OBL is found in a compound in Abbottabad. We cannot expect NATO and the US to take us seriously when we demand an apology for Salala but remain silent and inactive against the Taliban who have killed far more of our brave soldiers.
Similarly, pretending as though the re-opening the NATO supply routes is in the hands of parliament is a bit rich – especially coming from the “liberal” champions of the #SherryRehmanLobby.
Just before the murder of PPP governor Salmaan Taseer, Sherry Rehman (founder of pro-army Jinnah Institute) had presented a private member’s bill in parliament to amend the blasphemy law. An excellent initiative on the surface and one that I support. However, as a member of parliament who was appointed on a reserved seat – as opposed to being elected from a constituency – Sherry had done nothing substantive to create support in parliament for this bill. It was presented when the PPP government had been ditched by two of its coalition allies – the MQM and the JUI-F and simply did not have the numbers to pass it.
Meanwhile the security establishment, media, PML-N, PTI and judiciary were whipping up extremist sentiments on the streets which lead to the murder of Governor Taseer. Instead of standing with her besieged party, Sherry Rehman used this opportunity to score cheap points against them in the media.
Just months later, her Jinnah Institute published a pro-Taliban report without any dissenting note – kind of like our Judiciary. So much for caring for the rights of minorities. Now a lobby group of journalists loyal to her want us to respect the “mandate of the (same) Parliament – the same parliament that was being vilified by the budding aspirants (Nasim Zehra) of the Jinnah Institute just a year ago. Hypocrisy has no bounds!
Currently, the #SherryRehmanLobby is working to undermine Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. This lobby has already placed two paid activists of PML N; one in the Foreign office (he appears on Al-Jazeera and presents himself as liberal) and another in the Jinnah Institute- which is now being headed by someone widely known as the unofficial ISPR spokesperson to the Pakistani media. Another for sale consultant too is a part of the same club. While one can have a difference of opinion with Foreign Minster Hina Rabbani Khar, she is more loyal than Sherry Rahman to PPP and has won elections from her constituency – unlike Ms. Rehman who would be hard-pressed to win even a local councillar’s seat. The script provided by Sherry, which is unfortunately being read out by Chairman Bilawal and President Zardari, is not in the best interests of Pakistan.
As a PPP supporter and activist, I would like to alert my party to the efforts of the Sherry Rehman Lobby. This ISI Trojan horse, filled with the staff of the Jinnah Institute and aided by several elitist propagandists and operatives placed in various media houses and think tanks, can bring nothing but destruction to the PPP and Pakistan. The last Pakistani ambassador to the United States was Mr. Husain Haqqani whose “Between Mosque and the Military State” is a good primer on the tentacles of the security establishment. What an irony that his successor is Sherry Rehman, author of the ISI-esque foreign policy elites views on the future of Afghanistan. Pakistan’s international standing can only get worse if this lobby creates further space for itself within the current PPP-led government.