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Friday, February 10, 2012

The two of a ‘missing’ kind

Original Article: Daily Times
Date Published: February 10, 2012

Although former President Pervez Musharraf and our newfound urban legend, Mansoor Ijaz, have nothing in common, yet they both share something very special. Both of them have graced the venue of Dubai with their prolonged or brief presence and both have reneged on their promises to come to Pakistan on certain and very particular dates.

Mr Musharraf at his infamous ‘jalsi’ (a very small gathering) held in Karachi in early January 2012 had vowed to return to Karachi in the last week of that month. May God bless Abdullah Shah Ghazi, the sufi saint who is revered for guarding the port city from any ill weather. Personally, I respect the saint a lot and have visited his shrine a few times in Clifton, but I think it is Almighty Allah who has been merciful and kind to the Karachiites. So January came and went, and there was no ‘seismic’ activity from the former commando.

If the newspapers were to be believed (I guess we have no other choice), his party workers (if there are still any left in that bruised, battered and wounded party), advised him to delay his triumphant return. I was picturing him landing in Karachi with his new uniform (white sherwani) with bold letters reading: ‘Mission Not Accomplished’ — of course getting inspiration from his former friend, an equally challenged, George W Bush. But as they say, there is a God up there and He wanted the Karachiites to enjoy the first month of the year without the ‘Hero of Kargil’.

The same newspapers also indicated that a very important personality from his former institution flew to Dubai to convince him to scrap his plans of return. What a ‘danaa dost’ (sage well-wisher) he was. So now who knows that our dear friend, Musharraf, will stick to his original plans of returning in March 2012 or not. If I were his travel agent, I would not count on that potential itinerary either.

The incumbents share some blame too. The beloved prime minister issued some statements that may have scared our otherwise daring general. The friend who flew to Dubai must have reiterated to him that the Zardari-led government means business. A plethora of cases and a lot of disgruntled and bloodthirsty people are eager to embrace him. An astute khaki as he is, he knows that ‘survival’ is the name of the game.

This brings us to someone who is relatively similar to him, in terms of being a no show. If your guess is the newly found darling of the media called Mansoor Ijaz, then you are absolutely correct. Mr Ijaz sparked a major controversy by accusing the former Ambassador to the US, Mr Husain Haqqani, of drafting a memo to the US government, in essence asking assistance from the US to intervene should the military in Pakistan decide to overthrow the elected government, post-OBL raid in Abbottabad.

Of course it was a mega bombshell and the print and electronic media just went haywire and overboard with this whole episode. Mr Ijaz lit up the screens of various TV channels of Pakistan. His stance was to carry the truth to the world. In that pursuit, he decided to appear in front of the Pakistan Supreme Court probing this sorry case, yet demonstrated his reservations of presenting himself to the Parliamentary Committee investigating the same matter.

On his way to Pakistan, he reached Dubai as well — much like Mr Musharraf — and decided to call it off. His reservations were predominantly based on security reasons. Many talented and senior analysts have opined on the real reasons why Mr Ijaz decided to shelve his plans. Perhaps it was the civil-military truce, as they have indicated, which made Mr Ijaz’s presence of zero significance. However, this entire episode exposed many people and their true colours.

Mr Ijaz’s many fans in Pakistan accused the government of intimidation and threats against their newly found champion of truth and justice. A few months back, this scribe wrote in this space that the absolute truth always resides somewhere in the middle. Regretfully, in our case, we take positions solely based on our emotions. A couple of pointers for our emotionally charged crowd: Mr Ijaz being a US citizen could not be placed on the exit control list (ECL). Very simple reason, he was not guilty of committing any crime on Pakistani soil. Secondly, he was assured by the same government about his security. If the government would have reneged on it, it would have weakened its position in front of the general public.

If anything, this whole episode has exposed the knee-jerk and very reactionary handling of this non-issue. In any other part of the world, the judiciary would have excused itself from a purely political issue or it would have dismissed the petition, based on the petitioner’s longstanding bias against the respondent. Above all, the judiciary would have excused itself from the matter as the petitioner launched a Long March in its favour, which eventually resulted in its restoration. This of course constitutes what is termed as ‘conflict of interest’.

When the dust will settle, both of these missing heroes may emerge. Of course the spin machine will go into action, defending their delayed return. So far, I have not witnessed a wide-scale protest of the people seeking their immediate arrival to Pakistan. If I were a gambler (thank God I am not), I would not bet my money on either of these gentlemen landing in Pakistan in the near future.

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