So far it seems easier than done for PTI. Besides their main support coming from the same ‘page’ powers that be, they had readily available clichés applicable to all issues – big or small. Indeed, they have a ready jude box that provides them a befitting slogan for their political opponents.
Many were coined by them from the dharnas days when ISI DG Ahmed Shuja Pasha had been calling the shots for them as per the book ‘Battle for Pakistan’ written by author Shuja Nawaz settled long time ago in United States. The book reveals it all how conspiracies are hatched by the powerful Intelligence agencies. It is well researched and fully facilitated by the powers that be because of the unprecedented relationship that Shuja Nawaz has had with the prominent Pakistan army Generals and filed commanders including his own brother Army Chief General Asif Nawaz Janjua who did not live to complete his tenure and was an alleged victim of as usual unproven conspiracy just when he was at the prime of his career.
I have had the pleasure of meeting him when he was Corps Commander Karachi. A likeable personality who was not easy to know but when you did, it was a pleasure to know him. My first encounter with him was in the Corps Commanders office on a n unusual call when I was invited by him for a cup of coffee.
I was a known as die-hard Bhuttoiite and my political credentials besides being anti martial law regime, were well known to generals and bureaucrats all alike. Those who had some soft corner for democracy or Bhutto Sahib, liked me and those who did not such as General Ziaul Haq– hated me.
I went to see him with mixed feeling— was it to pull me up to stop me from being a rabid critic of the government and to stop me writing against it or to be cajoled into support to the General. He received me at the Corps Commanders Office. After pleasantries over, he confessed that he liked my writings and that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was his favourite leader. I thought he was revealing it to me in confidence but being a journalist I asked him if some day I could use his quote about him admiring Bhutto Sahib. He readily accepted it.
I was intrigued when I was invited by him out of the blue for a chat over a cup of coffee. General Asif Nawaz disclosed he was a regular reader of my articles in Weekly Mag as well as Daily News that I edited for nearly 20 years. He wondered why I had to write in different names. He mistook some of the writings for another colleague of mine—Pervez Ali— one of the CEOs of a major industrial units. Pervez and I perhaps had a similar style, both were Bhutto lovers, hence the confusion. Even martyred Benazir Bhutto liked Pervez’s articles and we often requested him to help draft things for her. Later, I believe, General Asif Nawaz also invited Pervez Ali for a tete-a-tete.
I met him again in London. It was in April 1991 I was here with Bibi to visit Morocco where she was invited by King Hasan as a state guest to attend anniversary of his accession to power. It was a week- long visit and the former PM hunted by Nawaz Sharif government was treated like a royalty by the Moroccan King-an avid admirer of Bhutto sahib. We were hosted exclusively on a pant house floor reserved for royal guests in a six star hotel in Casablanca, whole fleet of royal limousines were queued up for BIBI and her party. We were done tourists rounds to Tangiers and other historic places including the grand mosque in Casablanca.
It was on our return to London that I ran into General Asif Nawaz. He was here on way to United States to sort out his relations for future as he was expecting to succeed General Aslam Beg.
He was surprised to see me in London. I told him I was here with BIBI to visit King Hasan. He was very happy and wished to meet her but since he was leaving for D.C. early next day, it could not be arranged. However, my coffee encounter with him then too was memorable and very insightful. He expressed his frustration over President Ishaq’s treatment of BIBI. Whether it was deliberate or inadvertently, he made a candid comment about future. He said on his return he would like to take over the mess and get down seriously to introduce right earnestly Bhutto’s agenda of ‘roti, kapra, Makan’, with ruthless vengeance as his devoted follower. I thought he had something other than coffee and perhaps was joking. Later I came to know that he was very frustrated and really wanted to take over to set the house in order ‘fu..ked’ up by the incompetent civilians.
Just before his untimely death I got a call from Bibi to rush to her as she had an important meeting scheduled that day in the afternoon with some political heavy weight and she wanted me available at hand. When I reached Bilawal House in Clifton, everything appeared hunky-dory and BIBI was sitting in her study. I was immediately rushed in. She confided to me that she had earlier in the day received a call from Army Chief General Asif Nawaz informing her that he had arranged a meeting between PM Nawaz Sharif and BIBI to sort out their differences and come to terms for a peaceful co-existence for the good of the country. She looked at her watch and said Mian Sahib should be soon there to meet her. He did not. Unfortunately, that meeting did not take place. There was as a conspiracy to subvert it. Mian Sahib’s IB Chief Brigadier (R) Imtiaz notoriously known as ‘Billa’ and his spooks had allegedly unearthed a plot for a take over and advised the PM to stay put in Islamabad. This group was opposed to any rapprochement between Bibi and Mian Sahib. If one would recall this was followed up by the conspiracy related to suspected murder of General Asif Nawaz whose wife had alleged that he had been poisoned. As usual, noting came out of the inquiry and this conspiracy too joined the mortuary under tonnes of dust piled on the unsolved mysteries of assassination of first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, coup conspiracy to kill Bhutto sahib by General Ziaul Haq besides various other high profile unsolved conspiracies.
‘Battle for Pakistan’ by Shuja Nawaz is a book worth reading as it is sensationally revealing of the conspiracies that have brought us to such a tragic pass. More so, it underscores the fact without saying it in so many words, that the real battle for Pakistan continues unabated between the people who Bhutto sahib called source of all power and the military establishment. The powers that be had to —from inception of Pakistan and especially after the death of the Quaid—had to carry out gerrymandering politics— engineering as it is now known as— to evolve a road map to foster their scheme of converting Jinnah Sahib’s social welfare state into a garrison state or to be precisely- a security state.
To implement the Praetorian Scheme of things looked impossible as long as Benazir Bhutto was there. She had to be eliminated physically as she was the main stumbling block in the way of military take over. As a result she was assassinated but her opponents found it difficult to jackboot the strong democratic aspirations of the people that blossomed in democracy nurtured and nourished by her sublime sacrifice in her blood. Elections in 2008, peaceful transfer of power, 18th Amendment, full restoration of 1973 Constitution, supremacy of the parliament and the judiciary with the exit of General Pervez Musharraf – brought about the much sought after change.
The tug of war between civilians and military got revived when the Establishment first used Mian Sahib and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to rock People’s Party’s boat. Finally they succeeded in yet another change in 2013 elections that resulted in getting Mian Sahib elected as PM. However, Mian sahib was a changed person. He would not accept their absolute command lying down. His tenacious resistance supported by PPP and other political parties led to a dead lock with the supreme judiciary in league with the Establishment. Mian Sahib was judicially guillotined. Now with ‘selected’ pm Imran Khan in power with army occupying the same page, it seems to be deluge especially when he have all sorts of mafias to resolve all his problems, with his ministers threatening of killing of hundreds as political cleansing to garner support for him and his same page masters for their abysmal stay in power.
Notwithstanding, the same page alliance between the PM and the Establishment, the way things are cooking do not augur well for the democratic process to continue. Everything seemed to be uncertain, economy of the state is in doldrums, political partners are daggers drawn and in seems that its denouement is just around the corner. It is time to wait and watch, prepare and get ready to get tougher with future challenges—com what may.