May Issue 2014

By | Editorial | News & Politics | Published 10 years ago

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is caught between a rock and a hard place, yet again.

On the Hamid Mir issue, ideally he would have liked to side with the Geo and Jang group, who have rallied behind him and waged relentless battles — right or wrong — allegedly on his behalf. Remember Raja Rental, Memogate, the reopening of the Swiss accounts case et al. However, political expediency demanded that he side with the ISI-army combine.

However, his government’s discomfiture in doing so was obvious from the dithering of his defence and information ministers.  One was tempted to borrow a quote from his railway minister’s rant (against General Musharraf) and say: “Mard ka bacha bano and take on the ISI, if you must.”

But discretion, as they say, is the better part of valour. More so, since the khakis are livid and on the warpath. Words like “national honour” and “national interest” are back in circulation, as are accusations of being RAW and Mossad agents, and the like. It’s not so much the COAS, we are being told, as the young officers, who are upset at the attacks on their institutional heads, past and present, and non-recognition of their sacrifices in the war on terror, and asking for an appropriate response.

Not surprisingly, and as if on cue, the old hands at the game — former jihadis, banned religious outfits, defeated political parties and former army servicemen — are crawling out of the woodworks, holding pro-ISI rallies and baying for the blood of “traitors.”

What’s more, Maulana Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan have also jumped into the fray and are planning to hold mammoth rallies against the present dispensation on May 11.

Ominous clouds are hovering on the political horizon.

Yes, Geo has erred; yes, it has crossed the red line — and it is being censured for it.

But the ISI does not enjoy a clean slate either. It has been accused of being involved in the thrashings of certain journalists, most notably Umar Cheema (who lived to tell the tale) and the murders of Saleem Shahzad and Hayatullah Khan, investigations into which have yielded no answers.

And while transgressors need to be taken to task, the transgressions should not be used as an excuse by vested interests to derail the entire democratic system.

Now, more than ever, this blighted country needs stability to usher in an era of peace, progress and prosperity for its long-suffering masses, who still await that long-promised dawn which continues to elude them.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.

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