Speaking before the Asia Society Forum in New York on September 26, Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khawaja Asif made it clear that the so-called Jihadi forces now accused of unleashing violence and terrorism in the country were nourished, pampered and patronized by the United States. And it was a mistake, if not blunder on the part of Pakistan to be part of the US sponsored Jihad in Afghanistan. He also disowned Haqqani network and Hafiz Saeed, co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba and currently Amir of Jamaatud Dawa and called them liabilities for his country. It is for the first time that a high official of the government has spoken the truth. But, the truth which was unveiled after decades of a policy of opacity about the presence of Jihadi groups in Pakistan was challenged by the Chairman of Pakistan Tahrek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan who blamed Khawaja Asif of compromising on Pakistan’s national security interests by talking about Hafiz Saeed and Haqqani network in a foreign country and that his speech in Asia Society was in consonance with the Indian and American position taken on Jihadi groups in Pakistan. If the Foreign Minister has spoken the truth, although belated and without mincing words, why the PTI Chairman is so furious and has called for his removal? Why PTI Chairman has dragged Pakistan’s military and called the assertions of Foreign Minister against the interests of the armed forces? It all began when Foreign Minister, while responding to a question in Asia Society Forum, said that, “don’t blame us for the Haqqanis (the Haqqani Network) and don’t blame us for the Hafiz Saeeds (referring to the head of banned Jamaatud Dawa). These were the people who were your darlings just 20 to 30 years back. They were being dine and wined in the White House and now you say go to hell Pakistanis because you are nurturing these people.” In order to defend the position of his country about such Jihadi groups, the Foreign Minister further said that “it is very easy to say Pakistan is floating the Haqqanis and Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. They are liabilities. I accept that they are liabilities, but give us time to get rid of them because we don’t have the assets to match these liabilities and you are increasing them (our liabilities) further.” Khawaja Asif repeated his earlier contention that Pakistan should put its own house in order to deal with enormous challenges which it is facing ranging from terrorism to economic and political crises. It is time a serious discourse and a thought process is unleashed in Pakistan about the damage done to the people by concealing, distorting and escaping from the truth Imran Khan not only challenged Foreign Minister’s categorical remarks about Haqqani network and Hafiz Saeed but also that why in a foreign country he spoke about the need to put the house in order. Earlier, Prime Minister Shahid Khakan Abbasi and Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on different occasions stressed the need that Pakistan should first put its own house in order instead of blaming others for its predicament. Three realities should be taken into account while examining the outburst of Imran Khan on Foreign Minister speaking the truth but in a foreign country thus hurting the national interests of Pakistan. First, the age-old culture in Pakistan to hide the truth is a stark reality. For them, hiding and escaping from the truth is not a sign of weakness. Therefore, truth is concealed or distorted. Democratic governments have not been allowed in the country for almost half of its 70-year history. Critics argue that the weak, unprofessional and corrupt practices of politicians led to the downfall of democratic governments. But can the truth that East Pakistan became Bangladesh in December 1971 when a military dictator was in power be denied? Can the truth that India occupied Siachen Glacier in April 1984 during General Ziaul Haq’s martial law be contested? Can the truth be concealed that the Kargil misadventure, which threatened the very existence of Pakistan, took place because of the reckless and irresponsible acts of General Pervez Musharraf? Second, is it not the truth that the jihadi culture in Pakistan was promoted and the country was plunged into the vicious cycle of violence and terrorism during General Ziaul Haq’s rule, in order to use religion for the perpetuation of his rule and obtain financial benefits from the West and the Gulf states? Third, is it not the truth that the some military officers nourished different political parties, particularly various factions of Muslim League, in order to counter true democratic, progressive and liberal groups and parties? It is time, a serious discourse and a thought process unleashed in Pakistan about the damage which has been done to the people, not the elites, of this country by concealing, distorting and escaping from the truth. After all, at the end of the day, truth is unveiled but by that time enough damage is done. By expressing his outburst against the assertions of the Prime Minister, Federal Interior Minister and Foreign Minister about putting the house in order and terming Jihadi groups and outfits as liabilities, Imran Khan has exposed the truth of his frustration and lust for power. By dubbing PML (N) leadership as unpatriotic, the PTI chairman thinks that he is the custodian of the country’s national interests. The more Khan will assail those who are speaking the truth, the more he will prove his age-old nexus with undemocratic forces for the purpose of seeking power. But, in the process of terming himself as the most patriotic person, he has forgotten the fact that old ‘musical chair’ and ‘mid-night jackal’ games cannot be played again because no one can monopolise and manipulate things in the name of loyalty or religion. At the end of the day, everything becomes clear and exposed and those who are trying to conceal truth from the reality have done greatest harm to Pakistan. And, it is a dangerous trend, which the PTI chief is trying to set that those who call to put the house in order and eliminate the forces of fear, violence and terrorism are unpatriotic. Perhaps, the PTI Chairman will also come to understand the facts of the matter at a later stage much like Air Marshal Asghar Khan who during the 1977 general election campaign and PNA agitation against the them Prime Minister Z A Bhutto was termed as the “blue eyed uncle” of the powers-that-be. But when Asghar Khan failed to get power and was ditched by Zia regime, he became a staunch opponent of the military general’s rule. The writer is Meritorious Professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi. E. Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, October 6th 2017.