Some nations produce great thinkers, others great scientists, even others great quantities of food grains. But we as a nation have specialised in producing traitors in great numbers. It has become a favourite pastime of ours. We do it so consistently and so regularly that at least one traitor is born in our midst almost every other political season and that too at the drop of a hat. It does not take ‘us’ much to designate as traitors those whose politics are seen to undermine ‘our’ political interests. Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Fazlul Haq, Ghaffar Khan, Shero Marri, Akbar Bugti, ZA Bhutto, his daughter, Benazir Bhutto — the list is too long. Currently it is Mr Nawaz Sharif who has been placed on this dishonourable pedestal. The media is having a field day. Part of the media is doing it willingly with an eye on its financial margins, others not-so-willingly and some others are doing it in the belief that they are contributing to a genuine national cause and saving the country in the process from certain disaster. Not that Mr Sharif has not given the ‘designers’ and the willing media enough paint to colour him jet black with the disreputable epitaph. ‘Dawnleaks’ is back in the media debate adding to the non-existent grenades discovered in a particular quote of Mr Sharif from his May 12 interview published in Dawn. It was in the interest of the Indian government and its media to interpret the quote in question the way that suited their vested interest, especially the part where Nawaz says ‘…,should we allow them…?’. It was a rhetorical question, but the Indians interpreted the ‘we’ to mean that the former PM was admitting that the state of Pakistan had allowed the terrorists to go and carry out the Mumbai mayhem. ‘We’ do find traitors at every turn of our political corners and anti-state activists behind the ever suspicious looking political bush. But when it comes to proving ‘our’ accusations, the prosecution fails miserably to take such cases to the desired logical conclusion, for obvious reasons The full quote reads as follows: “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” Instead of taking the quote on its face value or doing its own interpretation of the quote seemingly an ‘inspired’ part of our media immediately agreed with the Indian reading of the quote and went to town with talk-shows chanting gleefully ‘traitor, traitor!’ It was a clear case of misquoting of the quote and that is what both Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said while explaining what Nawaz had meant. But their quotes instead were deliberately misread to mean that the newspaper which published the interview had misquoted the former premier. That was probably why Nawaz had to insist later in the day that he stood by his quotes as published in Dawn. For an answer to another rhetorical question that Nawaz had asked in the interview (‘Why can’t we complete the trial?’) one need not go beyond what former DG FIA, Tariq Khosa who was closely involved in the investigation of the case had said in one of his articles published in Dawn on August 3, 2015 (Mumbai attacks trials): “Pakistan has to deal with the Mumbai mayhem, planned and launched from its soil. This requires facing the truth and admitting mistakes. The entire state security apparatus must ensure that the perpetrators and masterminds of the ghastly terror attacks are brought to justice. The case has lingered on for far too long. Dilatory tactics by the defendants, frequent change of trial judges, and assassination of the case prosecutor as well as retracting from original testimony by some key witnesses have been serious setbacks for the prosecutors. However, cognizance was taken by the Islamabad High Court which directed the trial to be concluded within two months.” Two months? It is now here years since that ruling of Islamabad High Court. And here is a pertinent quote from Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s presentation at the Munich Security Conference early this year: “I apologise for a long lesson on history, but while it is history for you, it is still very much a live issue for us back home, as fairly large no. of people is radicalised, armed and empowered politically and ideologically. They cannot be wished away, just because we don’t like them anymore. We are harvesting what we sowed 40 years back. So it will be a while before this scourge is eliminated in totality — but first, let’s stop calling it Jihadism as it is nothing else but terrorism.” One of course, would not be too unhappy to see Nawaz Sharif being designated as a traitor but those who are identifying him as such would have to prove their allegation in a court of law and not by simply obtaining the desired verdict through a shrill media trail. And not even by the National Security Committee’s rejection and denunciation of Nawaz Sharif’s ‘claims’ which the NSC has spurned as ‘incorrect’, ‘misleading’ and ‘fallacious’. On the few occasions during the past 70 years of our existence ‘we’ had dared take to the courts some of those among the scores of traitors ‘we’ had produced, the law of the land had invariably found them to be more patriotic than the accusers themselves. What is too funny in this context is, only about a couple of years back ‘we’ had made PEMRA suspend the license of a leading broadcast media organisation for just 15 days and imposed a fine of Rs 10 million on being found ‘guilty’ of indulging in ‘anti-state activities’ on the complaint of the defence ministry of government of Pakistan. ‘We’ do find traitors at every turn of our political corners and anti-state activists behind ever suspicious looking political bush. But when it comes to proving ‘our’ accusations the prosecution fails miserably to take such cases to the desired logical conclusion for obvious reasons. The writer is a senior journalist based in Islamabad. He served as the Executive Editor of Express Tribune until 2014 Published in Daily Times, May 17th 2018.