An open letter to the ‘establishment’

Here is a great chance for you to disprove all insinuations and allegations by reinforcing your focus on security matters only, and letting the new PM fully focus on foreign and internal policies

This letter is addressed to the gentlemen within the security establishment (assuming most women probably cannot climb a leadership ladder this high in this country yet).

Dear gentlemen, allegations of electoral rigging and engineering have been raised in the media — both in and outside Pakistan. I would like to draw your attention to some of the issues that support the hue and cry raised by the opposition.

Firstly, the Sharif-led political actors and the media sympathetic to them did their best to apportion the success of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to you, citing the fallout of the Panama Papers’ case that landed both Nawaz Sharif and his daughter in Adiala Jail. The presence of unusually high number of security personnel upon Sharifs’ return from London till their arrival at the jail in Rawalpindi raised many eyebrows as well as questions.

If what happened in Panama Papers case was purely judicial process, what was the need for deploying para-military officials for the occasion? Another big question was the clumsy management of the Sharifs’ journey from Lahore to Islamabad’s new airport. Why did forces need to “secure” the entire airport ahead of Sharif’s arrival, causing inconvenience to the civilian staff as well as scores of passengers? After all, it was just two persons, and not an entire army which would have needed a big deployment to fend off possible trouble. Why couldn’t the father and daughter be quietly taken to the old airport, instead of creating this unpleasant scene at the new airport? This was asked by a Civil Aviation official, who is averse to Sharifs’ way of governance but equally averse to the overkill that he witnessed that day.

Secondly, you are often accused of treating elected Prime Ministers (PM) as puppets, who you grow wary of the moment they stop singing to your tunes. The examples usually cited are Nawaz Sharif, late Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari (Memogate, which ironically Sharif pushed in black coat against Zardari). The primary reason, it is alleged, is your desire for absolute control of foreign policy.

One would hope it is not true. You also flatly deny this. But if it’s true, do you expect the country to move forward and stay in-step with the rest of the world?

With a new PM about to be elected this month, not only is your reputation at stake but also that of Pakistan, which currently hangs by a thread financially. For too long has China stuck its neck out to save Pakistan. Let us not stretch this friend’s patience and readiness to help us.

Thirdly, the entire opposition has been singing the same chorus; i.e. PTI is the establishment’s horse. I personally think if this were the case, the party wouldn’t be begging independents for support in the Parliament. Also, if this were the case, most of the so-called “electables” would not have bitten the dust on July 25. If you really staked your bets on Imran Khan, why couldn’t you work for a clear majority for him too?

The entire opposition has been singing the same chorus; ie PTI is the establishment’s horse. I personally think if this were the case, the party wouldn’t be begging independents for support in the Parliament

The PTI’s scramble for requisite numbers in the National Assembly actually makes light of the claims of your direct manipulative support for it.

Fourth, disprove these allegations of your direct meddling in the pre-poll and the polling day process. Disprove your aversion to good relations with India and disprove accusations that you still love the “good Taliban”.

Here is a great chance for you to disprove all insinuations and allegations by reinforcing your focus on security matters only, and letting the new PM fully focus on foreign and internal policies, without any perceived incursions or intrusions into the way he conducts them. Trust the man whose nationalistic narrative, anchored in transparency, good governance and rule of law has resonated with the youth of this country. Let him welcome people like Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar from Waziristan with open arms and together find balm for their grievances.

Let him chart his own path on the way to establishing a new phase of relations with India for the simple reason that this defines the global view on Pakistan too. Therein lies the key to rectification of Pakistan’s perception abroad, particularly at fora such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). They simply endorsed the forward-looking, people-focused view peddled by Imran Khan. Give him a chance to implement what he says. The opposition parties — largely the status quo stakeholders — also need to understand that politics is not just about being in power.

Your friends in Beijing too are looking forward to a new government that has vowed to scale-down, if not altogether demolish, the architecture of privileges that the ruling elites have thus far enjoyed. They also desire policies that facilitate President Xi Jinping’s goal of shared prosperity through inclusive development. Embrace openness and engagement, instead of acting out of paranoid and perceived threats. This could be the game-changer for all of us.

The writer is Editor, Strategic Affairs, and also heads the independent Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad and author of Pakistan: Pivot of Hizbu Tahrir’s Global Caliphate. Can be reached at Imtiaz@crss.pk

Published in Daily Times, August 7th 2018.