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Mountbatten, Sikhs and Massacres of Muslims at Partition – Commodore Tariq Majeed PN (Retd)

Awareness Brief-AB-04-18-Tuesday, 14 August 2018, Zilhaj 2, 1439

If you desire to refresh the wounds of the heart,

Recall now and then this story of the days past

Mountbatten, Sikhs and Massacres of Muslims at Partition

Commodore Tariq Majeed PN (Retd)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   Partition of the Subcontinent in August 1947 on withdrawal of British colonial power and emergence of Pakistan and Hindu India as independent states was a most momentous event of the 20th century. It was accompanied by immense social turmoil, uprooting of millions of people and horrific bloodshed—in which Muslims were the main victims.

         It is often said that enormous sacrifices were made in attaining Pakistan. This paper gives a glimpse of these sacrifices.

Many books were written about the Partition, mostly by western writers and Indians. Very few of these books can be considered as depicting the facts correctly. Yet, it is rare to find a book which does not hide those facts which go against the thesis of the book’s author. Besides, a subject that these books gloss over or evade altogether is the planned bloodshed of Indian Muslim population by Sikhs and Governor General Mountbatten’s role in it.

In the literature on the Partition, an outstanding book is Disastrous Twilight—A Personal Record of the Partition of India by Major-General Shahid Hamid, published in 1986 by Leo Cooper. The author was Private Secretary, 1946-47, to Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck who was the last Commander-in-Chief in British India from 20 October 1943 to 26 September 1947. Shahid Hamid saw the unfolding of critical events from close quarters as the C-in-C’s office was privy to all matters, military, political or administrative. He kept a record of all important happenings, which is valuable material for history on all vital aspects of the Partition. What is more valuable is the record of striking revelations on sensitive issues. A top issue in this regard is Mountbatten’s role in the carnage of Muslims by Sikhs. His actions that provoked this carnage included deceitfully making changes in the Boundary Commission’s Award and intentionally delaying the announcement of the Award.

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Master Tara Singh -Promotor of Muslims Refugees migrating to Pakistan

 

 

 

 

 

The facts recorded in Shahid Hamid’s book are reproduced here. Headings have been added for quick grasp of contents. All dates pertain to the year 1947.

Author’s Introduction—in his own words. I had never met Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck before I was selected to be his first Indian Private Secretary. Why I was selected for the post I do not know… I was fortunate to witness many historic events, and also to meet the men who made them possible. This gave me a unique insight into the character of the leaders and their approach to the national problems that were facing them. I was able to record their opinions, expressed both privately and in the open… I saw small men entrusted with great jobs, playing with the destiny of millions. This book has been written incorporating the diary I kept diligently in those days. It is not just a record of events but includes my reactions to what I saw, what I heard and what came across my desk.                                                [p. vii]

            I have come to the conclusion that someday I may publish my diaries as a book, for in it there will be certain facts brought to the light of which few people have knowledge.                                                                                                [p. 240]

The Sikhs’ Reaction to the Partition Plan. 4 June: When Mountbatten announced his (June 3) Plan, the Sikhs promptly perfected their plan for revenge. Led by their warrior class and assisted by their leaders, they have organized themselves into ‘Jathas’ (gangs). They have adopted force and terror tactics. They are now preparing their followers physically and psychologically for the brutalities to be inflicted on the Muslims. The Congress High Command is encouraging them and calls them the ‘sword arm of the Congress’.

Mountbatten at no stage encouraged the Sikhs to come to a settlement with the Muslim League which would have partially avoided the massacre. In fact, he encouraged them to stay with the Congress. When the Sikhs became violent he arrested none.                                                                                      [p.180,181]

Radcliffe’s Appointment. 28 June 1947: It had been decided to ask Sir Cyril Radcliffe to be the head of the Punjab and Bengal Boundary Commissions. I think that it is a great mistake as he can be influenced by Mountbatten. It would have been far better to have selected a man from a country outside the Commonwealth. [p.194]                                                                                           

Boundary Commission. 22 July: The Boundary Commission has been set up and has started its deliberations.                                                                         [p.208]  

24 July: The Punjab Boundary Force has been positioned. It is too small a force to be effective. The Sikhs have decided to ignore it and put their plan of vengeance into operation. There have been riots in Dehra Dun, Meerut, Pilibhit, Alwar and Bharatpur. Many Muslims are being massacred.                                    [p.209, 210]

Efforts to Influence the Boundary Commission. 21 July 1947: Baldev Singh* has asked Major Short** to fly out to India and use his influence to get the Boundary Line drawn as much to the West as possible.                                                      [p. 208]

* A top Sikh leader; Mountbatten knew Baldev Singh was the treasurer of a fund that

  the Sikhs were collecting for buying arms.                                                      [p.163]                                                     

**Major Short, an old officer of XI Sikh Regiment and a great Sikh enthusiast; arrived on 28 July, stayed with Baldev, attached to Mountbatten’s staff and was their unofficial adviser on Sikh affairs. [p.211]. Short had been introduced to Mountbatten by Cripps as the authority on Sikh affairs.                                                    [p.180]

Hindus also for Killing Muslims. 4 August: Evan Jenkins, the Governor of Punjab, says that when the Hindus mention that ruthless action must be taken to restore law and order they mean that every Muslim should be killed.                               [p.219]

Boundary Award Delayed. 9 August 1947: Everyone is talking about the impending Boundary Award. On many occasions, Radcliffe, supported by his secretary, Beaumont, had said that the Muslim Majority Tehsils of Ferozpore which include the Canal Headworks, Zehra and Moga, will form part of Pakistan. It is said that yesterday (8 August) Radcliffe had finalised the Award. He has now submitted it to Mountbatten, who is trying to keep it a closely guarded secret. Many of its salient points have already leaked out through the staff of the Boundary Commission and through his own staff.

            A copy of the Award, unwittingly, and unknown to Mountbatten, has been sent by George Abell* to the Secretary of the Governor of Punjab and is known to many. It is common talk that Mountbatten is busy changing it – giving India a corridor to Kashmir through Gurdaspur as well as the Ferozpore Headworks. The Muslims are very jittery. Radcliffe originally said that he would require one to two years to establish the Boundary Line but Mountbatten has over-ruled him. He wants him to base it on the ‘rule of thumb’. There is continuous consultation between the  Congress, the Sikhs, the Princes and Mountbatten. Something is cooking. Nobody knows the date of the announcement of the Award. It is up to Mountbatten.

            Governor of Punjab has been asked by Mountbatten for advice as to the date of the announcement. It is also said that the Viceroy will not be issuing the Award in the form of a communiqué from the Viceroy’s House. It will be published as a Gazette Extraordinary under the instructions of the Boundary Commission. Mountbatten wants to give the impression to the world that he had nothing to do with it.      [p.222]

*George Abell entered the ICS in 1928; Private Secretary to the Viceroy 1945-47.

Rioting by Sikhs. 9 August 1947: Rioting by Sikhs has started. This is in accordance with their plan.                                                                           [p.223]

C-in-C Pakistan Army—on the Delay in the Award. 11 August: General Frank Messervy is of the opinion that the postponement of the Boundary Commission Award is causing uncertainty and immense bloodshed.                                  [p.224]

Shocking Report of the Boundary Force. 11 August: A report has been received from the Punjab Boundary Force which says that:

■ The refugee problem, mainly from Eastern Punjab to Western Punjab is becoming increasingly difficult.

■ The disturbances are producing an average of two hundred to five hundred killings a day. Raids are organized and usually carried out by well-armed gangs of Sikhs.

■ Derailment of trains is a common occurrence. The Maharajah of Faridkot himself is known to be organizing the operations.

■ On arrival in Amritsar to take over their duties, the non-Muslim Police disarmed the Muslim members of the Police Force.                                                           [p.224]

Messervy’s Alarming Report. 11 August: General Messervy has also reported that the situation in Punjab is really bad. The Sikhs are operating large numbers of gangs and timely information about their movement is impossible. The situation in Amritsar is fast deteriorating as a result of the disarming of the Muslim Police by the Hindu Superintendent of Police.                                                                             [p.224]

The Sikhs’ Ghastly Behaviour. 13 August: In a conference in Lahore, Jenkins, the Governor, and Pete Rees, Commander of the Boundary Force, gave their views on the prevailing situation. They painted a very gloomy picture. They said that the Sikhs were behaving with ‘pre-medieval ferocity’, and felt the worst had still to come.

            The C-in-C made a note. ‘The delay in announcing the Award of the Boundary Commission is having a most disturbing and harmful effect.’                          [p.225]

Late Announcement of Award led to the Storm of Killings.  16 August: There was a meeting of the Joint Defence Council under the chairmanship of Mountbatten. It was attended by Nehru, Vallabhai Patel, Baldev Singh and Liaquat Ali Khan. Auchinleck gave his views on what he had seen in the last few days and on the discussion he had with Governor Jenkins and Major-General Thomas Rees. He emphasized that the delay in announcing the Award of the Boundary Commission had resulted in the wildest rumours, even to the extent, for example, that Lahore will be part of India. This has given fresh impetus to the killings by the Sikhs. The Award should have been announced on 9 August, as Jenkins had suggested earlier.

Patel said rioting at Rawalpindi started a chain reaction. He admitted that Tara Singh had made indiscreet and inflammable speeches, which had added fuel to the fire. Liaquat openly said that the whole thing had been carefully engineered by the Sikhs under the guidance of Baldev. Nehru sat depressed and in a daze. He asked whether there was a military escort on every train. If so, why did the massacres take place? He was told that the gangs got on to the train with their arms concealed. Once on, they then attacked suddenly.

Mountbatten tried to humour everyone and admitted that he hoped he had not made too big a mistake by not announcing the Award on 9 August. He said that the storm was not unexpected, but its extent could not have been anticipated. He said he now realized that if he had rounded up the Sikh trouble-makers, including Tara Singh, he would not have had to face this day.                                              [p.234]

Mountbatten’s Underhand Alterations. 16 August: The Award has been shown to the leaders. It is a black day for Pakistan. All the rumours were true about Mountbatten amending the findings, and that he has destroyed the proof. What he did not realize was that, by mistake, a copy was sent to the Secretary of the Governor of Punjab which Jenkins gave to his successor, Francis Mudie, who handed it over to Liaquat. This has horrified Mountbatten.

The amendments Mountbatten made were common knowledge. The Canal Headworks at Ferozepore have been awarded to India on the instigation of his great friend, the Maharajah of Bikaner who, on 11 August, sent his Prime Minister, Sirdar Pannikar, and his Chief Engineer, Kanwar Sain, to see him. It has convinced the Muslims that Mountbatten altered the Award. Finally, Nehru was instrumental in getting the Award altered. A corridor has been provided to Kashmir.               [p.235]

The Treacherous Alterations in the Boundary Award. The Pakistan Times, 18 August 1947, reported, ‘In Punjab, the notional division had been unfair but the final Award has gone much further and hacked off some of our richest tracts of land. The blow has been the hardest in Gurdaspur where the two Muslim Tehsils of Gurdaspur and Batala with a Muslim majority have been thrown into Hindustan along with the Pathankot Tehsil, taking away from Pakistan the rich Muslim industrial area of Batala. A part of Lahore has been broken off. Radcliffe has gone to the trouble of drawing a village to village boundary but the Ajnala Tehsil of Amritsar District with a 60 per cent Muslim majority and contiguous to the District of Lahore has been completely forgotten. The Tehsils of Zehra and Ferozepore with a clear Muslim majority have been dismissed with talk of “disruption of communication”.’       [p.236]

Mountbatten Lied about the Alterations. 16 August: Mountbatten says that he received the Award on 13 August and signed it on the 15th. Everyone knows this is not correct. The late announcement has caused havoc because of the uncertainty of which areas would finally belong where.  Mountbatten wanted the bloodbath to happen when the two Governments had been established so that the responsibility would not be his.                                                                                         [p.235]

Award Published. 17 August: The Boundary Award was published today.    [p.236]

Sikhs on the Rampage. 17 August: A meeting of the Joint Defence Council has been held in Ambala. Rees told the meeting that without the Punjab Boundary Force the slaughter would have been far greater. The Sikhs are burning the country from Lahore to Julundhur and turning it into a battlefield.

            Percy Howard wrote in The Sunday Express, ‘It was really the movement of the Sikh community out of the new Pakistan which sparked off the great killings in Punjab and they acted like savages.’                                                       [p.236]

 

Sikhs’ Private Army. 19 August: Situation in Punjab, especially Amritsar, is bad. Sikh personnel of the (disbanded) Indian National Army (of Subhas Chandra Bose) have formed a Private army for the slaughter of the Muslims. They want to ensure the elimination of Muslims from the Sikh areas of Punjab. The Indian Government is incapable of controlling the Sikhs. Trains to Pakistan are being looted each day and their occupants slaughtered.                                                   [p.237]

 

Appalling Situation in Delhi. 5 September: Situation in Delhi is extremely critical. Muslims are being hunted and butchered in the streets, and the bodies lie rotting. Arson and looting are the order of the day.                                                   [p.246]

 

Bloodshed was Pre-Planned. 8 September: Sikhs in Simla have been slaughtering the Muslims according to a pre-arranged plan. The civil administration in east Punjab is practically non-existent. There too the Muslims are being slaughtered according to a concerted plan.                                                                                        [p.246]

 

The ban on ‘Kirpans’ Withdrawn. 13 September: (From a letter to Mountbatten by Auchinleck). “I feel I must tell you of my fears about the present situation. I see in today’s newspaper that the ban placed on ‘Kirpans’ has been virtually withdrawn. The general public, here and all over India, can place one interpretation only on this action, which is that the Government does not really mean to grasp this problem of asserting its authority over the forces of disorder. The inference is that it is afraid to deal with the Sikhs as they should be dealt with.”                                          [p.249]

 

Governor Jenkins’ Official Records were Burnt. Once when I met Jenkins and pressed him to write his memoirs, he replied that ‘It is not in the interest of the Commonwealth.’ It is known that at the time of his departure from India he was warned by Mountbatten not to speak out. He was ordered to burn all his official papers, which included many connected with the Boundary affair, but still, a few papers including the original sketch map demarcating the boundaries between the two Dominions before it was altered by Mountbatten fell into the hands of Francis Mudie, the Governor, who gave them to Liaquat.                                           [p.300]

 

Clear-Cut Conclusions. Among the several conclusions from the given facts, two must be highlighted. Mountbatten knew the consequences of delaying the Boundary Award, that when announced it will absolutely shock and stun the Muslims in the Muslim-majority Areas, which by the rules of the Boundary Award were to be part of Pakistan, but which he had given to India. The Muslims will be seized with panic and fright and will be powerless against the Sikhs’ onslaught. This is what happened.

Secondly, the plans of the intended massacres that had been made in advance were known to Baldev Singh and Major Short, Mountbatten’s adviser on Sikh affairs. And Nehru and Mountbatten were aware of the coming bloodshed by the Sikhs but did not try to prevent it.

 

The writer is an analyst of national and global issues and is dedicated to exposing the issues harmful to Pakistan’s security and sovereignty.     

 

 

Tariq Majeed

Cell: 0301-438-6267

Email: dilbedar@Yahoo.com

 

 

 

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EXPOSING TIME’S MALEVOLENT QUOTE AGAINST QUAID-E-AZAM By Commodore Tariq Majeed PN (Retd)

 

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Awareness Brief–AB-03-18, Thursday, 17 May 2018, 1 Ramazan 1439

EXPOSING TIME’S MALEVOLENT QUOTE AGAINST QUAID-E-AZAM

 

Commodore Tariq Majeed PN (Retd)

 

This analytical article on a critical matter was written in May 1997 and was published in weekly The Facts International, Lahore, in its issue of June 1—7, 1997. The article’s circulation was limited to The Facts’ readers. Besides, that was 21 years—nearly a generation—ago. There was a need to bring this important matter to the knowledge of the present generation of policymakers, writers and other relevant people.

  

            A malevolent statement allegedly made by Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and said to have been quoted by a doctor who treated him in the last days of his fatal illness, was printed by the American weekly Time in its issue of December 23, 1996, in a story on the founder of Pakistan.

 

A Proven Concoction

            It immediately drew denunciation and protests from many Pakistanis who read the evidently untrue statement in Time or some of the local newspapers which had reproduced it. Several letters refuting the statement and demonstrating its falseness appeared in various newspapers.

            That the statement is a concoction had been proved indisputably as it will be further demonstrated in this study. The issue, however, cannot be left there. Time is a prominent worldwide publication. Why did it indulge in such a repugnant venture? Moreover, where exactly did that cunning canard spring from? Who all participated in the subversive scheme? These questions ought to be seriously looked into. The canard should be thoroughly exposed.

 

The Weapon of Propaganda

            In the game of power politics between nations, propaganda is used as the main weapon. Indeed, no other weapon or agent of aggression can match poisonous propaganda in its destructive effects against societies and states. Therefore, expansionist powers, aiming at imperialistic hegemony over weaker nations, extensively employ this weapon to demoralize and debilitate and thus subdue, their targets. Deception, fabrication and disinformation are a staple menu of propaganda fed to the people for such purposes.

 

As the hegemonic powers are clear about their strategic aims, they are able to plan the menu of the propaganda and its methods of dissemination years in advance. How this stream of fake or untrustworthy information is passed off as a credible and acceptable material is an intricate art in itself. The main method is to propagate the information through prominent media organs whose credibility is well-established. It has the added advantage that if anyone challenges the questionable information, the managers, drawing on the prominent image of their periodical or network, manage to overlook or deflect the criticism. This should be kept in mind while examining the malicious statement in Time’s story.

 

 

Letters Not Published

The exact words in the story, written by Carl Posey, were. “On his deathbed, according to his doctor, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the wealthy lawyer of Bombay, rendered his final judgment on his signal achievement: ‘Pakistan,’ he said, had been ‘the biggest blunder of my life’”. When I read it, I immediately wrote to Time by e-mail with the intention of not merely refuting the statement but challenging the whole episode.

The first step to know was what was Time’s source, as Posey had cleverly left the reference and even the doctor’s name out. I expected there would be other letters also disproving the statement, and the editors while publishing the letters would certainly reveal the sources to support their story. My letter, dated 27 December 1996, to the editor was as follows:

 

I am a reader of Time since 1960, and am aware of its brilliant reporting of facts and equally brilliant reproduction of concoctions and distortion of facts. Carl Posey’s report (Dec 23) that on his deathbed, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, according to his doctor, said that Pakistan had been the ‘biggest blunder of my life,’ falls in the latter skill. Mr Jinnah’s sister Fatima Jinnah, and two prominent doctors, Riaz Ali Shah and Colonel Elahi Bakhsh remained by his side till he breathed his last. None of the doctors ever quoted such a statement; neither is it mentioned in Col Bakhsh’s book, With the Quaid-e-Azam during his Last Days. Indeed, both of them and Fatima Jinnah, who wrote a book, My Brother, narrated that Mr Jinnah continued to express his love for and pride in Pakistan till the end.

 

Simultaneously, a letter countering Carl Posey’s tale with weighty reasoning was dispatched to Time by a friend of mine who used to be a student of Dr Elahi Bakhsh in late 1950s, and had heard from him many an anecdote about Quaid-e-Azam but never anything like what Time had quoted. Both of our letters were not published by Time. Subsequently, it was learnt that Time had refused to publish several other letters including one by a former Aide-de-camp to Quaid-e-Azam.

 

Time’s Tactics

            Not finding my letter in Time’s issue of January 20, 1997, which carried a few letters on the subject, I at once sent a reminder, and only then received a reply. By then, it was obvious from several indications that Time knew the statement to be disinformation and was using all kinds of tactics to camouflage its motives and deceive the protesters and the public.

 

Before looking at its reply, let us take a look at Time’s tactics. The piece of disinformation is placed at the very end, to serve as the closing words of the two-page story, “The Great Pleader for a Muslim State.” Reading through the story when you come to its end, the malevolent closing words hit you like a knock of a hammer, and all that you may have found favourable to Pakistan’s founder, in the story, fades away. The story’s writer triumphs, in the effect that he wanted to create on the readers.   

 

It is a usual practice with any standard periodical, including Time, that when its information is questioned or disproved, it reveals its own source or extends an apology. Time did not publish in its own pages the source of that statement. It disclosed the source only to individual protesters.

Time did not indicate how much mail it had received on this topic of the false quote. Normally, in such cases, it publishes several of the letters in a separate box and even cites brief comments from some of the unpublished letters. A recent example could be seen in the issue of January 27, 1997, in which the editors, after publishing 12 letters about a previous cover story, had given short excerpts from a number of the unpublished letters.

 

Posey’s story, as mentioned, did not reveal the name of the doctor who had leaked the so-called quote of the Quaid. On the other hand, the one-sentence statement was so phrased, and with such audacity, as if the writer, Carl Posey, had himself heard the statement from the doctor!

 

Its timing was perfectly calibrated. The story was printed to coincide with the birth anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam on December 25. As it was reproduced by several of the local newspapers, it was read by a large number of people. The malignant disinformation, even though disbelieved by almost everyone, created a sense of confusion and frustration among the people, at a time when they traditionally celebrate the merits and achievements of the founder of the country with a measure of pride.

 

With this story, Time also closed its special series titled “Newsmakers of the Half Century” under which it was written. The series had been started just two months earlier, with its issue of 21 October 1996, for write-ups on Time’s own selection of nine Asian leaders including Sukarno, Mao Zedong and Nehru. A comment on Quaid-e-Azam by Time in its special issue on Asia, ahead of the series, should be exposed. Donald Morrison, writing in a column, otherwise exclusively devoted to praising the weekly and its staff, made a mean swipe at Quaid-e-Azam. He claimed: “Our readers included nearly all the region’s top political and business leaders—the founding father of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, for example, who once granted a Time correspondent an interview in exchange for a subscription.” Were the facts to be dug out, this statement too will turn out to be false.

 

After its December 23 issue, which carried Posey’s story, came Time’s end-of-the-year double issue, meaning the next issue would not appear till after two weeks. That meant a week’s long delay in publication of letters protesting that false quote—which, thus, remained unquestioned in the pages of Time for that extra period.

The magazine, of course, also had a more concrete plan to deal with the letters of protest and refutation. Time, the champion of all kinds of conceivable and inconceivable human rights, including freedom of speech, equality and impartiality, had no intention of publishing them! Indeed, the editors adhered to their plan, without the least remorse.

 

Time’s Own Choice of Letters

            The editors cleverly selected just four letters, on the topic, which they published in the issue of January 20, 1997. Only one of these, from a lady in Islamabad, questions the false quote—just in one sentence! It reads: “For Jinnah to have said on his deathbed that Pakistan was his ‘biggest blunder’ flies in the face of all that has been recorded and written about the Quaid and is entirely out of character.” That was all, to represent the anger and protests over the false statement registered by many Pakistanis and the undeniable refutation of it presented to Time by some very authentic protesters!

 

The editors did not stop at that dishonest act. They employed an additional trick without any qualm. Immediately below that letter, they placed a letter which purports to sustain the canard, though the comment made is incoherent! It is by someone named Umer Pasha, from Lahore; and he is made to say:  “Time has really done justice to the tremendous personality of our great leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah. I think Jinnah knew what he was saying when he called his nation-building the biggest blunder of his life. None of the current leaders of Pakistan has the sincerity and the will to build the economy of the country.” The other two letters do not speak about the false quote and comment on some other aspects of the story.

 

Time’s Reply

            We can examine now Time’s reply to my letter. The same reply was received by a few other people, who persisted in demanding a reply to their letters. The full text of Time’s reply is as follows:

 

            Thank you for taking the time to register your reaction to our December 23 anniversary supplement about Mohammad Ali Jinnah. We were, of course, sorry to learn of your disappointment with our reporting but we do appreciate the opportunity to consider your critical perspective.

            In addressing broad-based criticism of the overall tone of our reporting, it is often difficult for us to do more than offer our assurances that we have no interest in pursuing programmatic biases in the magazine. We are certainly most sensitive to the extraordinary diversity of our audience and, naturally, we strive to apply a consistently dispassionate measure to each and every topic with which we engage.

            Having said that, we would like to speak specifically about the deathbed quote you mention. Our source was M. J. Akbar’s Nehru: The Making of India (Viking 1988). On page 433 of that biography, Akbar writes “Jinnah’s personal physician in his last days, Colonel Elahi Bakhsh, had recorded that once Jinnah, on his deathbed, blew up at Liaquat Ali Khan, who had come to see him, and described Pakistan as ‘the biggest blunder of my life’. The story was printed in Peshawar’s Frontier Post in November 1987 and quotes Jinnah as saying, “If now I get an opportunity I will go to Delhi and tell Jawaharlal Nehru to forget about the follies of the past and become friends again.” We do know that Colonel Bakhsh did not include this quote in his own memoir, With the Quaid-e-Azam during his Last Days, but that does not, in our view, mean that he may not have remembered it nonetheless and related it later to a different audience.

            In closing, we thought you might be interested to know that several letters expressing similar criticisms to yours were published in our Asian edition, where the story originally appeared. Although we were unable to include your letter as well, you can be sure that it met with an attentive audience among our editors. Again, our thanks for letting us hear from you, and best wishes.

 

Sincerely,

Winston Hunter

 

Analysis of Time’s Reply

One cannot be impressed by the “courtesies” in Time’s letter when the subject is its inaccuracies and prevarications—which is a courteous expression for lies.

            It is incorrect for the editors to say that they “have no interest in pursuing programmatic biases in the magazine.” The fact that they deliberately did not publish many letters of protest from Pakistanis disproves their statement. This itself testifies to their programmatic biases.”

            It is a lie on their part to say “that several letters expressing similar criticisms to yours were published in our Asian edition”. How could they make such a false claim against the evidence in their own magazine! There were not several but just four letters; and out of these four, only one letter expressed criticism of the quote, in just one sentence!

            The editors said they were unable to include my letter; they said the same words to others whose letters were not published. But the editors presented no reason to anyone, as to what made them ‘unable’ to publish those letters? What else could be the reason, except that the editors were afraid the readers of Time would know that the statement about Mr Jinnah was a concoction.

 

Indian Author’s Book

            From the wording of their reply, it appears that the book of the Indian author, M.J. Akbar, is Time’s main source for the quote. I found the book in Quaid-e-Azam Library, Lahore. On looking up the book, one finds that Akbar’s source for the concocted statement is none other than the Frontier Post story! Incidentally, this book on Nehru is considered of no authentic value. Even in India, it is treated with disdain, because in his adulation of his subject, Akbar became blind to Nehru’s faults losing all sense of objectivity, while the Indians from authentic literature have been learning more and more about Nehru’s moral weaknesses and political blunders. It should also be of interest to know that M.J. Akbar’s zealous devotion to the Indian National Congress surprises even the party’s own Hindu loyalists!       

 

Tracking Down the Primary Source

            Next, we come to the so-called primary source—the story in the Frontier Post. It was a bizarre situation; an unheard of the statement had found a passage into an Indian author’s book and an American weekly, and its primary source was a little-known, literally obscure newspaper!

 

            Both Time and M.J. Akbar had intentionally not mentioned the exact date of the story. I reckoned there would be some difficulty in finding the date and then the story in Frontier Post Files. It turned out I had underestimated the problem. The Frontier Post office in Lahore plainly expressed their inability to help in the matter, saying that the Lahore Edition was launched only in July 1989. A letter, followed by a reminder to the Frontier Post’s chief editor, in Peshawar, requesting his help failed to elicit any response from him.

 

            Inquiries revealed that a ‘seasoned hand’, who had spent several years at the Frontier Post and was considered a walking encyclopedia on the Peshawar daily, could be contacted in Lahore. He did prove to be ‘seasoned’. He was a diehard congressite in his political allegiance. He knew about the Frontier Post story and its author’s name, and even defended it, but said he did not know its date, and that even the year could be 1986 or 1988 and not necessarily 1987! I understood his trickery.

 

            Finding the Frontier Post Files of 1987 was another problem. It was the Dayal Singh Trust Library, Lahore, which, in this case, proved to be an asset, superior to all the other local libraries. On a day, in the month of Ramazan (1997), I spent several hours going through the Frontier Post Files of November and December 1987, but the story was not found.

 

An Intriguing Column

            However, I found two unusual features in the paper. It carried a continuous stream of subtle, and sometimes even blatant, propaganda against Pakistan and its raison d’etre ie, its reason for existence. Unfortunately, it is also a characteristic of several other dailies in our country, but the Peshawar daily topped the other papers in this respect. The second was an intriguing feature. The Frontier Post, sometime in October 1987, had initiated on the ‘City Post’ page, a special but occasional column titled “Historical Notes.” It seemed to be a technique for airing ‘new disclosures and theories’ to distort the facts about the Pakistan Movement, the Muslim League, and the leading personalities who led the movement and the party.

 

            Under that ‘special’ column, on Saturday, 12 December 1987, is a story “Quaid Wanted To Abandon Muslim League” by Al-Huma, obviously a cover name. An inscription at the story’s beginning says, “The writer of the article is a student of the history of Pakistan Movement. In 1972 he undertook a self-imposed mission of collecting information and historical evidence so as to set the historical record straight for the posterity”. Al Huma’s narrative which he says is based on an interview of Mir Ahmed Yar Khan, the Mir of Kalat, is pathetically unfit to be of any historical value. Four days later, on 16 December, the newspaper was compelled to publish a reply challenging Al-Huma and exposing his narrative to be manifestly inaccurate.

 

The mystery around the Concocted Story

            A study of that column did give a clue to finding the story. It was obvious the elusive story would be found in the “Historical Notes” on the ‘City Post’ page. But, I failed to find the story! It was eventually found by a helpful source, Hakim Naeemud Din Zuberi, the learned Director of Library, Hamdard University, Karachi, to whom I had written to help with the research.

            The story was in the paper of 25 November 1987. It was indeed on the ‘City Post’ page and in the special column, this time more grandiloquently titled as “Footnotes of History.”  It is by Mohammad Yahya Jan, and is headlined, “What Quaid’s Physician told me”.

How did I miss it? In the Frontier Post Files in the Dayal Singh Trust Library, the page was not there! It had been removed—by design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  The Story’s Author

            An inquiry into Yahya Jan’s background revealed that his father was a brother of Dr Khan Sahib and Abdul Ghaffar Khan. They were the founders of the anti-Pakistan ‘Red Shirts’ movement. They were loyal to the Indian National Congress, deadly opposed to Pakistan. Yahya Jan had served in the pre-partition Congress régime in the Frontier Province as education minister in 1945. Yahya Jan was a tottering old man touching the debilitating age of 90 in 1987, when he ‘remembered’ to disclose something which, he said, had been told to him by Col Elahi Bakhsh 35 years before, in 1952!

 

Cleverly-Written Narrative

            At the outset, Yahya Jan says, “I cannot vouch for the truth of Col Elahi Bakhsh’s account. All I can say, with God as my witness, that this is what he told me”. Then follows a long narrative of how and what Dr Elahi Bakhsh confided to Yahya Jan and Dr Khan Sahib, in a patients’ ward in the Mayo Hospital, Lahore, where an ailing Ghaffar Khan was under treatment. Yahya Jan claims he received the information, that he had disclosed in the story, over a number of sessions of conversation with Bakhsh. On this point, he writes: “Col Elahi Bakhsh, as the superintendent of the Mayo Hospital, used to come on his rounds of the wards between 8 and 9 in the morning. He would exchange a few words and then pass on. As he got to know us better he occasionally lingered on for longer periods. Sometimes our conversation stretched out for quite a while, and their memory endures in my mind.”

 

            The narrative contains the malicious quote and a number of other preposterous statements, allegedly made by Quaid-e-Azam to Liaquat Ali Khan when the latter, accompanied by Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, called on the Quaid at Ziarat in late July 1948. The utterances are exceedingly insulting to Quaid-e-Azam, Mr Liaquat Ali Khan, Miss Fatima Jinnah, the State of Pakistan and the entire Pakistan Movement. The basis of the narrative is that Col Elahi Bakhsh was in the room throughout when Quaid-e-Azam had the exclusive meeting with Liaquat Ali Khan.

 

            According to Yahya Jan, apart from the Khan Brothers, the only person who learnt of Col Bakhsh’s account was Agha Shorish Kashmiri, a well-known journalist, to whom Yahya had passed it on. According to the narrative, Agha Shorish, apparently, had it confirmed from the doctor but then kept it to himself!  The full narrative mentions other malicious things also. Towards the narrative’s end, Yahya again swears by God, and says, “I hold myself accountable to God if I have misquoted anything Col Bakhsh said”. Swearing by God is an old ruse to make concocted statements ‘credible.’

 

Refutation of the Story

            Amongst the evidence that appeared in newspapers proving the falseness of the story, the accounts by three persons are of special significance. They are: Dr Zafar Omer, an assistant of late Col Elahi Bakhsh, Dr Ghulam Mohammad Khan, the only living doctor out of a team of four from Mayo Hospital who attended Mr Jinnah during his terminal illness in Ziarat and Quetta, and Brigadier (Retd) Noor A. Hussain, Quaid’s ADC in the last four months of his life in Karachi, Quetta and Ziarat. Excerpts from their letters which appeared in Dawn on 30 January, 26 January and 4 March 1997, respectively are reproduced below.

 

Zafar Omer, Lahore. “I was privy to most of the observations of late Col Elahi Bakhsh (about Quaid-e-Azam), because I was his assistant, and quite close to him. I never heard him mention any such remark. In fact, according to Col Elahi Bakhsh, the Quaid till the last seemed most proud of his achievement and had great hopes regarding the country”.

 

Dr Ghulam Mohammad Khan, Lahore. “I have no wish to dwell upon all the malicious and vituperative statements of the writer (of Time’s story). However, the last paragraph of his story should not go without comment. Besides other things, it states that on his deathbed Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah told his doctor that Pakistan had been ‘the biggest blunder of my life’. I happen to be the only living doctor out of a team of four from Mayo Hospital, Lahore, who attended Mr Jinnah during his terminal illness in Ziarat and Quetta. He was never left unattended—day or night—as we had adjacent bedrooms. It is absolutely unimaginable and unbelievable that a statement of such import and implication was ever made by Mr Jinnah and none of the doctors present at hand had known it for nearly 48 years till Carl Posey brought it to our notice.

            “Furthermore, late Col Elahi Bakhsh makes no mention of any such statement in his book “With the Quaid-e-Azam during his Last Days”. The statement attributed to the founder of Pakistan by Carl Posey is a figment of his own imagination. It is clear that this statement has been deliberately concocted in order to malign a great leader and the country he brought into existence, and it is obviously sponsored by the enemies of Pakistan.”

 

Brigadier (Retd) Noor Hussain, Rawalpindi. “I was the Quaid’s ADC in the last four months of his life in Karachi, Quetta and Ziarat. I cannot recollect the Quaid ever feeling or making such remarks to his doctor or anyone else, even on his deathbed, where I was present throughout.

            “I was ADC on duty when Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan arrived in Ziarat late July 1948, to see Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. After Quaid’s consent, I ushered him into the bedroom on the top floor. They exchanged greetings. Miss Jinnah came out as was the protocol for such meetings between the two. Doctor Elahi Bakhsh and Riaz Ali Shah chest specialist were not present in Quaid’s bedroom but were waiting in the Lounge on the ground Floor with us. After about 40 minutes, the PM came downstairs, met the doctors, had lunch with Miss Jinnah and ADCs and drove down to Quetta for the flight back to Karachi by PAF’s DC-3 aircraft.”

 

Miss Fatima Jinnah’s Book

            Brigadier Hussain’s eye-witness account of Liaquat Ali Khan’s call on the Quaid at Ziarat is fully corroborated by Miss Fatima Jinnah’s description of that visit in her book “My Brother”, (Karachi, Quaid-e-Azam Academy, 1987). In fact, she related that when the meeting was over, she went into the Quaid’s room and wanted to stay with him as he seemed exhausted but he insisted: “Go and eat with them, they are our guests”.

 

            From her book also, it is evident that when Mr Liaquat Ali met the Quaid, there was no one else in the room, not even she or Chaudhry Mohammad Ali, what to speak of Dr Elahi Bakhsh, who was rather a stranger to Quaid-e-Azam till then. It should be remembered that Col Elahi Bakhsh, as recorded in his book, had met Quaid-e-Azam for the first time on 24 July, and it was just around four days later that Liaquat Ali Khan and Chaudhry Muhammad Ali arrived on their visit. Indeed, Dr Bakhsh, in his own book makes no claim of having been present at that meeting; nor is there any mention, or even a hint, of that false statement in the book.

 

The Source of Concoction

            Then, where did that statement and all the other vicious utterances originate from? Who concocted the episode? To analyze this concoction one must comprehend the full dimension of the nature and aims of the psychological warfare being conducted against our country. Once that has been comprehended, then you know that this concoction is the handiwork of the schemers conducting that warfare. Needless to say, the schemers intimately know their subjects, targets, and the local conditions, and have a vast network to gain penetration and influence into the required circles. Indeed, this whole scheme, which in their terminology is called a “sting operation,” has their stamp on it. Like all the other sting operations, this one was also very meticulously planned and had been conceived a long time before it was to materialize.

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            Those people, who think that there would be no harm in befriending Israel, must realize that it will not change Israeli aims. God forbid, if the rulers of Pakistan ever committed the blunder of befriending the Zionist state, they would be offering the Israelis the ideal circumstances and full freedom to realize their aims against Pakistan.  That will also invite divine punishment to Pakistan, for transgressing a divine commandment: “O you who believe! Turn not (for friendship) to people on whom is the Wrath of Allah.”  The “people” mentioned in this Quranic Verse (Surah 60:13) are the Zionist Jews who deny God and His Prophets. “They are the Party of Satan;” (Surah 58:19). They are the creators and rulers of the Zionist state of Israel.  

 

The Local Fifth Column

            Due to various reasons, a Fifth Column exists in Pakistan. Fifth Column, by definition, is “An organized body sympathizing with and working for the enemy within a country.” These people living in Pakistan have amassed wealth and they enjoy many privileges, but they readily act as agents of the Zionist Jews to harm Pakistan. Yahya Jan belonged to this band. The master schemers guided him to be the pivot in this nasty venture.

 

Final Orchestration

            The scheme of the concocted story was made by Zionist schemers. They prepared its full script, had the story printed in the Frontier Post, passed the information to M.J. Akbar and Carl Posey, none of whom, otherwise, would have known about it. The concocted story would find a permanent place in the pages of Akbar’s book and the weekly Time, long after people had forgotten the Frontier Post and Yahya Jan. For Yahya Jan, nearing the end of his life, it was the last desperate stroke of ‘revenge’ against Pakistan whose establishment he and his clan had failed to prevent.            

By November 1987, M.J. Akbar’s book was ready to go into print (it was published in 1988) and a sick, awfully aged, Yahya Jan was close to his deathbed (he died in 1989). Shorish Kashmiri had died in 1975.  A phoney newspaper had been launched since 1985 and a column “Historical Notes” had been initiated in it since October 1987. So, the plan was set for Time (a mouthpiece of Zionism) to bring out a special series in October–December 1996, on Asian ‘Newsmakers of the Half Century’; it should have a write-up on Mohammad Ali Jinnah carrying the concocted quote, and ending the series!  So, the sting operation was launched and successfully completed.  

Action for the Government

            This whole sordid affair has another deplorable aspect— an absence of any action on the part of the government or scholars in Pakistan to challenge and demolish the lies directed against Quaid-e-Azam and the creation of Pakistan. Their insensitivity and neglect were compounded. They let the Frontier Post story go unnoticed, failed to spot the inclusion of the lies in M.J. Akbar’s book, and maintained a conspiracy of silence when Time advertised the malevolent lies around the world.

           

The least the government should do now is that either the Information Ministry or the Quaid-e-Azam Academy should declare the false quote to be a concoction, and formally ask the weekly Time and the publishers of M.J. Akbar’s book to annul it from the pages of their publications. The concerned authorities should also place this article at appropriate websites on the Internet, as, besides unmasking the falseness of Time’s story, it exposes this magazine’s dishonesty in knowingly publishing a false story.   

 

The writer is an analyst of International Zionism’s schemes, particularly the schemes against Pakistan and the other Muslim Countries.

 

 

Tariq Majeed

Lahore, Pakistan

 

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Pakistan Army’s Successful Operation in FATA Video & War against Terrorism & Rehabilitation of FATA By Sajjad Shaukat

               

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsjpI3zt6fI

                       

 

 

 

 

War against Terrorism & Rehabilitation of FATA

                                                                By Sajjad Shaukat

 

On June 10, this year, while showing the progress of the military operation Zarb-e-Azb, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Raheel Sharif said, “Terrorists have been cleared from their strongholds in North Waziristan Agency and Khyber Agency, and fight now is moving into last few pockets close to Afghan border.” He laid emphasis on “continuation of the operations till elimination of the last expected and probable terrorists groups and sanctuaries.”

 

 

green-ground-red-drones-blue-paf-strikes-dawn-20-june-2014

 

 

 

 

 

Since June 15, 2014, the jets of Pakistan Air Force have bombed militants’ hideouts in North Waziristan Agency, and killed thousands of insurgents including foreign militants, while Pakistan Army has killed several terrorists through ground offensive and many of them surrendered before the Army. Thus, these forces destroyed their strongholds, demolishing tunnels and factories producing IED (Explosives), while drying the sources of their funds and sinking their public support. Pakistan’s Armed Forces have broken the backbone of the militants and their network.

 

However, the operation Zarb-e-Azb in tribal areas is nearing its completion, witnessing huge successes of Pakistan Army which has offered commendable sacrifices and cleared the area off terrorists.

 

Except some occasional blow, the faces of tribal people are gleaming with resolve, determination and commitment to weed out terrorists from their homeland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Undoubtedly, the ferocious fighting by the sons of soil to liberate people of families of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) from the terrorists, resulted in one of the biggest internal displacement in the history of Pakistan. It has caused huge socio-politico-economic and security implications for the brave people of tribal areas. These people faced the hardships of displacement, and their plight was aired by various media segments. Opinion makers felt the pain and strived to sensitize the government and public regarding their socio-economic responsibilities to look after their basic human needs.

 

 

 

 

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Since the military operations of 2008, there has been frequent dislocation of populations from seven agencies of FATA. Some persons were fleeing due to the threats and attacks by the terrorists, but most of them left the areas for their own safety, prior to military operations to free FATA and Pakistan from the militants. They made their temporary homes in camps, made for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), with host families, or in hired accommodation in places like Tank, DI Khan, Bannu and Peshawar. Many of them have since long returned home following stabilization of their areas, but residual caseloads remained in 2014, and the number increased. The latest wave of dislocation from North Waziristan Agency brought the total FATA-displaced-population up to around 2 million people. This is a massive dislocation of persons for any country to handle. Assisting them during displacement has required substantial funding and initiatives to ensure their shelter and other needs, which have been fulfilled.

 

As stability and peace is restored in FATA, Pakistan Army is working with the government and other stakeholders to facilitate the return of the IDPs, and the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the affected regions. Gen. Raheel Sharif has repeatedly stated that the top priority is the early and dignified return of the IDPs, and he has instructed all concerned officials to prepare for their phased return.

 

In this regard, the Pakistan Government has issued directions to the related ministries and departments to finalize the plans regarding funds, the returns of the IDPs, reconstruction and rehabilitation of FATA.

 

While, it is not enough for the rehabilitation of the massive populations of the tribal areas, which require huge funds, as now, it is the turn of the tribal people to celebrate their return to their areas. But, destroyed villages, shattered houses and ruined markets can not be welcoming sites. Where they will dwell and from where they will draw the livelihood for their families? Who is responsible for their rehabilitation? Have any efforts been made to raise funds? These are some of the questions haunting the minds of everyone. Time is ticking fast; Government of Pakistan, people and international community have to rise to the challenge before it is too late. It is every ones responsibility to contribute towards their quickest possible rehabilitation, so that they consider themselves part of the society. Any negligence at this stage would not only generate despondency among the tribal people of FATA, but would leave space for the militancy to re-surface.

 

Although, Pak Army has ever conducted a large-scale reconstruction and rehabilitation programme in FATA, yet it is not easy to resettle 2 million people. It requires detailed and insightful planning, political will, extensive and complex coordination and logistics, and substantial funding to support the initiatives to help families rebuild their homes, restock their livestock, plant crops, restart their livelihoods and to mend the fragile economy of this extremely disadvantaged region.

 

War against terrorism will remain incomplete, unless all segments of society and politicians try to win the hearts and minds of the tribal people by keeping in minds various requirements and steps which are essential for the rehabilitation of FATA.

 

Firstly, the vision of a peaceful, prosperous and developed FATA is necessary to foil future plans of the terrorists.

 

Secondly, whole nation, particularly the political leadership should come forward to provide financial resources for rehabilitation.

 

Thirdly, education for everyone and grass root level involvement of the people in socio-political activities may be ensured/planned.

 

Fourthly, efforts at all levels may be undertaken to re-construct physical structures, maintain law and order, activate economy and inculcate cohesion to ensure sustainable rehabilitation of people of FATA.

 

Fifthly, instead of portraying negative aspects of rehabilitation, media should come forward to arrange shows for fund-raising and proposing viable solutions for the issues prevailing in FATA.

Nevertheless, rehabilitation of FATA is still a bigger challenge. Therefore, just like the unity, shown by the whole nation during war against terrorism by supporting the Zarb-e-Azb, needs to display the same unity through practical assistance in rehabilitation of the tribal areas. Let us celebrate the forthcoming 14th August 2015 with national commitment to endeavour for rehabilitation of FATA people. 

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

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Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s Living Dead Body Terrorizing Sikhs Now!

 

bULLER sIKH

Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s Living Dead Body Terrorizing Sikhs Now!

by

Balbir Singh Sooch

The government of India seems to have decided in connivance with ‘Sikhs Agents’ to keep Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar (Born in Punjab in 1965 to civil servant parents Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar became a Professor of Engineering at Ludhiana University. He is now a convict on death row in India) alive as a living dead body in order to terrorize Sikhs for a long period and decided not to hang him.

As long as Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar is to be kept alive as a living dead body, Sikhs will read and remember as to how his family’s very educated supreme personalities-heads were eliminated and or shown disappeared without allowing any inquiry in the crime committed by the State terrorism as usually happens here in India to keep India united in violation of the internationally recognized norms and values, which  welfare democratic States required to be followed to fulfill the aspirations of their subjects-people like Sikhs and people of J&K etc demand from and within India.

After playing dramas and great publicity in connivance with the agents as happened since long in case of Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, now the government of India seems in mood not to hang him for the purpose stated above.

Now, the Sikh agents cry to defend the supreme court of India as to how it happened that the mental state of Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar was not brought to the knowledge of the supreme court of India before the final decision?

  The Sikh agents by their statements defending the supreme court of India, to whom, the Sikh agents are trying to blame? Are they asked to blame to the family especially Navneet Kaur wife of Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar or engaged counsel for him in the supreme court of India or somebody else, who were crying for Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar to get him released on every forum of the world?

In such heinous criminal cases as loudly and after crying being said against Professor Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, the supreme court of India itself competent to ask to bring the accused before court to know his past state of mind and behavior (when, if he said to be committed crime), present state of mind and behavior, future state of mind and behavior as to what shall be social affect, if such accused released or hanged? As such exercises were earlier done by the supreme court of India in Billa-Ranga and other cases in India. Why not so in this case?   The politicians, who matter in India, the Indian agencies, the Sikh stooges and the outside world do understand as to what is going on under the garb of democratic values in India?

I cry more loudly and weep as to why the international community does not speak in the interest of justice of all human beings on the front of or against the State terrorism and corruption in India?

With this humble submission and the question before the international community, I have nothing to say more except enclosing a note, ‘Sikhs Are Agents’ as an introduction about present Sikhs.

 Courtesy: Zameer36.com
 

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The revolving door of Pakistani politics

The revolving door of Pakistani politics

President Asif Ali Zardari speaks at the IISS. Photo IISS

By Antoine Levesques, Research Analyst and Project Coordinator

Can Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf manage to stay in office until elections due by March next year?  If he does it will guarantee that a civilian government serves a full term for the first time in Pakistan’s history. But the Supreme Court recently disqualified Ashraf’s predecessor, Yusuf Raja Gilani, from office and already has the substitute PM in its sights, just two months after his swearing-in.

 

Ashraf has been summoned to appear in court on 27 August, in the latest instalment of a long-running dispute between the country’s executive and judiciary. At its heart lies a bitter rivalry between Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry and President Asif Ali Zardari (above), of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Grudgingly reinstated by Zardari’s government in March 2009 because of public pressure, Chaudhry has been pressing to have an old Swiss corruption case against the president reopened.

The government says that, as head of state, Zardari is immune from prosecution and that to bring an investigation would be unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court disagrees and ordered Zardari’s first prime minister, Gilani, to write to the Swiss authorities asking them to revive proceedings. When Gilani refused, he was charged with contempt of court. After convicting him in April, the Supreme Court ruled in June that this barred him from being a member of parliament.

The government tried to protect Ashraf from the same fate, but a hastily passed law to give government ministers immunity from contempt proceedings has been struck down by the Supreme Court. Although the government has appealed that decision, the ball is now in the judicial court. Ashraf is not expected to remain long in the top job.

Gilani said this week that if Ashraf were ousted it would be ‘tantamount to breaking up’ Pakistan. However, the government might be able to cling on until the elections by replacing him with yet another candidate. It would just be left in even more of a lame-duck position, when none of its leaders is held in particularly high esteem by the Pakistani public.

President Zardari, the former husband of assassinated presidential candidate and former PM Benazir Bhutto, has long been dogged by allegations of corruption.

The graft case Chief Justice Chaudhry wants reopened dates back to 2003, when Zardari and Bhutto were found guilty in absentia of using Swiss bank accounts to launder kickbacks from two Swiss companies in the 1990s. The couple appealed and the Swiss dropped the case finally in 2008, at the request of the military government of President General Pervez Musharraf.

This was a promise made under a 2007 amnesty to allow Bhutto to return from self-imposed exile and run for office. However, Chaudhry and his fellow justices declared the amnesty unconstitutional in 2009 and said that Zardari therefore no longer enjoyed immunity.

The new prime minister is equally unpopular, because of his earlier role as water and power minister, in a county plagued by power shortages. He has been accused of corruption over the importation of short-term (or ‘rental’) power stations, although he denies the allegations.

The PPP’s recent showing in a by-election to fill Gilani’s safe parliamentary seat, which his son only narrowly won, shows that going to the polls early may be risky for the party if Ashraf loses his battle with the judiciaryNevertheless, the groundwork has been laid for an interim caretaker government, and an electoral commissioner appointed.

The main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) led by Nawaz Sharif, has made some political mileage out of the government’s judicial woes; and a series of huge public rallies late last year show that the PPP may face stiffer competition in the 2013 poll from the Pakistan Tehriq-e-Insaf (PTI) party led by Imran Khan, the former cricketer, who is unlikely to boycott the polls as he did in 2008. (Following Khan’s recent ‘tsunami’ of success, the PML-N has also tried to tar him with corruption allegations.) Musharraf has also not entirely abandoned hopes of returning to Pakistan to participate in the election.

In such a contested environment, some believe, the PPP may have something to gain by putting up a stronger fight against the judiciary.

Certainly, a major issue in the entire saga has been the role of the Supreme Court in Pakistani politics. Chaudhry considered the judiciary instrumental in the struggle to return Pakistan to democracy after nearly a decade of military rule, and public protests helped return him to the bench after he was dismissed by the General Musharraf in 2007. Under Chaudhry’s renewed stewardship since 2009 the court has developed a populist and politically activist bent, championing the rights of ordinary Pakistanis, calling officials to account and involving itself in areas – such as food and fuel prices, planning and the environment – normally controlled by the government.

In doing so, it has emerged as a third player in the traditional tussle between Pakistan’s civilian politicians and military. It has tried to hold Pakistan’s powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate to account over the latter’s frequently disputed treatment of civilians, and questioned the military’s conduct in the restive province of Baluchistan. For this and other initiatives to improve the lot of ordinary Pakistanis, it won widespread support. But some commentators now believe it has gone too far in removing an elected prime minister.

Several scandals have erupted as the three-way power struggle between the government, military and judiciary has heated up. A row broke out last autumn between the military and government when the existence of an unsigned government memo to the US military was made public. The note reportedly offered a reorganisation of the ISI in exchange for US assistance in staving off any military coup after the US killed Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil. Infuriated, army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani ordered an investigation. In June, Zardari was cleared of any role in the note’s preparation. However, the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, was forced to resign and may now face charges of treason – although he also denies writing the memo.

‘Memo-gate’ led to some other tit-for-tat personnel changes, with PM Gilani sacking Defence Secretary Khalid Naeem Lodhi and replacing him with a civilian, at the same time as the military pointedly reshuffled the leadership of a unit famed for spearheading coups. (The top civilian defence job has since reverted to a retired military post-holder.)

Meanwhile, a businessman supposedly with close PPP ties has levelled allegations of corruptionagainst Chief Justice Chaudhry’s son. The Mehran Bank scandal of the early 1990s was also revived with the bank’s former chief telling the Supreme Court recently that he had funnelled ISI funds to rivals of the PPP before the 1990 election. Although he denies this, the PML-N’s Nawaz Sharif was allegedly among the recipients.

Some commentators argue that all of this jostling for position is just a necessary realignment of power between the organs of state after the years of Musharraf’s military rule. However, others worry that the judiciary is trying to bring down the executive. They fear that in weakening the civilian government, the court may precipitate a coup (even though the military is unpopular domestically and has its hands full fighting the Pakistan Taliban and other militants).

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have warmed recently, after Washington’s apology for mistakenly killing Pakistani troops in November 2011 and the reopening of Pakistani supply routes for NATO convoys into Afghanistan.

One thing is certain, however: that a civilian government in Islamabad faced with a tanking economy, frequent power outages and a longstanding insurgency finds itself having to devote more efforts to fighting for its political life than in addressing these.

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