A matter of shame - Kamran Shafi - November 23, 2010

Source : www.dawn.com

I WAS much ashamed as a former soldier to read what ensued when a sessions court in Karachi cancelled the pre-arrest bail applications of certain serving and retired officials of the National Highway Authority (NHA) in the case of the collapse of Karachi`s Sher Shah Bridge.

The former chairman, Major General Raja Farrukh Javed, during whose tenure the bridge was built and which collapsed within weeks of its opening by none other than the Commando himself, ran away from the City Courts premises!

In the words of Paul Drake, the fictional private detective who helps Perry Mason solve his cases in Erle Stanley Gardner`s thrillers of yesteryear, the great general variously “took to his heels; vamoosed; went on the lam; broke his bond” etcetera, and made his escape from the court. It is pertinent to note that the news report also said that the major general “managed to escape from the court premises very easily”. I ask you! What absolutely disgraceful behaviour. patwaris havaldars

One should have thought that and police and others of their ilk did this sort of dishonourable and cowardly thing and not full-blown generals of our great army that has lorded it over us for more years than I care to remember and which is even now baring its fangs at the `bloody civilians`. If he had done nothing wrong, Maj-Gen Javed should have stood his ground and argued his case in court.

Although the Sindh High Court did a couple of days later grant Maj-Gen Javed and another person named on the FIR pre-arrest interim bail, some immediate questions nevertheless present themselves: Was his getaway facilitated? Where is he now? And, most fundamentally, why did he do what he did?

Be which as it may, and because these questions are now being asked by citizens of this poor country who cannot escape from the law “very easily” themselves as evidenced by letters to the editor, even of this newspaper of record, it falls upon the army administration to make its position clear in terms of bad conduct by retired officers. The army has been abused enough by fortune-seekers and carpet-baggers and petty Napoleons; it is time that the high command sent the message that it will not tolerate un-soldier-like behaviour, even by retired personnel, any longer.

And while it is at it, could GHQ tell us what happened to the inquiry into the alleged firing squad and beating videos which are even now doing the rounds in emails and on the Internet and bringing our country a bad name? As one has said before, those alleged happenings could well be the handiwork of Pakistan`s enemies, but it would help if we knew the truth.

It goes without saying, but say it one must, that the present chairman of the NHA, Chaudhry Altaf, `bloody civilian` that he is, was arrested just as soon as the sessions court cancelled his bail; handcuffed, and led away to jail to await trial. This, my friends, is the difference between high (retired) officers of the army and high (serving) officials of civilian departments.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch two extremely critical announcements by the Americans and Nato have hit the headlines. It is reported that the Americans have asked for permission to extend their drone attacks to areas around Quetta to target part of the Taliban high command that is thought to be hiding there, a fact admitted by the hapless government of Pakistan many months ago, after vigorously denying any such presence for many years.

During which time, let me add, the media, both international and Pakistani, were reporting the presence of the Quetta Shura including its leader, Mullah Omar, in Quetta. The sources of this information were Baloch leaders such as the good Senator Hasil Bizenjo, son of Mir Ghaus Bux Bizenjo. A word or two about this great and honourable gentleman of the old school, a breed of men now almost extinct in this unfortunate country. Mir Sahib was governor of Balochistan when I was serving in the School of Infantry and Tactics, and when my wife, little son and I used to often visit my (then!) young friend, Capt. Tariq Ghazi, later Lieutenant General, who was Mir Sahib`s ADC.

Laji, which is the best Tubby could make of `Ghazi`, used to get his meals sent to his suite of rooms from the governor`s house kitchen and for which we often joined him. Mir Sahib was extremely fond of a curry made of dried fish which took some getting used to but which I began to love, and which was cooked every single day. There was only one accompaniment, a vegetable or daal. That is all. He was a simple man and one who did not stand on any sort of ceremony, often being seen walking by himself around the governor`s house lawns. If we still had more like him today, Pakistan would not be in the state it is in. wallahs

But back to the American `application for permission`. If this doesn`t send severe chills up several `important and powerful` spines of the Deep State I don`t know what will. For we well know the next step, despite the Foreign Office`s bravely saying “permission denied” or words to that effect. As for Nato`s announcement, it has said that it is in Afghanistan till 2014, surely sending our Guderians and Rommels hopes of playing the Great Game unhindered starting 2011 dashing to the ground? Of course, what I say is predicated upon the movers and the shakers of the Deep State having some sense at all. n

Endpiece: Re. the JIT`s report that has absolved the establishment of any hand in Benazir`s cruel and cold-blooded murder, the report also says that `no serving military officer was interviewed and that the military `high-ups` did not allow their statements to be recorded`. So there!


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