COMMENT: The establishment’s twelfth man —Dr Mohammad Taqi - Thursday, April 28, 2011

The fact remains that Imran Khan has always been the establishment’s twelfth man — called upon to field as needed. He claims that the establishment cannot buy him, but do they need to? He has always volunteered for them and it is no different this time

The citizens of Hayatabad, Peshawar, have finally breathed a sigh of relief after the two-day long sit-in organised by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has ended. Whether NATO supplies were halted because of this so-called protest remains moot, but life in one of Peshawar’s largest residential districts was certainly brought to a grinding halt by the chapli kabab-fed 5,000 people herded from outside the city by the PTI and various sectarian and religio-political parties allied with it. The idea, ostensibly, was to block one of the delivery routes through which the NATO forces in Afghanistan are supplied, thus forcing the US to halt its drone attacks.

Among the assorted declarations adopted at the end of the rally, the second one — as posted on PTI’s website — stated: “To end the hippocratic (sic) double faced policy and bring before parliament all past and present agreements/understandings with the US government on the ‘war on terror’”.

‘Hypocritical and double-faced policy’ is an interesting take by the PTI, whose own show from the word go was a total scam, with hypocrisy written all over it. The cast of characters ranged from political nobodies and wannabes to loan defaulters, jihadists of various shades, to retired civil and military officers with a tainted past. For a party and its leader who claim to be the spotless agents of change and certitude personified, it was pathetic to have gathered so many charlatans at one time.

The PTI even stole the name for its concluding resolutions, calling them the “Peshawar Declaration”. The original Peshawar Declaration was adopted by the Amn Tehrik (Peace Movement) on January 16, 2010 and was signed by the PPP, ANP, PMAP, NP, PPP-S, AWP, eminent scholars, leaders of civil society and the Pashtun elders from Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and FATA.

The leader of the Amn Tehrik, Idrees Kamal, has already demanded that the PTI rename its resolution but I suspect that might not happen. The simple reason being that the Peshawar Declaration had explicitly endorsed the drone campaign to take out the terrorist leaders and cadres and called for the expulsion of the Arab, Uzbek and Chechen terrorists from FATA. In a world where tag and keyword web-searches are the building blocks of revolutions rolled out through social media, use of similar names for diametrically opposite political goals is deceitful and was deliberately crafted to confuse and spread disinformation.

But Imran Khan’s only major stopover on his way to Peshawar helps put things in perspective. While it is not known if he was served sandwiches or not, Imran Khan was hosted at the Haqqani seminary by the granddaddy of the Taliban, the ex-senator Maulana Sami-ul-Haq. In his speech at the Haqqani madrassah — the alma mater of the top Afghan and local Taliban leaders — Khan extolled the virtues of jihad while taking pot shots at the US. Add to this the presence of the terrorist outfit Sipah-e-Sahaba’s cadres at his Peshawar rally, and it appears that Imran Khan has opted to cast his lot in decisively with the Pakistan-based franchises of global jihadism.

Sure enough, plenty of noises were made at the Peshawar rally about restoring Jinnah’s Pakistan and how PTI will bridge the Shia-Sunni schism. The visceral hatred of Sami-ul-Haq’s spiritual antecedents for the Quaid-e-Azam and Pakistan is on record. In fact, Allama Iqbal, in a famous Persian poem, had compared the founder of Deoband to Abu Lahab. The notorious Deobandi madrassah is hardly a place that the Quaid would have wanted Pakistan’s renaissance to start from. And the Sipah-e-Sahaba flags fluttering right under Imran Khan’s nose in Bagh-e-Naran, speak volumes about the double-speak he unleashed over the past weekend.

Choosing a densely populated area to flex muscle against NATO is an interesting one too. Bagh-e-Naran, where the sit-in was staged, is not where the NATO supply trucks are loaded, parked or serviced. It is not a base from where the US drones are flown or controlled. The supplies are loaded from Karachi and even Chaklala, while the drones are flown from Shamsi, Khost or Jalalabad airbases and controlled from the Hancock base in Syracuse, New York or the Creech base, Nevada. But Imran Khan would never criticise the establishment, which remains the master of Pakistan’s security and foreign policies, including the permission to let the drones fly and the decision to not shoot them down. Despite being a frequent political litigant, he has never mustered the courage to support Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s petition in the Supreme Court against the ISI’s meddling in politics. It would be too much to ask him to drop his hypocrisy vis-à-vis the army’s role in politics and drone attacks, when he can conveniently whack the national piñata — the politicians.

The fact remains that Imran Khan has always been the establishment’s twelfth man — called upon to field as needed. He claims that the establishment cannot buy him, but do they need to? He has always volunteered for them and it is no different this time. As Pak-American relations deteriorate, the establishment has decided to up the ante against the US so that it allows Pakistan a say in the future dispensation in Kabul. A flat refusal to let the US run supplies through Pakistan or the drone attacks, is something the security establishment will not do, as the US spigot of military funding will be turned off, leaving the khaki boys without toys.

To this end the deep state is trying to stir up hysteria against the US, through Imran Khan and his ilk and, in the process, build pressure on the PPP and ANP et al to fall in line as well. By letting the twelfth man warm up now, the establishment wants to elbow out Mian Nawaz Sharif — whom they mistrust deeply — as potentially the next premier. They know that a savvy politician like Mian sahib may actually play ball with the US, against their diktat.

While milking the Saudis for funds, and allowing mercenaries to be recruited for the Gulf, the establishment is getting its domestic ducks in a row, in preparation for a showdown with the US over its Af-Pak endgame. What can serve them better in this than a conglomerate of the martial law’s perennial B team like the Jamaat-e-Islami, pro-jihadists like Sami-ul-Haq and assorted opportunists? The twelfth man has always hoped that the establishment will grant him the political test cap one day. His hypocrisy may actually earn him the captaincy of the junta’s ‘B’ team this time.

The writer can be reached at

Source :\04\28\story_28-4-2011_pg3_2

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