I have no major issues with personal clouts and tribal loyalties as long as such clouts and loyalties are used for collective, not personal, benefit. However, questions arise when individuals with shady past and dubious present misappropriate intellectual and political capital of a political party to create and activate a media tribe to promote their personal interests while ignoring or even suppressing issues of more urgent and collective importance.
Take, for example, the case of Pakistan’s ambassador to the USA, Mr. Husain Haqqani (the person who manufactured and distributed offending pictures and documents about Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto), who has a dedicated lobby of propagandists, urban-centric “liberal” opportunists (some of whom are clearly pro-military establishment) and ambitious flatterers who hang around him on Twitter and also in Islamabad or Washington D.C., not missing out a single opportunity to praise him, eulogizing his real and imaginary services to Pakistan or Pakistan Peoples Party. This network also includes genuine liberal progressive writers whose anti-establishment stance is being manipulated to support Haqqani’s career interests. President Zardari is abused by some of their friends (e.g., Ejaz Haider and Tammy Haq), Benazir Bhutto is cursed (e.g., Murtaza Razvi’s article on Nusrat Bhutto’s death), PPP is blamed (e.g., the blaming the victim brigade’s columns on Taseer’s murder), who cares? as long as the Namoos (honour) of Haqqani is carefully guarded. Clearly Mr. Haqqani has misappropriated the PPP’s intellectual capital and naive followers to develop and promote his personal career and guard his personal honour. Sadly, some sincere progressive writers and columnists too have allowed themselves to be used for career promotion and defence of Mr. Husain Haqqani.
While Ambassador Hussain Haqqani has played an important role in serving Pakistan’s and PPP’s interests in Washington, D.C., the due credit for his performance goes to President Asif Zardari who is the main mind behind political manoeuvring and policy making in the last four years. While Mr. Haqqani is an able executioner, as he was in his capacity as an assistant to Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Nawaz Sharif and previous masters, the key role of President Zaradri is being diluted and completely put aside by the Namoos-e-Haqqani Network (NHN) on Twitter and also in mainstream media. For them, and also for our esteemed Ambassador, it is sufficient if his own Namoos (honour) is carefully guarded by the likes of Ejaz Haider, Ayesha Tammy Haq and others, some of whom are known for their deep hatred of the very leader (President Zardari) and the party (PPP) he is duty-bond to serve. For Haqqani, his own Namoos is the first and last priority, the rest is simply disposable!
Such network has been able to thrive because of a naive decision by the PPP leadership to accommodate the Ambassador’s wife in the President’s media team. It is, therefore, no wonder that many of the Namoos-e-Haqqani Network loyalists, columnists, bloggers and Tweeps show little to no interest in highlighting the military state’s role in murder of PPP leaders (Benazir Bhutto, Salmaan Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti) and atrocities against the Baloch, Pashtuns, Shia Muslims, Ahmadiyya Muslims and others, which have gained further momentum since the PPP came to power in early 2008.
The NHN has taken little to no interest in highlighting the plight of thousands of the Balochs, Pashtuns and Shia Muslims who have been mercilessly butchered by Pakistan army and its proxy jihadi organizations (TTP-SSP-LeJ etc).
Barring a token statement or two, the Namoos-e-Haqqani Network has done nothing to highlight the ongoing persecution and murder of Toori Pashtuns (Shia Muslims) of Parachinar who remain besieged by the ISI-Haqqani Taliban for the last four years. In fact one of their paid operatives (ironically a Toori Shia) is seen actively promoting and defending the honour of ISI. Similarly, the NHN has kept tight-lipped on the ongoing massacres of thousands of Baloch nationalists who are fighting for their basic human rights.
As a recent example of how the NHN operates in Pakistan’s mainstream media and also on Twitter, consider the case of how NHN members have been activated to defend the honour of Husain Haqqani in response to the Mansoor Ijaz saga and Imran Khan’s speech. Read again, the emphasis is not on defending the honour of Pakistan, or that of President Zardari, the emphasis is clearly on defending the honour (Namoos) of Husain Haqqani.
While there are many examples on Twitter, let me cite only a few tweets. Note how one flatterer bestows Hussain Haqqani and his wife with the title of Mr. Pakistan and Mrs. Pakistan, a proposal which is hurriedly endorsed by the ‘Mrs. Pakistan’.
mSaleemJaved Saleem Javed
Out of despair? RT @mazdaki: Imran Khan targeting @husainhaqqani is slanderous , pathetic & desperate #fail #ptijalsa
So when are we giving this couple @husainhaqqani @fispahani Mr & Mrs. Pakistan award? seriously!
fispahani farahnaz ispahani
sweet thought! RT @akchishti: So when R we gving ths couple @husainhaqqani @fispahani Mr & Mrs. Pakistan award? srsly!
dasghar Dilawar Asghar
@husainhaqqani I wud ditto what @adnanrasool sd and wht @akchishti just sd that both u and @fispahani R Mr and Mrs Pakistan in their own way
fispahani farahnaz ispahani
Bless u.! ! MT @dasghar: @husainhaqqani I wud ditto wht @adnanrasool & @akchishti just sd that both u & @fispahani R Mr & Mrs Pakistan
With reference to the NHN activities in response to Mansoor Ijaz saga, it will be useful to reproduce the entire article because of which Husain Haqqani and his defendants deemed it appropriate to criticize Mr. Ijaz:
Time to take on Pakistan’s jihadist spies
By Mansoor Ijaz
Source: Financial Times
Early on May 9, a week after US Special Forces stormed the hideout of Osama bin Laden and killed him, a senior Pakistani diplomat telephoned me with an urgent request. Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, needed to communicate a message to White House national security officials that would bypass Pakistan’s military and intelligence channels. The embarrassment of bin Laden being found on Pakistani soil had humiliated Mr Zardari’s weak civilian government to such an extent that the president feared a military takeover was imminent. He needed an American fist on his army chief’s desk to end any misguided notions of a coup – and fast.
Gen Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief, and his troops were demoralised by the embarrassing ease with which US special forces had violated Pakistani sovereignty. Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s feared spy service, was charged by virtually the entire international community with complicity in hiding bin Laden for almost six years. Both camps were looking for a scapegoat; Mr Zardari was their most convenient target.
The diplomat made clear that the civilian government’s preferred channel to receive Mr Zardari’s message was Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff. He was a time-tested friend of Pakistan and could convey the necessary message with force not only to President Barack Obama, but also to Gen Kayani.
In a flurry of phone calls and emails over two days a memorandum was crafted that included a critical offer from the Pakistani president to the Obama administration: “The new national security team will eliminate Section S of the ISI charged with maintaining relations to the Taliban, Haqqani network, etc. This will dramatically improve relations with Afghanistan.”
The memo was delivered to Admiral Mullen at 14.00 hours on May 10. A meeting between him and Pakistani national security officials took place the next day at the White House. Pakistan’s military and intelligence chiefs, it seems, neither heeded the warning, nor acted on the admiral’s advice.
On September 22, in his farewell testimony to the Senate armed services committee, Admiral Mullen said he had “credible intelligence” that a bombing on September 11 that wounded 77 US and Nato troops and an attack on the US embassy in Kabul on September 13 were done “with ISI support.”Essentially he was indicting Pakistan’s intelligence services for carrying out a covert war against the US – perhaps in retaliation for the raid on bin Laden’s compound, perhaps out of strategic national interest to put Taliban forces back in power in Afghanistan so that Pakistan would once again have the “strategic depth” its paranoid security policies against India always envisioned.
Questions about the ISI’s role in Pakistan have intensified in recent months. The finger of responsibility in many otherwise inexplicable attacks has often pointed to a shadowy outfit of ISI dubbed “S-Wing”, which is said to be dedicated to promoting the dubious agenda of a narrow group of nationalists who believe only they can protect Pakistan’s territorial integrity.
The time has come for the state department to declare the S-Wing a sponsor of terrorism under the designation of “foreign governmental organisations”. Plans by the Obama administration to blacklist the Haqqani network are toothless and will have no material impact on the group’s military support and intelligence logistics; it is S-Wing that allegedly provides all of this in the first place. It no longer matters whether ISI is wilfully blind, complicit or incompetent in the attacks its S-Wing is carrying out. S-Wing must be stopped.
ISI embodies the scourge of radicalism that has become a cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. The time has come for America to take the lead in shutting down the political and financial support that sustains an organ of the Pakistani state that undermines global antiterrorism efforts at every turn. Measures such as stopping aid to Pakistan, as a bill now moving through Congress aims to do, are not the solution. More precise policies are needed to remove the cancer that ISI and its rogue wings have become on the Pakistani state.
Pakistanis are not America’s enemies. Neither is their incompetent and toothless civilian government – the one Admiral Mullen was asked to help that May morning. The enemy is a state organ that breeds hatred among Pakistan’s Islamist masses and then uses their thirst for jihad against Pakistan’s neighbours and allies to sate its hunger for power. Taking steps to reduce its influence over Pakistan’s state affairs is a critical measure of the world’s willingness to stop the terror masters at their very roots.
Clearly, Mr. Mansoor Ijaz’s article is an expression of the fact that it is not Pakistan’s civilian government but its army, ISI in particular, which is responsible for an on-going support to Al Qaeda and Taliban. What’s wrong in such position? Yet, for the defendants of Mr. Haqqani, it is more important to defend his career interests even if that has to be at the cost of truth and principles. Here are five snapshots, three are newspaper items and two are blog posts:
Mehmal Sarfraz writes in Daily Times (Editorial, 1 Nov 2011):
Mr Khan’s speech started with attacks against President Zardari and the Sharif brothers. His repetition of the false story pertaining to Ambassador Husain Haqqani about a nonexistent letter was uncalled for. Mr Khan should not bend facts to suit his case.
Dr Mohammad Taqi writes in Daily Times (No he Khan’t, 3 Nov 2011):
The PTI leader has been hanging out with Sheikh Rashid of Rawalpindi and early in his speech hit a low that even the foul-mouthed Rashid might envy. Imran Khan’s accusation against Ambassador Husain Haqqani, making wild allegations and that too based on a story by Mansoor Ijaz — a discredited ‘mediator’, neo-con sympathiser and proponent of Bush’s Iraq war — was simply pathetic. One wonders about his motive to quote a person who boasts of ties to both India and global jihadists. While a separate column is needed to address this issue, it just goes to show the shallowness of the PTI leader and that in his desperation for power he can stoop to any level.
Kamran Shafi writes in Express Tribune (3 November 2011):
Then he goes and badmouths our ambassador to the United States, let us not be afraid to name him, Husain Haqqani, by calling him the US ambassador to the US, i.e. a US stooge. As if this was not enough, he quotes from a controversial article by someone who has been much talked about in the press and in other public forums in the United States, let us not be afraid to name him either: Mansur Ijaz, saying that Haqqani asked Ijaz to deliver a letter to the Americans from Asif Zardari begging them to save him from Pakistan’s army generals.
Now then, let alone doing a 10-minute internet search and finding out exactly who Mansur Ijaz is, if Imran or his advisers had thought about this matter for 10 seconds before putting it in his speech, it would have become clear even to them that there was something very, very wrong with this storyline. If Haqqani is a US stooge, why would he need someone like Ijaz to deliver Zardari’s letter to the Americans? Elementary what, Imran?
As for Ijaz, I will only quote from the Roanoke Times, a newspaper out of Virginia. On December 26, 2001, President Clinton’s former national security adviser, Samuel ‘Sandy’ Berger, called Ijaz’s allegations “ludicrous and irresponsible”, when Ijaz said that the Clinton administration had ignored several offers from the Sudanese government to share intelligence on Osama bin Laden.
According to the same paper, Susan Rice, who served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 1997 to 2000, and is now the US ambassador to the UN, said about Ijaz’s claims that the “White House was not looking for foreign policy assistance from Ijaz”, “We did not need, nor would it have been appropriate for us to use a private citizen… ”.
Sabahat Zakariya writes in Express Tribune – Blog (1 Nov 2011):
The speech was full of feel-good optimism as was expected and required. Talk of corruption, delivering rights to the poorest in the society and anti-Zardari sentiment elicited the most visible roars of approval. Personally speaking, I was disappointed at his resorting to lies about Hussain Haqqani’s nationality but heartened by his passing mention of minority and women’s rights. http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/8695/how-imran-khan-won-me-over/
Pakistan Media Watch – Blog writes in “Media Conspiracies and Imran Khan” (31 October 2011)
In an otherwise straightforward speech in Lahore on Sunday, Imran Khan alluded to a conspiracy theory of Mansoor Ijaz that this blog has discredited not only once, but twice already. One can give Imran Khan the benefit of doubt, though, as there is a history of examples of journalists feeding Imran conspiracies, possibly as an attempt to curry favour with the PTI chief. As we stated before, “Whether or not you support Imran Khan, all political leaders need to be given the facts, not led by their noses on a wild goose chase”. As Imran’s political influence grows, it is important that he – and all political leaders – be able to make decisions from factual information, not conspiracies. Otherwise, the consequences can be disastrous.
I repeat: I have no major issues with personal clouts and tribal loyalties except when such clouts and loyalties are based on misappropriation of a political party’s intellectual and political capital for personal benefit while discarding the collective benefit.
Now let me ask: why is no such tribal support activated to mourn Ajmeer Shah? Why is such tribal loyalty absent when human rights activists and media persons misrepresent Shia genocide by the ISI backed TTP-SSP-LeJ as routine sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias? Why is the NHN nowhere to be seen when dumped, deshaped dead bodies of the Baloch youths are found? Politically speaking, why does such NHN go into hiding when Mosharraf Zaidi, Ejaz Haider, Najam Sethi etc manufacture most poisonous and slanderous attacks on President Zardari? Where do they vanish when Murtaza Razvi writes a poisonous post against Benazir Bhutto on the death of her own mother, Begum Nusrat Bhutto? Is the honour of Husain Haqqani more important than the honour of Shaheed Rani?
I hope someone may help me in findings answers to the above questions.
Note to NHN propagandists: I believe in political, non-violent struggle against the oppressors and the opportunists. In this respect my ideal is not Al Zulfiqar but Benazir Bhutto who waged a peaceful struggle against military dictators (General Zia, General Musharraf) as well as against opportunists (Jatoi, Khar, Ramay, Aitzaz Ahsan) within her own party. I hope Pakistan Blogzine will be kind enough to publish this post discarding all pressures and blackmailing by the NHN.
Video: Husain Haqqani, in service of ISI-sponsored IJI led by Nawaz Sharif (a friend of Osama bin Laden):
“By and large there are two things, there is a common vision of Pakistan being basically a conservative Muslim state and the difference is essentially on its details, but the basic principle which is acknowledged is that it is will not be a secular state, it has to be an Islamic state. Most of the components of the IJI are parties or individuals who suffered during PPP era at the hand of party policies and its rather high-handed approach to politics”.