The conspiracy against parliament

Daily: Daily Times
Date: 10.09.14

If Sheikh Rasheed of the Awami Muslim League (AML) had conducted the press conference
instead of Javed Hashmi, the president of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), and had
revealed the same as Hashmi did on the evening of September 1, 2014 in front of
parliament, probably no one would have believed him. The difference between them lies in
the credibility of character and action earned by Hashmi and lost by Rasheed over the
years. The same integrity brought Hashmi to the PTI of Imran Khan (as chairman) and the
same forced Hashmi to forsake it. Only could a person of as high a stature as Hashmi would
dare to articulate the bitter truth.

After calling it a “hijacked movement”, Hashmi appealed to other members of the PTI to
listen to the voice of their conscience and balk at becoming part of any conspiracy hatched
to bring parliament down. It was not that Hashmi was in favour of the sitting government, as
is being projected, but it was that, as he said, he did not want to be part of any party
manoeuvred by non-democratic forces. To reinforce his argument, Hashmi revealed that
Khan kept deriving his strength by naming the army and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).
Hours later, on September 1, in response to the press conference, the Inter Services Public
Relations (ISPR) issued a press release to clear its position but it did so without conducting
any investigation to verify the authenticity of Hashmi’s assertions before issuing the press
release.

In principle, there should have been no need for Hashmi to point an accusing finger at the
army and the ISI, as both are responsible institutions. Nevertheless, in Gujranwala,
Rasheed who was accompanying Khan on the container pleaded publicly to the army to
intervene. Why did the ISPR not issue any press release at that time to declare the
indifference of the army from the whole issue and condemn the speaker? In Islamabad,
Khan started referring to the “third umpire” who was about to raise the finger in his favour
and against the government. Were the army authorities too naive to discern the meaning of
the message? Subsequently, not only Khan but also Dr Tahirul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami
Tehreek (PAT) referred several times to the third umpire in their speeches. Why did the
ISPR not issue a press release that the third umpire did not mean the army? The deliberate
silence of the army (or the ISPR) on the repeated allusions kept putting the government
under pressure and encouraging Khan and Dr Qadri to up the ante before they inch
towards their final destination: parliament. Was this point also not known to the army?
Perhaps the ISPR is oblivious to the fact that merely issuing a press release does not put
the matter to rest and that most people in Pakistan do not believe in the clarification given
by it. Currently, people believe more in the words of Hashmi than in the words of the ISPR.

In his press conference, Hashmi also said that Khan at least once claimed to have an
“understanding”, “arrangement” or “settlement” with the incumbent Chief Justice (CJ) of the
Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan through “certain people”. Furthermore, as Hashmi said, a
lawyer would file a writ petition that would eventually lead, somehow, to the removal of both
Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif from their seats by the CJ. In this regard, many people
see a reason in the acts of lawyer Hamid Khan (who is a member of the PTI and who lost in
the elections to Khawaja Saad Rafique in Lahore) for getting adjournments time and again
in the election tribunal despite the fact that he was the suitor. Reportedly, on September 1,
while hearing the plea against the extra-constitutional act, when the court encouraged (or
asked) Hamid Khan to tell the court “what kind of suo motu should be taken” to resolve the
crisis after the (full) court becomes the “final mediator”, Hashmi became sure of the
beginning of the last episode of the act and decided to go public. Hashmi also claimed that
the present CJ had “ensured [the third party] to play a role in Sharif’s removal”.

The next day, in response to Hashmi’s press conference, the CJ made a remark during the
hearing to clarify his position but the question is this: was the matter so simple as to just
contradict the allegations, if not assertions, without listening to Hashmi (and Imran Khan)?
Was it just a trivial intraparty dispute devoid of any bearing on the reputation of the court?
The events subsequent to Hashmi’s press conference indicated something grave. For
instance, both Khan and Dr Qadri stopped mentioning the “third umpire” even as a pep talk
point to their supporters in their speeches. Altaf Hussain, the leader of the MQM, who had
invited the army publicly just two days ago to intervene and make a national government,
suddenly started speaking in favour of parliament. To shed the impression of being the
army’s front man, even Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain spoke against General (retired) Ashfaq
Pervez Kayani.

Perhaps the SC is overlooking the fact that it will be made free of any speck of guilt not only
by giving remarks in the court but by doing something more. It is the fundamental right of all
Pakistanis to know the truth. Currently, people believe more in the words of Hashmi than in
the words of the CJ. Both the army and the SC should understand that the disclosures
made by Hashmi are not only startling but they are also bound to have strong political
repercussions. Hashmi has dwarfed both institutions that now need to look into the matter
through a credible formal process of investigation to exonerate their names. That would be
the best way to close the matter.

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