Justice Saqib Nisar, General Bajwa, and the Hidden Hand - BY: Saeed A. Malik

I have just read an article by Najam Sethi complaining that "the 'hidden hand' is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, pushing the plug on dissenters", and that these dissenters "cannot comment freely on the machinations of the Miltablishment without being roughed up or disappeared" etc.

Reading this I could not help recalling Churchill reading through reports on the Bengal famine and penning on the margin that if the famine was indeed so devastating, "Why hasn't Gandhi died yet?"

To wit, if so many people were indeed being "roughed up and disappeared" for dissenting, how come Mr Sethi himself, far from being "disappeared", is so prosperously visible?

It seems all self-styled liberals and bleeding heart democrats who are blind to the plunder and rapacity of the Sharif circus, have nevertheless developed a keenness of the eye to spot a hidden hand at work in every nook and cranny in the country.

Mr Sethi's litany of woes is a long one which I cannot debunk because this will end up being an exercise of my word against his. But one charge of his can easily be put in the waste bin; that of the allegation that a free comment on the judiciary is laden with a risk of being jailed for contempt!

This allegation is so patently false that it does not bear being ignored. All those given to viewing various TV channels, however minimally, and having the very basic rudiments of honesty about them, have seen the judges being castigated, maligned, or being subjected to outright abuse or threats by a mangy brigade of the Sharif minions, day after day for months. The abuse has become ever shriller because of the obvious restraint of the courts. A growing number of people are finding fault with the judges for this leniency, since only one culprit has seen the inside of a jail on the charge of contempt. Thus as his bias relents, even Mr Sethi may be tempted to concede that he was led away by a passing enthusiasm.

And if this enthusiasm was not a mere impulse but a commitment to licking the hand that feeds him, I must admit that this is commendable constancy in a bordello of sellouts. In my book this puts Mr Sethi solidly in the ranks of such loyal stalwarts as Daniyal Aziz, Tallal Chowdhary and Mushahid Hussain etc, who, when it is the season of jumping ship, closed ranks to stand steadfastly behind their leader who has taken their country to the cleaners. Only committed "democrats" can dredge their will, and their conscience [if they have any] to make such a high minded choice!

As far as the "hidden hand" is concerned, a lot people are looking for it. They have their eyes on the forty to fifty fidgety legislators who jumped to Musharraf in 2002; then to Zardari in 2008; and then to Nawaz Sharif in 2013. Had the hidden hand been so keenly at work as is being so assiduously suggested, they should have been expected to jump ship at the slightest wave of this hand on 29 July 2017 when Nawaz Sharif was unanimously dethroned by a full bench of the Supreme Court. News was rife and widespread in the country that this gang, heads cocked, waited nervously and long for a signal to come from GHQ. But the signal never came. And though the heads are still cocked, the signal stubbornly refuses to come through.

Thus, by the clearest yardstick of all, the hidden hand theory has failed its acid test. Either the "hidden hand" has lost its efficacy, or it has refused to execute the signal, so that pedigreed ship jumpers have remained in place.
But by the rules of the conspiracy theory, which Mr Sethi is propagating, there is obviously much to see in the unseen i.e " because we cant see it, GHQ must obviously be hiding something!"

The one contact between Justice Saqib Nisar and General Bajwa, which almost certainly took place, did so about February 2017. The C.J informed the General that the judgement in the Panama case was due to come soon. He expected some sort of a law and order situation to erupt no matter which way the judgment leaned. He thus wanted to know where the army would stand if such situation came about. General Bajwa, without hesitation, informed him that the army would do its constitutional duty i.e that it will stand at the beck and call of the Supreme Court.

When this news hit Nawaz Sharif, it hit him like a sledge hammer. A general chosen by him to be the Army Chief, who should have been "his General", had decided to stand by the Constitution, instead of standing by him! This was enough to send any man reeling. This is where the froth and unbounded venom of our pretty Maryum springs from, and so too the fulminations of her great and unforgivable taint, Safdar.

In such thinking also lies the essence of our "democracy". Votes mean mandate. And mandate means license to rob and plunder without let or hindrance. To do away with all such possible hindrances every institution must be brought to heel. Most unfortunately for Nawaz Sharif, his pet dream of having the army led by a poodle in uniform who could be expected to " sit" and "stay", has eluded him once again.

And having thus far failed in getting a credible narrative going, his minions who have fed off the scraps of his table, invent and propagate ever new theories. That of celestial beings and the hidden hand are the newest he proposes to regale those with, whom his royal depredations have stripped quite literally to the bone.

There is no trick in the book that Nawaz Sharif and company have not tried to bring the C.J and the COAS to heel. They have tried to disarm the Army Chief by the charms of the Shahbaz-Nisar circus; invited the influence of the Saudis and the Turks and the Americans; Modi pitches in right on cue with some well timed artillery barrages-- but nothing seems to have worked. They have threatened cajoled and tried to bribe. But thus far they have failed in all their efforts. Little wonder then, that Nawaz Sharif and company have finally woken up to the presence of "celestial beings."

On two grounds indeed there is reason to suspect that Justice Nisar and General Bajwa may indeed be justly cited as celestial beings. One is that every aggrieved person in the country likes to invoke intervention by either of these two to intercede and rectify the injustices they may be suffering from. In all ages crushed humans have appealed to high heavens to come to their aid when all nearer hopes lie dashed.

The second is that no matter what step Nawaz Sharif and his clowns plan against this duo, somehow news gets to them almost as soon as the latest plan gets off the drawing board. It is known for example that in a fit of exasperation Nawaz Sharif ordered Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to sack General Bajwa. But though the windmill was clearly in the sights of Sancho, and though he may have wanted to do his master's bidding, his a** failed to move. The onset of this paralysis was, it is believed, directly related to the fact that General Bajwa came to know of the plan almost immediately as it was crafted. And this case of catastrophic a** failure may have saved our democracy. Few asses have done such sterling service to a higher cause merely by the act of failing!

What will ultimately decide if these two high officers of the state will be numbered among celestial beings or among mortals who failed to stand up to the call of the times is the direction they give to their country. To do right by Pakistan they will have to first admit that nothing is more sacred than the state. They will then have to become alive to the fact that Pakistan is actually standing at the very brink of implosion; that the situation today is in no wise less serious than it was in 1971; and that this has been brought about by theft so massive for it to have become catastrophic. All other maladies by which the state is saddled find their root in this plunder. And not least of these is treachery against the state which seems of have become respectable enough for many like Hussain Haqqani and Achazai to be quite openly espousing the cause of the enemy. The obvious question which then arises is where should this put Zardari, Haqqani's employer, and Nawaz Sharif, who draws strength from Achakzai?

It is for the C.J and the Army Chief to stand by and for the state in such a manner, that in future even the mere suggestion of plunder of the state, should impel the thinker of the thought to run for the exits. And the aim should be to get every looted penny back. As soon as the interim government comes in, lists should be ready to put every suspect on ECL. NAB should immediately be strengthened, with Chaudhary Qamar Zaman to become among the first to be indicted, with his favourites in NAB to follow. All those against whom prima facie evidence of corruption exists should be arrested and jailed pending trial. They need not be abused slapped or tortured. Theft being a crime of moral turpitude, all that needs to be done to them is to put them in C class in jail, and to treat them EXACTLY as per the dictates of the Jail Manual. If just this is done, the torrent of money that will issue from these people will become one of the modern wonders of the world for voluntary return of looted wealth.

And all events, what will vitiate the entire process is, if the powers that be, begin playing favourites.
And the last thing we all expect is that the next elections are as absolutely fair, as it is humanly possible to make them.

P.S. Perhaps it will not be too much to draw the attention of the CJ to the fact that only Ahad Cheema among Punjab's heavy weights is under detention and is being investigated. Perhaps he will concede to me that this is being too conservative.

Posted on May 09, 18 | 7:17 am