Time to back down
While the common man in Pakistan is harassed by ever increasing economic woes, lawlessness and uncertainty about the country’s security after the Abbottabad disgrace, major institutions of the state are involved in a standoff that threatens to bring down the system. If the situation is not brought under control, none of those involved would emerge with unsoiled reputation. What Gilani and Kayani did on Friday was no more than papering over the cracks. The stand taken by the COAS and DG ISI in their statements presented to Supreme Court was clear and unambiguous. They had insisted that the infamous memo is a reality and has to be investigated as opposed to the prime minister’s stand that it was a conspiracy against the government. The position that the statements by the army and ISI were conveyed in response to the court’s demand and should not therefore be misconstrued as a standoff between the army and the government would under the circumstances convince few.
A little before Gilani held talks with Kayani, PPP leaders in a high level party meeting asserted that they would not surrender to what they consider an ongoing conspiracy. A demand was made to call for the resignation of DG ISI who has been active in collecting the material for the memo scandal. A defiant Zardari claimed in Dubai that he was healthy and any resort to Article 47 would be unjust and resisted, among other things, by a demand for a new basic law irrespective of its implications.
Meanwhile, former US National Security Adviser Gen (retd) James Jones who delivered Ijaz’s document to Admiral Mullen has sent an affidavit that undermines the narrative constructed around the memo. He has said Ijaz never uttered Haqqani’s name while talking to him about the memo and that the memo in fact bore the marks of Ijaz’s own peculiar style. The SC needs to consider if the enquiry that has been ordered is really called for. What is required is for the government to focus all its attention on relieving the miseries of the common man, for the army to ensure that there is no repeat of the Abbottabad incident and for the courts to improve the judicial system besides efficiently pursuing the backlog of the cases gathering dust.