Why make a bad situation worse?
Either he kept contradicting himself or his claims were being constantly refuted. Mansoor Ijaz must have been happy to see how the controversy created by him triggered a political storm in Pakistan – the country for which he has no sense of patriotism.
Notwithstanding DG ISI Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha’s assertion that Mansoor Ijaz had enough corroborative material to prove his version of the incident, General James Jones latest revelation that the memo was written before Ijaz had come into contact with Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani should have put the matter to rest. The statement lent credence to the government’s repeated denials of its involvement in the issue.
It must have come as a shock to the naysayers who’re desperate to see President Zardari’s back sooner rather than later. As if Mian Nawaz Sharif’s personal appearance in the Supreme Court during the Memogate hearing was not enough, the PML(N) filed another petition requesting the court to expand the list of respondents by including in it two journalists.
The custodians of the Raiwind Palace remained confused. Their party colleagues were coming up with conflicting statements which they found hard to defend. They were mum when National Opposition Leader Ch Nisar Ali Khan endorsed ANP leader Bushra Gohar’s demand for the DG ISI’s resignation following a British newspaper’s report about his meetings with some Arab leaders to seek their support for Zardari’s ouster. This exposed the Sharif’s’ double standards. Kh Saad Rafiq is still in no mood to take this farce seriously but his party leadership took the matter to the apex court after Imran Khan had reportedly refused to file a drafted petition handed over to him. And Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif sounded more like an ISPR spokesman when he declared that Gen Kayani had no plan to dismantle the democratic process.
It was, in fact, the fear of being vetoed by the ruling coalition that restrained the PML(N) from leaving it to the parliament to examine the Memogate and punish the ‘culprits’. Under the circumstances, the judiciary was the Sharif’s’ only hope to see the PPP government fall ahead of the next Senate election scheduled for March 2012. So they moved the court and started talking about the parliament having become irrelevant. But they did so despite being part of the federal legislature for the last four years.
It was this very ‘dysfunctional’ parliament which has to its credit the passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment with the Parliamentary Committee headed by Senator Raza Rabbani scrapping all the dictatorial amendments tagged on to the statute during the military rules of Zia and Musharraf. If it has now lost its efficacy then Ch Nisar, who had been given the office of the Chairman Public Accounts Committee in accordance with the provisions of the Charter of Democracy, would not have been able to summon civil and military officers and ensure that those found involved in malpractices should be punished. It was the same parliament where the top brass of our armed forces came over to brief the elected representatives on the issues related to the national security. And if you compare Mr Gilani’s appearances in the National Assembly with those of Mian Shahbaz’s in the Punjab Assembly, then the latter would have become irrelevant long ago.
The PM was subjected to scathing criticism for expressing his fears in the Senate about the conspiracies being hatched to derail democracy instead of accepting the failures of his regime on every front including economy and governance. Rather than drawing any sympathy from his detractors for his emotional address he was accused of being unwilling to change the thinking and policies of his government. The ruling coalition’s claim of having done everything possible to solve the problems facing the common man has to be taken with a pinch of salt. But then Mr Gilani had a point in that the conspiracy involving the Memogate was aimed at weakening the current democratic dispensation.
There’s no doubt that the PPP leadership was itself responsible for creating confusion about Mr Zardari’s indisposition and his abrupt departure for medical treatment. Now that his doctors have declared him completely fit, those spreading rumours about him being incapacitated might be following the agenda of the forces which have been desperate about ousting the President to undermine the civilian rule. The PML(N) would do itself and the country a great favour by consigning the memo controversy to the pages of history rather than blowing the issue out of proportions.
Mian Nawaz will have to keep in mind that once Mansoor Ijaz comes in the dock and is cross-examined, he’s going to cause huge embarrassment to the PML(N).
The writer is Executive Editor, Pakistan Today