Targeting the custodians
S. M. Hali


Pakistan is indeed a hotbed of conspiracies and machinations. The recent memo-gate scandal, which is in the Supreme Court, following a petition by the head of the opposition party PML (N) has taken a sharp twist as reportedly, some of the co-conspirators are trying to turn the tables on those who caught the perpetrators and put them into bad light using social media as well as through some likeminded TV anchors.

A certain website has launched a campaign titled, ‘Pakistan: The head of the ISI must be prosecuted for hatching conspiracy against democracy’. The site alleges that the Director General of the Inter Services Intelligence Agency, the country's foremost intelligence agency, has hatched a conspiracy to overthrow the democratically elected government and parliament by taking help from some Arab monarchies who have strong influence in the affairs of the country. It claims that the Pakistan Army has been trying for two years to overthrow the civilian government and it is alleged that in the month of May 2011, Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha, the chief of the ISI, visited several Arab monarchies in a personal capacity and sought clearance for the army to take over the country.

Anybody who is familiar with the history of Pakistan will take this information with a pinch of salt. In fact the website negates itself, when it informs its readers: “Pakistan has been in existence for 64 years 32 of which have been spent under military dictatorships.
” Ever since the current political and democratic dispensation assumed the mantle of power in 2008, the military has not only vowed to abide by its constitutional role, it has actually supported the civilian government in upholding the reins of government. On numerous occasions, the civilian government not only faltered, but provided reasons for the Army to takeover and apply course correction. However, resisting such temptation as well as calls from certain political quarters to topple the applecart of democracy, the Army and ISI have held back, operating within the constitutional role assigned to them.
It is indeed imperceptible that the Army or ISI would require the nod, nudge or support of foreign governments to take over power. If indeed they were ambitious, they would have done so many times over, but to quote Mark Anthony from William Shakespeare’s epic ‘Julius Caesar’, “ambition is made of sterner stuff”.

The truth is that the issue of the memo-gate scandal is being investigated by the Supreme Court and it is sub-judice for any human rights organization or social media or TV anchors to present their two cents worth. In fact it is shocking that the website quoted above urges its readers to submit a petition and presents a sample appeal and names the alleged perpetrators as: Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha, DG ISI, and General Kayani, Chief of Army Staff. The sample petition is recommended for submission to the President, the Prime Minister, the Ministers for Law, Human Rights and the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
If that were not enough, the Central Chairman of Communist Party of Pakistan Engineer Jameel Malik on Monday filed a Constitutional petition in the Supreme Court seeking immediate removal of Director General ISI Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. The petition filed under Articles 184(3) and 244 pointed out that soon after the leakage of the Memo-gate case, Pasha met leaders of Arab countries and took them into confidence for removal of President Asif Ali Zardari. Engineer Jameel was of the view that the action of Lt General Shuja Pasha comes under the jurisdiction of political activity where as he had taken oath under Article 244 of the Constitution not to indulge in any political activity. He pleaded that under the Constitution; Pasha cannot remain DG ISI and be removed immediately. The petitioner further submitted that the verdict applies on Pasha because he is a government servant and according to him he was involved in a serious crime to allegedly remove the President.

The petitioner is exercising his constitutional rights to file his appeal, but if only good sense were to prevail, one has to pause and ponder that the Pakistan Armed Forces as well as DG ISI readily addressed the joint session of the Parliament following the May 02 debacle and the DG ISI submitted his resignation assuming responsibility for the omission. Since the case is being examined by the Supreme Court, it would be prudent to let the legal proceedings take their course rather than muddying the waters and causing a clash of the institutions.