The NATO handover to the Afghan National Army (ANA) was planned in its final form; it was bound to happen. But just days before its official ceremony, which will be perhaps marked as the day of defeat and retreat of the US and NATO forces, the significance of this day has been blurred and thrown into the backyard for Pakistanis by the Pakistani Media. This is not because the Pakistani people may not be interested in the 2014 scenario, but because they have been deliberately dragged into a tug of war with their own forces and agencies. The military establishment is in the line of fire now, this time around, simultaneously by the Parliamentarians and the Media – a rare combination in the history of Pakistan for a supposedly “common cause”.
Before commenting on how important the Afghanistan conflict and its solution is for us, and which was considered as the main cause of unrest, chaos and damages in Pakistan, its social fabric and its economy; we should chronologically go through the events that have taken place in the past few months, to find out how our own Media has played with our minds. It has not only grabbed our attention towards the event, but has actually served to distract us from the factual evidences. Like expert illusionists, players within our ranks have tried to change the visions, hence presenting a terrifying picture, turning us against our own institutions, a picture which now haunts and perhaps compels us to take drastic steps.
Before the attacks in Balochistan had taken place in this week, the interior minister had started interfering in the cases of potential terrorists, and not only got them released, but had also barred the intelligence agencies from doing any investigation regarding the suspects in the case of the assassination of Ch. Zulfiqar – the key investigator and FIA prosecutor for Benazir Bhutto’s assassination case.
In the same backdrop, we started observing a rise in unrest in Karachi. MQM, in the name of restructuring their party in the post-election scenario, had captured the eye of the media every now and then. Before and after the elections, the majority of bomb blasts and target killings took place in Karachi; similarly, during and after the elections, the rigging fiasco was in the limelight. Altaf Hussain’s statement about Karachi’s separation from Pakistan, followed by an apology, was just a gear change in the boiling situation. Later on, Dr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi, the new deputy convener of Rabita Committee, warned in his first press conference about a 71-like-scenario in Karachi.
Karachi, the main access of Pakistan to the sea, is right now facing a situation of chaos and fear, and things have not been changed a bit even in the post-election scenario. The coming worst, perhaps, can be seen in the statements given by Altaf Hussain and Dr Khalid Maqbool.
On the other hand, Balochistan, the second and most talked about possible access of Pakistan to the sea, came under fire, when BLA terrorists first attacked a symbolic building, the Ziarat summer residency, where the founding father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had spent his last few days. While on the same day, LeJ, a banned terrorist outfit, killed 14 girls of Bolan Medical College in a suicide attack on their bus. Later on, they took hostage the patients and staff of Bolan Medical Complex, and created a situation of the siege of the city, even so of the whole nation, for several hours.
Both terrorist outfits claimed responsibility for the attacks. It was evident that these two attacks were well-coordinated. The compounded threat that we always have a fear for since very long, once again unleashed its horror in Balochistan. Even after the blunt claim of the responsible for this calamity, unfortunately, the sitting government in the center and the honorable judiciary were both numb and didn’t pass out any statement. All we heard was an instant statement by the information minister, Pervez Rashid, saying, ‘there are no foreign hands involved in the attacks’. That was a statement made prior to any investigation or even taking into account the initial forensic reports of the incident. A surprise that shocked many who believed that there would be a firm stand by the government, which came into power with a heavy mandate, and had clearly condemned such elements in their campaign.
The surprise, later on, became a painful revelation, when media icons twisted the facts and started putting the blame on the prime intelligence agencies for the Ziarat attack, for which BLA had already claimed the responsibility. The statement of BLA was circulated and emailed to almost all media houses. But media icons, perhaps, in the backdrop of this security lapse, wanted to settle down their scores with the security forces.
Later on, the real stakeholders came into the scene, Mr. Achakzai, chariman of Pakhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) caught the media attention by delivering a speech against the military establishment, targeting the nuclear technology and asking to “reign in” the military establishment. He became the overnight superstar with a blockbuster. The stage was already set by the media; Achakzai’s speech, as one by a democrat from Balochistan, was the biggest catch for such a scenario, hailed by all those media personnel whose history is filled with hate speeches against the security forces of Pakistan in the name of liberty and freedom of speech.
Ch. Nisar, the interior minister presented his report on his return to the parliament, telling the house that a joint investigation team for the incidents has been constituted to probe into the attacks of Ziarat and Bolan Medical Complex. He said that the team is headed by the DIG and comprises of personnel from intelligence agencies.
It is interesting to note, that the Additional IG Balochistan had clearly stated in a live TV show, on the day of the events, that they intercepted calls from Afghanistan during this operation. But our media houses, icons of big-budgeted TV channels and very much respected Mr. Achakzai, using the prestigious floor of the National Assembly, twisted the issue very smartly; BLA is definitely out of discussion, intelligence agencies are the hot cake now.
It is imperative to understand that during an investigation, building opinions through half-baked facts and findings, is itself an art of deception.
As stated earlier, the illusionists changed the complete vision; the big event – as stated in the start of this piece – the handing over of security lead of Afghanistan from NATO and US forces to ANA is nowhere in our sight, instead, we are distracted and mesmerized by another picture by the same players.
This significant event was followed by another major development – the official announcement of opening an office by Talibans in Doha, Qatar. The US, instantly announced peace talks with the Taliban, – the key player of the Afghan conflict. Hamid Karzai, who fled to India for help earlier this month, standing helpless, reacted and announced the suspension of talks of his government with the US for such an approach.
All these major developments of the region, which have a direct impact on our peace and security, cannot be seen in any discussion of any analytical program. The Balochistan issue, on the other hand, is the talk of the day, with a clear intention of not settling it down, but instead settling down the scores with the military establishment, which is a key player in the peace road map for Afghanistan and perhaps the co-author of Vision 2015 – a document that defines the role of all the stakeholders of the Afghanistan conflict in a post 2014 scenario.
Distracting the same institution, at such a point of time, not merely by the terrorists but by the media of this country and the sitting members of the House, is itself an alarming situation for the national security. Creating chaos within chaos is the art of modern warfare.
Engaging all sorts of kinetic and non-kinetic threats against Pakistan by a retreating force, in the backdrop of the upcoming climax of Afghanistan, is the issue which needs to be delivered with honesty.
Our Nation should be alarmed and well-prepared for such attacks, which will hit them psychologically in the coming days. The enemy, during its retreat, will try to burn our pathways – the pathways that would lead us back to peace and prosperity. As the great warfare legend Sun Tzu once said:
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”