Monday, August 29, 2011

What He Said (And Leaked Beforehand)

For the last five or six days I had been contemplating how best to present the information contained on a website that someone had stumbled upon and forwarded to me. Not because one did not believe the authenticity of the information on it but because it left unanswered a number of questions. Not least of which was who was behind the website and to what end. I could make a fairly straightforward and educated guess about the persons behind the site even though the site's owners had chosen to disguise their ownership while registering it.

Zulfiqar Mirza swears on the Quran (Photo: PPI)

After today's "atom bomb" presser by the redoubtable former Sindh Home Minister / PPP Senior Vice President / Sindh MPA Zulfiqar Mirza, I think it is quite obvious who is behind the site.

The site of course is the imaginatively titled and contains pretty much all the information Mr Mirza spoke about and brandished in his presser today.

Not only does it have the facsimiles of the "secret" reports of the Joint Investigation Teams (JIT) on arrested target-killers (all of them allegedly connected to the MQM) in Karachi, it also contains the video-ed professional interrogations of some of them, such as the notorious Ajmal Pahari...

Who else would have had access to this highly classified information and have the motive and the guts to "leak" it on the net. Not a bureaucrat or policeman who feared the wrath of the government for disclosing official info, that's for sure.

These confessional statements make for fascinating (and of course chilling) reading and watching no doubt. And they also provide an insight into the mindsets of professional killers as well as those who control them. There is plenty here to damn the MQM's top leadership. But without, in any way, trying to sound like I am defending the indefensible, one must add a couple of caveats about the information contained here.

For one, keep in mind that this website does present only a selective version of the truth. The only information leaked here is of those terrorists alleged to be part of the MQM. Yes, the MQM's hit squad is apparently the most well-organized, most feared and most talked about. But in recent years the PPP, Sunni Tehrik and the ANP have also managed to cultivate their own nexus with the mercenary underworld (which Zulfiqar Mirza brushed off as "tit-for-tat" in answer to a question on Geo's Capital Talk tonight). And let's also not forget the hit squads of outlawed organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Sipahe Sahaba (which have links with other legitimate political parties), the MQM-Haqiqi faction, and on a different level, state-controlled institutions such as the police and intelligence agencies themselves. We do know that at least some of those killers are also in custody. Why is that information not here on the website? Does that justify the MQM's killers? No, not at all. But reading the lawlessness of Karachi without factoring in the political and economic turf wars which breed it or understanding how various communities perceive and react to the state would be slightly simplistic and even perhaps dangerously naive.

Secondly, purely from a legal (i.e. not moral) point of view, these documents and confessions do not necessarily establish guilt. They have yet to be proven in a court of law. We may choose to believe them (or not believe them) but they have the same legal position as, say NAB's accusations of corruption against Mr Asif Zardari. That is not to say that they are not true, just that one's belief in their authenticity does not equal legal proof for conviction.

Of course, as pointed out by a number of people already, this information and Zulfiqar Mirza's press conference also begs the question why, if this information was available with the government, have these terrorists not yet been prosecuted in the courts of law. If, as Mr Mirza claims, witnesses crucial to the prosecution are being eliminated, is it not the government's responsibility to protect them?

But even bigger questions hang over the whole drama today. Who benefits from this rhetoric and these disclosures at this time? Is it a mere coincidence that what occupied Pakistanis' entire evening came on the same day that the Rangers claimed to have unearthed ammunition stockpiles and torture cells in Lyari raids, and managed to push that news off the news channels?  On the face of it, Zulfiqar Mirza may be claiming that his newly awakened conscience dictated today's "straight-talk", but has he not also driven a stake through the heart of his close friend and "benefactor" President Zardari's political manoeuvrings for the PPP's future? For weren't what Federal Interior Minister Mr Rehman Malik (the target of Mr Mirza's wrath) and current Sindh Home Minister Mr Manzoor Wassan doing to keep the MQM on board part of Mr Zardari's strategy?

Mr Mirza may also have wrested the initiative from Sindhi nationalists who had been chipping away at the PPP in Sindh after the party's U-turn on the Commissionerate system. But would that really help the PPP if Zulfiqar Mirza is considered to be at odds with the party leadership? And was there something more to Mr Mirza's fullsome praise for the ISI and military than meets the eye? Who benefits if the PPP government at the centre comes under strain?

I confess I do not have the answers to these questions. At least answers that make immediate sense to me. If someone has a coherent explanation, I would love to hear it.


Nadir said...

I thought peoples reaction to this whole affair was more telling. That he dished so much dirt on Rehman Malik, Altaf Hussain etc. It seemed to reinforce so many popular narratives, that everyone was routing for him. Seemed so convenient! The best part was how he said that Altaf hussan had stated that the US had contacted him and told him that they were going to break up Pakistan, and so many people jumped onto that and said that since ZM was holding the Quran it must be true! It was so perfect! Had something for everyone, eveyones sucked in! Eid Mubarak!

Gibran Ashraf said...

@Nadir - we all remember Altaf Hussain's freudian slip where he trashed the formation of Pakistan, calling the creation of the state a mistake. That was treasonous enough for me!!

But Zardari has proven himself to be the shrewdest politician in Pak. Lets see how he navigates this caveat, and whether peace would return to stay for Karachi!!

Anonymous said...

How about Ajmal pahari in video says there were no preparation of separating big city from Pakistan.

Ahsan said...

I don't know anything about this website or where it came from, but keeping that out of the analysis, the crazy press conference sort of makes sense from AZ's point of view.

Think about it: first Zulfiqar Mirza is thrown out, and then he goes nutty on the media. It could all be a ploy to demonstrate to the MQM and observers that there is a great deal of distance b/w the PPP's official position and ZM's words. His tirade could be an act designed to show that he's really not on the same page as the PPP leadership on this, and as such the MQM should treat the PPP's overtures with more credibility.

Beenish Khan said...

Zulfiqar Mirza is a mouthpiece of Zardari, clearly the order came from President sahab himself to drop the bomb.

PPP has sucked everything out of Pakistan, they know they have failed yet again and their only saving point could be that army takes it over from them, so that after a couple of years they can come back again on the card of saving democracy. PPP desperately wants somebody to take away th government from them, so that they can be all innoceant. I think we should be prepared for more such bursts.

Shahid Saeed said...

The video confessions are many months old now, and scans of the JIT interrogations made their way online a month+ ago too. Whois lists website registration on July 8 too. Also, a few of the 8 month old JIT reports was covered some months ago by The News too. Biggest reportage came from Weekly Pulse in January. Since The News and before them, Pulse, had access to the entire report, it's not a matter of "leaking" the report, since it doesn't seem all that difficult to obtain a copy, but about daring to release them into print. The secret-y nature thing-y from you seems a bit political correctness and nothing else.

As for covering only the MQM, JIT listed 3 Haqiqi, 2 LeJ, 2 SSP, 1 SeM, 1 ANP, and 18+Pahari from MQM.

Anonymous said...

iqbal haider speaks on the zm presser.

Anonymous said...

Dun know y but tis video seems to be fake
doesn't it seems tat he's reciting the story learned and when he forget something a lil help from introgator, he starts rambling again (ex: when they ask him bout the names of his trainers)sn't it seems tat he's reciting the story learned and when he forget something a lil help from introgator, he starts rambling again (ex: when they ask him bout the names of his trainers)

Anonymous said...

I rofl when someone says it is yet to be prove in court.. ohh really?? against MQM? Well if one is lucky enough to mange to be alive before presenting in the court for testimony

TLW said...

If anybody's interested the Pulse report is here and I first ran across it eight months ago over here. We should've payed more attention to it at the time, but this whole long feud in Karachi has been going on since those lawyers were burnt alive in April 2008.

The PPP appears to be pretty serious about consolidating some gains in Karachi, even at the expense of the MQM.

The MQM overreacted in a paranoid fashion and kicked this round of fighting off with their walkout from the assemblies.

Considering this recent diatribe, I am wondering who is being tossed under the bus by the PPP; Zulfiqar Mirza or the combine of Rehman Malik & the MQM. My guess is the President may be trying to run a patchwork electoral ship till he gets enough votes, then he would definitely like to throw the MQM off the governance table. As for Star Wars Malik, maybe he'll get rid of him as a sop to the opinion makers.

In the menatime Karachi & violence...well the recent videos of torture that were spammed (committed we are unsure, whether by pro MQM or pro PPP side) was by many sources said to be made somewhere around Lyari. So in relation to what CPM has mentioned of the Rangers uncovering torture cells in Lyari that's relevant.

It is also Rehman Malik who presided over an operation in a PPP area that uncovered criminality. This criminality is likely to have been done by Pro-PPP people, but in the spirit of impariality would have to be stopped. Maybe Rehman Malik is playing bad cop against the PPP base, whilst Zulfiqar Mirza's Good Cop/Haseena Atum Bum performance is meant to simultaneously hold the PPP base together?

We'll see, especially if an operation begins against MQM militants and they're locked away.

In the meantime while this all continues, it becomes clear that President Asif Ali Zardari is playing three dimensional chess, and Karachi is the chessboard.

He better get this all right. Lives are in the balance.

Forbidden Fruit said...

So this really is working out the way it was intended to! The PPP is playing a double game, securing it's position at both ends. The funniest part is the awaam's reaction... they buy it completely! I guess people don't watch Najam Sethi's show that avidly. He cautioned people about this days ago.

Anonymous said...

Nicely written article now i like to draw readers attention on 2 things.

Zulfiqar Mirza has habit of lying in the name of Quran and here is the proof.

A person once Lied in the name of Quran has no reputation left and according to Religion his witness would never be accepted any where.

Secondly about the Quran he was holding, anyone tried to find out was it Quran? this picture will reveals many things, NO number is mention on Quran, so was it the Holy Quran he was holding ?

Anonymous said...

hahaha, hey pyala guys... now people are after you, they say you are exposed:P but they didn't reveal your names;).....

Anonymous said...

This is just another episode in a never ending spectacle of a bunch of drama queens at the helm ... makes one wonder...

Anonymous said...

Got this poem in my email:

My City

My city
Is in the hands of a monster
A monster
That lives across the ocean
That plays with the city
Sometime breaks it
Sometime twists it
And then sits and weeps
As if he is the only in grief
When he gets angry
His eyes ooze fire
And his tongue becomes
A hundred mouthed snake
His feet heavier than the mount
In just minutes
Destroys everything
Vehicles, buses, shops, houses
Children, elders, men and women
Swallows everything
When the offering is done
Again the city runs

His power is godly
When desires, bestows honor
When desires, endows disgrace
When desires, he makes
When desires, he breaks
Could make the bustling city
Deserted and dreaded within minutes

Traumatized dwellers of the city
Elders, children, men and women
Call upon his name
Before coming out
And with his grace
Return to their homes

If want to run the city
Must bow down first
Then must offer something
Then the city runs too
If the offering isn’t accepted
The button will be pushed
The living city will be shushed

میرا شہر

میرا شہر
اک راکشس کے قبضے میں ہے
راکشس جو سمندر پار بیٹھا
شہر سے کھیلتا رہتا ہے
کبھی توڑتا ہے
...مروڑتا ہے
اور پھر خود ہی بیٹھ کے روتا ہے
کہ جیسے غم بھی اسی کو ہے
غصہ جب آجائے اس کو
آنکھوں سے اس کے شعلے لپکیں
اور زبا ں بن جائے
سو منہ والا سانپ
اور پاوں پہاڑ سے بھی بھاری
لحظو ں میں سب
تہس نہس کردیتا ہے
گاڑیاں، بسیں ،دوکانیں، گھر
بچے، بوڑھے، عورتیں اور مرد
سب کچھ وہ نگل لیتا ہے
اس کو بھینٹ چڑھاوا پہونچے
شہر پھر چلتا رہتا ہے

اسکی طاقت خدائی ہے
جب چاہے ذلّت دے
جب چاہے عزّت دے
جب چاہے بنادے وہ
جب چاہے مٹادے وہ
بھرا پرا شہر لحظوں میں
ویراں کردے ڈرادے وہ

ڈرے سہمے شہر کے باسی
بوڑھے بچے عورتیں اور مرد
اسی کا نام لے کر
گھر سے باہر نکلتے ہیں
اور اسی کی مہربانی سے
گھر اپنے لوٹتے ہیں

گر شہر کو چلانا ہے
پہلے سر جھکانا ہے
پھر کچھ نا کچھ چڑھانا ہے
پھر شہر بھی چلتا رہتا ہے
گر چڑھاوا آشیرواد نہیں
پھر بٹن دب جائے گا
چلتا پھرتا شہر رک جائے گا

Urdu poem © Mir Salim Raza
English translation © Borhaan Arifee

Jawad said...

Zulfiqar Mirza is a pompous ass. But he speaks an essential truth. Two, maybe three, of our mainstream political parties are ruthless terrorist organizations. All you caveats are true, but they are mere distractions from this essential truth.

Here is George Galloway on MQM. Its worth a few mins

And on a somewhat non-serious note. Here is how to properly use the phrase "begs the question."

ConcernedPakistani said...

Our sheeple are still dumb that they trust a British Citizen (read Altaf Hussain), who has spoken on video that he negates the idea of Pakistan and dislikes it. This citizen who manages a terrorist organization that does extortion, land mafia and gunpoint politics.

When will our people understand. We need to free Karachi. A clean sweap operation is needed by army.

Tazeen said...

The MQM is the only true representative of Mohajir interests in Karachi and it should not be discredited. People defaming the MQM are clearly with an agenda and Mohajirs ashamed of the MQM should be taught a very tough lesson.

Anonymous said...


I am a mohajir and I am ashamed of MQM. What lesson should I be taught??

Anonymous said...


...and Altaf Hussain is teaching the Mohajirs a very tough lesson from across the ocean...

Anonymous said...

US funding Pakistani Jurnos?

Anonymous said...

Serving generals run newspapers, TV and radio channels, and websites?

portable wireless router said...

So this really is working out the way it was intended to! The PPP is playing a double game, securing it's position at both ends. The funniest part is the awaam's reaction... they buy it completely! I guess people don't watch Najam Sethi's show that avidly. He cautioned people about this days ago.