Showing posts with label Sunni Tehrik. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sunni Tehrik. Show all posts

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.