Banishing memogeist

By: Eyaz Haider

One thing we can all be sure of: the memogate episode has become the most interesting civil-military battle in Pakistan’s history. The battle may be unfolding in the legal-constitutional terrain — which is good — but it is essentially a politico-normative contest. Asma Jahangir’s public riposte to the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision has, therefore, to be seen not in legal but political terms.

Purely legally speaking, she is wrong. Politically, she is right. That’s the dilemma. What she asked the Court to do is to look at the issue beyond the strictly legal. The Court wants to remain grounded in the legal. There is a memo, prima facie; its contents are quite explosive; it was also delivered. There is no dispute on these counts. The issues of contention are who wrote this memo, or on whose direction it was written and whether it was delivered to a foreign government for the purposes for which it was created/drafted.

The SC thinks it is important to “ascertain the origin, authenticity and purpose” of this memo because if it is accepted that its origin from the presidency, given the contents, could plausibly lead to impeachment proceedings against the president then the petition before the SC is not only maintainable but the Court is right in ordering the formation of a three-member commission to get to the bottom of this.

The problem is that if this memo can actually be traced back to the presidency then that is a major setback to the civilians. Those who do not like President Asif Ali Zardari may find that satisfying but the problem with that approach is that this issue goes beyond personal likes and dislikes. If he gets nailed, the civilians lose. None of us should want that.

Ms Jahangir, in her criticism of the SC, has taken no prisoners. But she has asked the Court to do something more than legal, which it cannot. The SC knows that the other party, the military, is relying on the legal — so far. Of course that is not because the military is suddenly headed by Mother Teresa but because it realises the limitations of exercising the nuclear option. Even so, its no-first-use policy doesn’t mean it cannot ride out a first strike and launch its own second strike.

So, if the military is relying on the legal, the Court shall stick to the legal too instead of going up the escalation ladder as Ms Jahangir clearly wanted the judges to do. The petition was not filed by the military but the government’s political opposition, and while the government is agitated, the military says the issue is sub judice and it is satisfied with the legal-constitutional route.

The question at this stage is: if the memo is the product of Mansoor Ijaz’s heat-oppressed brain, why should the government be so nervous about the formation of this commission? In fact, far from opposing the decision, it should welcome it so the issue can be rested.

But what if the memo did happen in the way that Mr Ijaz says it did and the judicial commission ends up corroborating his account?

Then we have a problem. And the problem is not just that this government would be tarnished but we will have the bigger problem of the civilians losing out to the military without the latter having mounted a coup.

Not only that, and this is where the biggest irony of this issue resides, the initiator of all this, through his petition, would have been Mian Nawaz Sharif, the man who opposed the military to the point where the military deemed him a bigger threat and opted for holding its nose and working with the current government. Mian Sahib, in trying to pull his political opponent down, will have ended up strengthening the very organisation that he never tires of holding responsible for derailing democracy. His assertion that he will oppose with all his might any extra-constitutional attempt by the military is naive because the military has no plans of doing that.

That civilians are superior is the normative belief. But while civilians have the absolute right to be wrong, they don’t have the right to be stupid. Reality never overlaps a normative belief. How superior the civilians are depends on how effective they are and effectiveness is a function of taking responsibility, not Byzantine intrigue.

And the military? One waits for the day when they will begin to think strategically — i.e., that the biggest threat to Pakistan is the civil-military fault line. That while they may bludgeon this government with the memo hammer, their victory will lead to strategic defeat for this country. They need to find out ‘why’ this has happened (if it did), not who did it. And the why will lead them to themselves.

The writer is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institutions’s Foreign Policies Studies Programme. This is a cross post from Express Tribune.

About these ads
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Comments

  • K. Hussan Zia  On January 4, 2012 at 3:07 am

    “most interesting civil-military battle in Pakistan’s history ——— If he gets nailed, the civilians lose. None of us should want that.”

    A document that smacks of treason was reportedly delivered to a foreign power inviting it to intervene in Pakistan in a highly prejudicial manner. If the Supreme Court has accepted to establish the truth, how does it become a civil vs military issue?

    The military is intrinsically involved as the premier institution responsible for the security of the state. It has not pitted itself against all the rest of the country in wishing for truth to be established — something that every right-minded patriotic person also desires. How do the civilians lose if the truth is established?

    ‘Civil’ means every one who not in the military. The memo is at the most about half a dozen individuals. Why imply as if it is against all the rest of the nation — unless it is the intention to confuse the issue. Why rush to judgement; why not wait for the court’s findings? What is there to worry about if there is no guilt and no wrong has been committed?

  • S U Turkman  On January 4, 2012 at 3:41 am

    Yes, yes. Military that keeps conquering Pakistan, overthrowing Elected Governments in violation of Pak Constitution never commits Treason because Pak Military is Pakistan, not Pakistanis.
    Allaho Akbar …!

  • Rauf  On January 4, 2012 at 5:44 am

    The writer in a very subtle way is looking up and trying to “spit” at the army.
    Why ? Here the punch line of the writer.
    ” That while they may bludgeon this government with the memo hammer, their victory will lead to strategic defeat for this country. They need to find out ‘why’ this has happened (if it did), not who did it. And the why will lead them to themselves.”
    Rauf

  • Admiral Sirohey  On January 4, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Let the rule of law prevail. It will agar well for all.

    ias

  • TMH  On January 4, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Mr. Ejaz Haider,
    She is politically and legally wrong, she is an enemy of the state of Pakistan.. You have to expose her links with
    Indian and Untied States and the funds she receive as their mole. How such people are allowed to live
    freely and launch propaganda campaign against Pakistan, at the behest of her financiers. What SC will do
    In HH case, when Asma is allowed to run wild in our courts? Both are enemies of state and supported by our
    enemies.

    TMH

    • S U Turkman  On January 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      That’s right.
      One has to be approved by GHQ before we can call him/her a patriotic Pakistani otherwise, all Non Punjabis are already unpatriotic Foreign Agents anyway.
      Remember, most of population of Pakistan living in East Pakistan had turned out to be Traitor and Agent of India in 1971?
      So, what possibly could change now?
      Pakistan ZinDaabaaD …!

  • F.B Ali  On January 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

    This is a strange article. He talks about the undesirability of Memogate becoming “a major setback to the civilians”. No one, he says, should want the civilians to lose.

    Is this a ping pong game? He appears to be totally oblivious to the real implications of the memo being initiated by some official person or agency in Pakistan. What that would mean is that this person, group or agency was prepared to appoint a national security establishment, including military leaders, that would suit and be approved by a foreign power, and bring Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent under the supervision of this foreign power.

    Where does Pakistan figure in this writer’s ping pong game between civilians and the military? Is he a Pakistani? Does Pakistan matter to him? Is handing over control of Pakistan to a foreign power not significant enough to be even mentioned in his stupidly clever article?

    • S U Turkman  On January 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm

      Whoever is thinking ” … handing over control of Pakistan to a foreign power …”, I am with him/her. I really think, we should give Pakistan back to Great Britain because at least under British, we had guarantee of ‘ChaaDer’ and ‘Chaar diwaaree’ and now we do not even have that.
      We are not called Slaves like we were told that we were under British Rule but now we are worse than Slaves.
      “British had been looting us” …?
      But then, how come Pakistan had received an inheritance of $ 7.6 billion (equal to $ 600 billion in today’s money) in Foreign Exchange from Govt. of British India?
      Can anybody tell us, how had we lost that money gathered by the British after so many decades, in just 8 years if we knew, how to run our country?
      * How come Pakistan never had any Net Foreign Exchange Reserves since 1955 and has never earned any Net Foreign Exchange since her birth any year if our rulers know, how to run this country and are more honest than those ‘Looting British’ …?
      * British had built Infrastructure for us. Could anybody tell us, why our own Islamic Honest patriotic rulers can not even provide us, Clean and constant Water, Electricity and Natural Gas?
      * Why is Pakistan in reverse Gear that Trains are not late by minutes but by Days now?.
      Is this Progress and is this why we had wanted to kick those British out, who’s generations were born in our land calling them British while now our Immigrants getting citizenship claim to have more rights in U.K. than British?
      Yes, yes, hand over Pakistan to some foreign power because there can not be any Foreign Power worse than our looting, marauding, backstabbing, Nmak Hraam Military Power.

  • Idrees  On January 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Spy vs Spy…….This is the fallout of Osama affair……who is to blame?
    idrees

    • S U Turkman  On January 4, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      When they had come requesting me to interpret one of Osama’s Dream addressing me, ‘Oh Holy Man’, I had said after hearing that Dream, …
      .
      “There would be an attack. Everybody there would die but he would escape unharmed”.
      It turned out to be Tora Bora attack of USA.
      “Then he would hide somewhere else”.
      It turned out to be Osama’s stay in Hazara.
      “Then, another Attack would take place in the 3rd place and he would be dead. His death would cause shame to his Hosts”.
      The 3rd place turned out to be Abbotabad but I had never said, it would cause, what has been lately happening in Pakistan.
      .
      Because Osama had seen himself turning in to a Statue of Salt in the 2nd attack, I had interpreted, what I wrote above about 2nd Attack and I am watching like a student to see and learn, what I could not interpret from the info that Osama had provided.
      .
      Sumsaamuddin
      Wullahool Azeem …!
      Wullah aalam bitSwaab.
      .

  • Sohail  On January 5, 2012 at 2:10 am

    First of all, Mr. Eyaz Haider seems to have a bias – the very term “civil-military battle” is out of line, there is no battle – it is about right & wrong!
    If the court is able to identify from evidence who the originator of this memo is, that person should be brought to task within the legal framework.
    Mr. Haider’s words “the civilians lose”, are incorrect – the country gains by identifying a traitor and punishing him and, if the country gains, the civilians gain.
    I ask a question, how is Asma Jehangir’s expectation from the court “to look at the issue beyond strictly legal” different from the effects of the doctrine of necessity?
    The reference to Mother Teresa related to our military is in bad taste. In the interest of our beloved country we have to stop hating, be it on the basis of political preferences of parties or people, democracy vs dictatorship, or any other reason, we have to stand on the side of the righteous and take the country out of the mess – this mess is result of complex institutions, political parties, personalities. Unfortunately, the people are not looking at the mistakes, they are looking at the entities involved and taking their positions based on their like or dislike of the entity.
    Best regards,
    Sohail

    • S U Turkman  On January 5, 2012 at 3:28 am

      No Sohail,
      Pakistan is not a mess because of complex institutions, political parties etc. Its a mess because of Military’s hunger for power, lawlessness and corruption. What do you expect these people to do. Philosophically they are the 7th Century Tribal Savages Allah had called ‘Koffaar’ in Qoraan. Mentally, they live in 16th Century world but they have access to 21st Century Technology to legitimize their existence.

  • Nasim Hassan  On January 5, 2012 at 2:11 am

    Is there any person alive in this world who is not biased?

    • S U Turkman  On January 5, 2012 at 3:39 am

      Person?
      There are more than 200 million Americans, who are not biased and who had elected son of a Black Moslim African man as their President in 2008. All the rich countries of the world donating billions of Charity as Aid and giving tens of billion in Loans that have never been paid back to Anti West Christian Hating Pakistanis are not biased either. I guess, Tribal Brain Pakistanis think, everybody in the world like them. What can they do?
      They were too busy solving a Conspiracy Theory, when Allah was distributing Brains. This is why they still suspect a Conspiracy Theory even, when a Crow starts crowing at the Wall of their Veranda.

  • Syed Wajahat  On January 5, 2012 at 2:11 am

    There is’nt any one without bias. But intelligent people review their bias based on the fairness of the situation
    and follow the logical path that evolves out of such fair analysis.

    The Bias that Sohail sahib is referring to is a pathological reaction without any analysis. Which
    can be very damaging to the environment and the population.

    Syed W. Hussain

  • Syed Ataur Rahman  On January 5, 2012 at 9:33 am

    What is politico-normative contest? Jugglery of words, nothing else. That is what this biased article is all about. The issue simply is about some traitors compromising the national security of Pakistan. Rather than taking the law in their own hands, the armed forces have shown great restraint. They are relying on the country’s legal system to unearth the mutinous culprits, if any. Asma Jahangir, the paid henchman of USA and India is doing everything in her power to tarnish the image of our armed forces. If she has so much love for the Indians why does she not go and live under the feet of her favourite Bal Thakery? She is neither right politically or legally, and what is the difference? Again, jugglery of words. The writer is US based and probably earns his bread writing for the neo conservative Americans. And why should the courts do anything beyond legal constraints and why is he ‘feeding’ the notion of civil-military divide? Rather he should be exposing the corrupt and sold out civilian leaders who rule the country today. Thankfully the Army is keeping a check on our foreign and security matters. If Haqqani or his master Zardari or any others who are guilty, should punished according to the law of the land. Do we the people of Pakistan demand too much? And finally what strategic defeat of the country if the investigation clearly identifies and exposes the real culprits? It will certainly be a victory for the people of Pakistan.

  • Syed Ataur Rahman  On January 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I can see this man turkman, a RAW plant continues his efforts to usurp this forum. He should be banned from putting his biased comments in this website.

    • S U Turkman  On January 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      I have usurped this forum Mr. Rahman?
      I had no idea you had become so impressed by my posts. Well, its an open forum. Why don’t you take over if you can speak truth more and have a better brain than mine convincing the members better than me, my Lord?
      .
      FACTS:
      .
      1. If there was no scare of UN Economic Sanctions, Pak Military would have topple Zardari 3 years ago instead of seeking Obama’s permission for it.
      2. Military has been trying Parliamentary and Street Politics to overthrow Zardari besides order Taliban to cause a Mayhem in Pakistan but it has not succeeded so far.
      3. Since Military could not topple government risking UN Sanctions, worry that it would have t9oppled Government after Osama’s Assassination were just stupidity or paranoia.
      4. Haqqani did not have to come back. He could have applied for Political Asylum since he was already well settled in USA before becoming Ambassador so, it mean, he is sure of his position and its actually Gen. Keyani that will have to go now as I had predicted 3 years ago that his Period of Luck ends in 2012.
      5. One way or the other. USA’s Taliban problem would be solved soon. Either Pak Military will stop paying their Salaries and stop Supply of Weapons or it would be bombed to Stone Age by USA ending Pakistan the way she exists now.

  • Ata  On January 5, 2012 at 11:12 am

    What is politico-normative contest? Jugglery of words, nothing else. That is what this biased article is all about. The issue simply is about some traitors compromising the national security of Pakistan. Rather than taking the law in their own hands, the armed forces have shown great restraint. They are relying on the country’s legal system to unearth the mutinous culprits, if any. Asma Jahangir, the paid henchman of USA and India is doing everything in her power to tarnish the image of our armed forces. If she has so much love for the Indians why does she not go and live under the feet of her favourite Bal Thakery? She is neither right politically or legally, and what is the difference? Again, jugglery of words. The writer is US based and probably earns his bread writing for the neo conservative Americans. And why should the courts do anything beyond legal constraints and why is he ‘feeding’ the notion of civil-military divide? Rather he should be exposing the corrupt and sold out civilian leaders who rule the country today. Thankfully the Army is keeping a check on our foreign and security matters. If Haqqani or his master Zardari or any others who are guilty, should punished according to the law of the land. Do we the people of Pakistan demand too much? And finally what strategic defeat of the country if the investigation clearly identifies and exposes the real culprits? It will certainly be a victory for the people of Pakistan.
    Ata

  • Muhammad Zafar Chaudhry  On January 8, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Thank you for sharing this well balanced comment on the uncalled for
    and contemptous outbursts of Madam Asma Jilani against the Army and
    ISI. The learned author has in conclusion advised the military to
    address the strategic fault line in the civil-military relations,
    implying, a degree of responsibility for the existence of the gulf.
    Those who have seen the history of Pakistan unfold in front of their
    eyes may have a comment in this regard.
    Let us take a deep breath and honestly answer the question as to what
    factors at the relevant time caused the military to exert itself? And
    before any judgment, let us also remind ourselves that each time
    military action was enthusiastically welcomed by the public. However,
    experience must have made it clear to the military that people’
    sanction was neither permanent nor unconditional.
    The action if any, is due in the political field. Those who aspire for
    the leadership of the nation have to have the make up of leaders – in
    character, knowledge and performance. It is for political parties to
    work out procedures and practices to ensure that men and women of real
    merit are chosen to lead their outfits. Failing …. history will
    continue repeat itself in this land of the Pure. God bless Pakistan.
    MZ

    • S U Turkman  On January 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm

      The Question is, why Military does not let anyone finish his/her term that people elect for?
      It means, Military does not believe in Democracy and thinks, Pakistanis are not Pakistan, it is Pakistan instead. The only way to change this is, make President of Pakistan the C-n-C of Military just like in USA. You see, Soldiers pledge allegiance to their Chief, not Democratically Elected leader of Pakistan like Pak Constitutions requires. That Oath of Allegiance to Army by Soldiers is unconstitutional and should be banned by law. Oath of Allegiance should be to Elected President of Pakistan so, the Soldiers can stand against their Military Generals, who want to overthrow Elected Government.
      The whole purpose of Democracy is gone if you make Military Holier than your Elected Government. In Pakistan, this is what you have and this is why Military has been ruling Pakistan for 47 out last 55 years directly or indirectly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 100 other followers

%d bloggers like this: