Pakistan has always had a weak, almost non-existent democracy in place and the situation has not improved at all since the country’s inception. As Qamar Bajwa admitted just after he was made the Army Chief, the destruction of Pakistan is to be blamed as much on its Army as on the political parties. One could argue that he was being generous about his own institution, but even this admission is very rare among the Army circles. As a result, there is always high tension whenever a party is removed from governance, and another is brought into power by the Army. There is abnormal intent to malign and tarnish the image of the predecessors, and nothing is spared to achieve this. This time the activity is heightened and includes stories of slander and corruption not just about the political leadership, but also of the former Army leadership.
Known journalists have written articles and made vlogs talking about the sheer magnitude of debauchery and corruption. Even in the past, evils of the departing Generals were narrated in hushed tones, but this time, they have achieved greater magnitude. The story started when Imran Khan was engineered by the military think tanks to come into power. This project was launched during the reign of General Bajwa, and enabled all Generals to openly earn so much money, that it sank the country. So far no major news stories have come forth exposing the Army and its agencies as the root of all evil Army. No one has truly criticized their dominance over the country’s resources, the limitless powers forcibly taken by them, the nature of political servitude towards them, and the fact that they are not accountable to anyone.
Examining the columns written about the ongoing events by some journalists, one can start with the two path-breaking columns by Absar Alam. In the first one, he wrote about the rape of a civilian, his own son, at the hands of the army under General Bajwa. The second one disclosed how Pakistan was run like a brothel by ISI and how they made intimate videos in order to blackmail people to achieve political and financial objectives. After Absar Alam, some other famous Pakistani journalists also created shockwaves through their vlogs and extraordinary stories of the corruption of army generals have come to the fore.
Imran Khan was launched by the ISI towards the end of the Musharraf era, after the country’s two major political parties, the People’s Party and the PML, made an agreement that their conduct of they would not violate the constitution, and that all would avoid retaliating against each other or toppling governments at the behest of the Army. This sent alarm bells ringing through the cadres of the Army which were used to control the puppet stings of any and all governments in the past. General Pasha, head of ISI during General Kiyani’s reign, started work on bringing Imran Khan into politics as a third force. The public was misled by the falsely created narrative of the corruption of politicians, and Imran Khan was presented as an authentic, honest leader. But General Kiyani considered Imran Khan an arrogant, self-centred person who was impossible to control, and so the project got stalled. Following the tenure of General Kiyani, the propaganda against the political parties had seeped in deep into the lower cadre of the Army as well as other civilian setups. General Raheel Sharif, who followed Kiyani as Chief of Army, did not like Imran Khan much either, but by that time, the ISI including General Zaheer ul Islam and General Pasha had hand picked dirty politicians and had installed them in PTI, Imran Khan’s political party, after dry-cleaning all of their past sins. Additionally, the propaganda created by the ISI had highly influenced the civil society, so Sharif had no choice but to become a part of the plan.
The formal launch of project Imran Khan took place during the Qamar Bajwa’s tenure, at a time when corruption had taken root in both the civil society and the army. General Bajwa launched this project for personal greed without any care for the consequences. Nawaz Sharif was removed as Prime Minister on charges of corruption. The elections were stage-managed by the Army, and it ensured that Imran Khan is made the Prime Minister. This system was named hybrid setup and the ISI and Army Generals behind it, made a lot of money. Here are some of the highlights of how public’s money was looted
– Overseas Pakistanis were made to send money through Imran Khan. Several housing schemes were launched and overseas Pakistanis were also looted through them
– ISPR, the mouthpiece of ISI, made heavy investments of public money into TV shows, dramas, films, songs etc
– Billions of rupees were embezzled through dam funds
– Large amounts were taken from land, sugar, oil, pharmaceutical, auto manufacturing and other mafias and they were left free to loot the public, hoard, increase prices as they pleased. No check or balances applied to them, and they all got away with it
– Money was extorted from large scale businessmen and builders, lands were confiscated unlawfully from builders
– Army built an organization called the National Logistics Corporation or NLC, which handled all major development projects
– Billions of dollars were siphoned off in foreign aid received under the COVID Fund
– Former generals were given lucrative jobs with attractive packages in government organizations
– Foreign debts increased by forty percent and all the money was diverted away from the reach of public accountability
There is a long list of Army and ISI leaders who were given the task to launch Project Imran Khan and reaped the benefits from it. Notable names include General Pasha, General Zaheer Islam, General Asim Bajwa, General Amir Riyaz, General Nadeem Raza, General Humayun Aziz, General Asif Ghafoor, General Faiz Hameed, General Bilal Akbar, General Abdullah Dogar, General Maznal, General Afzal and General Omar Abbasi. In addition, numerous Brigadiers and Colonels participated in the election and political engineering. Some of them have retired while some are still in service. General Asim Bajwa and General Faiz Hameed are on the top list among wealth creators, while Asif Ghafoor, who tweeted against the prime minister during Nawaz era and instructed journalists and media to only do positive reporting during Imran Khan’s government, is sitting pretty as Commander Southern Command, a very important and lucrative assignment including the charge of Balochistan.
The list of judges who made the project a success includes former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, as well as former Chief Justices Asaf Saeed Khosah and Gulzar Ahmed. Current judges who were part of the engineering include Justice Atta Bandial, Aejaz Al Hasan, Muneeb Arshad, Muzahir Naqvi of the Supreme Court and Amir Bhatti of the Lahore High Court.
The way things have shaped up in Pakistan over the last few decades, it will be probably be a good guess to make when one says that no action will be taken against any of these individuals. In the meantime, the establishment is busy making yet another experiment in political engineering, and it is carrying on without check. Instead of learning from their mistakes, they are bent on repeating them.
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