It has been an informative week. First of all, the attempt on Hamid Mir told us all that the ISI was a ‘national institution.’ After Hamid was shot, his brother Amir said that Hamid had earlier said that if he was attacked, the ISI would be behind the attack. That was the signal not just for vehement denials, but for a reference for the cancellation of the license of the channel which broadcast these allegations.
The ISI was vigorously defended. Not just against the accusation. But against its being made in the first place. Nobody has advanced the argument that national institutions have the right to discourage any element it wants so long as it deems that element unpatriotic. It’s interesting that where national institutions are concerned, one mustn’t make accusations. National institutions may do what is necessary, and no one should object. And anything said by them must be accepted without question. Like the denial of the attack by the ISI.
One sign that the ISI is a national institution is that its Director General doesn’t like the kind of publicity Mir’s channel gave him. That could only mean helping the enemy, which means Indians and Americans. One of the people that Mir covered was Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who was in Karachi at the same time as Mir. Musharraf is on trial for his life, for high treason, even though he has been COAS, and thus head of a national institution.
I don’t think it was right to criticize the Indians or Americans, however. Americans have been in Pakistan, working for Pakistani interests, since 9/11. And Indians cannot be criticized, especially after the USA wants us to make peace with them. On their terms. If anyone works for the Indians or the Americans, that would be a good thing. If that means bringing a national institution into disrepute, that would probably be a good thing too.
But only a few people in the government are probably paying attention to how the whole thing is playing out. Like Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali, who has declared that the government and the armed forces are on the same page. This after the COAS visited ISI HQ as if in response to the PM going to see Hamid Mir in hospital. Of course, the ISI had not been shot, but then Mir is not even commissioned, let alone a serving lieutenant-general, like the DG ISI.
Ch Nisar also remained in the news because he spoke about the Ali Haider Gilani video. That video, he said, showed that he was not kidnapped by the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan. It seems the Taliban do nothing but talk with the government. Perhaps the government should talk with the kidnappers. It isn’t just that Ali Haider is the son of a former Prime Minister, as that as a citizen, he deserves protection from kidnapping.
Though for Ali Haider and his family, the news about him and his kidnapping is very important, for millions of cricket fans around the country, the appointment of Moin Khan as chief selector is more important. I wonder if he will take the playing-days approach to his job or the private. The playing-days approach would be to have Kamran Akmal open the bowling. I mean, if Sri Lanka can make Lasith Malinga its new 2020 captain, why can’t Kamran open the bowling? Tatenda Taibu, when Zinbabwean captain, did, and he had been picked to keep wickets. So wait for Waseem Bari to become bowling coach. Or maybe Moin has been picked because of his private approach, to which his wife can testify. Then he won’t be placing wicketkeepers in key places, merely beating up players who don’t perform, what is known as a ‘dynamic zero-defects programme.’ You don’t think Malinga has been made skipper because he intends to make Jayawardene turn up in curls, or Dilshn get a dye-job? Oh no, he has been confirmed captain because he won the 2020 World Cup. So if it takes Kamran Akmal to open the bowling, with Zulqarnain at the other end, and yet more toleration of his brother Umar (and their buckteeth), then so be it. But to get a winning combination, maybe Moin needs to talk to a Mumbai match-fixer, and talk directly to the Indian Board.
There are other reasons to feel depressed, other than not having Malinga as the cricket captain, or the Akmal brother’s teeth. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari won’t be coming to Lahore, because of security concerns. After all, while Gilani’s son was taken from Multan, Salman Taseer’s was kidnapped from Lahore. And we shouldn’t stay in Karachi, which seems to have been targeted ever since the TTP ended their ceasefire.