No surprises

Published February 17, 2024

TO some, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman triggered a political earthquake late Thursday when, during a television interview, he ‘revealed’ that former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and spy chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed had organised and orchestrated the 2022 vote of no-confidence that resulted in Imran Khan’s ouster.

A day later, he ‘corrected’ himself in a different interview, saying he had taken the ex-spy chief’s name by mistake, and that it was his successor that he had, in fact, been referring to.

“They were in contact with all political parties regarding the no-confidence motion, and they told us the way of going about it,” he had initially said. The PDM parties went along with the plan, but they were merely “rubber-stamping” the move, the JUI-F chief claimed.

The maulana’s ‘confession’ ended up causing quite a stir on social media, with most PTI sympathisers describing it as ‘confirmation’ of their party’s long-held stance on the cipher ‘conspiracy’, under which they believe that army generals acted to topple the PTI’s elected government in collusion with/ or on the instructions of officials from the Biden administration.

On the other hand, the maulana’s detractors were quick to dismiss him, with many speculating that he had only made a statement to secure a few positions in the next government for himself or one of his family members. It certainly seemed hypocritical of him to claim that he never wanted a role in the no-trust vote and that he only went along due to ‘peer pressure’. He had, after all, been heading the PDM at the time.

Regardless, to those familiar with the security establishment’s behind-the-scenes machinations, this ‘revelation’ outlined another link in the larger scheme of interference and control ongoing for the past many years.

From the ouster of Nawaz Sharif in 2017, to the pre-poll rigging before the July 2018 elections to keep him out; the post-poll creation of the PTI government with the help of independents; Gen Bajwa’s service extension; the subjugation of the media; and, finally, the ouster of Imran Khan’s government — Gen Bajwa remained active throughout, supported in his political adventures for most of that period by Gen Hameed, who served first as DGC and then as DG ISI.

It is time for both gentlemen’s actions during this extended period to be investigated thoroughly and, if their misconduct is proven, for them to be appropriately punished on each count. It ought to be noted that this current cycle of instability started with Nawaz Sharif’s ouster in 2017, and has only gotten worse since then.

It may be too late to rectify the original sin, but it is never too late to stop repeating mistakes. Recognising this will put the country on a path to recovery.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2024

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