What’s the most stirring thing about the revelations WikiLeaks has brought to us today? Nothing? Or everything? For starters, quite a few people reading the cables right now must be gloating and inwardly thinking or outwardly bragging. “Hah! I knew it all along!” Of course you did. Didn’t we all?But then there must be those thinking that the flower garlands they distributed and the drum beats they danced to during the Chief Justice’s reinstatement wasn’t exactly for the right motive now, was it? Do you feel cheated? Did the Sharifs pump you up for the wrong reasons? Watch out, their rejection of foreign aid (read American aid, not Saudi aid) just might be another political ploy too. No secret document needed to figure that one out.
"The nation wants a change and it will come. We have decided to go ahead with the Long March. This government is a sham," Nawaz had said at the time of the long march.But what the cables tell us today is that actually Sharif sahab, your long march was a sham. Your rally was a sham and your motive was a sham.
“Shahbaz stressed that his party could not afford the political humiliation of abandoning what had become a long-standing principle in favour of Chaudhry’s restoration. At the same time, Shahbaz claimed to understand that Chaudhry was a problematic jurist, whose powers would need to be carefully curtailed,” reported Lahore Consulate Principal Officer Bryan Hunt in a secret American diplomatic cable describing his meeting with the younger Sharif on March 14, 2009.That’s not what you told us, Mr.Sharif. So much for being a democracy when hardly anything around here is done for the people. Instead, what our democracy and democratic leaders have done for years is protect their interests through the people, as opposed to thinking along the lines of national interest.
Let’s leave democracy and the sham aside for a minute. Let’s focus on all those who believe that the army believes in sovereignty. Do you feel cheated? Seems like our government isn’t the only one exchanging secrets with America. Our army has a wish-list too.
In a meeting on January 22, 2008 with US CENTCOM Commander Admiral William J. Fallon, Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani requested the Americans to provide “continuous Predator coverage of the conflict area” in South Waziristan where the army was conducting operations against militants. The request is detailed in a ‘Secret’ cable sent by then US Ambassador Anne Patterson on February 11, 2008. Pakistan’s military has consistently denied any involvement in the covert programme run mainly by the CIA.There you have it Pakistani people. Your leaders and your army both have more faith in the American government than they do in themselves and although this certainly is not a shocker, it most certainly is a confirmation of every doubt we have ever had against them.
Another previously unpublished cable dated May 26, 2009 details President Zardari’s meeting on May 25 with an American delegation led by Senator Patrick Leahy. “Referring to a recent drone strike in the tribal area that killed 60 militants,” wrote Ambassador Patterson in her report, “Zardari reported that his military aide believed a Pakistani operation to take out this site would have resulted in the deaths of over 60 Pakistani soldiers.”
Talk of sovereignty today is a farce. Sovereignty is not sacred and whether it’s Kayani who pretends to uphold it or whether it is Gilani, fact remains that we are secretly (well, not so much anymore) selling it every single day.
Then what is it about WikiLeaks and what it unveils, that makes Pakistani people stunned and jittery? The fact that we are reading ‘classified’ files? Or is it the secret jargon? We are a nation of conspiracy theorists and we already have assumed every worst possible scenario.
If these cables that have been revealed, tell us anything, it is that ‘yes, you are right.’ You are right to doubt the government’s competence, you are right to question the military’s motives, you are right in assuming the Sharifs just want to safeguard their power and most of all, you are right when you believe that no one cares about you. These classified documents do not tell you anything more or anything less. They just confirm what you have already been thinking all along.
Shyema Sajjad is the Deputy Editor at Dawn.com
Illustration by Faraz Aamer Khan/Dawn.com