We At PTH Stand By Kamran Shafi

Kamran Shafi is a senior journalist of fierce independence.   He has reported a rather disturbing incident in his column in Dawn.   We at PTH stand by him and condemn such incidents of intimidation and harrassment against journalists and writers and wish him best of luck.  Here is his article:

So then, December is upon us, another year has gone by in the Fatherland’s struggle to keep its head above water, to be accepted as another half-civilised country in the comity of nations.

The very same terrorists who were running amok during the Commando’s time in the sun while he and his collaborators ran with the hares and hunted with the dogs, are somewhat under control due to the political will of the major political parties of the country which has forced the security establishment to become pro-active.
I say ‘somewhat’ because almost all of the Swat/Fata Yahoo leadership is either not yet apprehended or killed, the chief murderers Fazlullah and Mehsud either escaping into Afghanistan, Fazlullah purportedly on one leg, the other melting into the countryside. The ones apprehended, such as Muslim Khan the Terrible are being kept under wraps, i.e., have appeared in no court of law. He is charged, may we remind ourselves, with cold-hearted murder, rebellion against the state, robbery and dacoity, and petty theft.
More, much more has happened to us hapless and lay Pakistanis, and to our country in the year gone by. And the jewel in that is the wilful near-revolt by our Rommels and Guderians when they thoughtlessly and recklessly came out publicly in a press release by the ISPR against the aid bill that the American Congress voted into law to give mainly civilian aid to help upgrade the education, health and other infrastructure sectors. It came with a military component too under certain conditions, mainly that the secretary of state will certify to Congress periodically that the Pakistan Army is firmly under the control of the civilian, elected please note, authority. Our Rommels and Guderians were said to be ‘furious’ at the wording of the bill.

Yet, barely nine days after their ‘fury’ had been vented on us ‘bloody civilians’, the commander US Centcom came a-calling, in which meeting the COAS Pakistan Army, conveniently forgetting the ‘fury’ he and his fellow generals felt at the wording of the aid bill, by now called the KLL for it had become US law, asked for early shipment of ‘sophisticated weapons’ for the fight against terror!

And what has yours truly been writing about during the past year? About hypocrisy and two-facedness. About the foibles of our politicians, specially of the PPP breaking its solemn promises made with the PML-N; the completely foolish and self-defeating coup against the elected, constitutional government of Punjab by Salmaan Taseer, erstwhile friend and campaigner for people’s rights, foolishness soon put right by the newly independent judiciary.
I noted, however, that whilst politicians can be put in their places by the electoral process itself which is always the preferred method, the superior judiciary is also there to correct the course where it is seen that a certain action is unconstitutional. Such as Salmaan’s coup. But what, pray, does one do with a rampant security establishment that deems it below its dignity to submit to the popular will i.e. the will of the people, as exercised through their chosen, elected representatives, ‘bloody civilians’ though they be? I have written about all of the above.
And also about why that Holy of Holies, the Mother of All Agencies, should be considered the exclusive preserve of the Pakistan Army when every other intelligence agency of note across the world is headed by civilians? I must add here that I received at least three emails containing the vilest abuse after I asked why a civilian could not head the ISI, a few weeks ago.

A little anecdote here: during CIA director Leon Panetta’s (Panetta was President Clinton’s chief of staff and is a ‘bloody civilian’) recent visit to the citadel of Islam, a vehicle in his motorcade from Benazir Bhutto airport to the ISI HQ overturned due to over-speeding and the penchant of Pakistani ‘security car’ drivers to stay as close to the VIP’s car come what may, was said in the press release to belong to a ‘sensitive agency’. I ask you! As if we ‘bloody civilians’ thought the overturned vehicle belonged to that dead-as-a-dodo ministry of tourism.

On the night of Nov 27-28, 2009, my house in Wah, where my wife and daughter and I had come to celebrate Eidul Azha, was fired upon six times by a high velocity firearm, probably a Kalashnikov (on single shot mode) judging from the half-inch deep and two-inch across holes in the concrete wall of the bedroom above ours, possibly a Takharov 30 MM pistol, popularly known as ‘TT Pistol’ in the Land of the Pure.

There was no sound of a motor vehicle driving away, suggesting professional hit-men who had probably parked their vehicle a way away towards the main GT Road and then calmly walked to it after doing their deed.

There were no empties found at the site giving further credence to the above theory — the assailants had taken care to catch the bullet casings before they fell to the ground, for you do not start looking for empties in the dead of night for fear of getting caught in the act. One of the ways that we used in the army during firing practice in my day was to hold a beret over the ejection port. We had to account for every round fired which I am sure is the case even now.

There is more: at exactly 17:33 on Nov 28, 2009, I received a telephone call from a woman speaking in uneducated Urdu and using a mobile phone (0300-274-9185). She asked if I was Kamran Shafi. When I said I was, she said that what had happened to me last night was just the ‘trailer’ and that the complete movie would also be shown.
When I asked why any of this should happen, she said, ‘One does not spit in the plate one eats from’, and that if I was not careful about what I write I would soon see the complete movie. I am a pensioner of the Pakistan Army, getting the princely sum of Rs1,200 a month, by the way. FIR No 827 has been registered at the Wah Cantonment PS in which I have in an additional application said that I suspect an ‘agency’ of doing the deed.
I must end by saluting Mian Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari for telephoning me inside of 15 and 17 minutes of my sending messages to their staff respectively, about what had happened. And the Punjab government for providing me and my family the best security it can. This is exactly why I stand on the side of elected leaders and against any further interference in our country’s politics by the men on donkey-back.

Courtesy Dawn

10 Comments

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10 responses to “We At PTH Stand By Kamran Shafi

  1. Junaid

    Finally some one is talking about belling the cat.

    The biggest problem for Pakistan is Pakistan Army itself.

  2. Milind Kher

    Stifling the press is a known mode of operation of the right wingers.

    I am sure that any newspaper exposing conspiracy theories and the Taliban will be endangered. Really sad. For any country, it is the enemy within who is the most dangerous.

  3. I am glad you or anyone in your family were uninjured, and I hope that the ‘movie’ is a flop. We need honest Journalists … the emphasis being on ‘honest’…:)

  4. Milind Kher

    I am relieved to see people cheering Kamran. People operating with courage for the sake of honest journalism must be supported.

    The “movie” will not be shown. Democratic censor will burn it.

    Attaboy, Kamran. Way to go!

  5. Natasha

    Voicing your opinion is not an easy job in the land of the pure.With uniform or without uniform , those who do not believe in letting others voice their opinion act in more or less the same way. Mr.Shafi should adopt a more aggressive tone in his articles post this incidence.The trailor was a flop – Mr.Shafi is still talking about what he wants.Let them produce a ‘film’ Mr.Shafi , let it be a bigger flop!

    God bless you.

  6. rex minor

    I am a guest observer and surprised to note that some or perhaps most of you believe that the Pakistan military is taking orders from the Civilian Govt., even the retired soldier and now the journalist have similar perception. Let me speculate, if I may about the type of the Govt. you now have and also provide some comments about a very well written article:
    1)First of all I do not regard his article being against the military or Inter Service Intelligence. In my view it is certainly on the edge of legality and against some specific personalities. I am not aware if the journalist have any special rights to urge or suggest illegal summary killings of even terrorists citizens . He should have expected violence from criminals, not the military if I may say.
    2) His suggestion of placing ISI under the civilian administration is simply ludicrous to say the least. By its very name the agency gathers infos for military use and is not meant for the civilian Govt. Is he implying that the Govt. do not have any other intelligence network in the country?
    3)By any standard when the military is used against the citizens of a country without a due legal process , this usually implies the introduction of the marshal law.Consequently, the citizens no longer enjoy any protection from the civilian courts.
    4) For cosmetic reasons and to alleviate any concerns of the US administration, your civilian Govt. and the parliment is still functioning and even encouraged to introduce approptriate legislations after concurrence of the powerful military, to support the democracy process and stregnthening of the civilian Institutions of the democratic Country.(This recipe could have been obtained by Pakistan earlier from its neighbour India) Thanks to the Judiciary and the good old George W, who made it possible to get rid of Mr Musharaf and company.
    5) Remembering the past Country history another team of military Generals should have replaced the outgoing ones. The US agreed to accept the nominee of Mr Musharaf to head the military since he was considered friendly to the Bhutto family but insisted that the President post is to be occupied by a civilian. MrZardari was found to be the ideal person for the President post, the weakest in the country. He might appear to have inhereted greater powers for his post , but he is supposed to eventually become a figure head of the the Parliamentry democracy similar to that in India.
    6) Now,Pakistan military is currently operating in Swat and several other Porus border region as the US calls it i.e., the Pushtoon home land and could also move in, if required in Punjab and Sindh provinces.
    7) In the meantime the military has to support the US military in Afghanistan and the US administration would do their best to keep Pakistan military and the civilian Govt. happy with aid and equipment. In other words call it what you may the US administration has taken upon themselves the task of “Nation Building” in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is ofcourse being denied by the US.
    I am sorry if I have said something which is not of your liking and I shall be happy if I am proven wrong.
    8)Pakistan, unfortunately, does not have any other option but to hang on to the military/civilian arrangements made by the US for the country, because the longer it stays the more chance of reforms and eventually a strong civilian leader. It is recognised by every one that the military in Pakistan is a very strong Institution. However, in the past the civilian Govt. always relied on its deployment, as currently, against its own citizens resulted in several take overs of the entire administration. This has been the major factor for the short life of a civilian Govt. in the country.

  7. greenpaky

    With corrupt federal civilian administration,why should the army respect the bloody civilians,
    Until and unless you have honest Pakistani politicians(oxymoron).

    Respect is generally earned.
    and yes Pak armed forces have no saints either among its ranks.

  8. vajra

    @rex minor

    4) For cosmetic reasons and to alleviate any concerns of the US administration, your civilian Govt. and the parliment is still functioning and even encouraged to introduce approptriate legislations after concurrence of the powerful military, to support the democracy process and stregnthening of the civilian Institutions of the democratic Country.(This recipe could have been obtained by Pakistan earlier from its neighbour India)

  9. vajra

    I am sorry, because of lack of attention, that query to rex minor slipped out incomplete.

    My query: since we have never had a military influence on civilian affairs, what recipe could have been obtained by Pakistan from India?

    Simply curious.