WHY I REFUSED TO HEAD LETTER-GATE COMMISSION: Lt. Gen. (r) Tariq Khan

1869
0

BY: Lt. Gen. (r) Tariq Khan


‘Society will question your reputation, but it will believe your defamation without question’

AMIT KALANTRI

The Nation stood witness to the difficult time it had to recemtly endure as it survived political turmoil that polarized and divided the country into opposing camps. Each camp had taken a position and no amount of rational or logic was enough for it to change opinions or to reconsider one’s preferred posture. The positions were firm, extreme and final – it was all wrong or then all right, black or then white, with us or then against us! 

In this vein, on the 8th of April at about 1300 hours, I was requested to head a Commission to ascertain the facts about the damning letter/note/memo that was initiated by the US and was allegedly the focal device designed to meddle and interfere in the internal affairs of our Country. Supposedly the note implicated a number of leading politicians of the opposition in an act of disloyalty towards the State. I have no connections with any politicians or political party, am known to be apolitical and thus was deeply honoured to have been considered fit for such a sensitive task and entrusted with such a delicate national task. I was more than willing to undertake this task and felt that it was a duty to make myself available to the needs of my country. However, being in cognizance of the overall turmoil, environment and the ongoing political agitation, I felt that taking up such a position was subject to confirmation regarding the status of the Commission and my position if and when there would be a change in the Government. While waiting for such a confirmation, I thought it proper on account of the 38 years of affiliation with the Army, that I should consult the institution and determine their position on the matter as well. At about 1600 hours, I engaged the relevant office (not to be seen as the COAS’s secretariat as most would like to believe) and this was purely out of common courtesy, institutional respect, tradition and professional decorum. In turn, I was told to do as I please but to be careful of the consequences of getting politicized when I would conclude my investigation. One way or the other, the Army would be blamed by one side or the other only because I was the head of the Commission. Also, having not yet, been given any clarity on my position if the government was removed, I decided to pass on my regrets to the government in that I was unable to undertake the task at hand under the given circumstances and I communicated my position to the Government and the Media by 1800 Hours on the same day. 

My principle reasons for having done so was that it appeared that the Government would not last for more than a day or two. For me to set up a Commission having selected relevant officials from different departments would take at least a week. To pursue the enquiry into the affairs of ‘influenced’ politicians would mean checking their travel records and the people they had met over the last six months, at the least. It would certainly involve access to their accounts and transfer of funds etc. to ascertain whether funds had changed hands. All told this was a matter that could take up a couple of months and that to if we worked at break- neck speed around the clock. With Government living on borrowed time and apparently for just another 48 hours, this Commission would shift to an entity under the new administration against whom it had been set up in the first place. I expected that the Commission would be withdrawn or then no cooperation would be extended to it, documents, records or references would be withheld and eventually having been declared a failure, it would be disbanded. On the dissolution of the Commission, the new Government would forcefully state, that having established a Commission, nothing untoward was discovered and as such they are innocent of all charges. The Commission would become a product and a means to establish that no foreign interference in the affairs of the State had taken place. The Commission would become a symbolic license, proving innocence and be quoted as a reference for times to come. 

Now this is my explanation to all those who are interested in knowing what happened, for avoiding taking up the task, which to me was an obvious no-go and at cross purposes for what it was being established. However, once the media released the news of me not willing to head the Commission being set up, there was an out pouring of sentiments, some emotional, some in anger and many in disappointment. A flurry of fake tweets were put out in my name and false articles circulated on my behalf. I would like to vehemently state here that I have put nothing out in the media since 31st March which was about the Official Secret Act, I do not operate a twitter account, and my last interaction in the public domain was with Israr Kasana in an interview which is on Youtube. This is my first written communication since 31st March. Anything in between, shared, tweets, audio mails or blogs are all fake. 

All the same people came up with ridiculous accusations of me being pro-American (Whatever that may mean) and cited a host of reasons for their allegations. First, they quoted that I was a recipient of the ‘Legion of Merit’, trying to bring the award into disrepute. I was awarded as a Pakistani Representative and not for my services to the United States. No officer of the Pakistan Army served under the United States. Then it was said that I was in CENTCOM, Florida for a year which, by their standards, meant that I was now a US proxy. I was in CENTCOM because I was ordered to be there. Nevertheless, I have also been awarded the Defence of Saudi Arabia and the Liberation of Kuwait medals. What would that make me? Furthermore, I have been all over the world to over forty countries, China for some time, Saudi Arabia for a year and in Qatar as an advisor for three years – why does this logic of being their proxy not apply here? 

Another ridiculous allegation that is regurgitated by some people is that I somehow orchestrated the 2014 Dharna as Commander 1 Corps. I have been on record in giving a rejoinder to Hashmi and coming on TV clearing my name and distancing myself from it but it does not seem to go away. Do these people even understand as to what is the practical manifestation of their accusation? It’s simply not possible in the Army for any Corps Commander to arrange a political event in another station or for that matter, any station. 

They go further and are obsessed with my immediate family – and claim my daughter is married to a US Marine/soldier/policeman/Sargent and the list goes on. Let me put it out in plain view for those who are obsessed with my family and their location so that they can rest in peace. My daughter is married to a civil engineer who is a US Citizen and distant relative. They proposed in 2003, we accepted, there was a formal engagement followed by a formal wedding in November 2006. The wedding was at Multan where I was the GOC and the entire Garrison was invited along with the Corps Commander and other senior officers of the Army. 

The implication is that everything is in the public domain, transparent and open – what is the need for these false insinuations and why? Our daughter had done her Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies and another in Conflict Resolution from Monterey. Her husband and she bought their own house in the US where they live based upon a loan which they are still paying. 

Our younger son graduated in Space Engineering from Wichita in 2018. After reviewing possibilities in Pakistan for a job, realized there was none in keepings with his qualification. He returned to the US where he was immediately employed and is working at Sacramento still awaiting a Green Card. He is married to an Afghan Girl and they live in a rented apartment. 

Our elder son is an executive in a multi-national in Pakistan. He is a skeet shooter and shoots for Pakistan and ranks somewhere in the top 5. He has represented Pakistan in various international competitions and participated in the World Cup in Italy in 2019. Lives in Rawalpindi where he works. 

We as a family have no property or accounts or any such material things anywhere in the world other than in Pakistan. I live in Tank/D I Khan and am available to all these rumor- mongers if they wish to validate anything. We live of our agricultural lands that have been in the family for ages. We do need anything material and are not looking for anything as such. My advice to such sick people is not to judge people by the low standards they maybe accustomed to or have set for themselves or the low values that one is so used to live by Everyone is not a thief or a turncoat or a traitor. I have survived 52 Kinetic operations for my country and led troops and young officers through operations clearing 38000 sq kms out of the 48000 sq kms of combat zone, cleared 3500 kms of lines of communication, and established the writ of the government in areas where angels would fear to tread. I have never sought recognition for this nor do I like to talk about these operations but I am forced to mention them here in response to the false insinuations by false people serving whatever ends they have found profitable to themselves. I draw my inspiration and values from an established lineage that goes back three centuries and is recorded. My Grandfather, The Nawab of Tank was responsible for the referendum in NWFP against the Congress and the Khan Brothers, where NWFP joined Pakistan. He set up the three lashkars, all of which were organized in Tank that liberated portions of Kashmir. My father and his six brothers fought in 1965 war in varying capacities including flying their own personal planes for reconnaissance flights. Four brothers fought in the 1971 war acquitting themselves honourably. How could I ever do anything to sully the high values established by my predecessors and there is nothing that I have written here that cannot be verified by records and cross references. 

I end this note, hoping that those he needed a clarification are now clear about me conduct and those spreading falsities can find peace in silence and finally rest in peace. I thought this note was a necessity since to remain silent myself was to actually validate the accusations people had falsely thrown out against me and my family. I felt that these accusations needed to be addressed. I wish and pray that country finds its way through these difficult times, that we prosper as a nation and live with honour and dignity as a people. 

This article is written by Lt General (r) Tariq Khan, the man who fought the war against militancy in most critical time of Pakistan’s history. He led active military operations as Brigadier, IGFC and as Lt General of Pakistan Army.As Commander Central Command and Corps Commander Lt General (retd) Tariq Khan was part of important decision making relating to Pakistan’s security.