ITS NOW OR NEVER

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BY: Lt. Gen. (r) Tariq Khan

The time is now, the place is here, stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for  

Dan Millman

By declining to head the Commission, many have interpreted it to mean, that I was part of the events that let down the PTI Government. Far from it. Like I had said earlier, in circumstances such as these, people firm up opinions and take up positions based upon those opinions. Once a position is taken no one is willing to let go of his stand regardless of any logic or rational that proves that stand to be wrong. Thus people continue to be critical of my declining to head the Commission mandated to confirm any foreign interference into the affairs of the State. The same arguments are regurgitated again and again, despite the reasons proffered (http://reportersdiary.com/blog/13301/the-true- narrative/ ) for such a decision.

First, the decision was my own and mine alone. My life, my conduct and where I live clearly indicate that I can neither be influenced nor coerced into doing things that I do not wish to do. It would suffice to say, that all those who refuse to see the sense of what I did, should now see the reality when the prosecutor is stopped from going to court by the FIA, in Shahbaz Sharif’s money laundering case, even before he has been voted in as the new PM. What then would be the future of the Commission – it is not a question of being frightened or scared but that it was obvious that it was not going to deliver anything and was an exercise in futility. On the other hand, there are unintended consequences of undertaking such a task amidst total uncertainty which people fail to see. The Commission would become an entity quoted and requoted, in clearing the names of all those guilty of betrayal, disloyalty and in violation of article 5 and 6. What would these same people, criticizing my decision, say then? 

Some people talk of a phone call, but it was I who that made that call and I have explained why, but in any case, that call was not reason due to which I decided to decline the position that the government wanted me to take. Nevertheless, people are charged, the atmosphere is volatile and emotions are high – I understand this and people need someone to blame or hold responsible regardless of how illogical it may be or totally removed from reality. The Army is being blamed, and I am guilty by association though I retired in 2014. My affiliation with the Army remains and my pride in the uniform is unchanged. Yet I do not represent the Army nor does the Army have any control over my actions, conduct and behavior. I live in Waziristan, so what perks and privileges can be extended to me here due to which I may be obliged – I do not understand but people are welcome to come and share such bounties with me whenever their curiosity urges them to. 

Now the reality of the matter: it should not be forgotten, that based on the Governments accusations against the opposition (and taking them at face value), it was I who had said publicly in late March that the culprits should be arrested immediately and tried for violation of article 5. It did not happen and the consequences lie before us. Secondly, the blatant crossing of the firewall by the courts in transgressing article 69 and entering into the domain of the Parliament certainly warranted a response of some kind. If the Judiciary had trespassed into the domain of the parliament the Parliament could do likewise to the judiciary, after all the law and the constitution were no longer a governing factor and its was simply “just because they can!”. Both these critical issues went by and no one reacted properly or in time. Maybe it was because of external influences, maybe because it was a beleaguered Government that was literally under siege, maybe it was indecisiveness or maybe even incompetence, nevertheless, the moment and the opportunity were lost. A lot of selected actions were undertaken by various quarters intended to hamper the Government and bring it down, and I would not list them here, since everyone is aware of them but what’s done is done and is now a page in history. 

So where do I stand – I am not a political animal and have never participated in politics but I have a right to vote. If I were to vote it would be the PTI; first, because seeing all that is available to choose from, I would not wish to vote for any other political party and second because I feel that with all their faults, and there are many, PTI demonstrates a level of sincerity. What happened to PTI in these recent troubling times was because of the unravelling of its alliances and disloyalty amongst its ranks. Let this be a lesson for the future – shared power is no power; only borrowed power. I have many differences with PTI’s thought process related to internal and external affairs of the country and I often raise those differences publicly but I would still stand with PTI anytime of the day and be proud to have them as my Government. No power today would keep me from supporting the PTI from getting back the power they deserve. 

My views as to what happened in the last couple of weeks: The Government was let down, betrayed and isolated. This was wrong but it has happened. There is no point in crying over what has past. However, the reality on the ground is that the people are not willing to accept this sham democracy and have come out in millions all over the country in favour of the PTI. If this is not democracy, then democracy does not exist anywhere. For PTI to set a course for the future, they must try and secure a decision for an early/immediate election. It’s a fair demand in the wake of what the people want and no one should come in the way of this demand – of the people. The present administration in its indecent haste is already starting to manipulate legal cases and will most certainly fiddle with the election process if allowed to stay in chair. The present administration is a product of a manufactured technicality and not democracy and must be removed as quickly as possible before they start to influence matters as they always do. 

For the PTI, the massive out-pouring of humanity in every city, town and village is a great opportunity. They must not squander this capital and let down the people of Pakistan. Resigning from the Parliament will not bring in any results but would give a walk-over to this sham government. Going to jail as advocated by Sheikh Rashid is a no-go and has no conclusion to it. No one cares how many people go to jail. What will matter and have serious impact on this administration is street demonstration and agitation. Life should be brought to a standstill. PTI must use this human capital and force the administration to hold immediate elections in the wake of total national paralysis. Let it be the revolution Pakistan is waiting for, let this movement lead to a Government the people want, one that is popular with the people and one that has secured their trust. Let PTI return with a 2/3rd majority and then undertake the reforms that I have always been recommending and the country is such need of. 

Pakistan has its moment, PTI carries that moment and must bring it to its logical conclusion. We stand by what is right and pray that this nation is delivered from those that have brought it suffering and pain through deceit and treachery. We cannot continue living in this environment where travesty of justice is the order of the day. People such as I stand by PTI today for the right cause; call and we shall be there – it’s time for a final closure. It’s now or never. 

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.

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