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Musharaf and military surrounded by Mafias?

Millions must have been spent on President Musharaf’s recent trip to Europe? As far as visit to the UK is concerned it was an unofficial visit according to the FCO official? Musharraf arrived on Friday 25th January 2008 and addressed at Royal United Services Institute a think related to the Ministry of Defence. President Musharraf did make some useful points but how far they have gone down the policy circles is a million dollar question.

By Dr Shahid Qureshi

I asked President Musharaf at RUSI in London on 25th January 2008 that ‘Pakistan’s estimated losses could be over $20 billion because according to US Central Command Report ‘Pakistan suffered losses of $10 billion between October 2001- 2004. Pakistan lost 763 soldiers in 1965 war against India but in this more than 1150+ soldiers and thousands of civilians have been killed.” Do you have any idea about total losses of Pakistan? He couldn’t understand the question but did say I was part of the 1965 war but you know the number better than me.

At a press conference on 28th January 2008, I asked President Musharaf, ’your government has completely failed to address the problem of specialist (organised and corporate crimes) by stock exchange, cement, sugar, wheat and land mafias crimes which caused losses of billion to the country. You imported financial genius have made mess in the country and left. Please comment. He seemingly denied the existence of mafias and did not acknowledge that mess was made by his financial genius (Shaukat Aziz), who would be looking after the money of all the mafia groups mentioned above in Dubai according to reports. Shaukat Aziz was the biggest fake one analyst said.

While at the above press conference arranged by Pakistan High Commission I broke my own record of raising hand for question in a press conference/seminar from 16 times to 21 times. Many people say it is always easy to ask a question in British institutions/press conferences as compare to choreographed briefings of Pakistani officials. People have observed High Commissioner’s unprecedented love, affection and tilt to a certain news and media group, one of her former employees? Is there any law of conflict of interest in Pakistan?

Many observers said that, ‘Pakistan High Commission in London has become a bureau office of a media group because High Commissioner reportedly claimed to be talking to the owner of the media group and former employee daily. Why? Many are questioning if the High Commissioner is on the payroll of the largest US favourite media group or keeping in touch for future job or both? She reportedly told a journalist from the same group, ‘I speak to the owner daily’ and subsequently story of her protest resignation after imposition of emergency on November 3rd, 2007, was blocked? Which could be a trick to please late Benazir Bhutto just in case?

‘Pakistan is not a Banana Republic’ said President Musharaf in London many times. One wonders if he was asking or telling! So what happen in a banana republic, which is not happening in Pakistan right now? Is it true that people in power have violated/violating laws more than people in the street, starting from the constitution to traffic light? Is it true that officials starting from presidents, prime ministers, ministers to bureaucrats go to Haj and Umras at the taxpayer’s expanse? Is it true that government has failed to apprehend criminals committing organised and corporate crimes in posh offices? Is it true that government has failed to keep control on prices of basic amenities? Is it true that coconut (brown skin outside and white skin inside) financial experts imported from abroad are running the economy and their policies have ruined the lives of millions of poor but made rich richer? Is it true that stock exchange, cement, sugar, wheat and land mafias are actively eroding the state of Pakistan? Is it true that president is in denial? Is it true that no one is safe in the country? Is it true that one phone call from Washington has pushed Pakistan into a never-ending war on terror costing over $20 billion and thousands of lives of soldiers and civilians? Is it true that all political parties including religious and liberal are being run like a family business? Is it true that almost all the top elite including politicians and bureaucrats have bank accounts and properties abroad? Is it true that one can get away with corruption of billions of dollars and common people imprisoned for not paying utility bills? If the answer to all the above questions is NO than Pakistan is not a banana republic or a principality. Armed forces cannot be isolated from the whole environment and specially when they are the real target?

Many analysts believe that appointment of Raiz Mohmmad Khan as Foreign Secretary of Pakistan was part of the Indo – US agenda? A leading English daily wrote on 25th February 2005, “Mr Riaz Mohammad Khan’s taking over charge as Pakistan’s 25th foreign secretary almost coincided with talks between India and Pakistan that led to the agreement on starting a Kashmir bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad”.

Riaz Khokhar outgoing foreign secretary hosted a reception at the foreign ministry to say goodbye to his friends and introduce his successor. Prominent among the guests was Indian High Commissioner Shivshankar Menon who seemed more cheerful and upbeat than most other diplomats present on the occasion?

Is it a coincident that the day Riaz Mohammad took over Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh arrived in the capital on a bilateral visit, the first by an Indian foreign minister since 1989. Riaz Mohammad’s second day in office marked a historic breakthrough in the peace process with the two governments giving the green light to the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service?

“Riaz Mohmmad Khan’s wife is an indigenous US Citizen and a seasoned diplomat, has been employed with the US State Department for several years. At one point she was posted in Moscow and until 2005 was working at the US State Department’s Foreign Service Training Institute in Washington. Notably, this is the first time in Pakistan’s Foreign Service history that we have a foreign secretary whose wife is an American national and is a serving US State Department official”, A Guardian journalist asked me at No.10 Downing Street just before President Musharaf and Prime Minister Brown’s press conference, ‘Is it not a conflict of interest’? Yes it is. Well Pakistani President and Foreign Office could not free itself from the ghosts of an organised minority (Qadyanis) be it Zafrullah Khan, MM Ahmad, Tariq Aziz or Brigadier Niaz Ahmad?

(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior award wining investigative journalist and writer on security, foreign policy, and terrorism based in London)

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